BETA

ABRAHAM AND THE FIRE-
WORSHIPPER.

A Dramatic Parable.


Scene—The inside of a Tent, in which the Patriarch Abraham
and a Persian Traveller, a Fire-Worshipper, are sit-
ting awhile after supper.
Fire-Worshipper
(aside).
What have I said, or
done, that by degrees
1
Mine host hath changed his gracious countenance,2
Until he stareth on me, as in wrath !3
Have I, ’ twixt wake and sleep, lost his wise lore ?4
Or sit I thus too long, and he himself5
Would fain be sleeping ?  I will speak to that.6
(Aloud.)
Impute it, O my great and gracious lord,7
Unto my feeble flesh, and not my folly,8
If mine old eyelids droop against their will,9
And I become as one that hath no sense10
Ev’n to the milk and honey of thy words.—11
With my lord’s leave, and his good servant’s help,12
My limbs would creep to bed.13
Abraham
(angrily quitting his seat).
In this tent,
never.
14
Thou art a thankless and an impious man.15
Five-W.
(rising in astonishment).
A thankless
and an impious man !  Oh, sir,
16
My thanks have all but worshipp’d thee.17
Abraham.
And whom18
Forgotten ? like the fawning dog I feed.19
From the foot-washing to the meal, and now20
To this thy cramm’d and dog-like wish for bed,21
I’ve noted thee ; and never hast thou breath’d22
One syllable of prayer, or praise, or thanks,23
To the great God who made and feedeth all.24
Fire-W.
Oh, sir, the God I worship is the Fire,25
The god of gods ; and seeing him not here,26
In any symbol, or on any shrine,27
I waited till he blessed mine eyes at morn,28
Sitting in heaven.29
Abraham.
Oh, foul idolator !30
And darest thou still to breathe in Abraham’s
tent ?
31
Forth with thee, wretch: for he that made thy
god,
32
And all thy tribe, and all the host of heaven,33
The invisible and only dreadful God,34
Will speak to thee this night, out in the storm,35
And try thee in thy foolish god, the Fire,36
Which with his fingers he makes lightnings of.37
Hark to the rising of his robes, the winds,38
And get thee forth, and wait him.39
[A violent storm is heard rising.
Fire-W.
What ! unhoused !40
And on a night like this ! me, poor old man,41
A hundred years of age !42
Abraham
(urging him away).
Not reverencing43
The God of ages, thou revoltest reverence.44
Fire-W.
Thou hadst a father : —think of his
grey hairs,
45
Houseless, and cuff d by such a storm as this.46
Abraham.
God is thy father, and thou own’st
not him.
47
Fire-W.
I have a wife, as aged as myself,48
And if she learn my death, she’ll not survive it,49
No, not a day ; she is so used to me ;50
So propp’d up by her other feeble self.51
I pray thee, strike us not both down.52
Abraham
(still urging him).
God made53
Husband and wife, and must be own’d of them,54
Else he must needs disown them.55
Fire-W.
We have children,56
One of them, sir, a daughter, who, next week,57
Will all day long be going in and out,58
Upon the watch for me ; she, too, a wife,59
And will be soon a mother. Spare, oh spare her !60
She ’ s a good creature, and not strong.61
Abraham.
Mine ears62
Are deaf to all things but thy blasphemy,63
And to the coming of the Lord and God,64
Who will this night condemn thee.65
[ Abraham pushes him out ; and remains alone, speaking.
For if ever66
God came at night-time forth upon the world,67
Tis now this instant. Hark to the huge winds,68
The cataracts of hail, and rocky thunder,69
Splitting like quarries of the stony clouds,70
Beneath the touching of the foot of God.71
That was God’s speaking in the heavens,—that
last
72
And inward utterance coming by itself.73
What is it shaketh thus thy servant, Lord,74
Making him fear, that in some loud rebuke75
To this idolator, whom thou abhorrest,76
Terror will slay himself ?  Lo, the earth quakes77
Beneath my feet, and God is surely here.78
[A dead silence ; and then a still small voice.
The Voice.
Abraham !79
Abraham.
Where art thou, Lord ? and who is
it that speaks
80
So sweetly in mine ear, to bid me turn81
And dare to face thy presence ?82
The Voice.
Who but He83
Whose mightiest utterance thou hast yet to learn ?84
I was not in the whirlwind, Abraham ;85
I was not in the thunder, or the earthquake ;86
But I am in the still small voice.87
Where is the stranger whom thou tookest in ?88
Abraham.
Lord, he denied thee, and I drove
him forth.
89
The Voice.
Then didst thou do what God him-
self forbore.
90
Have I, although he did deny me, borne91
With his injuriousness these hundred years,92
And couldst thou not endure him one sole night,93
And such a night as this ?94
Abraham.
Lord ! I have sinn’d,95
And will go forth, and if he be not dead,96
Will call him back, and tell him of thy mercies97
Both to himself, and me.98
The Voice.
Behold, and learn !99
[The Voice retires while it is speaking ; and a fold of the
tent is turned back, disclosing the Fire-Worshipper,
who is calmly sleeping, with his head on the back of a
house-lamb
.
Abraham.
O loving God ! the lamb itself’s his
pillow,
100
And on his forehead is a balmy dew,101
And in his sleep he smileth. I, meantime,102
Poor and proud fool, with my presumptuous hands,103
Not God’s, was dealing judgments on his head,104
Which God himself had cradled ! —Oh, methinks105
There’s more in this than prophet yet hath known,106
And Faith, some day, will all in Love be shown.107