Death and Life of a Soldier: 8
CHAPTER ONE THE KING’S VISIT
I could not keep the eagerness out of my step as we made our way toward the green, but, swiftly as I walked, Reg kept pace with me, glancing up at me at intervals with a troubled look. Searching into his mind, I saw the reason.
Poor fellow! He was doubting his ability to see the King, doubting the “measure of his love.” I threw out a mindmessage to Stephen, explaining that 1 would take charge of Reg myself. Janet, I knew, had already sensed it and was walking with Rose. Stephen replied that he and James, together with Gordon and Derek, would take care of the others between them, and they quietly formed into two small groups as we stepped on to the velvet grass. The avenue had already formed, so, linking arms, I led my companion to the end of the double line, signing him to stand before me.
No one spoke. All were listening for the familiar, wellloved sounds. Although it was by no means new to me, my heart thrilled with exultation even as it had on that first occasion which now seemed so long ago.
What a wonderful scene it was ! Many of the people were clad in white, but here and there were tunics of purple, green, gold and blue. One tall fellow looked splendid in a robe of leafybrownlike an autumn shade of earth. It was heavily embroidered with an intricate design in gold I made room for him respectfully, grateful to be near one of such high degree.
As for the children, they were dressed in every pastel shade I had ever seen. They looked like busy little angels, for they ran lightly up and down the avenue, scattering appleblossom until they had prepared a thick, fragrant carpet to welcome their King.
Presently, a faint sound of music came to our ears. Instantly, everyone was alert. The children ran to take their places in the front line on either side and Reg turned to question me with an awed, excited glance.
“He comes!”, I whispered.
Gradually, the volume of sound increased. Four angels appeared, taking up a position on the corners of the green, and lifting up their gleaming instruments, they sent forth mighty bugle notes. At this signal, a great throng of angels surged forward, coming two by two and spreading out behind the ranks of people. They were chanting, and the joy in their ringing tones set my heart beating hard with loving expectation.
Suddenly, the sound ceased, and in the silence one of the angels cried, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven!”
Then all the angels chanted, “He suffers the children to come unto Him, for He is the King of Heaven’s Realm !”
A moment later, the whole multitude fell upon their knees, for He whom they loved had come… Ah, beloved Master! Never shall I grow tired of seeing Him walk down the flowerstrewn avenue. I feasted my eyes upon Him; even Reg was forgotten.
Robed in crimson, He came slowly down between the ranks of kneeling people, His hand raised in blessing. Once more the bugles sounded; then the angels began to sing again:
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts; Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory…”
As He reached them, the people bowed low, raising their heads when He had passed, to join in the angels’ song.
“Holy, holy, holy …”
A little child stretched out a hand to Him and He presssed it between His own. Passing, He ruffled a tiny, curly head.
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts …”
Would He never come? My gaze never left Him; I stored in my memory every gesture, every shade of expression, every smile. I watched Him pass Janet and Rose. I saw one of the children pick up a handful of petals, press them to her lips, smile, and scatter them under His feet.
At last, I too bowed low. I heard the gentle swish of His garments and felt the strong currents of His love … Glancing up, I saw Him look at Reg, bless him and pass on. My throat ached with the intensity of my song!
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts; Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory!”
I stood motionless after the Master had gone, gazing into the wood where I had last seen a glimpse of His robe, Now all was still. The angels had gone; the people were drifting away in little groups. Reg pulled at my sleeve, drawing my attention to himself.
“Did He really come? It seemed kind of holy like being in Church.”
“Was that all, Reg?”
“I felt comforted and strong but oh, if only I had seen Him!”
The hunger in his voice filled my heart with joy, and I cried warmly:
“Cheer up, old man! You have taken the first step toward Him today.”
“By responding to His Love. Have you not heard? He draws us with cords of Love.”
From the edge of the green I saw Janet waving farewell to Rose, and I at once started off in her direction.
“Come along, Reg, and see our house now!