"Had God waited for us to love Him," resumed the eremitess, "where had we been now? `We love Him, because He first loved us." "He never loved me," answered Philippa, mournfully.
"Ay," replied the eremitess; "the soul is the life." "Know you Guy of Ashridge?" asked Philippa. The Grey Lady bowed her head. "I have confessed to him, and he hath dealt hardly with me. He saith I will not be saved; and I wish to be saved. He tells me to come to Christ, and I know not how to come, and he saith he cannot make me understand how.
How else shall men merit the favour of God? And I do not perceive, by your view, how men approach God at all." "By God approaching them," said the eremitess.
Philippa was ready with a list of sins which she felt certain she had not committed. "Give me leave to add one," said the eremitess. "Pride is sin; nay, it is the abominable sin which God hateth. And is there no pride in you, Lady de Sergeaux? You tell me you cannot forgive your own father.
"Then do you think it wrong to desire to beloved?" "Not wrong to desire Christ's love." "But to desire the love of some human being, or of any human being?" The eremitess paused an instant before she answered. "I should condemn myself if I said so," she replied in a low tone, the sad cadence returning to her voice. "I must leave that with God.
"No one wishes to be unhappy," said the eremitess, in her gentle accents; "but sometimes we mistake the medicine we need. Before I can give you medicine, I must know your disease." "My disease is weariness and sorrow," answered Philippa. "I love none, and none loveth me. None hath ever loved me. I hate all men." "And God?" "I do not know God," she said, her voice sinking.
Her voice, if possible, was even softer than before, but Philippa could not avoid detecting in it a cadence of pain so intense that she began to wonder if she were ill, or what portion of her speech could possibly have caused it. "Are you ill, Mother?" she asked compassionately. The eremitess lifted her head; and her voice was again calm. "I thank you, no.
She could not see the smile that crossed the lips of the eremitess. "Most certainly it does," said she. "And God made man," objected Philippa. "To injure the dignity of man, therefore, is to affront the dignity of God." "Dignity fell with Adam," said the Grey Lady. "Satan fatally injured the dignity of man, when he crept into Eden. Man hath none left now, but only as he returneth unto God.
No she had no other name. "A recluse, manifestly," said Philippa to herself; "the child does not understand. But is she an anchoritess or an eremitess? "Lady, she tendeth all the sick hereabout. She is a friend of every woman in the Vale. My mother saith, an' it like you, that where there is any wound to heal, or heart to comfort, there is the Grey Lady.
Hard, to part with Joan; harder yet, to leave Isabel in her lonely cell at Sempringham, and to go forward on the as lonely journey to Kilquyt. Perhaps hardest of all was the last night in the recreation-room at Sempringham. Isabel and Philippa sat by themselves in a corner, the hand of the eremitess clasped in that of her daughter. "But how do you account for all the sorrow that is in the world?"