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to leave this place, to forget the mirror, and take delight in other things, you will soon lose all likeness to me, and your eyes will become so bent to the ground that you will be quite unable to lift them up and see any of the bright images of the mirror. I leave you each a portion of ground to take care of; you must root out all the weeds, and cultivate the good plants whose roots I have placed in it. The morning and evening dews shall descend to nourish them, and the more abundant are the fruits the more pleased will your Father be with you. Look carefully at your plants in the mirror, for only by so doing can you distinguish between really good plants and the weeds which often resemble them. Remember that when I come again I shall examine your gardens, and call you to account for the use you have made of them, and of the roots I have planted in them. Those whose countenances are become like me, and whose ground produces fruit, shall come with me to their joyous home ; but the others shall be shut up in a dark and dismal prison. I do not tell you when I shall return, ere that time many of you may have become wearied and fallen asleep, but all shall again awake at my coming, and those countenances bearing my mark shall enter my house.”
Then their Deliverer left the children, and they saw him no more ; but as they eagerly fixed their eyes on the mirror, they beheld still his mild and loving face reflected there, and saw the rays which streamed from the golden palace.
Their own forms too were distinctly visible, cleansed from the stains of the wilderness ; and on every brow shone the King's mark though but faintly. The children stood for a long time in silence, wholly engaged in looking into the mirror, whose many and wonderful images filled them with delighted astonishment. At length one of them named Euphilus, whose eye had been bent on the mild face of their Deliverer, said, “We must begin our work diligently, and do what the King has set us, that our gardens may flourish and be filled with fruit, when he sends again to us.”
" It is so delightful to look into this mirror," exclaimed
Gnostus; “I can see such wonderful things in the clouds that float round the palace walls."
"We were told to look constantly at the mirror,” said another," and it is much pleasanter to watch it, than to work in the gardens; besides there is plenty of time.”
“ Let us do all our Deliverer bade us,” replied Euphilus, our eyes may be constantly fixed on the mirror while we labour. Look how the feet of the King's Son bled as he came to seek us, and let us prepare to show our thankfulness to Him, by labouring to nourish the plants he delights in; he will surely smile on us, and we shall see ourselves becoming like him.”
“I hope,” said a little girl named Oriana," that the King will soon send for us ; I long to be in that bright palace, and see the real face of our Deliverer again.”
Soon most of the children had begun their labours, and though they found often a great deal of hard work in clearing away the stones and weeds, they were cheered by finding the fair plants springing up; and the mild face of their Deliverer shone on them from the mirror. Ever when they felt wearied they said to each other, “Now, we must labour and not mind pain ; in our own home we shall forget all this trouble, and rejoice that by means of it we have become like the King's Son."
The children had indeed been rescued from the perils of the wilderness, and were in a place fenced round from the open assaults of their enemies; but nevertheless these contrived to make their
secretly, and mingled among the children as friends. They whispered to them how hard it was through the bright summer day to toil; how delightful were the green plains beyond the garden, and that while the warm long days lasted they might enjoy themselves, and leave the task of preparing their gardens for a later season.
Lest the children should learn from the mirror to know the real character of their tempters, and avoid them, these false ones gave them small glasses, in which nothing but the faces of the children themselves were reflected, and by some charm made to appear much more beautiful than they really were.
The ill effect of these evil things was too soon visible.
Many ceased their labour, complaining how hard it was that they must weary themselves and have no pleasure in the summer, when all other things were enjoying themselves --quite forgetting the dangers and sorrows of the wilderness without, from which they had been saved. They said that the fruits they had gathered for themselves were much sweeter than the food now supplied to them, and longed to be free from the restraint of the garden walls, that they might amuse themselves as they liked. Soon they began to go away from the mirror, and to look over the walls, which were low enough to admit of their seeing the houses and plains beyond, which the art of their enemies had invested with all the brilliant appearances of noble mansions and splendid parks. Still they durst not venture to leave the garden, or leap over the fence, but remained gazing in discontent at the prospect.
Among those who were enticed away from the mirror, and from their proper work, was Gnostus. He had never tried to labour in his garden, but strained his eyes at the clouds floating round the palace, till he fancied he could see and know much more than any of his companions,—while really, his sight was dimmed, and he saw everything in a mist. One of the King's enemies approached him, and, seeming to him to be a royal messen. ger, easily persuaded him that he had seen all that the mirror could show ; but that afar over the plains was a high hill, from which even the interior of the palace could be seen. Gnostus hesitated a moment when he came to the wall, but his false guide told him that for one so far-sighted and distinguished as he was, there could be no danger in leaving the enclosure, which was only for the weak and timid. A slight bound carried him over; and once on the plain, he rushed forward towards the distant hill, calling to those near him to follow, since that hill lay nearer to the palace (as they might see from its brightness) than the garden was. Several followed his example in leaping the wall; but most of them directed their course to some object they had in view for themselves. When the tempters had prevailed on the children to feel discontented with their food and
their work, and to admire themselves in the little glasses, they soon pointed out to them some object of pursuit, which they persuaded them was better worth spending the summer in attaining, than the mere cultivation of their gardens. In autumn, all intended to return and work diligently, that before winter they might raise the fruits which the King's Son expected to find.
At some distance from the garden, was a barren hill, inside which there were said to be mines of great trea
This was shown to one of the wanderers by the disguised enemy, who had persuaded him to leave the spot where he had been placed by the Deliverer; and he promised that if Arpagus would put himself under his direction, he would help him to get the rich treasure. Joyfully the boy seized the tools given him to cultivate his garden, and followed his new master, calling some of his companions to go along with them. They were soon lost to sight in the depths of the mines, but the sound of their tools was heard far around, and now and then loud shouting, as some mass of ore was discovered. Not many, however, accompanied Arpagus into the mine, for they rather wished to amuse themselves, than to find treasure.
A greater number were attracted by the view of a high tower, from which waved many coloured flags, and round which echoed the loud sounds of martial music. Hither went Philexous, followed by an eager band, to scale the heights and gain the lofty tower for their own. But many a weary mile lay between them and it,--many a morass had they to wade through, and often did they plant ladders to scale the walls in vain.
Yet on they went with their toil, and regarded no obstacle, if they might but win the desired eminence.
À contrast to these scenes of toil was presented by a gorgeous mansion beneath in the plain whither Hedon had led a troop of coinrades, to join him in making merry. Here they found tables ready, spread with costly banquets, rooms filled with precious furniture, and all kinds of amusements ready to fill up the bright hours. In laughter and various sports passed the day with most of them. Some few, soon wearied with their slothful life here, amused and busied themselves in seeking curious plants,
insects, or other rarities, or in contriving new inventions and finding new pleasures for the rest.
All of these were as busy in their several ways as if on their fulfilling their self-appointed tasks had depended their entering the King's palace. But not all were by any means fortunate in finding either employment to engage them, or pleasure to satisfy them. Many wandered over the barren plain, seeking only to satisfy their hunger, and unable to do this, for they only fell in with wild herbs or coarse berries. Dissatisfied with their own way of life, they begged from their former companions; but these, made selfish by their own pleasure or success, denied them assistance. Arpagus took some of them into his service : but they became slaves, and the products of their labours were all given up to him.
Meantime Euphilus, with those who yet remained obedient, worked on as they had been commanded, not regarding the heat of the day, nor the invitations made them to rest, and leave toil till a later season. Steadfastly they fixed their eyes on the mirror, anxious to see the brightening mark of the Great King on their faces, but chiefly gazing earnestly at the form of their Deliverer, whose loving countenance shone upon them, giving them continual joy, as they read there all his love, and remembered how with bleeding feet he had gone after them in the desert. So, with their eyes ever turned to him, they laboured on-rooting up the weeds which sprung up from the very fertility of the soil, gathering out the stones, and carefully tending and cherishing the plants which bore good fruit, and had been set by the King's hand. Their toil was often painful ; many a time they were ready to faint under the heat of the
and often some unseen thorn, planted by one of their enemies, would tear them, or they were bruised by a stone against which they fell. More than one sank on the ground, and for a time would give up altogether; but then Euphilus was heard urging them to take courage.
“ Do not fear these hardships," he said ; "they are the very proof that we are sharing the lot of our Master; these wounds and bruises are far less than what he bore in his way to seek us; they are marks that we are his, and we may