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1492   By: (1870-1936)

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1492

By Mary Johnson

1492

CHAPTER I

THE morning was gray and I sat by the sea near Palos in a gray mood. I was Jayme de Marchena, and that was a good, old Christian name. But my grandmother was Jewess, and in corners they said that she never truly recanted, and I had been much with her as a child. She was dead, but still they talked of her. Jayme de Marchena, looking back from the hillside of forty six, saw some service done for the Queen and the folk. This thing and that thing. Not demanding trumpets, but serviceable. It would be neither counted nor weighed beside and against that which Don Pedro and the Dominican found to say. What they found to say they made, not found. They took clay of misrepresentation, and in the field of falsehood sat them down, and consulting the parchment of malice, proceeded to create. But false as was all they set up, the time would cry it true.

It was reasonable that I should find the day gray.

Study and study and study, year on year, and at last image a great thing, just under the rim of the mind's ocean, sending up for those who will look streamers above horizon, streamers of colored and wonderful light! Study and reason and with awe and delight take light from above. Dream of good news for one and all, of life given depth and brought into music, dream of giving the given, never holding it back, which would be avarice and betraying! Write, and give men and women to read what you have written, and believe poor Deluded! that they also feel inner warmth and light and rejoice.

Oh, gray the sea and gray the shore!

But some did feel it.

The Dominican, when it fell into his hands, called it perdition. A Jewess for grandmother, and Don Pedro for enemy. And now the Dominican the Dominicans!

The Queen and the King made edict against the Jews, and there sat the Inquisition.

I was I am Christian. It is a wide and deep and high word. When you ask, "What is it Christian?" then must each of us answer as it is given to him to answer. I and thou and the True, the Universal Christ give us light!

To day all Andalusia, all Castile and all Spain to me seemed gray, and gray the utter Ocean that stretched no man knew where. The gray was the gray of fetters and of ashes.

The tide made, and as the waves came nearer, eating the sand before me, they uttered a low crying. In danger danger in danger, Jayme de Marchena!

I had been in danger before. Who is not often and always in danger, in life? But this was a danger to daunt.

Mine were no powerful friends. I had only that which was within me. I was only son of only son, and my parents and grandparents were dead, and my distant kindred cold, seeing naught of good in so much study and thinking of that old, dark, beautiful, questionable one, my grandmother. I had indeed a remote kinsman, head of a convent in this neighborhood, and he was a wise man and a kindly. But not he either could do aught here!

All the Jews to be banished, and Don Pedro with a steady forefinger, "That man take him, too! Who does not know that his grandmother was Jewess, and that he lived with her and drank poison?" But the Dominican, "No! The Holy Office will take him. You have but to read only you must not read what he has written to see why!"

Gray Ocean, stretching endlessly and now coming close, were it not well if I drowned myself this gray morning while I can choose the death I shall die? Now the great murmur sang Well , and now it sang Not well.

Low cliff and heaped sand and a solitary bird wide winging toward the mountains of Portugal, and the Ocean gray blue and salt! The salt savor entered me, and an inner zest came forward and said No, to being craven. In banishment certainly, in the House of the Inquisition more doubtfully, the immortal man might yet find market from which to buy! If the mind could surmount, the eternal quest need not be interrupted even there!

Blue Ocean sang to me... Continue reading book >>




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