“They found him sitting by the fire, folded in blankets, listless and sad.

When Dorothy had told him whom she had brought to see him, she would have left them, but Rowland turned on her such beseeching eyes, that she remained, by no means unwillingly, and seated herself to hear what this wonderful young physician would say.

‘It is very irksome to be thus prisoned in your chamber, sir Rowland,’ he said.

‘No,’ answered Scudamore, ‘or yes: I care not.’

‘Have you no books about you?’ asked Mr. Vaughan, glancing round the room.

‘Books!’ repeated Scudamore, with a wan contemptuous smile.

‘You do not then love books?’

‘Wherefore should I love books? What can books do for me? I love nothing. I long only to die.’

‘And go——?’ suggested, rather than asked, Mr. Vaughan.

‘I care not whither—anywhere away from here—if indeed I go anywhere.
But I care not.’

‘That is hardly what you mean, sir Rowland, I think. Will you allow me to interpret you? Have you not the notion that if you were hence you would leave behind you a certain troublesome attendant who is scarce worth his wages?’

Scudamore looked at him but did not reply; and Mr. Vaughan went on.

‘I know well what aileth you, for I am myself but now recovering from a similar sickness, brought upon me by the haunting of the same evil one who torments you.’

‘You think, then, that I am possessed?’ said Rowland, with a faint smile and a glance at Dorothy.

‘That verily thou art, and grievously tormented. Shall I tell thee who hath possessed thee?—for the demon hath a name that is known amongst men, though it frighteneth few, and draweth many, alas! His name is Self, and he is the shadow of thy own self. First he made thee love him, which was evil, and now he hath made thee hate him, which is evil also. But if he be cast out and never more enter into thy heart, but remain as a servant in thy hall, then wilt thou recover from this sickness, and be whole and sound, and shall find the varlet serviceable.’

‘Art thou not an exorciser, then, Mr. Vaughan, as well as a discerner of spirits? I would thou couldst drive the said demon out of me, for truly I love him not.’

‘Through all thy hate thou lovest him more than thou knowest. Thou seest him vile, but instead of casting him out, thou mournest over him with foolish tears. And yet thou dreamest that by dying thou wouldst be rid of him. No, it is back to thy childhood thou must go to be free.

‘That were a strange way to go, sir. I know it not. There seems to be a purpose in what you say, Mr. Vaughan, but you take me not with you. How can I rid me of myself, so long as I am Rowland Scudamore?’

‘There is a way, sir Rowland—and but one way. Human words at least, however it may be with some high heavenly language, can never say the best things but by a kind of stumbling, wherein one contradiction keepeth another from falling. No man, as thou sayest, truly, can rid him of himself and live, for that involveth an impossibility. But he can rid himself of that haunting shadow of his own self, which he hath pampered and fed upon shadowy lies, until it is bloated and black with pride and folly. When that demon king of shades is once cast out, and the man’s house is possessed of God instead, then first he findeth his true substantial self, which is the servant, nay, the child of God. To rid thee of thyself thou must offer it again to him that made it. Be thou empty that he may fill thee. I never understood this until these latter days. Let me impart to thee certain verses I found but yesterday, for they will tell thee better what I mean. Thou knowest the sacred volume of the blessed George Herbert?’

‘I never heard of him or it,’ said Scudamore.

‘It is no matter as now: these verses are not of his. Prithee, hearken:

     ‘I carry with, me, Lord, a foolish fool,

That still his cap upon my head would place.

I dare not slay him, he will not to school,

And still he shakes his bauble in my face.

‘I seize him, Lord, and bring him to thy door;

Bound on thine altar-threshold him I lay.

He weepeth; did I heed, he would implore;

And still he cries ALACK and WELL-A-DAY!

‘If thou wouldst take him in and make him wise,

I think he might be taught to serve thee well;

If not, slay him, nor heed his foolish cries,

He’s but a fool that mocks and rings a bell.’

Something in the lines appeared to strike Scudamore.

‘I thank you, sir,’ he said. ‘Might I put you to the trouble, I would request that you would write out the verses for me, that I may study their meaning at my leisure.’

Mr. Vaughan promised, and, after a little more conversation, took his leave.”

Excerpt From: George MacDonald. “St. George and St. Michael.” iBooks.


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