708 A STORY FROM THE SAND-DUNES
these not the words of the serpent, the origin of falsehood ?'
1 Surely you do not doubt the future life ? ■ exclaimed the young wife ; and it seemed as if one of the first shadows flitted over the sunny heaven of her thoughts.
* Faith promises it, and the priests tell us so ! ' replied the man ; ' but amid all my -happiness, I feel that it is arrogance to demand a continued happiness, another life after this. Has not so much been given us in this state of existence, that we ought to be, that we must be, contented with it ? '
1 Yes, it has been given to us,9 said the young wife, ' but to how many thousands is not this life one scene of hard trial ? How many have been thrown into this world, as if only to suffer poverty and shame and sickness and misfortune ? If there were no life after this, everything on earth would be too unequally distributed, and the Almighty would not be justice itself.'
* Yonder beggar,' replied the man,' has his joys which are just as great for him as the King has in his rich palace. And then, do you not think that the beast of burden, which suffers blows and hunger, and works itself to death, suffers from its heavy fate ? It might likewise demand a future life, and declare the decree unjust that does not admit it into a higher place of creation.'
' He has said, " In my Father's house are many mansions," ' replied the young wife : ' heaven is immeasurable, as the love of our Maker is immeasurable. Even the dumb beast is His creature ; and I firmly believe that no life will be lost, but that each will receive that amount of happiness which he can enjoy, and which is sufficient for him.'
* This world is sufficient for me ! ' said the man, and he threw his arms round his beautiful, amiable wife, and then smoked his cigarette on the open balcony, where the cool air was filled with the fragrance of oranges and pinks. The sound of music and the clatter of castanets came up from the road, the stars gleamed above, and two eyes full of affection, the eyes of his wife, looked on him with the undying glance of love.
■ Such a moment,' he said, c makes it worth while to be born, to enjoy, and to disappear ! ' and he smiled.