For the next day or two Darcy plied his friend with many questions, objections and criticisms on the theory of
life and gradually got out of him a coherent and complete account of his experience. In brief then, Frank
believed that 'by lying naked,' as he put it, to the force which controls the passage of the stars, the breaking of
a wave, the budding of a tree, the love of a youth and maiden, he had succeeded in a way hitherto undreamed
of in possessing himself of the essential principle of life. Day by day, so he thought, he was getting nearer to,
and in closer union with the great power itself which caused all life to be, the spirit of nature, of force, or the
spirit of God. For himself, he confessed to what others would call paganism; it was sufficient for him that
there existed a principle of life. He did not worship it, he did not pray to it, he did not praise it. Some of it
existed in all human beings, just as it existed in trees and animals; to realize and make living to himself the
fact that it was all one, was his sole aim and object.
Here perhaps Darcy would put in a word of warning. 'Take care,' he said. 'To see Pan meant death, did it
Frank's eyebrows would rise at this.
'What does that matter?' he said. 'True, the Greeks were always right, and they said so, but there is another
possibility. For the nearer I get to it, the more living, the more vital and young I become.'
'What then do you expect the final revelation will do for you?'
'I have told you,' said he. 'It will make me immortal.'
But it was not so much from speech and argument that Darcy grew to grasp his friend's conception, as from
the ordinary conduct of his life. They were passing, for instance, one morning down the village street, when
an old woman, very bent and decrepit, but with an extraordinary cheerfulness of face, hobbled out from her
cottage. Frank instantly stopped when he saw her.
'You old darling! How goes it all?' he said.
But she did not answer, her dim old eyes were riveted on his face; she seemed to drink in like a thirsty
creature the beautiful radiance which shone there. Suddenly she put her two withered old hands on his
'You're just the sunshine itself,' she said, and he kissed her and passed on.
But scarcely a hundred yards further a strange contradiction of such tenderness occurred. A child running
along the path towards them fell on its face, and set up a dismal cry of fright and pain. A look of horror came
into Frank's eyes, and, putting his fingers in his ears, he fled at full speed down the street, and did not pause
till he was out of hearing. Darcy, having ascertained that the child was not really hurt, followed him in
'Are you without pity then?' he asked.
Frank shook his head impatiently.
'Can't you see?' he asked. 'Can't you understand that that sort of thing, pain, anger, anything unlovely throws
me back, retards the coming of the great hour! Perhaps when it comes I shall be able to piece that side of life
on to the other, on to the true religion of joy. At present I can't.'
'But the old woman. Was she not ugly?'
Frank's radiance gradually returned.
'Ah, no. She was like me. She longed for joy, and knew it when she saw it, the old darling.'
Another question suggested itself.
'Then what about Christianity?' asked Darcy.
'I can't accept it. I can't believe in any creed of which the central doctrine is that God who is Joy should have
had to suffer. Perhaps it was so; in some inscrutable way I believe it may have been so, but I don't understand
how it was possible. So I leave it alone; my affair is joy.'
They had come to the weir above the village, and the thunder of riotous cool water was heavy in the air. Trees
dipped into the translucent stream with slender trailing branches, and the meadow where they stood was
starred with midsummer blossomings. Larks shot up caroling into the crystal dome of blue, and a thousand
voices of June sang round them. Frank, bare-headed as was his wont, with his coat slung over his arm and his
shirt sleeves rolled up above the elbow, stood there like some beautiful wild animal with eyes half-shut and
mouth half-open, drinking in the scented warmth of the air. Then suddenly he flung himself face downwards
on the grass at the edge of the stream, burying his face in the daisies and cowslips, and lay stretched there in
wide-armed ecstasy, with his long fingers pressing and stroking the dewy herbs of the field. Never before had
Darcy seen him thus fully possessed by his idea; his caressing fingers, his half-buried face pressed close to the
grass, even the clothed lines of his figure were instinct with a vitality that somehow was different from that of
other men. And some faint glow from it reached Darcy, some thrill, some vibration from that charged
recumbent body passed to him, and for a moment he understood as he had not understood before, despite his
persistent questions and the candid answers they received, how real, and how realized by Frank, his idea was.