Janet and I gasped simultaneously.
“On the sea!” I echoed, “but I thought you said she came from earth? How can she have such powers?”
“Does a soap-bubble have ‘powers’ when it rises higher than a man can jump?” he retorted, and added, when he saw my puzzlement, “Of course she would have ‘powers’ if she walked on earth’s sea in her physical body, but remember that she has left that behind in sleep. Her spiritual body can walk either on earth or sea, or rise into the air and travel swiftly, as yours can.”
“Well,” said Janet in surprise. “I had not thought of that. Can we do it also?”
“Walk on the sea? Yes, of course, if you want to. Remember that spiritual powers in a physical realm are miracles, but spiritual powers in a spiritual realm, are natural.”
“Then how can I swim?” Janet demanded. Robert laughed.
“You are thinking hard. Well, the spiritual body is able to increase or decrease its weight at will, so that it can adjust itself in a moment to walking, swimming, or floating in the air.”
“Why, of course!” I exclaimed. “We have been doing it all the time, Janet, and did not realise it.” Robert came across to grasp my shoulder.
“Well, now I have answered all your questions I will leave you to entertain your visitor. Remember, this will be her first sleep-visit.” The next moment he was gone. Janet met my eyes with a smile.
“This is an adventure, Bernard.”
“I know. How strange that people think their adventures are over when they die!” We lay down then, and talked of all we had heard. I was a little doubtful about our entertaining, wondering what it would bring forth, but Janet was quite serene.
“Why should it be any different, just because she has only left her body for a few hours?” she pointed out. “I shall treat her just as I did a new acquaintance on earth. Beside, if there is any difficulty, I can easily ask her about conditions there. . .
“I shall ask how He is loved on earth, whether they try to follow the King’s commands and to prepare for the time when they will meet Him.”
“Of course I should have known that you would do that.” After a rest, I suggested that we should go out to gather some fruit for our visitor. Janet was enchanted at this and cast an admiring glance at the empty fruit bowls as we went out, then darted into the wood.
“Now what I want is some deep red fruit,” she began briskly. “They will look beautiful in a copper bowl, in that sea-green light. Then something blue or purple, like a night sky!”
“I thought we were gathering this fruit to eat,” I protested.
“So we are, but we may as well have a lovely colour scheme too.”
“She drove me after that, in the search for fruit of the exact shades, despite my laughter. At last she was satisfied and we carried home our finds in triumph. I must admit the bowls looked beautiful. One bore a heap of fruit of the shape and colour of raspberries, only much bigger and without pips. Another held three of Stephen’s peaches, which we felt we could not possibly leave out. The third bowl was filled with grape-like fruit the size of small oranges. They gleamed richly beneath their bloom.
“I wonder what our visitor’s name will be,” I said at last.
“Rose,” pronounced Janet without an instant’s hesitation, and, when I gazed in astonishment, “I already have a link of sympathy with her.” We were silent after that, resting on our couches and gazing out over the sea, until Janet suddenly whispered in a thrilled tone, “She is coming! I feel it. Let us go down to the shore and welcome her.” Thus it was that we were sitting on the sands much sooner than we had expected, looking out to the horizon for the first sight of Rose. We both saw her at the same time but no word was uttered. It was such a very new spectacle to us, awe-inspiring. I just reached out and grasped Janet’s hand and we slowly rose to our feet. We felt like two children lost in wonder. . .
She walked up over the rim of the horizon, much as Richard had appeared out of the mist on that wonderful occasion of the First Star. She was a graceful figure draped in white, and she moved so swiftly over the surface of the sea that she very soon reached the shore. We saw her face was radiant and one hand was raised from her side. With a quick, upward smile that did not seem to be for us, she lowered her hand and stepped lightly on to the sands.
We moved forward a little awkwardly. She looked so much like an angel that we did not know what to say, but she asked quickly, “Are you angels?” At that Janet and I were too amused to be shy any more.
“Why, we thought you looked like an angel!” Janet laughed. At that our visitor smiled and said quickly, “Oh no. I am just Rose. How could you think me an angel when I am so little and plain?”
“You little and plain?” I asked in surprise. “Why, you are beautiful.” She gave a startled cry and bent over a little pool that lay in a hollow in the sand.
“How strange,” she mused half-aloud. “I look just like myself, only younger, taller, and all the blemishes smoothed away. It must have been the Master.”
“Have you seen Him?” Janet asked quickly.
“Did you not see Him too?” Rose queried in a puzzled tone. “He came for me while I slept and seemed to beckon me to follow. I thought He had come to show me the way to Heaven, so I went willingly. When we came to the sea, He—He held my hand all the way just as He held Peter’s,” she finished in a reverent whisper.
“No, we did not see Him,” I answered, murmuring to Janet, “Wonderful are His ways. . . .”
“Is this Heaven?” asked Rose, looking round with interest.
“It is the plane between earth and Heaven,” Janet explained.
“Did you want to die?” I asked.
“Not quite yet. There was so much I wanted to do on earth. People seem to forget Him unless one reminds them in little ways. And then there was prayer. . .”
“You will still be able to do your work on earth,” I told her.
“You have not died, but have only come here in sleep. Come to our house and we will talk about it.” She followed us, and very soon we were resting on the couches with the sound of the sea in our ears.