"No book that deals so truly with men and women can ever be obsolete, the fact being that men and women are the same to-day as they were ten thousand years ago, perhaps ten million years ago, though I'm not quite so sure of that. The Bible, and Shakspere, and Rofudingding, a New Guinea poet, who ate men for his dinner when he had a chance, and, when he had finished, sang lyrics that stir the hearts of all his fellow-islanders to this day,--he lived a hundred years ago,--dealt with men and women; that is why all are as impressive to-day as they were when originally composed. Men and women like reading about men and women, and it is becoming understood, nowadays, that the truth about men and women can never be contemptible."
"Ah, but how do we know that it is the truth?"
"Therein the metaphysician must minister to himself. I cannot suggest to you any test of the truth, if you have none with you. Everyone capable of pronouncing a judgment on any matter must feel how truthfully the personages in the Bible have been drawn."
"Yes; the Bible is the Word of God."
"I believe that it is, most certainly. That profound wisdom; that toleration of the weaknesses of men; that sympathy with men, who cannot fathom the mysteries of life, and the struggle for life of all things that love life; that spirit I call God, and I don't think that a better name has been found for it."
"It--for /it/? You think of God as merely a force of nature?"
"Just the contrary. God is the spirit that lives in warfare with nature. Great Heavens! isn't that the truth of which the whole Bible is the allegory? Nature and nature's laws constitute the Devil. God is the opposing Force. It is a law of nature to kill off the weak, to crush that which has fallen in the struggle. It is God who helps the weak--who helps the feeble."
"Oh, I have no private opinion on that part of the question. I am not like that modern philosopher who fancied he had solved the whole problem by spelling God with a small g. But don't you think that we have gone quite far enough in our exchange of confidence for a first meeting? You are what the Italians call /simpatica/--that is, more than merely sympathetic. You look at one, and lead one on to confide in you as one does not confide in most girls. You are a thoroughly dangerous young woman, Miss Ayrton, though you are Mrs. Linton's dearest friend. By the way, can you make her confide in you?"