He did his level best to infuse his voice with a blend of the stern and the quietly reasonable. He noted that Eb was listening to him carefully, and he honoured that, because by the Light that was in him, he could see the troll before him to have had the layers of the onion peeled away to the bit near to the core rarely seen, a small boy who wanted something quite desperately, more than stern reason could touch. But still Eb was listening.

‘Silas seems content to trust his family into her care,’ he began, hesitant in his scanty background of information, but valiant in his defence of the troll. ‘She comes forth of a morning neat and trim as ever you saw, and she shepherds the little ones with skill… She… Oh! Look, this is useless! The frank truth is I don’t know and I don’t much care. I just love her because she answers my heart’s yearning and that’s all I know for sure and I’m asking your blessing to marry her because I’m head over heels in love.’

Harold sat beholding Eb a short while longer. He didn’t wish to intimidate, but he gave himself a minute for the Light within him to enter by Eb’s eyes and search as far as he could see. In so doing, he felt a sense of rebuke – he had never noticed until this minute the extent of the agony of loneliness Eb had borne. Harold sighed. Once you have seen your own sin, it is hard to search beyond it, for it blocks the shining of the Light til it is forgiven.

“Will you seek the Lord with me?” he asked Eb, who nodded: they sat quietly, and bowed their heads in prayer.

“Holy God, holy and wise, holy and strong, holy and eternal, have mercy upon us,” Harold said quietly; and Eb felt the words arise like the smoke of incense, unhurried, sure, arriving at Heaven in peace.

“Show us Thy Way, dear blessed Lord God,” Harold prayed. “Forgive me my sin, my blindness; that I have never seen til now how torn with loneliness has been this child of Thine. Tend to his heart, physician of all our sorrow – heal where it has been broken. Come, Christ the healer, and place Thy hands where my prayers beckon.”

He let the weight of silence rest kindly upon them, the hands of God about their work of peace; and when he judged it complete, he continued:

“Now, Holy Wisdom, speak Thy mind to us. If my brother takes this sister to his side, it will be for ever: let us not stray out of Thy will for this thing. Let us not miss Thy best for him. Where we cannot see to go, take us by the hand and lead us. Holy wisdom, I am pleading for Thy light.”

Eb stirred. Harold opened his eyes and looked at him, sensing words that wanted to be said.

Eb didn’t raise his head, nor his voice much, so Harold was put to it to catch the words he spoke – but he did hear.

“I didn’t say before, because it sounds so silly,” Eb muttered. “It’s that ….”

Harold waited.

“I am Eb, and she is Flo. And so long I have waited for a sign.”

The ways of God are very, very peculiar at times: but Harold was used to trusting, and used to reading the signs that life leaves wisely by the path.

And by the Light that guided his looking, the Servant of the Light gave his blessing; he thought if he didn’t Eb’s mother would likely never forgive him. One way to discern that a thing is of God is in perceiving there is simply no way round it. For when God says a thing is so, it is so. And this in Eb’s heart looked as ‘so’ as anything the Servant had ever clapped eyes on before.

Right heartily the Servant of the Light gave his blessing. They were obviously made for one another.