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PAGE 4

Mushrooms On The Moor
by [?]

Anybody can grow fine flowers in the daytime. But what can you grow in the dark? That is the challenge of the mushrooms– what can you grow in the dark ? ‘The nights are the test!’ as Charlotte Bronte used to say. When things were as black as black could be, poor Charlotte wrote: ‘The days pass in a slow, dark march; the nights are the test; the sudden wakings from restless sleep, the revived knowledge that one sister lies in her grave, and another not at my side, but in a separate and sick-bed. The nights are the test.’ They are indeed. Tell me: Can you grow faith, and restfulness, and patience, and a quiet heart in the darkness? If so, you will never speak contemptuously of mushrooms again.

Why, dear me, some of the very finest things in this world of ours spring up suddenly, like the mushroom, and spring up in the dark! Dean Hole used to tell how he became a preacher. For years he could not lift his eyes from his manuscript. Then, one Sunday evening, the light suddenly failed. His manuscript was useless, and he found himself speaking heart to heart to his people. The eloquence for which he was afterwards famed appeared in a moment, and appeared in the dark! And I am very fond of that story of the old American soldier. He was stone blind, but very happy, and always wore his medal on his breast.

‘What do you do in these days of darkness?’ somebody asked him.

‘Do?’ he replied almost scornfully. ‘Why, I thank God that for fifty years I had the gift of sight. I saw Abraham Lincoln, and heard the bugles call for the victory of Truth and Righteousness. I go back to those scenes now, and realize them anew. I have lost my sight, but memory has been born again in the dark.’

If, therefore, we allow mushrooms to be treated with contempt, simply because they spring up suddenly, and spring up in the night, we shall soon find other beautiful things, much more precious, brought under the same cruel condemnation. And what of a sudden conversion? Think of Down in Water Street, and Broken Earthenware, and Varieties of Religious Experience ! What of that tremendous happening on the road to Damascus? The Philippian jailer, too! See him, with a grim smile of satisfaction, locking the apostles in their terrible dungeon; yet before the night is through, he is tenderly bathing their stripes and ministering to them with all the gentle graces of Christian courtesy and compassion!’ A monstrous mushroom that grew in the night,’ would you call it? At any rate, it did not die with the dawn. ‘Minerva births’ these, with a vengeance. As for me, I have nothing but reverence for the mushrooms. They are among the wonders of a very wondrous world.