A rainbow of hope and child of promise
Then, suddenly, as if out of the depths of despair, arose in him an assurance of help on the way to him, and with it a strength to look in the face the worst that could befall him; he might at least starve in patience. Therewith he drew himself up, crossed the street…
If only he could creep into his grave and have done! Why should that hostelry of refuge stand always shut? Surely he was but walking in his own funeral! Were not the mourners already going about the street before ever the silver cord was loosed or the golden bowl broken? Might he not now at length feel at liberty to end the life he had ceased to value?
There was no other escape; there was no sign of coming deliverance. All was black within and around them. That was the rain on the gravestones. He was in a hearse, on his way to the churchyard. There the mourners were already gathered. They were before him, waiting his arrival...
But alas! what if the obligation of a live soul went farther than this life? What if a man was bound, by the fact that he lived, to live on, and do everything possible to keep the life alive in him? There his heart sank, and the depths of the sea covered it! Did God require of him that, sooner than die, he should beg the food to keep him alive?
Hector turned down a street that led westward, drying his eyes, and winking hard to make them swallow the tears which sought to hide from him a spectacle that was calling aloud to be seen. For lo! The street-end was filled with the glory of a magnificent rainbow. All across its opening stretched and stood the wide arch of a wonderful rainbow. Hector could not see the sun; he saw only what it was making; and the old story came back to him, how the men of ancient time took the heavenly bow for a promise that there should no more be such a flood as again to destroy the world. And therefore even now the poets called the rainbow the bow of hope.
Once more his spirit rose upon the wave of a hope which he could neither logically justify nor dare to refuse; for hope is hope wherever it spring, and needs no justification of its self-existence or of its sudden marvelous birth. The very hope was in itself enough for itself.
And now he was near his home; his Annie was waiting for him; and in another instant his misery would be shared and comforted by her! He was walking toward the wonder-sign in the heavens. But even as he walked with it full in view, he saw it gradually fade and dissolve into the sky, until not a thread of its loveliness remained to show where it had spanned the infinite with its promise of good. And yet, was not the sky itself a better thing, and the promise of a yet greater good? He must walk onward yet, in tireless hope! And the resolve itself endured—or fading, revived, and came again, and ever yet again.
For ere he had passed the few yards that lay between him and Annie yet another wonder befell: as if the rainbow had condensed, and taken shape as it melted away, there on the pathway, in the thickening twilight of the swift-descending November night, stood a creature, surely not of the night, but rather of the early morn, a lovely little child—whether wandered from the open door of some neighboring house, or left by the vanished rainbow, how was he to tell? Endeavoring afterward to recall every point of her appearance, he could remember nothing of her feet, or even of the frock she wore. Only her face remained to him, with its cerulean eyes--the eyes of Annie, looking up from under the cloud of her dark hair, which also was Annie's. She looked then as she stood, in his memory of her, as if she were saying, "I trust in you; will you not trust in Him who made the rainbow?"
For a moment he seemed to stand regarding her, but even while he looked he must have forgotten that she was there before him, for when again he knew that he saw her, though he did not seem ever to have looked away from her, she had changed in the gathering darkness to the phantasm of a daisy, which still gazed up in his face trustingly, and, indeed, went with him to his own door, seeming all the time to say, "It was no child; it was me you saw, and nothing but me; only I saw the sun--I mean, the man that was making the rainbow." And never more could he in his mind separate the child, whom I cannot but think he had verily seen, from the daisy which certainly he had not seen, except in the atmosphere of his troubled and confused soul.
George MacDonald, Far Above Rubies, 34-37.