“They have taken him away!”
So he said to her:
Then she reeled as if she would fall, for she knew him. And he said to her:
“Madeleine! Do not be afraid. I am alive. They took me down too soon, so I came back to life. Then I was sheltered in a house.”
She did not know what to say, but fell at his feet to kiss them.
“Don’t touch me, Madeleine,” he said. “Not yet! I am not yet healed and in touch with men.”
So she wept because she did not know what to do. And he said:
“Let us go aside, among the bushes, where we can speak unseen.”
So in her blue mantle and her yellow robe, she followed him among the trees, and he sat down under a myrtle bush. And he said:
“I am not yet quite come to. Madeleine, what is to be done next?”
“Master!” she said. “Oh, we have wept for you! And will you come back to us?”
“What is finished is finished, and for me the end is past,” he said. “The stream will run till no more rains fill it, then it will dry up. For me, that life is over.”
“And will you give up your triumph?” she said sadly.
“My triumph,” he said, “is that I am not dead. I have outlived my mission and know no more of it. It is my triumph. I have survived the day and the death of my interference, and am still a man. I am young still, Madeleine, not even come to middle age. I am glad all that is over. It had to be. But now I am glad it is over, and the day of my interference is done. The teacher and the saviour are dead in me; now I can go about my business, into my own single life.”
She heard him, and did not fully understand. But what he said made her feel disappointed.
“But you will come back to us?” she said, insisting.
“I don’t know what I shall do,” he said. “When I am healed, I shall know better. But my mission is over, and my teaching is finished, and death has saved me from my own salvation. Oh, Madeleine, I want to take my single way in life, which is my portion. My public life is over, the life of my self-importance. Now I can wait on life, and say nothing, and have no one betray me. I wanted to be greater than the limits of my hands and feet, so I brought betrayal on myself. And I know I wronged Judas, my poor Judas. For I have died, and now I know my own limits. Now I can live without striving to sway others any more. For my reach ends in my fingertips, and my stride is no longer than the ends of my toes. Yet I would embrace multitudes, I who have never truly embraced even one. But Judas and the high priests saved me from my own salvation, and soon I can turn to my destiny like a bather in the sea at dawn, who has just come down to the shore alone.”