A field of stiff weeds and thistles and tufted nettle-bunches. Thick among the tufts of rank stiff growth lay battered canisters and clots and coils of solid excrement. A faint marshlight struggling upwards from all the ordure through the bristling grey-green weeds. An evil smell, faint and foul as the light, curled upwards sluggishly out of the canisters and from the stale crusted dung.
Creatures were in the field: one, three, six: creatures were moving in the field, hither and thither. Goatish creatures with human faces, hornybrowed, lightly bearded and grey as india-rubber. The malice of evil glittered in their hard eyes, as they moved hither and thither, trailing their long tails behind them. A rictus of cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony faces. One was clasping about his ribs a torn flannel waistcoat, another complained monotonously as his beard stuck in the tufted weeds. Soft language issued from their spittleless lips as they swished in slow circles round and round the field, winding hither and thither through the weeds, dragging their long tails amid the rattling canisters. They moved in slow circles, circling closer and closer to enclose, to enclose, soft language issuing from their lips, their long swishing tails besmeared with stale shite, thrusting upwards their terrific faces…
He flung the blankets from him madly to free his face and neck. That was his hell. God had allowed him to see the hell reserved for his sins: stinking, bestial, malignant, a hell of lecherous goatish fiends. For him! For him!
He sprang from the bed, the reeking odour pouring down his throat, clogging and revolting his entrails. Air! The air of heaven! He stumbled towards the window, groaning and almost fainting with sickness. At the washstand a convulsion seized him within; and, clasping his cold forehead wildly, he vomited profusely in agony.
When the fit had spent itself he walked weakly to the window and, lifting the sash, sat in a corner of the embrasure and leaned his elbow upon the sill. The rain had drawn off; and amid the moving vapours from point to point of light the city was spinning about herself a soft cocoon of yellowish haze. Heaven was still and faintly luminous and the air sweet to breathe, as in a thicket drenched with showers; and amid peace and shimmering lights and quiet fragrance he made a covenant with his heart.
—HE ONCE HAD MEANT TO COME ON EARTH IN HEAVENLY GLORY BUT WE SINNED; AND THEN HE COULD NOT SAFELY VISIT US BUT WITH A SHROUDED MAJESTY AND A BEDIMMED RADIANCE FOR HE WAS GOD. SO HE CAME HIMSELF IN WEAKNESS NOT IN POWER AND HE SENT THEE, A CREATURE IN HIS STEAD, WITH A CREATURES COMELINESS AND LUSTRE SUITED TO OUR STATE. AND NOW THY VERY FACE AND FORM, DEAR MOTHER SPEAK TO US OF THE ETERNAL NOT LIKE EARTHLY BEAUTY, DANGEROUS TO LOOK UPON, BUT LIKE THE MORNING STAR WHICH IS THY EMBLEM, BRIGHT AND MUSICAL, BREATHING PURITY, TELLING OF HEAVEN AND INFUSING PEACE. O HARBINGER OF DAY! O LIGHT OF THE PILGRIM! LEAD US STILL AS THOU HAST LED. IN THE DARK NIGHT, ACROSS THE BLEAK WILDERNESS GUIDE US ON TO OUR LORD JESUS, GUIDE US HOME.