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In the King’s Service: Chapter 11

STARS

At once two men came to stand beside him. I caught my breath at the sight of one of them. It was Richard, whom we had seen so long ago receive his first Star ! Janet, too, had seen him. She turned to smile at me, as though to say, ‘This is our friend, how proud we are of him!’ The other man was a tall, dark fellow with a studious face. His head held no Star, whereas Richard’s flashed like a diamond on his brow.

They stood one on either side of the Orator, who announced: ‘For continued service in faithfulness and love; for the humility that is alone the measure of growth, submitting to training in the Angels’ School of Visitors, the Second Star is awarded to Richard by the King of Kings!’

As the words ended, there was a sound of trumpets, and then the voices of many angels, soaring up in a kind of triumphant scale. Even as I watched, Richard’s robe began to glow as though from some inner light; it flashed and sparkled, sending out spears of flame, and then it changed to a golden shade, edged with a single line of silver, with two silver bands crossed over the breast. I heard Janet give a little gasp and, uniting my mind with hers,I knew she was thinking ‘Now I have actually seen a robe change in colour. Never again shall I think it is a different garment.’ I added in reply: ‘As our friend in the Hall of Reporters said, every man wears an identical robe in Heaven’s realm.’

Then the Orator continued: ‘For joyful service in the Hall of Books, the Hall of Music, the Hall of Paintings, and for a special mission to earth, the First Star is awarded to Douglas by the King of Kings!’ Again the trumpets sounded and the angels’ voices soared. Again we saw the flaming garment send out its spears of light. Then Douglas stood, robed in a tender, leafybrown, like the first carpeting ofAutumn.

The angels’ song continued, being joined with rolling bass tones and the accompaniment of many instruments.
Far, far away, in the region of the eternal Throne, the flight of spiral stairs was empty, save for one majestic Figure descending. Breathlessly we watched, as, reaching the end, He came toward us. It was our Master of the Plane Between, our King of Love, but He appeared so ethereal, so lit with dazzling fires that I could scarcely keep my eyes upon Him. Nearer He came, and nearer, raising His hands in blessing, looking upon us with the tenderness that we had only guessed at, up to now. My heart strained towards Him with yearning, and He looked deeply into my eyes, and into the eyes of every single one, as though that one alone existed in Him and for Him for ever.

As for His robe, it was no longer crimson, but held the essence of every shade. As he turned, it seemed wholly to change, first to purple, then blue, then shading to green, then gold, yellow and white. Another movement deepened it to ivory, and in a moment that delicate tone had strengthened to golden brown, to burnished copper’ hues, and back to crimson. Yet all the time it was never wholly one colour, but many, and the rays of light pouring out from every fold were the warming rays of His Love.

’0 King of Love, we are always in Thy hands!’ sang the angels. ‘From every fold Thou dost bring us forth, and Thy robe of light is our eternal rest. Into the haven of Thy Love Thou dost invite us, and here is our home for ever!’

The singing of the angels ceased and all the instruments were mute. In the deep silence that followed, Richard and Douglas knelt before their Lord. Breathlessly we watched, while He lifted up His hands over their bowed heads. Then, from the tips of His fingers, there poured forth rays of light. The rays from the right hand centred on Richard’s head and those of the left fell upon Douglas. For a moment there was no movement at all; then the Master lowered His hands. The two men rose. I saw the first gleam of the Star on Douglas’ brow and the twin Stars blazing upon Richard’s. Then, with a final blessing our Master turned and, followed closely by the newly-starred ones, and by the favoured angels, He began to walk back toward the spiral stairs.