The Tale of Jack and Wilmot Matthews
of Pendeen and Australia
Fly back with me one hundred years,
Sail with me round the World,
To Cousin Jack in the hot out-back,
Jack Matthews and his girl.
It’s Christmas Eve, but hot as hell:
No snow, no tree, no ball, no bell,
Jack slaves in heat with sticking flies,
A goat, a pig, a donkey, dies,
No wealth, no food, the water’s low~
And, though Jack loves his Wilmot so,
She seems so ‘wisht’ he fears the worst.
His dreams are drained, his boasts are burst.
That night Jack tossed upon his bed,
Thinking Wilmot would be dead
When Christmas dawned. And in his head
He longed for old Pendeen.
Quite suddenly Jack gave a start;
A glimmering light shone in Jack’s heart
”No dream is real as this you fool
Besides, the air is heavenly cool!”
Beneath Jack’s feet is rock and moss:
He’s on the Carn! How? At a loss
To say, but true as he is Jack!
He might be dead! He knows he’s back.
Jack weeps with joy to view the sea
From Scilly Isles to Gurnard’s Head.
The low-towered church is ecstacy:
Why live – if joy comes to the dead?!
“Be quick young man” – a voice booms out,
Poor Jack jumps like a frog.
For that was Parson Aitken’s shout –
Obey it like a dog!
The great man now leads gently down
And speaks in quiet tones.
”I’m not a ghost, don’t be a clown!
For I have flesh and bones!
No, I’ve come back for just one day
To show my dear convert the way:
Don’t long for death, seek fuller life!
Tell no one of this, but your wife!”
Soon Jack and Parson reach the church.
Though all is still inside
Jack trembles like a moorland birch,
Beside his heavenly guide.
They walk in silence to the east
Remembering, like a Christmas feast,
Where once a young man and his bride
Partook communion side by side.
“Now I will show you things to be –
Remember always what you see:
Three windows will provide the light
For you to walk by in your night. –
So, see the first – it’s new to you,
But pictures what you two must do.”
In chancel wall, strange to behold,
A scene in glass, all green and gold.
It startled Jack, though I can tell
That you and I all know it well:-
Ruth humbly gleans among the sheaves.
Her native land she gladly leaves;
She cares for others, not herself.
She seems a widow ‘on the shelf’!
But all her heart is pure and fine,
She ends up in the Royal Line!
Jack sees this vision and is clear
That God’s not worshipped only here.
He can be served in miner’s shack,
In cool Pendeen – or hot out-back!
Next Jack is sad, for is it best
That their steps now must go back west?
Can’t he just kneel once more right there
As once he did with Wilmot fair?
But Parson’s voice is urgent too,
”Another window which is new.”
And there, in north wall of the choir
Jack sees a scene – his heart on fire:-
Saint Peter walks on troubled seas
While Jesus is in view,
But he will sink up to his knees
If waves distract him too!
“God knows your troubles, knows your fears”
Says Parson Aitken tenderly;
”He’s kept you, Jack, all down the years
Don’t look at waves: Don’t look at me:
But look to Jesus – do His will
And you will walk on water still.”
So saying, Parson Aitken turned,
and vanished like a bubble:
”I’ll try to look to Jesus more”
said Jack “He’ll cure my trouble.”
Yet still he thought of Parson, for
He once had shown the way
To open up your heart’s closed door
For Jesus Christ to stay.
“If anyone will hear His voice
He will come in to dwell.
The sad and lonely will rejoice,
And feast with Him as well!”
So thinking, Jack walked to the east,
Remembering the Sacred Feast,
And kneeling down he raised his head
to feast his eyes on blue and red
And gold and silver shining bright
in five tall towers of coloured light.
For this great window Jack knew well,
And often wandering minds would dwell
Upon its beauty. – But oh dear –
What was happening now – how queer~
The colours, patterns, all went blurred,
In blazing Light, Jack Matthews heard
The Saviour speak, and say “Hear well
I am the Light – I want to dwell
In you my son: Why keep me out
By much preferring Dark and Doubt!”
Now all was bright – eyes open wide:
Jack thrilled to see there by his side,
In beauty more than of a bride,
The girl for whom he would have died.
Yet Pendeen Church had somehow gone
And, back at home, “It’s Christams morn!”
Said Wilmot with a rosy smile.
”No work today – what say that I’ll
See what we can cook up for the croust –
There must be something in the house!”
Jack smiled, and knew that it would be
The happiest Christmas there could be.
And after ‘croust’, he told the tale,
To where he saw her at the rail.
And from that day, it almost seemed
Their worries vanished, as if dreamed.