John Bunyan's Dream Story/Part II/Section 2
Through the Valley of Humiliation
Now I saw in my dream that the pilgrims began to go down the hill into the Valley of Humiliation. It was a steep hill, and the way was slippery; but they were very careful, and so got down pretty well.
There the sisters of the House Beautiful bade them farewell. "It was in this valley," said they, "that Christian met the foul fiend, Apollyon. But be of good courage. You have Mr. Greatheart to defend you." So they commended the pilgrims to the care of their guide, and returned to their home.
Then Greatheart walked on before them, and as he walked he talked to them about the beauty and fruitfulness of the valley.
"We need not be afraid," said he, "for here is nothing to hurt us unless we bring it upon ourselves. The Valley of Humiliation is as fruitful a place as any the crow flies over. It is fat ground, and is covered with green meadows. And see how these are beautified with lilies!"
As they were thus going along and talking, they saw a boy watching his father's sheep. The boy was very poorly dressed, but his face was fresh and rosy; and as he sat by himself, he sang.
"Hark!" said Greatheart. "Be still and listen to his song."
So they stood and listened; and these are the words they heard —
- "He that is down needs fear no fall,
- He that is low, no pride;
- He that is humble ever shall
- Have God to be his guide.
- "I am content with what I have,
- Little be it or much:
- And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
- Because thou lovest such."
"Hear him," said Greatheart. "I will dare say that this boy is merrier, and wears more of the herb called heartsease, than many a person who is clad in silk and velvet."
Then they walked on, and all were happy because of the beauties of the place.
"This valley suits me well," said Mercy; "for here there is no rattling with coaches nor rumbling with wheels. Here one may walk in quiet, and think about things that are beautiful and true."
"Yes," answered Greatheart, "this is a valley that nobody walks in but those who love a pilgrim's life. Here one is free from noise and the hurryings of business. It was here that our Prince once loved to walk; for the meadows are very beautiful and the air is pleasant."
Soon they came to the place where Christian had fought the fiend Apollyon ; and Greatheart pointed out to the boys each noted spot in that field of battle.
"Here is where your father stood when he first saw Apollyon coming. Here is where the fiend fell upon him, and on these stones you may still see the marks of his blood. Here are some of the splinters of Apollyon's broken darts. And see here, how they did beat the ground with their feet as they fought to make good their places against each other. And here is where Apollyon turned his back and fled from the valley. Verily, your father did play the man here."
Then he led them a little farther, and showed them a monument that had been set up there in honor of Christian's victory. They stood around it and rejoiced, and one of the boys read aloud the writing that was engraved upon it:
Through the Valley of the Shadow
Now I saw in my dream that the pilgrims had come upon the borders of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This valley was longer than the other, and it was strangely haunted with evil things. But the women and children went into it the more bravely because they had Greatheart for their guide.
The first sound they heard was a great groaning, which seemed to fill the whole place. Then they heard strange shouts and screams; and as they went farther, they felt the ground to shake under them, as if some hollow place was there.
"Oh, when shall we get through this doleful place?" asked one of the boys.
Then the guide took the two younger ones by the hand to lead them. "Be of good courage," he said to those behind. " Look well to your feet, lest you step in some snare."
When they had come to about the middle of the valley, Christiana stopped suddenly.
"I see something in the road before us," she said. "It is a strange shape, unlike anything I have seen before."
"What is it, mother?" asked James, the little boy.
"An ugly thing, child; an ugly thing."
"But, mother, what is it like?"
"I cannot tell what it is like. Now it is near; now it is far off; now it is near again."
"Well, well!" said Greatheart. "Let all keep close to me."
Then he went forward with his sword drawn. The strange shape came on, and he struck it a fierce blow. Then the shape vanished and was seen no more.
So they went on more bravely. But Mercy, looking behind her, saw a great lion following after them; and now it gave a roar so deep and loud that all the valley echoed with the sound.
The hearts of all ached with fear. But Greatheart went behind, and set them in the road before him. Then he stood his ground to give battle to the lion. The beast paused; it roared once again at the brave man who dared stand against it; and then it drew back and came no farther.
They went on again, and Greatheart led them as before. And now a vast pit yawned before them and seemed to cover the whole road ; and a great mist and darkness fell around them.
"Stand still, and wait," said Greatheart. And as they stood and trembled, a light shone through the darkness, and they saw their way clearly past the mouth of the pit.
So on they went; and one of the boys said, "When shall we see the end of this valley?"
"Look well to your feet," said the guide; "for you are among the snares and the pitfalls."
They looked to their feet, and went on; but they were much troubled by the snares.
At length they drew towards the end of the valley; and there they saw a cave where in former times many giants dwelt. But now the worst of these giants had grown so old and feeble that they could do nothing but sit in the door of the cave and grin at the pilgrims who were passing.
Suddenly, however, one giant who was younger than the others, came out to meet Greatheart and his company. The name of this giant was Maul, and he had slain many pilgrims through his cunning. "Hello, Greatheart!" he cried. "How many times have you been forbidden to do those things?"
"What things?" asked Greatheart.
"You know what things: but I will put an end to your trade," roared the giant.
"Well," said Greatheart, "before we begin to fight, let us know what it is about."
Now the women and children stood trembling in the roadway, and knew not what to do. But Greatheart stood before them with his sword drawn. "Explain your words," he said to the giant.
"You rob the country," said Maul. "You rob it in the very worst way, and I have come out to punish you."
"Come, fellow," answered Greatheart, "speak plainly, and say what you mean."
"Well, then," said Maul, "you are a kidnapper. You kidnap women and children and take them into a strange country, as you are doing now."
But Greatheart answered, "It is false. I serve my master by protecting the weak, by lifting up those who are fallen, and by leading them in the right way. If you wish to fight with me, I am ready for you."
The giant came up, and Gieatheart went to meet him; and as he went he lifted up his sword, but the giant had a club.
So now they began; and at the first blow the giant struck Greatheart down upon one of his knees. With that the women and children cried out in great dismay, but Greatheart soon recovered himself and was up again. Then he laid about him with skill and strength and gave the giant a wound in the arm. And thus they fought for a whole hour in the heat of the sun.
Then they sat down and rested awhile; and when they had taken breath, they leaped up and began fighting again. And Greatheart with a full blow brought the giant down to the ground.
"Hold! hold!" cried Maul. "Give me a fair chance."
So Greatheart let him get up; and when they had breathed again they went at it even harder than before. The giant raised his club aloft and struck with full force at Greatheart's head; and had not the brave man leaped quickly aside, his skull would surely have been crushed.
But now Greatheart made a fierce thrust with his sword. It pierced the giant's huge body just under the fifth rib, and the blood rushed out. The fight was ended; for Giant Maul fell helpless to the ground, and his club dropped from his hands.
Then the women and children rejoiced because they had been delivered from so great peril. And they went on, following their guide, until they were safe on the farther side of the valley.
The New Town of Vanity
Then I saw in my dream that the pilgrims journeyed through many scenes. They also met with or overtook many people who like themselves were bound for the Celestial City. They stopped also at divers places, where they were entertained by friendly folk who loved the King. They toiled through rough ways; they climbed steep hills; they encountered perils not a few. But they faltered not, neither were afraid; for Greatheart went before them and was their guide.
At last, on a summer evening, they came to the town of Vanity, where Vanity Fair was held. Here they were received at the house of a citizen who was friendly to pilgrims; and here they abode a long time.
For the town had changed much since Christian and Faithful were so shamefully handled there. Indeed, it seemed that the blood of Faithful had changed the hearts of many of the people, and pilgrims were no more annoyed in the streets.
Now while Christiana and her boys, with Mercy and Greatheart, tarried here, there came a great monster out of the woods. It slew many of the people of the town, and carried away some of the children. No man dared face this monster; but every one fled when the noise of his coming was heard.
This monster was like unto no other beast in the world. Its body was like that of a dragon, and it had seven heads and ten horns.
Now when Greatheart heard of this beast, he agreed with certain good men of the place to go forth and give battle to it. For he wished to deliver the people from the paws and mouth of so dreadful a creature.
Then did he, with four companions good and true, go forth to meet the monster. You should have seen them with their armor and their well-made weapons.
When the fierce creature first beheld them, it lifted up its heads with great disdain. It would fain have made way with them had they not boldly stood their ground. But, being sturdy men at arms, they so belabored it with their swords and clubs that it was glad to return to its lair.
Often, after this, did the monster come again into the town to carry away the children. But Greatheart and his valiant men were always on the watch, and drove it back with many blows. Soon it became so lame by reason of its wounds that it could do no further harm; and some believe that it died of the hurts which it received.
Thus Greatheart became a person of great fame in the town; and many besought him to remain and make his home there. But he remembered the commands of his master; and when the time came that the pilgrims must go on their way, he girded on his armor and went before them.
I saw now in my dream that they went on till they came to the river that was on this side of the Delectable Mountains. This was the river where fine trees grew on the banks; and the leaves of these trees were good for medicine. The meadows also were green all the year; and there were shady places where they might lie down and rest with safety.
In the meadows there were sheep pasturing, and folds for the sheep. There were also little houses for sheltering the lambs. And One was there who loved these lambs; he gathered them in his arms, he carried them in his bosom, he gently led them.
So as the pilgrims went on their way, they were filled with delight because of the delicious waters, the pleasant meadows, the dainty flowers, and the wholesome fruit. And they would have tarried there long, had not duty urged them to go onward.
Therefore, leaving the pleasant river, they came in due time to By-path Meadow; and there they saw the stile over which Christian and Hopeful went when they were taken by Giant Despair.
There they sat down, and consulted what they had best do.
"I have a mind," said Greatheart, "to go over and demolish the castle of old Giant Despair. He may have some pilgrims shut up in his dungeon, and I should be glad to set them free."
"That is a good thought, Mr. Greatheart," said Matthew. "I will go with you."
But some of the others were timid and made excuses. "I very much doubt if we ought to leave the King's highway even though it be to destroy Doubting Castle," said one.
"We had better go on and leave well enough alone," said another.
Then Greatheart stood up and drew his sword. "My master has commanded me to fight the good fight," said he; "and with whom should I fight this good fight if not with Giant Despair?"
So saying, he climbed right over the stile. "Who will go with me?" he said.
"I will," said one and another of Christiana's sons.
"I will," said another pilgrim who had joined them on the road; and soon, leaving the women in a safe place, the brave men and boys went straight up to Doubting Castle to look for Giant Despair.
When they came to the castle gate they knocked with unusual noise.
The old giant heard them and came out; and his wife, Diffidence, was with him.
"Who dares to make that great noise on my gate?" he roared in anger.
"It is I, Greatheart," answered the guide. "Open this gate and let me in."
"What is your business with me?" asked the giant.
"I am the servant of the King," answered Greatheart, "and I have come to demolish your Doubting Castle."
Now Giant Despair was not afraid of any man, for he was a giant. So he harnessed himself and went out. He had a cap of steel upon his head ; a breastplate of fire was on his arm; and he came out in iron shoes, with a great club in his hand.
Then Greatheart and his helpers made up to him, and beset him behind and before. They fought for their lives. They struggled long and hard.
At length Giant Despair was brought to the ground; but he was loath to give up. He fought after he was down, and he would have been up again had not Greatheart given him one final stroke with his sword, and thus ended his cruel life.
Then all went through the gate and began to demolish Doubting Castle. But this was a great task, even though Giant Despair was dead. They toiled seven days, and left not one stone upon another.
In the dungeon they found two pilgrims, whom the giant had shut up. These were Despondency, almost starved to death, and Miss Much-afraid, who was his daughter. How glad these two people were to see the sunlight again!
Now when they had finished with the castle they went back to the highway, where they had left the women; and all rejoiced and were glad.
Christiana played a merry tune upon the viol, and Mercy joined her upon the lute. And since all were so merry, what should they do but dance right there in the road. Even the damsel, Much-afraid, joined them; and, I promise you, she footed it well.
As for Despondency, the music was not much to him. He was for feeding rather than dancing, for he was almost starved. So Christiana gave him a little wine and prepared him something to eat; and in a little while he came to himself and was finely revived.
Then the company of pilgrims went forward again. And Greatheart walked before them, and was their guide.
In Peril in the Enchanted Ground
Now I saw in my dream that the pilgrims, by and by, came to the Delectable Mountains, where Christian and Hopeful had aforetime refreshed themselves. There the shepherds met them and welcomed them, and there they rested themselves from their toilsome journey.
Then they went on, and in due time were got to the Enchanted Ground. There the air was heavy, and all who breathed it were filled with drowsiness. The ground also was, for the most part, overgrown with briers and brambles. But, here and there were enchanted arbors, in which were flowers and birds and rippling brooks and mossy beds inviting one to tarry and rest.
The flowers, however, were laden with deadly perfumes; the birds sang songs of witchery; and the tinkling of the brooks lulled the unwary to sleep. And he who gave himself up to slumber in these places was not likely to rise or wake again in this world.
Through this wilderness way they therefore went; and Greatheart went before them, for he was their guide. They went on here, each man with his sword drawn in his hand, for they knew it was a dangerous place.
Now, they had not gone far when a great mist fell upon them all, so that they could scarce see one another. They were therefore forced to grope their way, being guided by the voice of Greatheart; for they walked not by sight. Sorry going it was for the best of them all; but worse for the women and children, whose feet and hearts were tender.
Nor was there in all this wilderness way any inn where they might lodge and refresh themselves. But there was much puffing and sighing and complaining. Now one would tumble over a bush, another would stick fast in the dirt, and still another would lose his shoes in the mire.
At length they came to an arbor, warm and shady, with pleasant mossy seats offering rest. Here, too, was a couch whereon they might lie; and here were all things that could tempt the weary traveler. But not one of the pilgrims would seek rest or loiter there a moment; for their guide had told them of the dangers of the place.
They therefore went on, and the way grew dark again so that they could not see. And here even the guide was apt to lose his way. But he had in his pocket a map of all the roads and paths leading to the Celestial City. Therefore, he drew his tinder box from his pocket and struck a light, that he might look at the map. He looked, and when he had found the place, he saw written over against it the words,
So now he knew which way to turn. But if he had not looked at the map, he would have taken the broader road and turned to the left, and all would have been smothered in the deep mud.
They went on, then, in this Enchanted Ground till they were well out of the darkness. And at length they came to another enticing bower built close by the roadside.
There they saw two men lying, whose names were Heedless and Too-bold.
These men were fast asleep with their heads pillowed on couches of moss and leaves. Greatheart and the pilgrims stood still and looked at them; and some shook their heads, not knowing what to do.
Then Mercy and Greatheart went to them to awaken them; that is, if they could. But each cautioned the other not to sit down or recline upon the tempting couches in the arbor, lest they too should in like manner fall asleep.
They spoke to the men. They called them by name. There was no answer. Then Greatheart shook them hard, and did what he could to arouse them. Heedless groaned and opened his eyes a little.
"I will pay you when I get my money," he muttered; and with that he turned over and was fast asleep again.
Then Greatheart shook the other one, whose name was Too-bold. He did not even so much as move; but he stammered, "I'll fight so long as I can hold my sword in my hand."
At this, one of the children laughed; but the guide looked sorrowful.
"What does all this mean?" asked Christiana.
"They talk in their sleep," answered Greatheart. "But no man can rouse them from this sleep. We have done what we could."
So now all desired to go onward, lest they too should be overcome. And as the way was growing darker, they begged the guide to strike a light. He therefore took his tinder box again, and lighted a little lantern which he had with him; and so they were helped on their way.
The children began soon to be sorely weary; and they cried unto the friend of pilgrims to make their way more comfortable. And behold, by the time they had gone a little farther, a wind arose that scattered the darkness; and the air became more clear. Then they went on to the borders of the Enchanted Ground.
At one place they caught glimpses of a tall and beautiful lady who flitted hither and thither in the shadowy bowers. She beckoned to them, but would not come near. She called, and her voice was soft and sweet.
They saw that she was clad in beautiful garments, and she wore a large purse by her side. In this purse she kept one hand, fingering her money, which was her heart's delight.
"Oh, see the beautiful lady!" cried the little boy. "Let us go to her, and rest in one of her bowers." And he began to run joyfully towards her.
"Nay, look not at her face, heed not her call," said the guide. "She is the queen of this Enchanted Ground, and her name is Madam Bubble. Whoever goes into one of her bowers will never come out again. Let us hasten away from her enchantments!"
So they went forward, hand in hand, and were soon safely out of the Enchanted Ground.
Rest in the Land of Beulah
Now I saw in my dream that Greatheart led the pilgrims onward till they came to the Land of Beulah, where the sun shines day and night. Here, because they were weary, they betook themselves awhile to rest.
They sat under the sheltering vines and walked in the pleasant orchards. And they partook of the fruit as they had a mind therefor; for everything belonged to the King of the Celestial Land, and he desired that all pilgrims should partake of his bounty.
But here the bells did so ring, and the trumpets sounded so sweetly, that they could not sleep; yet they were as much refreshed as though they had slumbered peacefully.
Here, every little while, the cry was heard, "More pilgrims have arrived in the land."
And the answer would be trumpeted back, "Many went over the water to-day, and were let in at the golden gates."
At length Christiana and her children, being much refreshed, went a little farther on their way. And now their ears were filled with heavenly sounds, and their eyes were delighted with celestial visions. In this place they heard nothing, saw nothing, smelled nothing, tasted nothing, but what was pleasing to their hearts and minds.
In this place the children went freely into the King's gardens and gathered sweet-smelling flowers. Here also grew all kinds of trees that are precious for their perfumes and their spices. So the rooms of the pilgrims, while they stayed there, lacked nothing for fragrance and beauty. And they bathed and anointed themselves, and kept themselves in readiness for the call to go over the river.
Now, one day, as they were waiting for the good hour, a sound was heard as of music and voices. And some one who was watching cried, "A postman has come from the Celestial City with matter of great importance for Christiana."
She, therefore, went to the door to see what it was. The postman greeted her, and gave her the letter; and when she had broken the seal, she opened and read it:
"Hail, good woman! I bring thee tidings that the Master calls thee. Within these ten days, he expects thee to come and stand before him, clothed in garments of immortality."
When Christiana had read the letter, and knew that her time was come, she called for Greatheart, the guide, and told him how matters were.
He answered that he was heartily glad of her good fortune, and that he would have been even more glad had the summons come for himself.
Then she asked how she should prepare for her journey, and what she should do while crossing the river.
Very kindly he told her, saying, "Thus and thus it must be; and we that are left behind will go with you to the river side."
She called for her children and gave them her blessing. She told them how glad she was that they had kept their garments so white; and she cautioned them to be always faithful, waiting for the summons to go onward into the city. "Be ye watchful, and cast away fear; be sober, and hope to the end."
Now, at length, the day came on which Christiana must be gone. The road was full of people to see her take her journey; and the bank on the farther side of the river was crowded with chariots and Shining Ones that had come to accompany her to the gates of the Celestial City.
So she came forth joyfully, and entered the river; and as she did so, she beckoned farewell to her children and friends who were left behind. And the last words which they heard her speak were, "Lord, I come to be with thee."
Then when she had gone out of their sight, her children returned to their place. They returned weeping, but Greatheart and some others that were with them played upon the cymbal and the well-tuned harp of joy.
And Christiana, with the host of Shining Ones, went up to the Celestial City. She called at the gate, and entered with all the ceremonies of joy that had greeted her husband before her.
Glorious indeed it was to see how the open region was filled with horses and chariots, with trumpeters and pipers, with singers and players on stringed instruments. These all welcomed her as she passed through the gate beautiful; and while her children wept on this side of the river, she was received with songs of triumph in the palace of the King.
And as I looked and listened, I awoke; and, behold, this too was a dream.
- Now may this little book a blessing be
- To those who love this little book and me,
- And may its buyer have no cause to say,
- His money is but lost or thrown away;
- Yea, may this SECOND PILGRIM yield that fruit,
- As may with each good Pilgrim's fancy suit;
- And may it pérsuade some that go astray,
- To turn their feet and heart to the right way,
- Is the hearty prayer of
- The Author,
- —JOHN BUNYAN.
|This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.|