y this time Christiana was got on her way, and Mercy went along with her: so as they went, her children being there also, Christiana began to discourse. And, Mercy, said Christiana, I take this as an unexpected favor, that thou shouldest set forth out of doors with me to accompany me a little in the way.
MER. Then said young Mercy, (for she was but young,) If I thought it would be to purpose to go with you, I would never go near the town any more.
CHR. Well, Mercy, said Christiana, cast in thy lot with me: I well know what will be the end of our pilgrimage: my husband is where he would not but be for all the gold in the Spanish mines. Nor shalt thou be rejected, though thou goest but upon my invitation. The King, who hath sent for me and my children, is one that delighteth in mercy. Besides, if thou wilt, I will hire thee, and thou shalt go along with me as my servant. Yet we will have all things in common betwixt thee and me: only go along with me.
MER. But how shall I be ascertained that I also should be entertained? Had I this hope but from one that can tell, I would make no stick at all, but would go, being helped by Him that can help, though the way was never so tedious.
CHR. Well, loving Mercy, I will tell thee what thou shalt do: go with me to the Wicket-gate, and there I will further inquire for thee; and if there thou shalt not meet with encouragement, I will be content that thou return to thy place: I will also pay thee for thy kindness which thou showest to me and my children, in the accompanying of us in the way that thou dost.
MER. Then will I go thither, and will take what shall follow; and the Lord grant that my lot may there fall, even as the King of heaven shall have his heart upon me.
Christiana then was glad at heart, not only that she had a companion, but also for that she had prevailed with this poor maid to fall in love with her own salvation. So they went on together, and Mercy began to weep. Then said Christiana, Wherefore weepeth my sister so?
MER. Alas! said she, who can but lament, that shall but rightly consider what a state and condition my poor relations are in, that yet remain in our sinful town? And that which makes my grief the more heavy is, because they have no instructor, nor any to tell them what is to come.
CHR. Pity becomes pilgrims; and thou dost weep for thy friends, as my good Christian did for me when he left me: he mourned for that I would not heed nor regard him; but his Lord and ours did gather up his tears, and put them into his bottle; and now both I and thou, and these my sweet babes, are reaping the fruit and benefit of them. I hope, Mercy, that these tears of thine will not be lost; for the truth hath said, that "they that sow in tears shall reap in joy." And "he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psa. 126:5,6.
Then said Mercy,
"Let the Most Blessed be my guide,
If it be his blessed will,
Unto his gate, into his fold,
Up to his holy hill.
And let him never suffer me
To swerve, or turn aside
From his free-grace and holy ways,
Whate'er shall me betide.
And let him gather them of mine
That I have left behind;
Lord, make them pray they may be thine,
With all their heart and mind."
Now my old friend proceeded, and said, But when Christiana came to the Slough of Despond, she began to be at a stand; For, said she, this is the place in which my dear husband had like to have been smothered with mud. She perceived, also, that notwithstanding the command of the King to make this place for pilgrims good, yet it was rather worse than formerly. So I asked if that was true. Yes, said the old gentleman, too true; for many there be that pretend to be the King's laborers, and that say they are for mending the King's highways, who bring dirt and dung instead of stones, and so mar instead of mending. Here Christiana therefore, with her boys, did make a stand. But said Mercy, Come, let us venture; only let us be wary. Then they looked well to their steps, and made a shift to get staggering over.
Yet Christiana had like to have been in, and that not once or twice. Now they had no sooner got over, but they thought they heard words that said unto them, "Blessed is she that believeth; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord." Luke 1:45.
Then they went on again; and said Mercy to Christiana, had I as good ground to hope for a loving reception at the Wicket-gate as you, I think no Slough of Despond would discourage me.
Well, said the other, you know your sore, and I know mine; and, good friend, we shall all have enough evil before we come to our journey's end. For can it be imagined that the people who design to attain such excellent glories as we do, and who are so envied that happiness as we are, but that we shall meet with what fears and snares, with what troubles and afflictions they can possibly assault us with that hate us?
And now Mr. Sagacity left me to dream out my dream by myself. Wherefore, methought I saw Christiana, and Mercy, and the boys, go all of them up to the gate: to which, when they were come, they betook themselves to a short debate about how they must manage their calling at the gate, and what should be said unto him that did open to them: so it was concluded, since Christiana was the eldest, that she should knock for entrance, and that she should speak to him that did open, for the rest. So Christiana began to knock, and as her poor husband did, she knocked and knocked again. But instead of any that answered, they all thought they heard as if a dog came barking upon them; a dog, and a great one too; and this made the women and children afraid. Nor durst they for a while to knock any more, for fear the mastiff should fly upon them. Now, therefore, they were greatly tumbled up and down in their minds, and knew not what to do: knock they durst not, for fear of the dog; go back they durst not, for fear the keeper of that gate should espy them as they so went, and should be offended with them; at last they thought of knocking again, and knocked more vehemently than they did at first. Then said the keeper of the gate, Who is there? So the dog left off to bark, and he opened unto them.
Then Christiana made low obeisance, and said, Let not our Lord be offended with his handmaidens, for that we have knocked at his princely gate. Then said the keeper, Whence come ye? And what is it that you would have?
Christiana answered, We are come from whence Christian did come, and upon the same errand as he; to wit, to be, if it shall please you, graciously admitted by this gate into the way that leads unto the Celestial City. And I answer, my Lord, in the next place, that I am Christiana, once the wife of Christian, that now is gotten above.
With that the keeper of the gate did marvel, saying, What, is she now become a pilgrim that but a while ago abhorred that life? Then she bowed her head, and said, Yea; and so are these my sweet babes also.
Then he took her by the hand and led her in, and said also, Suffer little children to come unto me; and with that he shut up the gate. This done, he called to a trumpeter that was above, over the gate, to entertain Christiana with shouting, and the sound of trumpet for joy. So he obeyed, and sounded, and filled the air with his melodious notes.
Now all this while poor Mercy did stand without, trembling and crying, for fear that she was rejected. But when Christiana had got admittance for herself and her boys, then she began to make intercession for Mercy.