He opened a door, and Herrick saw a large display of apparatus neatly ordered: pumps and pipes, and the leaded boots, and the huge snouted helmets shining in rows along the wall; ten complete outfits.
'The whole eastern half of my lagoon is shallow, you must understand,' said Attwater; 'so we were able to get in the dress to great advantage. It paid beyond belief, and was a queer sight when they were at it, and these marine monsters'--tapping the nearest of the helmets--'kept appearing and reappearing in the midst of the lagoon. Fond of parables?' he asked abruptly.
'O yes!' said Herrick.
'Well, I saw these machines come up dripping and go down again, and come up dripping and go down again, and all the while the fellow inside as dry as toast!' said Attwater; 'and I thought we all wanted a dress to go down into the world in, and come up scatheless. What do you think the name was?' he inquired.
'Self-conceit,' said Herrick.
'Ah, but I mean seriously!' said Attwater.
'Call it self-respect, then!' corrected Herrick, with a laugh.
'And why not Grace? Why not God's Grace, Hay?' asked Attwater. 'Why not the grace of your Maker and Redeemer, He who died for you, He who upholds you, He whom you daily crucify afresh? There is nothing here,'--striking on his bosom-- 'nothing there'--smiting the wall--'and nothing there'-- stamping--'nothing but God's Grace! We walk upon it, we breathe it; we live and die by it; it makes the nails and axles of the universe; and a puppy in pyjamas prefers self-conceit!' The huge dark man stood over against Herrick by the line of the divers' helmets, and seemed to swell and glow; and the next moment the life had gone from him. 'I beg your pardon,' said he; 'I see you don't believe in God?'
'Not in your sense, I am afraid,' said Herrick.
'I never argue with young atheists or habitual drunkards,' said Attwater flippantly. 'Let us go across the island to the outer beach.'
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Ebb-Tide, Chapter 8.
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