Lost, by Edward Bellamy


Edward Bellamy is best known for his utopian novel Looking Backward: 2000-1887, first published in 1888, but he was also a skilled and thoughtful short story author, as shown by this semi-autobiographical and all too human tale of brief happiness and eternal loss, despite the ostensible continuation of life.

Since the last paragraph, on the subject of guilt and atonement, is a bit tricky in its wording and intent, I’m posting it here for you to read and ponder at your leisure:

And then, as if to intensify that remorse by showing still more clearly the impossibility of atonement, it flashed on him that he who loved Ida was not the one to atone for an offense of which he would be incapable, which had been committed by one who despised her love. Justice was a meaningless word, and amends were never possible, nor can men ever make atonement; for, ere the debt is paid, the atonement made, one who is not the sufferer stands to receive it; while, on the other hand, the one who atones is not the offender, but one who comes after him, loathing his offense and himself incapable of it. The dead must bury their dead. And, thus pondering from personal to general thoughts, the turmoil of his feelings gradually calmed, and a restful melancholy, vague and tender, filled the aching void in his heart.

Lost, by Edward Bellamy {30:48}