Part 6 out of 6
France and Russia would fall upon us suddenly. 'The Fatherland in
danger!' It may be lies or it may not; what is one to do? What
would you have done--even if you could have done anything?"
"He's right," said a dreamy-eyed looking man, laying down the book
he had been reading. "We should have done just the same. 'My
country, right or wrong.' After all, it is an ideal."
A dark, black-bearded man raised himself painfully upon his elbow.
He was a tailor in the Rue Parnesse, and prided himself on a
decided resemblance to Victor Hugo.
"It's a noble ideal," he said. "La Patrie! The great Mother.
Right or wrong, who shall dare to harm her? Yes, if it was she who
rose up in her majesty and called to us." He laughed. "What does
it mean in reality: Germania, Italia, La France, Britannia? Half
a score of pompous old muddlers with their fat wives egging them
on: sons of the fools before them; talkers who have wormed
themselves into power by making frothy speeches and fine promises.
My Country!" he laughed again. "Look at them. Can't you see their
swelling paunches and their flabby faces? Half a score of
ambitious politicians, gouty old financiers, bald-headed old toffs,
with their waxed moustaches and false teeth. That's what we mean
when we talk about 'My Country': a pack of selfish, soulless,
muddle-headed old men. And whether they're right or whether
they're wrong, our duty is to fight at their bidding--to bleed for
them, to die for them, that they may grow more sleek and
prosperous." He sank back on his pillow with another laugh.
Sometimes they agreed it was the newspapers that made war--that
fanned every trivial difference into a vital question of national
honour--that, whenever there was any fear of peace, re-stoked the
fires of hatred with their never-failing stories of atrocities. At
other times they decided it was the capitalists, the traders,
scenting profit for themselves. Some held it was the politicians,
dreaming of going down to history as Richelieus or as Bismarcks. A
popular theory was that cause for war was always discovered by the
ruling classes whenever there seemed danger that the workers were
getting out of hand. In war, you put the common people back in
their place, revived in them the habits of submission and
obedience. Napoleon the Little, it was argued, had started the war
of 1870 with that idea. Russia had welcomed the present war as an
answer to the Revolution that was threatening Czardom. Others
contended it was the great munition industries, aided by the
military party, the officers impatient for opportunities of
advancement, the strategists eager to put their theories to the
test. A few of the more philosophical shrugged their shoulders.
It was the thing itself that sooner or later was bound to go off of
its own accord. Half every country's energy, half every country's
time and money was spent in piling up explosives. In every country
envy and hatred of every other country was preached as a religion.
They called it patriotism. Sooner or later the spark fell.
A wizened little man had been listening to it all one day. He had
a curiously rat-like face, with round, red, twinkling eyes, and a
long, pointed nose that twitched as he talked.
"I'll tell you who makes all the wars," he said. "It's you and me,
my dears: we make the wars. We love them. That's why we open our
mouths and swallow all the twaddle that the papers give us; and
cheer the fine, black-coated gentlemen when they tell us it's our
sacred duty to kill Germans, or Italians, or Russians, or anybody
else. We are just crazy to kill something: it doesn't matter
what. If it's to be Germans, we shout 'A Berlin!'; and if it's to
be Russians we cheer for Liberty. I was in Paris at the time of
the Fashoda trouble. How we hissed the English in the cafes! And
how they glared back at us! They were just as eager to kill us.
Who makes a dog fight? Why, the dog. Anybody can do it. Who
could make us fight each other, if we didn't want to? Not all the
king's horses and all the King's men. No, my dears, it's we make
the wars. You and me, my dears."
There came a day in early spring. All night long the guns had
never ceased. It sounded like the tireless barking of ten thousand
giant dogs. Behind the hills, the whole horizon, like a fiery
circle, was ringed with flashing light. Shapeless forms, bent
beneath burdens, passed in endless procession through the village.
Masses of rushing men swept like shadowy phantoms through the
fitfully-illumined darkness. Beneath that everlasting barking,
Joan would hear, now the piercing wail of a child; now a clap of
thunder that for the moment would drown all other sounds, followed
by a faint, low, rumbling crash, like the shooting of coals into a
cellar. The wounded on their beds lay with wide-open, terrified
eyes, moving feverishly from side to side.
At dawn the order came that the hospital was to be evacuated. The
ambulances were already waiting in the street. Joan flew up the
ladder to her loft, the other side of the yard. Madame Lelanne was
already there. She had thrown a few things into a bundle, and her
foot was again upon the ladder, when it seemed to her that someone
struck her, hurling her back upon the floor, and the house the
other side of the yard rose up into the air, and then fell quite
slowly, and a cloud of dust hid it from her sight.
Madame Lelanne must have carried her down the ladder. She was
standing in the yard, and the dust was choking her. Across the
street, beyond the ruins of the hospital, swarms of men were
running about like ants when their nest has been disturbed. Some
were running this way, and some that. And then they would turn and
run back again, making dancing movements round one another and
jostling one another. The guns had ceased; and instead, it sounded
as if all the babies in the world were playing with their rattles.
Suddenly Madame Lelanne reappeared out of the dust, and seizing
Joan, dragged her through a dark opening and down a flight of
steps, and then left her. She was in a great vaulted cellar. A
faint light crept in through a grated window at the other end.
There was a long table against the wall, and in front of it a
bench. She staggered to it and sat down, leaning against the damp
wall. The place was very silent. Suddenly she began to laugh.
She tried to stop herself, but couldn't. And then she heard
footsteps descending, and her memory came back to her with a rush.
They were German footsteps, she felt sure by the sound: they were
so slow and heavy. They should not find her in hysterics, anyhow.
She fixed her teeth into the wooden table in front of her and held
on to it with clenched hands. She had recovered herself before the
footsteps had finished their descent. With a relief that made it
difficult for her not to begin laughing again, she found it was
Madame Lelanne and Monsieur Dubos. They were carrying something
between them. She hardly recognized Dubos at first. His beard was
gone, and a line of flaming scars had taken its place. They laid
their burden on the table. It was one of the wounded men from the
hut. They told her they were bringing down two more. The hut
itself had not been hit, but the roof had been torn off by the
force of the explosion, and the others had been killed by the
falling beams. Joan wanted to return with them, but Madame Lelanne
had assumed an air of authority, and told her she would be more
useful where she was. From the top of the steps they threw down
bundles of straw, on which they laid the wounded men, and Joan
tended them, while Madame Lelanne and the little chemist went up
and down continuously. Before evening the place, considering all
things, was fairly habitable. Madame Lelanne brought down the
great stove from the hut; and breaking a pane of glass in the
barred window, they fixed it up with its chimney and lighted it.
From time to time the turmoil above them would break out again:
the rattling, and sometimes a dull rumbling as of rushing water.
But only a faint murmur of it penetrated into the cellar. Towards
night it became quiet again.
How long Joan remained there she was never quite sure. There was
little difference between day and night. After it had been quiet
for an hour or so, Madame Lelanne would go out, to return a little
later with a wounded man upon her back; and when one died, she
would throw him across her shoulder and disappear again up the
steps. Sometimes it was a Frenchman and sometimes a German she
brought in. One gathered that the fight for the village still
continued. There was but little they could do for them beyond
dressing their wounds and easing their pain. Joan and the little
chemist took it in turns to relieve one another. If Madame Lelanne
ever slept, it was when she would sit in the shadow behind the
stove, her hands upon her knees. Dubos had been in the house when
it had fallen. Madame Lelanne had discovered him pinned against a
wall underneath a great oak beam that had withstood the falling
debris. His beard had been burnt off, but otherwise he had been
She seemed to be living in a dream. She could not shake from her
the feeling that it was not bodies but souls that she was tending.
The men themselves gave colour to this fancy of hers. Stripped of
their poor, stained, tattered uniforms, they were neither French
nor Germans. Friend or foe! it was already but a memory. Often,
awakening out of a sleep, they would look across at one another and
smile as to a comrade. A great peace seemed to have entered there.
Faint murmurs as from some distant troubled world would steal at
times into the silence. It brought a pang of pity, but it did not
drive away the quiet that dwelt there.
Once, someone who must have known the place and had descended the
steps softly, sat there among them and talked with them. Joan
could not remember seeing him enter. Perhaps unknowing, she had
fallen to sleep for a few minutes. Madame Lelanne was seated by
the stove, her great coarse hands upon her knees, her patient,
dull, slow-moving eyes fixed upon the speaker's face. Dubos was
half standing, half resting against the table, his arms folded upon
his breast. The wounded men had raised themselves upon the straw
and were listening. Some leant upon their elbows, some sat with
their hands clasped round their knees, and one, with head bent
down, remained with his face hidden in his hands.
The speaker sat a little way apart. The light from the oil lamp,
suspended from the ceiling, fell upon his face. He wore a
peasant's blouse. It seemed to her a face she knew. Possibly she
had passed him in the village street and had looked at him without
remembering. It was his eyes that for long years afterwards still
haunted her. She did not notice at the time what language he was
speaking. But there were none who did not understand him.
"You think of God as of a great King," he said, "a Ruler who orders
all things: who could change all things in the twinkling of an
eye. You see the cruelty and the wrong around you. And you say to
yourselves: 'He has ordered it. If He would, He could have willed
it differently.' So that in your hearts you are angry with Him.
How could it be otherwise? What father, loving his children, would
see them suffer wrong, when by stretching out a hand he could
protect them: turn their tears to gladness? What father would see
his children doing evil to one another and not check them: would
see them following ways leading to their destruction, and not pluck
them back? If God has ordered all things, why has He created evil,
making His creatures weak and sinful? Does a father lay snares for
his children: leading them into temptation: delivering them unto
"There is no God, apart from Man."
"God is a spirit. His dwelling-place is in man's heart. We are
His fellow-labourers. It is through man that He shall one day rule
"God is knocking at your heart, but you will not open to Him. You
have filled your hearts with love of self. There is no room for
Him to enter in."
"God whispers to you: 'Be pitiful. Be merciful. Be just.' But
you answer Him: 'If I am pitiful, I lose my time and money. If I
am merciful, I forego advantage to myself. If I am just, I lessen
my own profit, and another passes me in the race.'"
"And yet in your inmost thoughts you know that you are wrong: that
love of self brings you no peace. Who is happier than the lover,
thinking only how to serve? Who is the more joyous: he who sits
alone at the table, or he who shares his meal with a friend? It is
more blessed to give than to receive. How can you doubt it? For
what do you toil and strive but that you may give to your children,
to your loved ones, reaping the harvest of their good?"
"Who among you is the more honoured? The miser or the giver: he
who heaps up riches for himself or he who labours for others?"
"Who is the true soldier? He who has put away self. His own ease
and comfort, even his own needs, his own safety: they are but as a
feather in the balance when weighed against his love for his
comrades, for his country. The true soldier is not afraid to love.
He gives his life for his friend. Do you jeer at him? Do you say
he is a fool for his pains? No, it is his honour, his glory."
"God is love. Why are you afraid to let Him in? Hate knocks also
at your door and to him you open wide. Why are you afraid of love?
All things are created by love. Hate can but destroy. Why choose
you death instead of life? God pleads to you. He is waiting for
And one answered him.
"We are but poor men," he said. "What can we do? Of what use are
such as we?"
The young man looked at him and smiled.
"You can ask that," he said: "you, a soldier? Does the soldier
say: 'I am of no use. I am but a poor man of no account. Who has
need of such as I?' God has need of all. There is none that shall
not help to win the victory. It is with his life the soldier
serves. Who were they whose teaching moved the world more than it
has ever yet been moved by the teaching of the wisest? They were
men of little knowledge, of but little learning, poor and lowly.
It was with their lives they taught."
"Cast out self, and God shall enter in, and you shall be One with
God. For there is none so lowly that he may not become the Temple
of God: there is none so great that he shall be greater than
The speaker ceased. There came a faint sound at which she turned
her head; and when she looked again he was gone.
The wounded men had heard it also. Dubos had moved forward.
Madame Lelanne had risen. It came again, the thin, faint shrill of
a distant bugle. Footsteps were descending the stairs. French
soldiers, laughing, shouting, were crowding round them.
Her father met her at Waterloo. He had business in London, and
they stayed on for a few days. Reading between the lines of his
later letters, she had felt that all was not well with him. His
old heart trouble had come back; and she noticed that he walked to
meet her very slowly. It would be all right, now that she had
returned, he explained: he had been worrying himself about her.
Mrs. Denton had died. She had left Joan her library, together with
her wonderful collection of note books. She had brought them all
up-to-date and indexed them. They would be invaluable to Francis
when he started the new paper upon which they had determined. He
was still in the hospital at Breganze, near to where his machine
had been shot down. She had tried to get to him; but it would have
meant endless delays; and she had been anxious about her father.
The Italian surgeons were very proud of him, he wrote. They had
had him X-rayed before and after; and beyond a slight lameness
which gave him, he thought, a touch of distinction, there was no
flaw that the most careful scrutiny would be likely to detect. Any
day, now, he expected to be discharged. Mary had married an old
sweetheart. She had grown restless in the country with nothing to
do, and, at the suggestion of some friends, had gone to Bristol to
help in a children's hospital; and there they had met once more.
Neil Singleton, after serving two years in a cholera hospital at
Baghdad, had died of the flu in Dover twenty-fours hours after
landing. Madge was in Palestine. She had been appointed secretary
to a committee for the establishment of native schools. She
expected to be there for some years, she wrote. The work was
interesting, and appealed to her.
Flossie 'phoned her from Paddington Station, the second day, and by
luck she happened to be in. Flossie had just come up from
Devonshire. Sam had "got through," and she was on her way to meet
him at Hull. She had heard of Joan's arrival in London from one of
Carleton's illustrated dailies. She brought the paper with her.
They had used the old photograph that once had adorned each week
the Sunday Post. Joan hardly recognized herself in the serene,
self-confident young woman who seemed to be looking down upon a
world at her feet. The world was strong and cruel, she had
discovered; and Joans but small and weak. One had to pretend that
one was not afraid of it.
Flossie had joined every society she could hear of that was working
for the League of Nations. Her hope was that it would get itself
established before young Frank grew up.
"Not that I really believe it will," she confessed. "A draw might
have disgusted us all with fighting. As it is, half the world is
dancing at Victory balls, exhibiting captured guns on every village
green, and hanging father's helmet above the mantelpiece; while the
other half is nursing its revenge. Young Frank only cares for life
because he is looking forward to one day driving a tank. I've made
up my mind to burn Sam's uniform; but I expect it will end in my
wrapping it up in lavender and hiding it away in a drawer. And
then there will be all the books and plays. No self-respecting
heroine, for the next ten years will dream of marrying anyone but a
Joan laughed. "Difficult to get anything else, just at present,"
she said. "It's the soldiers I'm looking to for help. I don't
think the men who have been there will want their sons to go. It's
the women I'm afraid of."
Flossie caught sight of the clock and jumped up. "Who was it said
that woman would be the last thing man would civilize?" she asked.
"It sounds like Meredith," suggested Joan. "I am not quite sure."
"Well, he's wrong, anyhow," retorted Flossie. "It's no good our
waiting for man. He is too much afraid of us to be of any real
help to us. We shall have to do it ourselves." She gave Joan a
hug and was gone.
Phillips was still abroad with the Army of Occupation. He had
tried to get out of it, but had not succeeded. He held it to be
gaoler's work; and the sight of the starving populace was stirring
in him a fierce anger.
He would not put up again for Parliament. He was thinking of going
back to his old work upon the Union. "Parliament is played out,"
he had written her. "Kings and Aristocracies have served their
purpose and have gone, and now the Ruling Classes, as they call
themselves, must be content to hear the bell toll for them also.
Parliament was never anything more than an instrument in their
hands, and never can be. What happens? Once in every five years
you wake the people up: tell them the time has come for them to
exercise their Heaven-ordained privilege of putting a cross against
the names of some seven hundred gentlemen who have kindly expressed
their willingness to rule over them. After that, you send the
people back to sleep; and for the next five years these seven
hundred gentlemen, consulting no one but themselves, rule over the
country as absolutely as ever a Caesar ruled over Rome. What sort
of Democracy is that? Even a Labour Government--supposing that in
spite of the Press it did win through--what would be its fate?
Separated from its base, imprisoned within those tradition-haunted
walls, it would lose touch with the people, would become in its
turn a mere oligarchy. If the people are ever to govern they must
keep their hand firmly upon the machine; not remain content with
pulling a lever and then being shown the door."
She had sent a note by messenger to Mary Stopperton to say she was
coming. Mary had looked very fragile the last time she had seen
her, just before leaving for France; and she had felt a fear. Mary
had answered in her neat, thin, quavering writing, asking her to
come early in the morning. Sometimes she was a little tired and
had to lie down again. She had been waiting for Joan. She had a
present for her.
The morning promised to be fair, and she decided to walk by way of
the Embankment. The great river with its deep, strong patience had
always been a friend to her. It was Sunday and the city was still
sleeping. The pale December sun rose above the mist as she reached
the corner of Westminster Bridge, turning the river into silver and
flooding the silent streets with a soft, white, tender light.
The tower of Chelsea Church brought back to her remembrance of the
wheezy old clergyman who had preached there that Sunday evening,
that now seemed so long ago, when her footsteps had first taken her
that way by chance. Always she had intended making inquiries and
discovering his name. Why had she never done so? It would surely
have been easy. He was someone she had known as a child. She had
become quite convinced of that. She could see his face close to
hers as if he had lifted her up in his arms and was smiling at her.
But pride and power had looked out of his eyes then.
It was earlier than the time she had fixed in her own mind and,
pausing with her elbows resting on the granite parapet, she watched
the ceaseless waters returning to the sea, bearing their burden of
"All roads lead to Calvary." It was curious how the words had
dwelt with her, till gradually they had become a part of her creed.
She remembered how at first they had seemed to her a threat
chilling her with fear. They had grown to be a promise, a hope
held out to all. The road to Calvary! It was the road to life.
By the giving up of self we gained God.
And suddenly a great peace came to her. One was not alone in the
fight, God was with us: the great Comrade. The evil and the
cruelty all round her: she was no longer afraid of it. God was
coming. Beyond the menace of the passing day, black with the war's
foul aftermath of evil dreams and hatreds, she saw the breaking of
the distant dawn. The devil should not always triumph. God was
gathering His labourers.
God was conquering. Unceasing through the ages, God's voice had
crept round man, seeking entry. Through the long darkness of that
dim beginning, when man knew no law but self, unceasing God had
striven: until at last one here and there, emerging from the
brute, had heard--had listened to the voice of love and pity, and
in that hour, unknowing, had built to God a temple in the
Labourers together with God. The mighty host of those who through
the ages had heard the voice of God and had made answer. The men
and women in all lands who had made room in their hearts for God.
Still nameless, scattered, unknown to one another: still powerless
as yet against the world's foul law of hate, they should continue
to increase and multiply, until one day they should speak with
God's voice and should be heard. And a new world should be
God. The tireless Spirit of eternal creation, the Spirit of Love.
What else was it that out of formlessness had shaped the spheres,
had planned the orbits of the suns. The law of gravity we named
it. What was it but another name for Love, the yearning of like
for like, the calling to one another of the stars. What else but
Love had made the worlds, had gathered together the waters, had
fashioned the dry land. The cohesion of elements, so we explained
it. The clinging of like to like. The brotherhood of the atoms.
God. The Eternal Creator. Out of matter, lifeless void, he had
moulded His worlds, had ordered His endless firmament. It was
finished. The greater task remained: the Universe of mind, of
soul. Out of man it should be created. God in man and man in God:
made in like image: fellow labourers together with one another:
together they should build it. Out of the senseless strife and
discord, above the chaos and the tumult should be heard the new
command: "Let there be Love."
The striking of the old church clock recalled her to herself. But
she had only a few minutes' walk before her. Mary had given up her
Church work. It included the cleaning, and she had found it beyond
her failing strength. But she still lived in the tiny cottage
behind its long strip of garden. The door yielded to Joan's touch:
it was seldom fast closed. And knowing Mary's ways, she entered
without knocking and pushed it to behind her, leaving it still
And as she did so, it seemed to her that someone passing breathed
upon her lips a little kiss: and for a while she did not move.
Then, treading softly, she looked into the room.
It welcomed her, as always, with its smile of cosy neatness. The
spotless curtains that were Mary's pride: the gay flowers in the
window, to which she had given children's names: the few poor
pieces of furniture, polished with much loving labour: the shining
grate: the foolish china dogs and the little china house between
them on the mantelpiece. The fire was burning brightly, and the
kettle was singing on the hob.
Mary's work was finished. She sat upright in her straight-backed
chair before the table, her eyes half closed. It seemed so odd to
see those little work-worn hands idle upon her lap.
Joan's present lay on the table near to her, as if she had just
folded it and placed it there: the little cap and the fine robe of
lawn: as if for a king's child.
Joan had never thought that Death could be so beautiful. It was as
if some friend had looked in at the door, and, seeing her so tired,
had taken the work gently from her hands, and had folded them upon
her lap. And she had yielded with a smile.
Joan heard a faint rustle and looked up. A woman had entered. It
was the girl she had met there on a Christmas Day, a Miss Ensor.
Joan had met her once or twice since then. She was still in the
chorus. Neither of them spoke for a few minutes.
"I have been expecting every morning to find her gone," said the
girl. "I think she only waited to finish this." She gently
unfolded the fine lawn robe, and they saw the delicate insertion
and the wonderful, embroidery.
"I asked her once," said the girl, "why she wasted so much work on
them. They were mostly only for poor people. 'One never knows,
dearie,' she answered, with that childish smile of hers. 'It may
be for a little Christ.'"
They would not let less loving hands come near her.
Her father had completed his business, and both were glad to leave
London. She had a sense of something sinister, foreboding, casting
its shadow on the sordid, unclean streets, the neglected buildings
falling into disrepair. A lurking savagery, a half-veiled enmity
seemed to be stealing among the people. The town's mad lust for
pleasure: its fierce, unjoyous laughter: its desire ever to be in
crowds as if afraid of itself: its orgies of eating and drinking:
its animal-like indifference to the misery and death that lay but a
little way beyond its own horizon! She dared not remember history.
Perhaps it would pass.
The long, slow journey tried her father's strength, and assuming an
authority to which he yielded obedience tempered by grumbling, Joan
sent him to bed, and would not let him come down till Christmas
Day. The big, square house was on the outskirts of the town where
it was quiet, and in the afternoon they walked in the garden
sheltered behind its high brick wall.
He told her of what had been done at the works. Arthur's plan had
succeeded. It might not be the last word, but at least it was on
the road to the right end. The men had been brought into it and
shared the management. And the disasters predicted had proved
"You won't be able to indulge in all your mad schemes," he laughed,
"but there'll be enough to help on a few. And you will be among
friends. Arthur told me he had explained it to you and that you
"Yes," she answered. "It was the last time he came to see me in
London. And I could not help feeling a bit jealous. He was doing
things while I was writing and talking. But I was glad he was an
Allway. It will be known as the Allway scheme. New ways will date
She had thought it time for him to return indoors, but he pleaded
for a visit to his beloved roses. He prided himself on being
always able to pick roses on Christmas Day.
"This young man of yours," he asked, "what is he like?"
"Oh, just a Christian gentleman," she answered. "You will love him
when you know him."
He laughed. "And this new journal of his?" he asked. "It's got to
be published in London, hasn't it?"
She gave a slight start, for in their letters to one another they
had been discussing this very point.
"No," she answered, "it could be circulated just as well from, say,
Birmingham or Manchester."
He was choosing his roses. They held their petals wrapped tight
round them, trying to keep the cold from their brave hearts. In
the warmth they would open out and be gay, until the end.
"Not Liverpool?" he suggested.
"Or even Liverpool," she laughed.
They looked at one another, and then beyond the sheltering
evergreens and the wide lawns to where the great square house
seemed to be listening.
"It's an ugly old thing," he said.
"No, it isn't," she contradicted. "It's simple and big and kind.
I always used to feel it disapproved of me. I believe it has come
to love me, in its solemn old brick way."
"It was built by Kent in seventeen-forty for your great-great
grandfather," he explained. He was regarding it more
affectionately. "Solid respectability was the dream, then."
"I think that's why I love it," she said: "for it's dear, old-
fashioned ways. We will teach it the new dreams, too. It will be
so shocked, at first."
They dined in state in the great dining-room.
"I was going to buy you a present," he grumbled. "But you wouldn't
let me get up."
"I want to give you something quite expensive, Dad," she said.
"I've had my eye on it for years."
She slipped her hand in his. "I want you to give me that Dream of
yours; that you built for my mother, and that all went wrong. They
call it Allway's Folly; and it makes me so mad. I want to make it
all come true. May I try?"
It was there that he came to her.
She stood beneath the withered trees, beside the shattered
fountain. The sad-faced ghosts peeped out at her from the broken
windows of the little silent houses.
She wondered later why she had not been surprised to see him. But
at the time it seemed to be in the order of things that she should
look up and find him there.
She went to him with outstretched arms.
"I'm so glad you've come," she said. "I was just wanting you."
They sat on the stone step of the fountain, where they were
sheltered from the wind; and she buttoned his long coat about him.
"Do you think you will go on doing it?" he asked, with a laugh.
"I'm so afraid," she answered gravely. "That I shall come to love
you too much: the home, the children and you. I shall have none
"There is an old Hindoo proverb," he said: "That when a man and
woman love they dig a fountain down to God."
"This poor, little choked-up thing," he said, "against which we are
sitting; it's for want of men and women drawing water, of children
dabbling their hands in it and making themselves all wet, that it
has run dry."
She took his hands in hers to keep them warm. The nursing habit
seemed to have taken root in her.
"I see your argument," she said. "The more I love you, the deeper
will be the fountain. So that the more Love I want to come to me,
the more I must love you."
"Don't you see it for yourself?" he demanded.
She broke into a little laugh.
"Perhaps you are right," she admitted. "Perhaps that is why He
made us male and female: to teach us to love."
A robin broke into a song of triumph. He had seen the sad-faced
ghosts steal silently away.