Part 6 out of 6
1914, they were married in the Abbey Church. Isobel's uncle, the one
with whom she had stayed in Mexico, and who had retired now from the
Diplomatic Service, gave her away, and a young cousin of hers was the
sole bridesmaid, for the ceremony was of the sort called a "war
wedding." Her dress, however, was splendid of its kind, some rich
thing of flowing broidered silk with a veil of wondrous lace.
Either from accident or by design, in general effect it much resembled
that of the Plantagenet lady which once she had copied from the brass.
Perhaps, being dissatisfied with her former effort, she determined to
recap it on a more splendid scale, or perhaps it was a chance. At any
rate, the veil raised in two points from her head, fell down like that
of the nameless lady, while from her elbows long narrow sleeves hung
almost to the ground. Beautiful Isobel never was, but in this garb,
with happiness shining in her eyes, her tall, well-made form looked
imposing and even stately, an effect that was heightened by her
deliberate and dignified movements. The great church was crowded, for
the news of this wedding had spread far and wide, and its romantic
character attracted people both from the neighbouring villages and the
Set in the splendid surroundings of the old Abbey, through the painted
windows of which gleamed the winter sun, Godfrey in his glittering
Indian uniform and orders, and his bride in her quaint, rich dress,
made a striking pair at the altar rail. Indeed it is doubtful whether
since hundreds of years ago the old Crusader and his fair lady, whose
ashes were beneath their feet, stood where they stood for this same
purpose of marriage, clad in coat of mail and gleaming silk, a nobler-
looking couple had been wed in that ancient fane.
Oddly enough, with the strange inconsequence of the human mind,
especially in moments of suppressed excitement, it was of this
nameless lady and her lord that Godfrey kept thinking throughout the
service, once more wondering who they were and what was their story.
He remembered too how the graves of that unknown pair had been
connected with his fortunes and those of Isobel. Here it was that they
plighted the troth which now they were about to fulfil. Here it was
that he had bidden her farewell before he went to Switzerland. He
could see her now as she was then, tall and slender in her white robe,
and the red ray of sunshine gleaming like a splash of blood upon her
breast. He glanced at her by his side as she turned towards him, and
behold! there it shone again, splendid yet ominous.
He shivered a little at the sight of it--he knew not why--and was glad
when a dense black snow-cloud hid the face of the sun and killed it.
It was over at last, and they were man and wife.
"Do these words and vows and ceremonies make any difference to you?"
she whispered as they walked side by side down the church, the
observed of all observers. "They do not to me. I feel as though all
the rites in the world would be quite powerless and without meaning in
face of the fact of our eternal unity."
It was a queer little speech for her to make, with its thought and
balance; Godfrey often reflected afterwards, expressing as it did a
great truth so far as they were concerned, since no ceremonial,
however hallowed, could increase their existing oneness or take away
therefrom. At the moment, however, he scarcely understood it, and only
smiled in reply.
Then they went into the vestry and signed their names, and everything
was over. Here Godfrey's former trustee, General Cubitte, grown very
old now, but as bustling and emphatic as of yore, who signed the book
as one of the witnesses, buttonholed him. At some length he explained
how he had been to see an eminent swell at the War Office, a "dug-out"
who was an old friend of his, and impressed upon him his, Godfrey's,
extraordinary abilities as a soldier, pointing out that he ought at
once to be given command of a regiment, and how the eminent swell had
promised that he would see to it forthwith. Oh! if he had only known,
he would not have thanked him.
At last they started for the motor-car, which was to drive them in
pomp three hundred yards to the Hall. Some delay occurred. Another
motor-car at the church gate would not start, and had to be drawn out
of the way. Three or four of the nurses from the hospital and certain
local ladies surrounded Isobel, and burst into talk and
congratulations, thus separating her from Godfrey.
Overhearing complimentary remarks about himself, he drew back a little
from the porch into the church which had now emptied. As he stood
there someone tapped him on the shoulder. The touch disturbed him; it
was unpleasant to him and he turned impatiently to see from whom it
came. There in front of him, bundled up in a rusty black cloak of
which the hood covered the head, was a short fat woman. Her face was
hidden, but from the cavernous recesses of the hood two piercing black
eyes shone like to those of a tiger in its den. After all those years
Godfrey recognised them at once; indeed subconsciously he had known
who had touched him even before he turned. It was Madame Riennes.
"Ah!" she said, in her hateful, remembered voice, "so my little
Godfrey who has grown such a big Godfrey now--yes, big in every way,
had recognition of his dear Godmamma, did he? Oh! do not deny it; I
saw you jump with joy. Well, I knew what was happening--never mind how
I knew--and though I am so poor now, I travelled here to assist and
give my felicitations. Eleanor, too, she sends hers, though you guess
of what kind they are, for remember, as I told you long ago, speerits
are just as jealous as we women, because, you see, they were women
before they were speerits."
"Thank you," broke in Godfrey; "I am afraid I must be going."
"Oh! yes. You are in a great hurry, for now you have got the plum, my
Godfrey, have you not, and want to eat it? Well, I have a message for
you, suck it hard, for very, very soon you come to the stone, which
you know is sharp and cold with no taste, and must be thrown away. Oh!
something make me say this too; I know not what. Perhaps that stone
must be planted, not thrown away; yes, I think it must be planted, and
that it will grow into the most beautiful of plum trees in another
She threw back her hood, showing her enormous forehead and flabby,
sunken face, which looked as though she had lived for years in a
cellar, and yet had about it an air of inspiration. "Yes," she went
on, "I see that tree white with blossom. I see it bending with the
golden fruit--thousands upon thousands of fruits. Oh! Godfrey, it is
the Tree of Life, and underneath it sit you and that lady who looks
like a queen, and whom you love so dear, and look into each other's
eyes for ever and for ever, because you see that tree immortal do not
grow upon the earth, my Godfrey."
The horrible old woman made him afraid, especially did her last words
make him afraid, because he who was experienced in such matters knew
that she had come with no intention of uttering them, that they had
burst from her lips in a sudden semi-trance such as overtakes her
sisterhood from time to time. He knew what that meant, that Death had
marked them, and that they were called elsewhere, he or Isobel, or
"I must be going," he repeated.
"Yes, yes, you must be going--you who are going so far. The hungry
fish must go after the bait, must it not, and oh! the hook it does not
see. But, my leetle big Godfrey, one moment. Your loving old Godmamma,
she tumble on the evil day ever since that cursed old Pasteur"--here
her pale face twisted and her eyes grew wicked--"let loose the law-
dogs on me. I want money, my godson. Here is an address," and she
thrust a piece of paper upon him.
He threw it down and stamped on it. In his pocket was a leather case
full of bank-notes. He drew out a handful of them and held them to
her. She snatched them as a hungry hawk snatches meat, with a fierce
and curious swiftness.
Then at last he escaped, and in another minute, amidst the cheers of
the crowd, was driving away at the side of the stately Isobel.
At the Hall, where one of the wards had been cleared for the purpose,
there was a little informal reception, at which for a while Godfrey
found himself officiating alone, since Isobel had disappeared with
General Cubitte and the brother officer who had acted as his best man.
When at length they returned he asked her where she had been, rather
sharply perhaps, for his nerves were on edge.
"To see to some business with the lawyer," she answered.
"What business, dear?" he inquired. "I thought you settled all that
"It could not be settled this morning, Godfrey, because a will can
only be signed after marriage."
"Good gracious!" he exclaimed. "Give me a glass of champagne."
An hour later they were motoring to London alone, at last alone, and
to this pair Heaven opened its seventh door.
They dined in the private sitting-room of the suit which under the
inspiration of Isobel he had taken at a London hotel, and then after
the curious-eyed waiters had cleared the table, sat together in front
of the fire, hand in hand, but not talking very much. At length Isobel
rose and they embraced each other.
"I am going to bed now," she said; "but before you come, and perhaps
we forget about such matters, I want you to kneel down with me and say
He obeyed as a child might, though wondering, for somehow he had never
connected Isobel and Prayer in his mind. There they knelt in front of
the fire, as reverently as though it burned upon an altar, and Isobel
said her prayer aloud. It ran thus:
"O Unknown God Whom always I have sought and Whom now I think that I
have found, or am near to finding; O Power that sent me forth to taste
of Life and gather Knowledge, and Who at Thine own hour wilt call me
back again, hear the prayer of Isobel and of Godfrey her lover. This
is what they ask of Thee: that be their time together on the earth
long or short, it may endure for ever in the lives and lands beyond
the earth. They ask also that all their sins, known and unknown, great
or small, may be forgiven them, and that with Thy gifts they may do
good, and that if children come to them, they may be blessed in such
fashion as Thou seest well, and afterwards endure with them through
all the existences to be. O Giver of Life and Love Eternal, hear this,
the solemn marriage prayer of Godfrey and of Isobel."
Then she rose and with one long look, left him, seeming to his eyes no
more a woman, as ten thousand women are, but a very Fire of spiritual
love incarnate in a veil of flesh.
Godfrey and his wife never went to Cornwall after all, for on
Christmas Day the weather turned so bad and travelling was so
difficult that they determined to stop where they were for a few days.
As for them the roof of this London hotel had become synonymous with
that of the crystal dome of heaven, this did not matter in the least.
There they sat in their hideous, over-gilded, private sitting-room,
or, when the weather was clear enough, went for walks in the Park, and
once to the South Kensington Museum, where they enjoyed themselves
It was on the fourth morning after their marriage that the blow fell.
Godfrey had waked early, and lay watching his wife at his side. The
grey light from the uncurtained window, which they had opened to air
the over-heated room, revealed her in outline but not in detail and
made her fine face mysterious, framed as it was in her yellow hair. He
watched it with a kind of rapture, till at length she sighed and
stirred, then began to murmur in her sleep.
"My darling," she whispered, "oh! my darling, how have I lived without
you? Well, that is over, since alive or dead we can never be parted
more, not really--not really!"
Then she opened her grey eyes and stretched out her arms to receive
him, and he was glad, for he seemed to be listening to that which he
was not meant to hear.
A little later there came a knocking at the door, and a page boy's
squeaky voice without said:
"Telegram for you, Sir."
Godfrey called to him to put it down, but Isobel turned pale and
"What can it be?" she said, clasping him. "No one knows our address."
"Oh, yes, they do," he answered. "You forget you telephoned to the
Hall yesterday afternoon about the hospital business you had forgotten
and gave our number, which would be quite enough."
"So I did, like a fool," she exclaimed, looking as though she were
going to cry.
"Don't be frightened, dear," he said. "I dare say it is nothing. You
see we have no one to lose."
"No, no, I feel sure it is a great deal and--we have each other. Read
it quickly and get the thing over."
So he rose and fetched the yellow envelope which reposed upon Isobel's
boots outside the door. A glance showed him that it was marked
"official," and then his heart, too, began to sink. Returning to the
bed, he switched on the electric light and opened the envelope.
"There's enough of it," he said, drawing out three closely written
"Read, read it!" answered Isobel.
So he read. It was indeed a very long telegram, one of such as are
commonly sent at the expense of the country, and it came from the War
Office. The gist of it was that attempts had been made to communicate
with him at an address he had given in Cornwall, but the messages had
been returned, and finally inquiry at Hawk's Hall had given a clue. He
was directed to report himself "early to-morrow" (the telegram had
been sent off on the previous night) to take up an appointment which
would be explained to him. There was, it added, no time to lose, as
the ship was due to sail within twenty-four hours.
"There!" said Isobel, "I knew it was something of the sort. This," she
added with a flash of inspiration, "is the result of the meddling of
that old General Cubitte. You see it must be a distant appointment, or
they would not talk about the ship being due to sail."
"I dare say," he answered as cheerfully as he could. "Such things are
to be expected in these times, are they not?"
"Too bad!" she went on, "at any rate they might have let you have your
Then they rose because they must and made pretence to eat some
breakfast, after which they departed in one of Isobel's motors, which
had been summoned by telephone from her London house, to the
Department indicated in the telegram.
They need not have hurried, since the important person whom Godfrey
must see did not arrive for a full hour, during all which time Isobel
sat waiting in the motor. However, when he appeared he was very
"Oh! yes," he said, "you are Major Knight, and we have a mutual friend
in old General Cubitte. In fact it was he who put an idea into our
heads, for which, as I understand you are just married--a pretty hunt
you gave us, by the way--perhaps you won't altogether bless him, since
otherwise, as you are only just recovered from your wounds, I have no
doubt we could have given you a month or two extra leave. However, I
know you are very keen, for I've looked up your record, and private
affairs must give way, mustn't they? Also, as it happens, Mrs. Knight
need not be anxious, as we are not going to send you into any
particular danger; I dare say you won't see a shot fired.
"Look here, Major, you have been a Staff officer, haven't you, and it
is reported of you that you always got on extremely well with natives,
and especially in some semi-political billets which you have held when
you had to negotiate with their chiefs. Well, to cut it short, a man
of the kind is wanted in East Africa, coming out direct from home with
military authority. He will have to keep in touch with the big chiefs
in our own territory and arrange for them to supply men for working or
fighting, etc., and if possible, open negotiations with those in
German territory and win them over to us. Further, as you know, there
are an enormous number of Indians settled in East Africa, with whom
you would be particularly qualified to deal. We should look to you to
make the most of these in any way required. You see, the appointment
is a special one, and if the work be well done, as I have no doubt it
will be, I am almost sure," he added significantly, "that the results
to the officer concerned will be special also.
"Now, I don't ask you if you decline the appointment, because we are
certain in time of war you will not do so, and I think that's all,
except that you will be accredited ostensibly to the staff of the
General in command in East Africa, and also receive private
instructions, of which the General and the local Governments will have
copies. Now, do you understand everything, especially that your powers
will be very wide and that you will have to act largely on your own
"I think so, Sir," said Godfrey, concealing the complete confusion of
his mind as well as he was able. "At any rate, I shall pick things up
as I go along."
"Yes, that's the right spirit--pick things up as you go on, as we are
all doing in this war. I have to pick 'em up, I can tell you. And now
I won't keep you any longer, for, you see, you'll have to hustle. I
believe a special boat for East Africa with stores, etc., sails
to-morrow morning, so you'll have to take the last train to
Southampton. An officer will meet you at Waterloo with your
instructions, and if he misses you, will go on down to the boat. Also,
you will have details of your pay and allowances, which will be
liberal, though I am told you are not likely to want money in future.
So good-bye and good luck to you. You must report officially through
the General or the local Governors, but you will also be able to write
privately to us. Indeed, please remember that we shall expect you to
So Godfrey went, but as he neared the door the big man called after
"By the way, I forgot to congratulate you. No, no, I don't mean on
your marriage, but on your promotion. You've been informed, haven't
you? Well, it will be gazetted to-morrow or in a day or two, and
letters will be sent to you with the other papers."
"What promotion?" asked Godfrey.
"Oh! to be a colonel, of course. You did very well out there in
France, you know, and it is thought advisable that the officer
undertaking this special work should have a colonel's rank, just to
begin with. Good-bye."
So Godfrey went, and said vaguely to the waiting Isobel:
"I'm afraid, dear, that I shall have to ask you to help me to do some
shopping. I think there are some stores near here. We had better drive
"Tell me everything," said Isobel.
So he told her, and when he had finished she said slowly:
"It is bad enough, but I suppose it might be worse. Will they let me
go with you to Southampton?"
"I expect so," he answered. "At any rate, we will try it on. I think
it is an ordinary train, and you have a right to take a ticket."
Then they shopped, all day they shopped, with the result, since money
can do much, that when they reached Waterloo his baggage containing
everything needful, or at least nearly everything, was already waiting
for him. So was the messenger with the promised papers, including a
formal communication notifying to him that he was now a lieutenant-
"And to think that they have painted 'Major' on those tin cases!" said
Isobel regretfully, for no objection had been raised to her
accompanying Godfrey, with whom she was seated in a reserved carriage.
They reached Southampton about midnight, and on Godfrey presenting
himself and asking when the boat sailed he was informed that this was
uncertain, but probably within the next week. Then remembering all he
had gone through that day, he swore as a man will, but Isobel rejoiced
inwardly, oh! how she rejoiced, though all she said was that it would
give him time to complete his shopping.
Save for the advancing shadow of separation and a constant stream of
telegrams and telephone messages to and from his chiefs in London,
which occupied many of the hours, these were very happy days,
especially as in the end they spread themselves out to the original
limit of his leave.
"At least we have not been cheated," said Isobel when at last they
stood together on the deck of the ship, waiting for the second bell to
ring, "and others are worse off. I believe those two poor people," and
she pointed to a young officer and his child-like bride, "were only
The scene on the ship was dreary, for many were going in her to the
various theatres of war, Egypt, Africa, and other places, and sad, oh!
sad were the good-byes upon that bitter winter afternoon. Some of the
women cried, especially those of the humbler class. But Isobel would
not cry. She remained quite calm to the last, arranging a few flowers
and unpacking a travelling bag in Godfrey's cabin, for as a colonel he
had one to himself.
Then the second bell rang, and to the ears upon which its strident
clamour fell the trump of doom could not have been more awful.
"Good-bye, my darling," she said, "good-bye, and remember what I have
told you, that near or far, living or dead, we can never really be
apart again, for ours is the Love Eternal given to us in the
"Yes," he answered briefly, "I know that it is so and--enduring for
ever! God bless us both as He sees best."
The ship cast off, and Isobel stood in the evening light watching from
the quay till Godfrey vanished and the vessel which bore him was
swallowed up in the shadows. Then she went back to the hotel and,
throwing herself upon that widowed bed, kissed the place where his
head had lain, and wept, ah! how she wept, for her joy-days were done
and her heart was breaking in her.
After this Isobel took a night train back to town and, returning to
Hawk's Hall, threw herself with the energy that was remarkable in her,
into the management of her hospital and many another work and charity
connected with the war. For it was only in work that she could forget
herself and her aching loneliness.
Godfrey had a comfortable and a prosperous voyage, since it was almost
before the days of submarines, at any rate so far as passenger
steamers were concerned, and they saw no enemy ships. Therefore,
within little more than a month he landed on the hot shores of
Mombasa, and could cable to Isobel that he was safe and well and
receive her loving answer.
His next business was to report himself in the proper quarter, which
he did. Those over him seemed quite bewildered as to what he had come
for or what he was to do, and could only suggest that he should travel
to Nairobi and Uganda and put himself in touch with the civil
authorities. This he did also and, as a result, formulated a certain
scheme of action, to which his military superiors assented, intimating
that he might do as he liked, so long as he did not interfere with
What happened to him may be very briefly described. In the end he
started to visit a great chief on the borders of German East Africa,
but in British territory, a man whose loyalty was rumoured to be
doubtful. This chief, Jaga by name, was a professed Christian, and at
his town there lived a missionary of the name of Tafelett, who had
built a church there and was said to have much influence over him. So
with the Reverend Mr. Tafelett Godfrey communicated by runners, saying
that he was coming to visit him. Accordingly he started with a guard
of native troops, a coloured interpreter and some servants, but
without any white companion, since the attack on German territory was
beginning and no one could be spared to go with him upon a diplomatic
The journey was long and arduous, involving many days of marching
across the East African veld and through its forests, where game of
all sorts was extraordinarily plentiful, and at night they were
surrounded by lions. At length, however, with the exception of one man
who remained with the lions, they arrived safely at the town of Jaga
and were met by Mr. Tafelett, who took Godfrey into his house, a neat
thatched building with a wide verandah that stood by the church, which
was a kind of whitewashed shed, also thatched.
Mr. Tafelett proved to be a clergyman of good birth and standing, one
of those earnest, saint-like souls who follow literally the scriptural
injunction and abandon all to advance the cause of their Master in the
dark places of the earth. A tall, thin, nervous-looking man of not
much over thirty years of age; one, too, possessed of considerable
private means, he had some five years before given up a good living in
England in order to obey what he considered to be his "call." Being
sent to this outlying post, he found it in a condition of the most
complete savagery, and worked as few have done. He built the church
with native labour, furnishing it beautifully inside, mostly at his
own expense. He learned the local languages, he started a school, he
combated the witch-doctors and medicine-men.
Finally he met with his reward in the conversion of the young chief
Jaga, which was followed by that of a considerable portion of his
But here came the trouble. The bulk of the tribe, which was large and
powerful, did not share their chief's views. For instance, his uncle,
Alulu, the head rain-maker and witch-doctor, differed from them very
emphatically. He was shrewd enough to see that the triumph of
Christianity meant his destruction, also the abandonment of all their
ancient customs. He harangued the tribe in secret, asking them if they
wished to bring upon themselves the vengeance of their ancestral and
other spirits and to go through their days as the possessors of only
one miserable wife, questions to which they answered that emphatically
they did not. So the tribe was rent in two, and by far the smaller
half clung to Jaga, to whom the dim, turbulent heathen thousands
beneath his rule rendered but a lip service.
Then came the war, and Alulu and his great following saw their
opportunity. Why should they not be rid of Jaga and the Christian
teacher with his new-fangled notions? If it could be done in no other
way, why should they not move across the border which was close by,
into German territory? The Germans, at any rate, would not bother them
about such matters; under their rule they might live as their
forefathers had done from the beginning, and have as many wives as
they chose without being called all sorts of ugly names.
This was the position when Godfrey arrived. His coming made a great
sensation. He was reported to be a very big lord indeed, as big, or
bigger than the King's governor himself. Alulu put it about that he
had come to make a soldier of every fit man and to enslave the women
and the elders to work on the roads or in dragging guns. The place
seethed with secret ferment.
Mr. Tafelett knew something of all this through Jaga, who was
genuinely frightened, and communicated it to Godfrey. In the result a
meeting of all the headmen was held, which was attended by thousands
of the people. Godfrey spoke through his interpreter, saying that in
this great war the King of England required their help, and generally
set out the objects of his mission, remarks that were received in
respectful silence. Then Alulu spoke, devoting himself chiefly to an
attack upon the Christian faith and on the interference of the white
teacher with their customs, that, he observed, had resulted in their
ancestral spirits cursing them with the worst drought they had
experienced for years, which in the circumstances he, Alulu, could and
would do nothing to alleviate. How could they fight and work for the
Great King when their stomachs were pinched with hunger owing to the
witchcraft and magical rites which the white teacher celebrated in the
"How, indeed?" shouted the heathen section, although in fact their
season had been very good; while the Christians, feeling themselves in
a minority, were silent.
Then the Chief, Jaga, spoke. He traversed all the arguments of Alulu,
whom he denounced in no measured terms, saying that he was plotting
against him. Finally he came down heavily on the side of the British,
remarking that he knew who were the would-be traitors and that they
should suffer in due course.
"It has been whispered in my ears," he concluded, "that there is a
plot afoot against my friend, the white Teacher, who has done us all
so much good. It has even been whispered that there are those," here
he looked hard at Alulu, "who have declared that it would be well to
kill this great white Lord who is our guest," and he pointed to
Godfrey with his little chief's staff, "so that he may not return to
tell who are the true traitors among the people of Jaga. I say to you
who have thought such things, that this Lord is the greatest of all
lords, and as well might you lay hands on our father, the mighty King
of England himself, as upon this his friend and counsellor. If a drop
of his blood is shed, then surely the King's armies will come, and we
shall die, every one of us, the innocent and the guilty together. For
terrible will be the vengeance of the King."
This outburst made a great impression, for all the multitude cried:
"It is so! We know that it is so," and Alulu interposed that he would
as soon think of murdering his own mother (who, Mr. Tafelett whispered
to Godfrey, had been dead these many years) as of touching a hair of
the great white chief's head. On the contrary, it was their desire to
do everything that he ordered them. But concerning the matter of the
new custom of having one wife only, etc.
This brought Mr. Tafelett to his feet, for on monogamy he was
especially strong, and the meeting ended on a theological discussion
which nearly resulted in blows between the factions. Finally it was
adjourned for a week, when it was arranged that an answer should be
given to Godfrey's demands.
Three nights later an answer was given and one of a terrible sort.
Shortly after sundown Godfrey was sitting in the missionary's house
writing a report. Mr. Tafelett, it being Sunday, was holding an
evening service in the church, at which Jaga and most of the
Christians were present. Suddenly a tumult arose, and the air was rent
with savage shouts and shrieks. Godfrey sprang up and snatched his
revolver just as some of his servants arrived and announced that the
people in the church were being killed. Acting on his first impulse,
he ran to the place, calling to his guard to follow him, which they
did so tardily that he entered it alone. Here a sight of horror met
The building was full of dead and dying people. By the altar, dressed
in his savage witch-doctor's gear, stood Alulu, a lamp in his hand,
with which evidently he had been firing the church, for tongues of
flame ran up the walls. On the altar itself was something that had a
white cloth thrown over it, as do the sacred vessels. Catching sight
of Godfrey, with a yell the brute tore away the napkin, revealing the
severed head of Mr. Tafelett, whose surplice-draped body Godfrey now
distinguished lying in the shadows on one side of the altar!
"Here is the white medicine-man's magic wine," he screamed, pointing
to the blood that ran down the broidered frontal. "Come, drink! come,
Godfrey ran forward up the church, his pistol in his hand. When he
reached the chancel he stopped and fired at the mouthing, bedizened
devil who was dancing hideously in front of the altar. The heavy
service-revolver bullet struck him in some mortal place, for he leapt
into the air, grabbed at the altar cloth and fell to the ground. There
he lay still, covered by the cloth, with the massive brass crucifix
resting face downwards on his breast and the murdered man's head lying
at his side--as though it were looking at him.
This was the last sight that Godfrey saw for many a day, for just then
a spear pierced his breast, also something struck him on the temple. A
curious recollection rose in his mind of the head of a mummy after the
Pasteur had broken it off, rolling along the floor in the flat at
Lucerne. Then he thought he heard Madame Riennes laughing, after which
he remembered no more; it might have been a thousand years, or it
might have been a minute, for he had passed into a state that takes no
reck of time.
Godfrey began to dream. He dreamed that he was travelling; that he was
in a house, and then, a long while afterwards, that he was making a
journey by sea.
Another vacuum of nothingness and he dreamed again, this time very
vividly. Now his dream was that he had come to Egypt and was stretched
on a bed in a room, through the windows of which he could see the
Pyramids quite close at hand. More, he seemed to become acquainted
with all their history. He saw them in the building; multitudes of
brown men dragging huge blocks of stone up a slope of sand. He saw
them finished one by one, and all the ceremonies of the worship with
which they were connected. Dead Pharaohs were laid to rest there
beneath his eyes, living Pharaohs prayed within their chapels and made
oblation to the spirits of those who had gone before them, while ever
the white-robed, shaven priests chanted in his ears.
Then all passed, and he saw them mighty as ever, but deserted,
standing there in the desert, the monuments of a forgotten greatness,
till at length a new people came and stripped off their marble
These things he remembered afterwards, but there were many more that
Again Godfrey dreamed, a strange and beautiful dream which went on
from day to day. It was that he was very ill and that Isobel had come
to nurse him. She came quite suddenly and at first seemed a little
frightened and disturbed, but afterwards very happy indeed. This went
on for a while, till suddenly there struck him a sense of something
terrible that had happened, of an upheaval of conditions, of a
wrenching asunder of ties, of change utter and profound.
Then while he mourned because she was not there, Isobel came again,
but different. The difference was indefinable, but it was undoubted.
Her appearance seemed to have changed somewhat, and in the intervals
between her comings he could never remember how she had been clothed,
except for two things which she always seemed to wear, the little ring
with the turquoise hearts, though oddly enough, not her wedding ring,
and the string of small pearls which he had given her when they were
married, and knew again by the clasp, that was fashioned in a lover's
knot of gold. Her voice, too, seemed changed, or rather he did not
hear her voice, since it appeared to speak within him, in his
consciousness, not without to his ears. She told him all sorts of
strange things, about a wonderful land in which they would live
together, and the home that she was making ready for him, and the
trees and flowers growing around it, that were unlike any of which
Godfrey had ever heard. Also she said that there were many other
matters whereof she would wish to speak to him, only she might not.
Finally there came a vivid dream in which she told him that soon he
would wake up to the world again for a little while (she seemed to lay
emphasis on this "little while") and, if he could not find her in it,
that he must not grieve at all, since although their case seemed sad,
it was much better than he could conceive. In his dream she made him
promise that he would not grieve, and he did so, wondering. At this
she smiled, looking more beautiful than ever he could have conceived
her to be. Then she spoke these words, always, as it appeared, within
him, printing them, as it were, upon his mind:
"Now you are about to wake up and I must leave you for a while. But
this I promise you, my most dear, my beloved, my own, that before you
fall asleep again for the last time, you shall see me once more, for
that is allowed to me. Indeed it shall be I who will soothe you to
sleep and I who will receive you when you awake again. Also in the
space between, although you do not see me, you will always feel me
near, and I shall be with you. So swear to me once more that you will
Then in his vision Godfrey swore, and she appeared to lean over him
and whisper words into his ear that, although they impressed
themselves upon his brain as the others had done, had no meaning for
him, since they were in some language which he did not understand.
Only he knew that they conveyed a blessing to him, and not that of
Godfrey awoke and looked about him. He was lying in a small room
opposite to an open window that had thin gauze shutters which, as an
old Indian, he knew at once were to keep out mosquitoes. Through this
window he could see the mighty, towering shapes of the Pyramids, and
reflected that after all there must have been some truth in those
wonderful dreams. He lifted his hand; it was so thin that the strong
sunlight shone through it. He touched his head and felt that it was
wrapped in bandages, also that it seemed benumbed upon one side.
A little dark woman wearing a nurse's uniform, entered the room and he
asked her where he was, as once before he had done in France and under
very similar conditions. She stared and answered with an Irish accent:
"Where else but at Mena House Hospital. Don't the Pyramids tell you
"I thought so," he replied. "How long have I been here?"
"Oh! two months, or more. I can't tell you, Colonel, unless I look at
the books, with so many sick men coming and going. Shure! it's a
pleasure to see you yourself again. We thought that perhaps you'd
never wake up reasonably."
"Did you? I always knew that I should."
"And how did you know that?"
"Because someone whom I am very fond of, came and told me so."
She glanced at him sharply.
"Then it's myself that should be flattered," she answered, "or the
night nurse, seeing that it is we who have cared for you with no
visitors admitted except the doctors, and they didn't talk that way.
Now, Colonel, just you drink this and have a nap, for you mustn't
speak too much all at once. If you keep wagging your jaw you'll upset
When he woke again it was night and now the full moon, such a moon as
one sees in Egypt, shone upon the side of the Great Pyramid and made
it silver. He could hear voices talking outside his door, one that of
the Irish nurse which he recognised, and the other of a man, for
although they spoke low, this sense of hearing seemed to be peculiarly
acute to him.
"It is so, Major," said the nurse. "I tell you that except for a
little matter about someone whom he thought had been visiting him, he
is as reasonable as I am, and much more than you are, saving your
"Well," answered the doctor, "as you speak the truth sometimes,
Sister, I'm inclined to believe you, but all I have to say is that I
could have staked my professional reputation that the poor chap would
never get his wits again. He has had an awful blow and on the top of
an old wound, too. After all these months, it's strange, very strange,
and I hope it will continue."
"Well, of course, Major, there is the delusion about the lady."
"Lady! How do you know it was a lady? Just like a woman making up a
romance out of nothing. Yes, there's the delusion, which is bad. Keep
his mind off it as much as possible, and tell him some of your own in
your best brogue. I'll come and examine him to-morrow morning."
Then the voices died away and Godfrey almost laughed because they had
talked of his "delusion," when he knew so well that it was none.
Isobel had been with him. Yes, although he could neither hear nor see
her, Isobel was with him now for he felt her presence. And yet how
could this be if he was in Egypt and she was in England? So wondering,
he fell asleep again.
By degrees as he gathered strength, Godfrey learned all the story of
what had happened to him, or rather so much of it as those in charge
of the hospital knew. It appeared, according to Sister Elizabeth, as
his nurse was named, that when he was struck down in the church,
"somewhere in Africa" as she said vaguely, the guards whom he had with
him, rushed in, firing on the native murderers who fled away except
those who were killed.
Believing that, with the missionary, they had murdered the King's
Officer, a great man, they fled fast and far into German East Africa
and were no more seen. The Chief, Jaga, who had escaped, caused him to
be carried out of the burning church to the missionary's house, and
sent runners to the nearest magistracy many miles away, where there
was a doctor. So there he lay in the house. A native servant who once
acted as a hospital orderly, had washed his wounds and bound them up.
One of these, that on the head, was caused by a kerry or some blunt
instrument, and the other was a spear-stab in the lung. Also from time
to time this servant poured milk down his throat.
At length the doctor came with an armed escort and, greatly daring,
performed some operation which relieved the pressure on the brain and
saved his life. In that house he lay for a month or more and then, in
a semi-comatose condition, was carried by slow stages in a litter back
to Mombasa. Here he lay another month or so and as his mind showed no
signs of returning, was at length put on board a ship and brought to
Meanwhile, as Godfrey learned afterwards, he was believed to have been
murdered with the missionary, and a report to that effect was sent to
England, which, in the general muddle that prevailed at the beginning
of the war, had never been corrected. For be it remembered it was not
until he was carried to Mombasa, nearly two months after he was hurt,
that he reached any place where there was a telegraph. By this time
also, those at Mombasa had plenty of fresh casualties to report, and
indeed were not aware, or had forgotten what exact story had been sent
home concerning Godfrey who could not speak for himself. So it came
about through a series of mischances, that at home he was believed to
be dead as happened to many other men in the course of the great war.
After he came to himself at the Mena House Hospital, Godfrey inquired
whether there were not some letters for him, but none could be found.
He had arranged with the only person likely to write to him, namely
Isobel, to do so through the War Office, and evidently that plan had
not succeeded, for her letters had gone astray. The truth was, of
course, that some had been lost and after definite news of his death
was received, the rest had not been forwarded. Now he bethought him
that he would cable home to Isobel to tell her that he was recovering,
though somehow he imagined that she would know this already through
the authorities. With great difficulty, for the hurt to his side made
it hard for him to use his arm, he wrote the telegram and gave it to
Sister Elizabeth to send, remarking that he would pay the cost as soon
as he could draw some money.
"That won't matter," she replied as she took the cable. Then with an
odd look at him she went away as though to arrange for its despatch.
After she had gone, two orderlies helped Godfrey downstairs to sit on
the broad verandah of the hospital. Here still stood many of the
little tables which used to serve for pleasant tea-parties when the
building was an hotel in the days before the war. On these lay some
old English newspapers. Godfrey picked up one of them with his left
hand, and began to read idly enough. Almost the first paragraph that
his eye fell on was headed:
"Heroic Death of a V.A.D. Commandant."
Something made him read on quickly, and this was what he saw:
"At the inquest on the late Mrs. Knight, the wife of Colonel Knight
who was reported murdered by natives in East Africa some little
time ago, some interesting evidence was given. It appeared from
the testimony of Mrs. Parsons, a nurse in the Hawk's Hall
Hospital, that when warning was given of the approach of Zeppelins
during last week's raid on the Eastern Counties and London, the
patients in the upper rooms of the hospital were removed to its
lower floors. Finding that one young man, a private in the
Suffolk Regiment who has lost both his feet, had been overlooked,
Mrs. Knight, followed by Mrs. Parsons, went upstairs to help him
down. When Mrs. Parsons, whom she outran, reached the door of the
ward there was a great explosion, apparently on the roof. She
waited till the dust had cleared off and groped her way down the
ward with the help of an electric torch. Reaching Private
Thompson's bed, she saw lying on it Mrs. Knight who had been
killed by the fallen masonry. Private Thompson, who was unhurt
beneath the body, said that when the bricks began to come down
Mrs. Knight called to him to lie still and threw herself on him to
protect him. Then something heavy, he believed the stone coping of
a chimney, fell on her back and she uttered one word, he thought
it was a name, and was silent. Mrs. Knight, who was the only child
of the late Sir John Blake, Bart., the well-known shipowner, is
said to have been one of the richest women in England. She married
the late Colonel Knight some months ago, immediately before he was
sent to East Africa. Under the provisions of her will the cremated
remains of Mrs. Knight will be interred in the chancel of the
Abbey Church at Monk's Acre."
Godfrey read this awful paragraph twice and looked at the date of the
paper. It was nearly two months old.
"So she was dead when she came to me. Oh! now I understand," he
muttered to himself, and then, had not a passing native servant caught
him, he would have fallen to the ground. It was one of the ten
thousand minor tragedies of the world war, that is all.
Three months later, still very crippled and coughing badly, because of
the injury to his lung, he reported himself in London, and once more
saw the Under-Secretary who had sent him out to East Africa. There he
sat in the same room, at the same desk, looking precisely the same.
"I am sorry, Sir, that my mission has failed through circumstances
beyond my control. I can only add that I did my best," he said
"I know," answered the official; "it was no fault of yours if those
black brutes tried to murder you. Everything goes wrong in that cursed
East Africa. Now go home and get yourself fit again, my dear fellow,"
he went on very kindly, adding, "Your services will not be
"I have no home, and I shall never be fit again," replied Godfrey, and
left the room.
"I forgot," thought the Under-Secretary. "His wife was killed in a
Zeppelin raid. Odd that she should have been taken and he left."
Then, with a sigh and a shrug of the shoulders he turned to his
Godfrey went to the little house at Hampstead where he used to live
while he was studying as a lad, for here Mrs. Parsons was waiting for
him. Then for the first time he gave way and they wept in each other's
"We were too happy, Nurse," he said.
"Yes," she answered, "love like hers wasn't for this world, and more
than once she said to me that she never expected to see you again in
the flesh, though I thought she meant it was you who would go, as
might have been expected. Stop, I have something for you."
Going to a desk she produced from it a ring, that with the turquoise
hearts; also a canvas-covered book.
"That's her diary," she said, "she used to write in it every day."
That night Godfrey read many beautiful and sacred things in this
diary. From it he learned that the shock of his supposed death had
caused Isobel to miscarry and made her ill for some time, though
underneath the entries about her illness and the false news of his
death she had written:
"He is not dead. I /know/ that he is not dead."
Afterwards there were some curious sentences in which she spoke
joyfully of having seen him in her sleep, ill, but living and going to
recover, "at any rate for a while," she had added.
On the very day of her death she had made this curious note:
"I feel as though Godfrey and I were about to be separated for a
while, and yet that this separation will really bring us closer
together. I am strangely happy. Great vistas seem to open to my
soul and down them I walk with Godfrey for ever and a day, and
over them broods the Love of God in which are embodied and
expressed all other loves. Oh! how wrong and foolish was I, who
for so many years rejected that Love, which yet will not be turned
away and in mercy gave me sight and wisdom and with these Godfrey,
from whose soul my soul can never more be parted. For as I told
you, my darling, ours is the Love Eternal. Remember it always,
Godfrey, if ever your eyes should see these words upon the earth.
Afterwards there will be no need for memory."
So the diary ended.
They invalided Godfrey out of the service and because of his lung
trouble, he went to the house that Miss Ogilvy had left him in
Lucerne, taking Mrs. Parsons with him. There too he found the Pasteur,
grown an old man but otherwise much the same as ever, and him also he
brought to live in the Villa Ogilvy.
The winter went on and Godfrey grew, not better, but worse, till at
last he knew that he was dying, and rejoiced to die. One evening a
letter was brought to him. It was from Madame Riennes, written in a
shaky hand, and ran thus:
"I am going to pass to the World of Speerits, and so are you, my
Godfrey, for I know all about you and everything that has
happened. The plum is eaten, but the stone--ah! it is growing
already, and soon you will be sitting with another under that
beautiful Tree of Life of which I told you in the English church.
And I, where shall I be sitting? Ah! I do not know, but there is
this difference between us that whereas I am afraid, you have no
cause for fear. You, you rejoice, yes, and shall rejoice--for
though sometimes I hate you I must tell it. Yet I am sorry if I
have harmed you, and should you be able, I pray you, say a good
word in the World of Speerits for your sinful old godmamma
Riennes. So fare you well, who thinking that you have lost, have
gained all. It is I, I who have lost. Again farewell, and bid that
old Pasteur to pray for me, which he, who is good, will do,
although I was his enemy and cursed him."
"See that she lacks for nothing till the end, and comfort her if you
can," said Godfrey to the Pasteur.
That night a shape of glory seemed to stand by Godfrey's bed and to
whisper wonderful things into his ears. He saw it, ah, clearly, and
knew that informing its changeful loveliness was all which had been
Isobel upon the earth.
"Fear nothing," he thought it said, "for I am with you and others
greater than I. Know, Godfrey, that everything has a meaning and that
all joy must be won through pain. Our lives seem to have been short
and sad, but these are not the real life, they are but its black and
ugly door, whereof the threshold must be watered with our tears and
the locks turned by the winds of Faith and Prayer. Do not be afraid
then of the blackness of the passage, for beyond it shines the
immortal light in that land where there is understanding and all
forgiveness. Therefore be glad, Godfrey, for the night of sorrows is
at an end and the dawn breaks of peace that passes understanding."
Godfrey woke and spoke to the old Pasteur who was watching by his bed
while Mrs. Parsons wept at its foot.
"Did you see anything?" he asked.
"No, my son," he answered, "but I felt something. It was as though an
angel stood at my side."
Then Godfrey told him all his vision, and much else besides, of which
before he had never spoken to living man.
"It well may be, my son," answered the Pasteur, "since to those who
have suffered greatly, the good God gives the great reward. He Who
endured pain can understand our pains, and He Who redeemed sin can
understand and be gentle to our sins, for His is the true Love
Eternal. So go forward with faith and gladness, and in the joy of that
new world and of the lost which is found again, think sometimes of the
old Pasteur who hopes soon to join you there."
Then he shrove and blessed him.
After this Godfrey slept awhile to wake elsewhere in the Land of that
Love Eternal which the soul of Isobel foreknew.