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Robert Falconer by George MacDonald

Part 11 out of 13

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that the end of my journey was already accomplished.'

Mysie put her hand in his.

'You have saved me, Mr. Falconer.'

'For Ericson's sake, who was dying and could not,' returned

'Ah!' said Mysie, her large eyes opening with wonder. It was
evident she had had no suspicion of his attachment to her.

'But,' said Falconer, 'there was another in it, without whom I could
have done nothing.'

'Who was that?'

'George Moray.'

'Did he know me then?'

'No. Fortunately not. You would not have looked at him then. It
was all done for love of me. He is the truest fellow in the world,
and altogether worthy of you, Miss Hamilton. I will tell you the
whole story some day, lest he should not do himself justice.'

'Ah, that reminds me. Hamilton sounds strange in your voice. You
suspected me of having changed my name to hide my history?'

It was so, and Falconer's silence acknowledged the fact.

'Lady Janet brought me home, and told my father all. When he died a
few years after, she took me to live with her, and never rested till
she had brought me acquainted with Sir John Hamilton, in favour of
whom my father had renounced his claim to some disputed estates.
Sir John had lost his only son, and he had no daughter. He was a
kind-hearted old man, rather like my own father. He took to me, as
they say, and made me change my name to his, leaving me the property
that might have been my father's, on condition that whoever I
married should take the same name. I don't think your friend will
mind making the exchange,' said Mysie in conclusion, as the door
opened and Shargar came in.

'Robert, ye're a' gait (everywhere)!' he exclaimed as he entered.
Then, stopping to ask no questions, 'Ye see I'm to hae a name o' my
ain efter a',' he said, with a face which looked even handsome in
the light of his gladness.

Robert shook hands with him, and wished him joy heartily.

'Wha wad hae thocht it, Shargar,' he added, 'that day 'at ye pat
bonnets for hose upo' Black Geordie's huves?'

The butler announced the Marquis of Boarshead. Mysie's eyes
flashed. She rose from her seat, and advanced to meet the marquis,
who entered behind the servant. He bowed and held out his hand.
Mysie retreated one step, and stood.

'Your lordship has no right to force yourself upon me. You must
have seen that I had no wish to renew the acquaintance I was unhappy
enough to form--now, thank God, many years ago.'

'Forgive me, Miss Hamilton. One word in private,' said the marquis.

'Not a word,' returned Mysie.

'Before these gentlemen, then, whom I have not the honour of
knowing, I offer you my hand.'

'To accept that offer would be to wrong myself even more than your
lordship has done.'

She went back to where Moray was standing, and stood beside him.
The evil spirit in the marquis looked out at its windows.

'You are aware, madam,' he said, 'that your reputation is in the
hand I offer you?'

'The worse for it, my lord,' returned Mysie, with a scornful smile.
'But your lordship's brother will protect it.'

'My brother!' said the marquis. 'What do you mean? I have no

'Ye hae mair brithers than ye ken o', Lord Sandy, and I'm ane o'
them,' said Shargar.

'You are either a liar or a bastard, then,' said the marquis, who
had not been brought up in a school of which either self-restraint
or respect for women were prominent characteristics.

Falconer forgot himself for a moment, and made a stride forward.

'Dinna hit him, Robert,' cried Shargar. 'He ance gae me a shillin',
an' it helpit, as ye ken, to haud me alive to face him this day.--No
liar, my lord, but a bastard, thank heaven.' Then, with a laugh, he
instantly added, 'Gin I had been ain brither to you, my lord, God
only knows what a rascal I micht hae been.'

'By God, you shall answer for your damned insolence,' said the
marquis, and, lifting his riding-whip from the table where he had
laid it, he approached his brother.

Mysie rang the bell.

'Haud yer han', Sandy,' cried Shargar. 'I hae faced mair fearsome
foes than you. But I hae some faimily-feelin', though ye hae nane:
I wadna willin'ly strike my brither.'

As he spoke, he retreated a little. The marquis came on with raised
whip. But Falconer stepped between, laid one of his great hands on
the marquis's chest, and flung him to the other end of the room,
where he fell over an ottoman. The same moment the servant entered.

'Ask your mistress to oblige me by coming to the drawing-room,' said

The marquis had risen, but had not recovered his presence of mind
when Lady Janet entered. She looked inquiringly from one to the

'Please, Lady Janet, will you ask the Marquis of Boarshead to leave
the house,' said Mysie.

'With all my hert,' answered Lady Janet; 'and the mair that he's a
kin' o' a cousin o' my ain. Gang yer wa's, Sandy. Ye're no fit
company for decent fowk; an' that ye wad ken yersel', gin ye had ony
idea left o' what decency means.'

Without heeding her, the marquis went up to Falconer.

'Your card, sir.'

Lady Janet followed him.

''Deed ye s' get nae cairds here,' she said, pushing him aside. 'So
you allow your friends to insult me in your own house as they
please, cousin Janet?' said the marquis, who probably felt her
opposition the most formidable of all.

''Deed they canna say waur o' ye nor I think. Gang awa', an'
repent. Consider yer gray hairs, man.'

This was the severest blow he had yet received. He left the room,
'swearing at large.'

Falconer followed him; but what came of it nobody ever heard.

Major and Miss Hamilton were married within three months, and went
out to India together, taking Nancy Kennedy with them.



Before many months had passed, without the slightest approach to any
formal recognition, I found myself one of the church of labour of
which Falconer was clearly the bishop. As he is the subject, or
rather object of my book, I will now record a fact which may serve
to set forth his views more clearly. I gained a knowledge of some
of the circumstances, not merely from the friendly confidences of
Miss St. John and Falconer, but from being a kind of a Scotch cousin
of Lady Janet Gordon, whom I had taken an opportunity of acquainting
with the relation. She was old-fashioned enough to acknowledge it
even with some eagerness. The ancient clan-feeling is good in this,
that it opens a channel whose very existence is a justification for
the flow of simply human feelings along all possible levels of
social position. And I would there were more of it. Only something
better is coming instead of it--a recognition of the infinite
brotherhood in Christ. All other relations, all attempts by
churches, by associations, by secret societies--of Freemasons and
others, are good merely as they tend to destroy themselves in the
wider truth; as they teach men to be dissatisfied with their
limitations. But I wander; for I mentioned Lady Janet now, merely
to account for some of the information I possess concerning Lady
Georgina Betterton.

I met her once at my so-called cousin's, whom she patronized as a
dear old thing. To my mind, she was worth twenty of her, though she
was wrinkled and Scottishly sententious. 'A sweet old bat,' was
another epithet of Lady Georgina's. But she came to see her,
notwithstanding, and did not refuse to share in her nice little
dinners, and least of all, when Falconer was of the party, who had
been so much taken with Lady Janet's behaviour to the Marquis of
Boarshead, just recorded, that he positively cultivated her
acquaintance thereafter.

Lady Georgina was of an old family--an aged family, indeed; so old,
in fact, that some envious people professed to think it decrepit
with age. This, however, may well be questioned if any argument
bearing on the point may be drawn from the person of Lady Georgina.
She was at least as tall as Mary St. John, and very handsome--only
with somewhat masculine features and expression. She had very
sloping shoulders and a long neck, which took its finest curves when
she was talking to inferiors: condescension was her forte. Of the
admiration of the men, she had had more than enough, although either
they were afraid to go farther, or she was hard to please.

She had never contemplated anything admirable long enough to
comprehend it; she had never looked up to man or woman with anything
like reverence; she saw too quickly and too keenly into the foibles
of all who came near her to care to look farther for their virtues.
If she had ever been humbled, and thence taught to look up, she
might by this time have been a grand woman, worthy of a great man's
worship. She patronized Miss St. John, considerably to her
amusement, and nothing to her indignation. Of course she could not
understand her. She had a vague notion of how she spent her time;
and believing a certain amount of fanaticism essential to religion,
wondered how so sensible and ladylike a person as Miss St. John
could go in for it.

Meeting Falconer at Lady Janet's, she was taken with him. Possibly
she recognized in him a strength that would have made him her
master, if he had cared for such a distinction; but nothing she
could say attracted more than a passing attention on his part.
Falconer was out of her sphere, and her influences were powerless
to reach him.

At length she began to have a glimmering of the relation of labour
between Miss St. John and him, and applied to the former for some
enlightenment. But Miss St. John was far from explicit, for she had
no desire for such assistance as Lady Georgina's. What motives next
led her to seek the interview I am now about to record, I cannot
satisfactorily explain, but I will hazard a conjecture or two,
although I doubt if she understood them thoroughly herself.

She was, if not blase, at least ennuye, and began to miss
excitement, and feel blindly about her for something to make life
interesting. She was gifted with far more capacity than had ever
been exercised, and was of a large enough nature to have grown
sooner weary of trifles than most women of her class. She might
have been an artist, but she drew like a young lady; she might have
been a prophetess, and Byron was her greatest poet. It is no wonder
that she wanted something she had not got.

Since she had been foiled in her attempt on Miss St. John, which she
attributed to jealousy, she had, in quite another circle, heard
strange, wonderful, even romantic stories about Falconer and his
doings among the poor. A new world seemed to open before her
longing gaze--a world, or a calenture, a mirage? for would she cross
the 'wandering fields of barren foam,' to reach the green grass that
did wave on the far shore? the dewless desert to reach the fair
water that did lie leagues beyond its pictured sweetness? But I
think, mingled with whatever motives she may have had, there must
have been some desire to be a nobler, that is a more useful woman
than she had been.

She had not any superabundance of feminine delicacy, though she had
plenty of good-breeding, and she trusted to her position in society
to cover the eccentricity of her present undertaking.

One morning after breakfast she called upon Falconer; and accustomed
to visits from all sorts of people, Mrs. Ashton showed her into his
sitting-room without even asking her name. She found him at his
piano, apologized, in her fashionable drawl, for interrupting his
music, and accepted his offer of a chair without a shade of
embarrassment. Falconer seated himself and sat waiting.

'I fear the step I have taken will appear strange to you, Mr.
Falconer. Indeed it appears strange to myself. I am afraid it may
appear stranger still.'

'It is easy for me to leave all judgment in the matter to yourself,
Miss--I beg your pardon; I know we have met; but for the moment I
cannot recall your name.'

'Lady Georgina Betterton,' drawled the visitor carelessly, hiding
whatever annoyance she may have felt.

Falconer bowed. Lady Georgina resumed.

'Of course it only affects myself; and I am willing to take the
risk, notwithstanding the natural desire to stand well in the
opinion of any one with whom even my boldness could venture such a

A smile, intended to be playful, covered the retreat of the
sentence. Falconer bowed again. Lady Georgina had yet again to

'From the little I have seen, and the much I have heard of
you--excuse me, Mr. Falconer--I cannot help thinking that you know
more of the secret of life than other people--if indeed it has any

'Life certainly is no burden to me,' returned Falconer. 'If that
implies the possession of any secret which is not common property, I
fear it also involves a natural doubt whether such secret be

'Of course I mean only some secret everybody ought to know.'

'I do not misunderstand you.'

'I want to live. You know the world, Mr. Falconer. I need not tell
you what kind of life a girl like myself leads. I am not old, but
the gilding is worn off. Life looks bare, ugly, uninteresting. I
ask you to tell me whether there is any reality in it or not;
whether its past glow was only gilt; whether the best that can be
done is to get through with it as fast as possible?'

'Surely your ladyship must know some persons whose very countenances
prove that they have found a reality at the heart of life.'

'Yes. But none whose judgment I could trust. I cannot tell how soon
they may find reason to change their minds on the subject. Their
satisfaction may only be that they have not tried to rub the varnish
off the gilding so much as I, and therefore the gilding itself still
shines a little in their eyes.'

'If it be only gilding, it is better it should be rubbed off.'

'But I am unwilling to think it is. I am not willing to sign a bond
of farewell to hope. Life seemed good once. It is bad enough that
it seems such no longer, without consenting that it must and shall
be so. Allow me to add, for my own sake, that I speak from the
bitterness of no chagrin. I have had all I ever cared--or
condescended to wish for. I never had anything worth the name of a
disappointment in my life.'

'I cannot congratulate you upon that,' said Falconer, seriously.
'But if there be a truth or a heart in life, assurance of the fact
can only spring from harmony with that truth. It is not to be known
save by absolute contact with it; and the sole guide in the
direction of it must be duty: I can imagine no other possible
conductor. We must do before we can know.'

'Yes, yes,' replied Lady Georgina, hastily, in a tone that implied,
'Of course, of course: we know all about that.' But aware at once,
with the fine instinct belonging to her mental organization, that
she was thus shutting the door against all further communication,
she added instantly: 'But what is one's duty? There is the

'The thing that lies next you, of course. You are, and must remain,
the sole judge of that. Another cannot help you.'

'But that is just what I do not know.'

I interrupt Lady Georgina to remark--for I too have been a pupil of
Falconer--that I believe she must have suspected what her duty was,
and would not look firmly at her own suspicion. She added:

'I want direction.'

But the same moment she proceeded to indicate the direction in which
she wanted to be directed; for she went on:

'You know that now-a-days there are so many modes in which to employ
one's time and money that one does not know which to choose. The
lower strata of society, you know, Mr. Falconer--so many channels!
I want the advice of a man of experience, as to the best
investment, if I may use the expression: I do not mean of money
only, but of time as well.'

'I am not fitted to give advice in such a matter.'

'Mr. Falconer!'

'I assure you I am not. I subscribe to no society myself--not one.'

'Excuse me, but I can hardly believe the rumours I hear of
you--people will talk, you know--are all inventions. They say you
are for ever burrowing amongst the poor. Excuse the phrase.'

'I excuse or accept it, whichever you please. Whatever I do, I am
my own steward.'

'Then you are just the person to help me! I have a fortune, not
very limited, at my own disposal: a gentleman who is his own
steward, would find his labours merely facilitated by administering
for another as well--such labours, I mean.'

'I must beg to be excused, Lady Georgina. I am accountable only for
my own, and of that I have quite as much as I can properly manage.
It is far more difficult to use money for others than to spend it
for yourself.'

'Ah!' said Lady Georgina, thoughtfully, and cast an involuntary
glance round the untidy room, with its horse-hair furniture, its
ragged array of books on the wall, its side-table littered with
pamphlets he never read, with papers he never printed, with pipes he
smoked by chance turns. He saw the glance and understood it.

'I am accustomed,' he said, 'to be in such sad places for human
beings to live in, that I sometimes think even this dingy old room
an absolute palace of comfort.--But,' he added, checking himself, as
it were, 'I do not see in the least how your proposal would
facilitate an answer to your question.'

'You seem hardly inclined to do me justice,' said Lady Georgina,
with, for the first time, a perceptible, though slight shadow
crossing the disc of her resolution. 'I only meant it,' she went on,
'as a step towards a further proposal, which I think you will allow
looks at least in the direction you have been indicating.'

She paused.

'May I beg of you to state the proposal?' said Falconer.

But Lady Georgina was apparently in some little difficulty as to the
proper form in which to express her object. At last it appeared in
the cloak of a question.

'Do you require no assistance in your efforts for the elevation of
the lower classes?' she asked.

'I don't make any such efforts,' said Falconer.

Some of my lady-readers will probably be remarking to themselves,
'How disagreeable of him! I can't endure the man.' If they knew
how Falconer had to beware of the forwardness and annoyance of
well-meaning women, they would not dislike him so much. But
Falconer could be indifferent to much dislike, and therein I know
some men that envy him.

When he saw, however, that Lady Georgina was trying to swallow a
lump in her throat, he hastened to add,

'I have only relations with individuals--none with classes.'

Lady Georgina gathered her failing courage. 'Then there is the more
hope for me,' she said. 'Surely there are things a woman might be
useful in that a man cannot do so well--especially if she would do
as she was told, Mr. Falconer?'

He looked at her, inquiring of her whole person what numen abode in
the fane. She misunderstood the look.

'I could dress very differently, you know. I will be a sister of
charity, if you like.'

'And wear a uniform?--as if the god of another world wanted to make
proselytes or traitors in this! No, Lady Georgina, it was not of a
dress so easily altered that I was thinking; it was of the habit,
the dress of mind, of thought, of feeling. When you laid aside your
beautiful dress, could you avoid putting on the garment of
condescension, the most unchristian virtue attributed to Deity or
saint? Could you--I must be plain with you, Lady Georgina, for this
has nothing to do with the forms of so-called society--could your
temper endure the mortifications of low opposition and
misrepresentation of motive and end--which, avoid intrusion as you
might, would yet force themselves on your perception? Could you be
rudely, impudently thwarted by the very persons for whom you were
spending your strength and means, and show no resentment? Could you
make allowances for them as for your own brothers and sisters, your
own children?'

Lady Georgina was silent.

'I shall seem to glorify myself, but at that risk I must put the
reality before you.--Could you endure the ugliness both moral and
physical which you must meet at every turn? Could you look upon
loathsomeness, not merely without turning away in disgust, and thus
wounding the very heart you would heal, but without losing your
belief in the Fatherhood of God, by losing your faith in the actual
blood-relationship to yourself of these wretched beings? Could you
believe in the immortal essence hidden under all this garbage--God
at the root of it all? How would the delicate senses you probably
inherit receive the intrusions from which they could not protect
themselves? Would you be in no danger of finding personal refuge in
the horrid fancy, that these are but the slimy borders of humanity
where it slides into, and is one with bestiality? I could show you
one fearful baboon-like woman, whose very face makes my nerves
shudder: could you believe that woman might one day become a lady,
beautiful as yourself, and therefore minister to her? Would you not
be tempted, for the sake of your own comfort, if not for the pride
of your own humanity, to believe that, like untimely blossoms, these
must fall from off the boughs of the tree of life, and come to
nothing at all--a theory that may do for the preacher, but will not
do for the worker: him it would paralyze?--or, still worse,
infinitely worse, that they were doomed, from their birth, to
endless ages of a damnation, filthy as that in which you now found
them, and must probably leave them? If you could come to this, you
had better withhold your hand; for no desire for the betterment of
the masses, as they are stupidly called, can make up for a lack of
faith in the individual. If you cannot hope for them in your heart,
your hands cannot reach them to do them good. They will only hurt

Lady Georgina was still silent. Falconer's eloquence had perhaps
made her ashamed.

'I want you to sit down and count the cost, before you do any
mischief by beginning what you are unfit for. Last week I was
compelled more than once to leave the house where my duty led me,
and to sit down upon a stone in the street, so ill that I was in
danger of being led away as intoxicated, only the policeman happened
to know me. Twice I went back to the room I had left, crowded with
human animals, and one of them at least dying. It was all I could
do, and I have tolerable nerve and tolerable experience.'

A mist was gathering over Lady Georgina's eyes. She confessed it
afterwards to Miss St. John. And through the mist he looked larger
than human.

'And then the time you must spend before you can lay hold upon them
at all, that is with the personal relation which alone is of any
real influence! Our Saviour himself had to be thirty years in the
world before he had footing enough in it to justify him in beginning
to teach publicly: he had been laying the needful foundations all
the time. Not under any circumstances could I consent to make use
of you before you had brought yourself into genuine relations with
some of them first.'

'Do you count societies, then, of no use whatever?' Lady Georgina
asked, more to break the awkwardness of her prolonged silence than
for any other reason.

'In as far as any of the persons they employ fulfil the conditions
of which I have spoken, they are useful--that is, just in as far as
they come into genuine human relations with those whom they would
help. In as far as their servants are incapable of this, the
societies are hurtful. The chief good which societies might effect
would be the procuring of simple justice for the poor. That is what
they need at the hands of the nation, and what they do not receive.
But though few can have the knowledge of the poor I have, many
could do something, if they would only set about it simply, and not
be too anxious to convert them; if they would only be their friends
after a common-sense fashion. I know, say, a hundred wretched men
and women far better than a man in general knows him with whom he
claims an ordinary intimacy. I know many more by sight whose names
in the natural course of events I shall probably know soon. I know
many of their relations to each other, and they talk about each
other to me as if I were one of themselves, which I hope in God I
am. I have been amongst them a good many years now, and shall
probably spend my life amongst them. When I went first, I was
repeatedly robbed; now I should hardly fear to carry another man's
property. Two years ago I had my purse taken, but next morning it
was returned, I do not know by whom: in fact it was put into my
pocket again--every coin, as far as I could judge, as it left me. I
seldom pretend to teach them--only now and then drop a word of
advice. But possibly, before I die, I may speak to them in public.
At present I avoid all attempt at organization of any sort, and as
far as I see, am likely of all things to avoid it. What I want is
first to be their friend, and then to be at length recognized as
such. It is only in rare cases that I seek the acquaintance of any
of them: I let it come naturally. I bide my time. Almost never do
I offer assistance. I wait till they ask it, and then often refuse
the sort they want. The worst thing you can do for them is to
attempt to save them from the natural consequences of wrong: you may
sometimes help them out of them. But it is right to do many things
for them when you know them, which it would not be right to do for
them until you know them. I am amongst them; they know me; their
children know me; and something is always occurring that makes this
or that one come to me. Once I have a footing, I seldom lose it.
So you see, in this my labour I am content to do the thing that
lies next me. I wait events. You have had no training, no
blundering to fit you for such work. There are many other modes of
being useful; but none in which I could undertake to direct you. I
am not in the habit of talking so much about my ways--but that is of
no consequence. I think I am right in doing so in this instance.'

'I cannot misunderstand you,' faltered Lady Georgina.

Falconer was silent. Without looking up from the floor on which her
eyes had rested all the time he spoke, Lady Georgina said at last,

'Then what is my next duty? What is the thing that lies nearest to

'That, I repeat, belongs to your every-day history. No one can
answer that question but yourself. Your next duty is just to
determine what your next duty is.--Is there nothing you neglect? Is
there nothing you know you ought not to do?--You would know your
duty, if you thought in earnest about it, and were not ambitious of
great things.'

'Ah then,' responded Lady Georgina, with an abandoning sigh, 'I
suppose it is something very commonplace, which will make life more
dreary than ever. That cannot help me.'

'It will, if it be as dreary as reading the newspapers to an old
deaf aunt. It will soon lead you to something more. Your duty will
begin to comfort you at once, but will at length open the unknown
fountain of life in your heart.'

Lady Georgina lifted up her head in despair, looked at Falconer
through eyes full of tears, and said vehemently,

'Mr. Falconer, you can have no conception how wretched a life like
mine is. And the futility of everything is embittered by the
consciousness that it is from no superiority to such things that I
do not care for them.'

'It is from superiority to such things that you do not care for
them. You were not made for such things. They cannot fill your
heart. It has whole regions with which they have no relation.'

'The very thought of music makes me feel ill. I used to be
passionately fond of it.'

'I presume you got so far in it that you asked, "Is there nothing
more?" Concluding there was nothing more, and yet needing more, you
turned from it with disappointment?'

'It is the same,' she went on hurriedly, 'with painting, modelling,
reading--whatever I have tried. I am sick of them all. They do
nothing for me.'

'How can you enjoy music, Lady Georgina, if you are not in harmony
with the heart and source of music?'

'How do you mean?'

'Until the human heart knows the divine heart, it must sigh and
complain like a petulant child, who flings his toys from him because
his mother is not at home. When his mother comes back to him he
finds his toys are good still. When we find Him in our own hearts,
we shall find him in everything, and music will be deep enough then,
Lady Georgina. It is this that the Brahmin and the Platonist seek;
it is this that the mystic and the anchorite sigh for; towards this
the teaching of the greatest of men would lead us: Lord Bacon
himself says, "Nothing can fill, much less extend the soul of man,
but God, and the contemplation of God." It is Life you want. If you
will look in your New Testament, and find out all that our Lord says
about Life, you will find the only cure for your malady. I know
what such talk looks like; but depend upon it, what I am talking
about is something very different from what you fancy it. Anyhow to
this you must come, one day or other.'

'But how am I to gain this indescribable good, which so many seek,
and so few find?'

'Those are not my words,' said Falconer emphatically. 'I should have
said--"which so few yet seek; but so many shall at length find."'

'Do not quarrel with my foolish words, but tell me how I am to find
it; for I suppose there must be something in what so many good
people assert.'

'You thought I could give you help?'

'Yes. That is why I came to you.'

'Just so. I cannot give you help. Go and ask it of one who can.'

'Speak more plainly.'

'Well then: if there be a God, he must hear you if you call to him.
If there be a father, he will listen to his child. He will teach
you everything.'

'But I don't know what I want.'

'He does: ask him to tell you what you want. It all comes back to
the old story: "If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts
to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the
holy Spirit to them that ask him!" But I wish you would read your
New Testament--the Gospels I mean: you are not in the least fit to
understand the Epistles yet. Read the story of our Saviour as if
you had never read it before. He at least was a man who seemed to
have that secret of life after the knowledge of which your heart is

Lady Georgina rose. Her eyes were again full of tears. Falconer
too was moved. She held out her hand to him, and without another
word left the room. She never came there again.

Her manner towards Falconer was thereafter much altered. People
said she was in love with him: if she was, it did her no harm. Her
whole character certainly was changed. She sought the friendship of
Miss St. John, who came at length to like her so much, that she took
her with her in some of her walks among the poor. By degrees she
began to do something herself after a quiet modest fashion. But
within a few years, probably while so engaged, she caught a fever
from which she did not recover. It was not till after her death
that Falconer told any one of the interview he had had with her.
And by that time I had the honour of being very intimate with him.
When she knew that she was dying, she sent for him. Mary St. John
was with her. She left them together. When he came out, he was



Falconer lived on and laboured on in London. Wherever he found a
man fitted for the work, he placed him in such office as De Fleuri
already occupied. At the same time he went more into society, and
gained the friendship of many influential people. Besides the use
he made of this to carry out plans for individual rescue, it enabled
him to bestir himself for the first and chief good which he believed
it was in the power of the government to effect for the class
amongst which he laboured. As I have shown, he did not believe in
any positive good being effected save through individual
contact--through faith, in a word--faith in the human helper--which
might become a stepping-stone through the chaotic misery towards
faith in the Lord and in his Father. All that association could do,
as such, was only, in his judgment, to remove obstructions from the
way of individual growth and education--to put better conditions
within reach--first of all, to provide that the people should be
able, if they would, to live decently. He had no notion of domestic
inspection, or of offering prizes for cleanliness and order. He
knew that misery and wretchedness are the right and best condition
of those who live so that misery and wretchedness are the natural
consequences of their life. But there ought always to be the
possibility of emerging from these; and as things were, over the
whole country, for many who would if they could, it was impossible
to breathe fresh air, to be clean, to live like human beings. And
he saw this difficulty ever on the increase, through the rapacity of
the holders of small house-property, and the utter wickedness of
railway companies, who pulled down every house that stood in their
way, and did nothing to provide room for those who were thus
ejected--most probably from a wretched place, but only, to be driven
into a more wretched still. To provide suitable dwellings for the
poor he considered the most pressing of all necessary reforms. His
own fortune was not sufficient for doing much in this way, but he
set about doing what he could by purchasing houses in which the poor
lived, and putting them into the hands of persons whom he could
trust, and who were immediately responsible to him for their
proceedings: they had to make them fit for human abodes, and let
them to those who desired better accommodation, giving the
preference to those already tenants, so long as they paid their
reasonable rent, which he considered far more necessary for them to
do than for him to have done.

One day he met by appointment the owner of a small block, of which
he contemplated the purchase. They were in a dreadfully dilapidated
condition, a shame that belonged more to the owner than the
inhabitants. The man wanted to sell the houses, or at least was
willing to sell them, but put an exorbitant price upon them.
Falconer expostulated.

'I know the whole of the rent these houses could bring you in,' he
said, 'without making any deduction for vacancies and defalcations:
what you ask is twice as much as they would fetch if the full rent
were certain.'

The poor wretch looked up at him with the leer of a ghoul. He was
dressed like a broken-down clergyman, in rusty black, with a
neck-cloth of whitey-brown.

'I admit it,' he said in good English, and a rather educated tone.
'Your arguments are indisputable. I confess besides that so far
short does the yield come of the amount on paper, that it would pay
me to give them away. But it's the funerals, sir, that make it
worth my while. I'm an undertaker, as you may judge from my
costume. I count back-rent in the burying. People may cheat their
landlord, but they can't cheat the undertaker. They must be buried.
That's the one indispensable--ain't it, sir?'

Falconer had let him run on that he might have the measure of him.
Now he was prepared with his reply.

'You've told me your profession,' he said: 'I'll tell you mine. I
am a lawyer. If you don't let me have those houses for five
hundred, which is the full market value, I'll prosecute you. It'll
take a good penny from the profits of your coffins to put those
houses in a state to satisfy the inspector.'

The wretched creature was struck dumb. Falconer resumed.

'You're the sort of man that ought to be kept to your pound of
filthy flesh. I know what I say; and I'll do it. The law costs me
nothing. You won't find it so.'

The undertaker sold the houses, and no longer in that quarter killed
the people he wanted to bury.

I give this as a specimen of the kind of thing Falconer did. But he
took none of the business part in his own hands, on the same
principle on which Paul the Apostle said it was unmeet for him to
leave the preaching of the word in order to serve tables--not that
the thing was beneath him, but that it was not his work so long as
he could be doing more important service still.

De Fleuri was one of his chief supports. The whole nature of the
man mellowed under the sun of Falconer, and over the work that
Falconer gave him to do. His daughter recovered, and devoted
herself to the same labour that had rescued her. Miss St. John was
her superior. By degrees, without any laws or regulations, a little
company was gathered, not of ladies and gentlemen, but of men and
women, who aided each, other, and without once meeting as a whole,
laboured not the less as one body in the work of the Lord, bound in
one by bonds that had nothing to do with cobweb committee meetings
or public dinners, chairmen or wine-flushed subscriptions. They
worked like the leaven of which the Lord spoke.

But De Fleuri, like almost every one in the community I believe, had
his own private schemes subserving the general good. He knew the
best men of his own class and his own trade, and with them his
superior intellectual gifts gave him influence. To them he told the
story of Falconer's behaviour to him, of Falconer's own need, and of
his hungry-hearted search. An enthusiasm of help seized upon the
men. To aid your superior is such a rousing gladness!--Was anything
of this in St. Paul's mind when he spoke of our being fellow-workers
with God? I only put the question.--Each one of these had his own
trustworthy acquaintances, or neighbours, rather--for like finds out
like all the world through, as well as over--and to them he told the
story of Falconer and his father, so that in all that region of
London it became known that the man who loved the poor was himself
needy, and looked to the poor for their help. Without them he could
not be made perfect.

Some of my readers may be inclined to say that it was dishonourable
in Falconer to have occasioned the publishing of his father's
disgrace. Such may recall to their minds that concealment is no law
of the universe; that, on the contrary, the Lord of the Universe
said once: 'There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed.'
Was the disgrace of Andrew Falconer greater because a thousand men
knew it, instead of forty, who could not help knowing it? Hope lies
in light and knowledge. Andrew would be none the worse that honest
men knew of his vice: they would be the first to honour him if he
should overcome it. If he would not--the disgrace was just, and
would fall upon his son only in sorrow, not in dishonour. The grace
of God--the making of humanity by his beautiful hand--no, heart--is
such, that disgrace clings to no man after repentance, any more than
the feet defiled with the mud of the world come yet defiled from the
bath. Even the things that proceed out of the man, and do terribly
defile him, can be cast off like the pollution of the leper by a
grace that goes deeper than they; and the man who says, 'I have
sinned: I will sin no more,' is even by the voice of his brothers
crowned as a conqueror, and by their hearts loved as one who has
suffered and overcome. Blessing on the God-born human heart! Let
the hounds of God, not of Satan, loose upon sin;--God only can rule
the dogs of the devil;--let them hunt it to the earth; let them drag
forth the demoniac to the feet of the Man who loved the people while
he let the devil take their swine; and do not talk about disgrace
from a thing being known when the disgrace is that the thing should

One night I was returning home from some poor attempts of my own. I
had now been a pupil of Falconer for a considerable time, but having
my own livelihood to make, I could not do so much as I would.

It was late, nearly twelve o'clock, as I passed through the region
of Seven Dials. Here and there stood three or four brutal-looking
men, and now and then a squalid woman with a starveling baby in her
arms, in the light of the gin-shops. The babies were the saddest to
see--nursery-plants already in training for the places these men and
women now held, then to fill a pauper's grave, or perhaps a
perpetual cell--say rather, for the awful spaces of silence, where
the railway director can no longer be guilty of a worse sin than
house-breaking, and his miserable brother will have no need of the
shelter of which he deprived him. Now and then a flaunting woman
wavered past--a night-shade, as our old dramatists would have called
her. I could hardly keep down an evil disgust that would have
conquered my pity, when a scanty white dress would stop beneath a
lamp, and the gay dirty bonnet, turning round, reveal a painted
face, from which shone little more than an animal intelligence, not
brightened by the gin she had been drinking. Vague noises of strife
and of drunken wrath flitted around me as I passed an alley, or an
opening door let out its evil secret. Once I thought I heard the
dull thud of a blow on the head. The noisome vapours were fit for
any of Swedenborg's hells. There were few sounds, but the very
quiet seemed infernal. The night was hot and sultry. A skinned
cat, possibly still alive, fell on the street before me. Under one
of the gas-lamps lay something long: it was a tress of dark hair,
torn perhaps from some woman's head: she had beautiful hair at
least. Once I heard the cry of murder, but where, in that chaos of
humanity, right or left, before or behind me, I could not even
guess. Home to such regions, from gorgeous stage-scenery and
dresses, from splendid, mirror-beladen casinos, from singing-halls,
and places of private and prolonged revelry, trail the daughters of
men at all hours from midnight till morning. Next day they drink
hell-fire that they may forget. Sleep brings an hour or two of
oblivion, hardly of peace; but they must wake, worn and miserable,
and the waking brings no hope: their only known help lies in the
gin-shop. What can be done with them? But the secrets God keeps
must be as good as those he tells.

But no sights of the night ever affected me so much as walking
through this same St. Giles's on a summer Sunday morning, when
church-goers were in church. Oh! the faces that creep out into the
sunshine then, and haunt their doors! Some of them but skins drawn
over skulls, living Death's-heads, grotesque in their hideousness.

I was not very far from Falconer's abode. My mind was oppressed
with sad thoughts and a sense of helplessness. I began to wonder
what Falconer might at that moment be about. I had not seen him for
a long time--a whole fortnight. He might be at home: I would go and
see, and if there were light in his windows I would ring his bell.

I went. There was light in his windows. He opened the door
himself, and welcomed me. I went up with him, and we began to talk.
I told him of my sad thoughts, and my feelings of helplessness.

'He that believeth shall not make haste,' he said. 'There is plenty
of time. You must not imagine that the result depends on you, or
that a single human soul can be lost because you may fail. The
question, as far as you are concerned, is, whether you are to be
honoured in having a hand in the work that God is doing, and will
do, whether you help him or not. Some will be honoured: shall it be
me? And this honour gained excludes no one: there is work, as there
is bread in his house, enough and to spare. It shows no faith in
God to make frantic efforts or frantic lamentations. Besides, we
ought to teach ourselves to see, as much as we may, the good that is
in the condition of the poor.'

'Teach me to see that, then,' I said. 'Show me something.'

'The best thing is their kindness to each other. There is an
absolute divinity in their self-denial for those who are poorer than
themselves. I know one man and woman, married people, who pawned
their very furniture and wearing apparel to procure cod-liver oil
for a girl dying in consumption. She was not even a relative, only
an acquaintance of former years. They had found her destitute and
taken her to their own poor home. There are fathers and mothers who
will work hard all the morning, and when dinner-time comes "don't
want any," that there may be enough for their children--or half
enough, more likely. Children will take the bread out of their own
mouths to put in that of their sick brother, or to stick in the fist
of baby crying for a crust--giving only a queer little helpless
grin, half of hungry sympathy, half of pleasure, as they see it
disappear. The marvel to me is that the children turn out so well
as they do; but that applies to the children in all ranks of life.
Have you ever watched a group of poor children, half-a-dozen of
them with babies in their arms?'

'I have, a little, and have seen such a strange mixture of
carelessness and devotion.'

'Yes. I was once stopped in the street by a child of ten, with face
absolutely swollen with weeping, asking me to go and see baby who
was very ill. She had dropped him four times that morning, but had
no idea that could have done him any harm. The carelessness is
ignorance. Their form of it is not half so shocking as that of the
mother who will tremble at the slightest sign of suffering in her
child, but will hear him lie against his brother without the
smallest discomfort. Ah! we shall all find, I fear, some day, that
we have differed from each other, where we have done best, only in
mode--perhaps not even in degree. A grinding tradesman takes
advantage of the over supply of labour to get his work done at
starvation prices: I owe him love, and have never thought of paying
my debt except in boundless indignation.'

'I wish I had your faith and courage, Mr. Falconer,' I said.

'You are in a fair way of having far more,' he returned. 'You are
not so old as I am, by a long way. But I fear you are getting out
of spirits. Is to-morrow a hard day with you?'

'I have next to nothing to do to-morrow.'

'Then will you come to me in the evening? We will go out together.'

Of course I was only too glad to accept the proposal. But our talk
did not end here. The morning began to shine before I rose to leave
him; and before I reached my abode it was broad daylight. But what
a different heart I carried within me! And what a different London
it was outside of me! The scent of the hayfields came on the
hardly-moving air. It was a strange morning--a new day of unknown
history--in whose young light the very streets were transformed,
looking clear and clean, and wondrously transparent in perspective,
with unknown shadows lying in unexpected nooks, with projection and
recess, line and bend, as I had never seen them before. The light
was coming as if for the first time since the city sprang into
being--as if a thousand years had rolled over it in darkness and
lamplight, and now, now, after the prayers and longings of ages, the
sun of God was ascending the awful east, and the spirit-voice had
gone forth: 'Arise, shine, for thy light is come.'

It was a well-behaved, proper London through which I walked home.
Here and there, it is true, a debauched-looking man, with pale
face, and red sleepy eyes, or a weary, withered girl, like a
half-moon in the daylight, straggled somewhither. But they looked
strange to the London of the morning. They were not of it. Alas
for those who creep to their dens, like the wild beasts when the sun
arises, because the light has shaken them out of the world. All the
horrid phantasms of the Valley of the Shadow of Death that had risen
from the pit with the vaporous night had sunk to escape the arrows
of the sun, once more into its bottomless depth. If any horrid deed
was doing now, how much more horrid in the awful still light of this
first hour of a summer morn! How many evil passions now lay sunk
under the holy waves of sleep! How many heartaches were gnawing
only in dreams, to wake with the brain, and gnaw in earnest again!
And over all brooded the love of the Lord Christ, who is Lord over
all blessed for ever, and shall yet cast death and hell into the
lake of fire--the holy purifying Fate.

I got through my sole engagement--a very dreary one, for surely
never were there stupider young people in the whole region of rank
than those to whom duty and necessity sent me on the Wednesday
mornings of that London season--even with some enjoyment. For the
lessons Falconer had been giving me clung to me and grew on me until
I said thus to myself: 'Am I to believe only for the poor, and not
for the rich? Am I not to bear with conceit even, hard as it is to
teach? for is not this conceit itself the measure as the consequence
of incapacity and ignorance? They cannot help being born stupid,
any more than some of those children in St. Giles's can help being
born preternaturally, unhealthily clever. I am going with my friend
this evening: that hope is enough to make me strong for one day at
least.' So I set myself to my task, and that morning wiled the
first gleam of intelligent delight out of the eyes of one poor
little washed-out ladyship. I could have kissed her from positive

The day did wear over. The evening did come. I was with my
friend--for friend I could call him none the less and all the more
that I worshipped him.

'I have business in Westminster,' he said, 'and then on the other
side of the water.'

'I am more and more astonished at your knowledge of London, Mr.
Falconer,' I said. 'You must have a great faculty for places.'

'I think rather the contrary,' he answered. 'But there is no end to
the growth of a faculty, if one only uses it--especially when his
whole nature is interested in its efficiency, and makes demands upon
it. The will applies to the intellect; the intellect communicates
its necessities to the brain; the brain bestirs itself, and grows
more active; the eyes lend their aid; the memory tries not to be
behind; and at length you have a man gifted in localities.'

'How is it that people generally can live in such quiet ignorance of
the regions that surround them, and the kind of humanity so near
them?' I said after a pause.

'It does seem strange. It is as if a man should not know who were
in his own house. Would-be civilization has for the very centre of
its citadel, for the citizens of its innermost city, for the heart
around which the gay and fashionable, the learned, the artistic, the
virtuous, the religious are gathered, a people some of whom are
barbarous, some cruel, many miserable, many unhappy, save for brief
moments not of hope, but of defiance, distilled in the alembic of
the brain from gin: what better life could steam up from such a
Phlegethon! Look there: "Cream of the Valley!" As if the mocking
serpent must with sweet words of Paradise deepen the horrors of the
hellish compound, to which so many of our brothers and sisters made
in the image of God, fly as to their only Saviour from the misery of
feeling alive.'

'How is it that the civilized people of London do not make a
simultaneous inroad upon the haunts of the demons and drive them

'It is a mercy they do not. They would only do infinite mischief.
The best notion civilization seems to have is--not to drive out the
demons, but to drive out the possessed; to take from them the poor
refuges they have, and crowd them into deeper and more fetid
hells--to make room for what?--more and more temples in which Mammon
may be worshipped. The good people on the other hand invade them
with foolish tracts, that lie against God; or give their money to
build churches, where there is as yet no people that will go to
them. Why, the other day, a young clergyman bored me, and would
have been boring me till now, I think, if I would have let him, to
part with a block of my houses, where I know every man, woman, and
child, and keep them in comparative comfort and cleanliness and
decency, to say no more, that he might pull them down and build a
church upon the site--not quite five minutes' walk from the church
where he now officiates.'

It was a blowing, moon-lit night. The gaslights flickered and
wavered in the gusts of wind. It was cold, very cold for the
season. Even Falconer buttoned his coat over his chest. He got a
few paces in advance of me sometimes, when I saw him towering black
and tall and somewhat gaunt, like a walking shadow. The wind
increased in violence. It was a north-easter, laden with dust, and
a sense of frozen Siberian steppes. We had to stoop and head it at
the corners of streets. Not many people were out, and those who
were, seemed to be hurrying home. A few little provision-shops, and
a few inferior butchers' stalls were still open. Their great jets
of gas, which looked as if they must poison the meat, were flaming
fierce and horizontal, roaring like fiery flags, and anon dying into
a blue hiss. Discordant singing, more like the howling of wild
beasts, came from the corner houses, which blazed like the gates of
hell. Their doors were ever on the swing, and the hot odours of
death rushed out, and the cold blast of life rushed in. We paused a
little before one of them--over the door, upon the sign, was in very
deed the name Death. There were ragged women within who took their
half-dead babies from their bare, cold, cheerless bosoms, and gave
them of the poison of which they themselves drank renewed despair in
the name of comfort. They say that most of the gin consumed in
London is drunk by women. And the little clay-coloured baby-faces
made a grimace or two, and sank to sleep on the thin tawny breasts
of the mothers, who having gathered courage from the essence of
despair, faced the scowling night once more, and with bare necks and
hopeless hearts went--whither? Where do they all go when the
gin-hells close their yawning jaws? Where do they lie down at
night? They vanish like unlawfully risen corpses in the graves of
cellars and garrets, in the charnel-vaults of pestiferously-crowded
lodging-houses, in the prisons of police-stations, under dry arches,
within hoardings; or they make vain attempts to rest the night out
upon door-steps or curbstones. All their life long man denies them
the one right in the soil which yet is so much theirs, that once
that life is over, he can no longer deny it--the right of room to
lie down. Space itself is not allowed to be theirs by any right of
existence: the voice of the night-guardian commanding them to move
on, is as the howling of a death-hound hunting them out of the air
into their graves.

In St. James's we came upon a group around the gates of a great
house. Visitors were coming and going, and it was a show to be had
for nothing by those who had nothing to pay. Oh! the children with
clothes too ragged to hold pockets for their chilled hands, that
stared at the childless duchess descending from her lordly carriage!
Oh! the wan faces, once lovely as theirs, it may be, that gazed
meagre and pinched and hungry on the young maidens in rose-colour
and blue, tripping lightly through the avenue of their eager
eyes--not yet too envious of unattainable felicity to gaze with
admiring sympathy on those who seemed to them the angels, the
goddesses of their kind. 'O God!' I thought, but dared not speak,
'and thou couldst make all these girls so lovely! Thou couldst give
them all the gracious garments of rose and blue and white if thou
wouldst! Why should these not be like those? They are hungry even,
and wan and torn. These too are thy children. There is wealth
enough in thy mines and in thy green fields, room enough in thy
starry spaces, O God!' But a voice--the echo of Falconer's
teaching, awoke in my heart--'Because I would have these more
blessed than those, and those more blessed with them, for they are
all my children.'

By the Mall we came into Whitehall, and so to Westminster Bridge.
Falconer had changed his mind, and would cross at once. The
present bridge was not then finished, and the old bridge alongside
of it was still in use for pedestrians. We went upon it to reach
the other side. Its centre rose high above the other, for the line
of the new bridge ran like a chord across the arc of the old.
Through chance gaps in the boarding between, we looked down on the
new portion which was as yet used by carriages alone. The moon had,
throughout the evening, alternately shone in brilliance from amidst
a lake of blue sky, and been overwhelmed in billowy heaps of
wind-tormented clouds. As we stood on the apex of the bridge,
looking at the night, the dark river, and the mass of human effort
about us, the clouds gathered and closed and tumbled upon her in
crowded layers. The wind howled through the arches beneath, swept
along the boarded fences, and whistled in their holes. The
gas-lights blew hither and thither, and were perplexed to live at

We were standing at a spot where some shorter pieces had been used
in the hoarding; and, although I could not see over them, Falconer,
whose head rose more than half a foot above mine, was looking on the
other bridge below. Suddenly he grasped the top with his great
hands, and his huge frame was over it in an instant. I was on the
top of the hoarding the same moment, and saw him prostrate some
twelve feet below. He was up the next instant, and running with
huge paces diagonally towards the Surrey side. He had seen the
figure of a woman come flying along from the Westminster side,
without bonnet or shawl. When she came under the spot where we
stood, she had turned across at an obtuse angle towards the other
side of the bridge, and Falconer, convinced that she meant to throw
herself into the river, went over as I have related. She had all
but scrambled over the fence--for there was no parapet yet--by the
help of the great beam that ran along to support it, when he caught
her by her garments. So poor and thin were those garments, that if
she had not been poor and thin too, she would have dropped from them
into the darkness below. He took her in his arms, lifted her down
upon the bridge, and stood as if protecting her from a pursuing
death. I had managed to find an easier mode of descent, and now
stood a little way from them.

'Poor girl! poor girl!' he said, as if to himself: 'was this the
only way left?'

Then he spoke tenderly to her. What he said I could not hear--I
only heard the tone.

'O sir!' she cried, in piteous entreaty, 'do let me go. Why should
a wretched creature like me be forced to live? It's no good to you,
sir. Do let me go.'

'Come here,' he said, drawing her close to the fence. 'Stand up
again on the beam. Look down.'

She obeyed, in a mechanical kind of way. But as he talked, and she
kept looking down on the dark mystery beneath, flowing past with
every now and then a dull vengeful glitter--continuous, forceful,
slow, he felt her shudder in his still clasping arm.

'Look,' he said, 'how it crawls along--black and slimy! how silent
and yet how fierce! Is that a nice place to go to down there?
Would there be any rest there, do you think, tumbled about among
filth and creeping things, and slugs that feed on the dead; among
drowned women like yourself drifting by, and murdered men, and
strangled babies? Is that the door by which you would like to go
out of the world?'

'It's no worse,' she faltered, '--not so bad as what I should leave

'If this were the only way out of it, I would not keep you from it.
I would say, "Poor thing! there is no help: she must go." But
there is another way.'

'There is no other way, sir--if you knew all,' she said.

'Tell me, then.'

'I cannot. I dare not. Please--I would rather go.'

She looked, from the mere glimpses I could get of her, somewhere
about five-and-twenty, making due allowance for the wear of
suffering so evident even in those glimpses. I think she might have
been beautiful if the waste of her history could have been restored.
That she had had at least some advantages of education, was evident
from both her tone and her speech. But oh, the wild eyes, and the
tortured lips, drawn back from the teeth with an agony of
hopelessness, as she struggled anew, perhaps mistrusting them, to
escape from the great arms that held her!

'But the river cannot drown you,' Falconer said. 'It can only stop
your breath. It cannot stop your thinking. You will go on
thinking, thinking, all the same. Drowning people remember in a
moment all their past lives. All their evil deeds come up before
them, as if they were doing them all over again. So they plunge
back into the past and all its misery. While their bodies are
drowning, their souls are coming more and more awake.'

'That is dreadful,' she murmured, with her great eyes fixed on his,
and growing steadier in their regard. She had ceased to struggle,
so he had slackened his hold of her, and she was leaning back
against the fence.

'And then,' he went on, 'what if, instead of closing your eyes, as
you expected, and going to sleep, and forgetting everything, you
should find them come open all at once, in the midst of a multitude
of eyes all round about you, all looking at you, all thinking about
you, all judging you? What if you should hear, not a tumult of
voices and noises, from which you could hope to hide, but a solemn
company talking about you--every word clear and plain, piercing your
heart with what you could not deny,--and you standing naked and
shivering in the midst of them?'

'It is too dreadful!' she cried, making a movement as if the very
horror of the idea had a fascination to draw her towards the
realization of it. 'But,' she added, yielding to Falconer's renewed
grasp, 'they wouldn't be so hard upon me there. They would not be
so cruel as men are here.'

'Surely not. But all men are not cruel. I am not cruel,' he added,
forgetting himself for a moment, and caressing with his huge hand
the wild pale face that glimmered upon him as it were out of the
infinite night--all but swallowed up in it.

She drew herself back, and Falconer, instantly removing his hand,

'Look in my face, child, and see whether you cannot trust me.'

As he uttered the words, he took off his hat, and stood bare-headed
in the moon, which now broke out clear from the clouds. She did
look at him. His hair blew about his face. He turned it towards
the wind and the moon, and away from her, that she might be
undisturbed in her scrutiny. But how she judged of him, I cannot
tell; for the next moment he called out in a tone of repressed

'Gordon, Gordon, look there--above your head, on the other bridge.'

I looked and saw a gray head peering over the same gap through which
Falconer had looked a few minutes before. I knew something of his
personal quest by this time, and concluded at once that he thought
it was or might be his father.

'I cannot leave the poor thing--I dare not,' he said.

I understood him, and darted off at full speed for the Surrey end of
the bridge. What made me choose that end, I do not know; but I was

I had some reason to fear that I might be stopped when I reached it,
as I had no business to be upon the new bridge. I therefore
managed, where the upper bridge sank again towards a level with the
lower, to scramble back upon it. As I did so the tall gray-headed
man passed me with an uncertain step. I did not see his face. I
followed him a few yards behind. He seemed to hear and dislike the
sound of my footsteps, for he quickened his pace. I let him
increase the distance between us, but followed him still. He turned
down the river. I followed. He began to double. I doubled after
him. Not a turn could he get before me. He crossed all the main
roads leading to the bridges till he came to the last--when he
turned toward London Bridge. At the other end, he went down the
stairs into Thames Street, and held eastward still. It was not
difficult to keep up with him, for his stride though long was slow.
He never looked round, and I never saw his face; but I could not
help fancying that his back and his gait and his carriage were very
like Falconer's.

We were now in a quarter of which I knew nothing, but as far as I
can guess from after knowledge, it was one of the worst districts in
London, lying to the east of Spital Square. It was late, and there
were not many people about.

As I passed a court, I was accosted thus:

''Ain't you got a glass of ale for a poor cove, gov'nor?'

'I have no coppers,' I said hastily. 'I am in a hurry besides,' I
added as I walked on.

'Come, come!' he said, getting up with me in a moment, 'that ain't a
civil answer to give a cove after his lush, that 'ain't got a
blessed mag.'

As he spoke he laid his hand rather heavily on my arm. He was a
lumpy-looking individual, like a groom who had been discharged for
stealing his horse's provender, and had not quite worn out the
clothes he had brought with him. From the opposite side at the same
moment, another man appeared, low in stature, pale, and marked with
the small-pox.

He advanced upon me at right angles. I shook off the hand of the
first, and I confess would have taken to my heels, for more reasons
than one, but almost before I was clear of him, the other came
against me, and shoved me into one of the low-browed entries which

I was so eager to follow my chase that I acted foolishly throughout.
I ought to have emptied my pockets at once; but I was unwilling to
lose a watch which was an old family piece, and of value besides.

'Come, come! I don't carry a barrel of ale in my pocket,' I said,
thinking to keep them in good-humour. I know better now. Some of
these roughs will take all you have in the most good-humoured way in
the world, bandying chaff with you all the time. I had got amongst
another set, however.

'Leastways you've got as good,' said a third, approaching from the
court, as villanous-looking a fellow as I have ever seen.

'This is hardly the right way to ask for it,' I said, looking out
for a chance of bolting, but putting my hand in my pocket at the
same time. I confess again I acted very stupidly throughout the
whole affair, but it was my first experience.

'It's a way we've got down here, anyhow,' said the third with a
brutal laugh. 'Look out, Savoury Sam,' he added to one of them.

'Now I don't want to hurt you,' struck in the first, coming nearer,
'but if you gives tongue, I'll make cold meat of you, and gouge your
pockets at my leisure, before ever a blueskin can turn the corner.'

Two or three more came sidling up with their hands in their pockets.

'What have you got there, Slicer?' said one of them, addressing the
third, who looked like a ticket-of-leave man.

'We've cotched a pig-headed counter-jumper here, that didn't know
Jim there from a man-trap, and went by him as if he'd been a
bull-dog on a long-chain. He wants to fight cocum. But we won't
trouble him. We'll help ourselves. Shell out now.'

As he spoke he made a snatch at my watch-chain. I forgot myself and
hit him. The same moment I received a blow on the head, and felt
the blood running down my face. I did not quite lose my senses,
though, for I remember seeing yet another man--a tall fellow, coming
out of the gloom of the court. How it came into my mind, I do not
know, and what I said I do not remember, but I must have mentioned
Falconer's name somehow.

The man they called Slicer, said,

'Who's he? Don't know the--.'

Words followed which I cannot write.

'What! you devil's gossoon!' returned an Irish voice I had not heard
before. 'You don't know Long Bob, you gonnof!'

All that passed I heard distinctly, but I was in a half faint, I
suppose, for I could no longer see.

'Now what the devil in a dice-box do you mean?' said Slicer,
possessing himself of my watch. 'Who is the blasted cove?--not that
I care a flash of damnation.'

'A man as 'll knock you down if he thinks you want it, or give you a
half-a-crown if he thinks you want it--all's one to him, only he'll
have the choosing which.'

'What the hell's that to me? Look spry. He mustn't lie there all
night. It's too near the ken. Come along, you Scotch haddock.'

I was aware of a kick in the side as he spoke.

'I tell you what it is, Slicer,' said one whose voice I had not yet
heard, 'if so be this gentleman's a friend of Long Bob, you just let
him alone, I say.'

I opened my eyes now, and saw before me a tall rather slender man in
a big loose dress-coat, to whom Slicer had turned with the words,

'You say! Ha! ha! Well, I say--There's my Scotch haddock! who'll
touch him?'

'I'll take him home,' said the tall man, advancing towards me. I
made an attempt to rise. But I grew deadly ill, fell back, and
remember nothing more.

When I came to myself I was lying on a bed in a miserable place. A
middle-aged woman of degraded countenance, but kindly eyes, was
putting something to my mouth with a teaspoon: I knew it by the
smell to be gin. But I could not yet move. They began to talk
about me, and I lay and listened. Indeed, while I listened, I lost
for a time all inclination to get up, I was so much interested in
what I heard.

'He's comin' to hisself,' said the woman. 'He'll be all right by and
by. I wonder what brings the likes of him into the likes of this
place. It must look a kind of hell to them gentle-folks, though we
manage to live and die in it.'

'I suppose,' said another, 'he's come on some of Mr. Falconer's

'That's why Job's took him in charge. They say he was after
somebody or other, they think.--No friend of Mr. Falconer's would be
after another for any mischief,' said my hostess.

'But who is this Mr. Falconer?--Is Long Bob and he both the same
alias?' asked a third.

'Why, Bessy, ain't you no better than that damned Slicer, who ought
to ha' been hung up to dry this many a year? But to be sure you
'ain't been long in our quarter. Why, every child hereabouts knows
Mr. Falconer. Ask Bobby there.'

'Who's Mr. Falconer, Bobby?'

A child's voice made reply,

'A man with a long, long beard, that goes about, and sometimes grows
tired and sits on a door-step. I see him once. But he ain't Mr.
Falconer, nor Long Bob neither,' added Bobby in a mysterious tone.
'I know who he is.'

'What do you mean, Bobby? Who is he, then?'

The child answered very slowly and solemnly,

'He's Jesus Christ.'

The woman burst into a rude laugh.

'Well,' said Bobby in an offended tone, 'Slicer's own Tom says so,
and Polly too. We all says so. He allus pats me on the head, and
gives me a penny.'

Here Bobby began to cry, bitterly offended at the way Bessy had
received his information, after considering him sufficiently
important to have his opinion asked.

'True enough,' said his mother. 'I see him once a-sittin' on a
door-step, lookin' straight afore him, and worn-out like, an' a lot
o' them childer standin' all about him, an' starin' at him as mum as
mice, for fear of disturbin' of him. When I come near, he got up
with a smile on his face, and give each on 'em a penny all round,
and walked away. Some do say he's a bit crazed like; but I never
saw no sign o' that; and if any one ought to know, that one's Job's
Mary; and you may believe me when I tell you that he was here night
an' mornin' for a week, and after that off and on, when we was all
down in the cholerer. Ne'er a one of us would ha' come through but
for him.'

I made an attempt to rise. The woman came to my bedside.

'How does the gentleman feel hisself now?' she asked kindly.

'Better, thank you,' I said. 'I am ashamed of lying like this, but I
feel very queer.'

'And it's no wonder, when that devil Slicer give you one o' his even
down blows on the top o' your head. Nobody knows what he carry in
his sleeve that he do it with--only you've got off well, young man,
and that I tell you, with a decent cut like that. Only don't you go
tryin' to get up now. Don't be in a hurry till your blood comes
back like.'

I lay still again for a little. When I lifted my hand to my head, I
found it was bandaged up. I tried again to rise. The woman went to
the door, and called out,

'Job, the gentleman's feelin' better. He'll soon be able to move, I
think. What will you do with him now?'

'I'll go and get a cab,' said Job; and I heard him go down a stair.

I raised myself, and got on the floor, but found I could not stand.
By the time the cab arrived, however, I was able to crawl to it.
When Job came, I saw the same tall thin man in the long dress coat.
His head was bound up too.

'I am sorry to see you too have been hurt--for my sake, of course,'
I said. 'Is it a bad blow?'

'Oh! it ain't over much. I got in with a smeller afore he came
right down with his slogger. But I say, I hope as how you are a
friend of Mr. Falconer's, for you see we can't afford the likes of
this in this quarter for every chance that falls in Slicer's way.
Gentlemen has no business here.'

'On the contrary, I mean to come again soon, to thank you all for
being so good to me.'

'Well, when you comes next, you'd better come with him, you know.'

'You mean with Mr. Falconer?'

'Yes, who else? But are you able to go now? for the sooner you're
out of this the better.'

'Quite able. Just give me your arm.'

He offered it kindly. Taking a grateful farewell of my hostess, I
put my hand in my pocket, but there was nothing there. Job led me
to the mouth of the court, where a cab, evidently of a sort with the
neighbourhood, was waiting for us. I got in. Job was shutting the

'Come along with me, Job,' I said. 'I'm going straight to Mr.
Falconer's. He will like to see you, especially after your kindness
to me.'

'Well, I don't mind if I do look arter you a little longer; for to
tell the truth,' said Job, as he opened the door, and got in beside
me, 'I don't over and above like the look of the--horse.'

'It's no use trying to rob me over again,' I said; but he gave no
reply. He only shouted to the cabman to drive to John Street,
telling him the number.

I can scarcely recall anything more till we reached Falconer's
chambers. Job got out and rang the bell. Mrs. Ashton came down.
Her master was not come home.

'Tell Mr. Falconer,' I said, 'that I'm all right, only I couldn't
make anything of it.'

'Tell him,' growled Job, 'that he's got his head broken, and won't
be out o' bed to-morrow. That's the way with them fine-bred ones.
They lies a-bed when the likes o' me must go out what they calls
a-custamongering, broken head and all.'

'You shall stay at home for a week if you like, Job--that is if I've
got enough to give you a week's earnings. I'm not sure though till
I look, for I'm not a rich man any more than yourself.'

'Rubbish!' said Job as he got in again; 'I was only flummuxing the
old un. Bless your heart, sir, I wouldn't stay in--not for nothink.
Not for a bit of a pat on the crown, nohow. Home ain't none so
nice a place to go snoozing in--nohow. Where do you go to,

I told him. When I got out, and was opening the door, leaning on
his arm, I said I was very glad they hadn't taken my keys.

'Slicer nor Savoury Sam neither's none the better o' you, and I
hopes you're not much the worse for them,' said Job, as he put into
my hands my purse and watch. 'Count it, gov'nor, and see if it's all
right. Them pusses is mannyfactered express for the convenience o'
the fakers. Take my advice, sir, and keep a yellow dump (sovereign)
in yer coat-tails, a flatch yenork (half-crown) in yer waistcoat,
and yer yeneps (pence) in yer breeches. You won't lose much nohow
then. Good-night, sir, and I wish you better.'

'But I must give you something for plaster,' I said. 'You'll take a
yellow dump, at least?'

'We'll talk about that another day,' said Job; and with a second
still heartier good-night, he left me. I managed to crawl up to my
room, and fell on my bed once more fainting. But I soon recovered
sufficiently to undress and get into it. I was feverish all night
and next day, but towards evening begun to recover.

I kept expecting Falconer to come and inquire after me; but he never
came. Nor did he appear the next day or the next, and I began to be
very uneasy about him. The fourth day I sent for a cab, and drove
to John Street. He was at home, but Mrs. Ashton, instead of showing
me into his room, led me into her kitchen, and left me there.

A minute after, Falconer came to me. The instant I saw him I
understood it all. I read it in his face: he had found his father.



Having at length persuaded the woman to go with him, Falconer made
her take his arm, and led her off the bridge. In Parliament Street
he was looking about for a cab as they walked on, when a man he did
not know, stopped, touched his hat, and addressed him.

'I'm thinkin', sir, ye'll be sair wantit at hame the nicht It wad be
better to gang at ance, an' lat the puir fowk luik efter themsels
for ae nicht.'

'I'm sorry I dinna ken ye, man. Do ye ken me?'

'Fine that, Mr. Falconer. There's mony ane kens you and praises

'God be praised!' returned Falconer. 'Why am I wanted at home?'

''Deed I wad raither not say, sir.--Hey!'

This last exclamation was addressed to a cab just disappearing down
King Street from Whitehall. The driver heard, turned, and in a
moment more was by their side.

'Ye had better gang into her an' awa' hame, and lea' the poor lassie
to me. I'll tak guid care o' her.'

She clung to Falconer's arm. The man opened the door of the cab.
Falconer put her in, told the driver to go to Queen Square, and if
he could not make haste, to stop the first cab that could, got in
himself, thanked his unknown friend, who did not seem quite
satisfied, and drove off.

Happily Miss St. John was at home, and there was no delay. Neither
was any explanation of more than six words necessary. He jumped
again into the cab and drove home. Fortunately for his mood, though
in fact it mattered little for any result, the horse was fresh, and
both able and willing.

When he entered John Street, he came to observe before reaching his
own door that a good many men were about in little quiet
groups--some twenty or so, here and there. When he let himself in
with his pass-key, there were two men in the entry. Without
stopping to speak, he ran up to his own chambers. When he got into
his sitting-room, there stood De Fleuri, who simply waved his hand
towards the old sofa. On it lay an elderly man, with his eyes half
open, and a look almost of idiocy upon his pale, puffed face, which
was damp and shining. His breathing was laboured, but there was no
further sign of suffering. He lay perfectly still. Falconer saw at
once that he was under the influence of some narcotic, probably
opium; and the same moment the all but conviction darted into his
mind that Andrew Falconer, his grandmother's son, lay there before
him. That he was his own father he had no feeling yet. He turned
to De Fleuri.

'Thank you, friend,' he said. 'I shall find time to thank you.'

'Are we right?' asked De Fleuri.

'I don't know. I think so,' answered Falconer; and without another
word the man withdrew.

His first mood was very strange. It seemed as if all the romance
had suddenly deserted his life, and it lay bare and hopeless. He
felt nothing. No tears rose to the brim of their bottomless
wells--the only wells that have no bottom, for they go into the
depths of the infinite soul. He sat down in his chair, stunned as
to the heart and all the finer chords of his nature. The man on the
horsehair sofa lay breathing--that was all. The gray hair about the
pale ill-shaven face glimmered like a cloud before him. What should
he do or say when he awaked? How approach this far-estranged soul?
How ever send the cry of father into that fog-filled world? Could
he ever have climbed on those knees and kissed those lips, in the
far-off days when the sun and the wind of that northern atmosphere
made his childhood blessed beyond dreams? The actual--that is the
present phase of the ever-changing--looked the ideal in the face;
and the mirror that held them both, shook and quivered at the
discord of the faces reflected. A kind of moral cold seemed to
radiate from the object before him, and chill him to the very bones.
This could not long be endured. He fled from the actual to the
source of all the ideal--to that Saviour who, the infinite mediator,
mediates between all hopes and all positions; between the most
debased actual and the loftiest ideal; between the little scoffer of
St. Giles's and his angel that ever beholds the face of the Father
in heaven. He fell on his knees, and spoke to God, saying that he
had made this man; that the mark of his fingers was on the man's
soul somewhere. He prayed to the making Spirit to bring the man to
his right mind, to give him once more the heart of a child, to begin
him yet again at the beginning. Then at last, all the evil he had
done and suffered would but swell his gratitude to Him who had
delivered him from himself and his own deeds. Having breathed this
out before the God of his life, Falconer rose, strengthened to meet
the honourable debased soul when it should at length look forth from
the dull smeared windows of those ill-used eyes.

He felt his pulse. There was no danger from the narcotic. The coma
would pass away. Meantime he would get him to bed. When he began
to undress him a new reverence arose which overcame all disgust at
the state in which he found him. At length one sad little fact
about his dress, revealing the poverty-stricken attempt of a man to
preserve the shadow of decency, called back the waters of the
far-ebbed ocean of his feelings. At the prick of a pin the heart's
blood will flow: at the sight of--a pin it was--Robert burst into
tears, and wept like a child; the deadly cold was banished from his
heart, and he not only loved, but knew that he loved--felt the love
that was there. Everything then about the worn body and shabby
garments of the man smote upon the heart of his son, and through his
very poverty he was sacred in his eyes. The human heart awakened
the filial--reversing thus the ordinary process of Nature, who by
means of the filial, when her plans are unbroken, awakes the human;
and he reproached himself bitterly for his hardness, as he now
judged his late mental condition--unfairly, I think. He soon had
him safe in bed, unconscious of the helping hands that had been busy
about him in his heedless sleep; unconscious of the radiant planet
of love that had been folding him round in its atmosphere of

But while he thus ministered, a new question arose in his mind--to
meet with its own new, God-given answer. What if this should not be
the man after all?--if this love had been spent in mistake, and did
not belong to him at all? The answer was, that he was a man. The
love Robert had given he could not, would not withdraw. The man who
had been for a moment as his father he could not cease to regard
with devotion. At least he was a man with a divine soul. He might
at least be somebody's father. Where love had found a moment's rest
for the sole of its foot, there it must build its nest.

When he had got him safe in bed, he sat down beside him to think
what he would do next. This sleep gave him very needful leisure to
think. He could determine nothing--not even how to find out if he
was indeed his father. If he approached the subject without guile,
the man might be fearful and cunning--might have reasons for being
so, and for striving to conceal the truth. But this was the first
thing to make sure of, because, if it was he, all the hold he had
upon him lay in his knowing it for certain. He could not think. He
had had little sleep the night before. He must not sleep this
night. He dragged his bath into his sitting-room, and refreshed his
faculties with plenty of cold water, then lighted his pipe and went
on thinking--not without prayer to that Power whose candle is the
understanding of man. All at once he saw how to begin. He went
again into the chamber, and looked at the man, and handled him, and
knew by his art that a waking of some sort was nigh. Then he went
to a corner of his sitting-room, and from beneath the table drew out
a long box, and from the box lifted Dooble Sandy's auld wife, tuned
the somewhat neglected strings, and laid the instrument on the

When, keeping constant watch over the sleeping man, he judged at
length that his soul had come near enough to the surface of the
ocean of sleep to communicate with the outer world through that
bubble his body, which had floated upon its waves all the night
unconscious, he put his chair just outside the chamber door, which
opened from his sitting-room, and began to play gently, softly, far
away. For a while he extemporized only, thinking of Rothieden, and
the grandmother, and the bleach-green, and the hills, and the waste
old factory, and his mother's portrait and letters. As he dreamed
on, his dream got louder, and, he hoped, was waking a more and more
vivid dream in the mind of the sleeper. 'For who can tell,' thought
Falconer, 'what mysterious sympathies of blood and childhood's
experience there may be between me and that man?--such, it may be,
that my utterance on the violin will wake in his soul the very
visions of which my soul is full while I play, each with its own
nebulous atmosphere of dream-light around it.' For music wakes its
own feeling, and feeling wakes thought, or rather, when perfected,
blossoms into thought, thought radiant of music as those lilies that
shine phosphorescent in the July nights. He played more and more
forcefully, growing in hope. But he had been led astray in some
measure by the fulness of his expectation. Strange to tell, doctor
as he was, he had forgotten one important factor in his calculation:
how the man would awake from his artificial sleep. He had not
reckoned of how the limbeck of his brain would be left discoloured
with vile deposit, when the fumes of the narcotic should have
settled and given up its central spaces to the faintness of

Robert was very keen of hearing. Indeed he possessed all his senses
keener than any other man I have known. He heard him toss on his
bed. Then he broke into a growl, and damned the miauling, which, he
said, the strings could never have learned anywhere but in a cat's
belly. But Robert was used to bad language; and there are some bad
things which, seeing that there they are, it is of the greatest
consequence to get used to. It gave him, no doubt, a pang of
disappointment to hear such an echo to his music from the soul which
he had hoped especially fitted to respond in harmonious unison with
the wail of his violin. But not for even this moment did he lose
his presence of mind. He instantly moderated the tone of the
instrument, and gradually drew the sound away once more into the
distance of hearing. But he did not therefore let it die. Through
various changes it floated in the thin ther of the soul, changes
delicate as when the wind leaves the harp of the reeds by a river's
brink, and falls a-ringing at the heather bells, or playing with the
dry silvery pods of honesty that hang in the poor man's garden, till
at length it drew nearer once more, bearing on its wings the wail of
red Flodden, the Flowers of the Forest. Listening through the
melody for sounds of a far different kind, Robert was aware that
those sounds had ceased; the growling was still; he heard no more
turnings to and fro. How it was operating he could not tell,
further than that there must be some measure of soothing in its
influence. He ceased quite, and listened again. For a few moments
there was no sound. Then he heard the half-articulate murmuring of
one whose organs have been all but overcome by the beneficent
paralysis of sleep, but whose feeble will would compel them to
utterance. He was nearly asleep again. Was it a fact, or a fancy
of Robert's eager heart? Did the man really say,

'Play that again, father. It's bonnie, that! I aye likit the
Flooers o' the Forest. Play awa'. I hae had a frichtsome dream. I
thocht I was i' the ill place. I doobt I'm no weel. But yer fiddle
aye did me gude. Play awa', father!'

All the night through, till the dawn of the gray morning, Falconer
watched the sleeping man, all but certain that he was indeed his
father. Eternities of thought passed through his mind as he
watched--this time by the couch, as he hoped, of a new birth. He
was about to see what could be done by one man, strengthened by all
the aids that love and devotion could give, for the redemption of
his fellow. As through the darkness of the night and a sluggish fog
to aid it, the light of a pure heaven made its slow irresistible
way, his hope grew that athwart the fog of an evil life, the
darkness that might be felt, the light of the Spirit of God would
yet penetrate the heart of the sinner, and shake the wickedness out
of it. Deeper and yet deeper grew his compassion and his sympathy,
in prospect of the tortures the man must go through, before the will
that he had sunk into a deeper sleep than any into which opium could
sink his bodily being, would shake off its deathly lethargy, and
arise, torn with struggling pain, to behold the light of a new
spiritual morning. All that he could do he was prepared to do,
regardless of entreaty, regardless of torture, anger, and hate, with
the inexorable justice of love, the law that will not, must not,
dares not yield--strong with an awful tenderness, a wisdom that
cannot be turned aside, to redeem the lost soul of his father. And
he strengthened his heart for the conflict by saying that if he
would do thus for his father, what would not God do for his child?
Had He not proved already, if there was any truth in the grand
story of the world's redemption through that obedience unto the
death, that his devotion was entire, and would leave nothing undone
that could be done to lift this sheep out of the pit into whose
darkness and filth he had fallen out of the sweet Sabbath of the

He removed all his clothes, searched the pockets, found in them one
poor shilling and a few coppers, a black cutty pipe, a box of snuff,
a screw of pigtail, a knife with a buckhorn handle and one broken
blade, and a pawn-ticket for a keyed flute, on the proceeds of which
he was now sleeping--a sleep how dearly purchased, when he might
have had it free, as the gift of God's gentle darkness! Then he
destroyed the garments, committing them to the fire as the hoped
farewell to the state of which they were the symbols and signs.

He found himself perplexed, however, by the absence of some of the
usual symptoms of the habit of opium, and concluded that his poor
father was in the habit of using stimulants as well as narcotics,
and that the action of the one interfered with the action of the

He called his housekeeper. She did not know whom her master
supposed his guest to be, and regarded him only as one of the many
objects of his kindness. He told her to get some tea ready, as the
patient would most likely wake with a headache. He instructed her
to wait upon him as a matter of course, and explain nothing. He had
resolved to pass for the doctor, as indeed he was; and he told her
that if he should be at all troublesome, he would be with her at
once. She must keep the room dark. He would have his own breakfast
now; and if the patient remained quiet, would sleep on the sofa.

He woke murmuring, and evidently suffered from headache and nausea.
Mrs. Ashton took him some tea. He refused it with an oath--more of
discomfort than of ill-nature--and was too unwell to show any
curiosity about the person who had offered it. Probably he was
accustomed to so many changes of abode, and to so many bewilderments
of the brain, that he did not care to inquire where he was or who
waited upon him. But happily for the heart's desire of Falconer,
the debauchery of his father had at length reached one of many
crises. He had caught cold before De Fleuri and his comrades found
him. He was now ill--feverish and oppressed. Through the whole of
the following week they nursed and waited upon him without his
asking a single question as to where he was or who they were; during
all which time Falconer saw no one but De Fleuri and the many poor
fellows who called to inquire after him and the result of their
supposed success. He never left the house, but either watched by
the bedside, or waited in the next room. Often would the patient
get out of bed, driven by the longing for drink or for opium,
gnawing him through all the hallucinations of delirium; but he was
weak, and therefore manageable. If in any lucid moments he thought
where he was, he no doubt supposed that he was in a hospital, and
probably had sense enough to understand that it was of no use to
attempt to get his own way there. He was soon much worn, and his
limbs trembled greatly. It was absolutely necessary to give him
stimulants, or he would have died, but Robert reduced them gradually
as he recovered strength.

But there was an infinite work to be done beyond even curing him of
his evil habits. To keep him from strong drink and opium, even till
the craving after them was gone, would be but the capturing of the
merest outwork of the enemy's castle. He must be made such that,
even if the longing should return with tenfold force, and all the
means for its gratification should lie within the reach of his
outstretched hand, he would not touch them. God only was able to do
that for him. He would do all that he knew how to do, and God would
not fail of his part. For this he had raised him up; to this he had
called him; for this work he had educated him, made him a physician,
given him money, time, the love and aid of his fellows, and, beyond
all, a rich energy of hope and faith in his heart, emboldening him
to attempt whatever his hand found to do.



As Andrew Falconer grew better, the longing of his mind after former
excitement and former oblivion, roused and kept alive the longing of
his body, until at length his thoughts dwelt upon nothing but his
diseased cravings. His whole imagination, naturally not a feeble
one, was concentrated on the delights in store for him as soon as he
was well enough to be his own master, as he phrased it, once more.
He soon began to see that, if he was in a hospital, it must be a
private one, and at last, irresolute as he was both from character
and illness, made up his mind to demand his liberty. He sat by his
bedroom fire one afternoon, for he needed much artificial warmth.
The shades of evening were thickening the air. He had just had one
of his frequent meals, and was gazing, as he often did, into the
glowing coals. Robert had come in, and after a little talk was
sitting silent at the opposite corner of the chimney-piece.

'Doctor,' said Andrew, seizing the opportunity, 'you've been very
kind to me, and I don't know how to thank you, but it is time I was
going. I am quite well now. Would you kindly order the nurse to
bring me my clothes to-morrow morning, and I will go.'

This he said with the quavering voice of one who speaks because he
has made up his mind to speak. A certain something, I believe a
vague molluscous form of conscience, made him wriggle and shift
uneasily upon his chair as he spoke.

'No, no,' said Robert, 'you are not fit to go. Make yourself
comfortable, my dear sir. There is no reason why you should go.'

'There is something I don't understand about it. I want to go.'

'It would ruin my character as a professional man to let a patient
in your condition leave the house. The weather is unfavourable. I
cannot--I must not consent.'

'Where am I? I don't understand it. I want to understand it.'

'Your friends wish you to remain where you are for the present.'

'I have no friends.'

'You have one, at least, who puts his house here at your service.'

'There's something about it I don't like. Do you suppose I am
incapable of taking care of myself?'

'I do indeed,' answered his son with firmness.

'Then you are quite mistaken,' said Andrew, angrily. 'I am quite
well enough to go, and have a right to judge for myself. It is very
kind of you, but I am in a free country, I believe.'

'No doubt. All honest men are free in this country. But--'

He saw that his father winced, and said no more. Andrew resumed,
after a pause in which he had been rousing his feeble
drink-exhausted anger,

'I tell you I will not be treated like a child. I demand my clothes
and my liberty.'

'Do you know where you were found that night you were brought here?'

'No. But what has that to do with it? I was ill. You know that as
well as I.'

'You are ill now because you were lying then on the wet ground under
a railway-arch--utterly incapable from the effects of opium, or
drink, or both. You would have been taken to the police-station,
and would probably have been dead long before now, if you had not
been brought here.'

He was silent for some time. Then he broke out,

'I tell you I will go. I do not choose to live on charity. I will
not. I demand my clothes.'

'I tell you it is of no use. When you are well enough to go out you
shall go out, but not now.'

'Where am I? Who are you?'

He looked at Robert with a keen, furtive glance, in which were
mingled bewilderment and suspicion.

'I am your best friend at present.'

He started up--fiercely and yet feebly, for a thought of terror had
crossed him.

'You do not mean I am in a madhouse?'

Robert made no reply. He left him to suppose what he pleased.
Andrew took it for granted that he was in a private asylum, sank
back in his chair, and from that moment was quiet as a lamb. But it
was easy to see that he was constantly contriving how to escape.
This mental occupation, however, was excellent for his recovery;
and Robert dropped no hint of his suspicion. Nor were many
precautions necessary in consequence; for he never left the house
without having De Fleuri there, who was a man of determination,
nerve, and, now that he ate and drank, of considerable strength.

As he grew better, the stimulants given him in the form of medicine
at length ceased. In their place Robert substituted other
restoratives, which prevented him from missing the stimulants so
much, and at length got his system into a tolerably healthy
condition, though at his age, and after so long indulgence, it could
hardly be expected ever to recover its tone.

He did all he could to provide him with healthy amusement--played
backgammon, draughts, and cribbage with him, brought him Sir
Walter's and other novels to read, and often played on his violin,

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