Part 4 out of 12
until the morning of the day on which he was to make his vows. By this
time his soul had spent itself so prodigally in prayer that he had almost
begun to regard himself as one already in another world. The morning was
clear and frosty, and he could see that something unusual was taking
place on the earth below. Traffic was stopped, the open spaces were
crowded, and processions were passing through the streets with bands of
music playing and banners flying. Then he remembered what day it was--it
was Lord Mayor's Day, the 9th of November--and once again he thought of
Glory. She would be there, for her heart was light and she loved the
world and all its scenes of gaiety and splendour.
It was the day of his final preparation, and he was under the rule of
silence, so he returned to his cell and shut the door. But he could not
shut out the sounds of the streets. All day long the bands were playing
and the horses prancing, and there was the tramp of many feet. And even
in the last hour before the ceremony, when he was on his knees in front
of the crucifix and the palms of his hands were pressed against his face,
he could see the gay spectacle and the surging throngs--the men, the
women, the children in every window, on every parapet, and Glory in the
midst of them with her laughing lips and her sparkling eyes.
Night brought peace with it at length, and then the bell rang and he went
down to service. The brothers were waiting for him in the hall, and they
formed into line and passed into the church: first, Brother Andrew with
the cross, then Brother Paul with the incense, and the other lay brothers
with the candles, then the religious in their cassocks, and the Superior
in his cope, and John Storm last of all.
The altar was decorated as for a feast, and the service was strange but
solemn. John had drawn up in writing a promise of stability and
obedience, and this he placed with his own hand on the altar. Down to
that moment he had worn his costume as a secular priest, but now he was
to be robed in the habit of the Order.
The Father stood on the altar steps with the habit lying at his feet. He
took it up and blessed it and then put it on John, saying as he bound it
with the cord, "Take this cord and wear it in memory of the purity of
heart wherewith you must ever hereafter seek to abide in the love and
service of our Lord Jesus."
At that moment a door was suddenly and loudly slammed, to signify that
the world was being shut out; the choir said the Gloria Patri, and then
sang a hymn beginning:
Farewell, thou world of sorrow,
Unrest, and schism and strife!
I leave thee on the threshold
Of the celestial life.
It was the occasion of Brother Paul's life vows also, and as John stood
back from the altar steps the lay brother was brought up to them. He was
very pale and nervous, and he would have stumbled but for the help of the
Father Minister and Brother Andrew, who walked on either side of him.
Then the same ceremony was gone through again, but with yet more solemn
accessories. The burial service was read, the De Profundis was sung, the
bell was tolled, the Ecce quam bonum was intoned, and finally the chant
Dead to Him, then death is over,
Dead and gone are death's dark fears.
John Storm was profoundly stirred. The heavens seemed to open and all the
earth to pass away. It was difficult to believe that he was still in the
When he was able to collect himself he was on the tower again, but in his
cassock now and gripping the cord by which it was tied. The frosty air of
the morning had thickened to a fog, the fog-signals were sounding, and
the mighty monster below seemed to be puffing fire from a thousand
nostrils and bellowing from a thousand throats.
Some one had come up to him. It was Brother Paul. He was talking
nervously and even pretending to laugh a little.
"I am so happy to see you here. And I am glad the silence is at an end
and I am able to tell you so."
"Thank you," said John, and he tried to pass him.
"I always knew you would come to us--that is to say, after the night I
heard you at the hospital--the night of the Nurses' Ball, you remember,
and the Father's visit, you know. Still, I trust there was nothing
wrong--nothing at the hospital, I mean----"
John was fumbling for the door to the dormer.
"Everybody loved you too--the patients and the nurses and everybody! How
they will miss you there! I trust you left everybody well--and happy
"Good-night," said John from the head of the stair.
There was silence for a moment, and then the brother said, in another
"Yes, I understand you. I know quite well what you mean. It is a fault to
speak of the outer world except on especial need. We have taken the vows,
too, and are pledged for life--I am, at all events. Still, if you could
have told me anything---- But I am much to blame. I must confess my
fault and do my penance."
John was diving down the stair and hurrying into his room.
"God help him!" he thought. "And me too! God help both of us! How am I to
live if I have to hide this secret? Yet how is he to live if he learns
He sat on the bed and tried to compose himself. Yes, Brother Paul was an
object for pity. In all the moral universe there was no spectacle more
pitiable than that of a man who had left the world while his heart was
still in it. What was he doing here? What had brought him? What business
had such a one in such a place? And then his pitiful helplessness for all
the uses of life and duty! Could it be right, could it be necessary,
could it be God's wish and will?
Here was a man whose sister was in the world. She was young and vain, and
the world was gay and seductive. Without a hand to guide and guard her,
what evils might not befall? She was sunk already in shame and
degradation, and he had put it out of his power to save her. Whatever had
happened in the past, whatever might happen in the future, he was lost to
her forever. The captured eagle with the broken wing was now chained to
the wall as well. But prayer! Prayer was the bulwark of chastity, and God
was in need of no man's efforts.
John fell on his knees before the crucifix. With the broken logic of
reverie he was thinking of Glory, and Brother Paul, and Polly and Drake.
They crossed his brain and weighed upon it and went out and returned. The
night was cold, but the sweat stood on his brow in beads. In the depths
of his soul something was speaking to him, and he was trying not to
listen. He was like a blind man who had stumbled to the edge of a
precipice, and could hear the waves breaking on the rocks beneath.
When he said his last prayer that night he omitted the petition for Glory
(as duty seemed to require of him), and then found that all life and soul
and strength had gone out of it. In the middle of the night he awoke with
a sense of fright. Was it only a dream that he was dead and buried? He
raised his head in the darkness and stretched out his hand. No, it was
true. Little by little he pieced together the incidents of the previous
day. Yes, it had really happened.
"After all, I am not like Paul--I am not bound for life," he told
himself, and then he lay back like a child and was comforted.
He was ashamed, but he could not help it; he was feeling already as if he
were a prisoner in a dungeon looking forward to his release.
"5a Little Turnstile, High Holborn, London, W. C., November 9, 18--.
"Oh yiz, oh yiz, oh yiz! This is to announce to you with due pomp and
circumstance that I, Glory Quayle, am no longer at the hospital--for the
present. Did I never tell you? Have you never noticed it in the
regulations? Every half-year a nurse is entitled to a week's holiday, and
as I have been exactly six months to-day at Martha's Vineyard, and as a
week is too short a time for a trip to the 'oilan,' [* Island.] and as a
good lady whose acquaintance I have made here had given me a pressing
invitation to visit her---- See?
"Being the first day since I came up to London that I have been sole
mistress of my will and pleasure, I have been letting myself loose, like
Caesar does the moment his mad hoofies touch the grass. I must tell you
all about it. The day began beautifully. After a spell of laughing and
crying weather, and all the world sneezing and blowing its nose, there
came a frosty morning with the sun shining and the air as bright as
diamonds. I left the hospital between, eleven and twelve o'clock, and
crossing the park by Birdcage Walk I noticed that flags were flying on
Buckingham Palace and church bells ringing everywhere. It turned out to
be the birthday of the Prince of Wales, and the Lord Mayor's Day as well,
and by the time I got to Storey's Gate bands of music were playing and
people were scampering toward the Houses of Parliament. So I ran, too,
and from the gardens in front of Palace Yard I saw the Lord Mayor's Show.
"Do you know what that is, good people? It is a civic pageant. Once a
year the City King makes a royal procession through the streets with his
soldiers and servants and keepers and pipers and retainers, bewigged and
bepowdered and bestockinged pretty much as they used to be in the days
before the flood. There have been seven hundred of him in succession, and
his particular vanity is to show that he is wearing the same clothes
still. But it was beautiful altogether, and I could have cried with
delight to see those grave-looking signiors forgetting themselves for
once and pretending they were big boys over again.
"Such a sight! Flags were flying everywhere and festoons were stretched
across the streets with mottoes and texts, such as 'Unity is strength'
and 'God save the Queen,' and other amiable if not original ideas.
Traffic was stopped in the main thoroughfares, and the 'buses were sent
by devious courses, much to the astonishment of the narrow streets. Then
the crowds, the dense layers of potted people with white, upturned faces,
for all the world like the pictures of the round stones standing upright
at the Giant's Causeway--it was wonderful!
"And then the fun! Until the procession arrived the policemen were really
obliging in that way. The one nearest me was as fat as Falstaff, and a
slim young Cockney in front kept addressing intimate remarks to him and
calling him Robert. The young impudence himself was just as ridiculous,
for he wore a fringe which was supported by hair-oil and soap, and rolled
carefully down the right side of his forehead so that he could always
keep his left eye on it. And he did, too.
"But the pageant itself! My gracious! how we laughed at it! There were
Epping Forest verderers, and beef-eaters from the Tower, and pipers of
the Scots Guards, and ladies of the ballet shivering on shaky stools and
pretending to be 'Freedom' and 'Commerce,' and last of all the City King
himself, smiling and bowing to all his subjects, and with his liegemen
behind him in yellow coats and red silk stockings. Perhaps the most
popular character was a Highlander in pink tights, where his legs ought
to have been, walking along as solemnly as if he thought it was a sort of
religious ceremony and he was an idol out for an airing.
"And then the bands! There must have been twenty of them, both brass and
fife, and they all played the Washington Post, but no two had the luck to
fall on the same bar at the same moment. It was a medley of all the tunes
in music, an absolute kaleidoscope of sounds, and meantime there was the
clash of bells from the neighbouring belfries in honour of the Prince's
birthday, and the rattle of musketry from the Guards, so that when the
double event was over I felt like the man whose wife presented him with
twins--I wouldn't have lost either of them for a million of money, but I
couldn't have found it in my heart to give a bawbee for another one.
"The procession took half an hour to pass, and when it was gone,
remembering the ladies in lovely dresses who had rolled by in their
gorgeous carriages, looking not a bit cleverer or handsomer than other
people, I turned away with a little hard lump at my heart and a limp in
my left foot--the young Cockney with the fringe had backed on to my toe.
I suppose they are feasting with the lords and all the nobility at the
Guildhall to-night, and no doubt the crumbs that fall from the rich man's
table will go in pies and cakes to the alleys and courts where hunger
walks, and I dare say little Lazarus in the Mile End Road is dreaming at
this very moment of Dick Whittington and the Lord Mayor of London.
"It must have been some waking dream of that sort which took possession
of me also, for what do you suppose I did? Shall I tell you? Yes, I will.
I said to myself: 'Glory, my child, suppose you were nearly as poor as he
was in this great, glorious, splendid London; suppose--only suppose--you
had no home and no friends, and had left the hospital, or perhaps even
been turned away from it, and hadn't a good lady's door standing open to
receive you, what would you do first, my dear?' To all which I replied
promptly, 'You would first get yourself lodgings, my child, and then you
would just go to work to show this great, glorious London what a woman
can do to bring it to her little feet.'
"I know grandfather is saying, 'Gough bless me, girl! you didn't try it,
though?' Well, yes, I did--just for fun, you know, and out of the spirit
of mischief that's born in every daughter of Eve. Do you remember that
Manx cat that wouldn't live in the house, notwithstanding all the bribes
and corruption of Aunt Rachel's new milk and softened bread, but went off
by the backyard wall to join the tribe of pariah pussies that snatch a
living how they may? Well, I felt like Rumpy for once, having three
'goolden sovereigns' in my pocket and a mind superior to fate.
"It was glorious fun altogether, and the world is so amusing that I can't
imagine why anybody should go out of it before he must. I hadn't gone a
dozen yards in my new character as Dick Whittington _fille_ before a
coachman as fat as an elephant was shouting, 'Where d'ye think yer going
ter?' and I was nearly run down in the Broad Sanctuary by a carriage
containing two brazen women in sealskin jackets, with faces so thick with
powder and paint that you would have thought they had been quarrelling on
washing day and thrown the blue bag at each other's eyes. I recognised
one of them as a former nurse who had left the hospital in disgrace, but
happily she didn't see me, for the little hard lump at my heart was
turning as bitter as gall at that moment, so I made some philosophical
observations to myself and passed on.
"Oh, my gracious, these London landladies! They must be female Shylocks,
for the pound of flesh is the badge of all their tribe. The first one I
boarded asked two guineas for two rooms, and lights and fires extra. 'By
the month?' says I. 'Yus, by the month if ye like,' says she. 'Two
guineas a month?' says I. Marry come up! I was out of that house in a
"Then I looked out a group of humbler thoroughfares, not far from the
Houses of Parliament, where nearly every house had a card fixed up on a
little green blind. At last I found a place that would do--for my week,
only my week, you know. Ten shillings and no extras. 'I'll take them,'
said I with a lofty air, and thereupon the landlady, a grim person, with
the suspicion of a mustache, began to cross-examine me. Was I married?
Oh, dear, no! Then what was my business? Fool that I was, I said I had
none, being full of my Dick Whittingtonism, and not choosing to remember
the hospital, for I was wearing my private clothes, you know. But hoot!
She didn't take unmarried young ladies without businesses, and I was out
in the street once more.
"I didn't mind it, not I indeed, and it was only for fun after all; but
since people objected to girls without businesses, I made up my mind to
be a singer if anybody asked me the question again. My third landlady had
only one room, and it was on the second floor back, but before I got the
length of mounting to this eyry I went through my examination afresh. 'In
the profession, miss?' 'What profession?' 'The styge, of course.' 'Well,
ye--yes, something of that sort.' 'Don't tyke anybody that's on the
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I could have screamed, it was so ridiculous; but
time was getting on, Big Ben was striking four, and the day was closing
in. Then I saw the sign, 'Home for Girls.' 'Wonder if it is a charity?'
thinks I; but no, it didn't look like that, so in I went as bold as
brass, and inquired for the manageress. 'Is it the matron you mean,
miss?' 'Very well, the matron then,' said I, and presently she came
up--no, not smiling, for she wasn't an amiable-looking Christian, but I
thought she would smother me with mysterious questions. 'Tired of the
life, are you, my dear? It _is_ a cruel one, isn't it?' I stood my ground
for some minutes, and then, feeling dreadfully thick in the throat, and
cold down the back, I asked her what she was talking about, whereupon she
looked bewildered and inquired if I was a good girl, and being told that
I hoped so, she said she couldn't take me in there, and then pointed to a
card oh the wall which, simpleton that I was, I hadn't read before: 'A
home and rescue is offered to women who desire to leave a life of misery
"I _did_ scream that time, the world was so nonsensical. At one place,
being 'on the styge' I was not good enough to be taken in, at another I
was not bad enough, and what in the name of all that was ridiculous was
going to happen next? But it was quite dark by this time, the air was as
black as a northwest gale, and I was 'aweary for all my wings,' so
forgetting Dick Whittington _fille_, and only remembering the good female
Samaritan who had asked me to stay with her, I made a dart for Victoria
Street and jumped into the first 'bus that came along, just as the hotels
and the clubs and the great buildings were putting' out the Prince of
Wales's feathers as sign and symbol of the usual rejoicings within.
"It was an 'Atlas' omnibus, and it took me to Piccadilly Circus, and that
being the wrong direction, I had to change. But a fog had come down in
the meanwhile, and lo, there I was in the middle of it!
"O Ananias, Azarias, and Misael! Do you know what a London fog is? It's
smoke, it's soot, it's sulphur. It is darker than night, for it
extinguishes the lights, and denser than the mist on the Curragh, and
filthier than the fumes of the brick-kiln. It makes you think the whole
round earth must be a piggery copper and that London has lifted the lid
off. In the midst of this inferno the cabs crawl and the 'buses creep,
and foul fiends, who turn out to be men merely, go flitting about with
torches, and you grope and croak and cough, and the most innocent faces
come puffing and snorting down on you like the beasts in the Apocalypse.
"I thought it good fun at first, but presently I could only keep from
crying by having a good laugh, and I was doing that, and asking somebody
the way to the Holborn omnibus, when a policeman pushed me and said:
'Come, move on; none of yer lyterin' abart here!'
"I could have choked, but remembering something I had seen on that very
spot on the night of my first day out, I dived across the street and ran
in spite of curses and collisions. But the 'somebody,' whoever he was,
had followed me, and he put me into the right 'bus, so I got here at
last. It took two mortal hours to do it, and after that spell of
purgatory this house is like a blessed paradise, peopled with angels of
mercy and grace, as paradise ought to be.
"The good Samaritan was very kind, and she made tea for me in a twinkling
and slaughtered the fatted calf in the shape of a pot of raspberry jam.
Her name is Mrs. Jupe, and her husband is something in a club, and she
has one child of eleven, whose bedfellow I am to be, and here I am now
with Miss Slyboots in our little bedroom feeling safe and sound and
monarch of all I survey.
"Good-night, good people! Half an hour hence I'll be going through a mad
march of the incidents of the day, turned topsy-turvy according to the
way of dreams. But wae's me! wae's me! If it had all been true--if I had
been really homeless and friendless and penniless, instead of having
three 'goolden' pounds in my purse, and Providence in the person of Mrs.
Jupe, to fall back upon! When I grow to be a wonderful woman and have
brought the eyes of all the earth upon me, I am going to be good to poor
girls who have no anchorage in London. John Storm was right: this great,
glorious, brilliant, delightful London can be very cruel to them
sometimes. It calls to them, beckons to them, smiles on them, makes them
think there must be joy in the blaze of so much light and luxury and love
by the side of so many palaces, and then----
"But perhaps the mischief lies deeper down; and though I'm not going to
cut my hair and wear a waistcoat and stand up for the equal rights of the
sexes, I feel at this moment that if I were only a man I should be the
happiest woman in the world, God bless me! Not that I am afraid of
London, not I indeed; and to show you how I long to take a header into
its turbulent tides, I hereby warn and apprize and notify you that
perhaps I may use my week's holiday to find a more congenial employment
than that of deputy White Owl at the hospital. I am not in my right place
yet, Aunt Anna, notwithstanding, so look out for revelations! 'To be or
not to be? that is the question.' Just say the word and I'll leave it to
Providence, which is always a convenient legatee, and in any case--but
wait, only wait and see what a week will bring forth!
"Greet the island for me to the inmost core of its being. The dear little
'oilan!' Now that I am so far away, I go over it in my mind's eye with
the idiotic affection of a mother who knows every inch of her baby's body
and would like to gobble it. The leaves must be down by this time, and
there can be nothing on the bare boughs but the empty nests where the
little birdies used to woo and sing. My love to them and three tremendous
kisses for yourselves!
"P.S.--Oh, haven't I given you the 'newses' about John Storm? There are
so many things to think about in a place like London, you see. Yes, he
has gone into a monastery--communication cut off--wires broken down by
the 'storm,' etc. Soberly, he has gone for good seemingly, and to talk of
it lightly is like picking a penny out of a blind man's hat. Of course,
it was only to be expected that a man with an upper lip like that should
come to grief with all those married old maids and elderly women of the
opposite sex. Canons to right of him, canons to left of him, canons in
front of him--but rumour says it was John himself who volleyed and
thundered. He wrote me a letter when he was on the point of going, saying
how London had shocked and disappointed him, and how he longed to escape
from it and from himself at the same time, that he might dedicate his
life to God. It was right and true, no doubt; but wherefore could not I
pronounce Amen? He also mentioned something about myself, how much I had
been to him; for he had never known his mother, and had never had a
sister, and could never have a wife. All which was excellent, but a mere
woman like Glory doesn't want to read that sort of thing in a letter, and
would rather have five minutes of John Storm the man than a whole
eternity of John Storm the saint. His letter made me think of Christian
on his way to the eternal city; but that person has always seemed to me a
doubtful sort of hero anyway, taking Mrs. Christian into account and the
various little Christians, and I can't pity him a pin about his bundle,
for he might just as well have left behind him what he couldn't enjoy of
God's providence himself.
"But this is like hitting a cripple with his crutch, John being gone and
past all defending himself, and when I think of it in the streets I have
to run to keep myself from doing something silly, and then people think
I'm chasing an omnibus, when I'm really only chasing my tears. I can't
tell you much about the Brotherhood. It looks like a cross between a
palace and a penitentiary, and it appears that ritualism has gone one
better than High-Churchmanship, and is trying to introduce the monastic
system, which, to an ordinary woman of the world, seems well enough for
the man in the moon, though the man in the moon might have a different
way of looking at things. They say the brothers are all celibates and
live in cells, but I think I've seen a look in John Storm's eyes that
warns me that he wasn't intended for 'the lek o' that' exactly. To tell
you the truth, I half blame myself for what has happened, and I am
ashamed when I remember how jauntily I took matters all the time our poor
John was fighting with beasts at Ephesus. But I am vexed with him too;
and if only he had waited patiently before taking such a serious step in
order to hear _my_ arguments---- But no matter. A jackdaw isn't to be
called a religious bird because it keeps a-cawing on the steeple, and
John Storm won't make himself into a monk by shutting himself up in a
The house to which Glory had fled out of the fog was a little dingy
tobacconist's shop opening on a narrow alley that runs from Holborn into
Lincoln's-Inn Fields. It was kept by the baby farmer whom she had met at
the house of Polly Love, and the memory of the address thrust upon her
there had been her only resource on that day of crushing disappointment
and that night of peril. Mrs. Jupe's husband, a waiter at a West End
club, was a simple and helpless creature, very fond of his wife, much
deceived by her, and kept in ignorance of the darker side of her business
operations. Their daughter, familiarly called "Booboo," a silent child
with cunning eyes and pasty cheeks, was being brought up to help in the
shop and to dodge the inspector of the school board.
On coming downstairs next morning to the close and dingy parlour at the
back, Glory had looked about her as one who had expected something she
did not see, whereupon Mrs. Jupe, who was at breakfast with her husband,
threw up her little twinkling eyes and said:
"Now I know what she's a-lookin' for; it's the byeby."
"Where is it?" said Glory.
"Gorn, my dear."
"Surely you don't mean----"
"No, not dead, but I 'ad to put it out, pore thing!"
"Ye see, miss," said Mr. Jupe with his mouth full, "my missus couldn't
nurse the byeby and 'tend to the biziniss as well, so as reason was----"
"It brikes my 'eart to think it; but it made such a n'ise, pore darling!"
"Does the mother know?" said Glory.
"That wasn't necessary, my dear. It's gorn to a pusson I can trust to
tyke keer of it, and I'm trooly thenkful----"
"It jest amarnts to this, miss: the biziness is too much for the missus
as things is----"
"I wouldn't keer if my 'ealth was what it used to be, in the dyes when I
"But it ain't, and she's often said as how she'd like a young laidy to
live with her and 'elp her with the shop."
"A nice-lookin' girl might 'ave a-many chawnces in a place syme as this,
"Lawd, yus; and when I seen the young laidy come in at the door, 'Strike
me lucky!' thinks I, 'the very one!'"
"Syme 'ere, my dear. I reckkernized ye the minute I seen ye; and if ye
want to leave the hospital and myke a stawt, as you were saying--last
Glory stopped them. They were on the wrong trace entirely. She had merely
come to lodge with them, and if that was not agreeable----
"Well, and so ye shell, my dear; and if ye don't like the shop all at
onct, there's Booboo, she wants lessons----"
"But I can pay," said Glory, and then she was compelled to say something
of her plans. She wanted to become a singer, perhaps an actress, and to
tell them the truth she might not be staying long, for when she got
"Jest as you like, my dear; myke yerself at 'ome. On'y don't be in a
'urry about engygements. Good ones ain't tots picked up by the childring
in the streets these dyes."
Nevertheless it was agreed that Glory was to lodge at the tobacconist's,
and Mr. Jupe was to bring her box from the hospital on coming home that
night from his work. She was to pay ten shillings a week, all told, so
that her money would last four or five weeks, and leave something to
spare. "But I shall be earning long before that," she thought, and her
resources seemed boundless. She started on her enterprise instantly,
knowing no more of how to begin than that it would first be necessary to
find the office of an agent. Mr. Jupe remembered one such place.
"It's in a street off of Waterloo Road," he said, "and the name on the
windows is Josephs."
Glory found this person in a fur-lined coat and an opera hat, sitting in
a room which was papered with photographs, chiefly of the nude and the
semi-nude, intermingled with sheafs of playbills that hung from the walls
like ballads, from the board of the balladmonger.
"Vell, vot's yer line?" he asked.
Glory answered nervously and indefinitely.
"Vot can you do then?"
She could sing and recite and imitate people.
The man shrugged his shoulders. "My terms are two guineas down and ten
per cent on salary."
Glory rose to go. "That is impossible. I can not----"
"Vait a minute. How much have you got?"
"Isn't that my business, sir?"
"Touchy, ain't ye, miss? But if you mean bizness, I'll tyke a guinea and
give you the first chawnce what comes in."
Reluctantly, fearfully, distrustfully, Glory paid her guinea and left her
"Daddle doo," said the agent.
Then she found herself in the street.
"Two weeks less for lodgings," she thought, as she returned to the
tobacconist's. But Mrs. Jupe seemed entirely satisfied.
"What did I tell ye, my dear? Good engygements ain't chasing nobody abart
the streets these dyes, and there's that many girls now as can do a song
and a dance and a recitashing----"
Three days passed, four days, five days, six days, a week, and still no
word from Mr. Josephs. Glory called on him again. He counselled patience.
It was the dead season at the theatres and music halls, but if she only
She waited a week longer and then called again, and again, and yet again.
But she brought nothing back except her mimicry of the man's manner. She
could hit him off to a hair--his raucous voice, his guttural utterance,
and the shrug of his shoulders that told of the Ghetto.
Mrs. Jupe shrieked with laughter. That lady's spirits were going up as
Glory's came down. At the end of the third week she said, "I can't abear
to tyke yer money no longer, my dear, you not doing nothink."
Then she hinted at a new arrangement. She had to be much from home. It
was necessary; her health was poor--an obvious fiction. During her
absence she had to leave Booboo in charge.
"It ain't good for the child, my dear, and it ain't good for the shop;
but if anybody syme as yerself would tyke a turn behind the counter----"
Having less than ten shillings in her pocket, Glory was forced to submit.
There was a considerable traffic through the little turnstile. Lying
between Bedford Row and Lincoln's Inn, it was the usual course of lawyers
and lawyers' clerks passing to and fro from the courts. They were not
long in seeing that a fresh and beautiful face was behind the counter of
the dingy little tobacco-shop. Business increased, and Mrs. Jupe became
"What did I tell ye, my dear? There's more real gentlemen a-mooching
rahnd here in a day than a girl would have a chawnce of meeting in a
awspital in a twelvemonth."
Glory's very soul was sickening. The attentions of the men, their easy
manners, their little liberties, their bows, their smiles, their
compliments--it was gall and wormwood to the girl's unbroken spirit.
Nevertheless she was conscious of a certain pleasure in the bitterness.
The bitterness was her own, the pleasure some one else's, so to speak,
who was looking on and laughing. She felt an unconquerable impulse to
sharpen her wit on Mrs. Jupe's customers, and even to imitate them to
their faces. They liked it, so she was good for business both ways.
But she remembered John Storm and felt suffocated with shame. Her
thoughts turned to him constantly, and she called at the hospital to ask
if there were any letters. There were two, but neither of them was from
Bishopsgate Street. One was from Aunt Anna. Glory was not to dream of
leaving the hospital. With tithes going down every year, and everything
else going up, how could she think of throwing away a salary and adding
to their anxieties? The other was from her grandfather:
"Glad to hear you have had a holiday, dear Glory, and trust you are
feeling the better for the change. Must confess to being a little
startled by the account of your adventure on Lord Mayor's Day, with the
wild scheme for cutting adrift from the hospital and taking London by
storm. But it was just like my little witch, my wandering gipsy, and I
knew it was all nonsense; so when Aunt Anna began to scold I took my pipe
and went upstairs. Sorry to hear that John Storm has gone over to Popery,
for that is what it comes to, though he is not under the Romish
obedience. I am the more concerned because I failed to make his peace
with his father. The old man seems to blame me for everything, and has
even taken to passing me on the road. Give my best respects to Mrs. Jupe,
when you see her again, with my thanks for taking care of you. And now
that you are alone in that great and wicked Babylon, take good care of
yourself, my dear one. To know that my runaway is well and happy and
prosperous is all I have left to reconcile me to her absence. Yes, the
harvest is over and threshed and housed, and we have fires in the parlour
nearly every day, which makes Anna severe sometimes, coals being so dear
just now, and the turf no longer allowed to us."
It was ten days overdue. That night, in her little bedroom, with its low
ceiling and sloping floor, Glory wrote her answer:
"But it isn't nonsense, my dear grandfather, and I really have left the
hospital. I don't know if it was the holiday and the liberty or what, but
I felt like that young hawk at Glenfaba--do you remember it?--the one
that was partly snared and came dragging the trap on to the lawn by a
string caught round its leg. I had to cut it away, I had to, I had to!
But you mustn't feel one single moment's uneasiness about me. An
able-bodied woman like Glory Quayle doesn't starve in a place like
London. Besides, I am provided for already, so you see my bow abides in
strength. The first morning after my arrival Mrs. Jupe told me that if I
cared to take to myself the style and title of teacheress to her little
Slyboots I had only to say the word and I should be as welcome as the
flowers in May. It isn't exactly first fiddling, you know, and it doesn't
bring an ambassador's salary, but it may serve for the present, and give
me time to look about. You mustn't pay too much attention to my
lamentations about being compelled by Nature to wear a petticoat. Things
being so arranged in this world I'll make them do. But it does make one's
head swim and one's wings droop to see how hard Nature is on a woman
compared to a man. Unless she is a genius or a jelly-fish there seems to
be only one career open to her, and that is a lottery, with marriage for
the prizes, and for the blanks--oh dear, oh dear! Not that I have
anything to complain of, and I hate to be so sensitive. Life is
wonderfully interesting, and the world is such an amusing place that I've
no patience with people who run away from it, and if I were a man--but
wait, only wait, good people!"
John Storm had made one other friend at Bishopsgate Street--the dog of
the monastery. It was a half-bred bloodhound, and nobody seemed to know
whence he came and why he was there. He was a huge, ungainly, and most
forbidding creature, and partly for that reason, but chiefly because it
was against rule to fix the affections on earthly things, the brothers
rarely caressed him. Unnoticed and unheeded, he slept in the house by day
and prowled through the court by night, and had hardly ever been known to
go out into the streets. He was the strictest monk in the monastery, for
he eyed every stranger as if he had been Satan himself, and howled at all
music except the singing in the church.
On seeing John for the first time, he broadened his big flews and
stiffened his thick stern, according to his wont with all intruders, but
in this instance the intruder was not afraid. John patted him on the
peaked head and rubbed him on the broad nose, then opened his mouth and
examined his teeth, and finally turned him on his back and tickled his
chest, and they were fast friends and comrades forever after.
Some weeks after the dedication they were in the courtyard together, and
the dog was pitching and plunging and uttering deep bays which echoed
between the walls like thunder at play. It was the hour of morning
recreation, between Terce and Sext, and the religious were lolling about
and talking, and one lay brother was sweeping up the leaves that had
fallen from the tree, for the winter had come and the branches were bare.
The lay brother was Brother Paul, and he made sidelong looks at John, but
kept his head down and went on with his work without speaking. One by one
the brothers went back to the house, and John made ready to follow them,
but Paul put himself in his way. He was thinner than before, and his eyes
were red and his respiration difficult. Nevertheless, he smiled in a
childlike way, and began to talk of the dog. What life there was in the
old creature still! and nobody had known, there was so much play in it.
"You are not feeling so well, are you?" said John.
"Not quite so well," he answered.
"The day is cold, and this penance is too much for you."
"No, it's not that. I asked for it, you know, and I like it. It's
something else. To tell you the truth, I'm very foolish in some ways.
When I've got anything on my mind I'm always thinking. Day and night it's
the same with me, and even work----"
His breathing was audible, but he tried to laugh.
"Do you know what it is this time? It's what you said on the roof on the
night of the vows, you remember. What you didn't say, I mean--and that's
just the trouble. It was wrong to talk of the world without great
necessity, but if you had been able to say 'Yes' when I asked if
everybody was well you would have done it, wouldn't you?"
"We'll not talk of that now," said John.
"No, it would be the same fault as before. Still----"
"How keen the air is! And your asthma is so troublesome! You must really
let me speak to the Father."
"Oh, that's nothing. I'm used to it. But if you know yourself what it is
to be always thinking of anybody----"
John called to the dog, and it capered about him. "Good-morning, Brother
Paul." And he went into the house. The lay brother leaned on his besom
and drew a long sigh that seemed to come from the depths of his chest.
John had hastened away, lest his voice should betray him.
"Awful!" he thought. "It must be awful to be always thinking of somebody,
and in fear of what has happened to her. Poor little Polly! She's not
worthy of it, but what does that matter? Blood is blood and love is love,
and only God is stronger."
A few days afterward the air darkened and softened, and snow began to
fall. Between Vespers and Evensong John went up to the tower to see
London under its mantle of white. It was like an Eastern city now under
an Eastern moonlight, and he was listening to the shouts and laughter of
people snowballing in the streets when he heard a laboured step on the
stair behind him. It was Brother Paul coming up with a spade to shovel
away the snow. His features were pinched and contracted, and his young
face was looking old and worn.
"You really must not do it," said John. "To work like this is not
penance, but suicide. I'll speak to the Father, and he'll----"
"Don't; for mercy's sake, don't! Have some pity, at all events! If you
only knew what a good thing work is for me--how it drives away thoughts,
"But it's so useless, Brother Paul. Look! The snow is still falling, and
there's more to come yet."
"All the same, it's good for me. When I'm very tired I can sleep
sometimes. And then God is good to you if you don't spare yourself. Some
day perhaps he'll tell me something."
"He'll tell us everything in his own good time, Brother Paul."
"It's easy to counsel patience. If I were like you I should be counting
the days until my time was over, and that would help me to bear things.
But when you are dedicated for life----"
He stopped at his work and looked over the parapet, and seemed to be
gazing into the weary days to come.
"Have you anybody of your own out there?"
"You mean any----"
"Any relative--any sister?"
"Then you don't know what it is; that's why you won't give me an answer."
"Don't ask me, Brother Paul."
"It might only make you the more uneasy if I told you what----"
The lay brother let his spade fall, then slowly, very slowly, picked it
up again and said:
"I understand. You needn't say any more. I shall never ask you again."
The bell rang for Evensong, and John hurried away. "If it were only some
one who was deserving of it!" he thought--"some one who was worthy that a
man should risk his soul to save her!"
At supper and in church he saw Brother Paul going about like a man in a
waking dream, and when he went up to bed he heard him moving restlessly
in the adjoining cell. The fear of betraying himself was becoming
unbearable, and he leaped up and stepped out into the corridor, intending
to ask the Superior to give him another room elsewhere. But he stopped
and came back. "It's not brave," he thought, "it's not kind, it's not
human," and, saying this again and again, as one whistles when going by a
haunted house, he covered his ears and fell asleep.
In the middle of the night, while it was still quite dark, he was
awakened by a light on his face and the sense of some one looking down on
him in his sleep. With a shudder he opened his eyes and saw Brother Paul,
candle in hand, standing by the bed. His eyes were red and swollen, and
when he spoke his voice was full of tears.
"I know it's a fault to come into anybody else's cell," he said, "but I
would rather do my penance than endure this torture. Something has
happened--I can see that quite well; but I don't know what it is, and the
suspense is killing me. The certainty would be easier to bear; and I
swear to you by Him who died for us that if you tell me I shall be
satisfied! Is she dead?"
"Not that," said John by a sudden impulse, and then there was an awful
"Not dead!" said Paul. "Then would to God that she were dead, for it must
be something worse, a thousand times worse!"
John felt as if the secret had been stolen from him in his sleep; but it
was gone, and he could say nothing. Brother Paul's lips trembled, his
respiration quickened, and he turned away and smote his head against the
wall and sobbed.
"I knew it all the time," he said. "Her sister went the same way, and I
could see that she was going too, and that was why I was so anxious. Oh,
my poor mother! my poor mother!"
For two days after that John saw no more of Brother Paul. "He is doing
his penance somewhere," he thought.
Meanwhile the snow was still falling, and when the brothers went out to
Lauds at 6 A.M. they passed through a cutting of snow which was banked up
afresh every morning, though the day had not then dawned. On the third
day John was the first to go down to the hall, and there he met Brother
Paul, with his spade in his hands, coming out of the courtyard. He looked
like a man who was melting before a fire as surely as a piece of wax.
"I am sorry now that I told you," said John.
Brother Paul hung his head.
"It is easy to see that you are suffering more than ever; and it is all
my fault. I will go to the Father and confess."
Between breakfast and Terce John carried out this intention. The Superior
was sitting before a handful of fire, in a little room that was darkened
by leather-bound books and by the flakes of snow which were falling
across the window panes.
"Father," said John, "I am a cause of offence to another brother, and it
is I who should be doing his penance." And then he told how he had broken
the observance which forbids any one to talk of his relations with the
The Father listened with great solemnity.
"My son," he said, "your temptation is a testimony to the reality of the
religious life. Satan's rage against the home of consecrated souls is
terrible, and he would fain break in upon it if he could with worldly
thoughts and cares and passions. But we must conquer him by his own
weapons. Your penance, my son, shall be of the same kind with your
offence. Go to the door and take the place of the doorkeeper, and stay
there day and night until the end of the year. Thus shall the evil one be
made aware that you are the guardian of our house, to be tampered with no
Brother Andrew was troubled when John took his place at the door that
night, but John himself was unconcerned. He was doorkeeper to the
household, so he began on the duties of his menial position. As the
brothers passed in and out on their mission-errands he opened the door
and closed it. If any one knocked he answered, "Praise be to God!" then
slid back the little grating in the middle panel of the door and looked
out at the stranger. The hall was a chill place, with a stone floor, and
he sat on a form that stood against one of its walls. His bed was in an
alcove which had formerly been the cloak-room, and a card hung over it
with the inscription, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." He had
no company except big Brother Andrew, who stole down sometimes to cheer
him with his speechless presence, and the dog, which was always hanging
It was at least some comfort to be out of the proximity of Brother Paul.
The sounds of the lay brother in the neighbouring cell had brought back
recollections of Glory, and he had more than he could do to conquer his
thoughts of her. Since he had taken his vows and had ceased to mention
her in his prayers she had been always with him, and his fears for her
fate had been pricked and goaded by the constant presence of Brother
On the other hand, it was some loss that he could not go to the church,
and he remembered with a pang how happy he had been after a night of
terrors when he had gone into God's house in the morning and cast his
burden on him with one yearning cry of "God bless all women and young
It was now the Christmas season, and his heart tingled and thrilled as
the brothers passed through the door at midday and talked of the women
who attended the Christmas services. Were they really so calm as they
seemed to be, and had they conquered their natural affections?
Sometimes during the midday service he would slide back the grating and
listen for the women's voices. He heard one voice in all of them, but he
knew it was only a dream. Then he would watch the snow falling from the
little patch of dun-coloured sky crossed by bars, and tell himself that
that was all he was to see of the world henceforth.
The sky emptied itself at last, and Brother Paul came again to shovel
away the snow. He was weaker than ever, for the wax was melting away.
When he began to work, his chest was oppressed and his face was feverish.
John snatched the spade out of his hand and fell to doing his work
instead of him.
"I can't bear to see it, and I won't!" he said.
"But the Father----?"
"I don't care--you can tell him if you like. You are killing yourself by
inches, and you are a failing man any way."
"Am I really dying?" said Brother Paul, and he staggered away like one
who had heard his sentence.
John looked after, him and thought: "Now what should I do if I were in
that man's place? If the case were Glory's, and I fixed here as in a
He was ashamed when he thought of Glory like that, and he dismissed the
idea, but it came back with mechanical obstinacy and he was compelled to
consider it. His vows? Yes, it would be death to his soul to break them.
But if she were lost who had no one but him to look to--if she went down
to wreck and ruin, then the fires of hell would be as nothing to his
Brother Paul came to him next day and sat on the form by his side and
"If I'm really dying, what am I to do?"
"What would you like to do, Brother Paul?"
"I should like to go out and find her."
"What good would there be in that?"
"I could say something that would stop her and put an end to everything."
"Are you sure of it?"
A wild light came into his eyes and he answered, "Quite sure."
John played the hypocrite and began to counsel patience.
"But a man can't live without hope and not go mad," said Brother Paul.
"We must trust and pray," said John.
"But God never answers us. If it were your own case what would you do? If
some one outside were lost----"
"I should go to the Father and say, 'Let me go in search of her.'"
"I'll do it," said Brother Paul.
"Why not? The Father is kind and tender and he loves his children."
"Yes, I _will_ do it," said Paul, and he made for the Father's room.
He got to the door of the cell and then came back again. "I can't," he
said. "There's something you don't know. I can't look in his face and
"Stay here and I'll ask for you," said John.
"God bless you!" said Paul.
John made three hasty strides and then stopped.
"But if he will not----"
"Then--God's will be done!"
It was morning, and the Superior was reading in his room.
"Come in, my son," he said, and he laid his book on his lap. "This is a
book you must read some day--the Inner Life of Pere Lacordaire. Most
fascinating! An inner life of intolerable horror until he had conquered
his natural affections."
"Father," said John, "one of our lay brothers has a little sister in the
world and she has fallen into trouble. She has gone from the place where
he left her, and God only knows where she is now! Let him go out and find
"Who is it, my son?"
"Brother Paul--and she is all he has, and he can not help but think of
"This is a temptation of the evil one, my son. Brother Paul has newly
taken the vows and so have you. The vows are a challenge to the powers of
evil, and it is only to be expected that he who takes them will be tested
to the uttermost"
"But, Father, she is young and thoughtless. Let him go out and find her
and save her, and he will come back and praise God a thousand times the
"The temptations of Satan are very subtle; they come in the guise of
duty. Satan is tempting our brother through love, and you, also, through
pity. Let us turn our backs on him."
"Then it is impossible?"
When John returned to the door Brother Paul was standing by the alcove
gazing with wet eyes on the text hanging above the bed. He saw his answer
in John's face, and they sat down on the form without speaking.
The bell rang for service and the religious began to pass through the
hall. As the Father was crossing the threshold Brother Paul flung himself
down at his feet and clutched his cassock and made a frantic appeal for
"Father, have pity upon me and let me go!"
The Father's eyes became moist but his will remained unshaken. "As a man
I ought to have pity," he said, "and as the Father of all of you I should
be kind to my children; but it is not I who refuse you, it is God, and I
should be guilty of a sin if I let you go."
Then Paul burst into mad laughter and the religious gathered round and
looked at him in astonishment. There was foam on his lips and fire in his
eyes, and he threw up his hands and fell back fainting.
The Father made the sign of the cross on his breast and his lips moved in
silence for a moment. Then he said to John, who had raised the lay
brother in his arms:
"Leave him there. Damp his forehead and hold his hands."
And turning to the religious he added: "I ask the prayers of the
community for our poor brother. Satan is fighting for his soul. Let us
wrestle in prayer that we may expel the spirit that possesses him."
At the next moment John was alone with the unconscious man, except for
the dog which was licking his forehead. And looking after the Superior,
he told himself that such unlimited power over the body and soul of
another the Almighty could have meant for no man. The love of God and the
fear of the devil had swallowed up the love of man and stifled all human
affections. Such religion must have hardened the best man ever born. As
for the poor broken creature lying there so still, his vows had been made
to heaven, and to heaven alone his obedience was due. The nature within
him had spoken too loudly, but there were laws of Nature which it was a
sin to resist. Then why should he resist them? The cry of blood was the
voice of God, or God had no voice and He could speak to no man. Then, why
should he not listen?
Brother Paul recovered consciousness and raised his head. The waves of
memory flowed back upon him and his eyes flamed and his lips trembled.
"I will go if I have to break my vows!" he said.
"No need for that," said John.
"Because I will let you out at night and let you in again in the
"Yes, I. Listen!"
And then these two crushed and fettered souls, bound by no iron bonds,
confined by no bolts and bars, but only under the shadow of the
supernatural, sat together like prisoners in a dungeon concocting schemes
for their escape.
"The Father locks the outer gate himself," said John. "Where does he keep
"In his own room on a nail above his bed," said Paul.
"Who is the lay brother attending to him now?"
"Brother Andrew will do anything for me," said John.
"But the dog?" said Paul. "He is always in the court at night, and he
barks at the sound of a step."
"Not my step," said John.
"I'll do it," said Paul.
"I will send you to some one who can find your sister. You'll tell her
you come from me and she'll take you with her."
They could hear the singing in the church, and they paused to listen.
"When I come back in the morning I'll confess everything and do my
penance," said Paul.
"And I too," said John.
The sun had come out with a sudden gleam and the thawing snow was
dripping from the trees in drops like diamonds. The singing ceased, the
service ended, and the brothers came back to the house. When the Father
entered, Paul was clothed and in his right mind and sitting quietly on
"Thank God for this answer to our prayers!" said the Father. "But you
must pray without ceasing lest Satan should conquer you again. Until the
end of the year say your Rosary in the church every night alone from
Compline to midnight."
Then turning to John he said with a smile: "And you shall be like the
anchoret of old to this household, my son. We monks pray by day, but the
anchoret prays by night. Unless we know that in the dark hours the
anchoret guards the house, who shall rest on his bed in peace?"
At the end of the fourth week, after Glory had paid her fee to the agent,
she called on him again. It was Saturday morning, and the vicinity of his
office was a strange and surprising scene. The staircase and passages to
the house, as well as the pavement of the streets far as to the
public-house at the corner, were thronged with a gaudy but shabby army of
music-hall artistes of both sexes. When Glory attempted to pass through
them she was stopped by a cry of, "Tyke yer turn on Treasury day, my
dear," and she fell back and waited.
One by one they passed upstairs, came down again with cheerful faces,
shouted their adieus and disappeared. Meanwhile they amused themselves
with salutations, all more or less lively and familiar, told stories and
exchanged confidences, while they danced a step or stamped about to keep
away the cold. "You've chucked the slap [* Rouge.] on with a mop this
morning, my dear," said one of the girls. "Have I, my love? Well, I was a
bit thick about the clear, so I thought it would keep me warm." "It ain't
no use facing the doner of the casa with that," said a man who jingled a
few coins as he came downstairs, and away went two to the public-house.
Sometimes a showy brougham would drive up to the door and a magnificent
person in a fur-lined coat, with diamond rings on both hands, would sweep
through the lines and go upstairs. When he came down again his carriage
door would be opened by half a dozen "pros" who would call him "dear old
cully" and tell him they were "down on their luck" and "hadn't done a
turn for a fortnight." He would distribute shillings and half-crowns
among them, cry "Ta-ta, boys," and drive away, whereupon his pensioners
would stroke their cuffs and collars of threadbare astrakhan, tip winks
after the carriage, and say, "That's better than crying cabbages in
Covent Garden, ain't it?" Then they would all laugh knowingly, and one
would say, "What's it to be, cully?" and somebody would answer, "Come
along to Poverty Point then," and a batch of the waiting troop would trip
off to the corner.
One of the gorgeous kind was coming down the stairs when his eye fell on
Glory as she stood in a group of girls who were decked out in rose pink
and corresponding finery. He paused, turned back, reopened the office
door, and said in an audible whisper, "Who's the pretty young ginger
you've got here, Josephs?" A moment afterward the agent had come out and
called her upstairs.
"It's salary day, my dear--vait there," he said, and he put her into an
inner room, which was tawdrily furnished in faded red plush, with piano
and coloured prints of ballet girls and boxing men, and was full of the
odour of stale tobacco and bad whisky.
She waited half an hour, feeling hot and ashamed and troubled with
perplexing thoughts, and listening to the jingle of money in the
adjoining room, mingled with the ripple of laughter and sometimes the
exchange of angry words. At length the agent came back, saying, "Vell,
vat can I do for you to-day, my dear?"
He had been drinking, his tone was familiar, and he placed himself on the
end of the sofa upon which Glory was seated.
Glory rose immediately. "I came to ask if you have heard of anything for
me," she said.
"Sit down, my dear."
"No, thank you."
"Heard anything? Not yet, my dear. You must vait----"
"I think I've waited long enough, and if your promises amount to anything
you'll get me an appearance at all events."
"So I vould, my dear. I vould get you an extra turn at the Vashington,
but it's very expensive, and you've got no money."
"Then why did you take what I had if you can do nothing? Besides, I don't
want anything but what my talents can earn. Give me a letter to a
manager--for mercy's sake, do something for me!"
There was a shrug of the Ghetto as the man rose and said, "Very vell, if
it's like that, I'll give you a letter and velcome."
He sat at a table and wrote a short note, sealed it carefully in an
envelope which was backed with advertisements, then gave it to Glory, and
said, "Daddle doo. You'll not require to come again."
Going downstairs she looked at the letter. It was addressed to an acting
manager at a theatre in the farthest west of London. The passages of the
house and the pavements outside were now empty; it was nearly two
o'clock, and snow was beginning to fall. She was feeling cold and a
little hungry, but, making up her mind to deliver the letter at once, she
hastened to the Temple station.
There was a _matinee_, so the acting manager was "in front." He took the
letter abruptly, opened it with an air of irritation, glanced at it,
glanced at Glory, looked at the letter again, and then said in a
strangely gentle voice, "Do you know what's in this, my girl?"
"No," said Glory.
"Of course you don't--look," and he gave her the letter to read. It ran:
"Dear ----: This wretched young ginger is worrying me for a shop. She
isn't worth a ----. Get rid of her, and oblige Josephs."
Glory flushed up to the forehead and bit her lip; then a little nervous
laugh broke from her throat, and two great tears came rolling from her
eyes. The acting manager took the letter out of her hands and tapped her
kindly on the shoulder.
"Never mind, my child. Perhaps we'll disappoint him yet. Tell me all
She told him everything, for he had bowels of compassion. "We can't put
you on at present," he said, "but our saloon contractor wants a young
lady to give out programmes, and if that will do to begin with----"
It was a crushing disappointment, but she was helpless. The employment
was menial, but it would take her out of the tobacco shop and put her
into the atmosphere of the theatre, and bring fifteen shillings a week as
well. She might begin on Monday if she could find her black dress, white
apron, cap, and cuffs. The dress she had already, but the apron, cap, and
cuffs would take the larger part of the money she had left.
By Sunday night she had swallowed her pride with one great gulp and was
writing home to Aunt Anna:
"I'm as busy as Trap's wife these days; indeed, that goddess of industry
is nothing to me now; but Christmas is coming, and I shall want to buy a
present for grandfather (and perhaps for the aunties as well), so please
send me a line in secret saying what he is wanting most. Snow! snow!
snow! The snow it snoweth every day."
On the Monday night she presented herself at the theatre and was handed
over to another girl to be instructed in her duties. The house was one of
the best in London, and Glory found pleasure in seeing the audience
assemble. For the first half hour the gorgeous gowns, the beautiful
faces, and the distinguished manners excited her and made her forget
herself. Then little by little there came the pain of it all, and by the
time the curtain had gone up her gorge was rising, and she crept out into
the quiet corridor where her colleague was seated already under an
electric lamp reading a penny number.
The girl was a little, tender black and white thing, looking like a
dahlia. In a quarter of an hour Glory knew all about her. During the day
she served in a shop in the Whitechapel Road. Her name was Agatha
Jones--they called her Aggie. Her people lived in Bethnal Green, but
Charlie always came to the theatre to take her home. Charlie was her
In the intervals between the acts Glory assisted in the cloak-room, and
there the great ladies began to be very amusing. After the tinkle of the
electric bell announcing the second act she returned to the deserted
corridor, and before her audience of one gave ridiculous imitations in
dead silence of ladies using the puff and twiddling up their front hair.
"My! It's you as oughter be on the styge, my dear," said Aggie.
"Do you think so?" said Glory.
"I'm going on myself soon. Charlie's getting me on the clubs."
"The foreign clubs in Soho. More nor one has begun there."
"The foreigners like dancing best. If you can do the splits and shoulder
the leg it's the mykings of you for life."
When the performance was over they found Charlie waiting on the square in
front of the house. Glory had seen him before, and she recognised him
immediately. He was the young Cockney with the rolled fringe who had
bantered the policeman by Palace Yard on Lord Mayor's Day. They got into
the Underground together, and when Glory returned to the subject of the
foreign clubs Charlie grew animated and eloquent.
"They give ye five shillings a turn, and if yer good for anythink ye may
do six turns of a Sunday night, not ter speak of special nights, and
friendly leads and sech."
When Glory got out at the Temple Aggie's head was resting on Charlie's
shoulder, and her little gloved fingers were lightly clasped in his hand.
On the second night Glory had conquered a good deal of her pride. The
grace of her humour was saving her. It was almost as if somebody else was
doing servant's duty and she was looking on and laughing. After all it
was very funny that she should be there, and what delicious thoughts it
would bring later! Even Nell Gwynne sold oranges in the pit at first, and
then some day when she had risen above all this----
It must have been a great night of some sort. She had noticed red baize
and an awning outside, and the front of one of the boxes was laden with
flowers. When its occupants entered, the orchestra played the national
anthem and the audience rose to their feet. It was the Prince with the
Princess and their daughters. The audience was only less distinguished,
and something far off and elusive moved in her memory when a lady handed
her a check and said in a sweet voice:
"A gentleman will come for this seat."
Glory's station was in the stalls, and she did not go out when the lights
went down and the curtain rose. The play was a modern one--the story of a
country girl who returned home after a life of bitterness and shame.
It moved her and thrilled her, and stirred the smouldering fires of her
ambition. She was sorry for the actress who played the part--the poor
thing did not understand--and she would have given worlds to pour her own
voice through the girl's mouth. Then she was conscious that she was
making a noise with her hands, and looking down at them she saw the
crumpled programmes and her white cuffs, and remembered where she was,
and what, and she murmured, "O God, do not punish me for these vain
All at once a light shot across her face as she stood in the darkness.
The door of the corridor had been opened, and a gentleman was coming in.
He stood a moment beside her with his eyes on the stage and said in a
"Did a lady leave a seat?"
It was Drake! She felt as if she would suffocate, but answered in a
"Yes, that one. Programme, please."
He took the programme without looking at her, put his fingers into his
waistcoat pocket, and slid something into her hand. It was sixpence.
She could have screamed. The humiliation was too abject. Hurrying out,
she threw down her papers, put on her cloak and hat and fled.
But next morning she laughed at herself, and when she took out Drake's
sixpence she laughed again. With the poker and a nail she drove a hole
through the coin and then hung it up by a string to a hook over the
mantelpiece, and laughed (and cried a little) every time she looked at
it. Life was so funny! Why did people bury themselves before they were
dead? She wouldn't do it for worlds! But she did not go back to the
theatre for all that, and neither did she return to the counter.
Christmas was near, the shops became bright and gay, and she remembered
what beautiful presents she had meant to send home out of the money she
had hoped to earn. On Christmas Eve the streets were thronged with little
family groups out shopping, and there were many amusing sights. Then she
laughed a good deal; she could not keep from laughing.
Christmas Day opened with a rimy, hazy morning, and the business
thoroughfares were deserted. They had sucking pig for dinner, and Mr.
Jupe, who was at home for the holiday, behaved like a great boy. It was
afternoon before the postman arrived with a bag as big as a creel, and
full of Christmas cards and parcels. There was a letter for Glory. It was
from Aunt Anna.
"We are concerned about the serious step you have taken, but trust it is
for the best, and that you will give Mrs. Jupe every satisfaction. Don't
waste your savings on us. Remember there are post-office savings banks
everywhere, and that there is no friend like a little money."
At the bottom there was a footnote from Aunt Rachel: "Do you ever see the
Queen in London, and the dear Prince and Princess?"
She went to service that night at St. Paul's Cathedral. Entering by the
west door, a verger in a black cloak directed her to a seat in the nave.
The great place was dark and chill and half empty. All the singing seemed
to come from some unseen region far away, and when the preacher got into
the curious pulpit he looked like a Jack-in-the-box, and it seemed to be
a drum that was speaking.
Coming out before the end, she thought she would walk to the Whitechapel
Road, of which Aggie had told her something. She did so, going by
Bishopsgate Street, but turning her head away as she passed the church of
the Brotherhood. The motley crowd of Polish Jews, Germans, and Chinamen,
in the most interesting street in Europe, amused her for a while, and
then she walked up Houndsditch and passed through Bishopsgate Street
At the Bank she took an omnibus for home. The only other fare was a
bouncing girl in a big hat with feathers.
"Going to the market, my dear? No? I hates it myself, too, so I goes to
the 'alls instead. Come from the country, don't ye? Same here. Father's a
farmer, but he's got sixteen besides me, so I won't be missed. Live? I
live at Mother Nan's dress-house now. Nice gloves, ain't they? My hat?
Glad you like the style. I generally get a new hat once a week, and as
for gloves, if anybody likes me----"
That night in her musty bedroom Glory wrote home while little Slyboots
slept: "'The best-laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft aglee.' Witness
"I intended to send you some Christmas presents, but the snow has been so
industrious that not a mouse has stirred if he could help it. However, I
send three big kisses instead, and a pair of mittens for
grandfather--worked with my own hands, because I wouldn't allow any good
Brownie to do it for me. Tell Aunt Rachel I _do_ see the Prince and
Princess sometimes. I saw them at the theatre the other night. Yes, the
theatre! You must not be shocked--we are rather gay in London--we go to
the theatre occasionally. It is so interesting to meet all the great
people! You see I am fairly launched in fashionable society, but I love
everybody just the same as ever, and the moment the candle is out I shall
be thinking of Glenfaba and seeing the 'Waits,' and 'Oiel Verree,' and
'Hunting the Wren,' and grandfather smoking his pipe in the study by the
light of the fire, and Sir Thomas Traddles, the tailless, purring and
blinking at his feet. Merry Christmas to you, my dears! By-bye."
"'Where's that bright young Irish laidy?' the gentlemen's allwiz sayin',
my dear," said Mrs. Jupe, and for very shame's sake, having no money to
pay for board and lodgings, Glory returned to the counter.
A little beyond Bedford Row, in a rookery of apartment houses in narrow
streets, there lives a colony of ballet girls and chorus girls who are
employed at the lighter theatres of the Strand. They are a noisy, merry,
reckless, harmless race, free of speech, fond of laughter, wearing false
jewellery, false hair, and false complexions, but good boots always,
which they do their utmost not to conceal.
Many of these girls pass through the Turnstile on their way to their
work, and toward seven in the evening the tobacconist's would be full of
them. Nearly all smoked, as the stained forefinger of their right hands
showed, and while they bought their cigarettes they chirruped and chirped
until the little shop was like a tree full of linnets in the spring.
Most of them belonged to the Frailty Theatre, and their usual talk was of
the "stars" engaged there. Chief among these were the "Sisters Bellman,"
a trio of singers in burlesque, and a frequent subject of innuendo and
rapartee was one Betty, of that ilk, whose name Glory could remember to
have seen blazing in gold on nearly every hoarding and sign.
"Says she was a governess in the country, my dear." "Oh, yus, I dare say.
Came out of a slop shop in the Mile End Road though, and learned 'er
steps with the organ man in the court a-back of the jam factory." "Well,
I never! She's a wide un, she is!" "About as wide as Broad Street, my
dear. Use ter sell flowers in Piccadilly Circus till somebody spoke to
'er, and now she rides 'er brougham, doncher know." Then the laughter
would be general, and the girls would go off with their arms about each
other's waists, and singing, in the street substitute for the stage
whisper, "And 'er golden 'air was 'anging dahn 'er back!"
This yellow-haired and yellow-fingered sisterhood saw the game of life
pretty clearly, and it did not take them long to get abreast of Glory.
"Like this life, my dear?" "Go on! Do she look as if she liked it?"
"Perhaps I do, perhaps I don't," said Glory.
"Tell that to the marines, my dear. I use ter be in a shop myself, but I
couldn't a-bear it. Give me my liberty, I say; and if a girl's got any
sort o' figure----Unnerstand, my dear?"
Late that night one of the girls came in breathless and cried: "Hooraa!
What d'ye think? Betty wants a dresser, and I've got the shop for ye, my
dear. Guinea a week and the pickings; and you go tomorrow night on trial.
Glory's old infirmity came back upon her, and she felt hot and
humiliated. But her vanity was not so much wounded by the work that she
was offered as her honour was hurt by the work she was doing. Mrs. Jupe's
absences from home were now more frequent than ever. If the business that
took her abroad was akin to that which had taken her to Polly Love----
To put an end to her uneasiness, Glory presented herself at the stage
"You the noo dresser, miss?" said the doorkeeper. "Collins has orders to
look after you.--Collins!"
A scraggy, ugly, untidy woman who was passing--through an inner door
looked back and listened.
"Come along of me then," she said, and Glory followed her, first down a
dark passage, then through a dusty avenue between stacks of scenery, then
across the open stage, up a flight of stairs, and into a room of moderate
size which had no window and no ventilation and contained three cheval
glasses, a couch, four cane-bottom chairs, three small toilet tables with
gas jets suspended over them, three large trunks, some boxes of
cigarettes, and a number of empty champagne bottles. Here there was
another woman as scraggy and untidy as the first, who bobbed her head at
Glory and then went on with her work, which was that of taking gorgeous
dresses out of one of the trunks and laying them on the end of the couch.
"She told me to show you her first act," said the woman called Collins,
and, throwing open another of the trunks, she indicated some of the
costumes contained in it.
It was a new world to Glory, and there was something tingling and
electrical in the atmosphere about her. There were the shouts and curses
of the scene-shifters on the stage, the laughing voices of the chorus
girls going by the door, and all the multitudinous noises of the theatre
before the curtain rises. Presently there was a rustle of silk, and two
young ladies came bouncing into the room. One was tall and pink and
white, like a scarlet runner, the other was little and dainty. They
stared at Glory, and she was compelled to speak.
"Miss Bellman, I presume?"
"Ye mean Betty, down't ye?" said the tall lady, and at that moment Betty
herself arrived. She was a plump person with a kind of vulgar comeliness,
and Glory had a vague sense of having seen her before somewhere.
"So ye've came," she said, and she took possession of Glory straightway.
"Help me off of my sealskin."
Glory did so. The others were similarly disrobed, and in a few moments
their three ladyships were busy before the toilet tables with their
grease and rose-pink and black pencils.
Glory was taking down the hair of her stout ladyship, and her stout
ladyship was looking at Glory in the glass.
"Not a bad face, girls, eh?"
The other two glanced at Glory approvingly. "Not bad," they answered, and
then hummed or whistled as they went on with their making-up.
"Oh, _thank_ you," said Glory, with a low courtesy, and everybody
laughed. It was really very amusing. Suddenly it ceased to be so.
"And what's it's nyme, my dear?" said the little lady.
A sort of shame at using in this company the name that was sacred to
home, to the old parson, and to John Storm, came creeping over Glory like
a goosing of the flesh, and by the inspiration of a sudden memory she
The little lady paused with the black pencil at her eyebrows, and said:
"My! What a nyme for the top line of a bill!"
"Ugh! Mykes me feel like Sundays, though," said the tall lady with a
"Irish, my dear?"
"Something of that sort," said Glory.
"Brought up a laidy, I'll be bound?"
"My father was a clergyman," said Glory, "but----"
A sudden peal of laughter stopped her, whereupon she threw up her head,
and her eyes flashed: but her stout ladyship patted her hands and said:
"No offence, Glo, but you re'lly mustn't--they're all clergymen's
daughters, doncher know?"
A sharp knock came to the door, followed by the first call of the
call-boy. "Half-hour, ladies." Then there was much bustle and some
irritation in the dressing-room and the tuning up of the orchestra
outside. The knock came again. "Curtain up, please." The door was thrown
open, the three ladies swept out--the tall one in tights, the little one
in a serpentine skirt, the plump one in some fancy costume--and Glory was
left to gather up the fragments, to listen to the orchestra, which was
now in full power, to think of it all and to laugh.
The ladies returned to the dressing-room again and again in the coarse of
the performance, and when not occupied with the changing of their dresses
they amused themselves variously. Sometimes they smoked cigarettes,
sometimes sent Collins for brandy and soda, sometimes talked of their
friends in front: 'Lord Johnny's 'ere again. See 'im in the prompt box?
It's 'is sixtieth night this piece, and there's only been sixty-nine of
the run--and sometimes they discussed the audience generally: "Don't
know what's a-matter with 'em to-night; ye may work yer eyes out and ye
can't get a 'and."
The curtain came down at length, the outdoor costumes were resumed, the
call-boy cried "Carriages, please," the ladies answered "Right ye are,
Tommy," her plump ladyship nodded to Glory, "You'll do middling, my dear,
when ye get yer 'and in"; and then nothing was left but the dark stage,
the blank house, and the "Good-night, miss," of the porter at the stage
So these were favourites of the footlights! And Glory Quayle was dressing
and undressing them and preparing them for the stage! Next morning,
before rising, Glory tried to think it out. Were they so very beautiful?
Glory stretched up in bed to look at herself in the glass, and lay down
again with a smile. Were they so much cleverer than other people? It was
foolishness to think of it, for they were as empty as a drum. There must
be some explanation if a girl could only find it out.
The second night at the theatre passed much like the first, except that
the ladies were visited between the acts by a group of fellow-artistes
from another company, and then the free-and-easy manners of familiar
intercourse gave way to a style that was most circumspect and precise,
and, after the fashion of great ladies, they talked together of morning
calls and leaving cards and five-o'clock tea.
There was a scene in the performance in which the three girls sang
together, and Glory crept out to the head of the stairs to listen. When
she returned to the dressing-room her heart was bounding, and her eyes,
as she saw them in the glass, seemed to be leaping out of her head. It
was ridiculous! To think of all that fame, all that fuss about voices
like those, about singing like that, while she--if she could only get a
But the cloud had chased the sunshine from her face in a moment, and she
was murmuring again, "O God, do not punish a vain, presumptuous
All the same she felt happy and joyous, and on the third night she was
down at the theatre earlier than the other dressers, and was singing to
herself as she laid out the costumes, for her heart was beginning to be
light. Suddenly she became aware of some one standing at the open door.
It was an elderly man, with a bald head and an owlish face. He was the
stage manager; his name was Sefton.
"Go on, my girl," he said. "If you've got a voice like that, why don't
you let somebody hear it?"
Her plump ladyship arrived late that night, and her companions were
dressed and waiting when she swept into the room like a bat with
outstretched wings, crying: "Out o' the wy! Betty Bellman's coming! She's
There were numerous little carpings, backbitings, and hypocrisies during
the evening, and they reached a climax when Betty said, "Lord Bobbie is
coming to-night, my dear." "Not if _I_ know it, my love," said the tall
lady. "We are goin' to supper at the Nell Gwynne Club, dearest."
"Surprised at ye, my darling." "_You_ are a nice one to preach, my pet!"
After that encounter two of their ladyships, who were kissing and hugging
on the stage, were no longer on speaking terms in the dressing-room, and
as soon as might be after the curtain had fallen, the tall lady and the
little one swept out of the place with mysterious asides about a "friend
being a friend," and "not staying there to see nothing done shabby."
"If she don't like she needn't, my dear," said the boycotted one, and
then she dismissed Glory for the night with a message to the friend who
would be waiting on the stage.
The atmosphere of the dressing-room had become oppressive and stifling
that night, and, notwithstanding the exaltation of her spirits since the
stage manager had spoken to her, Glory was sick and ashamed. The fires of
her ambition were struggling to burn under the drenching showers that had
fallen upon her modesty, and she felt confused and compromised.
As she stepped down the stairs the curtain was drawn up, the auditorium
was a void, the stage dark, save for a single gas jet that burned at the
prompter's wing, and a gentleman in evening dress was walking to and fro
by the extinguished footlights. She was about to step up to the man when
she recognised him, and turning on her heel she hurried away. It was Lord
Robert Ure, and the memory that had troubled her at the first sight of
Betty was of the woman who had ridden with Polly Love on the day of the
Lord Mayor's show.
Feeling hot and foolish and afraid, she was scurrying through the dark
passages when some one called her. It was the stage manager.
"I should like to hear your voice again, my dear. Come down at eleven in
the morning, sharp. The leader of the orchestra will be here to play."
She made some confused answer of assent, and then found herself in the
back seat, panting audibly and taking long breaths of the cold night air.
She was dizzy and was feeling, as she had never felt before, that she
wanted some one to lean upon. If anybody had said to her at that moment,
"Come out of the atmosphere of that hot-bed, my child, it is full of
danger and the germs of death," she would have left everything behind her
and followed him, whatever the cost or sacrifice. But she had no one, and
the pain of her yearning and the misery of her shame were choking her.
Before going home she walked over to the hospital; but no, there was
still no letter from John Storm. There was one from Drake, many days
"Dear Glory: Hearing that you call for your letters, I write to ask if
you will not let me know where you are and how the world is using you.
Since the day we parted in St. James's Park I have often spoken of you to
my friend Miss Macquarrie, and I am angry with myself when I remember
what remarkable talents you have, and that they are only waiting for the
right use to be made of them.
"Yours most kindly,
"F. H. N. Drake."
"Many thanks, good Late-i'-th'-day," she thought, and she was crushing
the latter in her hand when she saw there was a postscript:
"P. S.--This being the Christmas season, I have given myself the pleasure
of sending a parcel of Yuletide goodies to your dear old grandfather and
his sweet and simple household; but as they have doubtless long forgotten
me, and I do not wish to embarrass them with, unnecessary obligations, I
will ask you not to help them to the identification of its source."
She straightened out the letter and folded it, put it in her pocket and
returned home. Another letter was waiting for her there. It was from the
"So you sent us a Christmas-box after all! That was just like my runaway,
all innocent acting and make-believe. What joy we had of it!--Rachel and
myself, I mean, for we had to carry on the fiction that Aunt Anna knew
nothing about it, she being vexed at the thought of our spendthrift
spending so much money. Chalse brought it into the parlour while Anna was
upstairs, and it might have been the ark going up to Jerusalem it entered
in such solemn stillness. Oh, dear! oh, dear! The bun-loaf, and the
almonds, and the cheese, and the turkey, and the pound of tobacco, and
the mull of snuff! On account of Anna everything had to be conducted in
great quietness, but it was a terrible leaky sort of silence, I fear, and
there were hot and hissing whispers. God bless you for your thought and
care of us! Coming so timely, it is like my dear one herself, a gift that
cometh from the Lord; and when people ask me if I am not afraid that my
granddaughter should be all alone in that great and wicked Babylon, I
tell them: 'No; you don't know my Glory; she is all courage and nerve and
power, a perfect bow of steel, quivering with sympathy and strength.'"
Christmas had come and gone at the Brotherhood, and yet the project was
unfulfilled. John himself had delayed its fulfilment from one trivial
cause after another. The night was too dark or not dark enough; the moon
shone or was not shining. His real obstacle was his superstitious fear.
The scheme was very easy of execution, and the Father himself had made it
so. This, and the Father's trust in him, had almost wrecked the
enterprise. Only his own secret anxieties, which were interpreted to his
consciousness by the sight of Brother Paul's wasting face, sufficed to
sustain his purpose.
"The man's dying. It can not be unpleasing to God."
He said this to himself again and again, as one presses the pain in one's
side to make sure it is still there. Under the shadow of the crisis his
character was going to ruin. He grew cunning and hypocritical, and could
do nothing that was not false in reality or appearance. When the Father
passed him he would drop his head, and it was taken for contrition, and
he was commended for humility.
It was now the last day of the year, and therefore the last of his duty
at the door.
"It must be to-night," he whispered, as Paul passed him.
Paul nodded. Since the plan of escape had been projected he had lost all
will of his own and become passive and inert.
How the day lingered! And when the night came it dragged along with feet
of lead! It seemed as if the hour of evening recreation would never end.
Certain of the brothers who had been away on preaching missions
throughout the country had returned for the Feast of the Circumcision,
and the house was bright with fresh faces and cheerful voices. John
thought he had never before heard so much laughter in the monastery.
But the bell rang for Compline, and the brothers passed into church. It
was a cold night, the snow was trodden hard, and the wind was rising. The
service ended, and the brothers returned to the house with clasped hands
and passed up to their cells in silence, leaving Brother Paul at his
penance in the church.
Finally the Father put up his hood and went out to lock the gate, and the
dog, who took this for his signal, shambled up and followed him. When he
returned he shuddered and shrugged his shoulders.
"A bitter night, my son," he said. "It's like courting death to go out in
it. Heaven help all homeless wanderers on a night like this!"
He was wiping the snow from his slippers.
"So this is the last day of your penance, Brother Storm, and to-morrow
morning you will join us in the community room. You have done well; you
have fought a good fight and resisted the assaults of Satan. Good-night
to you, my son, and God bless you!"
He took a few steps forward and then stopped. "By the way, I promised you
the Life of Pere Lacordaire, and you might come to my room and fetch it."
The Father's room was on the ground floor to the left of the staircase,
and it was entered from a corridor which cut the house across the middle.
The rooms that opened out of this corridor to the front looked on the
courtyard, and those to the back looked across the City in the direction
of the Thames. The Father's room opened to the back. It was as bare of
ornament as any of the cells, but it had a small fire, and a
writing-table on which a lamp was burning.
As they entered the room together the Father hung the key of the gate on
one of many hooks above the bed. It was the third hook from the end
nearest the window, and the key was an old one with very few wards. John
watched all this, and even observed that there were books on the floor,
and that a man might stumble if he did not walk warily. The Father picked
up one of them.
"This is the book, my son. A most precious document, the very mirror of a
living human soul. What touched me most, perhaps, were the Father's
references to his mother. A monk may not have his mother to himself, and
if the love of woman is much to him he is miserable indeed until he has
fixed his eyes on the most blessed among women. But the religious life
does not destroy natural affection. It only kills in order to bring forth
new life. The corn of wheat dies that it may live again. That is the true
Christian asceticism, my son, and so it is with our vows. Goodnight!"
As John was coming out of the Father's room, he met Brother Andrew going
into it, with clean linen over one arm and a ewer of water in the other
hand. He threw on his bed in the alcove the book which the Father had
given him, and sat down on the form at the door and tried to strengthen
himself in his purpose.
"The man is dying for the sight of his sister. He can save her soul if he
can only see her. It can not be displeasing to the Almighty."
When he lifted his head the house was silent, except for the wind that
whistled outside its walls. Presently there was a scarcely perceptible
click, as of a door closing, and Brother Andrew came from the direction
of the Superior's room. John called to him and he stepped up on tip-toe,
for the monk hates noise as an evil spirit. The sprawling features of the
big fellow were all smiles.
"Has the Father gone to bed?" said John.
"No; half an hour ago."
"Then he will be asleep by this time."
"He was asleep before I left him."
"So he doesn't lock his door on the inside?"
"Does the Father sleep soundly?"
"Sometimes he does, and sometimes a cat would waken him."
"Would you do something for me if I wanted, it very much?"
"You know I would."
"Even if you had to run some risk?"
"I'm not afraid of that"
"And if I got you into trouble, perhaps?"
"But you wouldn't. _You_ wouldn't get anybody into trouble."
John could go no further. The implicit trust in the simple face was too
much for him.
"What is it?" said Brother Andrew.
"Oh, nothing--nothing at all," said John. "I was only trying you, but you
are too good to be tempted, and I am ashamed. You must go to bed now."
"Can I put out the lights for you?"
"No, I'm not ready yet. Ugh! what a cruel wind! A cold night for Brother
Paul in the church."
"Tell me, Brother Storm, what is the matter with Brother Paul? He makes
me think of my mother, I don't know why."
John made no answer, and the lay brother began to go upstairs. Two steps
up he stopped and whispered:
"Won't you let me do something for you, then?"
"Not to-night, Brother Andrew."
"Good-night, Brother Storm."
"Good-night, my lad."
John listened to his footsteps until they stopped far overhead, and then
all was quiet. Only the whistling of the wind broke the stillness of the
peaceful house. He slid back the grating and looked out. All was darkness
except for the tiny gleam of coloured light that came from the church,
where Brother Paul sat to say his Rosary.
This fortified his courage, and he got up to put out the lamps in the
staircase and corridors. He began at the top, and as he came down he
listened on every landing and looked carefully around. There was no sound
anywhere except the light fall of his own deadened footstep. His
superstitious fears came back upon him, and his restless conscience
created terrors. The old London mansion, with its mystic cells, seemed
full of strange shadows, and the wind howled around it like a fiend. One
by one he extinguished the lamps. The last of them hung in the hall under
the picture of Christ in his crown of thorns. As he put it out he thought
the eyes looked at him, and he shuddered.
It was now half-past ten, and time to carry out his project. The back of
his neck was aching and his breath was coming quick. With noiseless steps
he walked to the door of the Father's room and listened again. Hearing
nothing, he opened the door wide and stepped into the room.
The fire was slumbering out, but it cast a faint red glow on the ceiling
and on the bed. A soft light rested on the Father's face, and he was
sleeping peacefully. There was no sound except the wind in the chimney
and a whistle sounding from a steamer in the river.
To reach the key, where it hung above the bed, it was necessary to step
between the fire and the sleeping man. As John did so his black shadow
fell on the Father's face. He stretched out his hand for the key and
found that a bunch of other keys were now hanging over it. When he
removed them they jingled slightly, and then his heart stood still, but
the Father did not stir, and he took the key of the gate off the hook,
put the other keys back in their place, and turned to go.
The dog began to howl--somebody was playing music in the street--and the
open door made the wind to roar in the chimney. The Father sighed, and
John stood with a quivering heart and looked over his shoulder. But it
was only a deep human sigh uttered in sleep.
At the next moment John had returned to the corridor and closed the door
behind him. His throat was parched, his eyelids were twitching, and his
temples were beating like drums. He went gliding along like a thief, and
as he passed the picture of Christ in the darkness the wind seemed to be
Back in the hall he dropped on to the form, for his knees could support
him no longer. Love and conscience, humanity and religion clamoured loud
in his heart and tore him in pieces. "Traitor!" cried one. "But the man's
dying!" cried another. "Judas!" "She is hovering on the brink of hell and
he may save her soul from death and damnation!" When the struggle was
over, conscience and religion were worsted, and he was more cunning than
Then the clock chimed the three quarters, and he raised his head. The
streets, usually so quiet at that hour, were becoming noisy with traffic.
There were the shuffling of many feet on the hard snow and the sharp
crack of voices.
He opened the great door of the house with as little noise as possible
and stepped out into the courtyard. The bloodhound started from its
quarters and began to growl, but he silenced it with a word, and the
creature came up and licked his hand. He crossed the court with quick and
noiseless footsteps, lifted the latch of the sacristy and pushed through
into the church.
There was a low, droning sound in the empty place. It ran a space and was
then sucked in like the sound of the sea at the harbour steps. Brother
Paul was sitting in the chancel with a lamp on the stall by his side. His
head leaned forward, his eyes were closed, and the light on his thin face
made it look pallid and lifeless. John called to him in a whisper.
He rose quickly and followed John into the courtyard, looking wild and
weak and lost.
"But the lamp--I've forgotten it," he said. "Shall I go back and put it
"How simple you are!" said John. "Somebody may be lying awake in the
house. Do you want him to see that you've left your penance an hour too