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The Christian by Hall Caine

Part 5 out of 12

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"Come this way--quietly."

They passed on tip-toe to the passage leading to the street, where some
flickering gleams of the light without fell over them.

"Where's your hat?" said John.

"I forgot that too--I left it in the church."

"Take mine," said John, "and put up your hood and button your
cassock--it's a cruel night."

"But I'm afraid," said Paul.

"Afraid of what?"

"Now that the time has come I'm afraid to learn the truth about her.
After all uncertainty is hope, you know, and then----"

"Tut! Be a man! Don't give way at the last moment. Here, tie my
handkerchief about your neck! How helpless you are, though! I've half a
mind to go myself instead."

"But you don't know what I want to say, and if you did you couldn't say

"Then listen! Are you listening?"


"Go to the hospital where your sister used to be a nurse."

"Martha's Vineyard?"

"Ask for Nurse Quayle--will you remember?"

"Nurse Quayle."

"If she is on night duty she will see you at once. But if she is on day
duty she may be in bed and asleep, and in that case----"


"Here, take this letter. Have you got it?"


"Give it to the porter. Tell him it comes from the former chaplain--you
remember. Say it concerns a matter of great importance, and ask him to
send it up to the dormitories immediately. Then----"


"Then _she_ must tell you what to do next."

"But if she is out?"

"She may be-this is New Year's Eve."


"Wait in the porch till she comes in again."

John's impetuous will was carrying everything before it, and the helpless
creature began to overwhelm him with grateful blessings.

"Pooh! We'll not talk of that.... Have you any money?"


"Neither have I. I brought nothing here except the little in my purse,
and I gave that up on entering."

"I don't want any--I can walk."

"It will take you an hour then."

A clock was striking somewhere. "Hush! One, two, three ... eleven
o'clock. It will be midnight when you get there. Now go!"

The key was grating in the lock of the gate. "Remember Lauds at six in
the morning."

"I'll be back at five."

"And I'll open the gate at 5.30. Only six hours to do everything."

"Good-night, then."


"What is it?"

Paul was in the street, but John was in the darkness of the passage.

"Very likely you'll cross London in a cab with her."

"My sister?"

"Your sister went to live somewhere in St. John's Wood, I remember."

"St. John's Wood?"

"Tell her"--John was striving to keep his voice firm--"tell her I am
happy--and cheerful--and looking strong and well, you know."

"But you're not. You're too good, and you're wearing away in my----"

"Tell her I am often thinking of her, and if she has anything to
say--anything to send--any word--any message ... it can't be displeasing
to the Almighty.... But no matter! Go, go!"

The key had grated in the lock again, the lay brother was gone, and John
was left alone.

"God pity and forgive me!" he muttered, and then he turned away.

The traffic in the streets was increasing every moment, and as he
stumbled across the courtyard a drunken man going by the gate stopped and
cried into the passage, "Helloa, there! I'm a-watchin' of ye!" The
bloodhound leaped up and barked, but John hurried into the house and
clashed the door.

He sat on the form and tried to compose himself. He thought of Paul as he
had seen him at the last moment--the captured eagle with the broken wing
scudding into the night, the night of London, but free, free!

In his mind's eye he followed him through the streets--down Bishopsgate
Street into Threadneedle Street and along Cheapside to St. Paul's
churchyard. Crowds of people would be there to-night waiting for the
striking of the clock at midnight that they might raise a shout and wish
each other a happy New Year.

That made him think of Glory. She would be there too, for she loved a
rich and abounding life. He could see her quite plainly in the midst of
the throng with her sparkling eyes and bounding step. It would be so new
to her, so human and so beautiful! Glory! Always Glory!

He thought he must have been dreaming, for suddenly the clocks were all
striking, first the clock in the hall, then the clocks of the churches
round about, and finally the great clock of the cathedral. Almost at the
same moment there was a distant sound like the rattle of musketry, and
then the church bells began to ring.

The noises in the street were now tumultuous. People were shouting and
laughing. Some of them were singing. At one moment it was the Salvation
chorus, at the next a music-hall ditty. First "At the Cross, at the
Cross," then "Mr. 'enry 'awkins," and then an unfamiliar ditty. With
measured steps over the hardened snow of the pavement there came tramping
along a line of boys and girls, crying:

D'ye ken John Peel with his coat so gay?
D'ye ken John Peel at the break of day?
D'ye ken John P-e-e-l----

Their shrill trebles broke like a rocket on the topmost note, and there
was loud laughter.

Glory again! Always, always Glory!

Then the scales fell from his eyes and he saw himself as he was, a
self-deluded man and a cheat. The impulses that had prompted him to this
night's work had really centred in Glory. It had been Glory first and
Glory last, and his pity for Brother Paul and his fear for the fate of
Polly had been only a falsehood and pretence.

The night wind was still howling about the house. Its noise mingled with
the peal of the church bells, and together they seemed to utter the
voices of mocking fiends: Judas! Traitor! Fool! Fool! Traitor! Judas!

He covered his ears with his hands and his head fell into his breast.


"The Little Turnstile,

"New Year's Eve.

"Hooraa! hooraa!

"Feeling like bottled yeast this evening and liable to go off, I thank my
stars I have three old babies at home to whom I am bound to tell
everything. So lizzen, lizzen for all! Know ye then, all men (and women)
by these presents that there is a gentleman in London who predicts
wonderful things for Glory. His name is Sefton, and I came to know him
through three ladies--I call them the Three Graces--whose acquaintance I
have made by coming to live here. He is only an old mushroom with a bald,
white head; and if I believed everything their ladyships say I should
conclude that he is one of those who never sin except twice a year, and
that is all the time before Christmas and all the time after it. But
their Graces belong to that saintly sisterhood who would take away the
devil's character if they needed it (they don't), and though the
mushroom's honour were as scarce as the middle cut in salmon, yet in
common loyalty Glory would have to believe in it.

"It is all about my voice. Hearing it by accident when I was humming
about the house like a blue-bottle, he asked me to let him hear it again
in a place where he could judge of it to more advantage. That turned out
to be a theatre--yes, indeed, a theatre--but it was the middle of the
morning, and nobody was there except ourselves and a couple of cleaners,
so Aunt Anna needn't be afraid. Yes, the chief of the orchestra was
present, and he sat before a piano on the edge of the maelstrom, in what
we should call the High Bailiff's pews--but they call them the
stalls--while the mushroom himself went back to the cavernous depths of
the body, which in a theatre they have properly christened the pit, and
this morning it looked like the bottomless one.

"Lor'-a-massey! Ever see the inside of a theatre in the daytime? Of
course you've not, my dears. It is what the world itself was the day
before the first day--without form and void, and darkness is on the face
of the deep. Not a ray of daylight anywhere, except the adulterated kind
that comes mooching round corridors and prowling in at half-open doors,
and floating through the sepulchral gloom like the sleepy eyes of the
monsters that terrified me in the caves at Gob-ny-Deigan when I used to
play pirate, you remember.

"The gentlemen had left me alone on the stage with five or six
footlights--which they ought to call face-lights--flashing in my eyes,
and when the pianist began to vamp and I to sing it was like pitching my
voice into a tunnel, and I became so dreadfully nervous that I was forced
to laugh. That seemed to vex my unseen audience, who thought me 'rot'; so
I said, 'Let there be more light then.' and there was more light, 'and
let the piano cease from troubling,' and it was so. Then I just stiffened
my back and gave them one of mother's French songs, and after the first
verse I called out to the manager at the back," Can you hear me?' and he
called back, 'Go on; it's splendid!' So I did 'Mylecharaine' in the Manx,
and I suppose I acted both of my songs; but I was only beginning to be
aware that my voice in that great place was a little less like a
barrel-organ than usual when suddenly there came a terrific clatter, such
as comes with the seventh wave on the shingle, and my two dear men in the
dark were clapping the skin of their hands off!

"Oh, my dears! my dears! If you only knew how for weeks and weeks I had
been moaning and lamenting that it was because I wasn't clever that
people took no notice of me, you would forgive a vain creature when she
said to herself, 'My daughter, you are really somebody, after all--you,
you, you!' It was a beautiful moment, though, and when the old mushroom
came back to the stage saying: 'What a voice! What expression! What
nature!' I felt like falling on his bald head and kissing it, not being
able to speak for lumps in the throat and feeling like the Methodist lady
who poured out whisky for the class leaders after they had presented her
with a watch, and then told the reporters to say she had suitably

"Heigho! I have talked about the fashionable people I meet in London, but
I don't want to be one of them. They do nothing but rush about, dress,
gossip, laugh, love, and plunge into all the delights of life. That is
not my idea of existence. I am ambitious. I want to do something. I am
tired in my soul of doing nothing. Yes, it _has_ been that all along,
though I didn't like to tell you so before. There are people who are born
in the midst of greatness and they don't know how to use it. But to be
one of the world's celebrities, that is so different! To have won the
heart of the world, so that the world knows you and thinks of you and
loves you! Say it is by your voice you do it and that your world is the
concert hall, or even the music hall--what matter? You needn't _live_
music hall, whatever the life inside of it. And then that great dark void
peopled with faces; that laugh or cry just as you please to make
them--confess; that it would be magnificent, my dear ones!

"I am to go again to-night to hear what Mr. Sefton has to propose, but
already this dingy little bedroom smiles upon me, and even the broken
tiles in the backyard might be the pavement of paradise! If it is true
what he tells me---Well, he that hath the bride is the bridegroom, and if
my doings hereafter don't make your hair curl I will try to show the
inhabitants of this stupid old earth what a woman can do in spite of
every disadvantage. I shall not be sorry to leave this place either. The
rats in these old London houses (judging by their cries of woe) hold a
nightly carnival for the eating up of the younger members of the family.
And then Mrs. Jupe and Mr. Jupe--Mr. Dupe I call him--she deceives him so
dreadfully with her gadding about----But anon, anon, good people!

"It is New Year's Eve to-day, and nearly nine months since I came up to
London. _Tempus fugit!_ In fact _tempus_ is _fugit_-ing most fearfully,
considering that I am twenty-one on Sunday next, you know, and that I
haven't begun to do anything really. The snowdrops must be making a peep
at Glenfaba by this time, and Aunt Rachel will be cutting slips of the
rose trees and putting them in pots. Yandher place must he _urromassy_ [*
Out of mercy.] nice though, with snow on the roof and the sloping lawn,
and the windows glistening with frost--just like a girl in her
confirmation veil as she stands hack to look at herself in the glass. I
intend to see the New Year in this time on the outside of St. Paul's
Cathedral, where people congregate in thousands as twelve o'clock
approaches to carry on the beautiful fiction that there is still only one
clock in London, and they have to hold their noses in the air to watch
for the moment when it is going to strike. But in the midst of the light
and life of this splendid city I know my heart will go back with a tender
twinge to the little dark streets on the edge of the sea, where the
Methodist choirs will be singing, 'Hail, smiling morn,' preparatory to
coffee and currant cake.

"Who will be your 'first foot' this year, I wonder? It was John Storm
last year, you remember, and being as dark as a gipsy, he made a perfect
_qualtagh_. [* Manx for "first foot."] And how we laughed when, disguised
in the snow that was falling at the time, he pretended to be a beggar and
came in just as grandfather was reading the bit about the Good Shepherd,
and how he loved his lambs--and then I found him out! Ah me!

"I am looking perfectly dazzling in a new hat to-day, having been going
about hitherto in one of those little frights that used to be cocked up
on the top of your hair like a hen on a cornstack. But now I am carrying
about the Prince of Wales's feathers, and if he could only see me himself
in them!----

"You see what a scatter-brained creature I am! Leaving the hospital has
made me grow so much younger every day that I am almost afraid I may come
to contemplate short frocks. But really it's the first time I've looked
nice for an eternity, and now I entirely retract and repent me of all I
said about wishing to be a man. Being a girl, I'll put up with it, and if
all the old mushroom says on that head also is true---- But then men are
such funny things, bless them! Glory.

"P.S.--No word from John Storm yet. Apparently he never thinks of us
now--of me at all events--and I suppose he has resigned himself and taken
the vows. That's one kind of religion, I dare say, but I can't understand
it; and I don't know how a dog, even, can be nailed up to a wall and not
go mad. In the night lying in bed I sometimes think of him. A dark cell,
a bench for a bed, a crucifix, and no other furniture, praying with
trembling limbs and chattering teeth--No; such things are too high for
me; I can not reach to them.

"It seems impossible that _he_ can be in London too. What a place this
London is! Such a mixture! Fashion, religion, gaiety, devotion, pride,
depravity, wealth, poverty! I find that for a girl to succeed in London
her moral colour must be heightened a little. _Pinjane_ [* Manx dish,
like Devonshire junket] alone won't do. Give her a slush of _pissaves_ [*
Preserves] and she'll go down sweeter. Angels are not wanted here at all.
The only angels there are in London are kept framed in the church
windows, and I half suspect that even they were women once, and liked
bread and butter. And then Nell Gwynne's flag floats from the steeple of
St. Martin's in the Fields, and now and again they ring the bells for


At eleven o'clock that night Glory was putting on her hat and cloak to
return home when the call-boy came to the dressing-room door to say that
the stage manager was waiting to see her. With a little catch, in her
breath, and then with a tightening of the heart-strings, she followed him
to the stage manager's office. It was a stuffy place over the porter's
lodge, approached by a flight of circular iron stairs and lumbered with
many kinds of theatrical property.

"Come in, my dear," said the stage manager, and pushing away some models
of scenery he made room for her on a sofa which stood by a fast-dying
fire. Then shutting the door, he bobbed his head at her and winked with
both eyes, and said in a familiar whisper:

"It's all right, my dear. I've settled that little matter for you."

"Do you mean----" began Glory, and then she waited with parted lips.

"It's as good as done, my dear. Sit down." Glory had risen in her
excitement. "Sit down and I'll tell you everything."

He had spoken to his management. "Gentlemen," he had said, "unless I'm
mistaken I've found a prize." They had laughed. He was always finding
prizes. But he knew what he was talking about, and they had given him
_carte blanche_.

"You think there is really some likelihood, then----" began Glory, with
the catch in her breath again, for her throat was thick and her breast
was heaving.

"Sit down, now do sit down, my dear, and listen."

He was suave, he was flattering, he was intimate, he was, coaxing. She
was to leave everything to him. Of course, there was much to be done yet.
She had a wonderful voice; it was finer than music. She had style as
well; it was astonishing how she had come by it. Only a dresser, too--not
even in the chorus. But stars were never turned out by Nature. She had
many things to learn, and would have to be coached up carefully before
she could be brought out. He had done it for others, though, and he could
do it for her; and if----

Glory's eyes were shining and her heart was beating like a drum.

"Then you think that eventually--if I work hard--after years perhaps----"

"You can't do it on your own, my dear, so leave yourself in my hands
entirely, and don't whisper a word about it yet."

"Ah!" It was like a dream coming true; she could scarcely believe in it.
The stage manager became still more suave and flattering and familiar. If
she "caught on," there was no knowing what he might not get for her--ten
pounds a week--fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, even fifty perhaps.

Glory's palpitation was becoming painful, and at the bottom of her heart
there was a certain fear of this sudden tide of fortune, as if Providence
had somehow made a mistake and would as suddenly find it out. To appease
her conscience she began to think of home and how happy she might make
everybody there if God was really going to be so good to her. They should
want for nothing; they should never know a poor day again.

Meantime the stage manager was painting another picture. A girl didn't go
a-begging if he once took her up. There was S----. She was only an
"auricomous" damsel, serving in a tobacconist's shop in the Haymarket
when he first found her, and now where was she?

"Of course, I've no interest of my own to serve, my dear--none whatever.
And there'll be lots of people to tempt you away from me when your name
is made."

Glory uttered some vehement protest, and then was lost in her dreams

"Well, well, we'll see," said the stage manager. He was looking at her
with glittering eyes.

"Do you know, my dear, you are a very fine-looking young woman?"

Glory's head was down, her face was flushed, and she was turning her
mother's pearl ring around her finger. He thought she was overwhelmed by
his praises, and coming closer, he said:

"Dare say you've got a good stage figure too, eh? Pooh! Only business,
you know! But you mustn't be shy with me, my dear. And besides, if I am
to do all this for you, you must do something for me sometimes."

She hardly heard him. Her eyes were still glistening with the far-off
look of one who gazes on a beautiful vision.

"You are so good," she said. "I don't know what to say, or how to thank

"This way," he whispered, and leaning over to her he lifted her face and
kissed her.

Then her poor dream of glory and grandeur and happiness was dispelled in
a moment, and she awoke with a sense of outrage and shame. The man's
praises were flattery; his predictions were a pretence; he had not really
meant it at all, and she had been so simple as to believe everything.

"Oh!" she said, with the feeble, childish cry of one who has received a
pistol wound in battle. And then she rose and turned to go. But the stage
manager, who was laughing noisily out of his hot red face, stepped
between her and the door.

"My dear child, you can't mean--a trifle like that--!"

"Open the door, please," she said in her husky voice.

"But surely you don't intend--In this profession we think nothing, you

"Open the door, sir!"

"Really--upon my word----"

When she came to herself again she was out in the dark back street, and
the snow was hard and dirty under foot, and the wind was high and cold,
and she was running along and crying like a disappointed child.

The bitterest part of it all was the crushing certainty that she had no
talents and no chances of success, and that the man had only painted up
his fancy picture as a means of deceiving her. Oh, the misery of being a
woman! Oh. the cruelty of this great, glorious, devilish London, where a
girl, if she was poor and alone, could live only by her looks!

With God knows what lingering remnant of expectation, but feeling broken
and beaten after her brave fight for life, and with the weak woman
uppermost at last, she had turned toward the hospital. It was nearly
half-past eleven when she got there, and Big Ben was chiming the half
hour as she ascended the steps. Bracing herself up, she looked in at the
porter's door with a face that was doing its best to smile.

"Any letters to-night, porter?"

"Not to-night, miss."

"No? Well--none to get, none to answer, you know. Happy New Year to you!"

But there was a sob in her laughter, and the man said: "I'd be sorry to
miss your face, nurse, but if you'll leave your address I'll send your
letters on and save you the journey so late at night."

"Oh, no-no, there'll be no more letters now, porter, and--I'll not come
again. Here!"

"No, no, miss."

"Yes, yes, you must."

She forced a shilling into the porter's hand in spite of his protests,
and then fled from the look in his face which seemed to her to say that
he would like to return her sixpence.

John Storm was lost to her. It was foolishness to go on expecting to hear
from him. Had he not told her that the rule under which the brothers
lived in community forbade them to write and receive letters except by
special permission? But she had expected that something would
happen--some accident, some miracle, she hardly knew what. That dream was
over now; she was alone; it was no use deceiving herself any longer.

She went home by the back streets, for people were peering into her face,
and she thought perhaps she had been crying. Late as it was, being New
Year's Eve, there were groups about every corner, and in some of the
flagged courts and alleys little girls were dancing to the music of the
Italian organ man or turning catherine-wheels. As she was going down Long
Acre a creachy voice saluted her.

"Evening, miss! Going home early, ain't ye?"

It was a miserable-looking woman in clothes that might have been stolen
from a scarecrow.

"Market full to-night, my dear? Look as if the dodgers had been at ye.
Live? I live off of the lane. But lor' bless ye, I've lived in a-many
places! Seen the day I lived in Soho Square. I was on the 'alls then. Got
a bit quisby on my top notes, you know, and took the scarlet
fever--soldier, I mean, my dear. But what's the use of frettin'?

"I likes to be jolly, and I allwiz is. Doing now? Selling flowers outside
the theatres--police is nasty if you've got nothink. Ain't I going home?
Soon as I get a drain of white satin. Wish you luck, my dear!"

As she came up to the shop in the Turnstile she could hear that it was
noisy with the voices of men and girls, so she turned back through
Lincoln's-Inn Fields and passed down to Fleet Street. It was approaching
twelve o'clock by this time, and streams of people were flowing in the
direction of St. Paul's Cathedral. Glory turned eastward also and allowed
herself to be carried along with the current which babbled and talked
like a river in the night.

Immediately in front of her there was a line of girls walking arm-in-arm
across the width of the pavement. They were factory girls in big hats
with ostrich feathers, and as they skipped along with their free step
they sang snatches of Salvation hymns and music-hall songs. All at once
they gave a shrill peal of laughter, and one of them cried, "Tell me what
it is and I'll give it a nyme." At the next moment a strange figure was
forging past their line, going westward with long strides. It was a man
in the habit of a monk, with long black cassock and broad-brimmed hat.
Glory caught a glimpse of his face as he passed her. It was a hungry,
eager face, with big, melancholy eyes, and it seemed to her that she must
have seen it before somewhere. The wind was very cold, and the great
cross on the dome of the cathedral stood out like a beacon against flying

St. Paul's churchyard was thronged with noisy, happy people, and down to
the last minute before the hour they shouted and joked and laughed. Then
there was a hush, the great crowds seemed to hold their breath as if they
had been a single living creature, and every face was turned upward to
the clock. The clock struck, the bells of the cathedral began to ring,
the people cheered and saluted each other and shook hands on every side,
and then the dense mass broke up.

Glory could have cried for joy of it all--it was so simple, so human, so
childlike. But she listened to the laughter and salutations of the people
about her and felt more lonely than the Bedouin in the desert; she
remembered the bubbling hopes that had carried her through the day, and
her heart fell low; she thought of the letter which she had posted home
on her way to the theatre, and two great tears came rolling from her

The face of the monk tormented her, and suddenly she bethought herself
whose face it must have been. It must have been the face of Polly Love's
brother. He belonged to the Bishopsgate Fathers, and had once been a
patient in the hospital, and perhaps he was going there now on some
errand or urgent message--to the doctors or to----

"It was foolish not to leave my address when the porter asked me," she
thought. She would go back and do so. There could be no harm in that; and
if anything had really happened, if John----

"Happy New Year to you, my dear!"

Somebody in the drifting crowd was standing before her and blocking the
way. It was Agatha Jones in a mock seal-skin coat and big black hat
surmounted by black feathers, and with Charlie Wilkes (with his
diminutive cap pushed back from his oily fringe and pimpled forehead)
leaning heavily on her arm.

"Well, I never! Who'd have thought of meeting you in St. Paul's

Glory tried to laugh and to return the salutation over the noises of the
people and the clangour of the bells. And then Aggie put her face close,
as women do who are accustomed to talking in the streets, and said:
"Thought we'd seen the lahst of you, my dear, when you went off that
night sudden. Selling programmes somewhere else now?"

"Something of that sort," said Glory.

"I'm not. I've been left the old red church this fortnight and more.
Charlie's got me on the clubs. But my word!" turning to Charlie, "it's
her as oughter be there, my dear!"

"She cheeks me out," said Charlie, "as you'll knock the stuffing out of
Betty Bellman 'erself if you once myke a stawt."

And Aggie said: "I might get you to do a turn almost any Sunday, if you
like, my dear. There's always somebody as down't come, and they're glad
of an extra turn to tyke the number if she's only clever enough to get a
few 'ands. Going 'ome, dear?"

"Yes," said Glory.

"Where d'ye live?" said Aggie, and Glory told her.

"I'll call for you Sunday night at eight, and if you down't tyke your
chawnce when you get it, you're a foolisher woman than I thought you
were, that's stright! By-bye!"


Always at half-past five in the morning the Father Superior began to
awaken the Brotherhood. It took him a quarter of an hour to pass through
the house on that errand, for the infirmities of his years were upon him.
During this interval John Storm had intended to open the gate to Paul and
then return the key to its place in the Father's room. The time was
short, and to lose no part of it he had resolved to remain awake the
whole night through.

There was little need to make a call on that resolution. With fear and
remorse he could not close his eyes, and from hour to hour he heard every
sound of the streets. At one o'clock, the voices singing outside were
strained and cracked and out of tune; at two, they were brutish and
drunken and mingled with shrieks of quarrelling; at three, there was
silence; at four, the butchers' wagons were rattling on the stones from
the shambles across the river to the meat markets of London, with the
carcasses of the thousands of beasts that were slaughtered overnight to
feed the body of the mammoth on the morrow; and at five, the postal vans
were galloping from the railway stations to the post-office with the
millions of letters that were to feed its mind.

At half-past five the Father had come out of his room and passed slowly
upstairs, and John Storm was in the courtyard opening the lock of the
outer gate. Although there was a feeling of morning in the freezing air
it was still quite dark.

"Paul," he whispered, but there was no answer.

"Brother Paul!" he whispered again, and then waited, but there was no

It was not at first that he realized the tremendous gravity of what had
occurred--that Brother Paul had not returned, and that he must go back to
the house without him. He kept calling into the darkness until he
remembered that the Father would be down in his room again soon and
looking for the key where he had left it.

Back in the hall, he reproached himself with his haste, and concluded to
return to the gate. There would be time to do it; the Father was still
far overhead; his "Benedicamus Domino" was passing from corridor to
corridor; and Paul might be coming down the street.

"Paul! Paul!" he cried again, and opening the gate he looked out. But
there was no one on the pavement except a drunken man and a girl, singing
themselves home in the dead waste of the New Year's morning.

Then the truth fell on him like a thundercloud, and he hurried back to
the house for good. By this time the Father was coming down the stairs,
and had reached the landing of the first story. Snatching up from the bed
in the alcove the book which had been lying there all night unregarded,
he crept into the Father's room. He was coming out of it when he came
face to face with the Father himself, who was on the point of going in.

"I have been returning the book you lent me," he said, and then he tried
to steal away in his shame. But the Father held him a while in playful
remonstrance. The hours were not all saved that were stolen from the
night, and his swelled eyes this morning were a testimony to the musty
old maxim. Still, with a book like that, his diligence was not to be
wondered at, and it would be interesting to hear what he thought of it.
He couldn't say as yet. That wasn't to be wondered at either. Somebody
had said that a great book was like a great mountain--not to be seen to
the top while you were still too near to it.

John's duplicity was choking him. His eyes were averted from the Father's
face, for he had lost the power of looking straight at any one, and he
could see the key of the gate still shaking from the hook on which his
nervous fingers had placed it. When he escaped at length, the Father
asked him to ring the bell for Lauds, as Brother Andrew, whose duty it
was, had evidently overslept himself.

John rang the bell, and then took his lamp and some tapers from a shelf
in the hall and went out to the church to light the candles, for that
also was Brother Andrew's duty. As he was crossing the courtyard on his
way back to the house, he passed the Father going to open the gate.

"But what has become of your hat?" said the Father, and then, for the
first time, John remembered what he had done with it.

"I've lent--that is to say, I've lost it," he answered, and then stood
with his eyes on the ground while the Father reproved him for
heedlessness of health, and so forth.

It is part of the perversity of circumstance that while an incident of
the greatest gravity is occurring, its ridiculous counterpart is usually
taking place by the side of it. When the religious had gathered in the
church it was seen that three of the stalls were vacant--Brother Paul's,
Brother Andrew's, and the Father Minister's. The service had hardly begun
when the bell was heard to ring again, and with a louder clangour than
before, whereupon the religious concluded that Brother Andrew had
awakened from his sleep, and was remembering with remorse his belated

But it was the Father Minister. That silent and severe person had
oftentimes rebuked the lay brother for his sleepiness, and this morning
he had himself been overcome by the same infirmity. Awakening suddenly a
little after six by the watch that hung by his bed, he had thought, "That
lazy fellow is late again--I'll teach him a lesson." Leaping to his feet
(the monk sleeps in his habit), he had hastened to the bell and rung it
furiously, and then snatched up a taper and hurried down the stairs to
light the candles in the church. When he appeared at the sacristy door
with a lighted taper in his hand and confusion on his face, the brothers
understood everything at a glance, and not even the solemnity of the
service could smother the snufflings of their laughter.

The incident was a trivial one, but it diverted attention for a time from
the fact of Paul's absence, and when the religious went back to the house
and found Brother Andrew returned to his old duty as doorkeeper, the
laughter was renewed, and there was some playful banter.

The monk is so far a child that the least thing happening in the morning
is enough to determine the temper of the day, and as late as the hour for
breakfast the house was still rippling with the humour of the Father
Minister's misadventure. There was one seat vacant in the
refectory--Brother Paul's--and the Superior was the first to observe it.
With a twinkle in his eye, he said:

"I feel like Boy Blue this morning. Two of my stray sheep have come home,
bringing their tails behind them. Will anybody go in search of the

John Storm rose immediately, but a lay brother was before him, so he sat
down again with his white cheeks and quivering lips, and made an effort
to eat his breakfast.

The reader for the week recited the Scripture for the day, and then took
up the book which the brothers were hearing at their meals. It was the
Life and Death of Father Ignatius of St. Paul, and the chapter they had
come to dealt with certain amusing examples of vanities and foibles. An
evil spirit might have selected it with special reference to the
incidents of the morning, for at every fresh illustration the Father
Minister squirmed on his seat, and the brothers looked across at him and
laughed with a spice of mischief, and even a touch of malice.

John's eyes were on the door, and his heart was quivering, but the
messenger did not return during breakfast, and when it was over the
Superior rose without waiting for him and led the way to the community

A fire was burning in the wide grate, and the room was cheerful with
reflected sun-rays, for the sun was shining in the courtyard and
glistening on the frosty boughs of the sycamore. It was a beautiful New
Year's morning, and the Father began to tell some timely stories. In the
midst of the laughter that greeted them the lay brother returned and
delivered his message. Brother Paul could not be found, and there was not
a sign of him anywhere in the house.

"That's strange," said the religious.

"Perhaps he is in his cell," said the Father.

"No, he is not there," said the messenger, "and his bed has not been
slept in."

"Now, that explains something," said the Father. "I thought he didn't
answer when I knocked at his door in the morning, but my ears grow dull
and my eyes are failing me, and I told myself perhaps----"

"It's very strange'" said the religious, with looks of astonishment.

"But perhaps he staid all night at his penance in the church," said the

"Apparently his hat did so at all events," said one of the brothers. "I
saw it lying with his lamp on the stall in front of me."

There was silence for a moment, and then the Father said with a smile:

"But my children are so amusing in such matters! Only this morning I had
to reprove Brother Storm for losing his hat somewhere, and now Brother

By an involuntary impulse, obscure to themselves, the brothers turned
toward John, who was standing in the recess of one of the windows with
his pale face looking out on the sunshine.

John was the first to speak.

"Father," he said, "I have something to say to you."

"Come this way," said the Superior, and they passed out of the room

The Father led the way to his room and closed the door behind them. But
there was little need for confession; the Father seemed to know
everything in an instant. He sat in his wicker chair before the fire and
rocked himself and moaned.

"Well, well, God's wrath comes up against the children of disobedience,
but we must do our best to bear our punishment."

John Storm made no excuses. He had stood by the Father's chair and told
his story simply, without fear or remorse, only concealing that part of
it which concerned himself in relation to Glory.

"Yes, yes," said the Father, "I see quite plainly how it has been. He was
like tinder, ready to take fire at a spark, and you were thinking I had
been hard and cruel and in-human."

It was the truth; John could not deny it; he held down his head and was

"But shall I tell you why I refused that poor boy's petition? Shall I
tell you who he was, and how he came to be here? Yes, I will tell you.
Nobody in this house has heard it until now, because it was his secret
and mine and God's alone--not given me in confession, no, or it would
have to be locked in my breast forever. But you have thrust yourself in
between us, so you must hear everything, and may the Lord pity and
forgive you and help you to bear your burden!"

John felt that a cold damp was breaking out on his forehead, but he
clinched his moist hands and made ready to control himself.

"Has he ever spoken of another sister?"

"Yes, he has sometimes mentioned her."

"Then perhaps you have been told of the painful and tragic event that

"No," said John, but something that he had heard at the board meeting at
the hospital returned at that moment with a stunning force to his memory.

"His father, poor man, was one of my own people--one of the lay
associates of our society in the world outside. But his health gave way,
his business failed him, and he died in a madhouse, leaving his three
children to the care of a friend. The friend was thought to be a worthy,
and even a pious man, but he was a scoundrel and a traitor. The younger
sister--the one you know--he committed to an orphanage; the elder one he
deceived and ruined. As a sequel to his sin, she lived a life of shame on
the streets of London, and died by suicide at the end of it."

John Storm put up one hand to his head as if his brain was bursting, and
with the other hand he held on to the Father's chair.

"That was bad enough, but there was worse to follow. Our poor Paul had
grown to be a man by this time, and Satan put it into his heart to avenge
his sister's dishonour. 'As the whirlwind passeth, so the wicked are no
more.' The betrayer of his trust was found dead in his room, slain by an
unknown assassin. Brother Paul had killed him."

John Storm had fallen to his knees. If hell itself had opened at his feet
he could not have been stricken with more horror. In a voice strangled by
fear he stammered: "But why didn't you tell me this before? Why have you
hidden it until now?"

"Passions, my son, are the same in a monastery as outside of it, and I
had too much reason to fear that the saintliest soul in our Brotherhood
would have refused to live and eat and sleep in the same house with a
murderer. But the poor soul had come to me like a hunted beast, and who
was I that I should turn my back upon him? Before that he had tramped
through the streets and slept in the parks, under the impression that the
police were pursuing him, and thereby he had contracted the lung disease
from which he suffers still. What was I to do? Give him up to the law?
Who shall tell me how I could have held the balance level? I took him
into my house; I sheltered him; I made him a member of our community;
Heaven forgive me, I suffered myself to receive his vows. It was for me
to comfort his stricken body, for the Church to heal his wounded soul;
and as for his crime, that was in God's hands, and God alone could deal
with it."

The Father had risen to his feet, and he spoke the last words with
uplifted hand.

"Now you know why I refused that poor boy's petition. I loved him as a
son, but neither the disease of his body nor the weakness of his mind
could break the firmness of the rule by which I held him. I knew that
Satan was dragging him away from me, and I would not give him up to the
sufferings and dangers which the Evil One was preparing for him in the
world. But how subtle are the temptations of the devil! He found the weak
place in my armour at last. He found you, my son--you; and he tempted you
by all your love, by all your pity, by all your tenderness, and you fell,
and this is the consequence."

The Father clasped his hands at his breast and walked to and fro in the
little room.

"The bitterness of the world against religious houses is great already;
but if anything should happen now, if a crime should be committed, if our
poor brother, clad in the habit of our Order----"

He stopped and crossed himself and lifted His eyes, and said in a
tremulous whisper: "O God, whom have I in heaven but thee? My flesh and
my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion

John had staggered to his feet like a drunken man. "Father," he said,
"send me away from you. I am not fit to live by your side."

The Father laid both hands on his shoulders. "And shall I lower my flag
to the enemy like that? There is only one way to defeat the devil, and
that is to defy him. No, no, my son, you shall remain with me to the

"Punish me, then. Give me penance. Let me be the lowest of the low and
the meanest of the mean. Only tell me what I am to do and I will do it."

"Go back to the door and resume your duty as doorkeeper."

John looked at the Father with an expression of bewilderment.

"I thought you had done with it, my son, but Heaven knew better. And
promise that when you are there you will pray for our wandering brother,
that he may not be allowed to fulfil the errand on which you sent him
out; pray that he may never find his sister, or anybody who knows her and
can tell him where she is and what has become of her; pray that she may
never cross his path to the last hour of life and the first of death's
sundering; promise to pray for this, my son, night and day, morning and
evening, with all your soul and strength, as you would pray for God's
mercy and your soul's salvation."

John did not answer; he was like a man in a stupor. "Is it possible?" he
said. "Are you sending me back to the door? Can you trust me again?"

The Father stepped to the side of the bed and took the key of the gate
from its place under the shelf. "Take this key with you, too, because for
the future you are to be the keeper of the gate as well."

John had taken the key mechanically, hardly hearing what was being said.

"Is it true, then--have you got faith in me still?"

The Father put both hands on his shoulders again and looked into his
face. "God has faith in you, my child, and who am I that I should

When John Storm returned to the door his mind was in a state of
stupefaction. Many hours passed during which he was only partly conscious
of what was taking place about him. Sometimes he was aware that certain
of the brothers had gathered around, with a tingling, electrical
atmosphere among them, and that they were asking questions about the
escape, and whispering together as if it had been something courageous
and almost commendable, and had set their hearts beating. Again,
sometimes he was aware that big Brother Andrew was sitting by his side on
the form, stroking his arm from time to time, and talking in his low
voice and aimless way about his mother and the last he saw of her. "She
followed me down the street crying," he said, "and I have often thought
of it since and been tempted to run away." Also he was aware that the dog
was with him always, licking the backs of his stiff hands and poking up a
cold snout into his downcast face.

All this time he was doing his duties automatically and apparently
without help from his consciousness, opening and closing the door as the
brothers passed in and out on their errands to the dead and dying, and
saying, "Praise be to God!" when a stranger knocked. It may be that his
body was merely answering to the habits of its intellect, and that his
soul, which had sustained a terrible blow, was lying stunned and swooning

When it revived and he began to know and to feel once more, there was no
one with him, for the brothers were asleep in their beds and the dog was
in the courtyard, and the house was very quiet, for it was the middle of
the night. And then it came back to him, like a dream remembered in the
morning, that the Father had asked him to pray for Brother Paul that he
might fail in the errand on which he had sent him out into the world, and
though with his lips he had not promised, yet in his heart he had
undertaken to do so.

And being quite alone now, with no one but God for company, he went down
on his knees in his place by the door and clasped his hands together.

"O God," he prayed, "have pity on Paul, and on me, and on all of us! Keep
him from all danger and suffering and from the snares and assaults of the
Evil One! Grant that he may never find his sister--or anybody who knows
her--or anybody who can tell him where she is and what has become of

But having got so far he could get no farther, for suddenly it occurred
to him that this was a prayer which concerned Glory and himself as well.
It was only then that he realized the magnitude and awfulness of the task
he had undertaken. He had undertaken to ask God that Paul might not find
Glory either, and therefore that he on his part might never hear of her
again. When he put it to himself like that, the sweat started from his
forehead and he was transfixed with fear.

He rose from his knees and sat on the form, and for a long hour he
laboured in the thought of a thousand possibilities, telling himself of
the many things which might befall a beautiful girl in a cruel and wicked
city. But then again he thought of Paul and of his former crime and
present temptation, and remembered the shadow that hung over the

"O God, help me," he cried; "strengthen me, support me, guide me!"

He tried to frame another prayer, but the words would not come; he tried
to kneel as before, but his knees would not bend. How could he pray that
Glory also might be lost--that something might have happened to her--that
somewhere and in some way unknown to him----

No, no, a thousand times no! The prayer was impossible. Let come what
would, let the danger to Paul and to the Brotherhood be what it might,
let Satan and all his legions fall on him, yet he could not and would not
utter it.


The stars were paling, but the day had not yet dawned, when there came a
knock at the door. John started and listened. After an interval the knock
was repeated. It was a timid, hesitating tap, as if made with the tips of
the fingers low down on the door.

"Praise be to God!" said John, and he drew the slide of the grating. He
had expected to see a face outside, but there was nothing there.

"Who is it?" he asked, and there came no answer.

He took up the lamp that was kept burning in the hall and looked out
through the bars. There was nothing in the darkness but an icy mist,
which appeared to be rising from the ground.

"Only another of my dreams," he thought, and he laid his hand on the
slide to close it.

Then he heard a sigh that seemed to rise out of the ground, and at the
same moment the dog uttered a deep bay. He laid hold of the door and
pulled it quickly open. At his feet the figure of a man was kneeling,
bent double and huddled up.

"Paul!" he cried in an excited whisper.

Brother Paul raised his head. His face was frightfully changed. It was
gray and wasted. His eyes wandered, his lips trembled, and he looked like
a man who had been flogged.

"Good Lord, what a wreck!" thought John. He helped him to rise and enter.
The poor creature's limbs were stiff with cold, and he stumbled from
weakness as he crossed the threshold.

"But, thank God, you are back and no harm done!" said John. "How anxious
we've been! You must never go out again--never! There, brother, sit

The wandering eyes looked up with a supplicating expression. "Forgive me.
Brother Storm----"

But John would not listen. "Hush, brother! what have I to forgive? How
cold you are! Your hands are like ice. What can I do? There's no fire in
the house at this time of night--even in the kitchen it will be out now.
But wait, I can rub you with my hands. See, I'm warm and strong. There's
a deal of blood in me yet. That's better, isn't it? Tingling, eh? That's
right--that's good! Now for your feet--your feet will be colder still."

"No, brother, no. I ought to be kissing the feet of everybody in the
house and asking the prayers of the community, and yet you----"

"Tut! what nonsense! Let me take off this shoe. Dear me, how it sticks!
Why, you've worn it through and through. Look! What a mercy the snow was
hard! If there had been thaw, now! How far you must have walked!"

"Yes, I've wandered a long way, brother."

"You shall tell me all about it. I want to hear everything--every single

"There's nothing to tell. I've failed in my errand--that's all."

John, who was on his knees, drew back and looked up. "Do you mean,
then---Have you not seen your sister?"

"No, she's gone, and nobody knows anything about her."

"Well, perhaps it's for the best, brother. God's will be done, you know.
If you had found her--who knows?--you might have been tempted--But tell
me everything."

"I can not do that, I'm so weak, and it's not worth while."

"But I want to hear all that happened. See, your feet are all right
now--I've rubbed them warm again. Though I fast so much and look so thin
I've a deal of life in me. And I've been pouring it all into you, haven't
I? That's because I want you to revive and be strong and tell me
everything. Hush! Speak low; don't waken anybody! Did you find the


"Then Nurse Quayle sees nothing of your sister now? That's the pity of
the life she is leading, poor girl! No friends, no future----"

"It wasn' that, brother."

"What then?"

"The nurse was not there."

A silence followed, and then John said in another voice: "I suppose she
was on a holiday. It was very stupid of me; I didn't think of that. Twice
a year a hospital nurse is entitled to a week's holiday, and no

"But she was gone."

"Gone? You mean left the hospital?"


"Well," in a husky voice, "that isn't to be wondered at either. A
high-spirited girl finds it hard to be bound down to rule and regulation.
But the porter--he is an intelligent man--he would tell you where she had
gone to."

"I asked him; he didn't know. All he could say was that she left the
hospital on the morning of Lord Mayor's Show-day."

"That would be the 9th of November--the day we took our vows."

There was another pause; the big dark eyes were wandering vacantly.

"After all, he is only a porter; you asked for the matron, didn't you?"

"Yes; I thought she might know what had become of my sister. But she
didn't. As for Nurse Quayle, she had been dismissed also, and nobody knew
anything about her."

John had seated himself at Paul's side and the form itself was quivering.

"Now that's just like her," he said hoarsely. "That matron was always a
hard woman. And to think that in that great house of love and pity

"I'm forgetting something, brother."

"What is it?"

"The porter told me that the nurse called for her letters from time to
time. She had been there that night--not half an hour before."

"Then you followed her, didn't you? You asked which, way she had gone,
and you hurried after her?"

"Yes; but half an hour in London is a week anywhere else. Let anybody
cross the street and she is lost--more lost to sight than a ship in a
storm on the ocean. And then it was New Year's Eve, and the thoroughfares
were crowded, and thousands of women were coming and going--and--what
could I do?" he said helplessly.

John answered scornfully: "What could you do? Do you ask me what you
could do?"

"What would you have done?"

"I should have tramped every street in London and looked into the face of
every woman I met until I had found her. I should have worn my shoes to
the welt and my skin to the bone before I should have come crawling home
like a snail with my shell broken over my head!

"Don't be hard on me, brother, least of all now, when I have come home
like a snail, as you say, with my shell broken. I was very tired and ill
and did all I could. If I had been strong like you and brave-hearted I
might have struggled longer. Bid I _did_ tramp the streets and look into
the women's faces. She must have been among them, if she's living the
life you speak of; but God would not let me find her. Why was it that my
search was fruitless? Perhaps there was evil in my heart at first--I
don't mind telling you that now--but I swear to you by Him who died for
us that at last I only wanted to find my sister that I might save her.
But I am such a helpless creature, and----"

John put his arm about Paul's shoulders.

"Forgive me, brother. I was mad to talk to you like that--I who sent you
out on that cruel night and staid at home myself. You did what you

"You think that--really?"

"Yes, only at the moment it seemed as if we had changed places somehow,
and it was I who had lost a sister and been out to find her, and given up
the search too soon, and come home empty and useless and broken-spirited,

Paul was looking up at him with a face full of astonishment.

"Do you really think I did all I could to find her--the nurse, I mean?"

But John had turned his own face away, and there was no answer. Paul
tried to say something, but he could not find the words. At last in a
choked voice he murmured: "We must keep close together, brother; we are
in the same boat now."

And feeling for John's hand, he took it and held it, and they sat for
some minutes with bowed heads, as if a ghost were going by.

"There's nothing but prayer and penance and fasting left to us, is

Still John made no reply, and the broken creature began to comfort him.

"We have peace here at all events, and you wouldn't, think what
temptations come to you in the world when you've lost somebody, and there
seems to be nothing left to live for. Shall I tell you what I did? It was
in the early morning and I was standing in a doorway in Piccadilly. The
cabs and the crowds were gone, and only the nightmen were there swilling
up the dirt of the pavements with their hose-pipes and water. 'My poor
girl is lost,' I thought, 'We shall never see one another again. This
wicked city has ruined her, and our mother, who was so holy, was fond of
her when she was a little child.' And then my heart seemed to freeze up
within me... and I did it. You'll think I was mad--I went to the police
station and told them I had committed a crime. Yes, indeed, I accused
myself of murder, and began to give particulars. It was only when they
noticed my habit that I remembered the Father, and then I refused to
answer any more questions. They put me in a cell, and that was where I
spent the night, and next morning I denied everything, and they let me

Then, dropping his voice to a hoarse whisper, he said: "That wasn't what
brought me back, though. It was the vow. You can't think what a thing the
vow is until you've broken it. It's like a hot iron searing your very
soul, and if you were dying and at the farthest ends of the earth, and
you had to crawl on your hands and knees, you would come back----"

He would have said more, but an attack of coughing silenced him, and when
it was over there was a sound of some one moving in the house.

"What is that?"

"It is the Father," said John. "Our voices have wakened him."

Paul struggled to his feet.

"It's only a life of penance and suffering you've come back to, my poor

"That's nothing--nothing at all--But are you sure you think I did

"You did what you could. Are you going somewhere?"

"Yes, to the Father."

"God bless you, my lad!"

"And God bless you too, brother!"

Half an hour later, by the order of the Superior, John Storm, with the
help of Brother Andrew and the Father Minister, carried Brother Paul to
his cell. The bell had been rung for Lauds, and going up the stairs they
passed the brothers coming down to service. News of Paul's return had
gone through the house like a cutting wind, and certain of the brothers
who had gathered in groups on the landings were whispering together, as
if the coming back had been a shameful thing which cast discredit on all
of them. It wasn't love of rule that had brought the man home again, but
broken health and the want of a bed to die upon! Thus they talked under
their breath, unconscious of the secret operation of their own hearts. In
a monastery, as elsewhere, failure is the worst disgrace.

John Storm returned to the hall with a firm step and eyes full of
resolution. Hardly answering the brothers, who plied him with questions,
he pushed through them with long strides, and, taking the key of the
outer gate from the place in the alcove where he had left it, he turned
toward the Father's room.

The day had dawned, and through the darkness which was lifting in the
little room he could see the Father rising from his knees.

"Father!" he cried in an excited voice, and his words, like his breath,
came in gusts.

"What is it, my son?"

"Take this key back again. The world is calling me, and I can not trust
myself at the door any longer. Put me under the rule of silence and
solitude, and shut me up in a cell, or I shall break my obedience and run
away as sure as heaven is over us!"


Glory awoke on New Year's morning with a little hard lump at her heart,
and thought: "How foolish! Am I to give up all my cherished dreams
because one man is a scoundrel?"

The struggle might be bitter, but she would not give in. London was the
mother of genius. If she destroyed she created also. It was only the weak
and the worthless she cast away. The strong she made stronger, the great
she made greater. "O God, give me the life I love!" she thought; "give me
a chance; only let me begin--no matter how, no matter where!"

She remembered her impulse of the night before to follow Brother Paul,
and the little hard lump at her heart grew bitter. John Storm had gone
from her, forgotten her, left her to take care of herself. Very well, so
be it! What was the use of thinking? "I hate to be sentimental," she

If Aggie called on Sunday night she would go with her, no matter if it
was beginning at the bottom. Others had begun there, and what right had
she to expect to begin anywhere else? For the future she would take the
world on its own terms and force it to give way. She would conquer this
great cruel London, and yet remain a good girl in spite of all.

Such was the mood in which she came down to breakfast, and the first
thing that met her eyes was a letter from home. At that her face burned
for a moment and her breath came in gusts, but she put the letter into
her pocket unopened and tossed her head a little and laughed. "I hate to
be so sensitive," she thought, and then she began to tell Mrs. Jupe what
she intended to do.

"The clubs!" cried Mrs. Jupe. "I thought you didn't tyke to the shop
because you fancied yerself above present company. But the foreign clubs!
My gracious!"

The hissing of Mrs. Jupe's taunting voice followed her about all that
day, and late at night, when they were going to bed and the streets were
quiet, and there was only the jingle of a passing hansom or a drunken
shout or the screech of a concertina, she could hear it again from the
other side of the plaster partition, interrupted occasionally by the
sound of Mr. Jupe's attempts to excuse and apologize for her. No matter!
Anything to escape from the atmosphere of that woman's house, to be free
of her and quit of her forever!

Toward eight o'clock on Sunday evening she went up to her bedroom to put
on her hat and ulster, and being alone there, and waiting for Aggie, she
could not help but open her letter from home.

"Sunday next is your birthday, my dear one," wrote the parson, "so we
send you our love and greetings. This being the first of your twenty-one
that you have spent from home, I will be thinking of you all the day
through, and when night comes, and I smoke a pipe by the study fire, I
know I shall be leaving the blind up that I may see the evening star and
remember the happy birthdays long ago, when somebody, who was so petted
and spoiled, used to say she had just come down from it, having dressed
herself in some strange and grand disguises, and told us she was
Phonodoree the fairy. You will be better employed than that, Glory, and
as long as my dear one is well and happy and prosperous in the great city
where she so loves to be----"

The candle was shaking in Glory's hands, and the little half-lit bedroom
seemed to be blinking in and out.

Aunt Anna had added a postscript: "Glad to hear you are enjoying yourself
in London, but rather alarmed at your frequent mention of theatres. Take
care you don't go too often, child, and mind you send us the name of the
vicar of the parish you are living in, for I certainly think grandfather
ought to write to him."

To this again there was a footnote by Aunt Rachel: "You say nothing of
Mr. Drake nowadays. Is he one of Mrs. Jupe's visitors? And is it he who
takes you to theatres?"

Then there was a New Year's card enclosed, having a picture of an Eastern
shepherd at the head of his flock of sheep and bearing the inscription,
"Follow in his footsteps."

But the hissing sound of Mrs. Jupe's voice came up from below, and
Glory's tears were dried in an instant. On going downstairs, she found
Aggie in her mock sealskin and big black feathers sitting in the parlour
at the back of the shop, and Mrs. Jupe talking to her in whispers, with
an appearance of knowledge and familiarity. She caught the confused look
of the one and the stealthy glances of the other, and the hard lump at
her heart grew harder.

"Come on," said Glory, and a few minutes afterward the girls were walking
toward Soho. The little chapels in the quieter streets were dropping out
their driblets of people and the lights in the church windows were being
extinguished one by one. Aggie had recovered her composure, and was
talking of Charlie as she skipped along with a rapid step, swinging her
stage-box by her side. Charlie was certain to be at one of the clubs, and
he would be sure to see them home. He wasn't out of his time yet, and
that was why her father wouldn't allow him about. But he was in an office
at a foundry, and his people lived in a house, and perhaps one of these

"Did you say that some of the people who are on the stage now began at
the clubs?" said Glory.

"Plenty, my dear. There's Betty Bellman for one. She was at a club in Old
Compton Street when Mr. Sefton found her out."

Aggie had to "work a turn" at each of three clubs that night, and the
girls were now at the door of the first of them. It stood at the corner
of a reputable square, and was like any ordinary house on the outside.
But people were coming and going constantly, and the doorkeeper was kept
opening and closing the door. In the middle of the hall a clerk stood at
a desk, having a great book in front of him, and making a show of
challenging everybody as he entered. He recognised Aggie as an artiste,
but passed Glory also on the payment of twopence and the signing of her
name in the book.

The dining-room of the house had been converted into a bar, with counter
and stillage, and after the girls had crushed through the crowds that
stood there they came into a large and shabby chamber, which had the
appearance of having been built over the space which had once been the
backyard. This room had neither windows nor skylights; its walls were
decorated with portraits of Garibaldi and Victor Emanuel in faded
colours, and there was a stage and proscenium at its farther end.

It was an Italian club that met there on Sunday nights, and some two or
three hundred hairdressers and restaurant-keepers of swarthy complexion
sat in groups at little round tables with their wives and sweethearts
(chiefly English women), smoking and drinking and laughing at the
performance on the stage.

Aggie went down to her dressing-room under the floor, and Glory sat at a
table with a yellow-haired lady and a dark-eyed man. A negro without the
burnt cork was twanging a banjo and cracking the jokes of the corner-man.

"That's my style--a merry touch-and-go," said the lady. And then glancing
at Glory, "Singing to-night, my dear?"

Glory shook her head.

"Thort you might be a pro' p'rhaps. Use ter be myself when I was in the
bally at the Lane. Married now, my dear; but I likes to come of a Sunday
night when the kids is got to bed."

Then Aggie danced a skirt dance, and there were shouts of applause for
her, and she came back and danced again. When she reappeared in jacket
and hat, and with her stage-box in her hand, the girls crushed their way
out. Going through the bar they were invited to drink by several of the
men who were standing there, but they got into the streets at last.

"They're rather messy, those bars," said Aggie; "but managers like you to
come round and tyke something after you've done your turn--if it's only a
cup of cawfy."

"Do you like this life?" said Glory, taking a long breath.

"Yes, awfully!" said Aggie.

Their next visit was to a Swiss club, which did not greatly differ from
the Italian one, except that the hall was more shabby, and that the
audience consisted of French and Swiss waiters and skittish young English
milliners. The girls had taken their hats and cloaks off and sat dressed
like dolls in white muslin with long streamers of bright ribbon. A
gentleman sang the "Postman's Knock," with the character accompaniment of
a pot hat and a black-edged envelope, a lady sang "Maud" in silk tights
and a cloak, Aggie danced her skirt dance, and then the floor was cleared
for a ball.

"They're going to dance the Swiss dance," said Aggie, and the M. C. wants
me to tyke a place; but I hate these fellows to be hugging me. Will you
be my partner, dear?"

"Well--just for a minute or two," said Glory, with nervous gaiety. And
then the dance began.

It proved to be a musical version of odd man out, and Glory soon found
herself being snapped up by other partners and addressed familiarly by
the waiters and their women. She could feel the moisture of their hands
and smell the oil of their hair, and a feeling like a spasm of physical
pain came over her.

"Let us go," she whispered.

"Yes, it's getting lyte," said Aggie, and they crushed through the
crowded bar and out into the street.

The twanging of the fiddles, the thud of the dancing, and the peals of
coarse laughter followed them from the stifling atmosphere within, and
Glory felt sick and faint.

"Do you say that managers of good places call at these clubs sometimes?"

"Often," said Aggie, and she hummed a music-hall tune as she skipped and
tripped along.

The streets, which had been dark and quiet when they arrived in Soho,
were now ablaze with lights in every window, and noisy with people on
every pavement. The last club they had to visit was a German one, and as
they came near it they saw that a man was standing at the door bareheaded
and looking out for somebody.

"It's Charlie," said Aggie with a little jump of joy. But when they came
up to him a scowl darkened his dark face, and he said:

"Lyte as usyal! Two of the bloomin' turns not come, and me looking up and
dahn the bloomin' street for you every minute and more!"

The girl's eyes blinked as if he had struck her, but she only tossed her
head and stiffened her under lip, and said: "Jawing again, are ye? I'd
chuck it for once, Charlie, if it was only for sake of company."

With that she disappeared to the dressing-room, and Charlie took charge
of Glory, crushed a way for her through the refreshment room, offered her
a "glaws of somethink," and with an obvious pride of possession
introduced her to admiring acquaintances as "a friend o' mine." "Like yer
style, Charlie," said one of them. "Oh, yus! Dare say!" said Charlie.

The proscenium was surmounted by the German and English flags
intertwined, the walls were adorned with oleograph portraits of the
Kaiser, his father and grandfather, Bismarck and Von Moltke, and the
audience consisted largely of lively young German Jews and Jewesses in
evening dress, some Polish Jews, and a sprinkling of other foreigners.

During Aggie's turn Glory was conscious that two strangers out of another
world altogether had entered the club and were standing at the back.

"Toffs," said Charlie, looking at them over her shoulder, and then,
answering to himself the meaning of their looks, "No, my luds! 'Tain't
the first we've seen of sech!"

Then Aggie came up with an oily person in a flowered waistcoat and said,
"This is my friend, guv'nor, and she wouldn't mind doing a turn if you
asked her."

"If de miss vill oblige," began the oily one, and then the blood rushed
to Glory's face, and before she knew what else had happened, her hat and
ulster were in Aggie's hands and she was walking up the steps to the

There was some applause when she went on, but she was in a dazed
condition and it all seemed to be taking place a hundred miles away. She
heard her own voice saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, with your kind
permission I will endeavour to give you an imitation----" and something
more. Down to that moment her breath had been coming and going in hot
gasps, and she had felt a dryness in her throat; but every symptom of
nervousness suddenly disappeared, and she threw up her head like a
charger in battle.

Then she sang. It was only a common street song, and everybody had heard
it a thousand times. She sang "And her golden hair was hanging down her
back" after the manner of a line of factory girls going home from work at
night. Arm-in-arm, decked in their Vandyke hats, slashed with red ribbons
and crowned with ostrich feathers, with their free step, their shrill
voices--they were there before everybody's eyes, everybody could see
them, everybody could recognise them, and before the end of the first
verse there were shouts and squeals of laughter.

Glory felt dizzy yet self-possessed; she gave a little audible laugh
while she stood bowing between the verses. In a few minutes the song was
finished and the people were stamping, whistling, uttering screeching
cat-calls, and shouting "Brayvo!" But Glory was sitting at the foot of
the stage by this time with a face contorted as in physical pain. After
the first thrill of success the shame of it all came over her and she saw
how low she had fallen, and felt horrified and afraid. The clamour, the
clapping of hands, the vulgar faces, the vulgar laughter, the vulgar
song, Sunday night, her own birthday! It all passed before her like the
incidents in some nightmare, and at the back of it came other
memories--Glenfaba, the sweet and simple household, the old parson
smoking by the study fire and looking up at the evening star, and then
John Storm and the church chimes at Bishopsgate! One moment she sat there
with her burning face, staring helplessly before her, while people
crowded round to shake hands with her and cried into her ears above the
deafening tumult, "You'll have to tyke another turn, dear"; and then she
burst into passionate weeping.

"Stand avay! De lady's not fit to sing again," said some one, and she
opened her eyes.

It was one of the two gentlemen who had been standing at the back.

"Ach Gott! Is it you? Don't you know me, nurse?"

It was Mr. Koenig, the organist.

"My gracious! Vot are you doing here, my child? Two monts ago I haf ask
for you at de hospital, and haf write to de matron, but you vere gone.
Since den I haf look for you all over London. Vhere do you lif?"

Glory told him, and he wrote down the address.

"Ugh! A genius, and lif in a tobacco shop! My vife vill call on you and
fetch you avay. She is a goot woman, and vhatever she tell you to do you
must do it; but not musical and clever same like as you. Bless mine soul!
Singing in a Sunday club! Do you know, my child, you haf a voice, and
talents, great talents! Vants training--yes. But vhat vould you haf? Here
am I, Carl Koenig! I speak ver' bad de Englisch, but I know ver' goot to
teach music. I vill teach you same like I teach oder ladies who pay me
many dollare. Do you know vhat I am?"

Yes, she knew what he was--he was the organist at All Saints', Belgravia.

"Pooh! I am a composer as veil. I write songs, and all your countrymen
and countryvomen sing dem. I haf a choral company, too, and it is for dat
I vant you. I go to de first houses in de land, de lords, de ministers,
de princes. You shall come vith me. Your voice is soprano--no,
mezzo-soprano--and it vill grow. I vill pitch it, and vhen it is ready I
vill bring you out. But now get away from dis place and naivare come
back, or I vill be more angry as before."

Then Glory rose, and he led her to the door. Her heart felt big and her
eyes were glistening. Aggie was in the refreshment-room. Having finished
for the night, the girl had resumed her outdoor costume without removing
her make-up, and was laughing merrily among a group of men and playing
them off against Charlie, who was still in the sulks and drinking at the
bar. When Glory appeared, Aggie fidgeted with her glove and said, "Aren't
you going to see us home, Charlie?"

"No," said Charlie.

"Where are you going to?"

"Nowhere as you can come."

Aggie's eyes watered, and she wrenched a button off, but she only laughed
and answered, "Don't think as we're throwing ourselves at _your_ head, my
man! We only wanted to _know_. Ta-ta!"

It was now midnight, and the streets were thin of people, but sounds of
music and dancing came from nearly every open window and door.

Aggie was crying. "That's the worst of the clubs," she said, "they lead
'em to the gambling hells. And then a young man always knows when he can
tyke advantage."

As they returned past the Swiss club somebody who was being thrown out
into the street was shouting in a gurgling voice, "Let go o' my throat or
I'll corpse ye!" And farther on two or three girls in their teens, with
their arms about the necks of twice as many men, were reeling along the
pavement and singing in a tuneless wail.


Toward the middle of Lent the Society of the Holy Gethsemane was visited
by its ecclesiastical Visitor. This was the Bishop of the diocese, a
liberal-minded man and not a very rigid ecclesiastic, abrupt, brusque,
businesslike, and a good administrator. When the brothers had gathered in
the community room, he took from the Superior the leathern-bound volume
containing the rule of the Brotherhood and read aloud the text of it.

"And now, gentlemen," he said, "whether I approve of your rule or not is
a matter with which we have no concern at present. My sole duty is to see
that it is lawfully administered. Are you satisfied with the
administration of it and willing to remain under its control?"

There was only one response from the brothers--they were entirely

The Bishop rose with a smile and bowed to the brothers, and they began to
leave the room.

"There are two of my people whom you have not yet seen," said the Father.

"Where are they?"

"In their cells."

"Why in their cells?"

"One of them is ill; the other is under the rule of silence and

"Let us visit them," said the Bishop, and they began to ascend the

"I may not agree with your theory of the religious life, Father, but when
I see your people giving up the world and its comforts, its joys and
possessions, its ties of blood and affection----"

They had reached the topmost story, and the Father had paused to recover
breath. "This cell to the right," said he, "is occupied by a lay brother
who was tempted by the Evil One to a grievous act of disobedience, and
the wrath of God has fallen on him. But Satan has overreached himself for
once, and by that very act grace has triumphed. Not a member of our
community rejoices more in the blessed sacrament, and when I place the
body of our Lord----"

"May we go in to him?"

"Certainly; he is dying of lung disease, but you shall see with what
patience he possesses his soul."

Brother Paul was sitting before a small fire in an arm-chair padded with
pillows, holding in his dried-up hands a heavy crucifix which was
suspended from his heck.

"How lightsome and cosy we are up here!" said the Bishop. "A long way up,
certainly, but no doubt you get everything you require."

"Everything," said Paul.

"I dare say the brothers are very good to you--they usually are so to the
weak and ailing in a monastery."

"Too good, my lord."

"Of course you see a doctor occasionally?"

"Three times a week, and if he would only let me escape from an evil and
troublesome world----"

"Hush! It's not right to talk like that, my son. Whatever happens, it is
our duty to live, you know."

"I've lost all there was to live for, and besides----"

"Then there is nothing you wish for?" said the Bishop.

"Nothing but death," said Paul, and lifting the crucifix he carried it to
his lips.

"Thank God we are born to die!" said the Bishop, and they stepped back to
the corridor and closed the door.

"This next cell," said the Father, "is occupied by such a one as you were
thinking of--one who was born to possess the world and to achieve its
sounding triumphs, but----"

"Has he given it up entirely?"


"Is he young?"

"Quite young, and he has left the world, not as Augustine did, after
learning by bitter experience the deceitfulness of sin----"

"Then why is he here?"

"He can not trust himself yet. He feels the inward strivings and
struggles of our rebellious nature and----"

"Then his solitude and silence are voluntary?"

"Now they are. See," said the Father, and stooping to the floor he picked
up a key that lay at his feet.

"What does that mean?"

"He locks himself in and pushes the key under the door."

When they entered the cell John Storm was standing by the window in a
stream of morning sunlight, looking out on the world below with fixed and
yearning eyes.

"This is our Visitor," said the Father. "The rule of silence is relaxed
in his case."

"Have I not seen you before?" said the Bishop.

"I think not, Father," said John.

"What is your name, and where did you live before you came here?"

John told him.

"Then I have both seen and heard you. But I perceive that the world has
gone on a little since you left it--your canon is an archdeacon now, and
one of the chaplains to the Queen as well. How long have you been in the

"Since the 14th of August."

"And how long have you kept your cell?"

"Since the octave of Epiphany."

"But this is Lent--rather a long penance, Father."

"I have often urged our dear brother----" began the Father.

"You carry your fastings and prayers too far, Mr. Storm," said the
Bishop. He was picking up one by one some black-letter books that were
lying on the table and on the bed. "I know that divines in all ages tell
us that the body is evil, and that its desires and appetites must be
eradicated. But they also teach us that the perfect Christian character
is the blending of the two lives, the life of Nature and the life of
grace. Don't despise your humanity, my son. Your Master did not despise
it. He came down from heaven that he might live and work among the sinful
brotherhood of man. And don't pray for death, or fast as if you wished
for it. You would have no right to do that even if you were like your
poor neighbour next door, whom Death smiles on and beckons to repose. But
you are young and you are strong. Who knows what good work your heavenly
Father keeps waiting for you yet?"

John had returned to the window and was looking out with vacant eyes.

"But all this is beside my present business," said the Bishop. "There is
nothing you wish to complain of?"

"Nothing whatever."

"You are content to live in this house, under the laws and statutes of
this society and in voluntary obedience to its Superior?"


"That is enough."

The Bishop was leaving the cell, when his eye was arrested by some
writing in pencil on the wall. It ran, "9th of November--Lord Mayor's
Day"; and under it were short lines such as a prisoner makes when he
keeps a reckoning.

"What is the meaning of this date?" said the Bishop.

John was silent, but the Father answered with a smile: "That is the date
of his vow, my lord. It is part of the discipline of his life of grace to
keep count of the days of his novitiate, so eager is he for the time when
he may dedicate his whole life to God."

Back at the head of the stairs the Father paused again and said,

There was the sound as of a trembling hand turning the key in the lock of
the door they had shut behind them, and at the next moment the key itself
came out of the aperture under it.

When the door closed on the Bishop and John Storm was alone in his cell,
one idea was left with him--the idea of work. He had tried everything
else, and everything had failed.

He had tried solitude. On asking to be shut up in a cell, he had said to
himself: "The thought of Glory is a temptation of my unquickened and
unspiritual nature. It has already betrayed me into an act of cowardice
and inhumanity, and it will drive me out into the world and fling me back
again, as it drove out and flung back Brother Paul." But the result of
his solitude was specious and deceitful. As pictures seem to float before
the eyes after the eyelids are closed, so his past life, now that it was
over, seemed to rise up before him with awful distinctness. Sitting alone
in his cell, every event of his life with Glory passed before him in
review, and harassed him with pitiless condemnation. Why had he failed to
realize the essential difference of temperament between himself and that
joyous creature? Why had he hesitated to gratify her natural and innocent
love of mere life? Why had he done this? Why had he not done that? If
Glory were lost, if the wicked and merciless world had betrayed her, the
fault was his, and God would surely punish him. Thus did solitude
enervate his soul by frightening it, and the temptation he had hoped to
vanquish became the more strong and tyrannical.

He had tried reading. The Fathers told him that God allowed ascetics to
keep the keys of their nature in their own hands; that they had only to
think of woman as more bitter than death, and of her beauty as a cause of
perdition, and that if any woman's face tormented them they were to
picture it to the eye of the mind as old and wrinkled, defaced by
disease, and even the prey of the worm. He tried to think of Glory as the
Fathers directed, but when darkness fell and he lay on his bed, with the
first dream of the night the strong powers of Nature that had no mind to
surrender swept down the pitiful bulwarks of religion, and Glory was
smiling upon him in her youth, her beauty, her sweetness, her humour, and
all the grace of her countless gifts.

He had tried fasting. Three times a day Brother Andrew brought him his
food, and twice a day, when the lay brother had left him, he opened the
window and spread the food on the sill for the birds to take. But the
results of his fasting were the reverse of his expectations. At one
moment he was uplifted by strong emotions, at the next moment he was in
collapse. Visions began to pass before him. His father's face tormented
him constantly, and sometimes he was conscious of the face of his mother,
though he had never known her. But above all and through all there came
the face of Glory. Fasting had only extended his dreams about her. He was
dreaming both by day and by night now, and Glory was with him always.

He had tried prayer. Hitherto he had said his Offices regularly, but now
he would say special prayers as well. To get the victory over his lawless
and rebellious nature he would turn his eyes to the mother of the Lord.
But when he tried to fix his mind on Mary there was nothing to answer to
it. All was shadowy and impalpable. There was only a vague, empty cloud
before his eyes, until suddenly a luminous face glided into the vacant
place, and it was full of tenderness, of sweetness, of charm, of pity and
womanly love--but it was the face of Glory.

Despair laid hold of him. His attempts to overcome Nature were clearly
rejected by the Almighty. Winter passed with its foggy days. The Father
wished him to return to the ordinary life of the community, yet he begged
to be allowed to remain.

But the spring came and diffused its joy throughout all Nature. He
listened to the leaves, he watched the birds threading their way in the
clear air, he caught glimpses of the yellow flowers, and strained his
eyes for the green country beyond. The young birds began to take wing,
and one little sparrow came hopping into his room as often as he opened
his window in the morning and played about his feet like a mouse, and
then was gone to the mother bird that called to it from the tree.

Little by little hope grew to impatience, and impatience rose to fever
heat; but he remembered his vow, and, to put himself out of temptation,
he locked the door of his cell and pushed the key through the aperture
under it. But he could not lock the door of his soul, and his old trouble
came up again with the throb of a stronger and fresher life. Every
morning when he awoke he thought of Glory. Where was she now? What had
become of her by this time? He wrote on the wall the date of her
disappearance from the hospital--"9th of November; Lord Mayor's
Day"--and tried to keep pace in his mind with the chances of her fate. "I
am guilty of a folly," he thought. The pride of his reason revolted
against what he was doing. Nevertheless, he knew full well it would be
the same to-morrow, and the next day, and the next year, for his human
passions would not yield, and his vow still clutched him as with fangs.

He was standing one morning by the window looking through an opening
between high buildings to the river, with its hay barges gliding down the
glistening water-way, and its little steamers with their spirals of smoke
ascending, when everything in the world began in a moment to bear another
moral interpretation. The lesson of life was work. Man could not exist
without it. If he departed from that condition, no matter how much he
fasted and meditated and prayed, he was useless and miserable and

Then the lock turned in the door of his cell and the Father and the
Bishop entered. When they were gone he felt suffocated by their praises
of his piety, and asked himself, "What am I doing here?" He was a
hypocrite. Ten thousand other men whom the Church called saints had been
hypocrites before him, and as they paced their cloisters they had asked
themselves the same question. But the mighty hand of the Church was over
him still, and with trembling fingers he turned the key again and pushed
it under the door. Then he knew that he was a coward also, and that
religion had deprived him of his will, of his manhood, and enervated his
soul itself.

Brother Paul was moving about in the adjoining cell. The lay brother had
become very weak; his step was slow, his feet dragged along the floor;
his breath was audible and sometimes his cough was long and raucous. John
had heard these sounds every day and had tried not to listen, but now he
strained his ears to hear. A new thought had come to him: he would ask to
be allowed to nurse Brother Paul; that should be his work, for work alone
could save him.

Next morning he leaped up from sleep at the first syllable of
"Benedicamus Domino," and cried, "Father!" But when the door opened in
answer to his call it was the Father Minister who entered. The Superior
had gone to give a Retreat to a sisterhood in York, and would be absent
until the end of Lent. John looked at the hard face of the deputy, the
very mirror of its closed and frozen soul, and he could say nothing.

"Is it anything that I can do for you?" said the Father Minister.

"No--that is to say--no, no," said John.

When he opened his window that day he could hear the Lenten services in
the church. The prayers, the responses, the psalms, and the hymns woke to
fresh life the memory of things long past, and for the first time he
became oppressed with a great loneliness. The near neighbourhood of
Brother Paul intensified that loneliness, and at length he asked for an
indulgence and spoke to the Father Minister again.

"Brother Paul is ill; let me attend to him," he said.

The Father Minister shook his head. "The brother gets all he wants. He
does not wish for constant attendance."

"But he is a dying man, and somebody should be with him always."

"The doctor says nothing can be done for him. He may live months. But if
he is dying, let us leave him to meditate on the happiness and glory of
another world."

John made no further struggle. Another door had closed on him. But it was
not necessary to go to Brother Paul that he might be with him always. The
spiritual eye could see everything. Listening to the sounds in the
adjoining cell, it was the same at length as if the wall between them had
fallen down and the two rooms were one. Whatever Brother Paul did John
seemed to see, whatever he said in his hours of pain John seemed to hear,
and when he lifted his scuttle of coal from the place at the door where
the lay brother left it, John's hand seemed to bear up the weight.

It was a poor, pathetic folly, but it brought the comfort of company, and
John thought with a pang of the time when he had wished to be separated
from Paul, and had all but asked for a cell elsewhere. Paul had a fire,
and John could hear him build and light and stir it; and sometimes when
this was done he could sit down himself before his own empty grate on his
own side of the wall and fancy they were good comrades sitting side by

As the day passed he thought that Brother Paul on his part also was
touched by the same sense of company. His silence at certain moments, his
half-articulate salutations, his repetition of the sounds that John
himself made, seemed to be the dumb expression of a sense that, in spite
of the wall that divided them, and the rule of silence and solitude that
separated them on John's side, they were, nevertheless, together.

Brother Paul's cough grew rapidly worse, and at last it burst into a fit
so long and violent as to seem as if it would never end. John held his
breath and listened. "He'll suffocate," he thought; "he'll never live
through it!" But the spasm passed, and there was a prolonged hush, a dead
stillness, that was not broken by so much as the sound of a breath. Was
he gone? By a sudden impulse, in the agony of his suspense, John
stretched out his hand and knocked three times on the wall.

There was a short silence, and then faintly, slowly, and irregularly
three other knocks came back to him.

Paul had understood, and John shouted in his joy. But even on top of his
relief came his religious fears. Had he broken the rule of silence? Were
they guilty of a sin?

Nevertheless, for many days thereafter, though they knew it was a fault,
in this vague and dumb and feeble fashion they communicated constantly.
On going to bed they rapped "Good-night": on rising for the day they
rapped "Good-morning." They rapped when the bell rang for midday service,
and again when the singing came up through the courtyard. And sometimes
they rapped from sympathy and sometimes from pity, and sometimes from
mere human loneliness and the love of company.

Thus did these exiles from life, struggling to live under the eye of God
in obedience to their earthly vow, try to cheer their crushed and
fettered souls, and to comfort each other like imprisoned children.

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