Part 7 out of 12
thoroughfares and the group of people had dispersed. John Storm was alone
under the lamp in the little dark street, and somewhere in the
dark alleys behind him the organ man was still grinding out
"Weel, what luck on your first night out?" said Mrs. Callender at
breakfast in the morning. "Found any of the poor lost things yet?"
"One," said John, with a rueful face. "Lost enough, though she doesn't
know it yet, God help her!"
"They never do at first, laddie. Write to her friends, if she has any."
"Nothing like home influences, ye ken."
"I will--I must! It's all I can do now."
"The Priory, Friday Morning.
"Oh, my dear aunties, don't be terrified, but Glory has had a kind of a
wee big triumph! Nothing very awful, you know, but on Monday night,
before a rather larger company than usual, she sang and recited and
play-acted a little, and as a result all the earth--the London earth--is
talking about her, and nobody is taking any notice of the rest of the
world. Every post is bringing me flowers with ribbons and cards attached,
or illustrated weeklies with my picture and my life in little, and I find
it's wonderful what a lot of things you may learn about yourself if
you'll only read the papers. My room at this moment is like a florist's
window at nine o'clock on Saturday morning, and I have reason to suspect
that mine host and teacher, Carl Koenig, F. E. C. O., exhibits them to
admiring neighbours when I am out. The voice of that dear old turtle has
ever since Monday been heard in the land, and besides telling me about
Poland day and night from all the subterranean passages of the house, he
has taken to waiting on me like a nigger, and ordering soups and jellies
for me as if I had suddenly become an invalid. Of course, I am an
able-bodied woman just the same as ever, but my nerves have been on the
rack all the week, and I feel exactly as I did long ago at Peel when I
was a little naughty minx and got up into the tower of the old church and
began pulling at the bell rope, you remember. Oh, dear! oh, dear! My
frantic terror at the noise of the big bells and the vibration of the
shaky old walls! Once I had begun I couldn't leave off for my life, but
went on tugging and tugging and quaking and quaking until--have you
forgotten it?--all the people came running helter-skelter under the
impression that the town was afire. And then, behold, it was only little
me, trembling like a leaf and crying like a ninny! I remember I was
scolded and smacked and dismissed into outer darkness (it was the chip
vault, I think), for that first outbreak of fame, and now, lest you
should want to mete out the same punishment to me again--
"Aunt Anna, I'm knitting the sweetest little shawl for you, dear--blue
and white, to suit your complexion--being engaged in the evening only,
and most of the day sole mistress of my own will and pleasure. How
charming of me, isn't it? But I'm afraid it isn't, because you'll see
through me like a colander, for I want to tell you something which I have
kept back too long, and when I think of it I grow old and wrinkled like a
Christmas apple. So you must be a pair of absolute old angels, aunties,
and break the news to grandfather.
"You know I told you, Aunt Rachel, to say something for me at nine
o'clock on the Queen's birthday. And you remember that Mr. Drake used to
think pearls and diamonds of Glory, and predict wonderful things for her.
Then you don't forget that Mr. Drake had a friend named Lord Robert Ure,
commonly called Lord Bob. Well, you see, by Mr. Drake's advice, and Lord
Bobbie's influence and agency, and I don't know what, I have made one
more change--it's to be the last, dears, the very last--in my
Wandering-Jew existence, and now I am no longer a society entertainer,
because I am a music-hall art----"
Glory had written so far when she dropped the pen and rose from the
table, wiping her eyes.
"My poor child, you can't tell them, it's impossible; they would never
Then a carriage stopped before the house, the garden bell was rung, and
the maid came into the room with a lady's card. It was inscribed "Miss
Polly Love," with many splashes and flourishes.
"Ask her up," said Glory. And then Polly came rustling up the stairs in a
silver-gray silk dress and a noticeable hat, and with a pug-dog tucked
under her arm. She looked older and less beautiful. The pink and ivory of
her cheeks was coated with powder, and her light gray eyes were
pencilled. There was the same blemished appearance as before, and the
crack in the vase was now plainly visible.
Glory had met the girl only once since they parted after the hospital,
but Polly kissed her effusively. Then she sat down and began to cry.
"Perhaps you wouldn't think it, my dear, but I'm the most miserable girl
in London. Haven't you heard about it? I thought everybody knew. Robert
is going to be married. Yes, indeed, to-morrow morning to that American
heiress, and I hadn't an idea of it until Monday afternoon. That was the
day of your luncheon, dear, and I felt sure something was going to
happen, because I broke my looking-glass dressing to go out. Robert took
me home, and he began to play the piano, and I could see he was going to
say something. 'Do you know, little woman, I'm to be married on
Saturday?' I wonder I didn't drop, but I didn't, and he went on playing.
But it was no use trying, and I burst out and ran into my room. After a
minute I heard him coming in, but he didn't lift me up as he used to do.
Only talked to me over my back, telling me to control myself, and what he
was going to do for me, and so on. He used to say a few tears made me
nicer looking, but it was no good crying--and then he went away."
She began to cry again, and the dog in her lap began to howl.
"O God! I don't know what I've done to be so unfortunate. I've not been
flash at all, and I never went to _cafes_ at night, or to Sally's or
Kate's, as so many girls do, and he can't say I ever took notice of
anybody else. When I love anybody I think of him last thing at night and
first thing in the morning, and now to be left alone--I'm sure I shall
never live through it!"
Glory tried to comfort the poor broken creature. It was her duty to live.
There was her child--had she never even seen it since she parted with it
to Mrs. Jupe? It must he such a darling by this time, creeping about and
talking a little, wherever it was. She ought to have the child to live
with her, it would be such company.
Polly kissed the pug to stop its whining, and said: "I don't want
company. Life isn't the same thing to me now. He thinks because he is
marrying that woman--What better is she than me, I would like to know?
She's only snapping at him for what he is, and he is only taking her for
what she's got, and I've a great mind to go to All Saints' and shame
them. You wouldn't? Well, it's hard to hide one's feelings, but it would
serve them right if--if I did it."
Polly had risen with a wild look, and was pressing the pug so hard that
it was howling again.
"Did what?" said Glory.
"Nothing--that is to say----"
"You mustn't dream of going to the church. The police----"
"Oh, it isn't the police I'm afraid of," said Polly, tossing her head.
"Never mind, my dear," said Polly.
On the way downstairs she reproached herself for not seeing what was
coming. "But girls like us never do, now do we?"
Glory coloured up to her hair, but made no protest. At the gate Polly
wiped her eyes and drew down her veil, and said: "I'm sorry to say it to
your face, my dear, but it's all been that Mr. Drake's doings, and a girl
ought to know he'd do as much himself, and worse. But you're a great
woman now, and in everybody's mouth, so you needn't care. Only----"
Glory's face was scarlet and her under lip was bleeding. Yet she kissed
the poor shallow thing at parting, because she was down, and did not
understand, and lived in another world entirely. But going back to where
her letter lay unfinished she thought: "Impossible! If this girl, living
in an atmosphere so different, thinks that----" Then she sat at the table
and forced herself to tell all.
She had got through the red riot of her confession and was writing: "I
don't know what he would think of it, but do you know I thought I saw his
face on Wednesday night. It was in the dark, and I was in a cab driving
away from the stage door. But so changed! oh, so changed! It must have
been a dream, and it was the same as if his ghost had passed me."
Then she became aware of voices in dispute downstairs. First a man's
voice, then the voices of two men--one of them Koenig's, the other with a
haunting ring in it. She got up from the table and went to the door of
her room, going on tip-toe, yet hardly knowing why. Koenig was saying:
"No, sair, de lady does not lif here." Then a deep, strong chest-voice
answered, "Mr. Koenig, surely you remember me?" and Glory's heart seemed
to beat like a watch. "No-o, sair. Are you--Oh, yes; what am I thinking
of?--But de lady----"
"Mr. Koenig," Glory called, cried, gasped over the stair-rail, "ask the
gentleman to come up, please."
She hardly knew what happened next, only that Koenig seemed to be
muttering confused explanations below, and that she was back in her
sitting-room giving a glance into the looking-glass and doing something
with her hair. Then there was a step on the stairs, on the landing, at
the threshold, and she fell back a few paces from the door, that she
might see him as he came in. He knocked. Her heart was beating so
violently that she had to keep her hand over it. "Who's there?"
"It is I."
Then she saw him coming down on her, and the very sunlight seemed to wave
like the shadows on a ship. He was paler and thinner, his great eyes
looked weary though they smiled, his hand felt bony though firm, and his
head was closely cropped.
She looked at him for a moment without speaking and with a sensation of
fulness at her heart that was almost choking her.
"Is it you? I didn't know it was you--I was just thinking----" She was
talking at random, and was out of breath as if she had been running.
"Glory, I have frightened you!"
"Frightened? Oh, no! Why should you think so? Perhaps I am crying, but
then I'm always doing that nowadays. And, besides, you are so----"
"Yes, I am altered," he said in the pause that followed.
"You are altered too." He was looking at her with an earnest and
passionate gaze. It was she--herself--Glory--not merely a vision or a
dream. Again he recognised the glorious eyes with their brilliant lashes
and the flashing spot in one of them that had so often set his heart
beating. She looked back at him and thought, "How ill he must have been!"
and then a lump came into her throat and she began to laugh that she
might not have to cry, and broke out into broad Manx lest he should hear
the tremor in her voice:
"But you're coming too, aren't ye? And you've left that theer--Aw, it's
glad ter'ble I am, as our people say, and it's longin' mortal you'd be
for all, boy."
Another trill of nervous laughter, and then a burst of earnest English:
"But tell me, you've come for good--you are not going back to----"
"No, I am not going back to the Brotherhood, Glory." How friendly his low
"Well, I've left the hospital, you see."
"Yes, I see," he said. His weary eyes were wandering about the room, and
for the first time she felt ashamed of its luxuries and its flowers.
"But how did you find me?"
"I went to the hospital first----"
"So you hadn't forgotten me? Do you know I thought you had quite--But
tell me at once, where did you go then?"
He was silent for a moment, and she said, "Well?"
"Then I went to Mr. Drake's chambers."
"I don't know why everybody should think that Mr. Drake----"
His great eyes were fixed on her face and his mouth was quivering, and,
to prevent him from speaking, she put on a look of forced gaiety and
said, "But how did you light on me at last?"
"I meant to find you, Glory, if I tramped all London over and everybody
denied you to me"--the lump in her throat was hurting her
dreadfully--"but I chanced to see the name over the music hall."
She saw it coming, and broke into laughter. "The music hall! Only think!
You looking at music halls!"
"I was there on Monday night."
"You? Monday? Then perhaps it was not my fancy that I saw you by the
stage do--." Her nerves were getting more and more excited, and to calm
them she crossed her arms above her head. "So they gave you my address at
the stage door, did they?"
"No, I wrote for it to Peel."
"Peel?" She caught her breath, and her arms came down. "Then perhaps you
told them where----" "I told them nothing, Glory." She looked at him
through her eyelashes, her head held down.
"Not that it matters, you know." I've just been writing to them, and
they'll soon--But, oh, I've so much to say, and I can't say it here.
Couldn't we go somewhere? Into the park or on to the heath, or
farther--much farther--the room is so small, and I feel as if I've been
suffocating for want of air."
"I've something to say too, and if----"
"Then let it be to-morrow morning, and we'll start early, and you'll
bring me back in time for the theatre. Say Paddington Station, at
eleven--will that do?"
She saw him to the gate, and when he was going she wanted him to kiss her
hand, so she pretended to do the high handshake, but he only held it for
a moment and looked steadily into her eyes. The sunshine was pouring into
the garden, and she was bareheaded. Her hair was coiled up, and she was
wearing a light morning blouse. He thought she had never looked so
beautiful. On getting into the omnibus at the end of the street he took a
letter out of his vest pocket, and, being alone, he first carried it to
his lips, then reopened and read it:
"See her at once, dear John, and keep in touch with her, and I shall be
happy and relieved. As for your father, that old Chaise is going crazy
and is sending Lord Storm crazy too. He has actually discovered that the
dust the witch walks on who has cast the evil eye on you lies in front of
Glenfaba gate, and he has been sweeping it up o' nights and scattering it
in front of Knockaloe! What simplicity! There are only two women here.
Does the silly old gawk mean Rachel? or is it, perhaps, Aunt Anna?"
And while the omnibus joggled down the street, and the pale young
clergyman with the great weary eyes was poring over his letter, Glory was
sitting at her table and writing with flying fingers and a look of
"I've had three bites at this cherry. But who do you think has just been
here? John!--John Storm! But then you know that he is back, and it wasn't
merely my fancy that I saw him by the stage door. It seems as if people
have been denying me to him, and he has been waiting for me and watching
over me." (Blot.) "His voice is so low, but I suppose that comes to
people who are much alone, and he is so thin and so pale, and his eyes
are so large, and they have that deep look that cuts into the heart. He
knew he was changed, and I think he was ashamed" (blot), "but of course I
didn't let whit that I was taking notice, and I'm so happy for his sake,
poor fellow! that he has escaped from his cage in that Salvation zoo that
I know I shall make them split their sides in the theatre to-night."
(Blot, blot.) "How tiresome! This ink must have got water in it somehow,
and then my handwriting is such a hop-skip-and-a-jump anyway. But hoots!
"Why shouldn't I love Johnny,
"And why shouldn't Johnny love me?
It was a beautiful May morning, and standing by the Paddington Station
with the dog at his feet, he felt her approach instinctively as she came
toward him with her free step in her white cambric dress under the light
parasol fringed with lace. Her face was glowing with the fresh air, and
she looked happy and bright. As they walked into the station she poured
out a stream of questions about the dog, took possession of him
straightway, and concluded to call him Don.
They agreed to spend the day at Burnham Beeches, and while he went for
the tickets she stepped on to the platform. It was Saturday, the
bookstall was ablaze with the picture papers, and one of them was
prominently displayed at a page containing her own portrait. She wanted
John to see this, so she invented an excuse for bringing him face to face
with it, and then she laughed and he bought the paper.
The clerk recognised her--they could see that by the smile he kept in
reserve--and a group of officers in the Guards, in flannels and straw
hats, going down to their club at Maidenhead, looked at her and nudged
each other as if they knew who she was. Her eyes danced, her lips smiled,
and she was proud that John should see the first fruits of her fame. She
was proud of him, too, with his bold walk and strong carriage, as they
passed the officers in their negligent dress, with their red and blue
neckties. But John's heart was aching, and he was wondering how he was to
begin on the duty he had to do.
From the moment they started she gave herself up to the delights of their
holiday, and even the groaning and cranking and joggling of the train
amused her. When the Guards had got into their first-class carriage they
had glanced at the open window where her brilliant eyes and rosy lips
were gleaming behind a veil. John gazed at her with his slow and tender
looks, and felt guilty and ashamed.
They left the train at Slough, and a wave of freshness, with an odour of
verdure and sap, blew into their faces. The dog leaped and barked, and
Glory skipped along with it, breaking every moment into enthusiastic
exclamations. There was hardly any wind, and the clouds, which were very
high overhead, were scarcely moving. It was a glorious day, and Glory's
face wore an expression of perfect happiness.
They lunched at the old hotel in the town, with the window open, and the
swallows darting in the air outside, and Glory, who took milk "for
remembrance," rose and said, "I looks toward Mr. Storm," and then drank
his health and swept him the prettiest courtesy. All through lunch she
kept feeding the dog from her own fingers, and at the end rebuked him for
spreading his bones in a half circle across the carpet, a thing which was
never done, she said, in the best society, this side the Cannibal
"By-and-bye," he thought, "time enough by-and-bye," for the charm of her
joy was infectious.
The sun was high when they started on their walk, and her face looked
flushed and warm. But through the park-like district to the wood she
raced with Don, and made him leap over her sunshade and roll over and
over on the bright green grass. The larks were trilling overhead,
everything was humming and singing.
"Let her have one happy day," he thought, and they began to call and
shout to each other.
Then they came to the beeches, and, being sheltered from the fiery rays
of the sun, she put down her sunshade and John took off his hat. The
silence and gloom, the great gnarled trees, with their thews and sinews,
their arms and thighs and loins, the gentle rustle of the breeze in the
branches overhead, the deep accumulation of dead leaves underfoot, the
fluttering of wings, the low cooing of pigeons, and all the mystery and
wonder of the wood, brought a sense of awe, as on entering a mighty
minster in the dusk. But this wore away presently, and Glory began to
sing. Her pure voice echoed in the fragrant air, and the happiness so
long pent up and starved seemed to bubble in every word and note.
"Isn't this better than singing in music halls?" he thought, and then he
began to sing too, just like any happy boy, without thinking of yesterday
or to-morrow, of before or after. She smiled at him. He smiled back. It
was like a dream. After his long seclusion it was difficult to believe it
could be true. The open air, the perfume of the leaves they were wading
through, the silver bark of the birches and the blue peeps of the sky
between, and then Glory walking with her graceful motion, and laughing
and singing by his side! "I shall wake up in a minute," he thought, "I'm
sure I shall!"
They sang one song together. It was Lasses and Lads, and to make
themselves think it was the old time back again they took each other's
hands and swung them to the tune. He felt her clasp like milk coursing
through his body, and a great wave of tenderness swept up his hard
resolve as sea-wrack is thrown up after a storm. "She is here; we are
together; why trouble about anything more?" and the time flew by.
But their voices went wrong immediately, and they were soon in
difficulties. Then she laughed, and they began again; but they could not
keep together, and as often as they tried they failed. "Ah, it's not like
the old days!" he thought, and a mood of sadness came over him. He had
begun to observe in Glory the trace of the life she had passed
through--words, phrases, ideas, snatches of slang, touches of moods which
had the note of a slight vulgarity. When the dog took a bone uninvited
she cried: "It's a click; you've sneaked it"; when John broke down in the
singing she told him to "chuck it off the chest"; and when he stopped
altogether she called him glum, and said she would "do it on her own."
"Why does he look so sorrowful?" she thought, and telling herself that
this came to people who were much alone, she rattled on more recklessly
She talked of the life of the music hall, the life at "the back,"
glorifying it by a tone of apology. It was all hurry-scurry, slap, dash,
and drive; no time to consider effects; a succession of last acts and
first nights; so it was really harder to be a music-hall woman than a
regular actress. And the music-hall woman was no worse than other women
--considering. Had he seen their ballet? It was fetching. Such pages!
Simply darlings! _They_ were the proud young birds of paradise whom toffs
like those Guards came to see, and it was fun to see them pluming and
preening themselves at the back, each for the eyes of her own particular
lord in the stalls. Thus she flung out unfamiliar notes, hardly knowing
their purport, but to John they were as slimy creatures out of the social
mire she had struggled through. O London! London! Its shadow was over
them even there, and go where they would, they could never escape from
His former thought began to hang about him again, and he asked her to
tell him what had happened to her during his absence.
"Shall I?" she said. "Well, I brought three golden sovereigns out of the
hospital to distribute among the people of London, but, bless you, they
"And what then?"
"Then--then Hope was a good breakfast but a bad supper, you know. But
shall I tell you all? Yes, yes, I will."
She told him of Mrs. Jupe, and of the deception she had practised upon
her people, and he turned his head that he might not see her tears. She
told him of the "Three Graces," and of the stage manager--she called him
the "stage damager"--and then _she_ turned her head that she might hide
her shame. She told him of Josephs, the bogus agent, and his face grew
hard and his brown eyes looked black.
"And where did you say his place was?" he asked in a voice that vibrated
"I didn't say," she answered with a laugh and a tear.
She told him of Aggie, and of the foreign clubs, and of Koenig, and of
the dinner party at the Home Secretary's, and then she skipped a step and
"Ding, dong, dended,
My tale's ended."
"And was it there you met Mr. Drake again?"
She replied with a nod.
"Never having seen him in the meantime?"
She pursed her lips and shook her head. "That's all over now, and what
matter? I likes to be jolly and I allwis is!"
"But is it all over?" he said, and he looked at her again with the deep
look that had cut into her heart.
"He's going to say something," she thought, and she began to laugh, but
with a faint tremor, and giving the dog her parasol to carry in his
mouth, she took off her hat, swung it in her hand by the brim, and set
off to run.
There was the light shimmer of a pool at a level below, where the water
had drained to a bottom and was inclosed by beeches. The trees seemed to
hang over it with outstretched wings, like birds about to alight, and
round its banks there were plots of violets which filled the air with
their fragrance. It was a God-blest bit of ground, and when he came up
with her she was standing at the edge of the marshy mere panting and on
the point of tears, and saying, in a whisper, "Oh, how beautiful!"
"But however am I to get across?" she cried, looking with mock terror on
the two inches of water that barely covered the grass, and at the pretty
red shoes that peeped from under her dress.
Then something extraordinary occurred. She hardly knew what was happening
until it was over. Without a word, without a smile, he lifted her up in
his arms and carried her to the other side. She felt helpless like a
child, as if suddenly she belonged to herself no longer. Her head had
fallen on his shoulder and her heart was beating against his breast. Or
was it _his_ heart that was beating? When he put her down she was afraid
she was going to cry, so she began to laugh and to say they mustn't lose
that 7.30 to London or the "rag" would be rolling up without her and the
"stage damager" would be using "cuss words."
They had to pass the old church of Stoke Pogis on the way back to the
town, and after looking at its timber belfry and steeple John suggested
that they should see the inside. The sexton was found working in the
garden at the side of the house, and he went indoors for the keys. "Here
they be, sir, and you being a pa'son I'll bide in the orchet. You and
your young missus can look at the church without me. 'A b'lieve 'a hev
seed it afore," he said with a twinkle.
The church was dark and cool. There was a window representing an angel
ascending to heaven against a deep blue sky, and a squire's pew furnished
like a box at the theatre, with a carpet and even a stove. The chairs in
the front bore family crests, and behind them were inferior chairs,
without crests, for the servants. John had opened the little modern organ
and begun to play. After a while he began to sing. He sang Nazareth, and
his voice filled the empty church and went up into the gloom of the roof,
and echoed and returned, and it was almost as if another voice were
Glory stood by his side and listened; a wonderful peace had come down on
her. Then the emotion that vibrated in his deep voice made something
surge up to her throat. "Life for evermore! Life for evermore!" All at
once she began to weep, to sob, and to laugh in a breath, and he stopped.
"How ridiculous I am to-day! You'll think me a maniac," she said. But he
only took her hand as if she had been a child and led her out of the
Insensibly the day had passed into evening, and the horizontal rays of
the sun were dazzling their eyes as they returned to the hotel for tea.
In giving orders for this meal they had left the illustrated weekly
behind, and it was now clear from the easy smiles that greeted them that
the paper had been looked at and Glory identified. The room was ready,
with the table laid, the window closed, and a fire of wood in the dog
grate, for the chill of the evening was beginning to be felt. And to make
him forget what had happened at the church she put on a look of forced
gaiety and talked rapidly, frivolously, and at random. The fresh air had
given her such a colour that they would 'fairly eat her to-night.' How
tired she was, though! But a cup of tea would exhilarate her "like a
Johnnie's first whisky and soda in bed."
He looked at her with his grave face; every word was cutting him like a
knife. "So you didn't tell the old folks at Glenfaba about the hospital
"No. Have a cup of the 'girl'? They call champagne 'the boy' at 'the
back,' so I call tea 'the girl,' you know."
"And when did you tell them about the music hall?"
"Yesterday. 'Muffins?'" and as she held out the plate she waggled the
wrist of her other hand, and mimicked the cry of the muffin man.
"Not until yesterday?"
She began to excuse herself. What was the use of taking people by
surprise? And then good people were sometimes so easily shocked!
Education and upbringing, and prejudices and even blood----
"Glory," he said, "if you are ashamed of this life, believe me it is not
a right one."
"Ashamed? Why should I be ashamed? Everybody is saying how proud I should
She spoke feverishly, and by a sudden impulse she plucked up the paper,
but as suddenly let it drop again, for, looking at his grave face, her
little fame seemed to shrivel up. "But give a dog a bad name you
know----You were there on Monday night. Did you see anything,
now--anything in the performance----"
"I saw the audience, Glory; that was enough for me. It is impossible for
a girl to live long in an atmosphere like that and be a good woman. Yes,
my child, impossible' God forbid that I should sit in judgment on any
man, still less on any woman!--but the women of the music hall, do they
remain good women? Poor souls, they are placed in a position so false
that it would require extraordinary virtue not to become false along with
it! And the whiter the soul that is dragged through that--that mire, the
more the defilement. The audiences at such places don't want the white
soul, they don't want the good woman, they want the woman who has tasted
of the tree of good and evil. You can see it in their faces, and hear it
in their laughter, and measure it in their applause. Oh, I'm only a
priest, but I've seen these places all the world over, and I know what
I'm saying, and I know it's true and you know it's true, Glory----"
Glory leaped up from the table and her eyes seemed to emit fire. "I know
it's hard and cruel and pitiless, and, since you were there on Monday and
saw how kind the audience was to _me_, it's personal and untrue as well."
But her voice broke and she sat down again and said in another tone:
"But, John, it's nearly a year, you know, since we saw each other last,
and isn't it a pity? Tell me, where are you living now? Have you made
your plans for the future? Oh, who do you think was with me just before
you called yesterday? Polly--Polly Love, you remember! She's grown stout
and plainer, poor thing, and I was so sorry----Her brother was in your
Brotherhood, wasn't he? Is he as strangely fond of her as ever? Is he?
Eh? Don't you understand? Polly's brother, I mean?"
"He's dead, Glory. Yes, dead. He died a month ago. Poor boy, he died
broken-hearted! He had come to hear of his sister's trouble at the
hospital. I was to blame for that. He never looked up again."
There was silence; both were gazing into the fire, and Glory's mouth was
quivering. All at once she said: "John--John Storm, why can't you
understand that it's not the same with me as with other women? There seem
to be two women in me always. After I left the hospital I went through a
good deal. Nobody will ever know how much I went through. But even at the
worst, somehow I seemed to enjoy and rejoice in everything. Things
happened that made me cry, but there was another me that was laughing.
And that's how it is with the life I am living now. It is not I myself
that go through this--this mire, as you call it, it's only my other self,
my lower self, if you like, but I am not touched by it at all. Don't you
see that? Don't you, now?"
"There are professions which are a source of temptation, and talents that
are a snare, Glory----"
"I see, I see what you mean. There are not many ways a woman can succeed
in--that's the cruelty of things. But there are a few, and I've chosen
the one I'm fit for. And now, now that I've escaped from all that misery,
that meanness, and have brought the eyes of London upon me, and the world
is full of smiles for me, and sunshine, and I am happy, you come at last,
you that I couldn't find when I wanted you so much--oh, so much!--because
you had forgotten me; you come to me out of a darkness like the grave and
tell me to give it all up. Yes, yes, yes, that's what you mean--give it
all up! Oh, it's cruel!"
She covered her face with her hands and sobbed. He bent over her with a
sorrowful face and said, "My child, if I have come out of a darkness as
of the grave it is because I had _not_ forgotten you there, but was
thinking of you every day and hour."
Her sobbing ceased, but the tears still flowed through her fingers.
"Before that poor lad abandoned hope he came out into the world too-stole
out-thinking to find his lost one. I told him to look for you first, and
he went to the hospital."
"I saw him."
"It was on New Year's Eve. He passed me in the street."
"Ah!--Well, he came back anyway, and said you were gone, and all trace of
you was lost. Did I forget you after that, Glory?"
His husky voice broke off suddenly, and he rose with a look of
wretchedness. "You are right, there are two selves in you, and the higher
self is so pure, so strong, so unselfish, so noble--Oh, I am sure of it,
Glory! Only there's no one to speak to it, no one. I try, but I can not."
She was still crying behind her hands.
"And meanwhile the lower self--there are only too many to speak to
Her hands came down from her disordered face and she said, "I know whom
"I mean the world."
"No, indeed, you mean Mr. Drake. But you are mistaken. Mr. Drake has been
a good friend to me, but he isn't anything else, and doesn't want to be.
Can't you see that when you think of me and talk of me as you would of
some other women you hurt me and degrade me, and I can not bear it? You
see I am crying again--goodness knows why. But I sha'n't give up my
profession. The idea of such a thing! It's ridiculous! Think of Glory in
a convent! One of the poor Clares perhaps!"
"Or back in the island serving out sewing at a mothers' meeting! Give it
up! Indeed I won't!"
"You shall and you must!"
"Who'll make me?"
Then she laughed out wildly, but stopped on the instant and looked up at
him with glistening eyes. An intense blush came over her face, and her
looks grew bright as his grew fierce. A moment afterward the waiting
maid, with an inquisitive expression, was clearing the table and keeping
a smile in reserve for "the lovers' quarrel!"
Some of the Guardsmen were in the train going back, and at the next
station they changed to the carriage in which Glory and John were
sitting. Apparently they had dined before leaving their club at
Maidenhead, and they talked at Glory with covert smiles. "Going to the
Colosseum tonight?" said one. "If there's time," said another. "Oh, time
enough. The attraction doesn't begin till ten, don't you know, and nobody
goes before." "Tell me she's rippin'." "Good--deuced good."
Glory was sitting with her back to the engine drumming lightly on the
window and looking out at the setting sun. At first she felt a certain
shame at the obvious references, but, piqued at John's silence, she began
to take pride in them, and shot glances at him from under half-closed
eyelids. John was sitting opposite with his arms folded. At the talk of
the men he felt his hands contract and his lips grow cold with the
feeling that Glory belonged to everybody now and was common property.
Once or twice he looked at them and became conscious of an impression,
which had floated about him since he left the Brotherhood, that nearly
every face he saw bore the hideous stamp of self-indulgence and
But the noises of the train helped him not to hear, and he looked out for
London. It lay before them under a canopy of smoke, and now and then a
shaft from the setting sun lit up a glass roof and it glittered like a
sinister eye. Then there came from afar, over the creaking and groaning
of the wheels and the whistle of the engine, the deep, multitudinous
murmur of that distant sea. The mighty tide was rising and coming up to
meet them. Presently they were dashing into the midst of it, and
everything was drowned in the splash and roar.
The Guardsmen, being on the platform side, alighted first, and on going
off they bowed to Glory with rather more than easy manners. A dash of the
devil prompted her to respond demonstratively, but John had risen and was
taking off his hat to the men, and they were going away discomfited.
Glory was proud of him--he was a man and a gentleman.
He put her into a hansom under the lamps outside the station, and her
face was lit up, but she patted the dog and said: "You have vexed me and
you needn't come to see me again. I shall not sing properly this evening
or sleep tonight at all, if that is any satisfaction to you, so you
needn't trouble to inquire."
* * * * *
When he reached home Mrs. Callender told him of a shocking occurrence at
the fashionable wedding at All Saints' that morning. A young woman had
committed suicide during the ceremony, and it turned out to be the poor
girl who had been dismissed from the hospital.
John Storm remembered Brother Paul. "I must bury her," he thought.
Glory sang that night with extraordinary vivacity and charm and was
called back again and again. Going home in the cab she tried to live
through the day afresh--every step, every act, every word, down to that
triumphant "_I_ will." Her thoughts swayed as with the swaying of the
hansom, but sometimes the thunderous applause of the audience broke in,
and then she had to remember where she had left off. She could feel that
beating against her breast still, and even smell the violets that grew by
the pool. He had told her to give up everything, and there was an
exquisite thrill in the thought that perhaps some day she would
annihilate herself and all her ambitions, and--who knows what then?
This mood lasted until Monday morning, when she was sitting in her room,
dressing very slowly and smiling at herself in the glass, when the
Cockney maid came in with a newspaper which her master had sent up on
account of its long report of the wedding.
"The Church of All Saints' was crowded by a fashionable congregation,
among whom were many notable persons in the world of politics and
society, including the father of the bridegroom, the Duke of ---- and his
brother, the Marquis of ----. An arch of palms crossed the nave at the
entrance to the chancel, and festoons of rare flowers were suspended from
the rails of the handsome screen. The altar and the table of the
commandments were almost obscured by the wreaths of exotics that hung
over them, and the columns of the colonnade, the font and offertory boxes
were similarly buried in rich and lovely blossom.
"Thanks to an informal rehearsal some days before, the ceremony went off
without a hitch. The officiating clergy were the Venerable Archdeacon
Wealthy, D. D., assisted by the Rev. Josiah Golightly and other members
of the numerous staff of All Saints'. The service, which was fully
choral, was under the able direction of the well-known organist and
choirmaster, Mr. Carl Koenig, F. R. C. O., and the choir consisted of
twenty adult and forty boy voices. On the arrival of the bride a
procession was formed at the west entrance and proceeded up to the
chancel, singing 'The voice that breathed o'er Eden----"
"Poor Polly!" thought Glory.
"The bride wore a duchess satin gown trimmed with chiffon and Brussels
lace, and having a long train hung from the shoulders. Her tulle veil was
fastened with a ruby brooch and with sprays of orange blossom sent
specially from the Riviera, and her necklace consisted of a rope of
graduated pearls fully a yard long, and understood to have belonged to
the jewel case of Catharine of Russia. She carried a bouquet of flowers
(the gift of the bridegroom) brought from Florida, the American home of
her family. The bride's mother wore---- The bridesmaids were dressed----
Mr. Horatio Drake acted as best man----"
Glory drew her breath as with a spasm and threw down the newspaper. How
blind she had been, how vain, how foolish! She had told John Storm that
Drake was only a good friend to her, meaning him to understand that thus
far she allowed him to go and no farther. But there was a whole realm of
his life into which he did not ask her to enter. The "notable persons in
politics and society," "the bridesmaids," these made up his real sphere,
his serious scene. Other women were his friends, companions, equals,
intimates, and when he stood in the eye of the world it was they who
stood beside him. And she? She was his hobby. He came to her in his off
hours. She filled up the under side of his life.
With a crushing sense of humiliation she was folding up the newspaper to
send it downstairs when her eye was arrested by a paragraph in small type
in the corner. It was headed "Shocking occurrence at a fashionable
"Oh, good gracious!" she cried. A glance had shown her what it was. It
was a report of Polly's suicide.
"At a fashionable wedding at a West-End church on Saturday" (no names) "a
young woman who had been sitting in the nave was seen to rise and attempt
to step into the aisle, as if with the intention of crushing her way out,
when she fell back in convulsions, and on being removed was found to be
dead. Happily, the attention of the congregation was at the moment
directed to the bride and bridegroom, who were returning from the vestry
with the bridal party behind them, and thus the painful incident made no
sensation among the crowded congregation. The body was removed to the
parish mortuary, and from subsequent inquiries it transpired that death
had been due to poison self-administered, and that the deceased was
Elizabeth Anne Love (twenty-four), of no occupation, but formerly a nurse
--a circumstance which had enabled her to procure half a grain of liquor
strychninae on her own signature at a chemist's where she had been
"O God! O God!" Glory understood everything now. "I've a great mind to go
to All Saints' and shame them--Oh, it isn't the police I'm afraid of."
Polly's purpose was clear. She had intended to fall dead at the feet of
the bride and bridegroom and make them walk over her body. Poor, foolish,
ineffectual Polly! Her very ghost must be ashamed of the failure of her
revenge. Not a ripple of sensation on Saturday, and this morning only a
few obscure lines in little letters!
Oh, it was hideous! The poor thing's vengeance was theatrical and paltry,
but what of the man, wherever he was? What did he think of himself now,
with his millions and his murder? Yes, his murder, for what else was it?
An hour later Glory was ringing the bell of a little house in St. John's
Wood whereof the upper blinds were drawn. The grating of the garden door
slid back and an untidy head looked out.
"Don't you remember me, Liza?"
"Lawd, yus, miss!" and the door was opened immediately; "but I was afeard
you was one o' them reportin' people, and my orders is not to answer no
"Has _he_ been here, then?"
"Blesh ye, no, miss! He's on 'is way to the Continents. But 'is friend
'as, and he's settled everything 'andsome--I will say that for the
Glory felt her gall rising; there was something degrading, almost
disreputable, even in the loyalty of Drake's friendship.
"Fancy Liza not knowing you, miss, and me at the moosic 'all a Tuesday
night! I 'ope you'll excuse the liberty, but I _did_ laugh, and I won't
say but I shed a few tears too. Arranged? Yes, the jury and the coroner
and every-think. It's to be at twelve o'clock, so you may think I've 'ad
my 'ands full. But you'll want to look at 'er, pore thing! Go up, miss,
and mind yer 'ead; there's nobody but 'er friends with 'er now."
The friends proved to be Betty Belmont and her dressing-room companions.
When Glory entered they showed no surprise. "The pore child told us all
about you," said Betty; and the little one said: "It's your nyme that
caught on, dear. The minute I heard it I said what a top-line for a,
It was the same little bandbox of a bedroom, only now it was darkened and
Polly's troubles were over. There was a slightly convulsed look about the
mouth, but the features were otherwise calm and childlike, for all the
dead are innocent.
The three women with demure faces were sipping Benedictine and talking
among themselves, and Polly's pug dog was coiled up on the bare bolster
and snoring audibly.
"Pore thing! I don't know how she could 'a done it. But there, that's the
worst of this life! It's all in the present and leads to nothing and
ain't got no future." "What could the pore thing do? She wasn't so
wonderful pretty; and then men like----" "She was str'ight with him, say
what yer like. Only she ought to been more patienter, and she needn't 'a
been so hard on the lady, neither." "She had everything the heart could
wish. Look at her rooms! I wonder who'll----"
Carriages were heard outside, and two or three men came in to do the last
offices. Glory had turned her face away, but behind her the women were
still talking. "Wait a minute, mister! ... What a lovely ring! ... I wish
I had a keepsake to remember her by." "Well, and why not? She won't
Glory felt as if she was choking, but Polly's pug dog had been awakened
by the commotion and was beginning to howl, so she took up the little
mourner and carried it out. An organ-man somewhere near was playing Sweet
The funeral was at Kensal Green, and the four girls were the only
followers. The coroner's verdict being _felo-de-se_, the body was not
taken into the chapel, but a clergyman met it at the gate and led the way
to the grave. Walking with her head down and the dog under her arm, Glory
had not seen him at first, but when he began with the tremendous words,
"I am the resurrection and the life," she caught her breath and looked
up. It was John Storm.
While they were in the carriage the clouds had been gathering, and now
some spots of rain were falling. When the bearers had laid down their
burden the spots were large and frequent, and all save one of the men
turned and went back to the shelter of the porch. The three women looked
at each other, and one of them muttered something about "the dead and the
living," and then the little lady stole away. After a moment the tall one
followed her, and from shame of being ashamed the third one went off
By this time the rain was falling in a sharp shower, and John Storm, who
was bareheaded, had opened his book and begun to read: "Forasmuch as it
hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the
soul of our dear sister here departed----"
Then he saw that Glory was alone by the graveside, and his voice faltered
and almost failed him. It faltered again, and he halted when he came to
the "sure and certain hope," but after a moment it quivered and filled
out and seemed to say, "Which of us can sound the depths of God's
design?" After the "maimed rites" were over, John Storm went back to the
chapel to remove his surplice, and when he returned to the grave Glory
She sang as usual at the music hall that night, but with a heavy heart.
The difference communicated itself to the audience, and the unanimous
applause which had greeted her before frayed off at length into separate
hand-claps. Crossing the stage to her dressing-room she met Koenig, who
came to conduct for her, and he said:
"Not quite yourself to-night, my dear, eh?"
Going home in the hansom, Polly's dog coddled up with the old sympathy to
the new mistress, and seemed to be making the best of things. The
household was asleep, and Glory let herself in with a latch-key. Her cold
supper was laid ready, and a letter was lying under the turned-down lamp.
It was from her grandfather, and had been written after church on Sunday
"It is now so long--more than a year--since I saw my runaway and truant
that, notwithstanding the protests of Aunt Anna and the forebodings of
Aunt Rachel, I have determined to give my old legs a journey and my old
eyes a treat. Therefore take warning that I intend to come up to London
forthwith, that I may see the great city for the first time in my life,
and--which is better--my little granddaughter among all her new friends
and in the midst of her great prosperity."
At the foot of this there was a postscript from Aunt Rachel, hastily
scrawled in pencil:
"Take no notice of this. He is far too weak to travel, and indeed he is
really failing; but your letter, which reached us last night, has so
troubled him ever since that he can't take rest for thinking of it."
It was the last straw. Before finishing the letter or taking off her hat,
Glory took up a telegraph form and wrote, "Postpone journey--am returning
home to-morrow." Then she heard Koenig letting himself into the house,
and going downstairs she said:
"Will you take this message to the telegraph office for me, please?"
"Vhy, of course I vill, and den ve'll have supper togeder--look!" and he
laughed and opened a paper and drew out a string of sausages.
"Mr. Koenig," she said, "you were right. I was not myself to-night. I
want a rest, and I propose to take one."
As Glory returned upstairs she heard stammerings, sputterings, and
swearings behind her about managers, engagements, announcements,
geniuses, children, and other matters. Back in her room she lay down on
the floor, with her face in her hands, and sobbed. Then Koenig appeared,
panting and saying: "Dere! I knew vhat vould happen! Here's a pretty
ting! And dat's vhy Mr. Drake told me to deny you to de man. De brute, de
beast, de dirty son of a monk!"
But Glory had leaped up with eyes of fire, and was crying: "How dare you,
sir? Out of my room this instant!"
"Mein Gott! It's a divil!" Koenig was muttering like a servant as he went
downstairs. He went out to the telegraph office and came back, and then
Glory heard him frying his sausages on the dining-room fire.
The night was far gone when she pushed aside her untouched supper, and,
wiping her eyes, that she might see properly, sat down to write a letter.
"Dear John Storm (monk, monster, or whatever it is!): I trust it will be
counted to me for righteousness that I am doing your bidding and giving
up my profession--for the present.
"Between a woman's 'yes' and 'no'
There isn't room for a pin to go,
which is very foolish of her in this instance, considering that she is
earning various pounds a night and has nothing but Providence to fall
back upon. I have told my jailer I must have my liberty, and, being a man
of like passions with yourself, he has been busy blaspheming in the
parlour downstairs. I trust virtue will be its own reward, for I dare say
it is all I shall ever get. If I were Narcissus I should fall in love
with myself to-day, having shown an obedience to tyranny which is
beautiful and worthy of the heroic age. But to-morrow morning I go back
to the 'oilan,' and it will be so nice up there without anybody and all
She was laughing softly to herself as she wrote, and catching her breath
with a little sob at intervals.
"A letter now and then is profitable to the soul of man--and--woman; but
you must not expect to hear from _me_, and as for you, though you _have_
resurrected yourself, I suppose a tyrant of your opinions will continue
the Benedictine rule which compels you to hold your peace--and other
things. I am engaged to breakfast with a nice girl named Glory Quayle
to-morrow morning--that is to say, _this_ morning--at Euston Station at a
quarter to seven, but happily this letter won't reach you until 7.30, so
I'll just escape interruption."
The house was still and the streets were quiet, not even a cab going
"Good-bye! I've realized--a dog! It's a pug, and therefore, like somebody
else, it always looks black at me, though I suspect its father married
beneath him, for it talks a good deal, and evidently hasn't been brought
up in a Brotherhood. Therefore, being a 'female,' I intend to call it
Aunt Anna--except when the original is about. Aunt Anna has been hopping
up and down the room at my heels for the last hour, evidently thinking
that a rational woman would behave better if she went to bed. Perhaps I
shall take a leaf out of your book and 'comb her hair,' when I get her
all alone in the train to-morrow, that she may be prepared for the new
sphere to which it has pleased Providence to call her.
"Good-bye again! I see the lamps of Euston running after each other, only
it's the _other_ way this time. I find there is something that seizes you
with a fiercer palpitation than coming _into_ a great and wonderful city,
and that is going out of one. Dear old London! After all, it has been
very good to me. No one, it seems to me, loves it as much as I do. Only
somebody thinks--well, never mind! Goodbye 'for all!' Glory."
At seven next morning, on the platform at Euston, Glory was standing with
melancholy eyes at the door of a first-class compartment watching the
people sauntering up and down, talking in groups and hurrying to and fro,
when Drake stepped up to her. She did not ask what had brought him--she
knew. He looked fresh and handsome, and was faultlessly dressed.
"You are doing quite right, my dear," he said in a cheerful voice.
"Koenig telegraphed, and I came to see you off. Don't bother about the
theatre; leave everything to me. Take a rest after your great excitement,
and come back bright and well."
The locomotive whistled and began to pant, the smoke rose to the roof,
the train started, and before Glory knew she was going she was gone.
Then Drake walked to his club and wrote this postscript to a letter to
Lord Robert Ure, at the Grand Hotel, Paris: "The Parson has drawn first
blood, and Gloria has gone home!"
On the Sunday evening after Glory's departure John Storm, with the
bloodhound running by his side, made his way to Soho in search of the
mother of Brother Andrew. He had come to a corner of a street where the
walls of an ugly brick church ran up a narrow court and turned into a
still narrower lane at the back. The church had been for some time
disused, and its facade was half covered with boardings and plastered
with placards: "Brighton and Back, 3_s_."; "_Lloyd's News_"; "Coals,
1_s_. a cwt."; and "Barclay's Sparkling Ales."
There was a tumult in the court and lane. In the midst of a close-packed
ring of excited people, chiefly foreigners, shouting in half the
languages of Europe, a tall young Cockney, with bloated face and eyes
aflame with drink, was writhing and wrestling and cursing. Sometimes he
escaped from the grasp of the man who held him, and then he flung himself
against the closed door of a shop which stood opposite, with the three
balls of the pawnbroker suspended above it. Somebody within the shop was
howling for help. It was a woman's voice, and the louder she screamed the
more violent were the man's efforts to beat down the door between them.
As John Storm stood a moment looking on, some one on the street beside
him said, "It's a d---- shyme." It was a man with a feeble, ineffectual
face and the appearance of a waiter. Seeing he had been overheard, the
man stammered: "Beg parding, sir; but they may well say 'when the Devil
can't come hisself 'e sends 'is brother Drink.'" Having said this he
began to move along, but stopped suddenly on seeing what the clergyman
with the dog was doing.
John Storm was pushing his way through the crowd, and his black figure in
that writhing ring of undersized foreigners looked big and commanding.
"What's this?" he was saying in a husky voice that rose clear above the
clamour. The shouting and swearing subsided, all save the howling from
the inside of the shop, and the tumult settled down in a moment to
mutterings and gnashings and a broken and irregular silence.
Then somebody said, "It's nothink, sir." And somebody else said, "'Es
on'y drunk, and wantin' to pench 'is mother." Without listening to this
explanation John Storm had laid hold of the young man by the collar and
was dragging him, struggling and fuming, from the door.
"What's going on?" he demanded. "Will nobody speak?"
Then a poor swaggering imitation of a man came up out of the cellar of a
house that stood next to the disused church, and a comely young woman
carrying a baby followed close behind him. He had a gin bottle in his
hands, and with a wink he said: "A christenin'--that's what's going on.
'Ave a kepple o' pen'orth of 'ollands, old gel?"
At this sally the crowd recovered its audacity and laughed, and the
drunken man began to say that he could "knock spots out of any bloomin'
parson, en' now bloomin' errer."
But the young fellow with the gin bottle broke in again. "What's yer
gime, mister? Preach the gawspel? Give us trecks? This is my funeral,
down't ye know, and I'd jest like to hear."
The little foreigners were enjoying the parson-baiting, and the drunken
man's courage was rising to fever heat. "I'll give 'im one-two between
the eyes if 'e touches me again." Then he flung himself on the pawnshop
like a battering ram, the howling inside, which had subsided, burst out
afresh, and finally the door was broken down.
Half a minute afterward the crowd was making a wavering dance about the
two men. "Look out, ducky!" the young fellow shouted to John. The warning
came too late--John went reeling backward from a blow.
"Now, my lads, who says next?" cried the drunken ruffian. But before the
words were out of his mouth there was a growl, a plunge, a snarl, and he
was full length on the street with the bloodhound's muzzle at his throat.
The crowd shrieked and began to fly. Only one person seemed to remain. It
was an elderly woman, with dry and straggling gray hair. She had come out
of the pawnshop and thrown herself on the dog in an effort to rescue the
man underneath, crying: "My son--oh, my son! It'll kill him! Tyke the
John Storm called the dog off, and the man got up unhurt, and nearly
sober. But the woman continued to moan over the ruffian and to assail
John and his dog with bitter insults. "We want no truck with parsons
'ere," she shouted.
"Stou thet, mother. It was my fault," said the sobered man, and then the
woman began to cry. At the next minute John Storm was going with mother
and son into the shut-up pawnshop, and the unhinged door was being
propped behind them.
The crowd was trailing off when he came out again half an hour afterward,
and the only commotion remaining was caused by a belated policeman
asking, "Wot's bin the matter 'ere?" and by the young fellow with the gin
bottle performing a step-dance on the pavement before the entrance to the
cellar. The old woman stood at her door wiping her eyes on her apron, and
her son was behind with a face that was now red from other causes than
drink and rage.
"Good-bye, Mrs. Pincher; I may see you again soon."
Hearing this, the young swaggerer stopped his step-dancing and cried:
"What cheer, myte? Was it a blowter and a cup of cawfy?"
"For shynie, Charlie!" cried the girl with a baby, and the young fellow
answered, "Shut yer 'ead, Aggie!"
The waiter was still at the corner of the court, and when John came up he
spoke again. "There must be sem amoosement knockin' women abart, but I
can't see it myself." Then in a simple way he began to talk about his
"missis," and what a good creature she was, and finally announced himself
"gyme" to help a parson "as stood up to that there drunken blowke for
sake of a woman."
"What's your name?" said John.
"Jupe," said the man, and then something stirred in John's memory.
On the following day John Storm dined with his uncle at Downing Street.
The Prime Minister was waiting in the library. In evening dress, with his
back to the fireplace and his hands enlaced behind him, he looked even
more thin and gaunt than before. He welcomed John with a few familiar
words and a smile. His smile was brief and difficult, like that which
drags across the face of an invalid. Dinner was announced immediately,
and the old man took the young one's arm and they passed into the
The panelled chamber looked cold and cheerless. It was lighted by a
single lamp in the middle of the table. They took their seats at opposite
sides. The statesman's thin hair shone on his head like streaks of
silver. John exercised a strong physical influence upon him, and all
through the dinner his bleak face kept smiling.
"I ought to apologize for having nobody to meet you, but I had something
to say--something to suggest--and I thought perhaps----"
John interrupted with affectionate protestations, and a tremor passed
over the wrinkles about the old man's eyes.
"It is a great happiness to me, my dear boy, that you have turned your
back on that Brotherhood, but I presume you intend to adhere to the
John intended to take priest's orders without delay, and then go on with
his work as a clergyman.
"Just so, just so"--the long, tapering fingers drummed on the table--"and
I should like to do something to help you."
Then sipping at his wine-glass of water, the Prime Minister, in his slow,
deep voice and official tone, began to detail his scheme. There was a
bishopric vacant. It was only a colonial one--the Bishopric of Colombo.
The income was small, no more than seventeen hundred pounds, the work was
not light, and there were fifty clergy. Then a colonial bishopric was not
usually a stepping-stone to preferment at home, yet still----
John interrupted again. "You are most kind, uncle, but I am only looking
forward to living the life of a poor priest, out of sight of the world
and the Church."
"Surely Colombo is sufficiently out of sight, my boy?"
"But I see no necessity to leave London."
The Prime Minister glanced at him steadily, with the concentrated
expression of a man who is accustomed to penetrate the thoughts and
feelings of another.
"Why then--why did you----"
"Why did I leave the monastery, uncle? Because I had come to see that the
monastic system was based on a faulty ideal of Christianity, which had
been tried for the greater part of nineteen hundred years and failed. The
theory of monasticism is that Christ died to redeem our carnal nature,
and all we have to do is to believe and pray. But it is not enough that
Christ died once. He must be dying always--every day--and in every one
of us. God is calling on us in this age to seek a new social application
of the Gospel, or, shall I say, to go back to the old one?"
"And that is----?"
"To present Christ in practical life as the living Master and King and
example, and to apply Christianity to the life of our own time."
The Prime Minister had not taken his eyes off him. "What does this mean?"
he had asked himself, but he only smiled his difficult smile and began to
talk lightly. If this creed applied to the individual it applied also to
the State; but think of a cabinet conducting the affairs of a nation on
the charming principle of "taking no thought for the morrow," and "loving
your enemies," and "turning the other cheek," and "selling all and giving
to the poor"!
John stuck to his guns. If the Christian religion could not be the
ultimate authority to rule a Christian nation, it was only because we
lacked faith and trusted too much to mechanical laws made by statesmen
rather than to moral laws made by Christ. "Either the life of Christ, as
the highest standard and example, means something or it means nothing. If
something, let us try to follow it; but if nothing, then for God's sake
let us put it away as a cruel, delusive, and damnable mummery!"
The Prime Minister continued to ask himself, "What is the key to this?"
and to look at John as he would have looked at a problem that had to be
solved, but he only went on smiling and talking lightly. It was true we
said a prayer and took an oath on the Bible in the Houses of Parliament,
but did anybody think for a moment that we intended to trust the nation
to the charming romanticism of the politics of Jesus? As for the Church,
it was founded on acts of Parliament, it was endowed and established by
the State, its head was the sovereign, its clergy were civil servants who
went to levees and hung on the edge of drawing-rooms and troubled the
knocker of No. 10 Downing-Street. And as for Christ's laws--in this
country they were interpreted by the Privy Council and were under the
direct control of a State department. Still, it was a harmless
superstition that we were a Christian nation. It helped to curb the
masses of the people, and if that was what John was thinking of----
The Prime Minister paused and stopped.
"Tell me, my boy," touching John's arm, "do you intend yourself to
live--in short, the--well, after the example of the life of Christ?"
"As far as my weak and vain and sinful nature will permit, uncle!"
"And in what way would you propose to apply your new idea of
"My experiment would be made on a social basis, sir, and first of all in
relation to women." John was hot all over, and his face had flushed up to
The Prime Minister glanced stealthily across the table, passed his thin
hand across his forehead, and thought, "So that's how it is!" But John
was deep in his theme and saw nothing. The present position of women was
intolerable. Upon the well-being of women, especially of working women,
the whole welfare of society rested. Yet what was their condition? Think
of it--their dependence on man, their temptations, their rewards, their
punishments! Three halfpence an hour was the average wage of a working
woman in England!--and that in the midst of riches, in the heart of
luxury, and with one easy and seductive means of escape from poverty
always open. Ruin lay in wait for them, and was beckoning them and
enticing them in the shape of dancing houses and music halls and rich and
"Not one man in a million, sir, would come through such an ordeal
unharmed. And yet what do we do?--what does the Church do for these brave
creatures on whose virtue and heroism the welfare of the nation depends?
If they fall it cuts them off, and there is nothing before them but the
streets or crime or the Union or suicide. And meanwhile it marries the
men who have tempted them to the snug and sheltered darlings for whose
wealth or rank or beauty they have been pushed aside. Oh, uncle, when I
walk down Regent Street in the daytime I am angry, but when I walk down
Regent Street at night I am ashamed. And then to think of the terrible
solitude of London to working girls who want to live pure lives--the
terrible spiritual loneliness!"
John's voice was breaking, but the Prime Minister had almost ceased to
hear. Thinking he had realized the truth at last, his own youth seemed to
be sitting before him and he felt a deep pity.
"Coffee here or in the library, your lordship?" said the man at his
"The library," he answered, and taking John's arm again he returned to
the other room. There was a fire burning now, and a book lay under the
lamp on a little table, with a silver paper-cutter through the middle to
mark the page.
"How you remind me of your mother sometimes, John! That was just like her
voice, do you know--just!"
Two hours afterward he led John Storm down the long corridor to the hall.
His bleak face looked soft and his deep voice had a slight tremor.
"Good-night, my dear boy, and remember your money is always waiting for
you. Until your Christian social state is established you are only an
advocate of socialism, and may fairly use your own. If yours is the
Christianity of the first century it has to exist in the nineteenth, you
know. You can't live on air or fly without wings. I shall be curious to
see what approach, to the Christian ideal the condition of civilization
admits of. Yet I don't know what your religious friends and the humdrum
herd will think of you--mad probably, or at least weak and childish and
perhaps even a hunter after easy popularity. But good-night, and God
bless you in, your people's church and Devil's Acre!"
John was flushed and excited. He had been talking of his plans, his
hopes, his expectations. God would provide for him in this as in
everything, and then God's priest ought to be God's poor. Meantime two
gentlemen in plush waited for him at the door. One handed him his hat,
the other his stick and gloves.
Then with regular steps, and his hands behind him, the Prime Minister
paced back through the quiet corridors. Returning to the library, he took
up his book and tried to read. It was a novel, but he could not attend to
the incidents in other people's lives. From time to time he said to
himself: "Poor boy! Will he find her? Will he save her?" One pathetic
idea had fixed itself on his mind--John Storm's love of God was love of a
woman, and she was fallen and wrecked and lost.
A fortnight later John wrote to Glory:
"Fairly under weigh at last, dear Glory! Taken priest's orders, got the
Bishop's 'license to officiate,' and found myself a church. It is St.
Mary Magdalene's, Crown Street, Soho, a district that has borne for three
hundred years the name of the 'Devil's Acre,' bears it still, and
deserves it. The church is an old proprietary place, licensed, not
consecrated, formerly belonging to Greek, or Italian, or French, or some
other refugees, but long shut up and now much out of repair. Present
owners, a company of Greek merchants, removed from Soho to the City, and
being too poor (as trustees) to renovate the structure, they have forced
me to get money for that purpose from my uncle, the Prime Minister. But
the money is my own, apparently, my uncle having in my interest demanded
from my father ten thousand pounds out of my mother's dowry, and got it.
And now I am spending two thousand on the repair of my church buildings,
notwithstanding the protests of the Prime Minister, who calls me
'chaplain to the Greek-Turks,' and of Mrs. Callender, who has discovered
that I am a 'maudlin, sentimental, daft young spendthrift.' Dare say I am
all that and a good deal more, as the wise world counts wisdom--but it
"Have not waited for the workmen, though, to begin operations. Took first
services last Sunday. No organist, no choir, no clerk, and next to no
congregation. Just the church cleaner, a good, simple old soul named
Pincher, her son, a reformed drunkard and pawnbroker, and another convert
who is a club waiter. Nevertheless, I went through the whole service,
morning and evening, prayers, psalms, and sermon. God will be the more
"Have started my new crusade on behalf of women, too, and made various
processions of three persons through the streets of Soho. First, my
pawnbroker bearing the banner (a white cross, the object of various
missiles), next my waiter carrying a little harmonium, and familiarly
known as the 'organ man,' and finally myself in my cassock. Last
mentioned proves to be a highly popular performance, being generally
understood to be a man in a black petticoat. We have had a nightly
accompaniment of a much larger procession, though, calling themselves
'Skellingtons,' otherwise the 'Skeletons,' an army of low women and
roughs; who live vulture lives on this poor, soiled, grimy, forgotten
world. Thank God, the ground of evil-doers is in danger, and they know
"Behind my church, in a dark, unwholesome alley called. Crook Lane, we
have a clergy house, at present let out in tenements, the cellar being
occupied as a gin shop. As soon as these premises can be cleared of their
encumbrances I shall turn them into a club for working girls. Why not? In
the old days the Church came to the people: let it come to the people
now. Here we are in the midst of this mighty stronghold of the devil's
kingdom of sin and crime. Foreign clubs, casinos, dancing academies, and
gambling houses are round about us. What are we to do? Put up a forest of
props (as at the Abbey) and keep off touch and contamination? God forbid!
Let us go down into these dens of moral disease and disinfect them. The
poor working girls, of Soho want their Sunday: give it them. They want
music and singing: give it them. They want dancing: give them that also,
for God's sake, give it them in your churches, or the devil will give it
them in his hells!
"Expect to be howled at of course. Some good people will think I am
either a fanatic or an artful schemer, while the clerical place-seekers,
who love the flesh-pots of Egypt and have their eyes on the thrones of
the Church and the world, will denounce my 'secularity' and tell me I am
feeding the 'miry troughs' of the publican and sinner. No matter, if only
God is pleased to vouchsafe 'signs following.' And one weary-faced lonely
girl, grown fresh of countenance and happy of mien, or one bright little
woman, snatched from the brink of perdition, will be a better fruit, of
religion than some of them have seen for many a year.
"As soon as the workmen have cleared out I am going to establish a daily
service and keep the church open always. Still at Mrs. Callender's, you
see; but I am refusing all invitations, except as a priest, and already I
don't seem to, have time to draw my breath. No income connected with St.
Mary Magdalene's, or next to none, just enough to pay the caretaker; but
I must not complain of that, for it is the accident to which I owe my
church, nobody else wanting it under the circumstances. I had begun to
think my time in the monastery wasted, but God knew better. It will help
me to live the life of poverty, of purity, of freedom from the world.
"Love to the grandfather and the ladies. How I wish you were with me in
the thick of the fight! Sometimes I dream you are, too, and I fancy I see
you in the midst of these bright young things with their flowers and
feathers--they will make beautiful Christians yet! Oddly enough, on the
day you travelled to the island, every hour that took you farther away
seemed to bring you nearer. Greetings!"
"Oh, gracious and grateful friend, at length you have remembered the
existence of the 'poor lone crittur' living in dead-alive land! Only that
I lack gall to make oppression bitter, I should of course return your
belated epistle by the Dead Letter Office, marked 'Unknown' across your
'Dear Glory,' there being no longer anybody in these regions who has a
plausible claim to that dubious title. But, alas! I am not my own woman
now, and with tears of shame I acknowledge that _any_ letter from London
comes like an angel's whisper breathed to me through the air.
"I dare say you have been unreasonable enough to think that I ought to
have written to tell you of my arrival; and knowing that man is born to
vanity as the sparks fly upward, I have more than once intended to take
pen in hand and write; but there is something so sleepy in this island
atmosphere that my good resolution has hitherto been a stillborn babe
that has breathed but never cried!
"Know then that my journey hither was performed with due celerity and no
further disaster than befalls me when, as usual, I have _done_ those
things which I ought not to have done, and left _undone_ those things
which I ought to have done--the former in this instance having reference
to various bouts of crying--which drew forth the sympathy of a
compassionate female sharper in the train--and the latter to the catch of
my sachel, which enabled that obliging person to draw forth my
embroidered pocket-handkerchief in exchange.
"I was in good time for the steamboat at Liverpool, and it was crowded,
according to its wont, with the Lancashire lads and lasses, in whom
affection is as contagious as the mumps. Being in the dumps myself on
sailing out of the river, and thinking of the wild excitement with which
I had sailed into it, I think I should have found that I had not _done_
crying in both senses but for the interest of watching an amiable Bob
Brierley who, with his arm about the waist of the person sitting next to
him, kept looking round at the rest of the world from time to time with
the innocence of one whose left hand didn't know what his right hand was
"But we had hardly crossed the bar when the prince of the powers of the
air began to envy the happiness of these dear young goodies, and if you
had seen the weather for the next four hours you would have agreed that
the devil must have had a hand in it! Up came a wave over the after
quarter and down went the passengers below decks, staggering and
screaming like brewery rats, and then on we came like the Israelites out
of Egypt on eagles' wings! Having lost my own sea legs a little I thought
it prudent to go down too, with my doggie tucked under my arm, and
finding a berth in the ladies' cabin, I fell asleep and didn't awake
until we were in the cross-current just off the island, when, amid moans
and groans and other noises, I heard the tearful voice of a sick
passenger asking, 'Is there any hope, stewardess?'
"The train got to Peel as the sun was setting behind the grim old castle
walls, and when I saw the dear little town again I dropped half a tear,
and even felt an insane desire to run out to meet it. Grandfather was at
the station with old 'Caesar' and the pony carriage, and when I had done
kissing him and he had done panting and puffing and talking nonsense, as
if I had been Queen Victoria and the Empress of the French rolled into
one, I could have cried to see how small and feeble he had become since I
went away. We could not get off immediately, for in his simple joy at my
return he was hailing everybody and everybody was hailing him, and the
dear old Pharisee was sounding his trumpet so often in the market-place,
that he might have glory of men, that I thought we should never get up to
Glenfaba that night. When we did so at length the old aunties were
waiting at the gate, and then he broke into exclamations again. 'Hasn't
she grown tall? Look at her! Hasn't she, now?' Whereupon the aunties took
up their parable with, 'Well, well! Aw, well! Aw, well now! Well, ye
navar!' So that by the time I got through I had kissed everybody a dozen
times, and was as red over the eyes as a grouse.
"Then we went into the house, and for the first five minutes I couldn't
tell what had come over the old place to make it look so small and mean.
It was just as if the walls of the rooms had been the bellows of a
concertina and somebody had suddenly shut them. But there was the long
clock clucking away on the landing, and there was Sir Thomas Traddles
purring on the hearth-rug, and there were the same plates on the dresser,
and the same map of Africa over the fireplace, with a spot of red ink
where my father died.
"The moon was glistening on the sea when I went to bed that night, and
when I got up in the morning the sun was shining on it, and a crow cut
across my window cawing, and I heard grandfather humming to himself on
the path below. And after my long spell in London, and my railway journey
of the day before, it was the same as if I had fallen asleep in a gale on
the high seas and awakened in a quiet harbour somewhere.
"So here I am, back at Glenfaba, in my old little room with my old little
bed, and everything exactly as it used to be; and I begin to believe that
when you went into that monastery you only just got the start of me in
being dead. There used to be a few people in this place, but now there
doesn't seem to be a dog left. All the youngsters have 'gone foreign,'
and all the oldsters have gone to--'goodness knows which.' Sometimes we
hear the bleat of sheep on the mountains, and sometimes the scream of
seagulls overhead, and sometimes we hold a convocation of all living
rooks in the elms on the lawn. We take no thought for the morrow, what we
shall eat or what we shall put on, and on Sundays when the church bell
rings we go out, like the Israelites in the wilderness, in clothes which
wax not old after forty years. During the rest of the week we watch the
blue-bottles knocking their stupid heads against the ceiling, and listen
to the grasshoppers whispering in the grass, and fall asleep to the hum
of the bees, and awake to the _hee-haw_ of old Neilus's 'canary.' [*
Donkey] Such is the dead-alive life we live at Glenfaba, and the days of
our years are threescore years and ten, and if.... Ohoy! (A yawn.)
"I suppose it is basely ungrateful of me to talk like this, for the dear
place itself is lovely enough to disturb one's hope of paradise, and this
very morning is as fresh as the dew on the grass, with the larks singing
above, and the river singing below, and clouds like little curls of foam
hovering over the sea. And as for my three dear old dunces, who love me
so much more than I deserve, I am ashamed in my soul when I overhear them
planning good things for me to eat, and wild excitements for me to revel
in, that I may not be dull or miss the luxuries I am accustomed to. 'Do
you know I'm afraid Glory doesn't care so much for pinjane after all,' I
heard grandfather whispering to Aunt Anna one morning, and half an hour
afterward he was reproving Aunt Rachel for pressing me too hard to serve
at the soup kitchen.
"They govern me like a child in pinafores, and of course like a child I
revenge myself by governing all the house. But, oh, dear! oh, dear! gone
are the days when I could live on water-gruel and be happy in a go-cart.
Yes, the change is in me, not in them or the old home, and what's the
good of putting back the clock when the sun is so stubbornly keeping
pace? I might be happy enough at Glenfaba still, if I could only bring
back the days when the garden trees were my gymnasium and I used to rock
myself and sing like a bird on a bough in the wind, or when I led a band
of boys to rob our own orchard--a bold deed, for which Bishop Anna
ofttimes launched at me and! all her suffragans her severest censure--it
was her slipper, I remember. But I can't run barefoot all day long on the
wet sand now, with the salt spray blowing in my face, and a young lady of
one-and-twenty seldom or never rushes out to play dumps and baggy-mug in
public with little girls of ten.
"As a result, my former adventures are now limited to careering on the
back of little 'Caesar,' who has grown so ancient and fat that he waddles
like an old duck, and riding him is like working your passage. So I
confine myself to sitting on committees, and being sometimes sat upon,
and rubbing the runes for grandfather, and cleaning the milkpails for
Aunt Anna, and even such holy kill-times as going to church regularly and
watching Neilus when he is passing round the plate after 'Let your light
so shine before men'--light to his practical intellect being clearly a
synonym for silver in the shape of threepenny bits!
"But, oh my! oh my! I am a dark character in this place for all that The
dear old goodies have never yet said a syllable about my letter
announcing that I had gone over to the enemy (i. e., Satan and the music
hall), and there is a dead hush in the house as often as the wind of
conversation veers in that direction. This is nothing, though, to the
white awe in the air when visitors call and I am questioned how I earn my
living in London. I hardly know whether to laugh or cry at the long-drawn
breath of relief when I wriggle out of a tight place without telling a
lie. But you can't hide an eel in a sack, and I know the truth will pop
out one of these days. Only yesterday I went district-visiting with Aunt
Rachel, and one of the Balaams of life, who keeps a tavern for fishermen,
lured us into his bar parlour to look at a portrait of 'Gloria' which he
had cut out of an illustrated paper and pinned up on the wall 'because it
resembled me so much!' Oh, dear! oh, dear! I could have found it in my
heart to brazen it out on the spot at this sight of my evil fame; but
when I saw poor little auntie watching me with fearful eyes I talked away
like a mill-wheel and went out thanking God that the rest of the people
of Peel were not as other men are, or even as this publican.
"I have been getting newspapers myself, though, sent by my friend Rosa;
and as long as the mis-reporters concerned themselves with my own doings
and failures to do, and lied as tenderly as an epitaph about my
disappearance from London, I cut them up and burned them. But when they
forgot me, and began to treat of other people's triumphs, I made Neilus
my waste-paper basket, on the understanding that the papers were to go to
the fishermen just home from Kinsale. Then from time to time he told me
they were 'goin' round, miss, goin' round,' and gave me other assurances
of 'the greatest circulation in the world,' which was true enough
certainly, though the old thief omitted to say it was at the paper-mill,
where they were being turned into pulp.
"But, heigho! I don't need newspapers to remind me of London. Like St.
Paul, I have a devil that beats me with fists, and as often as a clear
day comes, and one can see things a long way off, he makes me climb to
the top of Slieu Whallin [* A mountain in Man.] that I may sit on the
beacon by the hour and strain my eyes for a glimpse of England, feeling
like Lot's wife when she looked back on her old home, and then coming
down with a heavy heart and a taste of tears in my mouth as if I had been
turned into a pillar of salt. Dear old London! But I suppose it is going
on its way just as it used to do, with its tides of traffic and its
crowds and carriages, and wandering merchants and hawkers crying their
wares, and everything the same as ever, just the same, although Glory
* * * * *
"10.30 P. M.--I had to interrupt the writing of my letter this morning
owing to an alarm of illness seizing grandfather. He had been taken with
a sudden faintness. Of course we sent for the doctor, but before he
arrived the faintness had passed, so he looked wise at us, like a prize
riddle which had to be guessed before his next visit, left us his
autograph (a wonderful hieroglyphic), and went away. Since then
grandfather has been in the hands of a less taciturn practitioner, whom
he calls the 'flower of Glenfaba' (that's me), and after talking nonsense
to him all day and playing chess with him all the evening I have to put
him to bed laughing, and come back to my own room to finish my letter
with an easier mind. For the last half-hour the aurora has been pulsing
in the northern sky, and I have been thinking that the glorious
phantasmagoria must be the sign of a gale in heaven, just as sleet and
mist and black wind are the signs of a gale on earth. But it has tripped
off into nothingness and only the dark night is left, through which the
dogs at Knockaloe are keeping up their private correspondence with the
dogs at Ballamoar by the medium of their nightly howls.
"Oh, dear! Only 10.30! And to know that while we are going to bed by
country hours, with nearly everything still and dead around us, London is
just beginning to bestir itself! When I lie down and try to sleep I shall
see the wide squares, with their statues of somebody inside, and the
blaze of lights over the doors of the theatres, and all the tingling life
of the great and wonderful city. Ugh! It makes one feel like one's own
ghost wandering through the upper rooms and across the dark landings, and
hearing the strains of the music and the sounds of the dancing from the
ballroom below stairs!
"But, my goodness! (I can still swear on that, you see, and not be
forsworn!) 'What's the odds if you're jolly?--and I allus is!' How's your
dog? Mine would write you a letter, only her heart is moribund, and if
things go on as they are going she must set about making her will. In
fact, she is now lying at the foot of my bed thinking matters out, and
bids me tell you that after various attempts to escape Home Rule, not
being (like her mistress) one of those natures made perfect through
suffering, she is only 'kept alive by the force of her own volition,' in
this house that is full of old maids and has nothing better in it than
one old cat, and he isn't worth hunting, being destitute of a tail.
Naturally she is doing her best (like somebody else) to keep herself
unspotted from that world which is a source of so much temptation, but
she's bound to confess that a little 'divilment' now and then would help
her to take a more holy and religious view of life.
"I 'wish you happy' in your new enterprise; but if you are going in for
being the champion of woman in this world--of her wrongs--I warn you not
to be too pointed in your moral, for there is a story here of a handsome
young curate who was so particular in the pulpit with 'Lovest thou me'
that a lady followed him into the vestry and admitted that she did.
Soberly, it is a great and noble effort, and I've half a mind to love you
for it. If men want women to be good they _will_ be good, for women dance
to the tune that men like best, and always have done so since the days of
Adam--not forgetting that gentleman's temptation, nor yet his excuse
about 'the woman _Thou gavest_ me,' which shows he wasn't much of a
husband anyway, though certainly he hadn't much choice of a wife.
"My love to dear old London! Sometimes I have half a mind to skip off and
do my wooing myself. Perhaps I should do so, only that Rosa writes that
she would like to come and spend her summer holiday in Peel. Haven't I
told you about Rosa? She's the lady journalist that Mr. Drake introduced
"But let's to bed,
"P.S.--IMPORTANT. Ever since I left London I have been tormented with the
recollection of poor Polly's baby. She put him out to nurse with the Mrs.
Jupe you heard of, and that person put him out to somebody else. While
the mother lived I had no business to interfere, but I can't help
thinking of the motherless mite now and wondering what has become of him.
I suppose that like Jeshurun he waxeth fat and kicketh by this time, yet
it would be the act of a man and a clergyman if anybody would take up my
neglected duty and make it his business to see that there is somebody to
love the poor child. Mrs. Jupe's address is 5a, The Little Turnstile,
going from Holborn into Lincoln's Inn Fields."
It was on a Saturday morning that John Storm received Glory's letter, and
on the evening of the same day he set out in search of Mrs. Jupe's. The
place was not easy to find, and when he discovered it at length he felt a
pang at the thought that Glory herself had lived in this dingy burrowing.
As he was going up to the door of the little tobacco shop a raucous voice
within was saying, "That's what's doo on the byeby, and till you can py
up you needn't be a-kemmin' 'ere no more." At the next moment a young
woman crossed him on the threshold. She was a little slender thing,
looking like a flower that has been broken by the wet. He recognised her
as the girl who had nursed the baby in Cook Lane on the day of his first
visit to Soho. She was crying, and to hide her swollen eyes she dropped
her head at passing, and he saw her faded ribbons and soiled straw hat.
A woman of middle age behind the counter was curtsying to his clerical
attire, and a little girl at the door of an inner room was looking at him
out of the corner of her eyes, with head aslant.
"Father Storm, I think, sir. Come in and set you down, sir.--Mind the
shop, Booboo.--My 'usband 'as told me about ye, sir. 'You'll know 'im at
onct, Lidjer,' 'e sez, siz 'e.--No, 'e ain't 'ome from the club yet, but
'e might be a-kemmin' in any time now, sir."
John Storm had seated himself in the little dark parlour, and was
looking round and thinking of Glory. "No matter; my business is with you,
Mrs. Jupe," he answered, and at that the twinkling eyes and fat cheeks,
which had been doing their best to smile, took on a look of fear.
"Wot's the metter?" she asked, and she closed the door to the shop.
"Nothing, I trust, my good woman," and then he explained his errand.
Mrs. Jupe listened attentively and seemed to be asking herself who had
"The poor young mother is dead now, as you may know, and----"
"But the father ain't," said the woman sharply, "and, begging your
parding, sir, if 'e wants ter know where the byeby is 'e can come 'isself
and not send sembody else!"
"If the child is well, my good woman, and well cared for----"
"It _is_ well keered for, and it's gorn to a pusson I can trust."
"Then what have you got to conceal? Tell me where it is, and----"
"Not me! If it's 'is child, and 'e wants it, let 'im py for it, and
interest ep ter dite. Them swells is too fond of gettin' parsons to pull
their chestnuts out o' the fire."
"If you suppose I am here in the interests of the father, you are
mistaken, I do assure you."
"Ow, you do, do yer?"
Matters had reached this pass when the door opened and Mr. Jupe came in.
Off went his hat with a respectful salutation, but seeing the cloud on
his wife's face, he abridged his greeting. The woman's apron was at her
eyes in an instant.
"Wot's gowin' on?" he asked. John Storm tried to explain, but the woman
contented herself with crying.
"Well, it's like this, don'cher see, Father. My missis is that fond of
childring, and it brikes 'er 'eart----"
Was the man a fool or a hypocrite?
"Mr. Jupe," said John, rising, "I'm afraid your wife has been carrying on
an improper and illegal business."
"Now stou thet, sir," said the man, wagging his head. "I respects the
Reverend Jawn Storm a good deal, but I respects Mrs. Lidjer Jupe a good
deal more, and when it comes to improper and illegal bizniss----"
"Down't mind 'im, 'Enery," said the wife, now weeping audibly.
"And down't you tyke on so, Lidjer," said the husband, and they looked as
if they were about to embrace.
John Storm could stand no more. Going down the court he was thinking with
a pang of Glory--that she had lived months in the atmosphere of that
impostor--when somebody touched his arm in the darkness. It was the girl.
She was still crying.
"I reckerlec' seeing you in Crook Lane, sir, the day we christened my
byeby, and I waited, thinking p'raps you could help me."
"Come this way," said John, and walking by his side along the blank wall
of Lincoln's Inn Fields, the girl told her story. She lived in one room
of the clergy-house at the back of his church. Having to earn her living,
she had answered an advertisement in a Sunday paper, and Mrs. Jupe had
taken her baby to nurse. It was true she had given up all claim to the
child, but she could not help going to see it--the little one's ways were
so engaging. Then she found that Mrs. Jupe had let it out to somebody
else. Only for her "friend" she might never have heard of it again. He
had found it by accident at a house in Westminster. It was a fearful
place, where men went for gambling. The man who kept it had just been
released from eighteen months' imprisonment, and the wife had taken to
nursing while the husband was in prison. She was a frightful woman, and
he was a shocking man, and "they knocked the children about cruel." The
neighbours heard screams and slaps and moans, and they were always crying
"Shame!" She had wanted to take her own baby away, but the woman would
not give it up because there were three weeks' board owing, and she could
"Could you take me to this house, my child?"
"Then come round to the church after service to-morrow night."
The girl's tearful face glistened like April sunshine.
"And will you help me to get my little girl? Oh, how good you are!
Everybody is saying what a Father it is that's come to----" She stopped,
then said quite soberly: "I'll get somebody to lend me a shawl to bring
'er 'ome in. People say they pawn everything, and perhaps the beautiful
white perlice I bought for 'er ... Oh, I'll never let 'er out of my sight
"What is your name, my girl?"
"Agatha Jones," the girl answered.
It was nearly eleven o'clock on Sunday night before they were ready to
start on their errand. Meantime Aggie had done two turns at the foreign
clubs, and John Storm had led a procession through Crown Street and been
hit by a missile thrown by a "Skeleton," whom he declined to give in
charge. At the corner of the alley he stopped to ask Mrs. Pincher to wait
up for him, and the girl's large eyes caught sight of the patch of
plaster above his temple.
"Are you sure you want to go, sir?" she said.
"There's no time to lose," he answered. The bloodhound was with him; he
had sent home for it since the attempted riot.
As they walked toward Westminster she told him where she had been, and
what money she had earned. It was ten shillings, and that would buy so
many things for baby.
"To-morrow I'll get a cot for her--one of those wicker ones; iron is so
expensive. She'll want a pair o' socks too, and by-and-bye she'll 'ave to
John Storm was thinking of Glory. He seemed to be retreading the steps of
her life in London. The dog kept close at his heels.
"She'll 'a bin a month away now, a month to-morrow. I wonder if she's
grow'd much--I wonder! It's wrong of people letting their childring go
away from them. I'll never go out at nights again--not if I 'ave to tyke
in sewin' for the slop shops. See this?" laughing nervously and showing a
shawl that hung on her arm. "It's to bring 'er 'ome in--the nights is so
chill for a byeby."
John's heart was heavy at sight of these little preparations, but the
young mother's face was radiant.
As they went by the Abbey, under its forest of scaffolding, and, walking
toward Millbank, dipped into the slums, that lie in the shadow of the
dark prison, they passed soldiers from the neighbouring barracks going
arm-in-arm with girls, and this made Aggie talk of her "friend," and cry
a little, saying it was a week since she had seen him, and she was afraid
he must have 'listed. She knew he was rude to people sometimes, and she
asked pardon for him, but he wasn't such a bad boy, after all, and he
never knocked you about except when he was drinking.
The house they were going to was in Angel Court, and having its door only
to the front, it was partly sheltered from observation. A group of women
with their aprons over their heads stood talking in whispers at the
corner. One of them recognised Aggie and asked if she had got her child
yet, whereupon John stopped and made some inquiries. The goings-on at the
house were scandalous. The men who went to it were the lowest of the low,
and there was scarcely one of them who hadn't "done time." The man's name
was Sharkey, and his wife was as bad as he was. She insured the children
at seven pounds apiece, and "Lawd love ye, sir, at that price the poor
things is worth more dead nor alive!"
Aggie's face was becoming white, and she was touching John Storm's elbow
as if pleading with him to come away, but he asked further questions.
Yes, there were several children. A twelve-months' baby, a boy, was
fretful with his teething, and on Sunday nights, when the woman was
wanted downstairs, she just put the poor darling to bed and locked the
room. If you lived next door, you could hear his crying through the wall.
"Agatha," said John, as they stepped up to the door, "get us both into
this house as best you can, then leave the rest to me.--Don, lie close!"
Aggie tapped at the door. A little slide in it was run back and a voice
said, "Who's there?"
"Aggie," the girl answered.
"Who's that with you?"
"A friend of Charlie's," and then the door was opened.
John crossed the threshold first, the dog followed him, the girl entered
last. When the door had closed behind them, the doorkeeper, a young man
holding a candle in his hand, was staring at John with his whole face
"Hush! Not a word!--Don, watch that man!"
The young man looked at the dog and turned pale.
"Where is Mrs. Sharkey?"
There were sounds of men's voices from below, and from above there came
the convulsive sobs of a child, deadened as by a door between.
"Give me your candle."
The man gave it.
"Don't speak or stir, or else----"
John glanced at the dog, and the man trembled.
"Come upstairs, child," and the girl followed him to the upper floor.
On reaching the room in which the baby was crying they tried the door. It
was locked. John attempted to force it, but it would not yield. The
child's sobs were dying down to a sleepy moan.
Another room stood open and they went in. It was the living-room. A
kettle on the fire was singing and puffing steam. There was no sign of a
key anywhere. Only a table, some chairs, a disordered sofa, certain
sporting newspapers lying about, and a few pictures on the walls. Some of
the pictures were of race-horses, but all the rest were memorial cards,
and one bore the text, "He shall gather them in his arms." Aggie was
shuddering as with cold, being chilled by some unknown fear.
"We must go down to the cellar--there's no help for it," said John.
The man in the hall had not spoken or stirred. He was still gazing in
terror on the bloodshot eyes looking out of the darkness. John gave the
candle to the girl and began to go noiselessly downstairs. There was not
a movement in the house now. Big Ben was striking. It was twelve o'clock.
At the next moment John Storm was midway down, and had full view of the
den. It was a washing cellar with a coal vault going out of it under the
street. Some fifteen or twenty men, chiefly foreigners, were gathered
about a large table covered with green baize, on which a small lamp was
burning. A few of the men were seated on chairs ranged about, the others
were standing at the back in rows two deep. They were gambling. The game
was faro. Rows of lucifer matches were laid on the table, half-crowns
were staked on them, and cards were cut and dealt. Except the banker, a
middle-aged man with the wild eye of the hard spirit-drinker, everybody
had his face turned away from the cellar stairs.
They did not smoke or drink, and they only spoke to each other when the
stakes were being received or paid. Then they quarrelled and swore in
English. After that there was a chilling and hideous silence, as if
something awful were about to occur. The lamp cast a strong light on the
table, but the rest of the room was darkened by patches of shadow.
The coal vault had been turned into a drinking-bar, and behind the
counter there was a well-stocked stillage. In the depths of its shade a
woman sat knitting. She had a gross red and white face, and in the arch