Part 8 out of 12
above her was the iron grid in the pavement. Somebody on the street
walked over it, causing a hollow sound as of soil falling on a coffin.
John Storm was no coward, but a certain tremor passed over him on finding
himself in this subterranean lurking-place of men who were as beasts. He
stood a full minute unseen. Then he heard the woman say in a low hiss,
"Cat's mee-e-et!" and he knew he had been observed. The men turned and
looked at him, not suddenly, or all at once, but furtively, cautiously,
slowly. The banker crouched at the table with an astonished face and
tried to smuggle the cards out of sight.
John stood calmly, his whole figure displaying courage and confidence.
The group of men broke up. "He's got the 'coppers,'" said one. Nobody
else spoke, and they began to melt away. They disappeared through a door
at the back which led into a yard, for, like rats, the human vermin
always have a second way out of their holes.
In half a minute the cellar was nearly empty. Only the banker and the
woman and one young man remained. The young man was Charlie.
"What cheer, myte?" he said with an air of unconcern. "Is it trecks ye
want, sir? Here ye are then," and he threw a pack of cards at John's
"It's that gel o' yawn that's done this," said the woman.
"So it's a got-up thing, is it?" said Charlie, and stepping to the
counter, he took up a drinking-glass, broke it at the rim; and holding
its jagged edges outward, turned to use it as a weapon.
John Storm had not yet spoken, but a magnetic instinct warned him. He
whistled, and the dog bounded down. The young man threw his broken glass
on the floor and cried to the keeper of the house: "Don't stir, you!
First you know, the beast will be at yer throat!"
Hearing Charlie's voice, Aggie was creeping down the stairs. "Charlie!"
she cried. Charlie threw open his coat, stuck his fingers in the armholes
of his waistcoat, said in a voice of hatred, passion, and rage, "Go and
pawn yourself!" and then swaggered out at the back door. The keeper made
show of following, but John Storm called on him to stop. The man looked
at the dog and obeyed. "Wot d'ye want o' me?" he said.
"I want this girl's baby. That's the first thing I want. I'll tell you
the rest afterward."
"Oh, that's it, is it?" The man's grimace was frightful.
"It's gone, sir. We've lost it," said the woman, with a hideous
"That story will not pass with me, my good woman. Go upstairs and unlock
the door! You too, my man, go on!"
A minute later they were in a bedroom above. Three neglected children lay
asleep on bundles of rags. One of twelve months' old was in a wicker
cradle, one of three years was in a wooden cot, and a younger child was
in a bed. Aggie had come up behind, and stood by the door trembling and
"Now, my girl, find your baby," said John, and the young mother hurried
with eager eyes from the cradle to the cot and from the cot to the bed.
"Yes, here it is," she cried. "No--oh no, no!" and she began to wring her
"Told yer so," said the woman, and with a wicked grin she pointed to a
memorial card which hung on the wall.
Aggie's child was dead and buried. Diarrhoea! The doctor at the
dispensary had given a certificate of death, and Charlie had shared the
insurance money. "Wish to Christ it was ended!" he had said. He had been
drunk ever since.
The poor girl was stunned. She was no longer crying. "Oh, oh, oh! What
shall I do?" she said.
"Who's child is this?" said John, standing over the wicker cradle. The
little sufferer from inflamed gums had sobbed itself to sleep.
"A real laidy's," said the woman. "Mrs. Jupe told us to tyke great kear
of it. The father is Lord something."
"My poor girl," said John, turning to Aggie, "could you carry this child
home for me?"
"Oh, oh, oh!" said the girl, but she wrapped the shawl about the child
and lifted it up sleeping.
"Now, you down't!" said the man, putting himself on guard before the
door. "That child is worth 'undrids of pounds to me, and----"
"Stand back, you brute!" said John, and with the girl and her burden he
passed out of the house.
The front door stood open and the neighbourhood had been raised. Trollopy
women in their under-petticoats and with their hair hanging about their
necks were gathered at the end of the court. Aggie was crying again, and
John pushed through the crowd without speaking.
They went back by Broad Sanctuary, where a solitary policeman was pacing
to and fro on the echoing pavement. Big Ben was chiming the half-hour
after midnight. The child coughed like a sheep constantly, and Aggie kept
saying, "Oh, oh, oh!"
Mrs. Pincher, in her widow's cap and white apron, was waiting up for
them, and John committed the child to her keeping. Then he said to Aggie,
who was turning away, "My poor child, you have suffered deeply, but if
you will leave this man I will help you to begin life again, and if you
want money I will find it."
"Well, he _is_ a Father and no mistake!" said Mrs. Pincher; but the girl
only answered in a hopeless voice, "I don't want no money, and I don't
want to begin life again."
As she crossed the court to her room in the tenement house they heard her
"Oh, oh, oh!"
* * * * *
Before going to bed that night John Storm wrote to Glory:
"Hurrah! Have got poor Polly's baby, so you may set your heart at ease
about it. All the days of my life I have been thought to be a dreamer,
but it is surprising what a man can do when he sets to work for somebody
else! Your former landlady turns out to be the wife of my 'organ man,'
and it was pitiful to see the dear old simpleton's devotion to his bogus
little baggage. I have lost him, of course, but that was unavoidable.
"It was by help of another victim that I traced the child at last. She is
a ballet girl of some sort, and it was as much as I could stand to see
the poor young thing carrying Polly's baby, her own being dead and buried
without a word said to her. Short of the grace of God she will go to the
bad now. Oh, when will the world see that in dealing with the starved
hearts of these poor fallen creatures God Almighty knows best how to do
his own business? Keep the child with the mother, foster the maternal
instinct, and you build up the best womanhood. Drag them apart, and the
child goes to the dogs and the mother to the devil.
"But Polly's baby is safely lodged with Mrs. Pincher, a dear old
grandmotherly soul who will love it like her own, and all the way home I
have been making up my mind to start baby-farming myself on fresh lines.
He who wrongs the child commits a crime against the State. However low a
woman has fallen, she is a subject of the Crown, and if she is a mother
she is the Crown's creditor. These are my first principles, the
application will come anon. Meantime you have given me a new career, a
glorious mission! Thank God and Glory Quayle for it for ever and ever!
Then--who knows?--perhaps you will come back and take it up yourself some
day. When I think of the precious time I spent, in that monastery ... but
no, only for that I should not be here.
"Oh, life is wonderful! But I feel afraid that I shall wake up--perhaps
in the streets somewhere--and find I have been dreaming. Deeply grieved
to hear of the grandfather's attack. Trust it has passed. But if not,
certain I am that all is well with him and that he is staid only on God.
"Hope you are well and plodding through this wilderness in comfort,
avoiding the thorns as well as you can. Glenfaba may be dull, but you do
well to keep out of the whirlpool of London for the present. Yours is a
snug spot, and when storms are blowing even the sea-gulls shelter about
your house, I remember ... But why Rosa? Is Peel the only place for a
"Oh, my dear John Storm, is it coals of fire you are heaping on my head,
or fire of brimstone? Your last letter with its torrents of enthusiasm
came sweeping down on me like a flood. What work you are in the midst of!
What a life! What a purpose! While I--I am lying here like an old slipper
thrown up oil the sea-beach. Oh, the pity oft, the pity oft! It must be
glorious to be in the rush and swirl of all this splendid effort,
whatever comes of it! One's soul is thrilled, one's heart expands! As for
me, the garden of my mind is withering, and I am consuming the seed I
ought to sow.
"Rosa has come. She has been here a month nearly, and is just charming,
say what you will. Her thoughts have the dash of the great world, and I
love to hear her talk. True, she troubles me sometimes, but that's only
my envy and malice and all uncharitableness. When she tells of Betty-this
and Ellen-that, and their wonderful successes and triumphs, I'm the
meanest sinner that crawls.
"It's funny to see how the old folk bear themselves toward her. Aunt
Rachel regards her as a sort of an artist, and is clearly afraid that she
will break out into madness in spots somewhere. Aunt Anna disapproves of
her hair, which is brushed up like a man's, and of her skirt, which
'would be no worse if it were less like a pair of breeches,' for she has
brought her 'bike.' She talks on dangerous subjects also, and nobody did
such things in auntie's young days. Then she addresses the old girlies as
I do, and calls grandfather 'G-rand-dad,' and like the witch of Endor
generally, is possessed of a familiar spirit. Of course I give her
various warning looks from time to time lest the fat should be in the
fire, but she's a woman, bless her! and it's as true as ever it was that
a woman can keep the secret she doesn't know.
"Yes, the ideal of womanhood has changed since the old aunties were
young; but when I listen to Rosa and then look over at Rachel with her
black ringlets, and at Anna with her old-fashioned 'front,' I shudder and
ask myself, 'Why do I struggle?' What is the reward if one gives up the
fascination of life and the world? There is no reward. Nothing but
solitary old-maidism, unless two of you happen to be sisters, for who
else will join her shame to yours? Dreams, dreams, only dreams of the
dearest thing that ever comes into a woman's arms--and then you awake and
there is no one there. A dame's school, when the old father is gone, but
no children of your own to love you, nobody to think of you, scraping a
little here, pinching a little there, growing older and smaller year by
year, looking yellow and craned like an apple that has been kept on the
top shelf too long, and then--the end!
"Oh, but I'm trying so hard, so very hard, to be 'true to the higher self
in me,' because somebody says I must. What do you think I did last week?
In my character of Lady Bountiful I gave an old folks' supper in the soup
kitchen, understood to be in honour of my return. Roast beef and plum
duff, not to speak of pipes and 'baccy, and forty old people of both
sexes sitting down to 'the do.' After supper there was a concert, when
Chaise (the fat old thief!) overflowed the 'elber' chair, and alluded to
me as 'our beautiful donor,' and lured me into singing Mylecharaine, and
leading the company, when we closed with the doxology.
"But 'it was not myself at all, Molly dear, 'twas my shadow on the wall,'
and in any case man can't live by soup kitchens alone--nor woman either.
And knowing what a poor, weak, vain woman I am at the best, I ask myself
sometimes would it not be a thousand times better if I yielded to my true
nature instead of struggling to realize a bloodless ideal that is not me
in the least, but only my picture in the heart of some one who thinks me
so much better than I am?
"Not that anybody ever sees what a hypocrite I can be, though I came near
to letting the cat out of the bag as lately as last night. You must know
that when I turned my back on London at the command of John Knox the
second, I brought all my beautiful dresses along with me, except such of
them as were left at the theatre. Yet I daren't lay them out in the
drawers, so I kept them under lock and key in my boxes. There they lurked
like evil spirits in ambush, and as often as their perfume escaped into
the room my eyes watered for another sight of them! But in spite of all
temptation I resisted, I conquered, I triumphed--until last night when
Rosa talked of Juliet, what a glorious creature she was, and how there
was nobody on the stage who could 'look' her and 'play' her too!
"What do you think I did? Shall I tell you? Yes, I will. I crept upstairs
to my quiet little room, tugged the box from its hiding-place under the
bed, drew out my dresses--my lovely, lovely brocades--and put them on!
Then I spoke the potion speech, beginning in a whisper, but getting
louder as I went on, and always looking at myself in the glass. I had
blown out the candle, and there was no light in the room but the moon
that was shining on my face, but I was glowing, my very soul was afire,
and when I came to the end I drew myself up with eyes closed and head
thrown back and heart that paused a beat or two, and said, '_I_--_I_ am
Juliet, for I am a great actress!'
"Oh, oh, oh! I could scream with laughter to think of what happened next!
Suddenly I became aware of somebody knocking at my door (I had locked it)
and of a thin voice outside saying fretfully: 'Glory, whatever is it?
Aren't you well, Glory?' It was the little auntie; and thinking what a
shock she would have if I opened the door and she came upon this grand
Italian lady instead of poor little me, I had to laugh and to make
excuses while I smuggled off my gorgeous things and got back into my
"It was a narrow squeak; but I had a narrower one some days before. Poor
grandfather! He regards Rosa as belonging to a superior race, and loves
to ask her what she thinks of Glory. He has grown quite simple lately,
and as soon as he thinks my back is turned he is always saying, 'And what
is your opinion of my granddaughter, Miss Macquarrie?' To which she
answers, 'Glory is going to make your name immortal, Mr. Quayle.' Then
his eyes sparkle and he says, 'Do you think so?--do you really think so?'
Whereupon she talks further balderdash, and the dear old darling smiles a
"But I always notice that not long afterward his eyes look wet and his
head hangs low, and he is saying to the aunties, with a crack in his
voice: 'She'll go away again. You'll see she will. Her beauty and her
talents belong to the world.' And then I burst in on them and scold them,
and tell them not to talk nonsense.
"Nevertheless he is beginning to regard Rosa with suspicion, as if she
were a witch luring me away, and one evening last week we had to steal
into the garden to talk that we might escape from his watchful eyes. The
sun had set--there was the red glow behind the castle across the sky and
the sea, and we were walking on the low path by the river under the
fuchsia hedge that hangs over from the lawn, you know. Rosa was talking
with her impetuous dash of the great career open to any one who could win
the world in London, how there were people enough to help her on, rich
men to find her opportunities, and even to take theatres for her if need
be. And I was hesitating and halting and stammering: 'Yes, yes, if it
were the _regular_ stage ... who knows? ... perhaps it might not be opened
to the same objections, ...' when suddenly the leaves of the fuchsia
rustled as with a gust of wind, and we heard footsteps on the path above.
"It was the grandfather, who had come out on Rachel's arm and overheard
what I had said! 'It's Glory!' he faltered, and then I heard him take his
snuff and blow his nose as if to cover his confusion, thinking I was
deceiving them and carrying on a secret intercourse. I hardly know what
happened next, except that for the five minutes following 'the great
actress' had to talk with the tongues of men and angels (Beelzebub's) in
order to throw dust in the dear old eyes and drive away their doubts. It
was a magnificent performance, 'you go bail.' I'll never do the like of
it again, though I had only one old man and one old maid and one young
woman for audience. The house 'rose' at me too, and the poor old
grandfather was appeased. But when we were back indoors I overheard him
saying: 'After all there's no help for it. She's dull with us--what
wonder! We can't cage our linnet, Rachel, and perhaps we shouldn't try. A
song-bird came to cheer us, but it will fly away. We are only old folks,
dear--it's no use crying.' And on going to his room that night he closed
his door and said his prayers in a whisper, that I might not hear him
when he sobbed.
"He hasn't left his bed since. I fear he never will More than once I have
been on the point of telling him there is no reason to think the deluge
would come if I _did_, go back to London; but I will never leave him now.
Yet I wish Aunt Rachel wouldn't talk so much of the days when I went away
before. It seems that every night, on his way to his own room, he used to
step into my empty one and come out with his eyes dim and his lips
moving. I am not naturally hard-hearted, but I can't love grandfather
like that. Oh, the cruelty of life! ... I know it ought to be the other
way about; ... but I can't help it.
"All the same I could cry to think how short life is, and how little of
it I can spare. 'Cling fast to me and hold me,' my heart is always
saying, but meantime London is calling to me, calling to me, like the
sea, and I feel as if I were a wandering mermaid and she were my ocean
* * * * *
"Later.--Poor, poor grandfather! I was interrupted in the writing of my
letter this morning by another of those sudden alarms. He had fainted
again, and it is extraordinary how helpless the aunties are in a case of
illness. Grandfather knows it too; and after I had done all I could to
bring him round, he opened his eyes and whispered that he had something
to say to me alone. At that the poor old things left the room with tears
of woe and a look of understanding. Then fetching a difficult breath he
said, '_You_ are not afraid, Glory, are you?' and I answered him 'No,'
though my heart was trembling. And then a feeble smile struggled through
the wan features of his drawn face, and he told me his attack was only
another summons. 'I'll soon die for good,' he said, 'and you must be
strong and brave, my child, for death is the common lot, and then what is
there to fear?' I didn't try to contradict him--what was the good of
doing that? And after he had spoken of the coming time he talked quietly
of his past life, how he had weathered the storm for seventy odd years,
and his Almighty Father was bringing him into harbour at last. 'I can't
pray for life any longer, Glory. Many a time I did so in the old days
when I had to bring up my little granddaughter, but my task is over now,
and after the day is done where is the tired labourer who does not lie
down to his rest with a will?'
"The doctor has been and gone. There is no ailment, and nothing to be
done or hoped. It is only a general failure and a sinking earthward of
the poor worn-out body as the soul rises to the heaven that is waiting to
receive it. What a pagan I feel beside him! And how glad I am that I
didn't talk of leaving him again when he was on the eve of his far longer
journey! I have sent the aunties to bed, but Rosa has made me promise to
awaken her at four, that she may take her turn at his bedside.
* * * * *
"Next Morning.--Rosa relieved me during the night, and I came to my room
and lay down in the dullness of the dawn. But now I am sorry that I
allowed her to do so, for I did not sleep, and grandfather appears to
have been troubled with dreams. I fancied he shuddered a little as I left
them together, and more than once through the wall I heard him cry,
'Bring him back!' in the toneless voice of one who is labouring under the
terrors of a nightmare. But each time I heard Rosa comforting him, so I
lay down again without going in.
"Being stronger this morning, he has been propped up in bed writing a
letter. When he called for the pens and paper I asked if I couldn't write
it for him, but the old darling made a great mystery of the matter, and
looked artful, and asked if it was usual to fight your enemy with his own
powder and shot. Of course I humoured him and pretended to be mighty
curious, though I think I know who the letter was written to, all the
same that he kept the address side of the envelope hidden even when the
front of it was being sealed. He sealed it with sealing-wax, and I held
the candle while he did so, with his poor trembling fingers in danger
from the light, and then I stamped it with my mother's pearl ring, and he
smuggled it under the pillow.
"Since breakfast he has shown an increased inclination to doze, but there
have been visits from the wardens and from neighbouring parsons, for a
_locum tenens_ has had to be appointed. Of course, they have all inquired
where his pain is, and on being told that he has none, they have gone
downstairs cackling and clucking and crowing in various versions of
'Praise God for that!' I hate people who are always singing the doxology.
* * * * *
"Noon.--Condition unchanged, except that in the intervals of drowsiness
his mind has wandered a little. He appears to live in the past. Looking
at me with conscious eyes, he calls me 'Lancelot'--my father's name. It
has been so all the morning. One would think he was walking in a twilight
land where he mistakes people's faces and the dead are as much alive as
"They all think I am brave, oh, so brave! because I do not cry now, as
everybody else does--even Aunt Anna behind her apron--although my tears
can flow so easily, and at other times I keep them constantly on tap. But
I am really afraid, and down at the bottom of my heart I am terrified. It
is just as if _something_ were coming into the house slowly,
irresistibly, awfully, and casting its shadow on the floor already.
"I have found out the cause of his outcries in the night. Aunt Rachel
says he was dreaming of my father's departure for Africa. That was
twenty-two years ago, but it seems that the memory of the last day has
troubled him a good deal lately. 'Don't you remember it?' he has been
saying. 'There were no railways in the island then, and we stood at the
gate to watch the coach that was taking him away. He sat on the top and
waved his red handkerchief. And when he had gone, and it was no use
watching, we turned back to the house--you and Anna and poor, pretty
young Elise. He never came back, and when Glory goes again she'll never
come back either.'
"In the intervals of his semi-consciousness, when he mistakes me for my
father, my wonderful bravery often fails me, and I find excuses for going
out of the room. Then I creep noiselessly through the house and listen at
half-open doors. Just now I heard him talking quite rationally to Rachel,
but in a voice that seemed to speak inwardly, not outwardly, as before.
'She can't help it, poor child!' he said. 'Some day she'll know what it
is, but not yet, not until she has a child of her own. The race looks
forward, not backward. God knew when he created us that the world
couldn't go on without that bit of cruelty, and who am I that I should
"I couldn't bear it any longer, and with a pain at my heart I ran in and
cried, 'I'll never leave you, grandfather.' But he only smiled and said,
'I'll not be keeping you long, Glory, I'll not be keeping you long,' and
then I could have died for shame.
* * * * *
"Evening.--All afternoon he has been like a child, and everything present
to his consciousness seems to have been reversed. The shadow of eternity
appears to have wiped out time. When I have raised him up in bed he has
delighted to think he was a little boy in his young mother's arms. Oh,
sweet dream! The old man with his furrowed forehead and beautiful white
head and all the heavy years rolled back! More than once he has asked me
if he may play till bedtime, and I have stroked his wrinkled hands and
told him 'Yes,' for I pretend to be his mother, who died, when she was
"But the 'part' is almost too much for me, and, lest I should break down
under the strain of it, I am going out of his room constantly. I have
just been into his study. It is as full as ever of his squeezes and
rubbings and plaster casts and dusty old runes. He has spent all his life
away back in the tenth century, and now he is going farther, farther....
"Oh, I'm aweary, aweary! If anything happens to grandfather I shall soon
leave this place; there will be nothing to hold me here any longer, and
besides I could not bear the sight of these evidences of his gentle
presence, so simple, so touching. But what a vain thing London is with
all its vast ado--how little, how pitiful!
* * * * *
"Later.--It is all over! The curtain has fallen, and I am not crying. If
I did cry it would not be from grief, but because the end was so
beautiful, so glorious! It was at sunset, and the streamers of the sun
were coming horizontally into the room. He awoke from a long drowsiness,
and a serenity almost angelic overspread his face. I could see that he
was himself once again. Death had led him back through the long years
since he was a child, and he knew he was an old man and I a young woman.
'Have the boats gone yet?' he asked, meaning the herring boats that go at
sunset. I looked out and told him they were at the point of going. 'Let
me see them sail,' he said, so I slipped my arms about him and raised him
until he was sitting up and could see down the length of the harbour and
past the castle to the sea. The reflection of the sunlight was about his
silvery old head, and over the damps and chills of death it made a
radiance on his face like a light from heaven. There was hardly a breeze,
and the boats were dropping down from their berths with their brown sails
half set. 'Ah,' he said, 'it's the other way with me, Glory. I'm coming
in, not going out. I've been beating to windward all my life, but I see
the harbour on my lee-bow at last as plainly as I ever saw Peel, and now
I'm only waiting for the top of the tide and the master of the port to
run up the flag!'
"Then his head fell gently back on my arm and his lips changed colour,
but his eyes did not close, and over his saintly face there passed a
fleeting smile. Thus died a Christian gentleman--a simple, sunny, merry,
happy, childlike creature, and of such are the kingdom of heaven.
* * * * *
_Parson Quayle's Letter._
"Dear John: Before this letter reaches you, or perhaps along with it, you
will receive the news that tells you what it is. I am 'in,' John; I can
say no more than that. The doctor tells me it may be now or then or at
any time. But I am looking for my enlargement soon, and whether it comes
to-morrow sunset or with to-day's next tide I leave myself in His hands
in whose hands we all are. Well has the wise man said, 'The day of our
death is better than the day of our birth, so with all good will, and
what legacy of strength old age has left to me, I send you my last word
"My poor old daughters are sorely stricken, but Glory is still brave and
true, being, as she always was, a quivering bow of steel. People tell me
that the poor mother is strong in the girl, and the spirit of the
mother's race; but well I know the father's stalwart soul supports her;
and I pray God that when my dark hour comes her loving and courageous
arms may be around me.
"That brings me to the object of my letter. This living will soon be
vacant, and I am wondering who will follow in my feeble steps. It is a
sweet spot, John! The old church does not look so ill when the sun shines
on it, and in the summer-time this old garden is full of fruit and
flowers. Did I ever tell you that Glory was born here? I never had
another grandchild, and we were great comrades from the first. She was a
wise and winsome little thing, and I was only an old child myself, so we
had many a run and romp in these grounds together. When I try to think of
the place without her it is a vain effort and a painful one; and even
while she was away in your great and wicked Babylon, with its dangers and
temptations, her little ghost seemed to lurk at the back of every bush
and tree, and sometimes it would leap out on me and laugh.
"It is months since I saw your father, but they tell me he has lately
burned his bureau, making one vast bonfire of the gatherings of twenty
years. That is not such ill news either; and maybe, now the great ado
that worked such woe is put by and gone, he would rejoice to see you back
at home, and open his hungering arms to you.
"But my eyes ache and my pen is shaking. Farewell! Farewell! Farewell! An
old man leaves you his blessing, John. God grant that in his own good
time we may meet in a blessed paradise, rejoicing in his gracious mercy,
and all our sins forgiven!
Glory's letter and its inclosure fell on John Storm like rain in the face
of a man on horseback--he only whipped up and went faster.
"How can I find words," he wrote, "to express what I feel at your
mournful news? Yet why mournful? His life's mission was fulfilled, his
death was a peaceful victory, and we ought to rejoice that he was so
easily released. I trust you will not mourn too heavily for him, or allow
his death to stop your life. It would not be right. No trouble came near
his stainless heart, no shadow of sin; his old age was a peaceful day
which lasted until sunset. He was a creature that had no falsetto in a
single fibre of his being, no shadow of affectation. He kept like this
through all our complicated existence in this artificial world,
absolutely unconscious of the hollowness and pretension and sham that
surrounded him--tolerant, too, and kind to all. Then why mourn for him?
He is gathered in--he is safe.
"His letter was touching in its artful simplicity. It was intended to ask
me to apply for his living. But my duty is here, and London must make the
best of me. Yet more than ever now I feel my responsibility with regard
to yourself. The time is not ripe to advise you. I am on the eve of a
great effort. Many things have to be tried, many things attempted. It is
a gathering of manna--a little every day. To God's keeping and protection
meantime I commit you. Comfort your aunts, and let me know if there is
anything that can be done for them."
The ink of this letter was hardly dry when John Storm was in the middle
of something else. He was in a continual fever now. Above all, his great
scheme for the rescue and redemption of women and children possessed him.
He called it Glory's scheme when he talked of it to himself. It might be
in the teeth of nineteenth-century morality, but what matter about that?
It was on the lines of Christ's teaching when he forgave the woman and
shamed the hypocrites. He would borrow for it, beg for it, and there
might be conditions under which he would steal for it too.
Mrs. Callender shook her head.
"I much misdoubt there'll be scandal, laddie. It's a woman's work, I'm
"'Be thou as chaste as ice,' auntie, 'as pure as snow' ... but no matter!
I intend to call out the full power of a united Church into the warfare
against this high wickedness. Talk of the union of Christendom! If we are
in earnest about it we'll unite to protect and liberate our women."
"But where's the siller to come frae, laddie?"
"Anywhere--everywhere! Besides, I have a bank I can always draw on,
"You're no meaning the Prime Minister again, surely?"
"I mean the King of Kings. God will provide for me, in this, as in
Thus his reckless enthusiasm bore down everything, and at the back of all
his thoughts was the thought of Glory. He was preparing a way for her;
she was coming back to a great career, a glorious mission; her bright
soul would shine like a star; she would see that he had been right, and
faithful, and then--then----But it was like wine coursing through his
veins--he could not think of it.
Three thousand pounds had to be found to buy or build homes with, and he
set out to beg for the money. His first call was at Mrs. Macrae's. Going
up to the house, he met the lady's poodle in a fawn-coloured wrap coming
out in charge of a footman for its daily walk round the square.
He gave the name of "Father Storm," and after some minutes of waiting he
was told that the lady had a headache and was not receiving that day.
"Say the nephew of the Prime Minister wishes to see her," said John.
Before the footman had returned again there was the gentle rustle of a
dress on the stairs, and the lady herself was saying: "Dear Mr. Storm,
come up. My servants are real tiresome, they are always confusing names."
Time had told on her; she was looking elderly, and the wrinkles about her
eyes could no longer be smoothed out. But her "front" was curled, and she
was still saturated in perfume.
"I heard of your return, dear Mr. Storm," she said, in the languid voice
of the great lady, but the accent of St. Louis, as she led the way to the
drawing-room. "My daughter told me about it. She was always interested in
your work, you know.... Oh, yes, quite well, and having a real good time
in Paris. Of course, you know she has been married. A great loss to me
naturally, but being God's will I felt it was my duty as a mother----"
and then a pathetic description of her maternal sentiments, consoled by
the circumstance that her son-in-law belonged to "one of the best
families," and that she was constantly getting newspapers from "the other
side" containing full accounts of the wedding and of the dresses that
were worn at it.
John twirled his hat in his hand and listened.
"And what are your dear devoted people doing down there in Soho?"
Then John told of his work for working girls, and the great lady
pretended to be deeply interested. "Why, they'll soon be better than the
upper classes," she said.
John thought it was not improbable, but he went on to tell of his scheme,
and how small was the sum required for its execution.
"Only three thousand! That ought to be easily fixed up. Why, certainly!"
"Charity is the salt of riches, madam, and if rich people would remember
that their wealth is a trust----"
"I do--I always do. 'Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth'--what a
beautiful text _that_ is!"
"I'm glad to hear you say so, madam. So many Christian people allow that
God is the God of the widow and fatherless, while the gods they really
worship are the gods of silver and gold."
"But I love the dear children, and I like to go to the institution to see
them in their nice white pinafores making their curtsies. But what you
say is real true, Mr. Storm; and since I came from Sent Louis I've seen
considerable people who are that silly about cats----" and then a long
story of the folly of a lady friend who once had a pet Persian, but it
died, and she wore crape for it, and you could never mention a cat in her
At that moment the poodle came back from its walk, and the lady called it
to her, fondled it affectionately, said it was a present from her poor
dear husband, and launched into an account of her anxieties respecting
it, being delicate and liable to colds, notwithstanding the trousseau (it
was a lady poodle) which the fashionable dog tailor in Regent Street had
provided for it.
John got up to take his leave. "May I then count on your kind support on
behalf of our poor women and children of Soho?"
"Ah, of course, that matter--well, you see the Archdeacon kindly comes to
talk 'City' with me--in fact, I'm expecting him to-day--and I never do
anything without asking his advice, never, in my present state of
health--I have a weak heart, you know," with her head aside and her
saturated pocket-handkerchief at her nose. "But has the Prime Minister
"He has advanced me two thousand pounds."
"Really?" rising and kicking back her train. "Well, as I say, we ought to
fix it right away. Why not hold a meeting in my drawing-room? All
denominations, you say? I don't mind--not in a cause like that," and she
glanced round her room as if thinking it was always possible to disinfect
Somebody was coughing loudly in the hall as John stepped downstairs. It
was the Archdeacon coming in. "Ah," he exclaimed, with a flourish of the
hand, greeting John as if they had parted yesterday and on the best of
terms. Yes, there _had_ been changes, and he was promoted to a sphere of
higher usefulness. True, his good friends had looked for something still
higher, but it was the premier archdeaconry at all events, and in the
Church, as in life generally, the spirit of compromise ruled everything.
He asked what John was doing, and on being told he said, with a somewhat
more worldly air, "Be careful, my dear Storm, don't encourage vice. For
my part, I am tired of the 'fallen sister.' To tell you the truth, I deny
the name. The painted Jezebel of the Piccadilly pavement is no sister of
"We don't choose our relations, Archdeacon," said John. "If God is our
Father, then all men are our brothers, and all women are our sisters
whether we like it or not."
"Ah! The same man still, I see. But we will not quarrel about words. Seen
the dear Prime Minister lately? Not _very_ lately? Ah, well"--with a
superior smile--"the air of Downing Street--it's so bad for the memory,
they say," and coughing loudly again, he stepped upstairs.
John Storm went home that day light-handed but with a heavy heart.
"Begging is an ill trade on a fast day, laddie," said Mrs. Callender.
"Sit you down and tak' some dinner."
"How dare these people pray, 'Our Father which art in heaven?' It's
blasphemy! It's deceit!"
"Aye, and they would deceive God about their dividends if he couldn't see
into their safes."
"Their money is the meanest thing Heaven gives them. If I asked them for
their health or their happiness, Lord God, what would they say?"
On the Sunday night following John Storm preached to an overflowing
congregation from the text, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their
mouth and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."
But a few weeks afterward his face was bright and his voice was cheery,
and he was writing another letter to Glory:
"In full swing at last, Glory. To carry out my new idea I had to get
three thousand pounds more of my mother's money from my uncle. He gave it
up cheerfully, only saying he was curious to see what approach to the
Christian ideal the situation of civilization permitted. But Mrs.
Callender is _dour_, and every time I spend sixpence of my own money on
the Church she utters withering sarcasms about being only a 'daft auld
woman hersel',' and then I have to caress and coax her.
"The newspapers were facetious about my 'Baby Houses' until they scented
the Prime Minister at the back of them, and now they call them the 'Storm
Shelters,' and christen my nightly processions 'The White-cross Army.'
Even the Archdeacon has begun to tell the world how he 'took an interest'
in me from the first and gave me my title. I met him again the other day
at a rich woman's house, where we had only one little spar, and yesterday
he wrote urging me to 'organize my great effort,' and have a public
dinner in honour of its inauguration. I did not think God's work could be
well done by people dining in herds and drinking bottles of champagne,
but I showed no malice. In fact, I agreed to hold a meeting in the lady's
drawing-room, to which clergymen, laymen, and members of all
denominations are being invited, for this is a cause that rises above all
differences of dogma, and I intend to try what can be done toward a union
of Christendom on a social basis. Mrs. Callender is dour on that subject
too, reminding me that where the carcass is there will the eagles be
gathered together. The Archdeacon thinks we must have the meeting before
the twelfth of August, or not until after the middle of September, and
Mrs. Callender understands this to mean that 'the Holy Ghost always goes
to sleep in the grouse season.'
"Meantime my Girls' Club goes like a forest fire. We are in our renovated
clergy-house at last, and have everything comfortable. Two hundred
members already, chiefly dressmakers and tailors, and girls out of the
jam and match factories. The bright, merry young things, rejoicing in
their brief blossoming time between girlhood and womanhood. I love to be
among them and to look at their glistening eyes! Mrs. Callender blows
withering blasts on this head also, saying it is no place for a 'laddie,'
whereupon I lie low and think much but say nothing.
"Our great night is Sunday night after service. Yes, indeed, Sunday!
That's just when the devil's houses are all open round about us, and why
should God's house be shut up? It is all very well for the people who
have only one Sabbath in the week to keep it wholly holy--I have seven,
being a follower of Jesus, not of Moses. But the rector of the parish has
begun to complain of my 'intrusion,' and to tell the Bishop I ought to be
'mended or ended.' It seems that my 'doings' are 'indecent and
unnecessary,' and my sermons are 'a violation of all the sanctities, all
the modesties of existence.' Poor dumb dog, teaching the Gospel of Don't!
The world has never been reformed by 'resignation' to the evils of life,
or converted by 'silence' either.
"How I wish you were here, in the midst of it all! And--who
knows?--perhaps you will be some day yet. Do not trouble to answer
this--I will write again soon, and may then have something practical to
say to you. _Au revoir!_"
On the day of the drawing-room meeting a large company gathered in the
hall at Belgrave Square. Lady Robert Ure, back from the honeymoon,
received the guests for her mother, whose weak heart and a headache kept
her upstairs. Her husband stood aside, chewing the end of his mustache
and looking through his eyeglass with a gleam of amused interest in his
glittering eye. There were many ladies, all fashionably dressed, and one
of them wore a seagull's wing in her hat, with part of the root left
visible and painted red to show that it had been torn out of the living
bird. The men were nearly all clergymen, and the cut of their cloth and
the fashions of their ties indicated the various complexions of their
creeds. They glanced at each other with looks of embarrassment, and Mrs.
Callender, who came in like a breeze off a Scottish moor, said audibly
that she had never seen "sae many craws on one tree before." The
Archdeacon was there with his head up, talking loudly to Lady Robert. She
stood motionless in her place, never turning her head toward John Storm,
though it was plain that she was looking at him constantly. More than
once he caught an expression of pain in her face, and felt pity for her
as one of the brides who had acted the lie of marrying without love. But
his spirits were high. He welcomed everybody, and even bantered Mrs.
Callender when she told him she "objected to the hale thing," and said,
"Weel, weel, wait a wee."
The Archdeacon gave the signal and led the way with Lady Robert to the
drawing-room, where Mrs. Macrae, redolent of perfume, was reclining on a
sofa with the "lady poodle" by her side. As soon as the company were
seated the Archdeacon rose and coughed loudly.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "we have no assurance of a blessing
except 'Ask and ye shall receive.' Therefore, before we go further, it is
our duty, as brethren of a common family in Christ, to ask the blessing
of Almighty God on this enterprise."
There was a subdued rustle of drooping hats and bonnets, when suddenly a
thin voice was heard to say, "Mr. Archdeacon, may I inquire first who is
to ask the blessing?"
"I thought of doing so myself," said the Archdeacon with a meek smile.
"In that case, as a Unitarian, I must object to an invocation in which I
do not believe."
There was a half-suppressed titter from the wall at the back, where Lord
Robert Ure was standing with his face screwed up to his eyeglass.
"Well, if the name of our Lord is a stumbling block to our Unitarian,
brother, no doubt the prayer in this instance would be acceptable without
the customary Christian benediction."
"That's just like you," said a large man near the door, with whiskers all
round his face. "You've been trimming all your life, and now you are
going to trim away the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"If our Low-Church brother thinks he can do better----"
But John Storm intervened. He had looked icy cold, though the twitching
of his lower lip showed that he was red hot within.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said in a quavering voice, "I apologize for
bringing you together. I thought if we were in earnest about the union of
Christendom we might at least unite in the real contest with evil. But I
find it is a dream; we have only been trifling with ourselves, and there
is not one of us who wants the union of Christendom, except on the
condition that his rod shall be like Aaron's rod which swallowed up all
the rest. It was a mistake, and I beg your pardon."
"Yes, sir," said the Archdeacon, "it _was_ a mistake; and if you had
taken my advice from the first, and asked the blessing of God through
good High Churchmen alone----"
"God doesn't wait for any asking," said John, now flushing up to the
eyes. "He gives freely to High Churchmen, Low Churchmen, and No Churchmen
"If that is your opinion, sir, you are no better than some of your
friends, and for my part I will never darken your door again!"
"_Darken_ is a good word for it, Archdeacon," said John, and with that
the company broke up.
Mrs. Macrae looked like a thunder-cloud as John bowed to her on passing
out, but Mrs. Callender cried out in a jubilant voice, "Be skipper of
your ain ship, laddie!" and added (being two yards behind the
Archdeacon's broad back going down the stairs), "If some folks are to be
inheritors of the kingdom of heaven there'll be a michty crush at the
pearly gates, I'm thinking!"
John Storm went back to Soho with a heavy heart. Going up Victoria Street
he passed a crowd of ragged people who were ploughing their way through
the carriages. Two constables were taking a man and woman to the police
court in Rochester Row. The prisoners were Sharkey, the keeper of the
gambling house, and his wife the baby-farmer.
But within a week John Storm, in greater spirits than ever, was writing
to Glory again:
"The Archdeacon has deserted me, but no matter! My uncle has advanced me
another thousand of my mother's money, so the crusade is
_self_-supporting in one sense at all events. What a fool I am! Ask Aunt
Anna her opinion of me, or say old Chalse or the village natural--but
never mind! Folly and wisdom are relative terms, and I don't envy the
world its narrow ideas of either. You would be amused to see how the
women of the West End are taking up the movement--Lady Robert Ure among
the rest! They have banded themselves into a Sisterhood, and christened
our clergy-house a 'Settlement.' One of my Greek owners came in the other
evening to see the alterations. His eyes glistened at the change, and he
asked leave to bring a friend. I trust you are well and settling things
comfortably, and that Miss Macquarrie has gone. It is raining through a
colander here, but I have no time to think of depressing weather.
Sometimes when I cross our great squares, where the birds sing among the
yellowing leaves, my mind goes off to your sweet home in the sunshine;
and when I drop into the dark alleys and lanes, where the pale-faced
children play in their poverty and rags, I think of a day that is coming,
and, God willing, is now so near, when a ministering angel of tenderness
and strength will he passing through them like a gleam. But I am more
than ever sure that you do well to avoid for the present the pompous joys
of life in London, where for one happy being there are a thousand
pretenders to happiness."
On the Sunday night following, Crook Lane, outside the clergy-house, was
almost blocked with noisy people of both sexes. They were a detachment of
the "Skeletons," and the talk among them was of the trial of the
Sharkeys, which had taken place the day before. "They've 'ed six menths,"
said one. "And it's all along o' minjee parsons," said another; and
Charlie Wilkes, who had a certain reputation for humour, did a step-dance
and sang some doggerel beginning--
Father Storm is a werry good man,
'E does you all the 'arm 'e can.
Through this crowd two gentlemen pushed their way to the clergy-house,
which was brilliantly lit up. One of them was the Greek owner, the other
was Lord Robert Ure. Entering a large room on the ground floor, they
first came upon John Storm, in cassock and biretta, standing at the door
and shaking hands with everybody who came in and went out. He betrayed no
surprise, but greeted them respectfully and then passed them on. Every
moment of his time was occupied. The room was full of the young girls of
the district, with here and there a Sister out of another world entirely.
Some were reading, some conversing, some laughing, some playing a piano,
and some singing. Their voices filled the air like the chirping of birds,
and their faces were bright and happy. "Good-evening, Father," they said
on entering, and "Good-night, Father," as they went away.
The two men stood some minutes and looked round the room. It was observed
that Lord Robert did not remove his hat. He kept chewing the end of a
broken cigarette, whereof the other end hung down his chin. One of the
Sisters heard him say, "It will do with a little alteration, I think."
Then he went off alone, and the Greek owner stepped up to John Storm.
It was not at first that John could attend to him, and when he was able
to do so he began to rattle on about his own affairs. "See," he said with
a delighted smile and a wave of the arm, "see how crowded we are! We'll
have to think of taking in the next door soon."
"Father Storm," said the Greek, "I have something serious to say, though
the official notification will of course reach you by another channel."
John's face darkened as a ripe cornfield does when the sun dies away from
"I am sorry to tell you that the trustees, having had a favourable offer
for this property----"
"Well?" His great staring eyes had stopped the man.
"----have decided to sell."
"_Sell_? Did you say se----? To whom? What?"
"To tell you the truth, to the syndicate of a music hall."
John staggered back, breathing audibly. "Now if a man had to believe
that--Do you know if I thought such a thing _could_ happen----"
"I'm sorry you take the matter so seriously, Father Storm. It's true
you've spent money on the property, but, believe me, the trustees will
derive no profit----"
"Profit? Money? Do you suppose I'm thinking of that, and not of the
desecration, the outrage, the horror? But who are they? Is that
The Greek had nodded his head, and John flung open the door. "Out of
this! Out of it, you Judas!" And almost before the Greek had crossed the
threshold the door was banged at his back.
The incident had been observed, and there was dead silence in the
club-room, but John only cried, "Let's sing something, girls," and when a
Sister struck up his favourite Nazareth there was no voice so loud as
But he had realized everything. "Gloria" was coming back, and the work of
months was overthrown!
When he was going home groups of the girls were talking in whispers in
the hall, and Mrs. Pincher, who was wiping her eyes at the door, said, "I
wonder you don't drown yourself--I do!"
At the corner of the lane Mr. Jupe was waiting for him to beg his pardon
and to ask his advice. What he had said of Mrs. Jupe had turned out to be
true. The Sharkeys had "split" on her and she had been arrested. "It was
all in the evenin' pipers last night," the weak creature whimpered, "and
to-day my manager told me I 'ad best look out for another place. Oh, my
poor Lidjer! What am I to do?"
"Do? Cut her off like a rotten bough!" said John scornfully, and with
that he strode down the street. The human sea roared around him, and he
felt as if he wanted to fling himself into the midst of it and be
On reaching Victoria Square he told Mrs. Callender the news--flung it out
at her with a sort of triumphant shout. His church had been sold over his
head, and being only "Chaplain to the Greek-Turks," he was to be turned
into the streets. Then he laughed wildly, and by some devilish impulse
began to abuse Glory. "The next chaplain is to be a girl," he cried, "one
of those creatures who throw kisses at gaping crowds and sweep curtsies
for their dirty crusts."
But all at once he turned white as a ghost and sat down trembling. Mrs.
Callender's face was twitching, and to prevent herself from crying she
burst into scorching satire. "There!" she said, sitting in her
rocking-chair and rocking herself furiously, "I ken'd weel what it would
come til! Adversity mak's a man wise, they say, if it doesna mak' him
rich. But it's the Prime Minister I blame for this. The auld dolt! he
must be fallen to his dotage. It's enough to mak' a reasonable body go
out of her mind to think of sic wise asses. I told you what to expect,
but you were always miscalling me for a suspicious auld woman. Oh, it's a
thing ye'd no suspect; but Jane Callender is only a daft auld fool, ye
see, and doesna ken what she's saying!"
But at the next moment she had jumped up and flung her arms about John's
neck, and was crying over him like a girl. "Oh, my son! my ain son! And
is it for me to fling out at ye? Aye, aye, it's a heartless world,
He kissed the old woman, and then she tried to coax him to eat. "Come,
come, a wee bittie, just a wee bittie. We must eat our supper anyway."
"God seems dead and heaven a long way off!" he murmured.
"And a drap o' whisky will do no harm--a wee drappie."
"There's only one thing clear--God sees I'm unfit for the work, so he has
taken it away from me."
She turned aside from the table, and the supper was left untouched.
* * * * *
The first post next morning brought a letter from Glory.
"The Garden House,
"Clement's Inn, W. C.
"Forgive me! I have returned to town! I couldn't help it, I couldn't, I
couldn't! London dragged me back. What was I to do after everything was
settled and the aunties provided for?--assist in a dame's school and wage
war with pothooks and hangers? Oh! I was dying of weariness--dying,
"And then they made me such tempting offers. Not the music hall--don't
think that. I dare say you were quite right there. No, but the theatre,
the regular theatre! Mr. Drake has bought some broken-down old place, and
is to turn it into a beautiful theatre expressly for me. I am to play
Juliet. Only think--Juliet!--and in my own theatre! Already I feel like a
liberated slave who has crossed her Red Sea.
"And don't think a woman's mourning is like the silly old laws which
lasted but three days. _He_ is buried in my heart, not in the earth, and
I shall love him and revere him always! And then didn't you tell me
yourself it would not be right to allow his death to stop my life?
"Write and say you forgive me, John. Reply by return, and make yourself
your own postman--registered. You'll find me here at Rosa's. Come, come,
come! I'll never forgive you if you don't come soon--never, never!
A fortnight had passed, and John Storm had not yet visited Glory.
Nevertheless, he had heard of her from day to day through the medium of
the newspapers. Every morning he had glanced down the black columns for
the name that stood out from them as if its letters had been printed in
blood. The reports had been many and mysterious. First, the brilliant
young artiste, who had made such an extraordinary impression some months
before, had returned to London and would shortly resume the promising
career which had been interrupted by illness and family bereavement.
Next, the forthcoming appearance would be on the regular stage, and in a
Shakespearian character, which was always understood to be a crucial test
of histrionic genius. Then, the revival of Romeo and Juliet, which had
formerly been in contemplation, would probably give way to the still more
ambitious project of an entirely new production by a well-known
Scandinavian author, with a part peculiarly fitted to the personality and
talents of the _debutante_. Finally, a syndicate was about to be formed
for the purchase of some old property, with a view to its reconstruction
as a theatre, in the interests of the new play and the new player.
John Storm laughed bitterly. He told himself that Glory was unworthy of
the least of his thoughts. It was his duty to go on with his work and
think of her no more.
He had received his official notice to quit. The church was to be given
up in a month, the clergy-house in two months, and he believed himself to
be immersed in preparations for the rehousing of the club and home.
Twenty young mothers and their children now lived in the upper rooms,
under obedience to the Sisterhood, but Polly's boy had remained with Mrs.
Pincher. From time to time he had seen the little one tethered to a chair
by a scarf about its waist, creeping by the wall to the door, and there
gazing out on the world with looks of intelligence, and babbling to it in
various inarticulate noises. "Boo-loo! Lal-la! Mum-um!" The little dark
face had the eyes of its mother, but it represented Glory for all that.
John Storm loved to see it. He felt that he could never part with it, and
that if Lord Robert Ure himself came and asked for it he would bundle him
out of doors.
But a carriage drew up at Mrs. Callender's one morning, and Lady Robert
Ure stepped out. Her pale and patient face had the feeble and nervous
smile of the humiliated and unloved.
"Mr. Storm," she said in her gentle voice, "I have come on a delicate
errand. I can not delay any longer a duty I ought to have discharged
It was about Polly's baby. She had heard of what had happened at the
hospital; and the newspapers which had followed her to Paris, with
reports of her wedding, had contained reports of the girl's death also.
Since her return she had inquired about the child, and discovered that it
had been rescued by him and was now in careful keeping.
"But it is for me to look after it, Mr. Storm, and I beg of you to give
it up to me. Something tells me that God will never give me children of
my own, so I shall be doing no harm to any one, and my husband need never
know whose child it is I adopt. I promise you to be good to it. It shall
never leave me. And if it should live to be a man, and grow to love me,
that will help me to forget the past and to forgive myself for my own
share in it. Oh, it is little I can do for the poor girl who is
gone--for, after all, she loved him and I took him from her. But this is
my duty, Mr. Storm, and I can not sleep at night or rest in the day until
it is begun."
"I don't know if it is your duty, dear lady, but if you wish for the
child it is your right," said John Storm, and they got into the carriage
and drove to Soho.
"Boo-loo! Lal-la! Mum-um!" The child was tethered to the chair as usual
and talking to the world according to its wont. When it was gone and the
women on the doorsteps could see no more of the fine carriage of the
great lady who had brought the odour of perfume and the rustle of silk
into the dingy court, and Mrs. Pincher had turned back to the house with
red eyes and her widow's cap awry, John Storm told himself that
everything was for the best. The last link with Glory was broken! Thank
God for that! He might go on with his work now and need think of her no
That day he called at Clement's Inn.
The Garden House was a pleasant dwelling, fronting on two of its sides to
the garden of the ancient Inn of Chancery, and cosily furnished with many
curtains and rugs. The Cockney maid who answered the door was familiar in
a moment, and during the short passage from the hall to the floor above
she communicated many things. Her name was Liza; she had heard him
preach; he had made her cry; "Miss Gloria" had known her former mistress,
and Mr. Drake had got her the present place.
There was a sound of laughter from the drawing-room. It was Glory's
voice. When the door opened she was standing in the middle of the floor
in a black dress and with a pale face, but her eyes were bright and she
was laughing merrily. She stopped when John Storm entered and looked
confused and ashamed. Drake, who was lounging on the couch, rose and
bowed to him, and Miss Macquarrie, who was correcting long slips of
printer's proofs at a desk by the window, came forward and welcomed him.
Glory held his hand with her long hand-clasp and looked steadfastly into
his eyes. His face twitched and her own blushed deeply, and then she
talked in a nervous and jerky way, reproaching him for his neglect of
"I have been busy," he began, and then stopped with a sense of hypocrisy.
"I mean worried and tormented," and then stopped again, for Drake had
dropped his head.
She laughed, though there was nothing to laugh at, and proposed tea,
rattling along in broken sentences that were spoken with a tremulous
trill, which had a suggestion of tears behind it. "Shall I ring for tea,
Rosa? Oh, you _have_ rung for tea! Ah, here it comes!--Thank you, Liza.
Set it here," seating herself. "Now who says the 'girl'? Remember?" and
then more laughter.
At that moment there was another arrival. It was Lord Robert Ure. He
kissed Rosa's hand, smiled on Glory, saluted Drake familiarly, and then
settled himself on a low stool by the tea-table, pulled up the knees of
his trousers, relaxed the congested muscles of one half of his face, and
let fall his eyeglass.
Drake was handing out the cups as Glory filled them. He was looking at
her attentively, vexed at the change in her manner since John Storm
entered. When he returned to his seat on the sofa he began to twitch the
ear of her pug, which lay coiled up asleep beside him, calling it an ugly
little pestilence, and wondering why she carried it about with her. Glory
protested that it was an angel of a dog, whereupon he supposed it was now
dreaming of paradise--listen!--and then there were audible snores in the
silence, and everybody laughed, and Glory screamed.
"I declare, on my honour, my dear," said Drake with a mischievous look at
John, "the creature is uglier than the beast that did the business on the
day we eloped."
"Eloped!" cried Rosa and Lord Robert together.
"Why, did you never hear that Glory eloped with me?"
Glory was trying to drown his voice with hollow laughter.
"She was seven and I was six and a half, and she had proposed to me in
the orchard the day before!"
"Anybody have more tea? No? Some sally-lunn, perhaps?" and then more
"Hold your tongue, Glory! Nobody wants your tea! Let us hear the story,"
"Why, yes, certainly," said Lord Robert, and everybody laughed again.
"She was all for travel and triumphal processions in those days----"
Glory stopped her ears and began to sing:
Willy, Willy Wilkin,
Kissed the maid a-milkin'!
Fa, la la!
"There were so many things people could do if they wouldn't waste so much
Willy, Willy Wilkin
Kissed the maid----
"Glory, if you don't be quiet we'll turn you out!" and Rosa got up and
nourished her proofs.
"I had brought my dog, and when I called her a----"
But Glory had leaped to her feet and fled from the room. Drake had leaped
up also, and now, putting his back against the door, he raised his voice
and went on with his story.
"Somebody saved us, though, and she lay in his arms and kissed him all
the way home again."
Glory was strumming on the door and singing to drown his voice. When the
story was ended and she was allowed to come back she was panting and
gasping with laughter, but there were tears in her eyes for all that, and
Lord Robert was saying, with a sidelong look toward John Storm, "Really,
this ought to be a scene in the new Sigurdsen, don't you know!"
John had retired within himself during this nonsense. He had been feeling
an intense hatred of the two men, and was looking as gloomy as deep
water. "All acting, sheer acting," he thought, and then he told himself
that Glory was only worthy of his contempt. What could attract her in the
society of such men? Only their wealth, and their social station. Their
intellectual and moral atmosphere must weary and revolt her.
Rosa had to go to her newspaper office, and Drake saw her to the door.
John rose at the same time, and Glory said, "Going already?" but she did
not try to detain him. She would see him again; she had much to say to
him. "I suppose you were surprised to hear that I had returned to
London?" she said, looking up at his knitted brows.
He did not answer immediately, and Lord Robert, who was leaning against
the chimney-piece, said in his cold drawl, "Your friend ought to be happy
that you have returned to London, seems to me, my dear, instead of
wasting your life in that wilderness."
John drew himself up. "It's not London I object to," he said; "that was
inevitable, I dare say."
"The profession she has come back to follow."
"Why, what's amiss with the profession?" said Lord Robert, and Drake, who
returned to the room at the moment, said: "Yes, what's amiss with it?
Some of the best men in the world have belonged to it, I think."
"Tell me the name of one of them, since the world began, who ever lived
an active Christian life."
Lord Robert made a kink of laughter, and, turning to the window, began to
play a tune with his finger tips on the glass of a pane. Drake struggled
to keep a straight face, and answered, "It is not their role, sir."
"Very well, if that's too much to ask, tell me how many of them have done
anything in real life, anything for the world, for humanity--anything
whatever, I don't care what it is."
"You are unreasonable, sir," said Drake, "and such objections could as
properly apply to the professions of the painter and the musician. These
are the children of joy. Their first function is to amuse. And surely
amusement has its place in real life, as you say."
"On the contrary," said John, following his own thought, for he had not
listened, "how many of them have lived lives of reckless abandonment,
self-indulgence, and even scandalous license!"
"Those are abuses that apply equally to other professions, sir. Even the
Church is not free from them. But in the view of reasonable beings one
clergyman of evil life--nay, one hundred--would not make the profession
of the clergy bad."
"A profession," said John, "which appeals above all to the senses, and
lives on the emotions, and fosters jealousy and vanity and backbiting,
and develops duplicity, and exists on lies, and does nothing to encourage
self-sacrifice or to help suffering humanity, is a bad profession and a
"If a profession is sinful," said Drake, "in proportion as it appeals to
the senses, and lives on the emotions, and develops duplicity, then the
profession of the Church is the most sinful in the world, for it offers
the greatest temptations to lying, and produces the worst hypocrites and
"That," said John, with eyes flashing and passion vibrating in his
voice--"that, sir, is the great Liar's everlasting lie--and you know it!"
Glory was between them with uplifted hands. "Peace, peace! Blessed is the
peacemaker! But tea! Will nobody take more tea? Oh, dear! oh, dear! Why
can't we have tea over again?"
"I know what you mean, sir," said Drake. "You mean that I have brought
Glory back to a life of danger and vanity, and sloth and sensuality. Very
well. I deny your definition. But call it what you will, I have brought
her back to the only life her talents are fit for, and if that's all----"
"Would you have done the same for your own sister?"
"How dare you introduce my sister's name in this connection?"
"And how dare you resent it? What's good for one woman is good for
Glory was turning aside, and Drake was looking ashamed. "Of
course--naturally--all I meant," he faltered--"if a girl has to earn her
living, whatever her talents, her genius--that is one thing. But the
upper classes, I mean the leisured classes----"
"Damn the leisured classes, sir!" said John, and in the silence that
followed the men looked round, but Glory was gone from the room.
Lord Robert, who had been whistling at the window, said to Drake in a
cynical undertone: "The man is hipped and sore. He has lost his
challenge, and we ought to make allowances for him, don't you know."
Drake tried to laugh. "I'm willing to make allowances," he said lightly;
"but when a man talks to me as if--as if I meant to----" but the light
tone broke down, and he faced round upon John and burst out passionately:
"What right have you to talk to me like this? What is there in my
character, in my life, that justifies it? What woman's honour have I
betrayed? What have I done that is unworthy of the character of an
John took a stride forward and came face to face and eye to eye with him.
"What have you done?" he said. "You have used a woman as your decoy to
win your challenge, as you say, and you have struck me in the face with
the hand of the woman I love! That's what you've done, sir, and if it's
worthy of the character of an English gentleman, then God help England!"
Drake put his hand to his head and his flushed face turned pale. But Lord
Robert Ure stepped forward and said with a smile: "Well, and if you've
lost your church so much the better. You are only an outsider in the
ecclesiastical stud anyway. Who wants you? Your rector doesn't want you;
your Bishop doesn't want you. Nobody wants you, if you ask me."
"I don't ask you, Lord Robert," said John. "But there's somebody who does
want me for all that. Shall I tell you who it is? It's the poor and
helpless girl who has been deceived by the base and selfish man, and then
left to fight the battle of life alone, or to die by suicide and go
shuddering down to hell! That's who wants me, and, God willing, I mean to
stand by her."
"Damme, sir, if you mean _me_, let me tell you what _you_ are," said Lord
Robert, screwing up his eyeglass. "You"--shaking his head right and
left--"you are a man who takes delicately nurtured ladies out of
sheltered homes and sends them into holes and hovels in search of
abandoned women and their misbegotten children! Why"--turning to
Drake-"what do you think has happened? My wife has fallen under this
gentleman's influence--the poor simpleton!--and not one hour before I
left my house she brought home a child which he had given her to adopt.
Think of it!--out of the shambles of Soho, and God knows whose brat and
The words were hardly out of the man's mouth when John Storm had taken
him by both shoulders. "God _does_ know," he said, "and so do I! Shall I
tell you whose child that is? Shall I? It's yours!" The man saw it coming
and turned white as a ghost. "Yours! and your wife has taken up the
burden of your sin and shame, for she's a good woman, and you are not fit
to live on the earth she walks upon!"
He left the two men speechless and went heavily down the stairs. Glory
was waiting for him at the door. Her eyes were glistening after recent
"You will come no more?" she said. She could read him like a book. "I can
see that you intend to come no more."
He did not deny it, and after a moment she opened the door and he passed
out with a look of utter weariness. Then she went back to her room and
flung herself on the bed, face downward.
The men in the drawing-room were beginning to recover themselves. Lord
Robert was humming a tune, Drake pacing to and fro.
"Buying up his church to make a theatre for Glory was the very refinement
of cruelty!" said Drake. "Good heavens! what possessed me?"
"Original sin, dear boy!" said Lord Robert, with a curl of the lip.
"Original? A bad plagiarism, you mean!"
"Very well. If _I_ helped you to do it, shall I help you to give it up?
Withdraw the prospectus and return the deposits on shares--the dear
Archdeacon's among the rest."
Drake took up his hat and left the house. Lord Robert followed him
presently. Then the drawing-room was empty, and the hollow sound of
sobbing came down to it from the bedroom above.
* * * * *
Father Storm read prayers in church that night with a hard and absent
heart. A terrible impulse of hate had taken hold of him. He hated Drake,
he hated Glory, he hated himself most of all, and felt as if seven devils
had taken possession of him, and he was a hypocrite, and might fall dead
at the altar.
"But what a fate the Almighty has saved me from!" he thought. Glory would
have been a drag on his work for life. He must forget her. She was only
worthy of his contempt. Yet he could not help but remember how beautiful
she had looked in her mourning dress, with that pure pale face and its
signs of suffering! Or how charming she had seemed to him even in the
midst of all that deception! Or how she had held him as by a spell!
Going home he came upon a group of men in the Court. One of them planted
himself full in front and said with an insolent swagger: "Me and my mytes
thinks there's too many parsons abart 'ere. What do you think, sir?"
"I think there are more gamblers and thieves, my lad," he answered, and
at the next instant the man had struck him in the face. He closed with
the ruffian, grappled him by the throat, and flung him on his back. One
moment he held him there, writhing and gasping, then he said, "Get up,
and get off, and let me see no more of you!"
"No, sir, not this time," said a voice above his back. The crowd had
melted away and a policeman stood beside them. "I've been waiting for
this one for weeks, Father," he said, and he marched the man to jail.
It was Charlie Wilkes. At the trial of Mrs. Jupe that morning, Aggie,
being a witness, had been required to mention his name. It was all in the
evening papers, and he had been dismissed from his time-keeping at the
A week passed. Breakfast was over at Victoria Square, and John Storm was
glancing at the pages of a weekly paper. "Listen!" he cried, and then
read aloud in a light tone of mock bravery which broke down at length
into a husky gurgle:
"'The sympathy which has lately been evoked by the announcement that a
proprietary church in Soho has been sold for secular uses, is creditable
to public sentiment----'"
"Think of that, now!" interrupted Mrs. Callender.
"'----and no doubt the whole community will agree to hope that Father
Storm will recover from the irritation natural to his eviction----'"
"Aye, we can all get over another body's disappointment, laddie."
"'But there is a danger that in this instance the altruism of the time
may develop a sentimentality not entirely good for public morals----'"
"When the ox is down there are lots of butchers, ye ken!"
"'With the uses to which the fabric is to be converted, it is no part of
our purpose to deal, further than to warn the public not to lend an ear
to the all too prurient purity of the amateur moralist; but considering
the character of the work now carried on in Soho, no doubt with the best
"Aye, aye, it's easy to steal the goose and give the giblets in alms."
"'----it behooves us to consider if the community is not to be
congratulated on its speedy and effectual ending. Father Storm is a young
man of some talents and social position, but without any special
experience or knowledge of the world--in fact a weak, oversanguine, and
rather foolish fanatic----'"
"Oh, aye, he's down; down with him!"
"'----and therefore it is monstrous that he should be allowed to subvert
the order of social life or disturb the broad grounds of the reasonable
and the practical----'"
"Never mind. High winds only blaw on high hills, laddie!"
"'----As for the "fallen sister" whom he has taken under his special care,
we confess to a feeling that too much sympathy has been wasted on her
already. Her feet take hold of hell, her house is the way of the grave,
going down to the chamber of death----'"
Mrs. Callender leaped to her feet. "That's the 'deacon-man; I ken the
John Storm had flung the paper away. "What a cowardly world it is!" he
said. "But God wins in the end, and by God he shall!"
"Tut, man! don't tak' on like that. You can't climb the Alps on
roller-skates, you see! But as for the Archdeacon, pooh! I'm no windy
aboot your 'Sisters' and 'Settlements' and sic like, but if there had
been society papers in the Lord's time, Simon the Pharisee would have
been a namby-pamby critic compared to some of them."
A moment afterward she was looking out of the window and holding up both
hands. "My gracious! It's himsel'! It's the Prime Minister!"
A gaunt old gentleman with a meagre mustache, wearing a broad-brimmed hat
and unfashionable black clothes, was stepping up to the door.
"Yes, it's my uncle!" said John, and the old lady fled out of the room to
change her cap.
"I have heard what has happened, John, so I have come to see you," said
the Prime Minister.
Was he thinking of the money? John felt uneasy and ashamed.
"I'm sorry, my boy, very sorry!"
"Thank you, uncle."
"But it all comes, you see, of the ridiculous idea that we are a
Christian nation! Such a thing couldn't have occurred at the shrine of a
"It was only a proprietary church, uncle. I was much to blame."
"I do not deny that you have acted unwisely, but what difference does
that make, my boy? To sell a church seems like the climax of irreverence;
but they are doing as bad every day. If you want to see what times the
Church has fallen on, look at the advertisements in your religious
papers--your Benefice and Church Patronage Gazette, and so forth. A
traffic, John, a slave traffic, worse than anything in Africa, where they
sell bodies, not souls!"
"It is a crime which cries to the avenging anger of Heaven," said John;
"but it is the Establishment that is to blame, not the Church, uncle."
"We are a nation of money-lenders, my boy, and the Church is the worst
usurer of them all, with its learned divines in scarlet hoods, who hold
shares in music halls, and its Fathers in God living at ease and leasing
out public-houses. _You_ have been lending money on usury too, and on a
bad security. What are you going to do now?"
"Go on with my work, uncle, and do two hours where I did one before."
"And get yourself kicked where you got yourself kicked before!"
"Why not? If God puts ten pounds on a man, he gives him strength to bear
"John, John, I am feeling rather sore, and I can't bear much more of it.
I'm growing old, and my life is rather lonely too. Except your father,
you are my only kinsman now, and it seems as if our old family must die
with you. But come, my boy, come, throw up all this sorry masquerade.
Isn't there a woman in the world who can help me to persuade you? I don't
care who she is, or what, or where she comes from."
John had coloured to the eyes, and was stammering something about the
true priest cut off from earthly marriage, therefore free to commit
himself completely to his work, when Mrs. Callender came back, spruce and
smart, with many smiles and curtsies. The Prime Minister greeted her with
the same old-fashioned courtesy, and they cooed away like two old doves,
until a splendid equipage drove up to the door, and the plain old
gentleman drove away in it.
"Wasn't he nice with me? wasn't he, now?" the old lady kept saying, and
John being silent--"Tut! you young men are just puir loblollyboys with a
leddy when the auld ones come."
Going to Soho that day John Storm felt a sudden thrill at seeing on the
street in front of him, walking in the same direction, an elderly figure
in cassock and cord. It was the Father Superior of the Brotherhood. John
overtook him and greeted him.
"Ah, I was on my way to see you, my son."
"Then you have heard what has happened?"
"Yes, Satan's shafts fly fast." Then taking John's arm as they walked,
"Earthly blows are but reminders of Him, my son, like the hair shirt of
the monk, and this trouble of yours is God's reminder of your broken
obedience. What did I tell you when you left us--that you would come back
within a year? And you will! Leave the world, my son. It treats you
badly. The human spirit reigns over it, and even the Church is a
Christian society out of the sphere and guidance of the Divine Spirit.
Leave it and return to your unfinished vows."
John shook his head and took the Father into the clergy-house, where the
girls were gathering for the evening. "How can I leave the world, Father,
when there's work like this to do? Society presents to a large proportion
of these bright creatures the alternative, 'Sell yourself or starve.' But
God says, 'Live, work, and love.' Therefore society is doomed, and that
dead man's sepulchre, the Establishment, is doomed, but the Church will
live, and become the corner-stone of the new order, and stand between
woman and the world, as it stood of old between the poor and the rich."
The Father preached for John that night, taking for his text "The flesh
lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." And on
parting from him at the door of the sacristy he said: "Religious work can
only be good, my son, if it concerns itself first of all with the
salvation of souls. Now what if it pleased God to remove you from all
this--to call you to a work of intercession--say, to the mission field?"
John's face turned pale. "There can be no need to fly," he said, with a
frightened look. "Surely London is a mission field wide enough for any
"Yet who knows? Perhaps for your own soul's sake, lest vanity should take
hold of you, or the love of fame, or--or any of the snares of Satan! But
good-bye, and God be with you!"
When John Storm reached home he found a letter awaiting him. It was from
"Are you dead and buried? If so, send me word, that I may compose your
epitaph. 'Here lies--_Lies_ is good, for though you didn't promise to
come back you ought to have done so; therefore it comes to the same thing
in the end. You must not think too ill of Mr. Drake. I call him the milk
of human kindness, and his friend Lord Robert the oil thereof--I mean the
oil of vitriol. But his temper is like the Caspian Sea, having neither
ebb nor flow, while yours is like the Bay of Biscay--oh, so I can't
expect you to agree. As for poor me, I may be guilty of all the seven
deadly sins, but I can't see why I should be boycotted on that account.
There is something I didn't know when you were here, and I want to
explain about it. Therefore come 'right away' (Lord Bob, Americanized).
Being slow to anger and plenteous in mercy, I will forgive you if you
come soon. If you don't, I'll--I'll go on the bike--feminine equivalent
to the drink. To tell you the truth, I've done so already, having been
careering round the gardens of the Inn during the early hours of morning,
clad in Rosa's 'bloomers,' in which I make a picture and a sensation at
the same time, she being several sizes larger round the hips, and
fearfully and wonderfully made. If that doesn't fetch you I'll go in for
boxing next, and in a pair of four-ounce gloves I'll cut a _striking_
figure, I can tell you.
"But, John Storm, have you cast me off entirely? Do you intend to abandon
me? Do you think there is no salvation left for me? And are you going to
let me sink in all this mire without stretching out a hand to help me?
Oh, dear! oh, dear! I don't know what has come over the silly old world
since I came back to London. Think it must be teething, judging by the
sharpness of its bite, and feel as if I should like to give it a dose of
syrup of squills."
As John read the letter his eyelids quivered and his mouth relaxed. Then
he glanced at it again, and his face clouded.
"I can not leave her entirely to the mercy of men like these," he
This innocent daring, this babelike ripping up of serviceable
conventions--God knows what advantage such men might take of it. He must
see her once again, to warn, to counsel her. It was his duty--he must not
shrink from it.
* * * * *
It had been a day of painful impressions to Glory. Early in the morning
Lord Robert had called to take her to the "reading" of the new play. It
took place in the saloon of an unoccupied Strand theatre, of which the
stage also had been engaged for rehearsal. The company were gathered
there, and, being more or less experienced actors and actresses, they
received her with looks of courteous indulgence, as one whose leading
place must be due to other things than talent. This stung her; she felt
her position to be a false one, and was vexed that she had permitted Lord
Robert to call for her. But her humiliation had yet hardly begun.
While they stood waiting for the manager, who was late, a gorgeous person
with a waxed mustache and in a fur-lined coat, redolent of the mixed
odour of perfume and stale tobacco, forced his way up to her and offered
his card. She knew the man in a moment.
"I'm Josephs," he said in a confidential undertone, "and if there's
anything I can do for you--acting management--anything--it vill give me
Glory flushed up and said, "But you don't seem to remember, sir, that we
have met before."
The man smiled blandly. "Oh, yes. I've kept track of you ever since and
know all about you. You hadn't made your appearance then, and naturally I
couldn't do much. But now--_now_ if you vill give me de pleesure----"
"Then an agent is one who can do nothing for you when you want help, but
when you don't want it----"
The man laughed to carry off his audacity. "Veil, you know vhat they say
of us--agent from _agere_,'to do,' and we're always 'doing.' Ha, ha! But
if you are villing to let bygones he bygones, I am, and velcome."
Glory's face was crimson. "Will somebody go for the stage doorkeeper?"
she said, and one of the company went out on that errand. Then, raising
her voice so that everybody listened, she said: "Mr. Josephs, when I was
quite unknown, and trying to get on, and finding it very hard, as we all
do, you played me the cruellest trick a man ever played on a woman. I
don't owe you any grudge, but, for the sake of every poor girl who is
struggling to live in London, I am going to turn you out of the house."
The stage doorkeeper had entered. "Porter, do you see this gentleman? He
is never to come into this theatre again as long as we are here, and if
he tries to force his way in you are to call a policeman and have him
bundled back into the street!"
"Daddle doo," and the waxed mustache over the grinning mouth seemed to
cut the face across.
When Josephs had gone Glory could see that the looks of indulgence on the
faces of the company had gone also. "She'll do!" said one. "She's got the
stuff in her!" said another, but Glory herself was now quaking with fear,
and her troubles were not yet ended.
A little stout gentleman entered hurriedly with a roll of papers in his
hand. He stepped up to Lord Robert, apologized for being late, and mopped
his bald crown and red face. It was Sefton.
"This is to be our manager," said Lord Robert, and Mr. Sefton bobbed his
head, winked with both eyes, and said, "Charmed, I'm sure--charmed!"
Glory could have sunk into the earth for shame, but in a moment she had
realized the crushing truth that when a woman has been insulted in the
deepest place--in her honour--the best she can do is to say nothing
The company seated themselves around the saloon, and the reading began.
First came the list of characters, with the names of the cast. Glory's
name and character came last, and her nerves throbbed with sudden pain
when the manager read, "and _Gloria_--Miss Glory Quayle."
There was a confused murmur, and then the company composed themselves to
listen. It was Gloria's play. She was rather scandalous. After the first
act Glory thought it was going to be the story of Nell Gwynne in modern
life; after the second, of Lady Hamilton; and after the third, in which
the woman wrecks and ruins the first man in the country, she knew it was
only another version of the Harlot's Progress, and must end as that had
The actors were watching their own parts, and pointing and punctuating
with significant looks the places where the chances came, but Glory was
overwhelmed with confusion. How was she to play this evil woman? The
poison went to the bone, and to get into the skin of such a creature a
good woman would have to dispossess herself of her very soul. The reading
ended, every member of the company congratulated some other member on the
other's opportunities, and Sefton came up to Glory to ask if she did not
find the play strong and the part magnificent.
"Yes," she said; "but only a bad woman could play that part properly."
"_You'll_ do it, my dear, you'll do it on your own!" he answered gaily,
and she went home perplexed, depressed, beaten down, and ashamed.
A newspaper had been left at the door. It was a second-rate theatrical
journal, still damp from the press. The handwriting on the wrapper was
that of Josephs, and there was a paragraph marked in blue pencil. It
pretended to be a record of her short career, and everything was in
it--the programme selling, the dressing, the foreign clubs--all the
refuse of her former existence, set in a sinister light and leaving the
impression of an abject up-bringing, as of one who had been _in_ the
streets if not on them.
Well, she had chosen her life and must take it at its own price. But, oh,
the cruelty of the world to a woman, when her very success could be her
shame! She felt that the past had gripped her again--the pitiless
past--she could never drag herself out of the mire.
That night she wrote to John Storm, and next morning before Rosa had
risen--her duties kept her up late--she heard a voice downstairs. Her dog
also heard it and began to bark. At the next moment John was in the room
and she was laughing up into his splendid black eyes, for he had caught
her down at the sofa holding the pug's nose and trying to listen.
"Is it you? It's so good of you to come early! But this, dog"--breaking
into the Manx dialect--"she's ter'ble, just ter'ble!" Then rising and
looking serious: "I wished to tell you that I knew nothing about the
church, nothing whatever. If I'd had the least idea... but they told me
nothing--it was very wrong--nothing. And the first thing I knew was when
I saw it in all the newspapers."
He was leaning on the end of the mantelpiece. "If they deceived you like
that, how can you go on with them?"
"You mean" (she was leaning on the other end, and speaking falteringly),
"you mean that I ought to give it all up. But it's too late for that now.
It was too late when I came to know. Besides, it would do no good; you
would be in the same position still, and as for me--well, somebody else
would have the theatre, so where's the use?"
"I was thinking of the future, Glory, not the past. People who deceive us
once are capable of doing so again."
She was breaking down, and he turned his eyes away from her, saying,
"Well, it's all over now, and there's no help for it."
"No, there's no help for it."
He tried to think what he had come to say, but do what he would he could
not remember. The moment he looked at her the thread of his thoughts was
lost, and the fragrance of her presence, so sweet, so close, made him
feel as if he wanted to touch her. There was an awkward silence, and then
he fidgeted with his hat and moved.
"Are you going so soon?"
"I'm busy, and----"
"Yes, you must be busy now."
"And then why--why should we prolong a painful interview, Glory?"
She shot up a look under her eyebrows. His eyes had a harassed
expression, but there was a gleam in them that set her heart beating.
"Is it so painful? Is it?"
"Glory, I meant to tell you I could not come again."
"No! You're not so busy as all that, are you? Surely" (the Manx again,
only she seemed to be breathless now)--"surely you're not so ter'ble busy
but you can just put a sight on a girl now and again for all?"
He made a gesture with his hand. "It disturbs, it distracts----"
"Oh, is that all? Then," with a forced laugh, "I'll come to see you
instead. Yes, I will, though."
"No, you mustn't do that, Glory. It would only torment----"
"Torment! Gough bless me! Why torment?" and a fugitive flame shot up at
"Because"--he stammered, and she could see that his lips quivered; then
calmly, very calmly, pronouncing the words slowly, and in a voice as cold
as ice--"because I love you!"
"Didn't you know that?" His voice was guttural. "Haven't you known it all
along? What's the use of pretending? You've dragged it out of me. Was
that only to show your power over me?"
She had heard what her heart wanted to hear, and not for worlds would she
have missed hearing it, yet she was afraid, and trembling all over.
"We two are of different natures, Glory, that's the trouble between
us--now, and always has been. We have nothing in common, absolutely
nothing. You have chosen your path in life, and it is not my path. I have
chosen mine, and it is not yours. Your friends are not my friends. We are
two different beings altogether, and yet--and yet I love you! And that's
why I can not come again."
It was sweet, but it was terrible. So different from what she had dreamed
of: "I love you!--you are my soul!--I can not live without you!" Yet he
was right. She had slain his love before it was born to her--it was born
dead. In an unsteady voice, which had suddenly become husky, she said:
"No doubt you are right. I must leave you to judge. Perhaps you have
thought it all out."
"Don't suppose it will be easy for me, Glory. I've suffered a good deal,
and I dare say I shall suffer more yet. If so, I'll bear it. But for the
sake of my work----"
"Ah!--But of course I can't expect--Naturally you love your work
"I _do_ love my work also, and therefore it's no use trifling. 'If thine
She was stung. "Well, since there's no help for it, I suppose we must
shake hands and part."
Not until then--not until he had pronounced his doom and she had accepted
it did he realize how beautiful she seemed to him. He felt as if
something in his throat wanted to cry out.
"It isn't what I expected, Glory--what I dreamed of for years."
"But it's best--it seems best."
"I tried to make a place for you, too, but you wouldn't have it--you let
it go; you preferred this other lot in life."
She remembered Josephs, and Sefton, and the newspaper, and the part, and
she covered her face with her hands.
"How can I go on, Glory, to the peril of my--It's dangerous, even
"Yes, you are a clergyman and I am an actress. You must think of that.
People are so ignorant, so cruel, and I dare say they are talking
"Do you think I should care for that, Glory?" Her hands came down from
her face. "Do you think I should care one jot if all the miserable
scandal-mongering world thought----"
"You'll think the best of me, then?"
"I'll think of both of us as we used to be, my child, before the world
came between us, before you----"
She was fighting against an impulse to fling herself into his arms, but
she only said in a soft voice: "You are quite right, quite justified. I
have chosen my lot in life, and must make the best of it."
"Well----" He was holding out his hand.
But nevertheless she put her hand behind her, thinking: "No; if I shake
hands with him it will be the end of everything."
"Good-bye!" and with an expression of utter despair he left her.
She did not cry, and when Rosa came down immediately afterward she was
smiling and her eyes were very bright.
"Was that your friend Mr. Storm? Yes? You must beware of him, my dear. He
would stop your career and think he was doing God's service."
"There's no danger of that, Rosa. He only came to say he would come no
more," and then something flashed in her eyes and died away, and then
"Yes," thought Rosa, "there's an extraordinary attraction about her that
makes all other women seem tame." And then Rosa remembered somebody else,
* * * * *
John Storm went back to Soho by way of Clare Market, and when people
saluted him in the streets with "Good-morning, Father," he did not answer
because he did not see them. On going to church that night he came upon a
group of Charlie's cronies betting six to one against his getting off,
and a girl in gay clothes was waiting to speak to him. It was Aggie. She
had come to plead for Charlie.
"It's the drink, sir. 'E's a good boy when 'e's not drinking. But I ask
pardon for 'im; and if you would only not prosecute----"
John was ashamed of himself at sight of the girl's fidelity to her
"And you, my child--what about you?"
"Oh, I'm all right. What's broken can't be mended."
And meanwhile the church bells were ringing and the cabs were running to
The rehearsals began early in the morning and usually lasted until late
in the afternoon. Glory found them wearisome, depressing, and often
humiliating. The body of the theatre was below the level of the street,
and in the daytime was little better than a vast vault. If she entered by
the front she stumbled against seats and saw the figures of men and women
silhouetted in the distance, and heard the echo of cavernous voices. If
by the back, she came upon the prompter's table set midway across the
stage, with a twin gas-bracket shooting up behind it like a geyser, and
an open space of some twenty feet by twenty in front whereon the
imaginary passions were to disport themselves at play.
Glory found real ones among them, and they were sometimes in hideous
earnest. Jealousy, envy, uncharitableness, and all the rancour of life
where the struggle for it is bitterest, attempts to take advantage of her
inexperience, to rob her of the best positions on the stage, to cut out
her lines which "scored"--these, with the weary waits, the half darkness,
the chill atmosphere, the void in front, with its seats in linen covers,
suggesting an audience of silent ghosts, and then the sense of the
bright, busy, bustling, rattling, real world above, sent her home day
after day with a headache, a heartache, and tears bubbling out of her
And when she had conquered these conditions, or settled down to them, and
had made such progress with her part as to throw away her scrip, the old
horror of the woman she was to make herself into, came back as a new
terror. The visionary Gloria was very proud and vain and selfish, and
trampled everything under foot that she might possess the world and the
things of the world.