Part 9 out of 12
Meantime the real Gloria had a far different part to play. Every morning,
with a terrible reality at her heart, she glanced over the newspapers for
news of John Storm. She had not far to look. A sort of grotesque romance
had gathered about him, as of a modern Don Quixote tilting at windmills.
His name was the point of a pun; there were cartoons, caricatures, and
all other forms of the joke that is not a joke because it is an insult.
Sometimes she took stolen glances at his work. On Sunday morning she
walked through Soho, past the people sitting on their doorsteps reading
the sporting intelligence in the Sunday papers, with their larks in cages
hung on nails, overhead, until she came to the church, and heard the
singing inside, and saw chalked up on the walls the legend, "God bless
"Strange charge against a clergyman!" It was a low-class paper, and the
charge was a badge of honour. A young ruffian (it was Charles Wilkes) had
been brought up on remand on a charge of assaulting Father Storm, and
being sentenced to a week's imprisonment, notwithstanding the Father's
appeal and offer of bail, he had accused the clergyman of relations with
his sweetheart (it was Agatha Jones).
Glory's anger at the world's treatment of John Storm deepened to a great
love of the misunderstood and downtrodden man. She saw an announcement of
his last service, and determined to go to it. The church was crowded,
chiefly by the poor, and the air was heavy with the smell of oranges and
beer. It was a week-day evening, and when the choir came in, followed by
John Storm in his black cassock, Glory could not help a thrill of
physical joy at being near him.
The text was, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outside,
but are within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness!" The first
half of the, sermon was a denunciation of the morality of men. We made
clean the outside of the platter, but the so-called purity of England was
a smug sham built upon rottenness and sin! There were men among us,
damned sensualists, left untouched by the idleness of the public
conscience, who did not even know where their children were to be found.
Let them go down into the gutters of life and look for their own faces,
and--God forgive them!--their mothers' faces, among the outcast and the
criminal. The second half was a defence of woman. The sins of the world
against women were the most crying wrongs of the time. Had they ever
reflected on the heroism of women, on their self-denying, unrewarded
labour? Oh, why was woman held so cheap as in this immoral London of
to-day? There had been scarcely a breach of the law of Nature by women,
and not one that men were not chiefly to blame for. Men tempted them by
love of dress, of ease, of money, and of fame, to forget their proper
vocation; but every true woman came right in the end, and preferred to
the false and fictitious labour for worldly glory, a mother's silent and
unseen devotion, counting it no virtue at all. "Yes, women, mothers,
girls, in your hands lies the salvation of England. May you live in this
prospect, and may God and his ever-blessed Mother be your reward all
through this weary life and in glory everlasting!"
There was a procession with banners, cross, stars, green and blue
fleur-de-lis, but Glory saw none of it. She was kneeling with her head
down and heart choked with emotion. The next she knew the service was
over, the congregation was gone; only one old woman in widow's weeds was
left, jingling a bunch of keys.
"Has the Father gone?"
"No, ma'am; he is still in the sacristy."
"Show me to it."
At the next moment, with fluttering throat and a look of mingled love and
awe, she was standing eye to eye with John Storm in the little bare
chamber off the church.
"Glory, why do you come here?"
"I can't help it."
"But we said good-bye and parted."
"You did. I didn't. It was not so easy----"
"Easy? I told you it wouldn't be easy, my child, and it hasn't been. I
said I should suffer, and I have suffered. But I've borne it--you see
I've borne it. Don't ask me at what cost."
"Oh, oh, oh!" and she covered her face.
"Yes, the devil tortured me with love first. I was seeing you and hearing
you everywhere and in everything, Glory. But I got over that, and then he
tortured me with remorse. I had left you to the mercy of the world. It
was my duty to watch over you. I did it, too."
She glanced up quickly.
"Ah, you never knew that, but no matter! It's all over now, and I'm a
different man entirely. But why do you come and torment me again? It's
nothing to you, nothing at all. You can shake it off in a moment. That's
your nature, Glory; you can't help it. But have you no pity? You find me
here, trying to help the helpless--the brave girls who have the virtue to
be poor, and the strength to be weak, and the courage to be friendless.
Why can't you leave me alone? What am I to you? Nothing at all! You care
nothing for me--nothing whatever."
She glanced up again, and the look of love in her eyes was stronger now
than the look of awe. He saw it and could not help knowing how strongly
it worked upon his feelings.
"Go back to your own world, unhappy girl! You love it--you must; you
have sacrificed the best impulses of your heart to it!"
She was smiling now. It was the old radiant smile, but with a gleam of
triumph in it that he had never seen before. It worked like madness upon
him, and he tried to insult her again.
"Go back to your own company, to the people who _play_ at real life, and
build toy houses, and give themselves away body and soul for the clapping
of hands in a theatre! Go back to the lies and hypocrisies of society,
and the brainless, mashers who adorn it! They dance superbly, and are at
home in drawing-rooms, and know all about sporting matters and theatrical
affairs! I know none of these things, and I am kicked and cuffed and
ridiculed and hounded down as an indecent man or shunned as a moral leper
I Why do you come to me?" he cried, hoarse and husky.
But she only stretched out her hands to him and said, "Because I love
"What are you saying?" He was quivering with pain.
"I love you, and have always loved you, and you love me--you know you
do--you love me still!"
"For God's sake! Glory!"
With a wild shout of joy he rushed upon her, flung his arms about her,
and covered her face and hands with kisses. After a moment he whispered,
"Not here, not here!" and she felt too that the room was suffocating
them, and they must go out into the open air, the fields, the park.
Somebody was knocking at the door. It was Mrs. Pincher. A man was waiting
to speak to the Father. They found him in the lane. It was Jupe, the
waiter. His simple face wore a strange expression of joy and fear, as if
he wished to smile and dare not.
"My pore missis 'as got off and wants to come 'ome, sir, and I thought as
you'd tell me what I oughter do."
"Take her back and forgive her, my man, that's the Christian course."
His love was now boundless; his large charity embraced everything, and
going off he saluted everybody. "Good-evening, Mrs. Pincher.--Good-night,
"Well, 'e _is_ a Father, too, and no mistake!" somebody was saying behind
him as he went away with Glory.
The moon was at the full, and while they were passing through the streets
it struggled with the gas from the shop windows as the flame of a fire
struggles with the sunshine, but when they passed under the trees it
shone out in its white splendour like a bride. The immeasurable vault
above was silvered with stars, too, through depth on depth of space, and
all the glorious earth and heaven seemed to smile the smile of love. A
strong south breeze was blowing, and as it shook the trees of the park,
that blessed patch of Nature in the midst-of the toiling city seemed to
sing the song of love!
Their hands found each other and they walked along almost in silence,
afraid to break the spell of their dream lest they should awake and find
it gone. It seemed wonderful to him that they were together, and he could
hardly believe it was reality, though the touch of her hand filled him
with a strange physical exultation which he had never felt before. He
seemed to be walking on the clouds, and she too was swaying by his side
as if her blood was dancing. Sometimes she dried her glistening eyes, and
once she stopped and swung in front of him and looked long at him and
then raised her face to his and kissed him.
"Whether you like it or not your life is bound up with mine for ever and
ever!" she whispered.
"It had to be," he answered. "I know it now. I can no longer deceive
"And we shall be happy? In spite of all you said we shall be very happy,
"Yes, that will be quite forgotten, Glory."
"And forgiven," she said, and then between a sigh and a blush she asked
him to kiss her again.
The wind swept the hood of her cape about her head and he could smell the
fragrance of her hair.
He tried to think what he had done to deserve such happiness, but all the
suffering he had gone through seemed as nothing compared to a joy like
this. The great clock of Westminster swung its hollow sounds into the
air, which went riding by on the wind like the notes of an organ, now
full and now as soft as a baby's whisper. They could hear the far-off
rumble of the vast city which fringed their blessed island like a mighty
sea, and through the pulse of their clasped hands it seemed as if they
felt the pulse of the world. An angel had come down and breathed on the
face of the waters, and it was God's world, after all.
He took her home, and they parted at the door. "Don't come in to-night,"
she whispered. She wished to be alone, that she might think it all out
and go over it again, every word, every look. There was a lingering
hand-clasp and then she was gone.
He returned through the park and tried to step over the very places where
her feet had trod. On reaching Buckingham Gate he turned back and walked
round the park, and again round it, and yet again. The bells tolled out
the hours, the cabs went westward with ladies in evening wraps going home
from theatres, the tide of traffic ebbed farther and farther and died
down, but still he walked and the wind sang to him.
"God can not blame us," he thought. "We were made to love each other." He
uncovered his head to let the wind comb through his hair, and he was
happy, happy, happy! Sometimes he shut his eyes, and then it was hard to
believe that she was not walking by his side, a fragrant presence in the
moonlight, going step by step with him.
When the day was near the wind had gone, the little world of wood was
silent, and his footsteps crunched on the gravel. Then a yellow gleam
came in the sky to the east, and a chill gust swept up as a scout before
the dawn, the trees began to shiver, the surface of the lake to creep,
the birds to call, and the world to stretch itself and yawn.
Peace in her chamber, wheresoe'er
It be--a holy place.
As he went home by Birdcage Walk the park was still heavy with sleep, and
its homeless wanderers had not yet risen from their couches on the seats.
A pale mist was lying over London, but the towers of the Abbey stood
clear above it, and pigeons were wheeling around them like sea-fowl about
rocks in the sea. What a night it had been! A night of dreams, of love,
The streets were empty and very quiet--only the slow rattle of the
dust-cart and the measured step of policemen changing beats. Long blue
vistas and a cemetery silence as of a world under the great hand of the
gentle brother of Death, and then the clang of Big Ben striking six.
A letter was waiting for John in the breathless hall. It was from the
Bishop of London: "Come and see me at St. James's Square."
Suddenly there sprang out to Glory the charm and fascination of the life
she was putting away. Trying to be true to her altered relations with
John Storm, she did not go to rehearsal the next morning--, but not yet
having the courage of her new position, she did not tell Rosa her true
reason for staying away. The part was exhausting--it tried her very much;
a little break would do no harm. Rosa wrote to apologize for her on the
score of health, and thus the first cloud of dissimulation rose up
Two days passed, and then a letter came from the manager: "Trust you are
rested and will soon be back. The prompter read your lines, but
everything has gone to pieces. Slack, slovenly, spiritless, stupid,
nobody acting, and nobody awake, it seems to me. 'All right at night,
governor,' and the usual nonsense. Shows how much we want you. But
envious people are whispering that you are afraid of the part. The
blockheads! If you succeed this time you'll be made for life, my dear.
And you _will_ succeed! Yours merrily," etc.
With this were three letters addressed to the theatre. One of them was
from a press-cutting agency asking to be allowed to supply all newspaper
articles relating to herself, and inclosing a paragraph as a specimen: "A
little bird whispers that 'Gloria,' as 'Gloria,' is to be a startling
surprise. Those who have seen her rehearse----But mum's the word--an' we
could an' we would," etc. Another of the letters was from the art editor
of an illustrated weekly asking for a sitting to their photographer for a
full-page picture; and the third inclosed the card of an interviewer on
an evening paper. Only three days ago Glory would have counted all this
as nothing, yet now she could not help but feel a thrilling, joyous
Drake called after the absence of a fortnight. He had come to speak of
his last visit. His face was pale and serious, not fresh and radiant as
usual, his voice was shaking and his manner nervous. Glory had never seen
him exhibit so much emotion, and Rosa looked on in dumb astonishment.
"I was to blame," he said, "and I have come to say so. It was a cowardly
thing to turn the man out of his church, and it was worse than cowardly
to use you in doing it. Everything is fair, they say, in----" But he
flushed up like a girl and stopped, and then faltered: "Anyhow, I'm
sorry--very sorry; and if there is anything I can do----"
Glory tried to answer him, but her heart was beating violently, and she
could not speak.
"In fact, I've tried to make amends already. Lord Robert has a living
vacant in Westminster, and I've asked him to hand it over to the Bishop,
with the request that Father Storm----"
"But will he?"
"I've told him he must. It's the least we can do if we are to have any
respect for ourselves. And anyhow, I'm about tired of this anti-Storm
uproar. It may be all very well far men like me to object to the man--I
deny his authorities, and think him a man out of his century and
country--but for these people with initials, who write in the religious
papers, to rail at him, these shepherds who live on five thousand a year
and pretend to follow One who hadn't a home or a second coat, and whose
friends were harlots and sinners, though he was no sinner himself--it's
infamous, it's atrocious, it raises my gorge against their dead creeds
and paralytic churches. Whatever his faults, he is built on a large plan,
he has the Christ idea, and he is a man and a gentleman, and I'm ashamed
that I took advantage of him. That's all over now, and there's no help
for it; but if I might hope that you will forgive--and forget----"
"Yes," said Glory in a low voice, and then there was silence, and when
she lifted her head Drake was gone and Rosa was wiping her eyes.
"It was all for love of you, Glory. A woman can't hate a man when he does
wrong for love of herself."
John Storm came in later the same day, when Rosa had gone out and Glory
was alone. He was a different man entirely. His face looked round and his
dark eyes sparkled. The clouds of his soul seemed to have drifted away,
and he was boiling over with enthusiasm. He laughed constantly, and there
was something almost depressing in the lumbering attempts at humour of
the serious man.
"What do you think has happened? The Bishop sent for me and offered me a
living in Westminster. It turns out to being the gift of Lord Robert Ure;
but no thanks to him for it. Lady Robert was at the bottom of everything.
She had called on the Bishop. He remembered me at the Brotherhood, and
told me all about it. St. Jude's, Brown's Square, on the edge of the
worst quarter in Christendom! It seems the Archdeacon expected it for
Golightly, his son-in-law. The Reverend Joshua called on me this morning
and tried to bully me, but I soon bundled him off to Botany Bay. Said the
living had been promised to him--a lie, of course. I soon found that
out. A lie is well named, you know--it hasn't a leg--to stand upon. Ha,
Nothing would serve but that they should go to look at the scene of their
future life, and with Don--he had brought his dog; it had to be held back
from the pug under the table--they set off immediately. It was Saturday
night, and as they dipped down into the slums that lie under the shadow
of the Abbey, Old Pye Street, Peter's Street, and Duck Lane were aflare
with the coarse lights of open naphtha lamps, and all but impassable with
costers' barrows. There were the husky voices of the street hawkers, the
hoarse laughter, the quarrelling, the oaths, the rasping shouts of the
butcher selling chunks of dark joints by auction, the screeches of the
roast-potato man, and the smell of stale vegetables and fried fish. "Jow,
'ow much a pound for yer turmaters?" "Three pence; I gave mor'n that for
'em myself." "Garn!" "S'elp me, Gawd, I did, mum!"
"Isn't it a glorious scene?" said John; and Glory, who felt chilled and
sickened, recalled herself from some dream of different things altogether
and said, "Isn't it?"
"Sanctuary, too! What human cats we are! The poor sinners cling to the
He took her into the alleys and courts that score and wrinkle the map of
Westminster like an old man's face, and showed her the "model"
lodging-houses and the gaudily decorated hells where young girls and
soldiers danced and drank.
"What's the use of saying to these people, 'Don't drink; don't steal'?
They'll answer, 'If you lived in these slums you would drink too.' But
we'll show them that we can live here and do neither--that will be the
And then he pictured a life of absolute self-sacrifice, which she was to
share with him. "You'll manage all money matters, Glory. You can't think
how I'm swindled. And then I'm such a donkey as far as money goes--that's
not far with me, you know. Ha, ha, ha! Who's to find it? Ah, God pays his
own debts. He'll see to that."
They were to live under the church itself; to give bread to the hungry
and clothes to the naked; to set up their Settlement in the gaming-house
of the Sharkeys, now deserted and shut up; to take in the _un_deserving
poor-the people who had nothing to say for themselves, precisely those;
and thus they were to show that they belonged neither to the publicans
and sinners nor to the Scribes and Pharisees.
"Only let us get rid of self. Only let us show that self-interest never
enters our head in one single thing we do----" and meantime Glory, who
had turned her head aside with a lump in her throat, heard some one
behind them saying:
"Lawd, Jow, that's the curick and his dorg--'im as got pore Sharkey took!
See--'im with the laidy?"
"S'elp me, so it is! Another good man gorn to 'is gruel, and all 'long of
a bloomin' dorg."
They walked round by the church. John was talking--rapturously at every
step, and Glory was dragging after him like a criminal going to the
pillory. At last they came out by Great Smith Street, and he cried: "See,
there's the house of God under its spider's web of scaffolding, and
here's the Broad Sanctuary--broad enough in all conscience! Look!"
A crowd of girls and men were trooping out of a place of entertainment
opposite, and there were screams and curses. "Look at 'im!" cried a
woman's voice. "There 'e is, the swine! And 'e was the ruin of me; and
now 'e's 'listed for a soldier and going off with another woman!"
"You're bleedin' drunk, that's what you are!" said a man's voice, "and if
you down't take kear I'll send ye 'ome on a dawer!"
"Strike me, will ye, ye dog? Do it! I dare you!"
"She ain't worth it, soldier--come along," said another female voice,
whereupon the first broke into a hurricane of oaths; and a little
clergyman going by at the moment--it was the Rev. J. Golightly--said:
"Dear, dear! Are there no policemen about?" and so passed on, with his
tall wife tucked under his arm.
John Storm pressed through the crowd and came between the two who were
quarrelling. By the light of the lamp he could see them. The man was
Charlie Wilkes, in the uniform of a soldier; the woman, with the paint
running on her face, her fringe disordered, and her back hair torn down,
was Aggie Jones.
"We down't want no religion 'ere," said Charlie, sneering.
"You'll get some, though, if you're not off quick!" said John. The man
looked round for the dog and a moment afterward he had disappeared.
Glory came up behind. "O Aggie, woman, is it you?" she said, and then the
girl began to cry in a drunken sob.
"Girls is cruel put upon, mum," said one of the women; and another cried,
"Nix, the slops!" and a policeman came pushing his way and saying: "Now,
then, move on! We ain't going to stand 'ere all night."
"Call a cab, officer," said John.
"Yes. sir-certainly, Father. Four-wheel-er!"
"Where do you live, Aggie?" said Glory; but the girl, now sobbing drunk,
was too far gone to follow her.
"She lives in Brown's Square, sir," said the woman who had spoken before,
and when the cab came up she was asked to get in with the other three.
It was a tenement house, fronting to one facade of St. Jude's, and
Aggie's room was on the second story. She was helpless, and John carried
her up the stairs. The place was in hideous disorder, with clothing lying
about on chairs, underclothing scattered on the floor, the fire out, many
cigarette ends in the fender, a candle stuck in a beer bottle, and a
bunch of withered roses on the table.
As John laid the girl on the bed she muttered, "Lemme alone!" and when he
asked what was to happen to her when she grew old if she behaved like
this when young, she mumbled: "Don't want to be old. Who's goin' to like
me then, d'ye think?"
Half an hour afterward Glory and John were passing through the gates into
Clement's Inn, with its moonlight and silence, its odour of moistened
grass, its glimpse of the stars, and the red and white blinds of its
windows lit up round about. John was still talking rapturously. He was
now picturing the part which Glory was to play in the life they were to
live together. She was to help and protect their younger sisters, the
child-women, the girls in peril, to enlist their loyalty and filial
tenderness for the hour of temptation.
"Won't it be glorious? To live the life, the real life of warfare with
the world's wickedness and woe! Won't it be magnificent? You'll do it
too! You'll go down into those slums and sloughs which I've shown you
to-night--they are the cradle of shame and sin, Glory, and this wicked
London rocks it!--you'll go down into them like a ministering angel to
raise the fallen and heal the wounded! You'll live in them, revel in
them, rejoice in them, they'll be your battlefield. Isn't that better,
far better, a thousand times better, than _playing_ at life, and all its
fashions and follies and frivolities?"
Glory struggled to acquiesce, and from time to time in a, trembling voice
she said "Yes," and "Oh, yes," until they came to the door of the Garden
House, and then a strange thing happened. Somebody was singing in the
drawing-room to the music of the piano. It was Drake. The window was open
and his voice floated over the moonlit gardens;
Du liebes Kind, komm' geh mit mir!
Gar schoene Spiele spiel' ich mit dir.
Suddenly it seemed to Glory that two women sprang into life in her--one
who loved John Storm and wished to live and work beside him, the other
who loved the world and felt that she could never give it up. And these
two women were fighting for her heart, which should have it and hold it
and possess it forever.
She looked up at John, and he was smiling triumphantly, "Are you happy?"
"Happy! I know a hundred men who are a hundred times as rich as I, but
not one who is a hundredth part as happy!"
"Darling!" she whispered, holding back her tears. Then looking away from
him she said, "And do you really think I'm good enough for a life of such
devotion and self-sacrifice?"
"Good enough!" he cried, and for a moment his merry laughter drowned the
"But will the world think so?"
"Assuredly. But who cares what the world thinks?"
"We do, dear--we must!"
And then, while the song went on, she began to depreciate herself in a
low voice and with a creeping sense of hypocrisy--to talk of her former
life in London as a danger, of the tobacco-shop, the foreign clubs, the
music hall, and all the mire and slime with which she had been
besmirched. "Everything is known now, dear. Have you never thought of
this? It is your duty to think of it."
But he only laughed again with a joyous voice. "What's the odds?" he
said. "The world is made up for the most part of low, selfish, sensual
beings, incapable of belief in noble aims. Every innovator in such a
world exposes himself to the risk of being slandered or ridiculed, or
even shut up in a lunatic asylum. But who wouldn't rather be St. Theresa
in her cell than Catharine of Russia on her throne? And in your case,
what does it come to anyway? Only that you've gone through the fiery
furnace and come out unscathed. All the better--you'll be a living
witness, a proof that it is possible to pass through this wicked Babylon
unharmed and untouched."
"Yes, if I were a man--but with a woman it is so different! It is an
honour to a man to have conquered the world, but a disgrace to a woman to
have fought with it. Yes, believe me, I know what I'm saying. That's the
cruel tragedy in a woman's life, do what you will to hide it. And then
you are so much in the eye of the world; and besides your own position
there is your family's, your uncle's. Think what it would be if the world
pointed the finger of scorn at your--at your mission--at your high and
noble aims--and all on account of me! You would cease to love me-and
"Listen!" He had been shuffling restlessly on the pavement before her.
"Here I stand! Here are you! Let the waves of public opinion dash
themselves against us--we stand or fall together!" "Oh, oh, oh!"
She was crying on his breast, but with what mixed and conflicting
feelings! Joy, pain, delight, dread, hope, disappointment. She had tried
to dishonour herself in his eyes, and it would have broken her heart if
she had succeeded. But she had failed and he had triumphed, and that was
harder still to bear.
From overhead they heard the last lines of the song:
Erreicht den Hof mit Mueh und Noth
In seinen Armen das Kind war todt.
"Good-night," she whispered, and fled into the house. The lights in the
dining-room were lowered, but she found a telegram that was waiting on
the mantelpiece. It was from Sefton, the manager: "Author arrived in
London today. Hopes to be at rehearsal Monday. Please be there certain."
The world was seizing her again, the imaginary Gloria was dragging her
back with visions of splendour and success. But she crept upstairs and
went by the drawing-room on tip-toe. "Not to-night," she thought. "My
face is not fit to be seen to-night."
There was a dying fire in her bedroom, and her evening gown had been laid
out on a chair in front of it. She put the gown away in a drawer, and out
of a box which she drew from beneath the bed she took a far different
costume. It was the nurse's outdoor cloak, which she had bought for use
at the hospital. She held it a moment by the tips of her fingers and
looked at it, and then put it back with a sigh.
"Gloria! is that you?" Rosa called up the stairs; and Drake's cheery
voice cried, "Won't our nightingale come down and give us a stave before
"Too late! Just going to bed. Good-night," she answered. Then she lit a
candle and sat down to write a letter.
"It's no use, dear John, I can not! It would be like putting bad money
into the offertory to put me into that holy work. Not that I don't admire
it, and love it, and worship it. It is the greatest work in the world,
and last week I thought I could count everything else as dross, only
remembering that I loved you and that nothing else mattered. But now I
know that this was a vain and fleeting sentiment, and that the sights and
scenes of your work repel me on a nearer view, just as the hospital
repelled me in the early mornings when the wards were being cleaned and
the wounds dressed, and before the flowers were laid about.
"Oh, forgive me, forgive me! But if I am fit to join your life at all it
can not be in London. That 'old serpent called the devil and Satan' would
be certain to torment me here. I could not live within sight and sound of
London and go on with the life you live. London would drag me back. I
feel as if it were an earlier lover, and I must fly away from it. Is that
possible? Can we go elsewhere? It is a monstrous demand, I know. Say you
can not agree to it. Say so at once--it will serve me right."
The stout watchman of the New Inn was calling midnight when Glory stole
out to post her letter. It fell into the letter-box with a thud, and she
crept back like a guilty thing.
Next morning Mrs. Callender heard John Storm singing to himself before he
left his bedroom, and she was standing at the bottom of the stairs when
he came down three steps at a time.
"Bless me, laddie," she said, "to see your face shining a body would say
that somebody had left ye a legacy or bought ye a benefice instead of
taking your church frae ye!"
"Why, yes, and better than both, and that's just what I was going to tell
"You must be in a hurry to do it, too, coming downstairs like a
"You came down like a cataract yourself once on a time, auntie; I'll lay
my life on that."
"Aye, did I, and not sae lang since neither. And fools and prudes cried
'Oh!' and called me a tomboy. But, hoots; I was nought but a body born a
wee before her time. All the lasses are tomboys now, bless them, the
bright heart-some things!"
"Auntie," said John softly, seating himself at the breakfast table, "what
She eyed him knowingly. "Nay, I'm ower thrang working to be bothered
thinking. Out with it, laddie."
He looked wise. "Don't you remember saying--that work like mine wanted a
woman's hand in it?"
Her old eyes blinked. "Maybe I did, but what of it?"
"Well, I've taken your advice, and now a woman's hand is coming into it
to guide it and direct it."
"It must be the right hand, though, mind that."
"It _will_ be the right hand, auntie."
"Weel, that's grand," with another twinkle. "I thought it might be the
_left_, ye see, and ye might be putting a wedding-ring on it!" And then
she burst into a peal of laughter.
"However did you find it out?" he said, with looks of astonishment.
"Tut, laddie, love and a cough can not be hidden. And to think a woman
couldna see through you, too! But come," tapping the table with both
hands, "who is she?"
"Not one of your Sisters--no?" with hesitation.
"No," with emphasis.
"Some other simpering thing, na doot-they're all alike these days."
"But didn't you say the girls were all tomboys now?"
"And if I did, d'ye want a body to be singing the same song always? But
come, what like is she? When I hear of a lassie I like fine to know her
colour first. What's her complexion?"
"Is she fair? But what a daft auld dunce I am!--to be sure she's fair."
"Why, how did you know that, now?"
"Pooh! They say a dark man is a jewel in a fair woman's eye, and I'll
warrant it's as true the other way about. But what's her name?"
John's face suddenly straightened and he pretended not to hear.
"What's her name?" stamping with both feet.
"Dear me, auntie, what an ugly old cap you're wearing!"
"Ugly?" reaching up to the glass. "Who says it's ugly?"
"Tut! you're only a bit boy, born yesterday. But, man, what's all this
botherment about telling a lassie's name?"
"I'll bring her to see you, auntie."
"I should think you will, indeed! and michty quick, too!"
This was on Sunday, and by the first post on Monday John Storm received
Glory's letter. It fell on him like a blast out of a cloud in the black
northeast, and cut him to the heart's core. He read it again, and being
alone he burst into laughter. He took it up a third time, and when he had
finished there was something at his throat that seemed to choke him. His
first impulse was fury. He wanted to rush off to Glory and insult her, to
ask her if she was mad or believed him to be so. Because she was a coward
herself, being slave-bound to the world and afraid to fight it face to
face, did she wish to make a coward of him also--to see him sneak away
from the London that had kicked him, like a cur with its tail between its
After this there came an icy chill and an awful consciousness that
mightier forces were at work than any mere human weakness. It was the
world itself, the great pitiless world, that was dividing them again as
it had divided them before, but irrevocably now-not as a playful nurse
that puts petted children apart, but as a torrent that tears the cliffs
asunder. "Leave the world, my son, and return to your unfinished vows."
Could it be true that this was only another reminder of his broken
Then came pity. If Glory was slave-bound to the world, which of us was
not in chains to something? And the worst slavery of all was slavery to
self. But that was an abyss he dared not look into; and he began to think
tenderly of Glory, to tell himself how much she had to sacrifice, to
remember his anger and to be ashamed.
A week passed, and he went about his work in a helpless way, like a
derelict without rudder or sail and with the sea roaring about it. Every
afternoon when he came home from Soho Mrs. Callender would trip into the
hall wearing a new cap with a smart bow, and finding that he was alone
she would say, "Not to-day, then?"
"Not to-day," he would answer, and they would try to smile. But seeing
the stamp of suffering on his face, she said at last, "Tut, laddie! they
love too much who die for love."
On the Sunday afternoon following he turned again toward Clement's Inn.
He had come to a decision at last, and was calm and even content, yet his
happiness was like a gourd which had grown up in a day, and the morrow's
sun had withered it.
Glory had been to rehearsal every day that week. Going to the theatre on
Monday night she had said to herself, "There can be no harm in
rehearsing--I'm not compelled to play." Notwithstanding her nervousness,
the author had complimented her on her passion and self-abandonment, and
going home she had thought: "I might even go through the first
performance and then give it all up. If I had a success, that would be
beautiful, splendid, almost heroic--it would be thrilling to abandon
everything." Not hearing from John, she told herself he must be angry,
and she felt sorry for him. "He doesn't know yet how much I am going to
do." Thus the other woman in her tempted and overcame her, and drew her
on from day to day.
Mrs. Macrae sent Lord Robert to invite her to luncheon on Sunday. "There
can be no harm in going there," she thought. She went with Rosa, and was
charmed with the lively, gay, and brilliant company. Clever and beautiful
women, clever and handsome men, and nearly all of them of her own
profession. The mistress of the mansion kept open house after church
parade on Sunday, and she sat at the bottom of her table, dressed in
black velvet, with the Archdeacon on her right and a famous actor on her
left. Lord Robert sat at the head and talked to a lady whose remarks were
heard all over the room; but Lady Robert was nowhere to be seen; there
was a hush when her name was mentioned, and then a whispered rumour that
she had differences with her husband, and had scandalized her mother by
some act of indiscretion.
Glory's face beamed, and for the first half-hour she seemed to be on the
point of breaking into a rapturous "Well!" Nearly opposite to her at the
table sat a lady whose sleepy look and drowsy voice and airs of languor
showed that she was admired, and that she knew it. Glory found her very
amusing, and broke into little trills of laughter at her weary, withering
comments. This drew the attention of some of the men; they found the
contrast interesting. The conversation consisted first of hints, half
signs, brilliant bits of by-play, and Glory rose to it like a fish to the
May-fly. Then it fell upon bicycling and the costumes ladies wore for it.
The languid one commented upon the female fetich, the skirt, and
condemned "bloomers," whereupon Glory declared that they were just
charming, and being challenged (by a gentleman) for her reasons she
said, "Because when a girl's got them on she feels as if she's an
understudy for a man, and may even have a chance of playing the part
itself in another and a better world."
Then there was general laughter, and the gentleman said, "You're in the
profession yourself now, aren't you?"
"Just a stranger within your gates," she answered; and when the talk
turned on a recent lawsuit, and the languid one said it was inconceivable
that the woman concerned could have been such a coward in relation to the
man, Glory protested that it was just as natural for a woman to be in
fear of a man (if she loved him) as to be afraid of a mouse or to look
under the bed.
"_Ma chere_," said a dainty little lady sitting next but one (she had
come to London to perform in a silent play), "they tells me you's half my
countrywoman. All right. Will you not speak de French to poor me?" And
when Glory did so the little one clapped her hands and declared she had
never heard the English speak French before.
"Say French-cum-Irish," said Glory, "or, rather, French which begat
Irish, which begat Manx!"
"Original, isn't she?" said somebody who was laughing.
"Like a sea-gull among so many pigeons!" said somebody else, and the
hothouse airs of the languid lady were lost as in a fresh gust from the
But her spirits subsided the moment she had recrossed the threshold. As
they were going home in the cab, past the hospital and down Piccadilly.
Rosa, who was proud and happy, said: "There! All society isn't stupid and
insipid, you see; and there are members of your own profession who try to
live up to the ideal of moral character attainable by a gentleman in
England even yet."
"Yes, no doubt... But, Rosa, there's another kind of man altogether,
whose love has the reverence of a religion, and if I ever meet a man like
that--one who is ready to trample all the world under his feet for me--I
think--yes, I really think I shall leave everything behind and follow
"Leave everything behind, indeed! That _would_ be pretty! When everything
yields before you, too, and all the world and his wife are waiting to
shout your praises!"
Rosa had gone to her office, and Glory was turning over some designs for
stage costumes, when Liza came in to say that the "Farver" was coming
"He has come to scold me," thought Glory, so she began to hum, to push
things about, and fill the room with noise. But when she saw his drawn
face and wide-open eyes she wanted to fall on his neck and cry.
"You have come to tell me you can't do what I suggested?" she said. "Of
course you can't."
"No," he said slowly, very slowly. "I have thought it all over, and
concluded that I can--that I must. Yes, I am willing to go away, Glory,
and when you are ready I shall be ready too."
"I don't know yet; but I am willing to wait for the unrolling of the
scroll. I am willing to follow step by step, not knowing whither. I am
willing to go where God wills, for life or death."
"But your work in London--your great, great work----"
"God will see to that, Glory. He can do without any of us. None of us can
do without him. The sun will set without any assistance, you know," and
the pale face made an effort to smile.
"But, John, my dear, dear John, this is not what you expected, what you
have been thinking of and dreaming of, and building your hopes upon."
"No," he said; "and for your sake I am sorry, very sorry. I thought of a
great career for you, Glory. Not rescue work merely--others can do that.
There are many good women in the world--nearly all women are good, but
Jew are great--and for the salvation of England, what England wants now
is a great woman.... As for me--God knows best! He has his own way of
weaning us from vanity and the snares of the devil. You were only an
instrument in his hands, my child, hardly knowing what you were doing.
Perhaps he has a work of intercession for us somewhere--far away from
here--in some foreign mission field--who can say?"
A feeling akin to terror caught her breath, and she looked up at him with
"After all, I am glad that this has happened," he said. "It will help me
to conquer self, to put self behind my back forever, to show the world,
by leaving London, that self has not entered into my count at all, and
that I am thinking of nothing but my work."
A warm flush rose to her cheeks as he spoke, and again she wanted to
fling herself on his neck and cry. But he was too calm for that, too sad
and too spiritual. When he rose to go she held out her hands to him, but
he only took them and carried them to his lips, and kissed them.
As soon as she was alone she flung herself down and cried, "Oh, give me
strength to follow this man, who mistakes his love of me for the love of
God!" But even while she sat with bent head and her hands over her face
the creeping sense came back as of another woman within her who was
fighting for her heart. She had conquered again, but at what a cost! The
foreign mission field--what associations had she with that? Only the
memory of her father's lonely life and friendless death.
She was feeling cold and had begun to shiver, when the door opened and
"So he _did_ come again?"
"I thought he would," and Rosa laughed coldly.
"What do you mean?"
"That when religious feelings take possession of a man he will stop at
nothing to gain the end he has in view."
"Rosa," said Glory, flushing crimson, "if you imply that my friend is
capable of one unworthy act or thought I must ask you to withdraw your
words absolutely and at once!"
"Very well, dear. I was only thinking for your own good. We working women
must not ruin our lives or let anybody else ruin them. 'Duty,'
'self-sacrifice'--I know the old formulas, but I don't believe in them.
Obey your own heart, my dear, that is your first duty. A man like Storm
would take you out of your real self, and stop your career, and----"
"Oh, my career, my career! I'm tired to death of hearing of it!"
"And who knows? I may not go on with it, after all."
"If you have lost your sense of duty to yourself, have you forgotten your
duty to Mr. Drake? Think what Mr. Drake has done for you!"
"Mr. Drake! Mr. Drake! I'm sick of that too."
"How strange you are to-night, Glory!"
"Am I? So are you. It is Mr. Drake here and Mr. Drake there! Are you
trying to force me into his arms?"
"Is it you that says that, Glory--you? and to me, too? Don't you see that
this is a different case altogether? And if I thought of my own feelings
only--consulted my own heart----"
"Ah! Is it so very foolish? Yes, he is young and handsome, and rich and
brilliant, while I--I am ridiculous."
"No, no, Rosa; I don't mean that."
"I do, though; and when you came in between us--young and beautiful and
clever--everything that I was not, and could never hope to be--and he was
so drawn to you--what was I to do? Nurse my hopeless and ridiculous love
--or think of him--his happiness?"
"Rosa, my poor dear Rosa, forgive me! forgive me!"
An hour later, dinner being over, they had returned to the drawing-room.
Rosa was writing at the table, and there was no sound in the room except
the scratching of her pen, the falling of the slips of "copy," and the
dull reverberation of the bell of St. Clement's Danes, which was ringing
for evening service. Glory was sitting at the desk by the window, with
her head on her hands, looking down into the garden. Out of the dead load
at her heart she kept saying to herself: "Could I do that? Could I give
up the one I loved for his own good, putting myself back, and thinking of
him only?" And then a subtle hypocrisy stole over her and she thought,
"Yes I could, I could!" and in a fever of nervous excitement she began to
write a letter:
"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and so with a woman's will. I can not
go abroad with you, dear, because I can not allow myself to break up your
life, for it _would_ be that--it would, it would, you know it would!
There are ten thousand men good enough for the foreign mission field, but
there is only one man in the world for your work in London. This is one
of the things hidden from the wise, and revealed to children and fools.
It would be wrong of me to take you away from your great scene. I daren't
do it. It would be too great a responsibility. My conscience must have
been dead and buried when I suggested such a possibility! Thank God, it
has had a resurrection, and it is not yet too late."
But when the letter was sealed and stamped, and sent out to the post, she
thought: "I must be mad, and there is no method in my madness either.
What do I want--to join his life in London?" And then remembering what
she had written, it seemed as if the other woman must have written
it--the visionary woman, the woman she was making herself into day by
John Storm had left home early on Monday morning. It was the last day of
his tenancy of the clergy-house, and there was much to do at Soho. Toward
noon he made his way to the church in Bishopsgate Street for the first
time since he had left the Brotherhood. It was midday service, and the
little place was full of business men with their quick, eyes and eager
faces. The Superior preached, and the sermon was on the religious life.
We were each composed of two beings, one temporal, the other eternal, one
carnal, the other spiritual. Life was a constant warfare between these
two nearly matched forces, and often the victory seemed to sway from this
side to that. Our enemy with the chariots of iron was ourselves. There
was a Judas in each one of us ready to betray us with a kiss if allowed.
The lusts of the flesh were the most deadly sins, absolute chastity the
most pleasing to God of all virtues. Did we desire to realize what the
religious life could be? Then let us reflect upon the news which had come
from the South Seas. What was the word that had fallen that morning on
all Christendom like a thunderclap, say, rather, like the blast of a
celestial trumpet? Father Damien was dead! Think of his lonely life in
that distant island where doomed men lived out their days. Cut off from
earthly marriage, with no one claiming his affection in the same way as
Christ, he was free to commit himself entirely to God and to God's
afflicted children. He was truly married to Christ. Christ occupied his
soul as Lord and spouse. Glorious life! Glorious death! Eternal crown of
glory waiting for him in the glory everlasting!
When the service ended John Storm stepped up to speak to the Father. His
wide-open eyes were flaming; he was visibly excited. "I came to ask a
question," he said, "but it is answered already. I will follow Father
Damien and take up his work. I was thinking of the mission field, but my
doubt was whether God had called me, and I had great fear of going
uncalled. God brought me here this morning, not knowing what I was to do,
but now I know, and my mind is made up at last."
The Father was not less moved. They went out into the courtyard together
and walked to and fro, planning, scheming, contriving, deciding.
"You'll take the vows first, my son?"
"The life vows."
"But--but will that be necessary?"
"It will be best. Think what a peculiar appeal it have for those poor
doomed creatures! They are cut off from the world by a terrible
affliction, but you will be cut off by the graciousness of a Christ-fed
purity. They are lepers made of disease; you will be as a leper for the
kingdom of heaven's sake."
"But, Father--if that be so--how much greater the appeal will be if--if a
woman goes out also! Say she is young and beautiful and of great gifts?"
"Brother Andrew may go with you, my son."
"Yes, Brother Andrew as well. But holy men in all ages have been bound by
ties of intimacy and affection to good women who have lived and worked
"Sisters, my son, elder sisters always."
"And why not? Sister, indeed, and united to me by a great and spiritual
"We are none of us invincible, my son; let us not despise danger."
"Danger, Father! What is the worth of my religion if it does not enable
me to defy that?"
"Well, well--do not decide too soon. I'll come to you at Soho this
"Do. It's our last night there. I must tell my poor people what my plans
are to be. Good-bye for the present, Father, good-bye."
"Good-bye, my son," and as John Storm went off with a light heart and
bounding step the Father passed indoors with downcast face, saying to
himself with a sigh, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he
It was Lord Mayor's Day again, the streets were thronged, and John Storm
was long in forging his way home. Glory's letter was waiting for him, and
he tore it open with nervous fingers, but when he had read it he laughed
aloud. "God bless her! But she doesn't know everything yet." Mrs,
Callender was out in the carriage; she would be back for lunch, and the
maid was laying the cloth; but he would not wait. After scribbling a few
lines in pencil to tell of his great resolve, he set off to Clement's
Inn. The Strand was less crowded when he returned to it, and the newsboys
were calling the evening papers with "Full Memoir of Father Damien."
* * * * *
On coming home from rehearsal Glory had found the costume for her third
act, her great act, awaiting her. All day long she had been thinking of
her letter to John, half ashamed of it, half regretting it, almost
wishing it could be withdrawn. But the dress made a great tug at her
heart, and she could not resist the impulse to try it on. The moment she
had done so the visionary woman whose part she was to play seemed to take
possession of her, and shame and regret were gone.
It was a magnificent stage costume, green as the grass in spring with the
morning sun on it. The gown was a splendid brocade with gold-embroidered
lace around the square-cut neck and about the shoulders of the tight-made
sleeves. Round her hips was a sash of golden tissue, and its hanging ends
were fringed with emeralds. A band of azure stones encircled her head,
and her fingers were covered with turquoise rings.
She went to the drawing-room, shut the door, and began to rehearse the
scene. It was where the imaginary Gloria, being vain and selfish,
trampled everything under her feet that she might possess the world and
the things of the world. Glory spoke the words aloud, forgetting they
were not her own, until she heard another voice saying, "May I come in,
It was John at the door. She was ashamed of her costume then, but there
was no running away. "Yes, of course, come in," she cried, trembling all
over, half afraid to be seen, and yet proud too of her beauty and her
splendour. When he entered she was laughing nervously and was about to
say, "See, this has happened before----"
But he saw nothing unusual, and she was disappointed and annoyed. Coming
in breathless, as if he had been running, he flung himself down on one
end of the couch, threw his hat on the other end, and said: "What did I
tell you, Glory? That a way would open itself, and it has!"
"Didn't you think of it when you saw the news in the papers this
"That Father Damien is dead."
"But can you--do you really mean that--do you intend----"
"I do, Glory--I do."
"Then you didn't get my letter this morning?"
"Oh, yes, dear, yes; but you were only thinking for me--God bless
you!--that I was giving up a great scene for a little one. But this--this
is the greatest scene in the world, Glory. Life is a small sacrifice; the
true sacrifice is a living death, a living crucifixion."
She felt as if he had taken her by the throat and was choking her. He had
got up and was walking to and fro, talking impetuously.
"Yes, it is a great sacrifice I am asking you to make now, dear. That
far-off island, the poor lepers, and then lifelong banishment. But God
will reward you, and with interest too. Only think, Glory! Think of the
effect of your mere presence out there among those poor doomed creatures!
A young and beautiful woman! Not a melancholy old dolt like me, preaching
and prating to them, but a bright and brilliant girl, laughing with them,
playing games with them, making mimicry for them, and singing to them in
the voice of an angel. Oh, they'll love you, Glory, they'll worship
you--you'll be next to God and his blessed mother with them. And already
I hear them saying among themselves: 'Heaven bless her! She might have
had the world at her feet and made a great name and a great fortune, but
she gave it all up--all, all, all--for pity and love of us!' Won't it be
glorious, my child? Won't it be the noblest thing in all the world?"
And she struggled to answer, "Yes, no doubt--the noblest thing in all the
"Then you agree? Ah, I knew your heart spoke in your first letter, and
you wanted to leave London. You shall, too, for God has willed it."
Then she recovered a little and made a nervous attempt to withdraw. "But
the church at Westminster?"
He laughed like a boy. "Oh, Golightly may have that now, and welcome."
"But the work in London?"
"Ah, that's all right, Glory. Ever since I heard from you I have been
dealing with the bonds which bound me to London one by one, unravelling
some and breaking others. They are all discharged now, every one of them,
and I need think of them no more. Self is put behind forever, and I can
stand before God and say: 'Do with me as you will; I am ready for
"Crying, Glory? My poor, dear child! But why are you crying?"
"Are you sure--quite sure? Am I asking too much of you? Don't let us
"Let us talk of something else now." She began to laugh. "Look at me,
John--don't I look well to-day?"
"You always look well, Glory."
"But isn't there any difference--this dress, for instance?"
Then his sight came back and his big eyes sparkled. "How beautiful you
"Really? Do I look nice then--really?"
"My beautiful, beautiful girl!"
Her head was thrown back, and she glowed with joy.
"Don't come too near me, you know--don't crush me."
"Nay, no fear of that--I should be afraid."
"Not that I mustn't be touched exactly."
"What will they think, I wonder, those poor, lost creatures, so ugly, so
"And my red hair. This colour suits it, doesn't it?"
"Some Madonna, they'll say; the very picture of the mother of God
"Are you--are you afraid of me in this frock, dear? Shall I run and take
"No--no; let me look at you again."
"But you don't like me to-day, for all that."
"Do you know you've never once kissed me since you came into the room?"
"My love! my love!"
"And you," he said, close to her lips, "are you ready for anything?"
"Anything," she whispered.
At the next moment she was holding herself off with her arms stiff about
his neck, that she might look at him and at her lace sleeves at the same
time. Suddenly a furrow crossed his brow. He had remembered the Father's
warning, and was summoning all his strength.
"But out there I'll love you as a sister, Glory."
"For the sake of those poor doomed beings cut off from earthly love we'll
love each other as the angels love."
"Yes, that is the highest, purest, truest love, no doubt. Still----"
"What does the old Talmud say?--'He who divorces himself from the joys of
earth weds himself to the glories of Paradise.'"
Her lashes were still wet; she was gazing deep into his eyes.
"And to think of being united in the next world, Glory--what happiness,
"Love me in this world, dearest," she whispered.
"You'll be their youth, Glory, their strength, their loveliness!"
"Be mine, darling, be mine!"
But the furrow crossed his brow a second time, and he disengaged himself
before their lips had met again. Then he walked about the room as before,
talking in broken sentences. They would have to leave soon--very
soon--almost at once. And now he must go back to Soho. There was so much
to do, to arrange. On reaching the door he hesitated, quivering with
love, hardly knowing how to part from her. She was standing with head
down, half angry and half ashamed.
"Well, _au revoir_," he cried in a strained voice, and then fled down the
stairs. "The Father was right," he thought. "No man is invincible. But,
thank God, it is over! It can never occur again!"
Her glow had left her, and she felt chilled and lost There was no help
for it now, and escape was impossible. She must renounce everything for
the man who had renounced everything for her. Sitting on the couch, she
dropped her head on the cushion and cried like a child. In the lowest
depths of her soul she knew full well that she could never go away, but
she began to bid good-bye in her heart to the life she had been living.
The charm and fascination of London began to pass before her like a
panorama, with all the scenes of misery and squalor left out. What a
beautiful world she was leaving behind her! She would remember it all her
life long with useless and unending regret. Her tears were flowing
through the fingers which were clasped beneath her face.
A postman's knock came to the door downstairs. The letter was from the
manager, written in the swirl and rush of theatrical life, and reading
like a telegram: "Theatre going on rapidly, men working day and night,
rehearsals advanced and scenery progressing; might we not fix this day
fortnight for the first performance?"
Inclosed with this was a letter from the author: "You are on the eve of
an extraordinary success, dear Gloria, and I write to reassure and
congratulate you. Some signs of inexperience I may perhaps observe, some
lack of ease and simplicity, but already it is a performance of so much
passion and power that I predict for it a triumphant success. A great
future awaits you. Don't shrink from it, don't be afraid of it; it is as
certain as that the sun will rise to-morrow."
She carried the letter to her lips, then rose from the couch, and threw
up her head, closed her eyes, and smiled. The visionary woman was taking
hold of her again with the slow grip and embrace of the glacier.
Rosa came home to dine, and at sight of the new costume she cried, "Shade
of Titian, what a picture!" During dinner she mentioned that she had met
Mr. Drake, who had said that the Prince was likely to be present at the
production, having asked for the date and other particulars.
"But haven't you heard the _great_ news, dear? It's in all the late
editions of the evening papers."
"What is it?" said Glory; but she saw what was coming.
"Father Storm is to follow Father Damien. That's the report, at all
events; but he is expected to make a statement at his club to-night, and
I have to be there for the paper."
As soon as dinner was over Rosa went off to Soho, and then Glory was
brought back with a shock to the agony of her inward struggle. She knew
that her hour had arrived, and that on her action now everything
depended. She knew that she could never break the chains by which the
world and her profession held her. She knew that the other woman had
come, that she must go with her, and go for good. But the renunciation of
love was terrible. The day had been soft and beautiful. It was falling
asleep and yawning now, with a drowsy breeze that shook the yellow leaves
as they hung withered and closed on the thinning boughs like the fingers
of an old maid's hand. She was sitting at the desk by the window, trying
to write a letter. More than once she tore up the sheet, dried her eyes,
and began again. What she wrote last was this:
"It is impossible, dear John. I can not go with you to the South Seas. I
have struggled, but I can not, I can not! It is the greatest, noblest,
sublimest mission in the world, but I am not the woman for these high
tasks. I should be only a fruitless fig tree, a sham, a hypocrite. It
would be like taking a dead body with you to take me, for my heart would
not be there. You would find that out, dear, and I should be ashamed.
"And then I can not leave this life--I can not give up London. I am like
a child--I like the bustling streets, the brilliant thoroughfares, the
crowds, the bands of music, the lights at night, and the sense of life. I
like to succeed, too, and to be admired, and--yes, to hear the clapping
of hands in a theatre. You are above all this, and can look down at it as
dross, and I like you for that also. But give it all up I can't; I
haven't the strength; it is in my blood, dear, and if I part from it I
"And then I like to be fondled and coaxed and kissed, and I want so
much--oh, so much to be loved! I want somebody to tell me every day and
always how much he loves me, and to praise me and pet me and forget
everything else for me, everything, everything, even his own soul and
salvation! You can not do that; it would be sinful, and besides it
wouldn't be love as you understand it, and as it ought to be, if you are
to go out to that solemn and awful task.
"When I said I loved you I spoke the truth, dear, and yet I didn't know
what the word meant really, I didn't realize everything. I love you
still--with all my heart and soul I love you; but now I know that there
is a difference between us, that we can never come together. No, I can
not reach up to your austere heights. I am so weak; you are so strong.
Your 'strength is as the strength of ten because your heart is pure,'
"I am unworthy of your thoughts, John. Leave me to the life I have
chosen. It may be poor and vain and worthless, but it is the only life
I'm fit for. And yet I love you--and you loved me. I suppose God makes
men and women like that sometimes, and it is no use struggling.
"One kiss, dear--it is the last."
John Storm went back to Victoria Square with a bright and joyful face and
found Mrs. Callender waiting for him, grim as a judge. He could see that
her eyes were large and red with weeping, but she fell on him instantly
with withering scorn.
"So you're here at last, are ye? A pretty senseless thing this is, to be
sure! What are you dreaming about? Are you bewitched or what? Do you
suppose things can be broken off in this way? You to go to the leper
"I'm called, auntie, and when God calls a man, what can he do but answer
"Tut! Don't talk sic nonsense. Besides, Samuel had some sense. He waited
to be called three times, and I havena heard this is your third time of
John Storm laughed, and that provoked her to towering indignation. "Good
God, what are you thinking of, man? There's that puir lassie--you're
running away from her, too, aren't you? It's shameful, it's disgraceful,
it's unprincipled, and _you_ to do it too!"
"You needn't trouble about that, auntie," said John; "she is going with
"What?" cried Mrs. Callender, and her face expressed boundless
"Yes," said John, "you women are brimful of courage, God bless you! and
she's the bravest of you all."
"But you'll no have the assurance to tak' that puir bit lassie to yonder
"She wants to go--at least she wants to leave London."
"What does she? Weel, weel! But didn't I say she was nought but one of
your Sisters or sic-like?--And you're going to let a slip of a girl tak'
you away frae your ain work and your ain duty--and you call yourself a
He began to coax and appease her, and before long the grim old face was
struggling between smiles and tears.
"Tut! get along wi' ye! I've a great mind, though--I'd be liking fine to
see her anyway. Now, where does she bide in London?"
"Why do you want to know that, auntie?"
"What's it to you, laddie? Can't a body call to say 'Good-bye' to a
lassie, and tak' her a wee present before going away, without asking a
"I shouldn't do it, though, if I were you."
"And why not, pray?"
"Because she's as bright as a star and as quick as a diamond, and she'd
see through you in a twinkling. Besides, I shouldn't advise----"
"Keep your advice like your salt till you're asked for it, my man--and to
think of any reasonable body giving up his work in London for
"Good men have gone out to the mission field, auntie."
"Mission fiddlesticks! Just a barber's chair, fit for every comer."
"And then this isn't the mission field exactly either."
"Mair's the pity, and then you wouldna be running bull-neck on your death
before your time."
"None of us can do that, auntie, for heaven is over all."
"High words off an empty stomach, my man, so you can just keep them to
cool your parridge. But oh, dear--oh, dear! You'll forget your puir auld
Jane Callender, anyway."
"Tut! don't tell me!"
"It's the last I'm to see of you, laddie. I'm knowing that fine--and me
that fond of you too, and looking on you as my ain son."
"Come, auntie, come; you mustn't take it so seriously."
"And to think a bit thing like that can make all this botherment!"
"Nay, it's my own doing--absolutely mine."
"Aye, aye, man's the head, but woman turns it."
They dined together and then got into the carriage for Soho. John talked
continually, with an impetuous rush of enthusiasm; but the old lady sat
in gloomy silence, broken only by a sigh. At the corner of Downing Street
he got out to call on the Prime Minister, and sent the carriage on to the
A newsboy going down Whitehall was calling an evening paper. John bought
a copy, and the first thing his eye fell upon was the mention of his own
name: "The announcement in another column that Father Storm of Soho
intends to take up the work which the heroic Father Damien has just laid
down will be received by the public with mingled joy and regret--joy at
the splendid heroism which prompts so noble a resolve, regret at the loss
which the Church in London will sustain by the removal of a clergyman of
so much courage, devotion, independence, and self-sacrifice.... That the
son of a peer and heir to an earldom should voluntarily take up a life of
poverty in Soho, one of the most crowded, criminal, and neglected corners
of Christendom, was a fact of so much significance----"
John Storm crushed the paper in his hand and threw it into the street;
but a few minutes afterward he saw another copy of it in the hands of the
Prime Minister as he came to the door of the Cabinet room to greet him.
The old man's face looked soft, and his voice had a faint tremor.
"I'm afraid you are bringing me bad news, John."
John laughed noisily. "Do I look like it, uncle? Bad news, indeed! No,
but the best news in the world."
"What is it, my boy?"
"I am about to be married. You've often told me I ought to be, and now
I'm going to act on your advice."
The bleak old face was smiling. "Then the rumour I see in the papers
isn't true, after all?"
"Oh, yes, it's true enough, and my wife is to go with me."
"But have you considered that carefully? Isn't it a terrible demand to
make of any woman? Women are more religious than men, but they are more
material also. Under the heat of religious impulse a woman is capable of
sacrifices--great sacrifices--but when it has cooled----"
"No fear of that, uncle," said John; and then he told the Prime Minister
what he had told Mrs. Callender--that it was Glory's proposal that they
should leave London, and that without this suggestion he might not have
thought of his present enterprise. The bleak face kept smiling, but the
Prime Minister was asking himself: "What does this mean? Has she _her
own_ reasons for wishing to go away?"
"Do you know, my boy, that with all this talk you've not yet told me who
John told him, and then a faint and far-off rumour out of another world
seemed to flit across his memory.
"An actress at present, you say?"
"So to speak, but ready to give up everything for this glorious mission."
"Very brave, no doubt, very beautiful; but what of your present
responsibilities--your responsibilities in London?"
"That's just what I came to speak about," said John; and then his
rapturous face straightened, and he made some effort to plunge into the
practical aspect of his affairs at Soho. There was his club for girls and
his home for children. They were to be turned out of the clergy-house
tomorrow, and he had taken a shelter at Westminster. But the means to
support them were still deficient, and if there was anything coming to
him that would suffice for that purpose--if there was enough left--if his
mother's money was not all gone----
The Prime Minister was looking into John's face, watching the play of his
features, but hardly listening to what he said. "What does this mean?" he
was asking himself, in the old habitual way of the man whose business it
is to read the motives that are not revealed.
"So you are willing to leave London, after all, John?"
"Why not, uncle? London is nothing to me in itself, less than nothing;
and if that brave girl to whom it is everything----"
"And yet six months ago I gave you the opportunity of doing so, and
"Then my head was full of dreams, sir. Thank God, they are gone now, and
I am awake at last!"
"But the Church--I thought your duty and devotion to the Church----"
"The Church is a chaos, uncle, a wreck of fragments without unity,
principle, or life. No man can find foothold in it now without
accommodating his duty and his loyalty to his chances of a livelihood. It
is a career, not a crusade. Once I imagined that a man might live as a
protest against all this, but it was a dream, a vain and presumptuous
"And then your woman movement----"
"Another dream, uncle! A whole standing army marshalled and equipped to
do battle against the world's sins toward woman could never hope for
victory. Why? Because the enemy is ourselves, and only God can contend
against a foe like that. He will, too! For the wrongs inflicted on woman
by this wicked and immoral London God will visit it with his vengeance
yet. I see it coming, it is not far off, and God help those----"
"But surely, my boy, surely it is not necessary to fly away from the
world in order to escape from your dreams? Just when it is going to be
good to you, too. It was kicking and cuffing and laughing at you only
"And to-morrow it would kick and cuff and laugh at me again. Oh, it is a
cowardly and contemptible world, uncle, and happy is the man who wants
nothing of it! He is its master, its absolute master, and everybody else
is its wretched slave. Think of the people who are scrambling for fame
and titles and decorations and invitations to court! They'll all be in
their six feet by two feet some-day. And then think of the rich men who
hire detectives to watch over their children lest they should be stolen
for sake of a ransom, while they themselves, like human mill-horses, go
tramping round and round the safes which contain their securities! Oh,
miserable delusion, to think that because a nation is rich it is
therefore great! Once I thought the Church was a refuge from this worst
of the spiritual dangers of the age, and so it would have been if it had
been built on the Gospel. But it isn't; it loves the thrones of the world
and bows down to the golden calf. Poverty! Give me poverty and let me
renounce everything. Jesus, our blessed Jesus, he knew well what he was
doing in choosing to be poor, and even as a man he was the greatest being
that ever trod upon the earth."
"But this leper island mission is not poverty merely, my dear John--it is
death, certain death, sooner or later, and God knows what news the next
mail may bring us!"
"As to that I feel I am in God's hands, sir, and he knows best what is
good for us. People talk about dying before their time, but no man ever
did or ever will or ever can do so, and it is blasphemy to think of it.
Then which of us can prolong our lives by one day or hour or minute? But
God can do everything. And what a grand inspiration to trust yourself
absolutely to him, to raise the arms heavenward which the world would
pinion to your side and cry, 'Do with me as thou wilt, I am ready for
A tremor passed over the wrinkles about the old man's eyes, and he
thought: "All this is self-deception. He doesn't believe a word of it.
Poor boy! his heart alone is leading him, and he is the worst slave of us
Then he said aloud: "Things haven't fallen out as I expected, John, and I
am sorry, very sorry. The laws of life and the laws of love don't always
run together--I know that quite well."
John flinched, but made no protest.
"I shall feel as if I were losing your mother a second time when you
leave me, my boy. To tell you the truth, I've been watching you and
thinking of you, though you haven't known it. And you've rather neglected
the old man. I thought you might bring your wife to me some day, and that
I might live to see your children. But that's all over now, and there
seems to be no help for it. They say the most noble and beautiful things
in the world are done in a state of fever, and perhaps this fever of
yours---H'm. As for the money, it is ready for you at any time."
"There can't be much left, uncle. I have gone through most of it."
"No, John, no; the money you spent was my money--your own is still
"You are too good, uncle, and if I had once thought you wished to see
more of me----"
"Ah, I know, I know. It was a wise man who said it was hard to love a
woman and do anything else, even to love God himself."
John dropped his head and turned to go.
"But come again before you leave London--if you do leave it--and now
good-bye, and God bless you!"
The news of John Storm's intention to follow Father Damien had touched
and thrilled the heart of London, and the streets and courts about St.
Mary Magdalene's were thronged with people. In their eyes he was about to
fulfil a glorious mission, and ought to be encouraged and sustained.
"Good-bye, Father!" cried one. "God bless you!" cried another. A young
woman with timid eyes stretched out her hand to him, and then everybody
attempted to do the same. He tried to answer cheerfully, but was
conscious that his throat was thick and his voice was husky. Mrs. Pincher
was at the door of the clergy-house, crying openly and wiping her eyes.
"Ain't there lepers enough in London, sir, without goin' to the ends of
the earth for 'em?" He laughed and made an effort to answer her
humorously, but for some reason both words and ideas failed him.
The club-room was crowded, and among the girls and the Sisters there were
several strange faces. Mrs. Callender sat at one end of the little
platform, and she was glowering across at the other end, where the Father
Superior stood in his black cassock, quiet and watchful, and with the
sprawling, smiling face of Brother Andrew by his side. The girls were
singing when John entered, and their voices swelled out as they saw him
pushing his way through. When the hymn ended there was silence for a
moment as if it was expected that he would speak, but he did not rise,
and the lady at the harmonium began again. Some of the young mothers from
the shelter above had brought down their little ones, and the thin,
tuneless voices could be heard among the rest:
There's a Friend for little children
Above the bright blue sky.
John had made a brave fight for it, but he was beginning to break down.
Everybody else had risen, he could not rise. An expression of fear and at
the same time of shame had come into his face. Vaguely, half-consciously,
half-reproachfully, he began to review the situation. After all, he was
deserting his post, he was running away. This was his true scene, his
true work, and if he turned his back upon it he would be pursued by
eternal regrets. And yet he must go, he must leave everything--that alone
he understood and felt.
All at once, God knows why, he began to think of something which had
happened when he was a boy. With his father he was crossing the Duddon
Sands. The tide was out, far out, but it had turned, it was galloping
toward them, and they could hear the champing waves on the beach behind.
"Run, boy, run! Give me your hand and run!"
Then he resumed the current of his former thoughts. "What was I thinking
about?" he asked himself; and when he remembered, he thought, "I will
give my hand to the heavenly Father and go on without fear." At the
second verse he rallied, rose to his feet, and joined in the singing. It
was said afterward that his deep voice rang out above all the other
voices, and that he sang in rapid and irregular time, going faster and
faster at every line.
They had reached the last verse but one, when he saw a young girl
crushing her way toward him with a letter. She was smiling, and seemed
proud to render him this service. He was about to lay the letter aside
when he glanced at it, and then he could not put it down. It was marked
"Urgent," and the address was in Glory's handwriting. The champing waves
were in his ears again. They were coming on and on.
A presentiment of evil crept over him and he opened the letter and read
it. Then his life fell to wreck in a moment. Its nullity, its
hopelessness, its futility, its folly, the world with its elusive joys,
love with its deceptions so cruel and so sweet-all, all came sweeping up
on him like the sea-wrack out of a storm. In an instant the truth
appeared to him, and he understood himself at last. For Glory's sake he
had sacrificed everything and deceived himself before God and man. And
yet she had failed him and forsaken him, and slipped out of his hands in
the end. The tide had overtaken and surrounded him, and the voices of the
girls and the children were like the roar of the waters in his ears.
But what was this? Why had they stopped singing? All at once he became
aware that everybody else was seated, and that he was standing alone on
the edge of the platform with Glory's letter in his hand.
"Hush! hush!" There was a strained silence, and he tried to recollect
what it was that he was expected to do. Every eye was on his face. Some
of the strangers opened note-books and sat ready to write. Then, coming
to himself, he understood what was before him, and tried to control his
voice and begin.
"Girls," he said, but he was hardly able to speak or breathe. "Girls," he
said again, but his strong voice shook, and he tried in vain to go on.
One of the girls began to sob. Then another and another. It was said
afterward that nobody could look on his drawn face, so hopeless, so full
of the traces of suffering and bitter sadness, without wanting to cry
aloud. But he controlled himself at length.
"My good friends all, you came to-night to bid me Godspeed on a long
journey and I came to bid you farewell. But there is a higher power that
rules our actions, and it is little we know of our own future, or our
fate or ourselves. God bids me tell you that my leper island is to be
London, and that my work among you is not done yet."
After saying this he stood a moment as if intending to say more, but he
said nothing. The letter crinkled in his fingers, he looked at it, an
expression of helplessness came into his face, and he sat down. And then
the Father came up to him and sat beside him, and took his hand and
comforted it as if he had been a little child.
There was another attempt to sing, but the hymn made no headway this
time, for some of the girls were crying, they hardly knew why, and others
were whispering, and the strangers were leaving the room. Two ladies were
going down the stairs.
"I felt sure he wouldn't go," said one.
"Why so?" said the other.
"I can't tell you. I had my private reasons."
It was Rosa Macquarrie. Going down the dark lane she came upon a woman
who had haunted the outside of the building during the past half hour,
apparently thinking at one moment of entering and at the next of going
away. The woman hurriedly lowered her veil as Rosa approached her, but
she was too late to avoid recognition.
"Glory! Is it you?"
Glory covered her face with her hands and sobbed.
"Whatever are you doing here?"
"Don't ask me, Rosa. Oh, I'm a lost woman! Lord forgive me, what have I
"My poor child!"
"Take me home, Rosa. And don't leave me to-night, dear--not to-night,
And Rosa took her by the arm and led her back to Clement's Inn.
Next morning before daybreak the brothers of the Society of the Holy
Gethsemane had gathered in their church in Bishopsgate Street for Lauds
and Prime. Only the chancel was lighted up, the rest of the church was
dark, but the first gleams of dawn, were now struggling through the
eastern window against the candlelight on the altar and the gaslight on
John Storm was standing on the altar steps and the Father was by his
side. He was wearing the cassock of the Brotherhood, and the cord with
the three knots was bound about his waist. All was silent round about,
the city was still asleep, the current of life had not yet awakened for
the day. Lauds and Prime were over, the brothers were on their knees, and
the Father was reading the last words of the dedication service.
There was a stroke of the bell overhead, a door somewhere was loudly
slammed, and then the organ began to play:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.
The brothers rose and sang, their voices filled the dark place, and the
quivering sounds of the organ swelled up to the unseen roof.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty,
God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity!
The Father's cheeks were moist, but his eyes were shining and his face
was full of a great joy. John Storm was standing with bowed head. He had
made the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and surrendered his
life to God.
Six months passed, and a panic terror had seized London. It was one of
those epidemic frenzies which have fallen upon great cities in former
ages of the world. The public mind was filled with the idea that London
was threatened with a serious danger; that it was verging on an awful
crisis; that it was about to be destroyed.
The signs were such as have usually been considered preparatory to the
second coming of the Messiah--a shock of earthquake which threw down a
tottering chimney (somewhere in Soho), and the expected appearance of a
comet. But this was not to be the second Advent; it was to be a disaster
confined to London.
God was about to punish London for its sins. The dishonour lay at its
door of being the wickedest city in the world. Side by side with the
development of mechanical science lifting men to the power and position
of angels, there was a moral degeneration degrading them to the level of
beasts. With an apparent aspiration after social and humanitarian reform,
there was a corruption of the public conscience and a hardening of the
public heart. London was the living picture of this startling contrast.
Impiety, iniquity, impurity, and injustice were at their height here, and
either England must forfeit her position among the nations, or the
Almighty would interpose. The Almighty was about to interpose, and the
consummation of London's wickedness was near.
By what means the destruction of London would come to pass was a matter
on which there were many theories, and the fear and consternation of the
people took various shapes. One of them was that of a mighty earthquake,
in which the dome of St. Paul's was to totter and the towers of
Westminster Abbey to rock and fall amid clouds of dust. Another was that
of an avenging fire, in which the great city was to light up the whole
face of Europe and burn to ashes as a witness of God's wrath at the sins
of men. A third was that of a flood, in which the Thames was to rise and
submerge the city, and tens of thousands of houses and hundreds of
thousands of persons were to be washed away and destroyed.
Concerning the time of the event, the popular imagination had attained to
a more definite idea. It was to occur on the great day of the Epsom
races. Derby Day was the national day. More than any day associated with
political independence, or with victory in battle, or yet with religious
sanctity, the day devoted to sport and gambling and intemperance and
immorality was England's day. Therefore the Almighty had selected that
day for the awful revelation by which he would make his power known to
Thus the heart of London was once more stormed, and shame and panic ran
through it like an epidemic. The consequences were the usual ones. In
vain the newspapers published articles in derision of the madness, with
accounts of similar frenzies which had laid hold of London before. There
was a run on the banks, men sold their businesses, dissolved their
partnerships, transferred their stocks, and removed to houses outside the
suburbs. Great losses were sustained in all ranks of society, and the
only class known to escape were the Jews on the Exchange, who held their
peace and profited by their infidelity.
When people asked themselves who the author and origin of the panic was
they thought instantly and with one accord of a dark-eyed, lonely man,
who walked the streets of London in the black cassock of a monk, with the
cord and three knots which were the witness of life vows. No dress could
have shown to better advantage his dark-brown face and tall figure.
Something majestic seemed to hang about the man. His big lustrous eyes,
his faint smile with its sad expression always behind it, his silence,
his reserve, his burning eloquence when he preached--seemed to lay siege
to the imagination of the populace, and especially to take hold as with a
fiery grip of the impassioned souls of women.
A certain mystery about his life did much to help this extraordinary
fascination. When London as a whole became conscious of him it was
understood that he was in some sort a nobleman as well as a priest, and
had renounced the pleasures and possessions of the world and given up all
for God. His life was devoted to the poor and outcast, especially to the
Magdalenes and their unhappy children. Although a detached monk still and
living in obedience to the rule of one of the monastic brotherhoods of
the Anglican Church, he was also vicar of a parish in Westminster. His
church was a centre of religious life in that abandoned district, having
no fewer than thirty parochial organizations connected with it, including
guilds, clubs, temperance societies, savings banks, and, above all,
shelters and orphanages for the girls and their little ones, who were the
vicar's especial care.
His chief helpers were a company of devoted women, drawn mainly from the
fashionable fringe which skirted his squalid district and banded together
as a Sisterhood. For clerical help he depended entirely on the brothers
of his society, and the money saved by these voluntary agencies he
distributed among the poor, the sick, and the unfortunate. Money of his
own he had none, and his purse was always empty by reason of his
free-handedness. Rumour spoke of a fortune of many thousands which had
been spent wholly on others in the building or maintenance of school and
hospital, shelter and refuge. He lived a life of more than Christian
simplicity, and was seen to treat himself with constant disregard of
comfort and convenience. His only home was two rooms (formerly assigned
to the choir) on the ground floor under his church, and it was understood
that he slept on a hospital bed, wrapped in the cloak which in winter he
wore over his cassock. His personal servant in these cell-like quarters
was a lay brother from his society--a big ungainly boy with sprawling
features who served him and loved him and looked up to him with the
devotion of a dog. A dog of other kind he had also--a bloodhound, whose
affection for him was a terror to all who awakened its jealousy or
provoked its master's wrath. People said he had learned renunciation and
was the most Christlike man they had ever known. He was called "The
Such was the man with whom the popular imagination associated the idea of
the panic, but what specific ground there was for laying upon him the
responsibility of the precise predictions which led to it none could
rightly say. It was remembered afterward that every new folly had been
ascribed to him. "The Father says so and so," or "The Father says such
and such will come to pass," and then came prophecies which were the
remotest from his thoughts. No matter how wild or extravagant the
assertion, if it was laid upon him there were people ready to believe it,
so deep was the impression made on the public mind by this priest in the
black cassock with the bloodhound at his heels, so strong was the
assurance that he was a man with the breath of God in him.
What was known with certainty was that the Father preached against the
impurities and injustices of the age with a vehemence never heard before,
and that when he spoke of the wickedness of the world toward woman, of
the temptations that were laid before her--temptations of dress, of
luxury, of false work and false fame--and then of the cruel neglect and
abandonment of woman when her summer had gone and her winter had come,
his lips seemed to be touched as by a live coal from the altar and his
eyes to blaze as with Pentecostal fire. Cities and nations which
countenanced and upheld such corruptions of a false civilization would be
overtaken by the judgment of God. That judgment was near, it was
imminent; and but for the many instances in which the life of the rich,
the great, and the powerful was redeemed by the highest virtue, this
pitiful farce of a national existence would have been played out already;
but for the good men still found in Sodom, the city of abominations must
long since have been destroyed. People there were to laugh at these
predictions, but they were only throwing cold water on lime; the more
they did so the more it smoked.
Little by little a supernatural atmosphere gathered about the Father as a
man sent from God. One day he visited a child who was sick with a bad
mouth, and touching the child's mouth he said, "It will be well soon."
The child recovered immediately, and the idea started that he was a
healer. People waited for him that they might touch his hand. Sometimes
after service he had to stand half an hour while the congregation filed
past him. Hard-headed persons, sane and acute in other relations of life,
were heard to protest that on shaking hands with him an electric current
passed through them. Sick people declared themselves cured by the sight
of him, and charlatans sold handkerchiefs on pretence that he had blessed
them. He repeatedly protested that it was not necessary to touch or even
to see him. "Your faith alone can make you whole." But the frenzy
increased, the people crowded upon him and he was followed through the
streets for his blessing.
Somebody discovered that he was born on the 25th of December, and was
just thirty-three years of age. Then the madness reached its height. A
certain resemblance was observed in his face and head to the traditional
head and face of Christ, and it was the humour of the populace to
discover some mystical relations between him and the divine figure.
Hysterical women kissed his hand and even hailed him as their Saviour. He
protested and remonstrated, but all to no purpose. The delusion grew, and
his protestations helped it.
As the day approached that was to be big with the fate of London, his
church, which had been crowded before, was now besieged. He was
understood to preach the hope that in the calamity to befall the city a
remnant would be saved, as Israel was saved from the plagues of Egypt.
Thousands who were too poor to leave London had determined to spend the
night of the fateful day in the open air, and already they were going out
into the fields and the parks, to Hampstead, Highgate, and Blackheath.
The panic was becoming terrible and the newspapers were calling upon the
authorities to intervene. A danger to the public peace was threatened,
and the man who was chiefly to blame for it should be dealt with at once.
No matter that he was innocent of active sedition, no matter that he was
living a life devoted to religious and humanitarian reforms, no matter
that his vivid faith, his trust in God, and his obedience to the divine
will were like a light shining in a dark place, no matter that he was not
guilty of the wild extravagance of the predictions of his followers--"the
Father" was a peril, he was a panic-maker, and he should be arrested and
The morning of Derby Day broke gray and dull and close. It was one of
those mornings in summer which portend a thunderstorm and great heat. In
that atmosphere London awoke to two great fevers--the fever of
superstitious fear and the fever of gambling and sport.
But London is a monster with many hearts; it is capable of various
emotions, and even at that feverish time it was at the full tide of a
sensation of a different kind entirely. This was a new play and a new
player. The play was "risky"; it was understood to present the fallen
woman in her naked reality, and not as a soiled dove or sentimental
plaything. The player was the actress who performed this part. She was
new to the stage, and little was known of her, but it was whispered that
she had something in common with the character she personated. Her
success had been instantaneous: her photograph was in the shop windows,
it had been reproduced in the illustrated papers, she had sat to famous
artists, and her portrait in oils was on the line at Burlington House.