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THE DAWN OF A TO-MORROW
By FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
There are always two ways of
looking at a thing, frequently
there are six or seven; but two ways
of looking at a London fog are quite
enough. When it is thick and yellow
in the streets and stings a man's
throat and lungs as he breathes it, an
awakening in the early morning is
either an unearthly and grewsome,
or a mysteriously enclosing, secluding,
and comfortable thing. If one
awakens in a healthy body, and with
a clear brain rested by normal sleep
and retaining memories of a normally
agreeable yesterday, one may lie watching
the housemaid building the fire;
and after she has swept the hearth
and put things in order, lie watching
the flames of the blazing and crackling
wood catch the coals and set them
blazing also, and dancing merrily and
filling corners with a glow; and in so
lying and realizing that leaping light
and warmth and a soft bed are good
things, one may turn over on one's
back, stretching arms and legs
luxuriously, drawing deep breaths and
smiling at a knowledge of the fog
outside which makes half-past eight
o'clock on a December morning as
dark as twelve o'clock on a December
night. Under such conditions
the soft, thick, yellow gloom has its
picturesque and even humorous aspect.
One feels enclosed by it at once
fantastically and cosily, and is inclined
to revel in imaginings of the picture
outside, its Rembrandt lights and
orange yellows, the halos about the
street-lamps, the illumination of shop-
windows, the flare of torches stuck
up over coster barrows and coffee-
stands, the shadows on the faces of
the men and women selling and buying
beside them. Refreshed by sleep
and comfort and surrounded by light,
warmth, and good cheer, it is easy to
face the day, to confront going out
into the fog and feeling a sort of
pleasure in its mysteries. This is one
way of looking at it, but only one.
The other way is marked by enormous
A man--he had given his name
to the people of the house as Antony
Dart--awakened in a third-story
bedroom in a lodging-house in a poor
street in London, and as his consciousness
returned to him, its slow and
reluctant movings confronted the
second point of view--marked by
enormous differences. He had not
slept two consecutive hours through
the night, and when he had slept he
had been tormented by dreary dreams,
which were more full of misery because
of their elusive vagueness, which
kept his tortured brain on a wearying
strain of effort to reach some definite
understanding of them. Yet when
he awakened the consciousness of
being again alive was an awful thing.
If the dreams could have faded into
blankness and all have passed with
the passing of the night, how he
could have thanked whatever gods
there be! Only not to awake--
only not to awake! But he had
The clock struck nine as he did
so, consequently he knew the hour.
The lodging-house slavey had aroused
him by coming to light the fire. She
had set her candle on the hearth and
done her work as stealthily as possible,
but he had been disturbed,
though he had made a desperate effort
to struggle back into sleep. That
was no use--no use. He was awake
and he was in the midst of it all again.
Without the sense of luxurious comfort
he opened his eyes and turned
upon his back, throwing out his arms
flatly, so that he lay as in the form
of a cross, in heavy weariness and
anguish. For months he had awakened
each morning after such a night
and had so lain like a crucified thing.
As he watched the painful flickering
of the damp and smoking wood and
coal he remembered this and thought
that there had been a lifetime of such
awakenings, not knowing that the
morbidness of a fagged brain blotted
out the memory of more normal days
and told him fantastic lies which were
but a hundredth part truth. He could
see only the hundredth part truth, and
it assumed proportions so huge that
he could see nothing else. In such
a state the human brain is an infernal
machine and its workings can only be
conquered if the mortal thing which
lives with it--day and night, night
and day--has learned to separate its
controllable from its seemingly
uncontrollable atoms, and can silence
its clamor on its way to madness.
Antony Dart had not learned this
thing and the clamor had had its
hideous way with him. Physicians
would have given a name to his
mental and physical condition. He
had heard these names often--applied
to men the strain of whose lives had
been like the strain of his own, and
had left them as it had left him--
jaded, joyless, breaking things. Some
of them had been broken and had
died or were dragging out bruised and
tormented days in their own homes
or in mad-houses. He always shuddered
when he heard their names,
and rebelled with sick fear against
the mere mention of them. They
had worked as he had worked, they
had been stricken with the delirium
as he had been. They had been
caught in the rush and swirl of the
great maelstrom, and had been borne
round and round in it, until having
grasped every coveted thing tossing
upon its circling waters, they
themselves had been flung upon the shore
with both hands full, the rocks about
them strewn with rich possessions,
while they lay prostrate and gazed
at all life had brought with dull,
hopeless, anguished eyes. He knew
--if the worst came to the worst--
what would be said of him, because
he had heard it said of others. "He
worked too hard--he worked too
hard." He was sick of hearing it.
What was wrong with the world--
what was wrong with man, as Man
--if work could break him like this?
If one believed in Deity, the living
creature It breathed into being must
be a perfect thing--not one to be
wearied, sickened, tortured by the
life Its breathing had created. A
mere man would disdain to build
a thing so poor and incomplete.
A mere human engineer who constructed
an engine whose workings
were perpetually at fault--which
went wrong when called upon to
do the labor it was made for--who
would not scoff at it and cast it aside
as a piece of worthless bungling?
"Something is wrong," he mut-
tered, lying flat upon his cross and
staring at the yellow haze which
had crept through crannies in window-
sashes into the room. "Someone
is wrong. Is it I--or You?"
His thin lips drew themselves
back against his teeth in a mirthless
smile which was like a grin.
"Yes," he said. "I am pretty
far gone. I am beginning to talk to
myself about God. Bryan did it just
before he was taken to Dr. Hewletts'
place and cut his throat."
He had not led a specially evil
life; he had not broken laws, but
the subject of Deity was not one
which his scheme of existence had
included. When it had haunted
him of late he had felt it an untoward
and morbid sign. The thing
had drawn him--drawn him; he
had complained against it, he had
argued, sometimes he knew--shuddering--
that he had raved. Something
had seemed to stand aside and
watch his being and his thinking.
Something which filled the universe
had seemed to wait, and to have
waited through all the eternal ages,
to see what he--one man--would
do. At times a great appalled wonder
had swept over him at his realization
that he had never known or
thought of it before. It had been
there always--through all the ages
that had passed. And sometimes--
once or twice--the thought had in
some unspeakable, untranslatable way
brought him a moment's calm.
But at other times he had said to
himself--with a shivering soul cowering
within him--that this was only
part of it all and was a beginning,
perhaps, of religious monomania.
During the last week he had
known what he was going to do--
he had made up his mind. This
abject horror through which others
had let themselves be dragged to
madness or death he would not
endure. The end should come quickly,
and no one should be smitten aghast
by seeing or knowing how it came.
In the crowded shabbier streets of
London there were lodging-houses
where one, by taking precautions,
could end his life in such a manner
as would blot him out of any world
where such a man as himself had been
known. A pistol, properly managed,
would obliterate resemblance to any
human thing. Months ago through
chance talk he had heard how it
could be done--and done quickly.
He could leave a misleading letter.
He had planned what it should be--
the story it should tell of a
disheartened mediocre venturer of his
poor all returning bankrupt and
humiliated from Australia, ending
existence in such pennilessness that
the parish must give him a pauper's
grave. What did it matter where a
man lay, so that he slept--slept--
slept? Surely with one's brains
scattered one would sleep soundly
He had come to the house the
night before, dressed shabbily with
the pitiable respectability of a
defeated man. He had entered
droopingly with bent shoulders and
hopeless hang of head. In his own
sphere he was a man who held himself
well. He had let fall a few
dispirited sentences when he had
engaged his back room from the
woman of the house, and she had
recognized him as one of the luckless.
In fact, she had hesitated a
moment before his unreliable look
until he had taken out money from
his pocket and paid his rent for a
week in advance. She would have
that at least for her trouble, he had
said to himself. He should not occupy
the room after to-morrow. In
his own home some days would pass
before his household began to make
inquiries. He had told his servants
that he was going over to Paris for a
change. He would be safe and deep
in his pauper's grave a week before
they asked each other why they did
not hear from him. All was in
order. One of the mocking agonies
was that living was done for. He
had ceased to live. Work, pleasure,
sun, moon, and stars had lost their
meaning. He stood and looked at
the most radiant loveliness of land
and sky and sea and felt nothing.
Success brought greater wealth each
day without stirring a pulse of
pleasure, even in triumph. There
was nothing left but the awful days
and awful nights to which he knew
physicians could give their scientific
name, but had no healing for. He
had gone far enough. He would go
no farther. To-morrow it would
have been over long hours. And
there would have been no public
declaiming over the humiliating
pitifulness of his end. And what did it
How thick the fog was outside--
thick enough for a man to lose himself
in it. The yellow mist which
had crept in under the doors and
through the crevices of the window-
sashes gave a ghostly look to the
room--a ghastly, abnormal look, he
said to himself. The fire was
smouldering instead of blazing. But
what did it matter? He was going
out. He had not bought the pistol
last night--like a fool. Somehow
his brain had been so tired and
crowded that he had forgotten.
"Forgotten." He mentally
repeated the word as he got out of bed.
By this time to-morrow he should
have forgotten everything. THIS
TIME TO-MORROW. His mind repeated
that also, as he began to dress
himself. Where should he be? Should
he be anywhere? Suppose he
awakened again--to something as
bad as this? How did a man get
out of his body? After the crash
and shock what happened? Did one
find oneself standing beside the Thing
and looking down at it? It would
not be a good thing to stand and
look down on--even for that which
had deserted it. But having torn
oneself loose from it and its devilish
aches and pains, one would not care
--one would see how little it all
mattered. Anything else must be
better than this--the thing for
which there was a scientific name
but no healing. He had taken all
the drugs, he had obeyed all the
medical orders, and here he was after
that last hell of a night--dressing
himself in a back bedroom of a
cheap lodging-house to go out and
buy a pistol in this damned fog.
He laughed at the last phrase of
his thought, the laugh which was a
"I am thinking of it as if I was
afraid of taking cold," he said.
There would be no To-morrow.
To-morrows were at an end. No
more nights--no more days--no
He finished dressing, putting on
his discriminatingly chosen shabby-
genteel clothes with a care for the
effect he intended them to produce.
The collar and cuffs of his shirt were
frayed and yellow, and he fastened his
collar with a pin and tied his worn
necktie carelessly. His overcoat was
beginning to wear a greenish shade
and look threadbare, so was his hat.
When his toilet was complete he
looked at himself in the cracked and
hazy glass, bending forward to
scrutinize his unshaven face under the
shadow of the dingy hat.
"It is all right," he muttered.
"It is not far to the pawnshop
where I saw it."
The stillness of the room as he
turned to go out was uncanny. As
it was a back room, there was no
street below from which could arise
sounds of passing vehicles, and the
thickness of the fog muffled such
sound as might have floated from the
front. He stopped half-way to the
door, not knowing why, and listened.
To what--for what? The silence
seemed to spread through all the
house--out into the streets--
through all London--through all
the world, and he to stand in the
midst of it, a man on the way to
Death--with no To-morrow.
What did it mean? It seemed to
mean something. The world
withdrawn--breath withdrawn. He
stood and waited. Perhaps this
was one of the symptoms of the
morbid thing for which there was
that name. If so he had better get
away quickly and have it over, lest
he be found wandering about not
knowing--not knowing. But now
he knew--the Silence. He waited
--waited and tried to hear, as if
something was calling him--calling
without sound. It returned to him
--the thought of That which had
waited through all the ages to see
what he--one man--would do.
He had never exactly pitied himself
before--he did not know that he
pitied himself now, but he was a
man going to his death, and a light,
cold sweat broke out on him and
it seemed as if it was not he who
did it, but some other--he flung
out his arms and cried aloud words
he had not known he was going to
"Lord! Lord! What shall I do
to be saved?"
But the Silence gave no answer.
It was the Silence still.
And after standing a few moments
panting, his arms fell and his head
dropped, and turning the handle of
the door, he went out to buy the
As he went down the narrow staircase,
covered with its dingy and
threadbare carpet, he found the
house so full of dirty yellow haze
that he realized that the fog must be
of the extraordinary ones which are
remembered in after-years as abnormal
specimens of their kind. He
recalled that there had been one of
the sort three years before, and that
traffic and business had been almost
entirely stopped by it, that accidents
had happened in the streets, and that
people having lost their way had
wandered about turning corners until
they found themselves far from their
intended destinations and obliged to
take refuge in hotels or the houses of
hospitable strangers. Curious incidents
had occurred and odd stories
were told by those who had felt
themselves obliged by circumstances
to go out into the baffling gloom.
He guessed that something of a like
nature had fallen upon the town
again. The gas-light on the landings
and in the melancholy hall
burned feebly--so feebly that one
got but a vague view of the rickety
hat-stand and the shabby overcoats
and head-gear hanging upon it. It
was well for him that he had but
a corner or so to turn before he
reached the pawnshop in whose
window he had seen the pistol he
intended to buy.
When he opened the street-door
he saw that the fog was, upon the
whole, perhaps even heavier and
more obscuring, if possible, than the
one so well remembered. He could
not see anything three feet before
him, he could not see with distinctness
anything two feet ahead. The
sensation of stepping forward was
uncertain and mysterious enough to be
almost appalling. A man not
sufficiently cautious might have fallen
into any open hole in his path. Antony
Dart kept as closely as possible
to the sides of the houses. It would
have been easy to walk off the pavement
into the middle of the street
but for the edges of the curb and the
step downward from its level. Traffic
had almost absolutely ceased, though
in the more important streets link-
boys were making efforts to guide
men or four-wheelers slowly along.
The blind feeling of the thing was
rather awful. Though but few
pedestrians were out, Dart found
himself once or twice brushing against
or coming into forcible contact with
men feeling their way about like
"One turn to the right," he
repeated mentally, "two to the left,
and the place is at the corner of the
other side of the street."
He managed to reach it at last,
but it had been a slow, and therefore,
long journey. All the gas-jets
the little shop owned were lighted,
but even under their flare the articles
in the window--the one or two
once cheaply gaudy dresses and
shawls and men's garments--hung
in the haze like the dreary, dangling
ghosts of things recently executed.
Among watches and forlorn pieces
of old-fashioned jewelry and odds and
ends, the pistol lay against the folds
of a dirty gauze shawl. There it
was. It would have been annoying
if someone else had been beforehand
and had bought it.
Inside the shop more dangling
spectres hung and the place was
almost dark. It was a shabby pawnshop,
and the man lounging behind
the counter was a shabby man with
an unshaven, unamiable face.
"I want to look at that pistol in
the right-hand corner of your window,"
Antony Dart said.
The pawnbroker uttered a sound
something between a half-laugh and
a grunt. He took the weapon from
Antony Dart examined it critically.
He must make quite sure of
it. He made no further remark.
He felt he had done with speech.
Being told the price asked for the
purchase, he drew out his purse and
took the money from it. After
making the payment he noted that
he still possessed a five-pound note
and some sovereigns. There passed
through his mind a wonder as to
who would spend it. The most
decent thing, perhaps, would be to
give it away. If it was in his room
--to-morrow--the parish would not
bury him, and it would be safer that
the parish should.
He was thinking of this as he
left the shop and began to cross the
street. Because his mind was wandering
he was less watchful. Suddenly
a rubber-tired hansom, moving
without sound, appeared immediately
in his path--the horse's head
loomed up above his own. He made
the inevitable involuntary whirl aside
to move out of the way, the hansom
passed, and turning again, he went
on. His movement had been too
swift to allow of his realizing the
direction in which his turn had been
made. He was wholly unaware that
when he crossed the street he crossed
backward instead of forward. He
turned a corner literally feeling his
way, went on, turned another, and
after walking the length of the street,
suddenly understood that he was in
a strange place and had lost his
This was exactly what had happened
to people on the day of the
memorable fog of three years before.
He had heard them talking of such
experiences, and of the curious and
baffling sensations they gave rise to
in the brain. Now he understood
them. He could not be far from
his lodgings, but he felt like a man
who was blind, and who had been
turned out of the path he knew.
He had not the resource of the people
whose stories he had heard. He
would not stop and address anyone.
There could be no certainty as to
whom he might find himself speaking
to. He would speak to no one.
He would wander about until he
came upon some clew. Even if he
came upon none, the fog would
surely lift a little and become a trifle
less dense in course of time. He
drew up the collar of his overcoat,
pulled his hat down over his eyes
and went on--his hand on the thing
he had thrust into a pocket.
He did not find his clew as he
had hoped, and instead of lifting the
fog grew heavier. He found himself
at last no longer striving for any
end, but rambling along mechanically,
feeling like a man in a dream
--a nightmare. Once he recognized
a weird suggestion in the mystery
about him. To-morrow might
one be wandering about aimlessly in
some such haze. He hoped not.
His lodgings were not far from
the Embankment, and he knew at
last that he was wandering along it,
and had reached one of the bridges.
His mood led him to turn in upon
it, and when he reached an embrasure
to stop near it and lean upon the
parapet looking down. He could
not see the water, the fog was too
dense, but he could hear some faint
splashing against stones. He had
taken no food and was rather faint.
What a strange thing it was to feel
faint for want of food--to stand
alone, cut off from every other
human being--everything done for.
No wonder that sometimes, particularly
on such days as these, there
were plunges made from the parapet
--no wonder. He leaned farther
over and strained his eyes to see
some gleam of water through the
yellowness. But it was not to be
done. He was thinking the inevitable
thing, of course; but such a
plunge would not do for him. The
other thing would destroy all traces.
As he drew back he heard
something fall with the solid tinkling
sound of coin on the flag pavement.
When he had been in the pawnbroker's
shop he had taken the gold
from his purse and thrust it carelessly
into his waistcoat pocket, thinking
that it would be easy to reach when
he chose to give it to one beggar
or another, if he should see some
wretch who would be the better for
it. Some movement he had made
in bending had caused a sovereign to
slip out and it had fallen upon the
He did not intend to pick it up,
but in the moment in which he
stood looking down at it he heard
close to him a shuffling movement.
What he had thought a bundle of
rags or rubbish covered with sacking
--some tramp's deserted or forgotten
belongings--was stirring. It was
alive, and as he bent to look at it the
sacking divided itself, and a small
head, covered with a shock of brilliant
red hair, thrust itself out, a
shrewd, small face turning to look
up at him slyly with deep-set black
It was a human girl creature about
twelve years old.
"Are yer goin' to do it?" she
said in a hoarse, street-strained voice.
"Yer would be a fool if yer did--
with as much as that on yer."
She pointed with a reddened,
chapped, and dirty hand at the
"Pick it up," he said. "You may
Her wild shuffle forward was an
actual leap. The hand made a
snatching clutch at the coin. She
was evidently afraid that he was
either not in earnest or would
repent. The next second she was on
her feet and ready for flight.
"Stop," he said; "I've got more
to give away."
She hesitated--not believing
him, yet feeling it madness to lose a
"MORE!" she gasped. Then she
drew nearer to him, and a singular
change came upon her face. It was
a change which made her look oddly
"Gawd, mister!" she said. "Yer
can give away a quid like it was
nothin'--an' yer've got more--an'
yer goin' to do THAT--jes cos yer 'ad
a bit too much lars night an' there's
a fog this mornin'! You take it
straight from me--don't yer do it.
I give yer that tip for the suvrink."
She was, for her years, so ugly and
so ancient, and hardened in voice and
skin and manner that she fascinated
him. Not that a man who has no
To-morrow in view is likely to be
particularly conscious of mental
processes. He was done for, but he stood
and stared at her. What part of the
Power moving the scheme of the
universe stood near and thrust him
on in the path designed he did not
know then--perhaps never did. He
was still holding on to the thing in his
pocket, but he spoke to her again.
"What do you mean?" he asked
She sidled nearer, her sharp eyes
on his face.
"I bin watchin' yer," she said.
"I sat down and pulled the sack
over me 'ead to breathe inside it an'
get a bit warm. An' I see yer come.
I knowed wot yer was after, I did.
I watched yer through a 'ole in me
sack. I wasn't goin' to call a copper.
I shouldn't want ter be stopped
meself if I made up me mind. I
seed a gal dragged out las' week an'
it'd a broke yer 'art to see 'er tear 'er
clothes an' scream. Wot business
'ad they preventin' 'er goin' off
quiet? I wouldn't 'a' stopped yer
--but w'en the quid fell, that made
"I--" he said, feeling the foolishness
of the statement, but making
it, nevertheless, "I am ill."
"Course yer ill. It's yer 'ead.
Come along er me an' get a cup er
cawfee at a stand, an' buck up. If
yer've give me that quid straight--
wish-yer-may-die--I'll go with yer
an' get a cup myself. I ain't 'ad a bite
since yesterday--an' 't wa'n't nothin'
but a slice o' polony sossidge I found
on a dust-'eap. Come on, mister."
She pulled his coat with her
cracked hand. He glanced down at
it mechanically, and saw that some
of the fissures had bled and the
roughened surface was smeared with
the blood. They stood together in
the small space in which the fog
enclosed them--he and she--the
man with no To-morrow and the
girl thing who seemed as old as
himself, with her sharp, small nose
and chin, her sharp eyes and voice
--and yet--perhaps the fogs
enclosing did it--something drew
them together in an uncanny way.
Something made him forget the lost
clew to the lodging-house--
something made him turn and go with
her--a thing led in the dark.
"How can you find your way?"
he said. "I lost mine."
"There ain't no fog can lose me,"
she answered, shuffling along by his
side; " 'sides, it's goin' to lift.
Look at that man comin' to'ards us."
It was true that they could see
through the orange-colored mist the
approaching figure of a man who
was at a yard's distance from them.
Yes, it was lifting slightly--at least
enough to allow of one's making a
guess at the direction in which one
"Where are you going?" he
"Apple Blossom Court," she
answered. "The cawfee-stand's in a
street near it--and there's a shop
where I can buy things."
"Apple Blossom Court!" he
ejaculated. "What a name!"
"There ain't no apple-blossoms
there," chuckling; "nor no smell
of 'em. 'T ain't as nice as its nime
is--Apple Blossom Court ain't."
"What do you want to buy? A
pair of shoes?" The shoes her
naked feet were thrust into were
leprous-looking things through which
nearly all her toes protruded. But
she chuckled when he spoke.
"No, I 'm goin' to buy a di'mond
tirarer to go to the opery in," she
said, dragging her old sack closer
round her neck. "I ain't ad a noo
un since I went to the last Drorin'-
It was impudent street chaff, but
there was cheerful spirit in it, and
cheerful spirit has some occult effect
upon morbidity. Antony Dart
did not smile, but he felt a faint
stirring of curiosity, which was, after
all, not a bad thing for a man who
had not felt an interest for a year.
"What is it you are going to
"I'm goin' to fill me stummick
fust," with a grin of elation. "Three
thick slices o' bread an' drippin' an'
a mug o' cawfee. An' then I'm
goin' to get sumethin' 'earty to carry
to Polly. She ain't no good, pore
"Who is she?"
Stopping a moment to drag up the
heel of her dreadful shoe, she
answered him with an unprejudiced
directness which might have been
appalling if he had been in the mood
to be appalled.
"Ain't eighteen, an' tryin' to earn
'er livin' on the street. She ain't
made for it. Little country thing,
allus frightened to death an' ready
to bust out cryin'. Gents ain't goin'
to stand that. A lot of 'em wants
cheerin' up as much as she does.
Gent as was in liquor last night
knocked 'er down an' give 'er a
black eye. 'T wan't ill feelin', but
he lost his temper, an' give 'er a
knock casual. She can't go out
to-night, an' she's been 'uddled up
all day cryin' for 'er mother."
"Where is her mother?"
"In the country--on a farm.
Polly took a place in a lodgin'-'ouse
an' got in trouble. The biby was
dead, an' when she come out o'
Queen Charlotte's she was took in by
a woman an' kep'. She kicked 'er
out in a week 'cos of her cryin'.
The life didn't suit 'er. I found 'er
cryin' fit to split 'er chist one night
--corner o' Apple Blossom Court--
an' I took care of 'er."
"Me chambers," grinning; "top
loft of a 'ouse in the court. If anyone
else 'd 'ave it I should be turned
out. It's an 'ole, I can tell yer--
but it 's better than sleepin' under
"Take me to see it," said Antony
Dart. "I want to see the girl."
The words spoke themselves. Why
should he care to see either cockloft
or girl? He did not. He wanted
to go back to his lodgings with that
which he had come out to buy.
Yet he said this thing. His
companion looked up at him with an
expression actually relieved.
"Would yer tike up with 'er?"
with eager sharpness, as if confronting
a simple business proposition.
"She's pretty an' clean, an' she
won't drink a drop o' nothin'. If
she was treated kind she'd be
cheerfler. She's got a round fice an'
light 'air an' eyes. 'Er 'air 's curly.
P'raps yer'd like 'er."
"Take me to see her."
"She'd look better to-morrow,"
cautiously, "when the swellin 's gone
down round 'er eye."
Dart started--and it was because
he had for the last five minutes forgotten
"I shall not be here to-morrow,"
he said. His grasp upon the thing
in his pocket had loosened, and he
"I have some more money in my
purse," he said deliberately. "I
meant to give it away before going.
I want to give it to people who need
it very much."
She gave him one of the sly,
"Deservin' cases?" She put it to
him in brazen mockery.
"I don't care," he answered slowly
and heavily. "I don't care a damn."
Her face changed exactly as he
had seen it change on the bridge
when she had drawn nearer to him.
Its ugly hardness suddenly looked
human. And that she could look
human was fantastic.
" 'Ow much 'ave yer?" she asked.
" 'Ow much is it?"
"About ten pounds."
She stopped and stared at him
with open mouth.
"Gawd!" she broke out; "ten
pounds 'd send Apple Blossom Court
to 'eving. Leastways, it'd take some
of it out o' 'ell."
"Take me to it," he said roughly.
She began to walk quickly, breathing
fast. The fog was lighter, and
it was no longer a blinding thing.
A question occurred to Dart.
"Why don't you ask me to give
the money to you?" he said bluntly.
"Dunno," she answered as bluntly.
But after taking a few steps farther
she spoke again.
"I 'm cheerfler than most of 'em,"
she elaborated. "If yer born cheerfle
yer can stand things. When I
gets a job nussin' women's bibies
they don't cry when I 'andles 'em.
I gets many a bite an' a copper 'cos
o' that. Folks likes yer. I shall
get on better than Polly when I'm
old enough to go on the street."
The organ of whose lagging, sick
pumpings Antony Dart had scarcely
been aware for months gave a sudden
leap in his breast. His blood
actually hastened its pace, and ran
through his veins instead of crawling
--a distinct physical effect of an
actual mental condition. It was
produced upon him by the mere
matter-of-fact ordinariness of her
tone. He had never been a senti-
mental man, and had long ceased to
be a feeling one, but at that moment
something emotional and normal
happened to him.
"You expect to live in that way?"
"Ain't nothin' else fer me to do.
Wisht I was better lookin'. But
I've got a lot of 'air," clawing her
mop, "an' it's red. One day,"
chuckling, "a gent ses to me--he
ses: `Oh! yer'll do. Yer an ugly
little devil--but ye ARE a devil.' "
She was leading him through a
narrow, filthy back street, and she
stopped, grinning up in his face.
"I say, mister," she wheedled,
"let's stop at the cawfee-stand.
It's up this way."
When he acceded and followed
her, she quickly turned a corner.
They were in another lane thick
with fog, which flared with the
flame of torches stuck in costers'
barrows which stood here and there--
barrows with fried fish upon them,
barrows with second-hand-looking
vegetables and others piled with
more than second-hand-looking garments.
Trade was not driving, but
near one or two of them dirty, ill-
used looking women, a man or so,
and a few children stood. At a
corner which led into a black hole
of a court, a coffee-stand was stationed,
in charge of a burly ruffian in
"Come along," said the girl.
"There it is. It ain't strong, but
it 's 'ot."
She sidled up to the stand, drawing
Dart with her, as if glad of his
" 'Ello, Barney," she said. " 'Ere 's
a gent warnts a mug o' yer best.
I've 'ad a bit o' luck, an' I wants
"Garn," growled Barney. "You
an' yer luck! Gent may want a
mug, but y'd show yer money fust."
"Strewth! I've got it. Y' aint got
the chinge fer wot I 'ave in me 'and
'ere. 'As 'e, mister?"
"Show it," taunted the man, and
then turning to Dart. "Yer wants
a mug o' cawfee?"
The girl held out her hand
cautiously--the piece of gold lying
upon its palm.
"Look 'ere," she said.
There were two or three men
slouching about the stand. Suddenly
a hand darted from between
two of them who stood nearest, the
sovereign was snatched, a screamed
oath from the girl rent the thick
air, and a forlorn enough scarecrow
of a young fellow sprang away.
The blood leaped in Antony Dart's
veins again and he sprang after him
in a wholly normal passion of
indignation. A thousand years ago--as
it seemed to him--he had been a
good runner. This man was not one,
and want of food had weakened him.
Dart went after him with strides
which astonished himself. Up the
street, into an alley and out of it, a
dozen yards more and into a court,
and the man wheeled with a hoarse,
baffled curse. The place had no
"Hell!" was all the creature said.
Dart took him by his greasy collar.
Even the brief rush had left him feeling
like a living thing--which was
a new sensation.
"Give it up," he ordered.
The thief looked at him with a
half-laugh and obeyed, as if he felt
the uselessness of a struggle. He
was not more than twenty-five years
old, and his eyes were cavernous with
want. He had the face of a man
who might have belonged to a better
class. When he had uttered the
exclamation invoking the infernal
regions he had not dropped the
"I 'm as hungry as she is," he
"Hungry enough to rob a child
beggar?" said Dart.
"Hungry enough to rob a starving
old woman--or a baby," with
a defiant snort. "Wolf hungry--
tiger hungry--hungry enough to
He whirled himself loose and
leaned his body against the wall,
turning his face toward it. Suddenly
he made a choking sound
and began to sob.
"Hell!" he choked. "I 'll give
it up! I 'll give it up!"
What a figure--what a figure, as
he swung against the blackened wall,
his scarecrow clothes hanging on him,
their once decent material making
their pinning together of buttonless
places, their looseness and rents showing
dirty linen, more abject than any
other squalor could have made them.
Antony Dart's blood, still running
warm and well, was doing its normal
work among the brain-cells which
had stirred so evilly through the night.
When he had seized the fellow by
the collar, his hand had left his
pocket. He thrust it into another
pocket and drew out some silver.
"Go and get yourself some food,"
he said. "As much as you can eat.
Then go and wait for me at the place
they call Apple Blossom Court. I
don't know where it is, but I am
going there. I want to hear how
you came to this. Will you come?"
The thief lurched away from the
wall and toward him. He stared up
into his eyes through the fog. The
tears had smeared his cheekbones.
"God!" he said. "Will I come?
Look and see if I'll come." Dart
"Yes, you 'll come," he answered,
and he gave him the money. "I 'm
going back to the coffee-stand."
The thief stood staring after him
as he went out of the court. Dart
was speaking to himself.
"I don't know why I did it," he
said. "But the thing had to be
In the street he turned into he
came upon the robbed girl, running,
panting, and crying. She uttered a
shout and flung herself upon him,
clutching his coat.
"Gawd!" she sobbed hysterically,
"I thort I'd lost yer! I thort I'd
lost all of it, I did! Strewth! I 'm
glad I've found yer--" and she
stopped, choking with her sobs and
sniffs, rubbing her face in her sack.
"Here is your sovereign," Dart
said, handing it to her.
She dropped the corner of the
sack and looked up with a queer
"Did yer find a copper? Did yer
give him in charge?"
"No," answered Dart. "He was
worse off than you. He was starving.
I took this from him; but I gave
him some money and told him to
meet us at Apple Blossom Court."
She stopped short and drew back
a pace to stare up at him.
"Well," she gave forth, "y' ARE a
And yet in the amazement on her
face he perceived a remote dawning
of an understanding of the meaning
of the thing he had done.
He had spoken like a man in a
dream. He felt like a man in a
dream, being led in the thick mist
from place to place. He was led
back to the coffee-stand, where now
Barney, the proprietor, was pouring
out coffee for a hoarse-voiced coster
girl with a draggled feather in
her hat, who greeted their arrival
"Hello, Glad!" she cried out.
"Got yer suvrink back?"
Glad--it seemed to be the creature's
wild name--nodded, but held
close to her companion's side, clutching
"Let's go in there an' change it,"
she said, nodding toward a small pork
and ham shop near by. "An' then
yer can take care of it for me."
"What did she call you?" Antony
Dart asked her as they went.
"Glad. Don't know as I ever 'ad
a nime o' me own, but a little cove
as went once to the pantermine told
me about a young lady as was Fairy
Queen an' 'er name was Gladys Beverly
St. John, so I called mesself that.
No one never said it all at onct--
they don't never say nothin' but
Glad. I'm glad enough this mornin',"
chuckling again, " 'avin' the
luck to come up with you, mister.
Never had luck like it 'afore."
They went into the pork and ham
shop and changed the sovereign.
There was cooked food in the windows--
roast pork and boiled ham
and corned beef. She bought slices
of pork and beef, and of suet-pudding
with a few currants sprinkled
"Will yer 'elp me to carry it?"
she inquired. "I 'll 'ave to get a
few pen'worth o' coal an' wood an'
a screw o' tea an' sugar. My wig,
wot a feed me an' Polly 'll 'ave!"
As they returned to the coffee-
stand she broke more than once into
a hop of glee. Barney had changed
his mind concerning her. A solid
sovereign which must be changed
and a companion whose shabby gentility
was absolute grandeur when
compared with his present surroundings
made a difference.
She received her mug of coffee and
thick slice of bread and dripping with
a grin, and swallowed the hot sweet
liquid down in ecstatic gulps.
"Ain't I in luck?" she said, handing
her mug back when it was empty.
"Gi' me another, Barney."
Antony Dart drank coffee also and
ate bread and dripping. The coffee
was hot and the bread and dripping,
dashed with salt, quite eatable. He
had needed food and felt the better
"Come on, mister," said Glad,
when their meal was ended. "I want
to get back to Polly, an' there 's coal
and bread and things to buy."
She hurried him along, breaking
her pace with hops at intervals. She
darted into dirty shops and brought
out things screwed up in paper. She
went last into a cellar and returned
carrying a small sack of coal over her
"Bought sack an' all," she said
elatedly. "A sack 's a good thing
"Let me carry it for you," said
"Spile yer coat," with her sidelong
"I don't care," he answered. "I
don't care a damn."
The final expletive was totally
unnecessary, but it meant a thing he
did not say. Whatsoever was thrusting
him this way and that, speaking
through his speech, leading him to
do things he had not dreamed of
doing, should have its will with him.
He had been fastened to the skirts of
this beggar imp and he would go on
to the end and do what was to be done
this day. It was part of the dream.
The sack of coal was over his
shoulder when they turned into
Apple Blossom Court. It would
have been a black hole on a sunny
day, and now it was like Hades, lit
grimly by a gas-jet or two, small
and flickering, with the orange haze
about them. Filthy, flagging, murky
doorways, broken steps and broken
windows stuffed with rags, and the
smell of the sewers let loose had
Apple Blossom Court.
Glad, with the wealth of the pork
and ham shop and other riches in
her arms, entered a repellent doorway
in a spirit of great good cheer
and Dart followed her. Past a room
where a drunken woman lay sleeping
with her head on a table, a child
pulling at her dress and crying, up a
stairway with broken balusters and
breaking steps, through a landing,
upstairs again, and up still farther
until they reached the top. Glad
stopped before a door and shook
the handle, crying out:
" 'S only me, Polly. You can
open it." She added to Dart in an
undertone: "She 'as to keep it locked.
No knowin' who'd want to get in.
Polly," shaking the door-handle again,
"Polly 's only me."
The door opened slowly. On the
other side of it stood a girl with a
dimpled round face which was quite
pale; under one of her childishly
vacant blue eyes was a discoloration,
and her curly fair hair was tucked up
on the top of her head in a knot.
As she took in the fact of Antony
Dart's presence her chin began to
"I ain't fit to--to see no one,"
she stammered pitifully. "Why did
you, Glad--why did you?"
"Ain't no 'arm in 'IM," said Glad.
" 'E's one o' the friendly ones. 'E
give me a suvrink. Look wot I've
got," hopping about as she showed
"You need not be afraid of me,"
Antony Dart said. He paused a
second, staring at her, and suddenly
added, "Poor little wretch!"
Her look was so scared and uncertain
a thing that he walked away
from her and threw the sack of coal
on the hearth. A small grate with
broken bars hung loosely in the fireplace,
a battered tin kettle tilted
drunkenly near it. A mattress, from
the holes in whose ticking straw
bulged, lay on the floor in a corner,
with some old sacks thrown over it.
Glad had, without doubt, borrowed
her shoulder covering from the
collection. The garret was as cold as
the grave, and almost as dark; the
fog hung in it thickly. There were
crevices enough through which it
Antony Dart knelt down on the
hearth and drew matches from his
"We ought to have brought some
paper," he said.
Glad ran forward.
"Wot a gent ye are!" she cried.
"Y' ain't never goin' to light it?"
She ran back to the rickety table
and collected the scraps of paper
which had held her purchases.
They were small, but useful.
"That wot was round the sausage
an' the puddin's greasy," she
Polly hung over the table and
trembled at the sight of meat and
bread. Plainly, she did not
understand what was happening. The
greased paper set light to the wood,
and the wood to the coal. All three
flared and blazed with a sound of
cheerful crackling. The blaze threw
out its glow as finely as if it had been
set alight to warm a better place.
The wonder of a fire is like the
wonder of a soul. This one changed
the murk and gloom to brightness,
and the deadly damp and cold to
warmth. It drew the girl Polly
from the table despite her fears.
She turned involuntarily, made two
steps toward it, and stood gazing
while its light played on her face.
Glad whirled and ran to the hearth.
"Ye've put on a lot," she cried;
"but, oh, my Gawd, don't it warm
yer! Come on, Polly--come on."
She dragged out a wooden stool,
an empty soap-box, and bundled the
sacks into a heap to be sat upon. She
swept the things from the table and
set them in their paper wrappings on
"Let's all sit down close to it--
close," she said, "an' get warm an'
eat, an' eat."
She was the leaven which leavened
the lump of their humanity. What
this leaven is--who has found out?
But she--little rat of the gutter--
was formed of it, and her mere pure
animal joy in the temporary animal
comfort of the moment stirred and
uplifted them from their depths.
They drew near and sat upon
the substitutes for seats in a
circle--and the fire threw up flame
and made a glow in the fog hanging
in the black hole of a room.
It was Glad who set the battered
kettle on and when it boiled made
tea. The other two watched her,
being under her spell. She handed
out slices of bread and sausage and
pudding on bits of paper. Polly fed
with tremulous haste; Glad herself
with rejoicing and exulting in flavors.
Antony Dart ate bread and meat as
he had eaten the bread and dripping
at the stall--accepting his normal
hunger as part of the dream.
Suddenly Glad paused in the midst
of a huge bite.
"Mister," she said, "p'raps that
cove's waitin' fer yer. Let's 'ave
'im in. I'll go and fetch 'im."
She was getting up, but Dart was
on his feet first.
"I must go," he said. "He is
expecting me and--"
"Aw," said Glad, "lemme go
along o' yer, mister--jest to show
there's no ill feelin'."
"Very well," he answered.
It was she who led, and he who
followed. At the door she stopped
and looked round with a grin.
"Keep up the fire, Polly," she
threw back. "Ain't it warm and
cheerful? It'll do the cove good to
She led the way down the black,
unsafe stairway. She always led.
Outside the fog had thickened
again, but she went through it as if
she could see her way.
At the entrance to the court the
thief was standing, leaning against
the wall with fevered, unhopeful
waiting in his eyes. He moved
miserably when he saw the girl, and
she called out to reassure him.
"I ain't up to no 'arm," she
said; "I on'y come with the gent."
Antony Dart spoke to him.
"Did you get food?"
The man shook his head.
"I turned faint after you left me,
and when I came to I was afraid I
might miss you," he answered. "I
daren't lose my chance. I bought
some bread and stuffed it in my
pocket. I've been eating it while
I've stood here."
"Come back with us," said Dart.
"We are in a place where we have
He spoke mechanically, and was
aware that he did so. He was a
pawn pushed about upon the board
of this day's life.
"Come on," said the girl. "Yer
can get enough to last fer three
She guided them back through the
fog until they entered the murky
doorway again. Then she almost
ran up the staircase to the room they
When the door opened the thief
fell back a pace as before an unex-
pected thing. It was the flare of
firelight which struck upon his eyes.
He passed his hand over them.
"A fire!" he said. "I haven't
seen one for a week. Coming out
of the blackness it gives a man a
Improvident joy gleamed in Glad's
"We 'll be warm onct," she
chuckled, "if we ain't never warm
She drew her circle about the
hearth again. The thief took the
place next to her and she handed out
food to him--a big slice of meat,
bread, a thick slice of pudding.
"Fill yerself up," she said. "Then
ye'll feel like yer can talk."
The man tried to eat his food with
decorum, some recollection of the
habits of better days restraining him,
but starved nature was too much for
him. His hands shook, his eyes
filled, his teeth tore. The rest of
the circle tried not to look at him.
Glad and Polly occupied themselves
with their own food.
Antony Dart gazed at the fire.
Here he sat warming himself in a
loft with a beggar, a thief, and a
helpless thing of the street. He had
come out to buy a pistol--its weight
still hung in his overcoat pocket--
and he had reached this place of
whose existence he had an hour ago
not dreamed. Each step which had
led him had seemed a simple, inevitable
thing, for which he had apparently
been responsible, but which he
knew--yes, somehow he KNEW--he
had of his own volition neither
planned nor meant. Yet here he sat
--a part of the lives of the beggar,
the thief, and the poor thing of
the street. What did it mean?
"Tell me," he said to the thief,
"how you came here."
By this time the young fellow had
fed himself and looked less like a
wolf. It was to be seen now that
he had blue-gray eyes which were
dreamy and young.
"I have always been inventing
things," he said a little huskily. "I
did it when I was a child. I always
seemed to see there might be a way
of doing a thing better--getting
more power. When other boys
were playing games I was sitting in
corners trying to build models out
of wire and string, and old boxes
and tin cans. I often thought I saw
the way to things, but I was always
too poor to get what was needed to
work them out. Twice I heard of
men making great names and for
tunes because they had been able to
finish what I could have finished if I
had had a few pounds. It used to
drive me mad and break my heart."
His hands clenched themselves and
his huskiness grew thicker. "There
was a man," catching his breath,
"who leaped to the top of the ladder
and set the whole world talking and
writing--and I had done the thing
FIRST--I swear I had! It was all
clear in my brain, and I was half
mad with joy over it, but I could
not afford to work it out. He
could, so to the end of time it will
be HIS." He struck his fist upon his
"Aw!" The deep little drawl
was a groan from Glad.
"I got a place in an office at last.
I worked hard, and they began to
trust me. I--had a new idea. It
was a big one. I needed money to
work it out. I--I remembered
what had happened before. I felt
like a poor fellow running a race for
his life. I KNEW I could pay back
ten times--a hundred times--what
"You took money?" said Dart.
The thief's head dropped.
"No. I was caught when I was
taking it. I wasn't sharp enough.
Someone came in and saw me, and
there was a crazy row. I was sent
to prison. There was no more trying
after that. It's nearly two years
since, and I've been hanging about
the streets and falling lower and
lower. I've run miles panting after
cabs with luggage in them and not
had strength to carry in the boxes
when they stopped. I've starved
and slept out of doors. But the
thing I wanted to work out is in
my mind all the time--like some
machine tearing round. It wants
to be finished. It never will be.
Glad was leaning forward staring
at him, her roughened hands with
the smeared cracks on them clasped
round her knees.
"Things 'AS to be finished," she
said. "They finish theirselves."
"How do you know?" Dart
turned on her.
"Dunno 'OW I know--but I do.
When things begin they finish. It's
like a wheel rollin' down an 'ill."
Her sharp eyes fixed themselves on
Dart's. "All of us 'll finish somethin'--
'cos we've begun. You will
--Polly will--'e will--I will."
She stopped with a sudden sheepish
chuckle and dropped her forehead
on her knees, giggling. "Dunno wot
I 'm talking about," she said, "but
Dart began to understand that it
was. And he also saw that this
ragged thing who knew nothing
whatever, looked out on the world
with the eyes of a seer, though she
was ignorant of the meaning of her
own knowledge. It was a weird
thing. He turned to the girl Polly.
"Tell me how you came here,"
He spoke in a low voice and
gently. He did not want to frighten
her, but he wanted to know how SHE
had begun. When she lifted her
childish eyes to his, her chin began
to shake. For some reason she did
not question his right to ask what he
would. She answered him meekly,
as her fingers fumbled with the stuff
of her dress.
"I lived in the country with my
mother," she said. "We was very
happy together. In the spring there
was primroses and--and lambs. I
--can't abide to look at the sheep
in the park these days. They remind
me so. There was a girl in
the village got a place in town and
came back and told us all about it.
It made me silly. I wanted to
come here, too. I--I came--"
She put her arm over her face and
began to sob.
"She can't tell you," said Glad.
"There was a swell in the 'ouse
made love to her. She used to carry
up coals to 'is parlor an' 'e talked to
'er. 'E 'ad a wye with 'im--"
Polly broke into a smothered wail.
"Oh, I did love him so--I did!"
she cried. "I'd have let him walk
over me. I'd have let him kill
" 'E nearly did it," said Glad.
" 'E went away sudden an' she 's
never 'eard word of 'im since."
From under Polly's face-hiding
arm came broken words.
"I couldn't tell my mother. I
did not know how. I was too frightened
and ashamed. Now it's too
late. I shall never see my mother
again, and it seems as if all the lambs
and primroses in the world was dead.
Oh, they're dead--they're dead--
and I wish I was, too!"
Glad's eyes winked rapidly and she
gave a hoarse little cough to clear
her throat. Her arms still clasping
her knees, she hitched herself closer
to the girl and gave her a nudge
with her elbow.
"Buck up, Polly," she said, "we
ain't none of us finished yet. Look
at us now--sittin' by our own fire
with bread and puddin' inside us--
an' think wot we was this mornin'.
Who knows wot we 'll 'ave this time
Then she stopped and looked with
a wide grin at Antony Dart.
"Ow did I come 'ere?" she said.
"Yes," he answered, "how did
you come here?"
"I dunno," she said; "I was 'ere
first thing I remember. I lived with
a old woman in another 'ouse in the
court. One mornin' when I woke
up she was dead. Sometimes I've
begged an' sold matches. Sometimes
I've took care of women's children
or 'elped 'em when they 'ad to lie up.
I've seen a lot--but I like to see a
lot. 'Ope I'll see a lot more afore
I'm done. I'm used to bein' 'ungry
an' cold, an' all that, but--but I
allers like to see what's comin' to-
morrer. There's allers somethin'
else to-morrer. That's all about
ME," and she chuckled again.
Dart picked up some fresh sticks
and threw them on the fire. There
was some fine crackling and a new
flame leaped up.
"If you could do what you liked,"
he said, "what would you like to
Her chuckle became an outright
"If I 'ad ten pounds?" she asked,
evidently prepared to adjust herself
in imagination to any form of un-
looked-for good luck.
"If you had more?"
His tone made the thief lift his
head to look at him.
"If I 'ad a wand like the one Jem
told me was in the pantermine?"
"Yes," he answered.
She sat and stared at the fire a few
moments, and then began to speak in
a low luxuriating voice.
"I'd get a better room," she said,
revelling. "There 's one in the
next 'ouse. I'd 'ave a few sticks o'
furnisher in it--a bed an' a chair
or two. I'd get some warm petticuts
an' a shawl an' a 'at--with
a ostrich feather in it. Polly an'
me 'd live together. We'd 'ave
fire an' grub every day. I'd get
drunken Bet's biby put in an 'ome.
I'd 'elp the women when they 'ad to
lie up. I'd--I'd 'elp 'IM a bit,"
with a jerk of her elbow toward the
thief. "If 'e was kept fed p'r'aps 'e
could work out that thing in 'is 'ead.
I'd go round the court an' 'elp them
with 'usbands that knocks 'em about.
I'd--I'd put a stop to the knockin'
about," a queer fixed look showing
itself in her eyes. "If I 'ad money
I could do it. 'Ow much," with
sudden prudence, "could a body 'ave
--with one o' them wands?"
"More than enough to do all you
have spoken of," answered Dart.
"It 's a shime a body couldn't 'ave
it. Apple Blossom Court 'd be a
different thing. It'd be the sime as
Miss Montaubyn says it's goin' to
be." She laughed again, this time as
if remembering something fantastic,
but not despicable.
"Who is Miss Montaubyn?"
"She 's a' old woman as lives next
floor below. When she was young
she was pretty an' used to dance in
the 'alls. Drunken Bet says she was
one o' the wust. When she got old
it made 'er mad an' she got wusser.
She was ready to tear gals eyes out,