Part 2 out of 2
that they dragged out in front of everybody for evil-doing. But He
wouldn't have it. He put them to silence, and then when she was all
alone with Him He showed her how tender He was to them that do wrong. If
you only knew Him and His kindness, and how He can understand any kind
of trouble. There's a good deal you think none of us can understand, but
_He_ can if you tell Him." She wiped her eyes. Jane did not seem to have
"I don't want to worry you," continued Anne; "you've got a good deal to
bear and to think of, and you've got to keep up for the sake of the
child. He'll need you to be father and mother both. Matron thinks you'll
be better here for the present, but you mustn't give up and think you're
to stay in the Union all your life. But try to think of the child, and
how God'll help you if you try to do the right."
It was like speaking to a person a very long way off, and Anne desisted.
"She's very quiet, isn't she?" said the Matron. "That'll have to break
down soon. The doctor thinks she'll be all right when the child comes.
The labour'll give her a shock and rouse her. She comes of a better
class than the usual ones. It's the disgrace she can't get over. She'll
do anything she's told to do. I sometimes get tired of making the other
women do as they're told, but I wish sometimes she'd be a bit more like
them. You'll be ready for your tea soon, won't you, Jane?" she added in
the cheerful professional tone intended to deceive the sick.
"Yes, please," said Jane, without looking round.
"Here's Miss Hilton come all this way to see you," said the Matron a
little more sharply. "Can't you say anything to her? you may not have so
many friends come to see you as you expect, you know."
There was no echo from the abyss of misery in which Jane was sunken. She
neither replied nor stirred. With the flight of Burton all hope had been
killed within her; and without hope she had fallen like a bird with one
wing broken. She was defenceless, and her misery laid open to all. She
could only keep still, lest it should be tortured by being handled.
"You must think of the child, you know," said the Matron. "He'll depend
on you altogether, and you mustn't give in like this. She doesn't care,"
she added to Anne as Jane still sat without a tremor of understanding.
"It's a bad sign. I can't even rouse her with speaking of Burton. She's
given up hope of him. It's like as if something's dead inside her.
Doctor says it's shock."
"I should say it's temper," said a voice from one of the beds. "Petting
and spoiling all day long." The voice came from an old woman, with a
soft, withered face and infantile blue eyes.
"Now then, where did you hide that thermometer?" said the Matron, with a
good-natured laugh. "You know, Miss Hilton, this old lady's a famous
hand at taking anything that's about, and keeping it for herself. She
doesn't call it stealing, don't you see. Why, the other day she was
having her temperature taken, and when the nurse turned her head away
there was no thermometer to be seen. 'What have you done with it?' she
says. 'Why, I declare, I must have etten it,' says this old lady. What
do you think of that?"
The old woman turned over in bed, and her innocent eyes closed with a
"I don't know what people are allowed to come talking here for when it
isn't visiting day," she said. "Nobody can go to sleep for such
Anne sat down beside Jane and began to sing--
"I was a wandering sheep;
I did not love the fold."
The Matron watched with an air of curiosity. Jane did not cease staring
into the fire.
"It's no use, Miss Hilton. I daresay the old lady's a bit right. There's
a slice of temper in it too. But we can't waste all day over her."
Anne took Jane's hand. "I'll come and see you again in a little while,"
she said. "And remember, there's always One that'll hear all that you
can't tell to any one else. He's with you here waiting to hear and help
you." She lingered. There was no response. The Matron walked briskly
towards the door.
"Well, the old ones are easier to manage," she said. She led the way
downstairs and left Anne on the doorstep of the big front door. The
porter shut it with a clang.
The pony was pawing the gravel outside the gate and pulling hard with
his head. He backed the cart vigorously into the road as Anne untied his
head, and set off at a good pace towards the town.
"I'll go up to-morrow and see Mrs Hankworth," said Anne. "She'll perhaps
be able to say something to help."
Mrs Hankworth lived at one of the largest farms in the country, some
three miles away from Anne Hilton's cottage. The farmstead was, contrary
to the usual custom, not placed near the high road for convenience, but
on an eminence in the midst of its own lands. A road had been cut to it
between cornfields, so that in the time of springing corn a man walking
on this road seemed to be wading to the knees in a green undulating sea,
which had risen and submerged the hill. The farm itself was large, with
a garden unusually well kept, a sign that the mistress counted in the
establishment. Old rose trees grew almost to the roof of the wide
building, and the thick turf bore token to the richness of the soil.
Inside, the passage, the stairs, the rooms, were all spacious, and, in
spite of the rattling of cans and the sound of voices in the kitchen,
the place retained an atmosphere of quiet and tranquillity, not of
isolation or desertion, but of that comfortable restfulness which one
recalls as a child, when, having been ill, one is left at home when the
others have gone to school, and remains in a quiet house, watching
contentedly the leisurely cheerful movements of one's mother.
Mrs Hankworth, the mistress of the best farm in the country, was an
enormously stout but very active woman. Her husband, a man half her size
and an excellent farmer, exhibited only one trait of nervousness, and
that on her account. If she went to market without him he was uneasy
until she came back lest something should have happened to her. In all
the fifteen years of their married life they had never slept out of
their own bed, and they had had no honeymoon.
With the contentment of a woman of sound health and of active useful
life, who was fully aware that her good sense and management were as
necessary to the farm, her husband and twelve children, as his own
knowledge of farming, she looked upon this as a just sense of her own
value, as indeed it was, and the reward of the confidence which she so
completely deserved from her husband. She was generous to her poorer
neighbours even when they cheated her. Not taking it very deeply to
heart nor expecting much otherwise, she was yet able to remember that
her lot was an affluent one compared with theirs, and was ready to
excuse even while being perfectly aware of human fraility. Who, when she
had sent to an old woman of the village who lived discontentedly on such
pickings as she could induce her neighbours to leave her, and who had
constantly profited by the liberality of this well-established mistress,
a ticket for a large tea, and was informed by some officious person that
the husband also had procured a ticket at her expense, said, "He's a
poor old crab-stick. It'll do him no harm to have a good tea for once."
She was a contented woman, entirely satisfied with the position which
life had allotted to her, a position in which all her faculties had full
scope, and were to the full appreciated by those with whom she had most
to do, and being of a really kind heart she was a good friend to the
poor. When Anne arrived at the door of the dairy, she found its mistress
seated before a tin pail containing a mass of butter which she was
dividing into prints. With white sleeves and apron, a bucket of scalding
water on one side of her and a pail of cold on the other, her ample
knees spread apart for balance as she sat on a low chair, her bulky and
capable hands moved with decision and practice about her work. She
looked up as Anne appeared in the doorway, but her hands did not cease
"It's not often we have to do this," she said, "but they sent down word
that there was no milk wanted yesterday, so we had to set to."
"It looks nice butter," said Anne, with the judgment of a connoisseur.
"_You_ ought to know what good butter is," returned Mrs Hankworth. "I've
just been having a laugh over that Peter Molesworth. He wrote on his
account, "17 pints." Did you ever hear such a thing! It took me quite a
long time to know what 17 pints was. Him and his 17 pints!"
"He's not very clever, Peter," said Anne, "but I don't know what his
poor mother would do without him."
"No," returned Mrs Hankworth, "he's hard-working if he's stupid, and
that's better than the other way round."
"Mrs Hankworth," began Anne, "I know what a good friend you've always
been to those that have got into trouble, and I came to ask your advice
about that poor Jane Evans."
"I just heard of it the other day," replied Mrs Hankworth, letting the
butter-prints sink on her lap. "I don't know how it was I came to know
of it so late. I'd no idea till the other day that she'd ever gone to
live with that Burton. I wonder how she got acquainted with him. There's
no men goes about their house. What's she doing now?"
"She's in the Union," said Anne, "and she sits there without speaking,
staring into the fire. Nobody can rouse her. She seems to have no life
left in her. It's pitiful to see her, and to think of what's coming to
"She's been foolish," said Mrs Hankworth, "and I expect she'll find
plenty to make her pay for her foolishness. But I see no reason why she
shouldn't do all the better for a lesson. She'll have to work though.
There'll be no sitting round in silk blouses doing fancy-work. You
needn't be troubled about her moping when she's got the baby. They don't
leave you much time for that," she added with a laugh of retrospection.
"But your first baby's as much trouble as ten. If she can earn a living
when she comes out she'll be better without that Burton. He's no better
than a child's balloon. He's up, and you prick him with a pin and he's
down! She's provided in the Union, I suppose?"
"I think so, since they never asked anything about it," said Anne.
"What sort of a place is it, Miss Hilton?" asked Mrs Hankworth in the
tone of one who might be enquiring after a prison or worse.
"They'd a nice big fire," said Anne, "and until you came to look at the
people, it looked quite comfortable. But when you came to look at those
poor things, and thought that that was all they had to expect, it made
your heart ache."
"She's a good matron I've heard," said Mrs Hankworth.
"She's a kind woman," returned Anne, heartily, "and I suppose it's a
good thing they've got such a place to shelter them. But it seems a poor
end somehow, and not a place for young people. There seems to be no hope
in it, and yet it's clean, and they've got good food."
"Other people's bread doesn't taste like your own to them that's been
used to having any," returned Mrs Hankworth. "I expect, if you've never
had any of your own, you're glad to get anything. I suppose Burton's out
of the country."
"Nobody seems to know rightly," said Anne. "Jane says not a word. I
don't suppose she really knows anything."
"She'll come to see that she's better without him," said Mrs Hankworth,
taking up the prints and working the butter emphatically. "But she must
work like the rest of us. It's generally the long clothes that gets left
over," she added, "the short ones get worn out by some of them, but I'll
look and see what I can find. It'll be rather nice to be looking out
baby-things again. There's nothing you miss more than a baby, when
you've had one or other about for a good many years. But she'd never do
any good with that Burton about."
It seemed not so much the fact that a girl would give up her reputation
for a man, that impressed Mrs Hankworth unpleasantly, but that she would
give it into the keeping of _such_ a man. She did not expect impossible
things of anybody. No one belonging to her had ever made a slip, and
such a happening seemed to be so remote a possibility for anyone
"connected," that she could spare great charity for the rest of the
world. Nor did she believe in "driving people." If a girl had made a
mistake, that was no reason why everyone else should make another, and
her good sense revolted against a perpetually drawn-out punishment for
any fault. Her disgust at this fault, not very deep, being submerged
almost as it arose, by the immediate necessity for doing something, and
a reminiscent understanding of the timidity and dread with which the
first child-bearing might be regarded by an ignorant and forsaken girl.
Her position as the reputable and capable mother of a family being
unassailable, no one could consider that kindness to the girl implied
any countenancing of her offence. Anne, puzzled and baffled by the
things which she had seen, felt herself in a larger sphere which could
consider the fact of birth as a small matter for everyday occurrence and
preparation, happen however it might.
"You can't do anything by worrying, Miss Hilton, you know," said Mrs
Hankworth. "You've got to wait. There's nothing _anybody_ can do but
wait. There's our John. I think he gets more nervous every child we
have. I always say to him that he can't help anything by worrying, and
in any case _I'm_ the person who's got to go through it; but it makes no
difference. He can't be satisfied till he sees me walking about again.
The girl'll be quite right when she's got the baby to work for. She's
nothing to do now but wait and think about it and herself. You'll see
when she's up and about again she'll be another thing. I hope the baby's
a boy. It'll be sooner forgotten about if he is."
"I'm afraid," said Anne, growing expansive beneath the good sense which
attacked every practical side of the matter, and dissolved difficulties
as soon as they arose, "that she'll get little work to do when she comes
out. People talk unkindly, and say that you must make a difference
between her and other girls."
"Oh! there'll always be some clever folk like that," said Mrs Hankworth,
drily. "The difference that anyone can see if they use their eyes is,
that _she'll_ have a child to keep and _they_ won't. She's no idea where
she'll go, I suppose?"
"She doesn't seem to know where she is now," replied Anne. "It's
terrible to see anybody drinking such bitter waters as that poor girl.
She thinks we're all against her, and I'm a religious old maid. So she
shuts herself up, and doesn't say a word."
"Don't you worry, Miss Hilton," said Mrs Hankworth; "she'll look for
friends when the baby comes. She'll stir herself for his sake, if she
won't for her own. We're going to have Mr Charter to stop to-morrow
night. You'll be going to the Home Missions, won't you?" she said, as if
all had been said that could be.
"It'll be a great treat to hear Mr Charter," said Anne. "He's such a
kind way of talking about everybody. It's a season of grace and sweet
delight when he comes."
"He's got such a way with children and young people," said Mrs
Hankworth, steering away from "experiences." "There's my big lad
William! He'll follow him round from place to place till he's out of
walking distance. 'What do you do it for, William?' I says to him, and
he stands on one leg and then on the other, and says 'I don't know,' he
says. 'I like hearing him,' he says. He's a great attraction for him."
"I hope there'll be a good meeting," said Anne, rising to go. "Don't you
get up. It's been a great relief to me to have a chat with you."
"I'll go down myself and have a look at Jane," said Mrs Hankworth.
"Perhaps in a week or so she'll have got a bit used to her position, and
see that she can't go on like that long."
"It'll be a real work of charity," said Anne earnestly. "Young people
think a lot of married women. She thinks, you know, that I'm an old maid
and don't know anything about it."
"Well, I'll go," said Mrs Hankworth, gratified. "Good morning, then. We
shall see you at the meeting."
"God willing," replied Anne, and turned to go, comforted by the
confidence and ample views of this well-to-do woman.
The little grey chapel at the corner of two roads was lighted and
already hot with steam on the windows. The wooden pews, set on steps
which rose evenly to the window-sill at the back of the tiny building,
seemed to precipitate themselves upon the mean wooden pulpit. Three
benches set endwise to the platform served for the choir, and there was
a small harmonium. The girl (a daughter of a prosperous farmer) who
played it was already in her place, and a group of children had taken
possession of the front pew. These were playing under the book-rest and
frequent giggles burst from their number. At last one of them threw a
hat so much too high that it dropped into the next pew, and a
preter-natural silence fell upon the group, who all wriggled themselves
erect on their seats and looked apprehensively round. The girl at the
harmonium bent back to look at the clock and then pulled out her stops
and began to play. The door clicked, and burst open to admit a cold
breeze and a big farm boy in his Sunday clothes, whose head and
shoulders came in before the rest of him was ready to follow, and who
held on to the door as he entered as if for protection. Every child
turned its head and watched him while he ducked his head on to the
book-board for a second, and then sat upright, adjusting his neck into
his collar. The farmer, whose daughter played the organ, came next with
his wife, who made her way with an air of ownership to her seat, and
having covered her face with her hand for a moment, untied her
bonnet-strings and fanned her hot face. Every other moment now the door
burst open, and admitted someone from the dark blue outside--a group of
clumsy youths who flung themselves upon the pew doors as if they had
formed the deliberate purpose of keeping them out, some girls in their
finery nodding to acquaintances as they entered, some labourers in
unaccustomed clothes, and last Mary Colton who walked with her
calculating step to the nearest choir bench. Then a larger group
hesitated at the door and the evangelist entered, mounting the pulpit
with a confident tread, the minister taking a seat in the choir benches
and the stewards sitting behind him. There was some whispering between
the evangelist and the minister, then the evangelist remained seated and
the minister rose and gave out a hymn--
"Rescue the perishing, care for the dying."
Those who did not know the words knew and shouted the chorus. It was a
rousing beginning. As the hymn came to a final shout, Anne Hilton in a
black bonnet and old-fashioned mantle with a bead fringe at the
shoulders, with one black cotton glove half on and the other wholly off,
entered the chapel and sat just within the door.
The evangelist glanced round his congregation and found himself able to
believe the report that the country districts were apathetic. He was an
ugly little man with straggling brown whiskers and unruly hair, and had
no great appearance of illumination, yet he was a true evangelist,
labouring hard to pull souls from the pit of social and moral
corruption. That was why he had been sent to the task of addressing the
country congregations. He was not working with an eye to romance, nor
for the glory which comes to those who work in the slums. He thought
with the thoughts of those among whom he worked. He had known what it
was to be hungry. He had known the crucifixion of standing idle when
every limb ached to be working. He knew that pregnant women are
sometimes beaten and kicked by the clogs of their husbands. He knew what
little children felt like when they cried from cold. His heart was
incessantly burning, but he had worked now for fifteen years and it was
no longer burning with indignation. He had found others, not Christians,
as he thought, who would be indignant, who would plan with pity and
sympathy and with more efficiency and foresight that he could ever
control, build up and organise ways of escape for much that he saw. He
could meet them too. But his work was to understand, and from his
understanding to attract and heal. The others had nothing to say to a
woman whose husband died, or whose son became crippled at work, to a man
who lost his right hand, or a girl whose sweetheart was drowned two days
before the wedding, and these things were always happening.
He looked round. He thought of his various speeches. It was no use
telling these people how many more women were arrested for drunkenness
in the streets this year than last, nor how many families lived in
cellars, nor how many men were without work. Their imaginations, never
straying into large numbers, would be blank. He would tell them stories
of men and women like themselves, and of how _they_ managed when
calamity came. He had sheaves of such stories and a ready tongue. He
might strike a spark of understanding. His voice, as he began to speak,
belied his appearance. It was sonorous and beautiful and it immediately
controlled his audience.
"My dear friends! Just round the corner from the house where I live,
there's a street called 'Paradise Street,' but I can tell you as I came
along here this morning in the lanes by the chapel, it seemed to me a
good deal more like Paradise than that street. It was a treat to smell
hawthorn hedges again, and to see some clear sky again, after the
foundries of stone-work, and I don't know what it is that makes people
give names like Angel Meadow, Paradise Row, Greenfield Street to the
dirtiest and smelliest streets in all the town. But I've got some very
good friends in this particular Paradise Street I was talking of, and if
they don't get an abundant entrance into the Paradise of our Saviour
when their time comes, I've mistaken His loving-kindness very sadly.
"Now, you'd hardly think that an old woman could be very happy living in
a cellar, without even a proper window to put a plant in, and six steps
to come up and down every time she went out and in, and drunken men
cursing and blaspheming up above in the street! Well! I'm going to tell
you a tale of one of the happiest old women I know, but I'm afraid it's
got to be about a day on which she wasn't happy at all.
"Her name's Jane Clark, and she lives in that cellar I'm speaking of on
2s. 6d. a week she has from the parish. She's a widow, and some of you
women know what that means. She pays 1s. 3d. for her share of the
cellar, for you know in towns such as I come from, we're building so
many factories, and railway sheds, and what not, that we've no room left
to live in, so Mrs Clark had to share even her cellar. Many a time when
I passed down that dreadful street and hadn't time to go in, I'd just
shout down the cellar and she'd have an answer back in no time. I used
to go down for a few minutes, just to cheer myself up a bit, for there's
a lot of discouraging things happen in our sort of work, and she always
made me ashamed. She was so content, never wanting more and always
thankful for what she had.
"Well! one day I was in Paradise Street. It was wet and cold, and the
beer-shops were full of drunken men and women, and even the children
were shouting foul language.
"'O God,' I said, ready to cry out in the street, 'How long will the
power of the devil last in this town?' However, I thought of Mrs Clark
down there, and how she had to live in it all, so I went down the steps,
and there she was, but I could see that even she had been crying.
"'Now, Mrs Clark!' I said, 'you don't mean to tell me that it's your
turn to be cheered up?'
"'No!' she said, 'not now! I've got it done already!'
"'Well, now!' I said, 'it's so unusual to see you with those red eyes
that you make me quite curious. That is, if it's nothing that'll hurt
you to tell,' I said.
"'No!' she said, 'it'll not hurt me. I'm a silly old woman,' she said.
She didn't speak for a minute, and then she went on:
"'You know it's my birthday to-day, Mr Charter. I'm sixty this very
Friday. Well, you know, I always say to myself, "Short commons on
Friday," I says, "because 1s. 6d. won't last for ever." But somehow, with
its being my birthday I suppose, and me being sixty, I got it into my
head that the Lord would perhaps remember me. I've gone on loving Him
for over forty years, and it did seem hard that on my birthday and me
sixty, He should have left me with only a crust of bread to my tea.
However, I sat down to eat my crust, but when I began to say a blessing
over it, I just began to cry like a silly child. Well, what do you
think! I'd just taken the first bite, when a child, whose mother I know,
came running in and put a little newspaper parcel on the table. "Mrs
Clark," she says, "my mother was out working to-day, and the lady gave
her a big pot of dripping, so she sent a bit round for your tea!" She
run straight away, and when that child had gone, I cried a good bit
more, and then I laughed and laughed, and says over and over again to
myself, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."'"
The evangelist looked at his watch, and took a drink of water. One or
two men shifted their attitude from one side to the other, and all
waited as children do for an absorbing story. A momentary look of
satisfaction came over the face of the evangelist, and he began again
"I'm afraid the next tale I've got to tell you will take a good deal of
time." ("We're here to listen," interrupted the minister.)
"Thank you! but you don't know me when I begin to talk! I can hardly
tell this tale in a public meeting, it comes so near home. It's about a
friend of mine, we'll call him Joe, and whenever I think about him there
always comes into my mind the verse we put up over him, 'Blessed is he,
whosoever shall not be offended in Me,' for Joe hadn't an easy lot. I'll
tell you what his trade was, though it may make you laugh to hear he was
a sweep! Now, I don't know what there is about a sweep that makes little
rascals of boys throw stones at him, and call names after him, but
that's the curious fact. As soon as ever a sweep begins to call out in
the street, there's a crowd of little rascals round him at once. I've
seen Joe sometimes, a little crooked man with a lame leg and a black
face, and a tail of little ragamuffins shouting ''Weep, 'weep!' behind
him, going about his earthly business in the dirty streets round about
where he lived. 'Eh! never mind 'em, Mr Charter,' he used to say. 'It
pleases the children, and it doesn't hurt me.' That was the sort of man
he was, you see, humble and content.
"He was married, was Joe, to a good, hard-working little wife, and
they'd had one daughter. She married a young plumber who got work at
Peterhead, and she had three little boys that their grandfather had
never seen. He had a photograph of them on the mantleshelf with their
mother, that she'd sent him one Christmas. Now one day, an idea came
into his head, that if he put by threepence a week, after a good long
time, he and his wife could go by a cheap excursion to see those little
grandchildren and their mother, just once before they died. He prayed
about it, and then week by week, they began saving up, and the nearer
they came to having L3, the more real those little grandchildren of
theirs became. The daughter, you see, wasn't to be told till all was
ready, and then there was going to be a grand surprise. Well, you know,
I got as interested in that saving-up as though it was me that was going
"Now Joe, he had the young men's class in the Sunday-school (all of 'em
who weren't too high up in world to be taught by the sweep), and one day
I was looking in at a foundry as I passed, when a young man who was
standing out at the door said to me, 'Have you heard about Joe?'
"'No!' I said, rather startled, for he's a frail old man at the best,
'What about him?'
"'Oh, it's nothing wrong with himself,' he said, 'but a week ago when he
was going out in the early morning--last Saturday was wet, wasn't
it?--he found one of them poor street girls fallen down in a faint a few
yards away from his house. He called the missis, and they got her into
the kitchen and gave her a cup of tea and put her to bed, and she'll
never get up again, it seems. She was in a consumption too bad for them
to take her at the hospital, so Joe's keeping her till she wants it no
"I said good-bye to the young man and set off straight to see Joe. It
was afternoon, so he was in when I got there. He didn't say much, but we
went in to see the girl (she'd got the bed, and the missis slept on the
sofa and Joe in the armchair), a poor, breathless, young thing, very
near to death. I began to talk to her of the love of our Saviour, but
she stopped me. 'Nobody's ever loved _me_!' she said, 'nobody'll care if
I die or not. I never believed there was any kindness in the world till
I met these two.' We left her gasping there and went into the kitchen.
"'Poor lost lamb,' said Joe, 'them's sad words to hear.'
"'Sadder to feel they're true about so many others as well,' I said.
'But, Joe, be open with me,' I said, 'have you spent your savings on
this poor soul?'
"'Yes!' he said, 'all but a few shillings. She must have milk and
nourishment, you know.'
"'Yes, I know that,' I said, 'and for the present I can't help you, but
you mustn't be allowed to spend all you've saved.'
"'Nay,' he said, 'it was a bitter cross the Lord of Glory carried for my
sins. I can at least do this for one of His lost ones.'
"I knew he'd say that, or something like it, but in my own mind I'd
determined to get it back again from somewhere for him, but you'll hear
how I was prevented. I noticed that he looked a bit tired and thin as I
went out, and I said to him, 'You're not looking very grand! You must
take care of yourself too."
"'No! I don't feel very well,' he said. 'I've been feeling my age a bit
lately,' he said laughing.
"'I'll look in to-morrow again,' I said as I went away, and about the
same time next day I went back to find him sitting still on one side of
the fireplace and the wife on the other. The girl had died suddenly in
the night. They'd got the photograph of the little grandchildren, and I
could see the old woman had been crying.
"'We shan't see them in this world now,' said Joe.
"I thought he was considering the money and began to talk.
"'No!' he said, 'it isn't that. The money was a bit of a sacrifice at
the time, but I can see now why He asked me for it, and how thankful I
am, as things have turned out, that I didn't refuse to do that little
thing for Him. After you'd gone yesterday,' he went on, 'I felt so
poorly that when the doctor came to see that poor girl I told him what I
felt like. He looked a bit queer at first, and then he said:
"'"Well, Joe," he said, "I know very well that you're not afraid of
death, so I won't beat about the bush," he said.
"'Thank you, doctor,' I said.
"'"Of course," he said, "I can't be certain, but I'm afraid it's cancer,
and I can only say that I'll make it as easy for you as I can." He's a
kind man, Mr Charter, though he's reckoned rough. Well, you can imagine
how my first feeling was of thankfulness that I'd been kept in the love
of God, and not held back for my own pleasure the money he was needing.
_He_ knew, you see, that I shouldn't want it, and he sent that poor girl
to be looked after by someone as had money to spare.
'"I'll bless the Hand that guided,
I'll bless the Heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth,
In Immanuel's Land."
So my summons is come, Mr Charter, though I'd no idea it was so near.'
"There's not a great deal you can say at such times, and my heart was
very full as I listened to him, though I knew that it was well with him.
I'm not going to tell you about the way he went through the valley,
beautiful though it was, but I'll tell you just this before I sit down.
Those young men of Joe's Sunday class got together and talked, and
though they were young working-men with not much of a wage, they each
gave sixpence a week and the old man had ten shillings a week as long as
he lived, and every time he got the ten shillings he'd cry, and say,
that he didn't know anybody in the world who'd had so much kindness
shown to them all their life long as _he_ had."
The evangelist glanced round the chapel as the minister gave out the
hymn. The heads of the boys were bent over their hymn-books, searching,
with whispering, among the pages which they turned with wet thumbs.
There was no apathy now. All the slow sun-burnt faces showed signs of
having understood. One or two men sat with their eyes fixed on the
evangelist as if waiting for more. A woman wiped her eyes and sighed.
There was no restlessness. He had succeeded in making all these people,
so different from the driven, excited, underfed congregation he
constantly saw, think from beginning to end of his poor people, and had
succeeded in making them sorry. He was content.
With that inarticulate desire to come into close contact with those who
have moved them, which one knows among the poor, many of the
congregation crowded round the pulpit to shake hands with the evangelist
who leaned over the side, gripping hand after hand.
"A very good meeting," said the steward, looking round with an air of
"You've made me feel very small, sir," said a young man to the
evangelist. "I've a good deal further to go yet."
"It's true of us all," replied the evangelist, shaking his hand
Anne Hilton had returned from the farmer to whom she had sold one of her
pigs, and fed the animals, but had not taken off the linen pocket which
she tied round her waist under her petticoat, and which held her money.
She was trying to get at it now in the narrow pew. She knocked down a
hymn-book and several pennies rolled under the feet of the out-going
congregation. A young woman, with roses in her best hat, nudged another
and laughed. A big boy stooped to pick up two, and restored them with a
purple face. Anne replaced them in the linen pocket, shook her skirt
down again, wrapped something in a piece of an old envelope, and
beckoning the steward gave it to him, then followed the others through
the blue square of the doorway. The steward approached the evangelist
with a rather embarrassed smile.
"Our good sister's a bit queer," he said. "I don't know why she couldn't
put it in the collection box."
The evangelist unwrapped the envelope and disclosed a sovereign. He
"It's a big gift for a poor woman," he said in a moment. "She needed to
make up her mind a bit first. The collection box came too soon."
"I've no doubt you're right," said the minister. "She's a good woman if
a little erratic, and a sovereign means a large part of her week's
"I don't think she ought to have given it," said the steward's wife, who
was waiting for her husband to drive her home. "She'll need help herself
if she gives away like that. She always _must_ be different from other
Anne Hilton was walking home in the cool night air. The stars were so
clear that they seemed to rest on the fields and tree-tops, and the
rustle of the sleepless corn passed behind every hedge. She walked with
a certain carefulness as of one who had unexpectedly escaped a physical
danger; but the peril from which she was conscious of fleeing was
spiritual. She had been threatened by avarice which had prompted her to
give a small sum instead of the sovereign, and the evangelist had been
right in his intuition. It had needed a good deal of "making up her
mind" to give away the greater part of her earnings, even under the
warmth of human appeal. She had conquered, but narrowly, and there was
as much shame as satisfaction in her heart as she left the building, and
more than all a great fear lest it should be talked about.
It was the first day of spring, the season of swift changes. For the
first time the sky was lighter than the ground. Its brilliant clouds
threw heavy shadows on the earth, fugitive shadows which ran with the
warm wind, alert with colour. Nothing was quiet or hidden. There was not
yet sufficient life to cover or screen. Everything that had budded had a
world to itself and could be seen. Radiant, innocent, carolling,
self-revealing, the movement and action of spring were in the earth. The
running and glittering water, in winter so vivid a feature of the
fields, had become insignificant in comparison with the splendid and
vigorous sky. The noise of the wind, too, beat in one's ears louder than
the water. One had no time for meditation. One was hurried as the wind,
speeding as the sunshine. Yet the spring more than any other season is
the time when one thinks of the generations that pass--perhaps from the
very transitoriness of the visual images, their evanescence and
momentary changes reminding one so of the dead. In autumn the passage is
grave and decorous, like the advance of old age. In spring the image is
lovely and momentary, like the bright passage of those dead young.
Anne Hilton looked out to see what kind of weather it was for the
market, and with a sudden pang, she remembered her old father, and how,
on such a day, he would totter to the open door, and there sit in the
sunshine, grateful for the same warmth for which his old dog was
grateful. When she came home from the market, she would make a wreath of
white holly to put on the grave in which he rested. She thought of him
vividly, of the pathos of his last illness from which she had vainly
tried to drive the fear and soften the pain. She remembered his slow
laugh, and the knocking of his stick on the floor. Memory is keener in
bright sunshine than in the twilight, in vivid enjoyment more poignant
than in melancholy. The churchyard, with its unvisited green mound and
dwelling of the silent, became visible to Anne, and with it the dying
out of joy which returns with that vision and memory. The house, too,
was very quiet, as she drew in her head, with the stillness of a place
once lived in and now empty. She had become accustomed to thinking of
her father with tranquillity, satisfied to believe him at rest. Now the
pain of loneliness returned with memory.
She harnessed the pony to the cart, and stowed her baskets safely under
the seat. She was dressed in a purple merino skirt, kilted thickly, a
black mantle, with a bead fringe, and an antiquated straw bonnet. Round
her neck she had folded a man's linen handkerchief, and she had
elastic-sided boots on her feet. She locked the door, and put the keys
in her linen pocket tied round her waist under her skirt, and climbing
up by means of the wheel, seated herself on the board which did duty as
a seat, and took the reins. "Go on, Polly!" she said, and the pony, with
a good deal of tossing of head and tail, set off obediently towards the
high road. The clacking of its feet as it trotted on the hard road
overwhelmed all other sounds. At the corner of the roads an old woman
tending a cow nodded to her, and one or two field labourers raised
themselves to see who was going past, remaining upright and staring
longer than was necessary to satisfy their curiosity. At an open
field-gate she had to wait until two heavy wagons, their wheels a mass
of red, soft earth, had emerged, and turned in the direction of the
town. She passed them, and for some time met no one. An advancing cart
soon came in sight, accompanied by a great jangling of cans--a milk-cart
returning from the station, having sent off its supplies to the town,
now bringing back its empty cans. It was driven by a man whom Anne knew,
and, instead of drawing to one side to pass, he reined in his horse as
if to speak. "Good morning, Miss Hilton," he said. Anne checked her
horse which had gone a few paces past, and turning in her seat to look
over her shoulder, answered his greeting. The farmer's horse, impatient
of this check on the way home, made several attempts to start, and at
last, being held in by his master and scolded loudly, fell to pawing the
ground with one foot. Having quieted his horse, the farmer also turned
in his seat, and looking back at Anne said:
"I've just been up to the Union with the milk, Miss Hilton. They've had
a death this morning. I thought I'd tell you."
"Not Jane Evans?" said Anne, dropping the reins, but the next moment
retaking them as the pony had started off.
"Yes, it's Jane," said the man. "The child's living. It's a boy. She's
to be buried to-morrow seemingly. They soon put you where they want you
when you go in there."
Anne, who had been living all morning with the dead whom she knew to be
dead, stared helplessly as she heard that one whom she believed to be
alive was dead also. She had meant to go to the Union to-morrow. She was
"She had a drouth on her it seems, and couldn't drag herself up again,"
said the farmer.
Anne remembered the room with its blue-covered beds, and the fire
burning beneath the lithograph of Queen Victoria, and the girl sitting
beside it whom she could not reach by speaking, and who was now indeed
"You'll perhaps be going up?" said the farmer, as if to lay on someone
else the responsibility of knowing about it also.
"I'll go up this afternoon," returned Anne, picking up the whip and
flicking the pony. The farmer said "Good morning," and the rattle of
milk cans once more filled the road as his horse set off at a gallop
When the business of the market was done, and Anne reached the Union, it
was late in the afternoon. The roads outside the town were full of
farmers returning from the market, of women walking with empty baskets,
and an occasional small herd of cattle, being driven away from the
terrifying experience of the town, by a purchaser. It was visiting-day
at the Union, and here and there from the out-going stream, a man or
woman of middle-age turned aside to enter the gate of the big brick
building, in whose side-garden men were working, dressed in the
bottle-green corduroy of the institution.
The presence of spring seemed to surge about the bare building. The
trees planted about it were old, and belonged to an older building which
protruded from the back; the weather-stained wall was old also, and the
sunlight, older than either, shone with an urgent warmth beneath the
heavy green shade. Rows of green blades were appearing in the border,
set aside for ornament. The air, the clouds, the light near the ground,
all seemed alive with the peculiar revival only felt in the spring.
Anne was admitted with others to the corridor, and left while they
turned to the places they sought.
"She might see the Matron," said the porter, going along with a clatter
of his feet to the far end of the corridor and knocking at a door. The
Matron almost immediately emerged carrying a large key.
"It was very sad, wasn't it?" she began at once. "It happened night
before last. It's a fine boy, though it's a bit too soon. One of the
young women's got him." She led the way to the wide front stairs and
began to ascend. Stopping at a half-open door, she entered and Anne
It was a smaller room than the big ward, and sunny. It had an air of
privacy, of comfort given by the sunshine only, for it was uncarpeted,
and bare like the others. Four young women were sewing the stiff linsey
skirts worn in the Union.
"How's the baby?" said the Matron.
"Asleep," replied a good-looking, blond young woman, rising willingly
from her work and going over to the window, beneath which was a
wicker-cradle covered with a shawl. She drew back the shawl, and Anne
saw lying on one cheek on the pillow, the tiny, fuzzy, misshapen head
and creased purple fist of a new baby. The confidence of that tiny
breathing creature lying asleep seemed strange to Anne, who knew how
desolate it was. It had already, as it were, taken possession of its
place in the world, and had no intention of being dislodged.
"He's a healthy little thing," said the Matron.
"Greedy too," said the blond young woman, with a laugh.
"Could I look at Jane?" asked Anne.
"They fastened it up this afternoon," replied the Matron. "There'll be
two funerals to-morrow. The other's an old man. You can see all there is
She covered the baby and left the room, descending the same stairs, and
going out of a side door. A strong smell of disinfectants came out into
the warm garden as she opened the door of a glazed brick building. The
blinds were down to keep out the sun. The building was lined with white
glazed brick, and two straight burdens lay on a trestle-table.
"Eight o'clock to-morrow," said the Matron, coming out again and locking
Jane had gone. She was as confident as the baby in her absence. It was
that which impressed Anne. Neither of the two so lately one flesh,
needed or cared for the other. Jane seemed to have shut herself of her
own accord in that wooden case, so that she would be no longer teased or
tortured, and the baby was quite happy that it should be so. Their
disregard one of the other was strange to Anne.
"Elizabeth Richardson was inquiring if you were coming," said the
Matron. "Will you go up and see her?"
Elizabeth Richardson was lying in the bed that had been Jane's. She
looked less peevish and more tended. Anne glanced at the fireplace as
she entered. The armchair had been moved back, and no one sat at the
fire. She sighed and turned to Elizabeth.
"Yes, it's very comfortable," said Elizabeth. "I'm glad I came. It's
nice to have the bed made every day. You'll have heard that Jane Evans
is out of her troubles?"
"It's best, I think," said Elizabeth. "The world's none too kind, and
she was a depending sort of girl. She got out of it easy enough.
There'll be some disappointed though," she added with her old cynicism.
"Don't let's be hard in our judgments," said Anne, sadly.
The habit of working for another is so fixed in the lives of poor women,
that the interruption of it becomes a kind of second death, almost as
difficult to bear as the death of the affection which is itself almost a
kind of habit. When Anne returned from market, and sat down, her house
seemed to have become a little emptier, because the girl whose welfare
she had carried with her for so many months was beyond her reach. She
took down her Bible to read it, and find relief for her trouble. She was
a woman who had had "experience"--that experience which comes to each as
a kind of special revelation, a thing so surprising, that it appears
impossible to think of its having happened before, or to withhold the
telling; the cynicism, which declares this to be an overwhelming
interest in one's internal self, being only partially right, it being
rather the excited and surprised mental condition which is the deep well
from which all art, all expression, breaks forth. She read slowly,
trying to find meaning in each phrase, when suddenly a verse struck her
in its entirety before her lips had finished reading.
"Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself
unspotted from the world."
She saw exactly what she would do. There was the child, motherless, and
worse than fatherless. She would take him and bring him up unspotted
from the world. It was clearly a leading for her. She had not been
permitted to save the girl, but she might take and protect the boy. She
remembered even the commonsense of Mrs Hankworth. "It's soonest
forgotten about if it's a boy." She was not so much an old maid as a
woman shut up from issue, and she had no fear of a child. And in the
midst of her bewilderment about the girl, about death and the hereafter,
she could see an earthly duty clearly, and pure religion for herself.
She began to sing:
"Who points the clouds their course,
Whom winds and storms obey,
He shall direct thy wandering feet,
He shall point out thy way."
She opened a drawer which held what was left of her father's clothes
without any feeling of incongruity. There were four shirts of checked
oxford shirting, two pairs of long stockings, a corduroy jacket, and his
best suit of black serge bound with braid round the coat. There was a
revolver, too, a clasp knife, a unused church-warden, an old wide-awake
hat. To-morrow she would write to the Union, and offer to bring up the
child when he was weaned.
It was a cool evening in early summer, full of the leisurely peace of
the country. The women were out of doors after much perspiring work
within. It was too early for the shadows, yet a sensible relief to the
day's ardour, which one was disposed to linger and enjoy, was evident in
the tranquil atmosphere, and on the relaxed faces of those who lingered
about the doors of the cottages, or turned the bleaching clothes on the
hedges. Mrs Hankworth, in a fashionable bonnet and dark green dress,
which proclaimed a ceremonial visit, was driving beside her husband in a
light yellow trap, in the unusual direction of Anne Hilton's cottage.
Her husband, with his eyes on the road, suddenly pulled up the horse.
"Now, where did you two come from?" he ejaculated, jumping from the trap
and examining the backs of two enormous sows, who were munching and
rooting in foreign ground with great satisfaction. At the sight of their
enemy, a man, they began that lumbering but nimble trot, by which their
tribe elude and disregard anything disagreeable.
"You better get up again," said Mrs Hankworth. "We'll keep up to them
and perhaps turn 'em in somewhere. Miss Hilton's the nearest."
"I don't recognise 'em," said the farmer, springing up with agility and
driving the horse carefully after the sows. "Some one must have bought
them yesterday. We can call at one or two places on the way back and
inquire. There's William Crowther," he added, standing up in the
trap--"William!" he shouted, "do you see them sows? Stop 'em at Anne
Hilton's sty. I don't know whose they are."
"I'll give them a little exercise!" shouted William, setting off in
pursuit. Anne Hilton looked out from her door to see the farmer standing
up to bar the road backwards, and shouting directions to William, while
he at the other side dodged one sow after the other, and Mrs Hankworth
sat back laughing with enjoyment.
Anne ran to open the yard-gate, and, with management, the sows saw no
other opening and ran in at a trot, scattering the squealing hens as
they did so.
"Of all the knowing things!" said Mrs Hankworth.
"Well, Miss Hilton, we're bringing you two sows and ourselves to visit
you!" said the farmer. "First a baby and then two sows! You'll keep a
foundling home very soon."
He jumped out, and his wife came slowly over the wheel.
"Somebody'll be sending out to inquire for them soon," said Anne. "I'm
very pleased to see you, Mrs Hankworth."
"We came to say we'd send you milk for the baby every day," said Mrs
Hankworth, entering the kitchen. "You'll want yours for the butter."
"It's very kind of you," said Anne. "But he'll want a good deal."
"We've got seventy-five cows, you know," said Mrs Hankworth, with a
contented laugh. "He'll not make much difference among 'em. Where is he?
Bless him," she said, as she saw the baby staring at her from the wide
wooden chair, in which he was tied.
"A fine baby," said the farmer with an ultimate tone.
"He _is_ a nice one!" said his wife. "I _must_ take him," she said,
picking up the baby and turning him face downwards over her arm while
she seated herself. She spread open her knees and laid him, docile to
her practised handling, across them. Anne watched her with the air of
one taking a lesson.
"Did you have much trouble to get him?" asked Mrs Hankworth.
"No, very little," said Anne. "There were some papers to sign, and one
or two other things, but I believe they're generally glad to board out
children if they can."
"Well, he's a healthy child. Oh! I don't know anything that made me so
full as to hear that poor girl had slipped away like that. I didn't get
over it for some days. You remember the last time I saw you, I was
intending to go and see her."
"Yes, we were all making plans," said Anne.
"Here's Mrs Crowther," said the farmer. "Come to see the baby, too, I
expect. I'll just go and see how the sows is doing," he said,
approaching the door.
"Well, Mr and Mrs Hankworth, I didn't expect to see you here," said Mrs
Crowther, coming in. "I came to see how the baby was getting on. Eh, how
they _do_ get hold of you, don't they, little things. I _must_ have him
a minute," she said, taking him from Mrs Hankworth's knee. "No, you're
not the first baby I've had hold of," she added to the little creature,
who twisted about with protesting noises. She smacked its soft thighs,
and held its warm head against her cheek. "I'm right down silly over a
baby!" she exclaimed, laying it back on Mrs Hankworth's knee.
"We can't have any more of our own," said the latter, "we have to make
the best of other people's."
Anne took a tissue-paper parcel from the shelf, and opening it, showed a
blue cashmere smock with a ribbon.
"I was so pleased," she said. "Mrs Phillipson's eldest girl that's to be
married next month brought it in yesterday. It shows how you misjudge
people. When I went to see them, they seemed so hard upon poor Jane. But
she brought that pretty frock she'd made herself for the baby. She's a
good-looking girl, and she'll make a good wife."
"You think on these things at such a time," said Mrs Hankworth. "All
kinds o' little things you never thought of before come into your mind
when you're going to be married. But it was nice of her. I shall think
better of that girl after this."
"That sounds like Mary," said Anne, looking round the open door. "Yes it
is. Come in, Mary. You'll find some friends here."
Mrs Hankworth laughed uproariously. "The baby's holding a reception,"
she said, her huge form shaking.
"It's Mrs Hankworth, I know," said Mary.
"And Mrs Crowther," interposed the latter herself; "we're making sillies
of ourselves over the baby. Here, sit down and take him, Mary."
She set Mary in the chair which she had vacated, and laid the baby on
her knees carefully placing the blind woman's hands over the little
"There's not much of him," said Mary. "What does he like? This?" And
with her hands spread upon the child, she moved her knees backwards and
forwards, clicking her heels on the floor.
"I could soon do it," she said, with a satisfied chuckle.
"I'm sure you could," said Anne.
"It was Peter Molesworth that told me you was here," said Mary, "so I
thought I'd come too."
"Whatever _do_ you think that Peter Molesworth came out with in the
class the other day?" said Mrs Hankworth. "We was having as nice a
meeting as you could wish, and then Peter gets up to give his
experience. He says, 'I thank the Lord I've got peace in my home and a
praying mother' (she's not much o' that, I thought to myself); and then
he went on, 'You know, when I think of the troubles of others in serving
Christ, I cannot bear. There's a poor woman I know,' he says, 'that's
trying to serve Christ, and whenever she kneels down to say her prayers,
her husband begins to tickle her feet.' Did you ever hear of anybody
coming out with such a thing before? 'I think this door wants oiling,
Mrs Hankworth,' he says to me as we was going out. 'Nay, Peter,' I says,
'it's _thee_ that wants oiling.' 'Why, Mrs Hankworth, what's the
matter?' he says. 'Whatever made you come out with such a thing in the
meeting,' I says. 'Why, what was wrong with it?' he says. 'Oh, well!' I
says, 'if you don't know yourself, _I_ can't tell you,' I says. He's a
bright one is Peter Molesworth."
"Are you ready, Mother?" shouted Mr Hankworth, putting his head in the
door. "John Unsworth thinks the sows belongs to Mr Phillipson. He saw
him bringing some home last night. We can take him on the way home."
"I'm coming," said Mrs Hankworth, rising slowly. "If there's anything
you need, any advice or that, I'll be very pleased to give it you. Let
me give him a kiss." "You're a beauty, that's what you are," she said,
kissing the baby and giving it back to Mary.
"I must go too," said Mrs Crowther. "I'll send down some old flannel
to-morrow, Anne. One of my girls'll come in and help you sometimes. It's
well they should get used to a baby."
"She'll not be able to stop away herself," said Mrs Hankworth, shrewdly,
and laughing together, both women went out, disputing amiably as to
whether Mrs Crowther would take a seat in the trap and be driven as far
as the cross roads.
The blind woman was feeling carefully the downy head of the baby.
"He's as soft as a kitten," she said. "I could spare several eggs a week
out of the basket," she added, "if they'd be any use. I don't know much
about babies. My brother was bigger than me when we was at home, and, of
course, since then I've not had much to do with children."
Anne watched the two so helpless and confident. Mary rocked her knees
steadily, and the child's head lay contentedly.
"I believe you've put him to sleep," said Anne. "Shall I put him in the
"No, let me have him," said Mary, "I've never nursed a baby before."
Anne was left alone in the cottage with the baby, who slept in the
clothes-basket she had turned into a cradle. The dog slept, too, having
made friends with fortune. A late evening glow lit one side of the wall.
When it faded, the dusk would absorb all the room and its inhabitants.
Anne, sitting very still lest she should wake the baby, remembered one
by one the agonies that had been lived through, whose sole result seemed
to be this peaceful evening and the confidently breathing child. She
remembered the shock of the disgrace to her, she, who had been a friend
of the grandmother's, and how she had carried the burden about. She
remembered the new house, and Jane, pretty, spoiled, and without
misgiving, caring nothing for the hard judgments of which she herself
imbibed the bitterness. Then Jane, with the child already striving to be
free, leaving the new house at night, knowing without being told what
door was open to her of all the doors in the country, and what place she
would henceforth take. She saw the girl again, seated by the fire in the
Infirmary ward, with that strange division between herself and all
living, removed, as it were, to a distance which could not be bridged.
Then Jane was no more to be found. There was the boy-child instead, who
knew nothing except his desire to be kept alive; who met all
reservations and pity by a determination to be fed. Throughout the whole
evening, Anne had been struck by the fact that the other women scarcely
thought of Jane any more than the baby did. It remained to them a very
simple matter. There was a baby to feed and bring up. Being a boy, other
things would soon be forgotten. It was too late, she knew, to do
anything for Jane. The only thing that seemed possible to her in her
simple reasoning, was to prevent such catastrophes for the future. It
was not that pity was misplaced when shipwreck came, nor that charity
ever failed. She understood, without being conscious of it, the ironic
severity of Jesus, who would have no sudden pity and heart-searching on
account of His poor. He had come into the world for righteousness and
for judgment, and the judgment and righteousness both declared, not at
the time of disaster or human appeal, nor with sudden loud outcries,
but, "The poor always ye have with you, and _whensoever ye will_, ye may
do them good."
The baby stirred. Anne lit the candle, and set it on the stairs. She
stepped over the dog, and took a warm flannel from the oven door.
Tucking it in at the feet of the child, she lifted the clothes-basket
and carried it upstairs. The dog raised his head and watched her. She
returned, covered the fire, and set an earthenware pot of milk on the
hob. The dog laid his nose between his paws again. Anne, taking the
candle and leaving the room in darkness, closed the staircase door and