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Catherine Furze by Mark Rutherford

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"Faithfully yours,

Both Mr. and Mrs. Furze Were greatly incensed, and Mr. Cardew
received the following reply, due rather to Mrs. than to Mr. Furze -

"SIR,--I am greatly surprised at the receipt of your letter. You
have taken up the cause of a servant against his master, and a
dishonest servant, too: you have taken it up with only an imperfect
acquaintance with the case, and knowing nothing of it except from
his representation. If you were the clergyman of this parish I
might, perhaps, recognise your right to address me, although I am
inclined to believe that the clergy do far more harm than good by
meddling with matters outside their own sphere. How can we listen
with respect to a minister who is occupied with worldly affairs
rather than with those matters which befit his calling and concern
our salvation? Sir, I must decline any discussion with you as to
Mr. Catchpole's innocence or guilt, and respectfully deny your right
to interfere.

"I am, sir,
"Your obedient servant,

Catharine's first impulse was to go home instantly and vindicate
Tom, but she did not move, and the letter remained unanswered. What
could she say to her own parents which would meet the case or would
be worthy of such a conspiracy? She would not be believed, and no
good would be done. A stronger reason for not speaking was a
certain pride and a determination to retaliate by silence, but the
strongest of all reasons was a kind of collapse after she arrived at
Chapel Farm, and the disappearance of all desire to fight. Her old
cheerfulness began to depart, and a cloud to creep over her like the
shadow of an eclipse. Young as she was, strange thoughts possessed
her. The interval between the present moment and death appeared
annihilated; life was a mere span; a day would go by and then a
week, and in a few months, which could easily be counted, would come
the end; nay, it was already out there, visible, approaching, and
when she came to think what death really meant, the difference
between right and wrong was worth nothing. Terrors, vague and misty
possessed her, all the worse because they were not substantial. She
could not put into words what ailed her, and she wrestled with
shapeless clinging forms which she could hardly discern, and could
not distangle from her, much less overthrow. They wound themselves
about her, and although they were but shadows, they made her shriek,
and at times she fainted under their grasp, and thought she could
not survive. She had no peace. If soldiers lie dead upon a battle-
field there is an end of them; new armies may be raised, but the
enemy is at any rate weaker by those who are killed. It is not
quite the same with our ghostly foes, for they rise into life after
we think they are buried, and often with greater strength than ever.
There is something awful in the obstinacy of the assaults upon us.
Day after day, night after night, and perhaps year after year, the
wretched citadel is environed, and the pressure of the attack is
unremitting, while the force which resists has to be summoned by a
direct effort of the will, and the moment that effort relaxes the
force fails, and the besiegers swarm upon the fortifications. That
which makes for our destruction, everything that is horrible, seems
spontaneously active, and the opposition is an everlasting struggle.

At last the effect upon Catharine's health was so obvious that Mrs.
Bellamy was alarmed, and went over to Eastthorpe to see Mrs. Furze.
Mrs. Furze in her own mind instantly concluded that Tom was the
cause of her daughter's trouble, but she did not mean to admit it to
her. In a sense Tom was the cause; not that she loved him, but
because her refusal of him brought it vividly before her that her
life would be spent without love, or, at least, without a love which
could be acknowledged. It was a crisis, for the pattern of her
existence was henceforth settled, and she was to live not only
without that which is sweetest for woman, but with no definite
object before her. The force in woman is so great that something
with which it can grapple, on which it can expend itself, is a
necessity, and Catharine felt that her strength would have to occupy
itself in twisting straws. It is really this which is the root of
many a poor girl's suffering. As the world is arranged at present,
there is too much power for the mills which have to be turned by it.

Mrs. Furze requested Mrs. Bellamy to send back Catharine at once in
order that a doctor might be consulted. She returned; she did not
really much care where she was; and to the doctor she went. Dr.
Turnbull was the gentleman selected.


Dr. Turnbull was the doctor who, it will be remembered, lived in the
square near the church. There was another doctor in Eastthorpe, Mr.
Butcher, of whom we have heard, but Dr. Turnbull's reputation as a
doctor was far higher than Mr. Butcher's. What Eastthorpe thought
of Dr. Turnbull as a man is another matter. Mr. Butcher was
married, church-going, polite, smiling to everybody, and when he
called he always said, "Well, and how are WE?" in such a nice way,
identifying himself with his patient. But even Eastthorpe had not
much faith in him, and in very serious cases always preferred Dr.
Turnbull. Eastthorpe had remarked that Mr. Butcher's medicines had
a curious similarity. He believed in two classes of diseases--
sthenic and asthenic. For the former he prescribed bleeding and
purgatives; for the latter he "threw in" bark and iron, and ordered
port wine. Eastthorpe thought him very fair for colds, measles,
chicken-pox, and for rashes of all sorts, and so did all the country
round. He generally attended everybody for such complaints, but as
Mr. Gosford said after his recovery from a dangerous attack, "when
it come to a stoppage, I thought I'd better have Turnbull," and Mr.
Gosford sent for him promptly.

Dr. Turnbull was born three or four years before the outbreak of the
French Revolution. He was consequently a little older than the
great Dr. Elliotson, whose memory some of us still piously cherish,
and Dr. Elliotson and he were devoted friends. Dr. Turnbull was
tall, thin, upright, with undimmed grey eyes and dark hair, which
had hardly yet begun to turn in colour, but was a little worn off
his forehead. He had a curiously piercing look in his face, so that
it was impossible if you told him an untruth not to feel that you
were detected. He never joked or laughed in the sickroom or in his
consulting-room, and his words were few. But what was most striking
in him was his mute power of command, so that everybody in contact
with him did his bidding without any effort on his part. He kept
three servants--two women and a man. They were very good servants,
but all three had been pronounced utterly intractable before they
went to him. Master and mistress dared not speak to them; but with
Dr. Turnbull they were suppressed as completely as if he had been
Napoleon and they had been privates. He was kind to them, it is
true, but at times very severe, and they could neither reply to him
nor leave him. He did not affect the dress nor the manners of the
doctors who preceded him. He wore a simple, black necktie, a shirt
with no frill, and a black frock-coat. The poor worshipped him, as
well they might, for his generosity to them was unexampled, and he
took as much pains with them and was as kind to them as if they were
the first people in Eastthorpe. He was perhaps even gentler with
the poor than with the rich. He was very apt to be contemptuous,
and to snarl when called to a rich man suffering from some trifling
disorder who thought that his wealth justified a second opinion, but
he watched the whole night through with the tenderness of a woman by
the bedside of poor Phoebe Crowhurst when she had congestion of the
lungs before she lived with Mrs. Furze. He saved that girl and
would not take a sixpence, and when the mother, overcome with
gratitude, actually fell on her knees before him and clung to him
and sobbed and could not speak, he lifted her up with a "Nonsense,
my good woman!" and quickly departed. He was a materialist, and
described himself as one: he disbelieved in what he called the
soap-bubble theory, that somewhere in us there is something like a
bubble, which controls everything, and is everything, and escapes
invisible and gaseous to some other place after death. Consequently
he never went to church. He was not openly combative, but
Eastthorpe knew his heresies, and was taught to shudder at them.
His professionally religious neighbours of course put him in hell in
the future, but the common people did not go so far as that,
although they could not believe him saved. They somehow confounded
his denial of immortality with his own mortality, and imagined he
would be at an end when he was put into the grave. As time wore on
the attitude, even of the clergy, towards the doctor was gradually
changed. They hastened to recognise him on week-days as he walked
in his rapid, stately manner through the streets, although if they
saw him on Sundays they considered it more becoming to avoid him.
He was, as we have seen, a materialist, but yet he was the most
spiritual person in the whole district. He took the keenest
interest in science; he was generous, and a believer in a
spiritualism infinitely beyond that of most of his neighbours, for
they had not a single spiritual interest. He was spiritual in his
treatment of disease. He was before his age by half a century, and
instead of "throwing in" drugs after the fashion of Butcher, he
prescribed fresh air, rest, and change, and, above everything,
administered his own powerful individuality. He did not follow his
friend Elliotson into mesmerism, but he had a mesmerism of his own,
subduing all terror and sanative like light. Mr. Gosford was not
capable of great expression, but he was always as expressive as he
could be when he told the story of that dreadful illness.

"He come into the room and ordered all the physic away, and then he
sat down beside me, and it was just afore hay-harvest, and I was in
mortal fright, and I said to him, 'Oh, doctor, I shall die.' Never
shall I forget what I had gone through that night, for I'd done
nothing but see the grave afore me, and I was lying in it a-rotting.
Well, he took my hand, and he said, 'Why, for that matter, my
friend, I must die too; but there's nothing in it; you won't
complain when you find out what death is. You won't die yet,
though, and you'll get this lot of hay in at any rate; what a heavy
crop it is!' and he opened the winder and looked out. The way he
spoke was wonderful, and what it was which come into me when he
said, 'I MUST DIE TOO,' I don't know, but all my terrors went away,
and I lay as calm as a child. 'Fore God I did, as calm as a child,
and I felt the wind upon me across the meadow while he stood looking
at it, and I could almost have got up that minute. I warn't out of
bed for a fortnight, but I did go out into the hayfield, as he

Why did Dr. Turnbull come to Eastthorpe? Nobody ever knew while he
lived. The question had been put at least some thousands of times,
and all kinds of inquiries made, but with no result. The real
reason, discovered afterwards, was simply that he had bad health,
and that he had fled from temptation in the shape of a woman whom he
loved, but whom duty, as he interpreted it, forbade him to marry,
because he considered it wicked to run the risk of bringing diseased
children into the world.

This was the man to whom Catharine went. Mrs. Furze went with her.
He was perfectly acquainted with Mrs. Furze, and had seen Catharine,
but had never spoken to her. Mrs. Furze told her story, which was
that Catharine had no appetite, and was wasting from no assignable
cause. The doctor sounded her carefully, and then sat down without
speaking. There was undoubtedly a weakness in one lung, but he was
not satisfied. He knew how difficult it is to get people to tell
the real truth to a physician, and that if a third person is
present, it is impossible. He therefore asked Mrs. Furze if she
would step into the next room. "A girl," he said, "will not say all
she has to say even to her mother." Mrs. Furze did not quite like
it, but obeyed.

"Miss Furze," said the doctor, "I imagine you are a person who would
not like to be deceived: you have a slight tenderness in the chest;
there is no reasonable cause for alarm, but you will have to be

Catharine's face lighted up a little when the last sentence was half
finished, and the careful observer noticed it instantly.

"That, however, is not the cause of your troubles: there is
something on your mind. I never make any inquiries in such cases,
because I know if I did I should be met with evasions."

Catharine's eyes were on the floor. After a long pause she said -

"I am wretched: I have no pleasure in life; that is all I can say."

"If there is no definite cause for it--mind, I say that --I may do
something to relieve your distress. When people have no pleasure in
living, and there is no concrete reason for it, they are out of
health, and argument is of no avail. If a man does not find that
food and light and the air are pleasant, it is of no use to debate
with himself. Have you any friends at a distance?"


"What occupation have you?"


"It is not often that people are so miserable that they are unable
to make others less miserable. If instead of thinking about
yourself you were to think a little about those who are worse, if
you would just consider that you have duties and attempt to do them,
the effort might be a mere dead lift at first, but it would do you
good, and you would find a little comfort in knowing at the end of
the day that, although it had brought no delight to you, it had
through you been made more tolerable to somebody. Disorders of the
type with which you are afflicted are terribly selfish. Mind, I
repeat it, I presuppose nothing but general depression. If it is
more than that I can be of no use."

Catharine was dumb, and Dr. Turnbull's singular power of winning
confidence was of no avail to extract anything more from her.

"I am sorry you cannot leave home. I shall give you no medicine.
With regard to the chest, the single definite point, you know what
precautions to take; as to the nervous trouble, do not discuss,
ponder, or even directly attack, but turn the position, if I may so
speak, by work and a determination to be of some use. If you were
tempted by what you call wicked thoughts you would not nurse them.
It is a great pity that people are so narrow in their notions of
what wicked thoughts are. Every thought which maims you is wicked,
horribly wicked, I call it. By the way, going to another subject,
that poor girl, Phoebe Crowhurst, who lived at your house, is very
ill again. She would like to see you.

Catharine left, and Mrs. Furze came in.

"Has anything unsettled your daughter lately?"

"No, nothing particular."

She thought of Tom, but to save Catharine's life she would not have
acknowledged that it was possible for a Catchpole to have power to
disturb a Furze. Had it been Mr. Colston now, the case would have
been different.

"She needs care, but there is nothing serious the matter with her.
She ought to go away, but I understand she has no friends at a
distance with whom she can stay. Give her a little wine."

"Any medicine?"

"No, none; I should like to see her again soon; good morning."

Phoebe's home was near Abchurch, and Catharine went over to Abchurch
to see her, not without remonstrance on the part of Mrs. Furze,
Phoebe having been discharged in disgrace. Her father was an
agricultural labourer, and lived in a little four-roomed,
whitewashed cottage about a mile and a half out of the village. The
living-room faced the north-east, the door opening direct on the
little patch of garden, so that in winter, when the wind howled
across the level fields, it was scarcely warmer indoors than
outside, and rags and dish-clouts had to be laid on the door-sill to
prevent the entrance of the snow and rain. At the back was a place,
half outhouse, half kitchen, which had once had a brick floor, but
the bricks had disappeared. Upstairs, over the living-room, was a
bedroom, with no fireplace, and a very small casement window, where
the mother and three children slept, the oldest a girl of about
fourteen, the second a boy of twelve, and the third a girl of three
or four, for the back bedroom over the outhouse had been given up to
Phoebe since she was ill. The father slept below on the floor.
Phoebe's room also had no fireplace, and great patches of plaster
had been brought down by the rain on the south-west side. Just
underneath the window was the pigstye. Outside nothing had been
done to the house for years. It was not brick built, and here and
there the laths and timber were bare, and the thatch had almost
gone. Houses were very scarce on the farms in that part, and
landlords would not build. The labourers consequently were driven
into Abchurch, and had to walk, many of them, a couple of miles each
way daily. Miss Diana Eaton, eldest daughter of the Honourable Mr.
Eaton, had made a little sketch in water-colour of the cottage. It
hung in the great drawing-room, and was considered most picturesque.

"Lovely! What a dear old place!" said the guests.

"It makes one quite enamoured of the country," exclaimed Lady
Fanshawe, one of the most determined diners-out in Mayfair. "I
never look at a scene like that without wishing I could give up
London altogether. I am sure I could be content. It would be so
charming to get rid of conventionality and be perfectly natural.
You really ought to send that drawing to the Academy, Miss Eaton."

That we should take pleasure in pictures of filthy, ruined hovels,
in which health and even virtue are impossible, is a strange sign of
the times. It is more than strange; it is an omen and a prophecy
that people will go into sham ecstasies over one of these pigstyes
so long as it is in a gilt frame; that they will give a thousand
guineas for its light and shade--light, forsooth!--or for its Prout-
like quality, or for its quality of this, that, and the other, while
inside the real stye, at the very moment when the auctioneer knocks
down the drawing amidst applause, lies the mother dying from dirt
fever; the mother of six children starving and sleeping there--
starving, save for the parish allowance, for the snow is on the
ground and the father is out of work.

Crowhurst's wages were ten shillings a week, and the boy earned half
a crown, but in the winter there was nothing to do for weeks
together. All this, however, was accepted as the established order
of things. It never entered into the heads of the Crowhursts to
revolt. They did not revolt against the moon because she was
sometimes full and lit everybody comfortably, and at other times was
new and compelled the use of rushlights. It was so ordained.

Half a mile beyond the cottage was a chapel. It stood at a cross-
road, and no houses were near it. It had stood there for 150 years,
gabled, red brick, and why it was put there nobody knew. Round it
were tombstones, many totally disfigured, and most of them awry.
The grass was always long and rank, full of dandelions, sorrel, and
docks, excepting once a year in June when it was cut, and then it
looked raw and yellow. Here and there was an unturfed, bare
hillock, marking a new grave, and that was the only mark it would
have, for people who could afford anything more did not attend the
chapel now. The last "respectable family" was a farmer's hard by,
but he and his wife had died, and his sons and daughters went to
church. The congregation, such as it was, consisted nominally of
about a dozen labourers and their wives and children, but no more
than half of them came at any one time. The windows had painted
wooden shutters, which were closed during the week to protect the
glass from stone-throwing, and the rusty iron gate was always
locked, save on Sundays. The gate, the door, and the shutters were
unfastened just before the preacher came, and the horrible chapel
smell and chapel damp hung about the place during the whole service.
When there was a funeral of any one belonging to the congregation
the Abchurch minister had to conduct it, and it was necessarily on
Sunday, to his great annoyance. Nobody could be buried on any other
day, because work could not be intermitted; no labourer could stay
at home when wife or child was dying; he would have lost his wages,
and perhaps his occupation. He thought himself lucky if they died
in the night.

The chapel was "supplied," as it was called, by an Abchurch deacon
or Sunday-school teacher, who came over, prayed, preached, gave out
hymns, and went away. That was nearly all that Cross Lanes knew of
the "parent cause." The supplies were constantly being changed, and
if it was very bad weather they stayed at home. On very rare
occasions the Abchurch minister appeared on Sunday evenings in
summer, but that was only when he wanted rest, and could deliver the
Abchurch sermon of the morning, and could obtain a substitute at

Crowhursts had been buried at Cross Lanes ever since it existed, but
the present Crowhursts knew nothing of their ancestors beyond the
generation immediately preceding. What was there to remember, or if
there was anything worth remembering, why should they remember it?
Life was blank, blind, dull as the brown clay in the sodden fields
in November; nevertheless, the Light which lighteth every man that
cometh into the world shone into the Crowhurst cottage--that Light
greater than all lights which can be lit by priest or philosopher,
as the sun is greater than all our oil-lamps, gas, and candles.
When Phoebe first had congestion of the lungs, not a single note of
murmuring at the trouble caused escaped a soul in the household.
The mother sat up with her at night, and a poor woman half a mile
off came in during the day and saw that things went all straight.
To be sure, there was Dr. Turnbull. It was a long way out of his
rounds, but he knew the Crowhursts well, and, as we have said, he
watched over Phoebe as carefully as if she had been the daughter of
a duke. Now Phoebe was ill again, but Dr. Turnbull was again there,
and although her cough was incessant, the care of father, mother,
brother, and sister was perfect in its tenderness, and their self-
forgetfulness was complete. It was not with them as with a man
known to the writer of this history. His wife, whom he professed to
love, was dying of consumption. "I do not deny she suffers," he
said "but nobody thinks of ME." The sympathy of the agricultural
poor with one another is hardly credible to fine people who live in
towns. If we could have a record of the devotion of those women who
lie forgotten under the turf round country churches throughout
England, it would be better worth preserving than nine-tenths of our
literature and histories. Surely in some sense they still ARE, and
their love cannot have been altogether a thing of no moment to the
Power that made them!

Catharine had never been to Phoebe's home before. At the Terrace
she was smart, attractive, and as particular as her mistress about
her clothes. Nobody ever saw Phoebe with untidy shoes or stockings,
and even in the morning, before she was supposed to be dressed, her
little feet were as neat as if she had nothing to do but to sit in a
drawing-room. She was now lying on a stump bedstead with a
patchwork coverlet over her, and to protect her from the draughts an
old piece of carpet had been nailed on a kind of rough frame and
placed between her and the door. Catharine's first emotion when she
entered was astonishment and indignation. Therein she showed her
ignorance and stupidity. The owner of the cottage did not force the
Crowhursts to live in it. It was not he who directed that a girl
dying of consumption should lie close to a damp wall in a room eight
feet square with no ventilation. He had the cottage, the
Crowhursts, presumably, were glad to get it, and he conferred a
favour on them.

"Oh, Miss Catharine," said Phoebe, "this is kind of you! To think
of your coming over from Eastthorpe to see me, and after what
happened between me and Mrs. Furze! Miss Catharine, I didn't mean
to be rude, but that Orkid Jim is a liar, and it's my belief that
he's at the bottom of the mischief with Tom. You haven't heard of
Tom, I suppose, Miss?"

"Yes, he is in London. He is doing very well."

"Oh, I am very thankful. I am afraid you will find the room very
close, Miss. Don't stay if you are uncomfortable."

Catharine replied by taking a chair and sitting by the bedside.
There was somewhat in Phoebe's countenance, Catharine knew not what,
but it went to her heart, and she bent down and kissed her upon the
forehead. They had always been half-friends when Phoebe was at the
Terrace. The poor girl's eyes filled with tears, and a smile came
over her face like the sunshine following the shadow of a cloud
sweeping over the hillside. Mrs. Crowhurst came into the room.

"Why, mother, what are you doing here? You ought to be abed. Where
is Mrs. Dunsfold?"

"Mrs. Dunsfold is laid up with the rheumatics, my dear. But don't
you bother; we can manage very well. I will stay with you at night,
and just have a bit of sleep in the mornings. Your sister can
manage after I've seen to father's breakfast and while I'm a-lying
down, and if she wants me, she's only got to call."

The mother looked worn and anxious, as though, even with Mrs.
Dunsfold's assistance, her rest had been insufficient.

"Mrs. Crowhurst," said Catharine, "go to bed again directly. If you
do not, you will be ill too. I will stay with Phoebe, at least for
to-night, if anybody can be found to go to Eastthorpe to tell my
mother I shall not be home."

"Miss Catharine! to think of such a thing! I'm sure you shan't,"
replied Mrs. Crowhurst; but Catharine persisted, and a message was
sent by Phoebe's brother, who, although so young, knew the way
perfectly well, and could be trusted.

The evening and the darkness drew on, and everything gradually
became silent. Excepting Phoebe's cough, not a sound could be heard
save the distant bark of some farmyard dog. As the air outside was
soft and warm, Catharine opened the window, after carefully
protecting her patient. Phoebe was restless.

"Shall I read to you?"

"Oh, please, Miss; but there is nothing here for you to read but the
Bible and a hymn-book."

"Well, I will read the Bible. What would you like?"

Phoebe chose neither prophecy, psalm, nor epistle, but the last
three chapters of St. Matthew. She, perhaps, hardly knew the reason
why, but she could not have made a better choice. When we come near
death, or near something which may be worse, all exhortation,
theory, promise, advice, dogma fail. The one staff which, perhaps,
may not break under us, is the victory achieved in the like
situation by one who has preceded us; and the most desperate private
experience cannot go beyond the garden of Gethsemane. The hero is a
young man filled with dreams and an ideal of a heavenly kingdom
which he was to establish on earth. He is disappointed by the time
he is thirty. He has not a friend who understands him, save in so
far as the love of two or three poor women is understanding. One of
his disciples denies him, another betrays him, and in the presence
of the hard Roman tribunal all his visions are nothing, and his life
is a failure. He is to die a cruel death; but the bitterness of the
cup must have been the thought that in a few days--or at least in a
few months or years--everything would be as if he had never been.
This is the pang of death, even to the meanest. "He that goeth down
to the grave," says Job, "shall return no more to his house, neither
shall his place know him any more." A higher philosophy would
doubtless set no store on our poor personality, and would even
rejoice in the thought of its obliteration or absorption, but we
cannot always lift ourselves to that level, and the human sentiment
remains. Catharine read through the story of the conflict, and when
she came to the resurrection she felt, and Phoebe felt, after her
fashion, as millions have felt before, that this was the truth of
death. It may be a legend, but the belief in it has carried with it
other beliefs which are vital.

The reading ceased, and Phoebe fell asleep for a little. She
presently waked and called Catharine.

"Miss Catharine," she whispered, drawing Catharine's hand between
both her own thin hands, "I have something to say to you. Do you
know I loved Tom a little; but I don't think he loved me. His mind
was elsewhere; I--saw where it was, and I don't wonder. I makes no
difference, and never has, in my thoughts,--either of him or of you.
It will be better for him in every way, and I am glad for his sake.
But when I am gone and I shan't feel ashamed at his knowing it--
please give him my Bible; and you may, if you like, put a piece of
my hair in that last chapter you have been reading to-night."

"Phoebe, my Phoebe, listen," said Catharine: "I shall never be
Tom's wife."

"Are you sure?"

"As sure as that I am here with my head on your pillow."

"I am sorry."

She then became silent, and so continued for two hours. Catharine
thought she was asleep, but a little after dawn her mother came into
the room. She knew better, and saw that the silence was not sleep,
but the insensibility of death. In a few minutes she hurried
Catharine downstairs, and when she was again admitted Phoebe lay
dead, and her pale face, unutterably peaceful and serious, was bound
up with a white neckerchief. The soul of the poor servant girl had
passed away--only a servant girl--and yet there was something in
that soul equal to the sun whose morning rays were pouring through
the window. She lies at the back of the meeting-house amongst her
kindred, and a little mound was raised over her. Her father
borrowed the key of the gate every now and then, and, after his work
was over, cut the grass where his child lay, and prevented the weeds
from encroaching; but when he died, not long after, his wife had to
go into the workhouse, and in one season the sorrel and dandelions
took possession, and Phoebe's grave became like all the others--a
scarcely distinguishable undulation in the tall, rank herbage.


Catharine left the cottage that afternoon, and began to walk home to
Eastthorpe. She thought, as she went along, of Phoebe's confession.
She had loved Tom, but had reached the point of perfect acquiescence
in any award of destiny, provided only he could be happy. She had
faced sickness and death without a murmur; she had no theory of
duty, no philosophy, no religion, as it is usually called, save a
few dim traditional beliefs, and she was the daughter of common
peasants; but she had attained just the one thing essential which
religion and philosophy ought to help us to obtain, and, if they do
not help us to obtain it, they are nothing. She lived not for
herself, nor in herself, and it was not even justice to herself
which she demanded. She had not become what she was because death
was before her. Death and the prospect of death do not work any
change. Catharine called to mind Phoebe's past life; it was all of
a piece, and countless little incidents unnoticed at the time
obtained a significance and were interpreted. She knew herself to
be Phoebe's superior intellectually, and that much had been
presented to her which was altogether over Phoebe's horizon. But in
all her purposes, and in all her activity, she seemed to have had
self for a centre, and she felt that she would gladly give up every
single advantage she possessed if she could but depose that self and
enthrone some other divinity in its place. Oh the bliss of waking
up in the morning with the thoughts turned outwards instead of
inwards! Her misery which so weighed upon her might perhaps depart
if she could achieve that conquest. She remembered one of Mr.
Cardew's first sermons, when she was at Miss Ponsonby's, the sermon
of which we have heard something, and she cried to herself, "Who
shall deliver me from the body of this death!"

Strange, but true, precisely at that moment the passion for Mr.
Cardew revived with more than its old intensity. Fresh from a
deathbed, pondering over what she had learned or thought she had
learned there--the very lesson which ought to have taught her to
give up Mr. Cardew--she loved him more than ever, and was less than
ever able to banish his image from her. She turned out of her
direct road and took that which led past his house--swept that way
as irresistibly as a mastless hull is swept by the tide. She knew
that Mr. Cardew was in the habit of walking out in the afternoon,
and she knew the path he usually took. She had not gone far before
she met him. She explained what her errand had been, and added that
she preferred the bypath because she was able to avoid the dusty
Eastthorpe lane.

"I do not know these Crowhursts," said Mr. Cardew; "they are
Dissenters, I believe."

The subject dropped, and Catharine had not another word to say about

"You look fatigued and as if you were not very well."

"Nothing particular; a little cough at times, but the doctor says it
is of no consequence, if I only take care."

"You have been up all night, and you are now going to walk back to

"Yes, the walk will refresh me."

He did not ask her to go to his house. Catharine noticed the
omission; hoped he would not--knew he would not.

"Have you heard anything of your father's assistant, Mr. Catchpole?"

"Yes, he likes that situation which you obtained for him so kindly."

"Is he quite happy?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"I encountered Mr. Colston, junior, a few minutes ago. He was on
his way to Eastthorpe. I am afraid I was rather rude to him, for,
to tell you the truth, I did not want his society. He is not an
interesting young man. Do you care anything for him?"


"I should like to see the picture you have formed of the man for
whom you would care. I do not remember"--speaking slowly and
dreamily--"ever to have seen a woman who would frame a loftier

He unconsciously came nearer to her; his arm moved into hers, and
she did not resist.

"What is the use of painting pictures when reality is unattainable?"

"Unattainable! Yes, just what I imagined: you paint something
unattainable to ordinary mortality. It is strange that most men and
women, even those who more or less in all they do strive after
perfection, seem to be satisfied with so little when it comes to
love and marriage. The same sculptor, who unweariedly refines day
after day to put in marble the image which haunts him, forms no such
image of a woman whom he seeks unceasingly, or, if he does, he
descends on one of the first twenty he meets and thinks he adores
her. There is some strong thwarting power which prevents his search
after the best, and it is as if nature had said that we should not
pick and choose. But the consequences are tremendous. I honour you
for your aspirations."

"You give me credit for a strength I do not possess, Mr. Cardew. I
said 'unattainable.' That was all. I did not say how."

They had come to a gate which led out of the field into the road,
and they paused there. They leaned against the gate, and Mr.
Cardew, although his arm was withdrawn from Catharine's, had placed
it upon the top rail so that she felt it. The pressure would not
have moved an ounce weight; there were half a dozen thicknesses of
wool and linen between the arm and her shoulder, but the encircling
touch sent a quiver through every nerve in her and shook her like
electricity. She stood gazing on the ground, digging up the blades
of grass with her foot.

"Do you mean," said Mr. Cardew, "that you have ever seen him, and

The pressure behind her was a little more obvious; he bent his head
nearer to hers, looked in her face, and she leaned back on the arm
heavily. Suddenly, without a word, she put both her hands to her
head, pushed aside her hair, and stood upright as a spear.

"Good-bye," she said, with her eyes straight on his. Another second
and she had passed through the gate, and was walking fast along the
road homewards alone. She heard behind her the sound of wheels, and
an open carriage overtook her. It was Dr. Turnbull's, and of course
he stopped.

"Miss Furze, you are taking a long walk."

She told him she had been to see Phoebe, and of her death.

"You must be very tired: you must come with me." She would have
preferred solitude, but he insisted on her accompanying him, and she

"I believe I saw Mr. Cardew in the meadow: I have just called on
his wife."

"Is she ill?"

"Yes, not seriously, I hope. You know Mr. Cardew?"

"Yes, a little. I have heard him preach, and have been to his house
when I was living at Abchurch."

"A remarkable man in many ways, and yet not a man whom I much
admire. He thinks a good deal, and when I am in company with him I
am unaccountably stimulated, but his thinking is not directed upon
life. My notion is that our intellect is intended to solve real
difficulties which confront us, and that all intellectual exercise
upon what does not concern us is worse than foolish. My brain finds
quite enough to do in contriving how to remove actual hard obstacles
which lie in the way of other people's happiness and my own."

"His difficulties may be different from yours."

"Certainly, but they are to a great extent artificial, and all the
time spent upon them is so much withdrawn from the others which are
real. He goes out into the fields reading endless books, containing
records of persons in various situations. He is not like any one of
those persons, and he never will be in any one of those situations.
The situation in which he found himself that morning at home, or
that in which a poor neighbour found himself, is that which to him
is important. It is a pernicious consequence of the sole study of
extraordinary people that the customary standards of human action
are deposed, and other standards peculiar to peculiar creatures
under peculiar circumstances are set up. I have known Cardew do
very curious things at times. I do not believe for one moment he
thought he was doing wrong, but nevertheless, if any other man had
done them, I should have had nothing more to say to him."

"Perhaps he ought to have his own rules. He may not be constituted
as we are."

"My dear Miss Furze, as a physician, let me give you one word of
solemn counsel. Nothing is more dangerous, physically and mentally,
than to imagine we are not as other people. Strive to consider
yourself, not as Catharine Furze, a young woman apart, but as a
piece of common humanity and bound by its laws. It is infinitely
healthier for you. Never, under any pretext whatever, allow
yourself to do what is exceptional. If you have any originality, it
will better come out in an improved performance of what everybody
ought to do, than in the indulgence in singularity. For one person
who, being a person of genius, has been injured by what is called
conventionality--I do not, of course, mean foolish conformity to
what is absurd--thousands have been saved by it, and self-separation
means mischief. It has been the beginning even of insanity in many
cases which have come under my notice." The doctor paused a little.

"I am glad Mrs. Cardew is better," said Catharine. "I did not know
she had been ill."

"There is a woman for you--a really wonderful woman, unobtrusive,
devoted to her husband, almost annihilating herself for him, and,
what is very noteworthy, she denies herself in studies to which she
is much attached, and for which she has a remarkable capacity,
merely in order that she may the better sympathise with him. Then
her care of the poor in his parish makes her almost a divinity to
them. While he is luxuriating amongst the cowslips, in what he
calls thinking, she is teaching the sick people patience and nursing
them. She is a saint, and he does not know half her worth. It
would do you a world of good now, Miss Furze, to live with her for
six months if she were alone, but I am not quite sure that his
influence on you would be wholesome. I was alarmed about her, but
she will not die yet if I can help it. I want her to recover for
her own sake, but also for her husband's and for her friends' sake.
Perhaps I was a little too severe upon the husband, for I believe he
does really love her very much; at least, if he does not, he ought."

"Ought? Do you think, Dr. Turnbull, a man ought to love what he
cannot love?"

"Yes, but I must explain myself. I have no patience with people who
seem to consider that they may yield themselves to something they
know not what, and allow themselves to be swayed by it. A man
marries a woman whom he loves. Is it possible that she, of all
women in the world, is the one he would love best if he were to know
all of them? Is it likely that he would have selected this one
woman if he had seen, say, fifty more before he had married her?
Certainly not; and when he sees other women afterwards, better than
the one he has chosen, he naturally admires them. If he does not--
he is a fool, but he is bound to check himself. He puts them aside
and is obliged to be satisfied with his wife. If it were
permissible in him in such a case to abandon her, a pretty chaos we
should be in. It is clearly his duty, and quite as clearly in his
power, to be thus contented--at least, in nine cases out of ten. He
MAY--and this is my point--he MAY wilfully turn away from what is
admirable in his own house, or he may turn towards it. He is as
responsible for turning away from it, or turning towards it, as he
is for any of his actions. If he says he cannot love a wife who is
virtuous and good, I call him not only stupid, but wicked--yes,
wicked: people in Eastthorpe will tell you I do not know what that
word means, because I do not go to church, and do not believe in
what they do not believe themselves, but still I say wicked--wicked
because he CAN love his wife, just as he can refrain from robbing
his neighbour, and wicked because there is a bit of excellence stuck
down before him for HIM to value. It is not intended for others,
but for HIM, and he deserts the place appointed him by Nature if he
neglects it."

"You have wonderful self-control, Dr. Turnbull. I can understand
that a man might refrain from open expression of his love for a
woman, whatever his passion for her might be, for, if he did not so
restrain himself, he might mar the peace of some other person who
was better than himself, and better deserved that his happiness
should not be wrecked; but as for love, it may be beyond him to
suppress it."

"Well, Miss Furze," replied the doctor, smiling, "we are going
beyond our own experience, I hope. However, what I have said is
true. I suppose it is because it is my business to cure disease
that I always strive to extend the realm of what is SUBJECT to us.
You seem to be fond of an argument. Some day we will debate the
point how far the proper appreciation even of a picture or a melody
is within our own power. But I am a queer kind of doctor. I have
never asked you how you are, and you are one of my patients."


"That is good, but you must be careful, especially in the evening.
It was not quite prudent to sit up last night at the Crowhursts',
but yet, on the whole, it was right. No, you shall not get down
here; I will drive you up to the Terrace."

He drove her home, and she went upstairs to lie down.

"Commonplace rubbish!" she said to herself; "what I used to hear at
Miss Ponsonby's, but dressed up a little better, the moral prosing
of an old man of sixty who never knew what it was to have his pulse
stirred; utterly incapable of understanding Mr. Cardew, one of whose
ideas moves me more than volumes of Turnbull copybook."

Pulse stirred! The young are often unjust to the old in the matter
of pulsation, and the world in general is unjust to those who prefer
to be silent, or to whom silence is a duty. Dr. Turnbull's pulse
was unmistakably stirred on a certain morning thirty years ago, when
he crept past a certain door in Bloomsbury Square very early. The
blinds were still all drawn down, but he lingered and walked past
the house two or three times. He had come there to take a last look
at the bricks and mortar of that house before he went to Eastthorpe,
under vow till death to permit no word of love to pass his lips, to
be betrayed into no emotion warmer than that of man to man. His
pulse was stirred, too, when he read the announcement of her
marriage in the Times five years afterwards, and then in a
twelvemonth the birth of her first child. How he watched for that
birth! Ten days afterwards she died. He went to the funeral, and
after the sorrowing husband and parents had departed he remained,
and the most scalding tears shed by the grave were his. It was not
exactly moral prosing, but rather inextinguishable fire just covered
with a sprinkling of grey ash.

With that dreadful capacity which some people possess, for the
realisation of that which is not present, the parting with Mr.
Cardew came before Catharine as she shut her eyes on her pillow:
the arm was behind her--she actually felt it; his eyes were on hers;
she was on fire, and once more, as she had done before, she cursed
herself for what she almost called her cowardice in leaving him.
She wrestled with her fancies, turned this way and that way; at
times they sent the blood hot into her face, and she rose and
plunged it into cold water. She was weary, but sleep was
impossible. "Commonplace rubbish!" she repeated: "of what use is
it to me?" She was young. When we grow old we find that what is
says the copper-plate line for small text, and the revolving years
bring nothing more. She heard outside a long-drawn breath,
apparently just under the door. She opened it, and found Alice, her
retriever. Alice came in, sat down by the chair, and put her head
on her mistress's lap, looking up to her with large, brown,
affectionate eyes which spoke almost. There is something very
touching in the love of a dog. It is independent of all our
misfortunes, mistakes, and sins. It may not be of much account, but
it is constant, and it is a love for ME, and does not desert me for
anything accidental, not even if I am a criminal. That is because a
dog is a dog, it may be said; if it had a proper sense of sin it
would instantly leave the house. Perhaps so, perhaps not: it may
be that with a proper sense of sin it would still continue to love
me. Anyhow, it loves me now, and I take its fidelity to be
significant of something beyond sin. Alice had a way of putting her
feet on her mistress's lap, as if she asked to be noticed. When no
notice was taken she generally advanced her nose to Catharine's
face--a very disagreeable habit, Mrs. Furze thought, but Catharine
never would check it. The poor beast was more than usually
affectionate to-day, and just turned Catharine's gloom into tears.
She was disturbed by a note from Dr. Turnbull. He thought that what
she needed was rest, and she was to go to bed and take his medicine.
This she did, and she fell into a deep slumber from which she did
not wake till morning.

Mr. Cardew, when Catharine left him, walked homewards, but he went a
long distance out of his way, much musing. As he went along
something came to him--the same Something which had so often
restrained Catharine. It smote him as the light from heaven smote
Saul of Tarsus journeying to Damascus. His eyes were opened; he
crept into an outhouse in the fields, and there alone in an agony he
prayed. It was almost dark when he reached his own gate, and he
went up to his wife's bedroom, where she lay ill. He sat down by
the bed: some of her flowers were on a little table at her side.

"I am so ignorant of flowers, Doss (the name he called her before
they were married); you really MUST teach me."

"You know enough about them."

He took her hand in his, put his head on the pillow's beside her,
and she heard a gasp which sounded a little hysterical.

"What is the matter, my dear? You are tired. You have walked a
long way."

She turned round, and then without another word he rose a little,
leaned over her, and kissed her passionately. She never knew what
his real history during the last year or two had been. He outlived
her, and one of his sorrows when she was lying in the grave was that
he had told her nothing. He was wrong to be silent. A man with any
self-respect will not be anxious to confess his sins, save when
reparation is due to others. If he be completely ashamed of them he
will hold his tongue about them. But the perfect wife may know
them. She will not love him the less: he will love her the more as
the possessor of his secrets, and the consciousness of her knowledge
of him and of them will strengthen and often, perhaps, save him.


Mrs. Cardew recovered, but Dr. Turnbull recommended that as soon as
she could be moved she should have an entire change, and at the end
of the autumn she and her husband went abroad.

That winter was a bad winter for Mr. Furze. The harvest had been
the worst known for years: farmers had no money; his expenses had
increased; many of his customers had left him, and Catharine's cough
had become so much worse that, except on fine days, she was not
allowed to go out of doors. For the first time in his life he was
obliged to overdraw his account at the bank, and when his wife
questioned him about his troubles he became angry and vicious. One
afternoon he had a visit from one of the partners in the bank, who
politely informed him that no further advances could be made. It
was near Christmas, and it was Mr. Furze's practice at Christmas to
take stock. He set to work, and his balance-sheet showed that he
was a poorer man by three hundred pounds than he was a twelvemonth
before. Catharine did not see him on the night on which he made
this discovery. He came home very late, and she had gone to bed.
At breakfast he was unlike himself--strange, excited, and with a
hunted, terrified look in the eyes which alarmed her. It was not so
much the actual loss which upset him as the old incapacity of
dealing with the unusual. Oh, for one hour with Tom! What should
he do? Should he retrench? Should he leave the Terrace? Should he
try and borrow money? A dizzy whirl of a dozen projects swung round
and round in his brain, and he could resolve on nothing. He
pictured most vividly and imagined most vividly the consequences of
bankruptcy. His intellectual activity in that direction was
amazing, and if one-tenth part of it could have been expended on the
consideration of the next best thing to be done, not only would he
have discovered what the next best thing was, but the dreadful
energy of his imagination would have been enfeebled. He was sitting
at his desk at the back of the shop with his head propped on his
elbows, when he heard a soft footstep behind him. He turned round:
it was Catharine.

"Dearest father," she said, "what is the matter? Why do you not
tell me?"

"I am a ruined man. The bank refuses to make any further advances
to me, and I cannot go on."

Catharine was not greatly surprised.

"Look at that," he said. "I don't know what to do; it is as if my
head were going wrong. If I had lost a lot of money through a bad
debt it would be different, but it is not that: the business has
been going down bit by bit. There is nothing before us but

Catharine glanced at the abstract of the balance-sheet.

"You must call your creditors together and make a proposal to them.
You will then start fair, and we will reduce our expenses. Nothing
will be easier. We will live at the shop again; you will be able to
look after things properly, and everything will go right--it will,
indeed, father."

She was very tender with him, and her love and counsel revived his
spirits. Suddenly she was seized with a fit of coughing, and had to
sit down. He thought he saw a red stain on the pocket-handkerchief
she put to her mouth.

"You shall not stay in this cold shop, my dear; you ought not to
have come out."

"Nonsense, father! There is nothing the matter. Have you a list of
your creditors?"

"Yes; there it is."

She glanced at it, and to her amazement saw Mr. Cardew's name down
for 100 pounds.

"Mr. Cardew, father?"

"Yes; he came in one day, and said that he had some money lying
idle, and did not know what to do with it. I was welcome to it if I
wanted it for the business."

A statement was duly prepared by Mr. Askew, Mr. Furze's solicitor;
the usual notice was sent round, and the meeting took place in a
room at the Bell. A composition of seven-and-sixpence in the pound
was offered, to be paid within a twelvemonth, with a further half-
crown in two years' time, the debtor undertaking to give up his
house in the Terrace.

"Considering," said the lawyer, "that the debts owing to the estate
are nearly all good, although just now it is difficult to realise, I
think, gentlemen, you are safe, and I may add that this seems to me
a very fair proposal. My client, I may say, would personally have
preferred a different course, and would like to bind himself to pay
in full at some future time, but I cannot advise any such promise,
for I do not think he would be able to keep it."

"I shall want some security for the half-crown," said Mr. Crook,
representative of the firm of Jenkins, Crook, and Hardman, iron
merchants in Staffordshire.

"Can't say as I'm satisfied," said Mr. Nagle, brass founder. "The
debtor takes an expensive house without any warranty, and he cannot
expect much consideration. I must have ten shillings now. Times
are bad for us as well as for him."

Mr. Furze turned very white and rose to speak, but Mr. Askew pulled
him down.

"I beg, gentlemen, you will not take extreme measures. Ten
shillings now would mean a sale of furniture, and perhaps ruin. My
client has been a good customer to you."

"I am inclined to agree with Mr. Nagle," said Mr. Crook. "Sentiment
is all very well, but I do not see why we should make the debtor a
present of half a crown for a couple of years. For my own part, if
I want to be generous with my money, I have plenty of friends of my
own to whom to give it."

There was a pause, but it was clear that Mr. Nagle's proposal would
be carried.

"I am authorised," said a tall gentleman at the back of the room,
whom Mr. Askew knew to be Mr. Carruthers, of Cambridge, head of the
firm of Carruthers, Doubleday, Carruthers and Pearse, one of the
most respectable legal firms in the county, "to offer payment in
full at once."

"It is a pity," said Mr. Nagle, "that this offer could not have been
made before. We might have been saved the trouble of coming here."

"Pardon me," replied Mr. Carruthers; "my client has been abroad for
some time, and did not return till last night."

The February in which the meeting of Mr. Furze's creditors took
place was unusually wet. There had been a deep snow in January,
with the wind from the north-east. The London coaches had, many of
them, been stopped both on the Norwich, Cambridge, and Great North
roads. The wind had driven with terrible force across the flat
country, piling up the snow in great drifts, and curling it in
fantastic waves which hung suspended over the hedges and entirely
obliterated them. Between Eaton Socon and Huntingdon one of the
York coaches was fairly buried, and the passengers, after being near
death's door with cold and hunger, made their way to a farmhouse
which had great difficulty in supplying them with provisions. Coals
rose in Abchurch and Eastthorpe to four pounds a ton, and just
before the frost broke there were not ten tons in both places taken
together. Suddenly the wind went round by the east to the south-
west, and it began to rain heavily, not only in the Eastern
Midlands, but far away in the counties to the west and south-west
through which the river ran. The snow and ice melted very quickly,
and then came a flood, the like of which had not been seen in those
parts before. The outfall has been improved since that time, so
that in all probability no such flood will happen again. The water
of course went all over the low-lying meadows. For miles and miles
on either bank it spread into vast lakes, and the only mark by which
to distinguish the bed of the stream was the greater rush and the
roar. Cottages were surrounded, and people were rescued by boats.
Every sluice and mill-dam were opened, but the torrent poured past
them, and at Cottington Mill it swept from millpool to tail right
over the road which divided them, and washed away nearly the whole
garden. When the rain ceased the worst had to come, for the upper
waters did not reach Eastthorpe until three or four days later.
Then there was indeed a sight to be seen! The southern end of
Eastthorpe High Street was actually two feet under water, and a man
in a boat--event to be recorded for ever in the Eastthorpe annals--
went from the timber yard on one side of the street through the
timber-yard gates and into the coal-yard opposite. Parts of
haystacks, trees, and dead bodies of sheep and oxen drove down on
the yellow, raging waves, and were caught against the abutments of
the bridge. At one time it was thought that it must give way, for
the arches were choked; the water was inches higher on the west side
than on the east, and men with long poles stood on the parapet to
break up the obstructions.

At last the flood began to subside, and on the afternoon of the day
of the creditors' meeting Mr. Orkid Jim appeared at the boathouse at
the bottom of Rectory Lane and asked to be taken across. The stream
was still very strong, but the meadows were clear, and some repair
was necessary to the iron work of a sluice-gate just opposite, which
Jim wished to inspect before the men were set to work.

"Don't know as it's safe, Mr. Jim," said the boatman. "It's as much
as ever I can get through. It goes uncommon strong against the
willows there."

"You'll get through all right. I'll give yer a hand. I don't care
to go a mile round over the bridge."

"Yes, that's all very well, Mr. Jim, but I don't want my boat

"Smashed! I am a lucky one, I am. No harm comes to any boat or
trap as long as I'm in it."

The boatman consented. Just as he was about to push off, another
man came down and asked for a passage. It was Tom Catchpole. Jim
stared, but said nothing to him. The boatman also knew Tom, but did
not speak. Jim now had half a mind to alter his intention of

"I don't know as I'll go," said he. "It does look queer, and no

"Well, don't keep me a-waitin', that's all."

Jim took his seat and went to the stern. Tom sat in the bow, and
the boatman took the sculls. He had to make for a point far above
the island, so as to allow for the current, and he just succeeded in
clearing it. He then began to drift down to the landing-place in
the comparatively still water between the island and the mainland.

Jim stood up with a boathook in his hand and laid hold of an
overhanging willow in order to slacken their progress, but the hook
stuck in the wood, and in an instant the boat was swept from under
him and he was in the water. He went down like a stone, for he
could not swim, but rose again just as he was passing. Tom leaned
over the side, managed to catch him by the coat-collar and hold his
head above water. Fortunately the boat had swung round somewhat,
and in a few seconds struck the bank. It was made fast, and in an
instant Jim was dragged ashore and was in safety.

"That's a narrow squeak for you, Mr. Jim. If it hadn't been for Mr.
Catchpole you'd have been in another world by this time."

Jim was perfectly sensible, but his eyes were fixed on Tom with a
strange, steady stare.

"Hadn't you better be moving and take off them things?"

Still he did not stir; but at last, without a word, he turned round
and--slowly walked away.

"That's a rum customer," observed the boatman; "he might have
thanked us at least, and he hasn't paid me. Howsomever, I shan't
forget it the next time I see him."

Tom made no reply: gave the man double his usual fare and went
across the meadow. He had no particular object in coming to
Eastthorpe, excepting that he had heard there was to be a meeting of
Mr. Furze's creditors, and he could not rest until he knew the
result. He avoided the main street as much as possible, but he
intended to obtain his information from Mr. Nagle at the Bell.

As to Jim, he went home, changed his clothes and went out again. He
walked up and down the street, and presently met Tom.

"Mr. Catchpole," he said, "will you please come along o' me?"

There was something of authority in the tone of Jim's voice, and yet
something which forbade all fear. Tom followed him in silence, and
they went to the Terrace. Mr. Furze was not at home, but Jim knew
he would back directly, and they waited in the kitchen, Tom much
wondering, but restrained by some strange compulsion--he could not
say what--not only to remain, but to refrain from asking any
questions. Directly Mr. Furze returned, Jim went upstairs, with Tom
behind him, and to the amazement of Mr. and Mrs. Furze presented him
in the dining-room.

"What is the meaning of this?" said Mrs. Furze.

"Mrs. Furze," said Jim, "will you please excuse me, and allow me to
speak for this once? I don't see Miss Catharine here. I want yer
to send for her. Wot I've got to say, I mean to say afore you all."

Catharine was in her bedroom. She came down wrapped up in a shawl,
and Jim stood up.

"Mr. Furze, Mrs. Furze, Miss Catharine, and you, Mr. Catchpole, you
see afore you the biggest liar as ever was, and one as deserves to
go to hell, if ever any man did. Everything agin Mr. Catchpole was
all trumped up, for he never had Humphries' money, and it was me as
put the marked sovereign in his pocket. I was tempted by the devil
and by--but the Lord 'as 'ad mercy on me and 'as saved my body and
soul this day. I can't speak no more, but 'ere I am if I'm to be
locked up and transported as I deserve."

"Never," said Tom.

"You say never, Mr. Catchpole. Very well, then: on my knees I axes
your pardon, and you won't see me agin." Jim actually knelt down.
"May the Lord forgive me, and do you forgive me, Mr. Catchpole, for
being such a--" (Jim was about to use a familiar word, but checked
himself, and contented himself with one which is blasphemous but
also orthodox)--"such a damned sinner."

He rose, walked out, left Eastthorpe that night, and nothing more
was heard of him for years. Then there came news from an Eastthorpe
man, who had gone to America, that Jim was at work at Pittsburg;
that he was also a preacher of God's Word, and that by God's grace
he had brought hundreds to a knowledge of their Saviour.

This story may be deemed impossible by the ordinary cultivated
reader, but he will please to recollect John Bunyan's account of the
strange behaviour of Mr. Tod. "At a summer assizes holden at
Hertford," says Bunyan, "while the judge was sitting up on the
bench, comes this old Tod into court, clothed in a green suit, with
his leathern girdle in his hand, his bosom open, and all in a dung
sweat, as if he had run for his life; and being come in, he spake
aloud as follows: 'My Lord,' said he, 'here is the veriest rogue
that breathes upon the face of the earth. I have been a thief from
a child. When I was but a little one I gave myself to rob orchards,
and to do other such like wicked things, and I have continued a
thief ever since. My Lord, there has not been a robbery committed
these many years, within so many miles of this place, but I have
been either at it, or privy to it!' The judge thought the fellow
was mad, but after some conference with some of the justices, they
agreed to indict him; and so they did of several felonious actions;
to all of which he heartily confessed guilty, and so was hanged with
his wife at the same time." I can also assure my incredulous
literary friends that years ago it was not uncommon for men and
women suddenly to awake to the fact that they had been sinners, and
to determine that henceforth they would keep God's commandments by
the help of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. What is more
extraordinary is that they did keep God's commandments for the rest
of their lives. Fear of hell fire and hope of heaven may have had
something to do with their reformation, but these were not the sole
motives, and even if they were, the strength of mind necessary in
order to sacrifice the present for the sake of something remote--a
capacity which lies, we are told, at the basis of all virtue--was


Tom was restored to his former position, and Mr. Furze's business
began to improve. Arrangements were made for the removal from the
Terrace, and they were eagerly pressed forward by Catharine. Her
mother pleaded that they could not leave till June; that even in
June they would sacrifice a quarter's rent, but Catharine's reply
was that they would pay no more if they went beforehand. Her father
was anxious to please her, and the necessary alterations at the shop
were taken in hand at once, and towards the beginning of May were
completed. She was not allowed to move to the High Street with her
father and mother; it was thought that the worry and fatigue would
be too much for her, and it was settled, as the weather was
wonderfully warm, and bright for the time of year, that she should
go over to Chapel Farm for a week. At the end of the week she would
find the furniture all in its place and her room quite straight.

Mrs. Bellamy called for her, and she reached the farm in safety, and
looking better. The next morning she begged to be taken for a
drive. Mr. Bellamy had to go over to Thingleby, and she was able to
go with him. It a lovely sunny day, one of those days which we
sometimes have in May, summer days in advance of the main body, and
more beautiful, perhaps, than any that follow, because they are days
of anticipation and hope, our delight in the full midsummer being
sobered by the thought of approaching autumn and winter. When they
reached the bridge Mr. Bellamy remembered that he had forgotten his
cheque-book and his money, and it was of no use to go to Thingleby
without them.

"Botheration! I must go back, my dear."

"Leave me here, Mr. Bellamy; you won't be long. Let me get out,
though, and just turn the mare aside off the road on to the grass
against the gate; she will be quite quiet."

"Had you not better sit still? I shall be back in a quarter of an

"If you do not mind, dear Mr. Bellamy, I should so like to stand on
the bridge. I cannot let the gig stay there."

"Well, my dear, you shall have your own way. You know," he said,
laughing, "I've long ago given up asking why my Catharine wants
anything whatsomever. If she wishes it that's enough for me."

Catharine dismounted, and Mr. Bellamy walked back.

She went to the parapet and once more looked up the stream. Once
more, as on a memorable day in August, the sun was upon the water.
Then the heat was intense, and the heavy cumulus clouds were charged
with thunder and lightning. Now the sun shone with nothing more
than warmth, and though the clouds, the same clouds, hung in the
south-west, there was no fire in them, nothing but soft, warm
showers. She looked and looked, and tears came into her eyes--tears
of joy. Never had a day been to her what that day was. She felt as
if she lay open to all the life of spring which was pouring up
through the earth, and it swept into her as if she were one of those
bursting exultant chestnut buds, the sight of which she loved so in
April and May. Always for years when the season came round had she
gathered one of those buds and carried it home, and it was more to
her than any summer flower. The bliss of life passed over into
contentment with death, and her delight was so great that she could
happily have lain down amid the hum of the insects to die on the

When they came back to the farm Mr. Bellamy observed to his wife
that he had not seen Catharine looking better or in better spirits
for months. Mrs. Bellamy said nothing, but on the following morning
Catharine was certainly not so well. It was intended that she
should go home that day, but it was wet, and a message was sent to
Eastthorpe to explain why she did not come. The next day she was
worse, and Mrs. Bellamy went to Eastthorpe and counselled Mr. and
Mrs. Furze to come to the Farm, and bring Dr. Turnbull with them.
They all three came at once, and found Catharine in bed. She was
feverish, and during the night had been slightly delirious. The
doctor examined her carefully, and after the examination was over
she turned to him and said -

"I want to hear the truth; I can bear it. Am I to die?"

"I know you can bear it. No man could be certain; but I believe the
end is near."

"How much time have I?"

He sat down by the bedside. "Perhaps a day, perhaps a week. Is
there anybody you wish to see?"

"I should like to see Mr. Cardew."

"Mr. Cardew!" said Dr. Turnbull to himself; "I fancied she would not
care to have a clergyman with her; I thought she was a little beyond
that kind of thing, but when people are about to die even the
strongest are a little weak."

"She always liked Mr. Cardew's preaching," said Mrs. Furze, sobbing,
"but I wish she had asked for her own rector. It isn't as if Mr.
Cardew were her personal friend."

It was Saturday evening when the message was dispatched to Abchurch,
but Mr. Cardew was fortunately able to secure a substitute for the
morrow; Sunday morning came. Mrs. Furze, who had been sitting up
all night, drew down the blinds at dawn, but Catharine asked, not
only that they might be drawn up again, but that her bed might be
shifted a little so that she might look out across the meadow and
towards the bridge. "The view that way is so lovely," said she. It
was again a triumphal spring day, and light and warmth streamed into
the sick chamber.

Presently her mother went to take a little rest, and Mr. Cardew was
announced almost immediately afterwards. He came upstairs, and Mrs.
Bellamy, who had taken Mrs. Furze's place, left the room. She did
not think it proper to intrude when the clergyman visited anybody
who was dying. Mr. Cardew remained standing and speechless.

"Sit down, Mr. Cardew. I felt that I should like to see you once

He sat down by the bedside.

"Do you mind opening the window and drawing up the blind again? It
has fallen a little. That is better: now I can see the meadows and
away towards the bridge foot. Will you give me a glass of water?"

She drank the water: he looked steadily at her, and he knew too
well what was on her face. Her hand dropped on the bed: he fell on
his knees beside her with that hand in his, but still he was dumb,
and not a single article of his creed which he had preached for so
many years presented itself to him: forgiveness, the atonement,
heaven--it had all vanished.

"Mr. Cardew, I want to say something."

"Wait a moment, let me tell you--YOU HAVE SAVED ME."

She smiled, her lips moved, and she whispered -

"YOU have saved ME."

By their love for each other they were both saved. The disguises
are manifold which the Immortal Son assumes in the work of our

Tom henceforth wore the ring on his finger. Mr. Cardew resigned his
living, and did not preach for many years. When pressed for an
explanation he generally gave his health as an excuse. Later in
life he took up work again in a far distant, purely agricultural
parish, but his sermons were of the simplest kind--exhortations to
pity, consideration, gentleness, and counsels as to the common
duties of life. He spent much of his time in visiting his
parishioners and in helping them in their difficulties. Mrs.
Cardew, as we have said, died before him, but no woman ever had a
husband more tender and devoted than hers in these later years. He
had changed much, and she knew it, but she did not know exactly how,
nor did she know the reason. It was not the kind of change which
comes from a new theory or a new principle: it was something
deeper. Some men are determined by principles, and others are drawn
and directed by a vision or a face. Before Mr. Cardew was set for
evermore the face which he saw white and saintly at Chapel Farm that
May Sunday morning when death had entered, and it controlled and
moulded him with an all-pervading power more subtle and penetrating
than that which could have been exercised by theology or ethics.


{1} "Not now nor of yesterday are they, but for ever they live, and
no one knows whence to date their appearance."--Sophocles,

{2} "You, yourself, some time or other, overcome by the terror-
speaking tales of the seers, will seek to fall away from us." --
Lucritius, "De Rerum Natura."

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