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´╗┐Title: Catharine Furze
Author: Rutherford, Mark, 1831-1913
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Catharine Furze" ***

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Transcribed from the 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition by David Price,


CATHARINE FURZE


CHAPTER I


It was a bright, hot, August Saturday in the market town of Eastthorpe,
in the eastern Midlands, in the year 1840.  Eastthorpe lay about five
miles on the western side of the Fens, in a very level country on the
banks of a river, broad and deep, but with only just sufficient fall to
enable its long-lingering waters to reach the sea.  It was an ancient
market town, with a six-arched stone bridge, and with a High Street from
which three or four smaller and narrower streets connected by courts and
alleys diverged at right angles.  In the middle of the town was the
church, an immense building, big enough to hold half Eastthorpe, and
celebrated for its beautiful spire and its peal of eight bells.  Round
the church lay the churchyard, fringed with huge elms, and in the Abbey
Close, as it was called, which was the outer girdle of the churchyard on
three sides, the fourth side of the square being the High Street, there
lived in 1840 the principal doctor, the lawyer, the parson, and two aged
gentlewomen with some property, who were daughters of one of the former
partners in the bank, had been born in Eastthorpe, and had scarcely ever
quitted it.  Here also were a young ladies' seminary and an ancient
grammar school for the education of forty boys, sons of freemen of the
town.  The houses in the Close were not of the same class as the rest;
they were mostly old red brick, with white sashes, and they all had
gardens, long, narrow, and shady, which, on the south side of the Close,
ran down to the river.  One of these houses was even older,
black-timbered, gabled, plastered, the sole remains, saving the church,
of Eastthorpe as it was in the reign of Henry the Eighth.

Just beyond the church, going from the bridge, the High Street was so
wide that the houses on either side were separated by a space of over two
hundred feet.  This elongated space was the market-place.  In the centre
was the Moot Hall, a quaint little building, supported on oak pillars,
and in the shelter underneath the farmers assembled on market day.  All
round the Moot Hall, and extending far up and down the street, were
cattle-pens and sheep-pens, which were never removed.  Most of the shops
were still bow-windowed, with small panes of glass, but the first
innovation, indicative of the new era at hand, had just been made.  The
druggist, as a man of science and advanced ideas, had replaced his bow-
window with plate-glass, had put a cornice over it, had stuccoed his
bricks, and had erected a kind of balustrade of stucco, so as to hide as
much as possible the attic windows, which looked over, meekly protesting.
Nearly opposite the Moot Hall was the Bell Inn, the principal inn in the
town.  There were other inns, respectable enough, such as the Bull, a
little higher up, patronised by the smaller commercial travellers and
farmers, but the entrance passage to the Bull had sand on the floor, and
carriers made it a house of call.  To the Bell the two coaches came which
went through Eastthorpe, and there they changed horses.  Both the Bull
and the Bell had market dinners, but at the Bell the charge was three-and-
sixpence; sherry was often drunk, and there the steward to the Honourable
Mr. Eaton, the principal landowner, always met the tenants.  The Bell was
Tory and the Bull was Whig, but no stranger of respectability, Whig or
Tory, visiting Eastthorpe could possibly hesitate about going to the
Bell, with its large gilded device projecting over the pathway, with its
broad archway at the side always freshly gravelled, and its handsome
balcony on the first floor, from which the Tory county candidates, during
election times, addressed the free and independent electors and cattle.

Eastthorpe was a malting town, and down by the water were two or three
large malthouses.  The view from the bridge was not particularly
picturesque, but it was pleasant, especially in summer, when the wind was
south-west.  The malthouses and their cowls, the wharves and the gaily
painted sailing barges alongside, the fringe of slanting willows turning
the silver-gray sides of their foliage towards the breeze, the island in
the middle of the river with bigger willows, the large expanse of sky,
the soft clouds distinct in form almost to the far distant horizon, and,
looking eastwards, the illimitable distance towards the fens and the
sea--all this made up a landscape, more suitable perhaps to some persons
than rock or waterfall, although no picture had ever been painted of it,
and nobody had ever come to see it.

Such was Eastthorpe.  For hundreds of years had the shadow of St. Mary's
swept slowly over the roofs underneath it, and, of all those years,
scarcely a line of its history survived, save what was written in the
churchyard or in the church registers.  The town had stood for the
Parliament in the days of the Civil War, and there had been a skirmish in
the place; but who fought in it, who were killed in it, and what the
result was, nobody knew.  Half a dozen old skulls of much earlier date
and of great size were once found in a gravel pit two miles away, and
were the subject of much talk, some taking them for Romans, some for
Britons, some for Saxons, and some for Danes.  As it was impossible to be
sure if they were Christian, they could not be put in consecrated ground;
they were therefore included in an auction of dead and live stock, and
were bought by the doctor.  Surnames survived in Eastthorpe with singular
pertinacity, for it was remote from the world, but what was the
relationship between the scores of Thaxtons, for example, whose deaths
were inscribed on the tombstones, some of them all awry and weather-worn,
and the Thaxtons of 1840, no living Thaxton could tell, every spiritual
trace of them having disappeared more utterly than their bones.  Their
bones, indeed, did not disappear, and were a source of much trouble to
the sexton, for in digging a new grave they came up to the surface in
quantities, and had to be shovelled in and covered up again, so that the
bodily remains of successive generations were jumbled together, and
Puritan and Georgian Thaxtons were mixed promiscuously with their
descendants.  Nevertheless, Eastthorpe had really had a history.  It had
known victory and defeat, love, hatred, intrigue, hope, despair, and all
the passions, just as Elizabeth, King Charles, Cromwell, and Queen Anne
knew them, but they were not recorded.

It was a bright, hot, August Saturday, as we have said, and it was market
day.  Furthermore, it was half-past two in the afternoon, and the guests
at Mr. Furze's had just finished their dinner.  Mr. Furze was the largest
ironmonger in Eastthorpe, and sold not only ironmongery, but ploughs and
all kinds of agricultural implements.  At the back of the shop was a
small foundry where all the foundry work for miles round Eastthorpe was
done.  It was Mr. Furze's practice always to keep a kind of open house on
Saturday, and on this particular day, at half-past two, Mr. Bellamy, Mr.
Chandler, Mr. Gosford, and Mr. Furze were drinking their
whiskey-and-water and smoking their pipes in Mr. Furze's parlour.  The
first three were well-to-do farmers, and with them the whiskey-and-water
was not a pretence.  Mr. Furze was a tradesman, and of a different build.
Strong tobacco and whiskey at that hour and in that heat were rather too
much for him, and he played with his pipe and drank very slowly.  The
conversation had subsided for a while under the influence of the beef,
Yorkshire pudding, beer, and spirits, when Mr. Bellamy observed--

"Old Bartlett's widow still a-livin' up at the Croft?"

"Yes," said Mr. Gosford, after filling his pipe again and pausing for at
least a minute, "Bartlett's dead."

"Bartlett wur a slow-coach," observed Mr. Chandler, after another pause
of a minute, "so wur his mare.  I mind me I wur behind his mare about
five years ago last Michaelmas, and I wur well-nigh perished.  I wur a-
goin' to give her a poke with my stick, and old Bartlett says, 'Doan't
hit her, doan't hit her; yer can't alter her.'"

The three worthy farmers roared with laughter, Mr. Furze smiling gently.

"That was a good 'un," said Mr. Bellamy.

"Ah," replied Chandler, "I mind that as well as if it wur yesterday."

Mr. Bellamy at this point had to leave, and Mr. Furze was obliged to
attend to his shop.  Gosford and Chandler, however, remained, and Gosford
continued the subject of Bartlett's widow.

"What's she a-stayin' on for up there?"

"Old Bartlett's left her a goodish bit."

"She wur younger than he."

A dead silence of some minutes.

"She ain't a-goin' to take the Croft on herself," observed Gosford.

"Them beasts of the squire's," replied Chandler, "fetched a goodish lot.
Scaled just over ninety stone apiece."

"Why doan't you go in for the widow, Chandler?"

Mr. Chandler was a widower.

"Eh!" (with a nasal tone and a smile)--"bit too much for me."

"Too much?  Why, there ain't above fourteen stone of her.  Keep yer warm
o' nights up at your cold place."

Mr. Chandler took the pipe out of his mouth, put it inside the fender,
compressed his lips, rubbed his chin, and looked up to the ceiling.

"Well, I must be a-goin'."

"I suppose I must too," and they both went their ways, to meet again at
tea-time.

At five punctually all had again assembled, the additions to the party
being Mrs. Furze and her daughter Catharine, a young woman of nineteen.
Mrs. Furze was not an Eastthorpe lady; she came from Cambridge, and Mr.
Furze had first seen her when she was on a visit in Eastthorpe.  Her
father was a draper in Cambridge, which was not only a much bigger place
than Eastthorpe, but had a university, and Mrs. Furze talked about the
university familiarly, so that, although her education had been slender,
a university flavour clung to her, and the farmers round Eastthorpe would
have been quite unable to determine the difference between her and a
senior wrangler, if they had known what a senior wrangler was.

"Ha," observed Mr. Gosford, when they were seated, "I wur sayin', Mrs.
Furze, to Chandler as he ought to go in for old Bartlett's widow.  Now
what do _you_ think?  Wouldn't they make a pretty pair?" and he twisted
Chandler's shoulders round a little till he faced Mrs. Furze.

"Don't you be a fool, Gosford," said Chandler in good temper, but as he
disengaged himself, he upset his tea on Mrs. Furze's carpet.

"Really, Mr. Gosford," replied Mrs. Furze, with some dignity and
asperity, "I am no judge in such matters.  They are best left to the
persons concerned."

"No offence, ma'am, no offence."

Mrs. Furze was not quite a favourite with her husband's friends, and he
knew it, but he was extremely anxious that their dislike to her should
not damage his business relationships with them.  So he endeavoured to
act as mediator.

"No doubt, my dear, no doubt, but at the same time there is no reason why
Mr. Gosford should not make any suggestion which may be to our friend
Chandler's advantage,"

But Mr. Gosford was checked and did not pursue the subject.  Catharine
sat next to him.

"Mr. Gosford, when may I come to Moat Farm again?"

"Lord, my dear, whenever you like you know that.  Me and Mrs. G. is
always glad to see you.  _When_ever you please," and Mr. Gosford
instantly recovered the good-humour which Mrs. Furze had suppressed.

"Don't forget us," chimed in Mr. Bellamy.  "We'll turn out your room and
store apples in it if you don't use it oftener."

"Now, Mr. Bellamy," said Catharine, holding up her finger at him, "you'll
be sick of me at last.  You've forgotten when I had that bad cold at your
house, and was in bed there for a week, and what a bother I was to Mrs.
Bellamy."

"Bother!" cried Bellamy--"bother!  Lord have mercy on us! why the missus
was sayin' when you talked about bother, my missus says, 'I'd sooner have
Catharine here, and me have tea up there with her, notwithstanding there
must be a fire upstairs and I've had to send Lucy to the infirmary with a
whitlow on her thumb--yes, I would, than be at a many tea-parties I
know.'"

Mrs. Furze gave elaborate tea-parties, and was uncomfortably uncertain
whether or not the shaft was intended for her.

"My dear Catharine, I shall be delighted if you go either to Mr.
Gosford's or to Mr. Bellamy's, but you must consider your wardrobe a
little.  You will remember that the last time on each occasion a dress
was torn in pieces."

"But, mother, are not dresses intended to keep thorns from our legs; or,
at any rate, isn't that _one_ reason why we wear them?"

"Suppose it to be so, my dear, there is no reason why you should plunge
about in thorns."

Catharine had a provoking way of saving "yes" or "no" when she wished to
terminate a controversy.  She stated her own opinion, and then, if
objection was raised, at least by some people, her father and mother
included, she professed agreement by a simple monosyllable, either
because she was lazy, or because she saw that there was no chance of
further profit in the discussion.  It was irritating, because it was
always clear she meant nothing.  At this instant a servant opened the
door, and Alice, a curly brown retriever, squeezed herself in, and made
straight for Catharine, putting her head on Catharine's lap.

"Catharine, Catharine!" cried her mother, with a little scream, "she's
dripping wet.  Do pray, my child, think of the carpet."

But Catharine put her lips to Alice's face and kissed it deliberately,
giving her a piece of cake.

"Mr. Gosford, my poor bitch has puppies--three of them--all as true as
their mother, for we know the father."

"Ah!" replied Gosford, "you're lucky, then, Miss Catharine, for dogs,
especially in a town--"

Mrs. Furze at this moment hastily rang the bell, making an unusual
clatter with the crockery: Mr. Furze said the company must excuse him,
and the three worthy farmers rose to take their departure.



CHAPTER II


It was Mr. Furze's custom on Sunday to go to sleep for an hour between
dinner and tea upstairs in what was called the drawing-room, while Mrs.
Furze sat and read, or said she read, a religious book.  On hot summer
afternoons Mr. Furze always took off his coat before he had his nap, and
sometimes divested himself of his waistcoat.  When the coat and waistcoat
were taken off, Mrs. Furze invariably drew down the blinds.  She had
often remonstrated with her husband for appearing in his shirt-sleeves,
and objected to the neighbours seeing him in this costume.  There was a
sofa in the room, but it was horsehair, with high ends both alike, not
comfortable, which were covered with curious complications called
antimacassars, that slipped off directly they were touched, so that
anybody who leaned upon them was engaged continually in warfare with
them, picking them up from the floor or spreading them out again.  There
was also an easy chair, but it was not easy, for it matched the sofa in
horsehair, and was so ingeniously contrived, that directly a person
placed himself in it, it gently shot him forwards.  Furthermore, it had
special antimacassars, which were a work of art, and Mrs. Furze had
warned Mr. Furze off them.  "He would ruin them," she said, "if he put
his head upon them."  So a windsor chair with a high back was always
carried by Mr. Furze upstairs after dinner, together with a common
kitchen chair, and on these he slumbered.  The room was never used, save
on Sundays and when Mrs. Furze gave a tea-party.  It overlooked the
market-place, and, although on a Sunday afternoon the High Street was
almost completely silent, Mrs. Furze liked to sit so near the window that
she could peep out at the edge of the blind when she was not dozing.  It
is true no master nor mistress ever stirred at that hour, but every now
and then a maidservant could be seen, and she was better than nothing for
the purpose of criticism.  A round table stood in the middle of the room
with a pink vase on it containing artificial flowers, and on the
mantelpiece were two other pink vases and two great shells.  Over the
mantelpiece was a portrait of His Majesty King George the Fourth in his
robes, and exactly opposite was a picture of the Virgin Mary, which was
old and valuable.  Mr. Furze bought it at a sale with some other things,
and did not quite like it.  It savoured of Popery, which he could not
abide; but the parson one day saw it and told Mrs. Furze it was worth
something; whereupon she put it in a new maple frame, and had it hung in
a place of honour second to that occupied by King George, and so arranged
that he and the Virgin were always looking at one another.  On the other
side of the room were a likeness of Mr. Eaton in hunting array, with the
dogs, and a mezzotint of the Deluge.

Mr. Furze had just awaked on the Sunday afternoon following the day of
which the history is partly given in the first chapter.

"My dear," said his wife, "I have been thinking a good deal of Catharine.
She is not quite what I could wish."

"No," replied Mr. Furze, with a yawn.

"To begin with, she uses bad language.  I was really quite shocked
yesterday to hear the extremely vulgar word, almost--almost,--I do not
know what to call it--profane, I may say, which she applied to her dog
when talking of it to Mr. Gosford.  Then she goes in the foundry; and I
firmly believe that all the money which has been spent on her music is
utterly thrown away."

"The thing is--what is to be done?"

"Now, I have a plan."

In order to make Mrs. Furze's plan fully intelligible, it may be as well
to explain that, up to the year 1840, the tradesmen of Eastthorpe had
lived at their shops.  But a year or two before that date some houses had
been built at the north end of the town and called "The Terrace."  A new
doctor had taken one, the brewer another, and a third had been taken by
the grocer, a man reputed to be very well off, who not only did a large
retail business, but supplied the small shops in the villages round.

"Well, my dear, what is your plan?"

"Your connection is extending, and you want more room.  Now, why should
you not move to the Terrace?  If we were to go there, Catharine would be
withdrawn from the society in which she at present mixes.  You could not
continue to give market dinners, and gradually her acquaintance with the
persons whom you now invite would cease.  I believe, too, that if we were
in the Terrace Mrs. Colston would call on us.  As the wife of a brewer,
she cannot do so now.  Then there is just another thing which has been on
my mind for a long time.  It is settled that Mr. Jennings is to leave,
for he has accepted an invitation from the cause at Ely.  I do not think
we shall like anybody after Mr. Jennings, and it would be a good
opportunity for us to exchange the chapel for the church.  We have
attended the chapel regularly, but I have always felt a kind of prejudice
there against us, or at least against myself, and there is no denying
that the people who go to church are vastly more genteel, and so are the
service and everything about it--the vespers--the bells--somehow there is
a respectability in it."

Mr. Furze was silent.  At last he said, "It is a very serious matter.  I
must consider it in all its bearings."

It _was_ a serious matter, and he did consider it--but not in all its
bearings, for he did nothing but think about it, so that it enveloped
him, and he could not put himself at such a distance that he could see
its real shape.  He was now well over fifty and was the kind of person
with whom habits become firmly fixed.  He was fixed even in his dress.  He
always wore a white neckcloth, and his shirt was frilled--fashions which
were already beginning to die out in Eastthorpe.  His manner of life was
most regular: breakfast at eight, dinner at one, tea at five, supper at
nine with a pipe afterwards, was his unvarying round.  He never left
Eastthorpe for a holiday, and read no books of any kind.  He was a most
respectable member of a Dissenting congregation, but he was not a member
of the church, and was never seen at the week-night services or the
prayer-meetings.  He went through the ceremony of family worship morning
and evening, but he did not pray extempore, as did the elect, and
contented himself with reading prayers from a book called "Family
Devotions."  The days were over for Eastthorpe when a man like Mr. Furze
could be denounced, a man who paid his pew-rent regularly, and
contributed to the missionary societies.  The days were over when any
expostulations could be addressed to him, or any attempts made to bring
him within the fold, and Mr. Jennings therefore called on him, and
religion was not mentioned.  It may seem extraordinary that, without
convictions based on any reasoning process, Mr. Furze's outward existence
should have been so correct and so moral.  He had passed through the
usually stormy period of youth without censure.  It is true he was
married young, but before his marriage nobody had ever heard a syllable
against him, and, after marriage, he never drank a drop too much, and
never was guilty of a single dishonest action.  Day after day passed by
like all preceding days, in unbroken, level succession, without even the
excitement of meeting-house emotion.  Naturally, therefore, his wife's
proposals made him uneasy, and even alarmed him.  He shrank from them
unconsciously, and yet his aversion was perfectly wise; more so, perhaps,
than any action for which he could have assigned a definite motive.  With
men like Mr. Furze the unconscious reason, which is partly a direction by
past and forgotten experiences, and partly instinct, is often more to be
trusted than any mental operation, strictly so-called.  An attempt to use
the mind actively on subjects which are too large, or with which it has
not been accustomed to deal, is pretty nearly sure to mislead.  He knew,
or it knew, whatever we like to call it, that to break him from his
surroundings meant that he himself was to be broken, for they were a part
of him.

His wife attacked him again the next day.  She was bent upon moving, and
it is only fair to her to say that she did really wish to go for
Catharine's sake.  She loved the child in her own way, but she also
wanted to go for many other reasons.

"Well, my dear, what have you to say to my little scheme?"

"How about my dinner and tea?"

"Come home to the Terrace.  How far is it?"

"Ten minutes' walk."

"An hour every day, in all weathers; and then there's the expense."

"As to the expense, I am certain we should save in the long run, because
you would not be expected to be continually asking people to meals."

"I am afraid that the business might suffer."

"Nonsense!  In what way, my dear?  Your attention will be more fixed upon
it than it can be with the parlour always behind you."

There was something in that, and Mr. Furze was perplexed.  He was not
sufficiently well educated to know that something, and a great deal, too,
can be said for anything, and he had not arrived at that callousness to
argument which is the last result of culture.

"Yes, but I was thinking that perhaps if we leave off chapel and go to
church some of our customers may not like it."

"Now, my good man, Furze, why you know you have as many customers who go
to church as to chapel."

"Ah! but those who go to chapel may drop off."

"Why should they?  We have plenty of customers who go to church.  They
don't leave us because we are Dissenters, and, as there are five times as
many church people as Dissenters, your connection will be extended."

Mrs. Furze was unanswerable, but her poor husband, after all, was right.
The change, when it took place, did not bring more people to the shop,
and some left who were in the habit of coming.  His dumb, dull
presentiment was a prophecy, and his wife's logic was nothing but words.

"Then there are all the rooms here; what shall we do with them?"

"I have told you; you want more space.  Besides, you do not make half
enough show.  You ought to go with the times.  Why, at Cross's at
Cambridge their upstairs windows are hung full of spades and hoes and
such things, and you can see it is business up to the garret.  I should
turn the parlour into a counting-house.  It isn't the proper thing for
you to be standing always at that pokey little desk at the end of the
counter with a pen behind your ear.  Turn the parlour, I say, into a
counting-house, and come out when Tom finds it necessary to call you.
That makes a much better impression.  The rooms above the drawing-room
might be used for lighter goods, so as not to weight the floors too
much."

Mr. Furze was not sentimental, but he shuddered.  In the big front
bedroom his father and he had been born.  The first thing he could
remember was having measles there, and watching day by day, when he was a
little better, what went on in the street below.  His brothers and
sisters were also born there.  He remembered how his mother was shut up
there, and he was not allowed to enter; how, when he tried the door,
Nurse Judkins came and said he must be a good boy and go away, and how he
heard a little cry, and was told he had a new sister, and he wondered how
she got in.  In that room his father had died.  He was very ill for a
long time, and again Nurse Judkins came.  He sat up with his father there
night after night, and heard the church clock sound all the hours as the
sick man lay waiting for his last.  He rallied towards the end, and,
being very pious, he made his son sit down by the bedside and read to him
the ninety-first Psalm.  He then blessed his boy in that very room, and
five minutes afterwards he had rushed from it, choked with sobbing when
the last breath was drawn.  He did not relish the thought of taking down
the old four-post bedstead and putting rakes and shovels in its place,
but all he could say was--

"I don't quite fall in with it."

"_Why_ not?  Now, my dear, I will make a bargain with you.  If you can
assign a good reason, I will give it up; but, if you cannot, then, of
course, we ought to go, because _I_ have plenty of reasons for going.
Nothing can be fairer than that."

Mr. Furze was not quite clear about the "ought," although it was so fair,
but he was mute, and, after a pause, went into his shop.  An accident
decided the question.  Catharine was the lightest sleeper in the house,
notwithstanding her youth.  Two nights after this controversy she awoke
suddenly and smelt something burning.  She jumped out of bed, flung her
dressing-gown over her, opened her door, and found the landing full of
smoke.  Without a moment's hesitation she rushed out and roused her
parents.  They were both bewildered, and hesitated, ejaculating all sorts
of useless things.  Catharine was impatient.

"Now, then, not a second; upstairs through Jane's bedroom, out into the
gutter, and through Hopkins's attic.  You cannot go downstairs."

Still there was trembling and indecision.

"But the tin box," gasped Mr. Furze; "it is in the wardrobe.  I must take
it."

Catharine replied by literally driving them before her.  They picked up
the maid-servant, crept behind the high parapet, and were soon in safety.
By this time the smoke was pouring up thick and fast, although no flame
had appeared.  Suddenly Catharine cried--

"But where is Tom?"

Tom was the assistant, and slept in an offset at the back.  Underneath
him was the kitchen, and beyond was the lower offset of the scullery.
Catharine darted towards the window.

"Catharine!" shrieked her mother, "where are you going?  You cannot; you
are not dressed."

But she answered not a word, and had vanished before anybody could arrest
her.  The smoke was worse, and almost suffocating, but she wrapped her
face and nose in her woollen gown, and reached Tom's door.  He never
slept with it fastened, and the amazed youth was awakened by a voice
which he knew to be that of Miss Furze.  Escape by the way she had come
was hopeless.  The staircase was now opaque.  Fortunately Tom's casement,
instead of being in the side wall, was at the end, and the drop to the
scullery roof was not above four feet.  Catharine reached it easily, and,
Tom coming after her, helped her to scramble down into the yard.  The
gate was unbarred, and in another minute they were safe with their
neighbours.  The town was now stirring, and a fire-engine came, a machine
which attended fires officially, and squirted on them officially, but was
never known to do anything more, save to make the road sloppy.  The
thick, brick party walls of the houses adjoining saved them, but Mr.
Furze's house was gutted from top to bottom.  It was surrounded by a
crowd the next day, which stared unceasingly.  The fire-engine still
operated on the ashes, and a great steam and smother arose.  A charred
oak beam hung where it had always hung, but the roof had disappeared
entirely, and the walls of the old bedchamber, which had seen so much of
sweetness and of sadness, of the mysteries of love, birth, and death, lay
bare to the sky and the street.



CHAPTER III


The stone bridge was deeply recessed, and in each recess was a stone
seat.  In the last recess but one, at the north end, and on the east
side, there sat daily, some few years before 1840, a blind man, Michael
Catchpole by name, selling shoelaces.  He originally came out of Suffolk,
but he had lived in Eastthorpe ever since he was a boy, and had worked
for Mr. Furze's father.  He was blinded by a splash of melted iron, and
was suddenly left helpless, a widower with one boy, Tom, fifteen years
old.  His employer, the present Mr. Furze, did nothing for him, save
sending him two bottles of lotion which he had heard were good for the
eyes, and Mike for a time was confounded.  His club helped him so long as
he was actually suffering and confined to his house, but their pay did
not last above six weeks.  In these six weeks Mike learned much.  He was
brought face to face with a blank wall with the pursuer behind him--an
experience which teaches more than most books, and he was on the point of
doing what some of us have been compelled to do--that is to say, to
recognise that the worst is inevitable, throw up the arms and bravely
yield.  But Mike also learned that this is not always necessary to a man
with courage, and that very often escape lies in the last moment, the
very last, when endurance seems no longer possible.  His deliverance did
not burst upon him in rainbow colours out of the sky complete.  It was a
very slow affair.  He heard that an old woman had died who lived in
Parker's Alley and sold old clothes, old iron, bottles, and such like
trash.  Parker's Alley was not very easy to find.  Going up High Street
from the bridge, you first turned to the right through Cross Street, and
then to the right again down Lock Lane, and out of Lock Lane ran the
alley, a little narrow gutter of a place, dark and squalid, paved with
round stones, through which slops of all kinds perpetually percolated,
and gave forth on the cleanest days a faint and sickening odour.  Mike
thought he could buy the stock for five shillings; the rent was only half
a crown a week, and with the help of Tom, a remarkably sharp boy, who
could tell him in what condition the goods were which were offered him
for purchase, he hoped he could manage to make way.  It was a dreadful
trial.  The old woman had lived amongst all her property.  She had eaten
and drunk and slept amidst the dirty rags of Eastthorpe, but Mike could
not.  Fortunately the cottage was at the end of the alley.  One window
looked out on it, but the door was in a kind of indentation in it round
the corner.  On the right-hand side of the door was the room looking into
the alley, and this Mike made his shop; on the left was a little cupboard
of a living-room.  He kept the shop window open, so that no customer came
through the doorway, and he begged some scarlet geranium cuttings, which,
in due time, bloomed into brilliant colour on his sitting-room window-
sill, proclaiming that from their possessor hope and delight in life had
not departed.  Alas! the enterprise was a failure.  Mike was no hand at
driving hard bargains, and frequently, when the Jew from Cambridge came
round to sweep up what Mike had been unable to sell in the town, he found
himself the worse for his purchases.  The unscalable wall was again in
front of him, and his foe at his heels, closer than before, and raging
for his blood.  He had gone out one morning, Tom leading him, and was
passing the bank, when the cashier ran out.  Miss Foster, one of the
maiden ladies who, it will be remembered, lived in the Abbey Close, had
left a sovereign on the counter, and the cashier was exceedingly anxious
to show his zeal by promptly returning it, for Miss Foster, it will also
be remembered, was a daughter of a former partner in the bank, and still,
as it was supposed, retained some interest in it.  She had gone too far,
however, and the cashier could not venture to leave his post and follow
her.  Knowing Mike and Tom perfectly well, he asked Mike to take the
sovereign at once to the lady.  He promptly obeyed, and was in time to
restore it to its owner before it was missed.  She was not particularly
sensitive, but the sight of Mike and Tom standing at the hall entrance
rather touched her, and she rewarded them with a shilling.  She was also
pleased to inquire how Mike was getting on, and he briefly told her he
did not get on in any way, save as the most unsuccessful happily get on,
and so at last terminate their perplexities.  Miss Foster, although well-
to-do, kept neither footman nor page, and a thought struck her.  She
abhorred male servants, but it was very often inconvenient to send her
maids on errands.  She therefore suggested to Mike that, if he and Tom
could station themselves within call, they would not only be useful, but
earn something of a livelihood.  The bank wanted an odd man occasionally,
and she was sure that other people in the town would employ him.
Accordingly Mike and Tom one morning established themselves in the recess
of the bridge, after having given notice to everybody who would be likely
to assist them, and Mike set up a stock of boot-laces and shoe-laces of
all kinds.  He thus managed to pick up a trifle.  He wrapped sacking
round his legs to keep off the cold as he sat, and had for a footstool a
box with straw in it.  He also rigged up a little awning on some sticks
to keep off the sun and a shower, but of course when a storm came he was
obliged to retreat.  He was then allowed a shelter in the bank.  The dust
was a nuisance, for it was difficult to predict its capricious eddies,
but he learnt its laws at last, and how to choose his station so as to
diminish annoyance.  At first he was depressed at the thought of sitting
still for so many hours with nothing to do, but he was not left to
himself so much as he anticipated.  Two hours on the average were spent
on errands; then there was his dinner: Tom talked to him; people went by
and said a word or two, and thus he discovered that a foreseen trouble
may look impenetrable, but when we near it, or become immersed in it, it
is often at least semi-transparent, and even sometimes admits a ray of
sunshine.  Gradually his employment became sweet to him; he was a part of
the town; he heard all its news; it was gentle within him; even the rough
boys never molested him: he tamed a black kitten to stay with him, and a
red ribbon and a bell were provided for her by a friend.  When the kitten
grew to be a cat she gravely watched under Mike's awning during his short
absences with Tom, and not a soul ever touched the property she guarded.
Country folk who came to market on Saturday invariably saluted Mike with
their kind country friendliness, and brought him all sorts of little
gifts in the shape of fruit, and even of something more substantial when
a pig was killed.  Thus with Mike time and the hour wore out the roughest
day.

Two years had now passed since his accident, and Tom was about seventeen,
when Miss Catharine crossed the bridge one fine Monday morning in June
with the servant, and, as was her wont, stopped to have a word or two
with her friend Mike.  Mike was always at his best on Monday morning.
Sunday was a day of rest, but he preferred Monday.  It was a delight to
him to hear again the carts and the noise of feet, and to feel that the
world was alive once more.  Sunday with its enforced quietude and
inactivity was a burden to him.

"Well, Miss Catharine, how are you to-day?"

"How did you know I was Miss Catharine?  I hadn't spoken."

"Lord, Miss, I could tell.  Though it's only about two years since I lost
my eyes, I could tell.  I can make out people's footsteps.  What a lovely
morning!  What's going on now down below?"

Mike always took much interest in the wharves by the side of the river.

"Why, Barnes's big lighter is loading malt."

"Ah! what, the new one with the yellow band round it! that's a beautiful
lighter, that is."

Mike had never seen it.

"What days do you dislike the most?  Foggy, damp, dull, dark days?"

These foggy, damp, dull, dark days were particularly distasteful to
Catharine.

"No, Miss, I can't say I do, for, you know, I don't see them."

"Cold, bitter days?"

"They are a bit bad; but somehow I earn more money on cold days than on
any other; how it is I don't know."

"I hate the dust."

"Ah now! that _is_ unpleasant, but there again, Miss, I dodge it, and
it's my belief that it wouldn't worry people half so much if they
wouldn't look at it."

"How much have you earned this morning?"

"Not a penny yet, Miss, but it will come."

"I want two pairs of shoe-laces," and Miss Catharine, selecting two
pairs, put down a fourpenny-piece, part of her pocket-money, twice the
market value of the laces, and tripped over the bridge.  When she was at
dinner with her father and mother that day she suddenly said--

"Father, didn't Mike Catchpole lose his sight in our foundry?"

"Yes."

"Have you been talking with him again?" interposed Mrs. Furze.  "I wish
you would not stop on the bridge as you do.  It does not look nice for a
girl like you to stay and gossip with Mike."

Catharine took no notice.

"Did you ever do anything for him?"

"What an odd question!" again interposed Mrs. Furze.  "What should we do?
There was his club besides, we sent him the lotion."

"Why cannot you take Tom as an apprentice?"

"Because," said her father, "there is nobody to pay the premium; you know
what that means.  When a boy is bound apprentice the master has a sum of
money for teaching him the business."

Catharine did not quite comprehend, inasmuch as there were two boys in
the back shop who were paid wages, and who were learning their trade.  She
was quiet for a few minutes, but presently returned to the charge.

"You _must_ take Tom.  Why shouldn't you give him what you give the other
boys?"

"Really, Catharine," said her mother, "why _must_?"

"Must!" cried the little miss--"yes, I say _must_, because Mike lost his
eyes for you, and you've done nothing for him; it's a shame."

"Catharine, Catharine!" said her father, but in accordance with his usual
habit he said nothing more, and the mother, also in accordance with her
usual habit, collapsed.

Miss Catharine generally, even at that early age, carried all before her,
much to her own detriment.  Her parents unfortunately were perpetually
making a brief show of resistance and afterwards yielding.  Frequently
they had no pretext for resistance, for Catharine was right and they were
wrong.  Consequently the child grew up accustomed to see everything bend
to her own will, and accustomed to believe that what she willed was in
accordance with the will of the universe--not a healthy education, for
the time is sure to come when a destiny which will not bend stands in the
path before us, and we are convinced by the roughest processes that what
we purpose is to a very small extent the purpose of Nature.  The shock
then is serious, especially if the collision be postponed till mature
years.  The parental opposition, such as it was, was worse than none,
because it enabled her to feel her strength.  She continued to press her
point, and not only was victorious, but was empowered to tell Mike that
his son would be taken into the foundry and paid five shillings and
sixpence a week--"a most special case," as Mr. Furze told Mike, in order
to stimulate his gratitude.

Mike was now able to find his way about by himself, but before the date
of the first chapter in this history he had left the bridge, and Tom
supported him.

The morning after the fire beheld the Furze family at breakfast with the
hospitable Hopkins.  They had saved scarcely any clothes, but Tom and his
master were equipped from a ready-made shop.  The women had to remain
indoors in borrowed garments till they could be made presentable by the
dressmaker.  Mr. Furze was so unfitted to deal with events which did not
follow in anticipated, regular order, that he was bewildered.  He and Tom
went out to look at the ruins, and everything which had to be done seemed
to crowd in upon him at once, one thing tumbling incessantly over the
other, and nothing staying long enough before him to be settled.  Although
his business had been fairly large, he had nothing of the faculty of the
captain or the manager, who can let details alone and occupy himself with
principles.  He had a stock of copper bolt-stave in the front shop, and
he poked about and pestered the men to know if any of it could be found
melted.  Then it occurred to him the next instant, and before the inquiry
about the bolt-stave could be answered, that he had lost his
account-books, and he began to try to recollect what one of his principal
customers owed him.  Before his memory was fairly exercised on the
subject it struck him that the men in the foundry--which was
untouched--would not know what to do, and he hurried in, but came out
again without leaving any directions.  At last he became so confused that
he would have broken down if Tom had not come to the rescue, and gently
laid hold of his arm.

"Let us go into the Bell"; and into the Bell they went, into the large,
empty coffee-room, very quiet at that time of the morning.  "We are
better here," said Tom, "if we want to know what we ought to do.  The
first thing is to write to the insurance company."

"Of course, of course!"

"We will do that at once; I will write the letter, and you sign it."

In less than ten minutes this stage of the business was passed.

"The next thing is to find a shop while they are rebuilding."

That was not quite so easy a matter.  There was not one in the High
Street to be let.  At last an idea struck Tom.

"There is the Moot Hall--underneath it, I mean.  We shall have to buy
fittings, but I will have them so arranged that they will do for the new
building.  All that is necessary is to obtain leave; but we shall be sure
to get it: only half of it is wanted on market days, and that's the part
that isn't shut off.  We'll then write to Birmingham and Sheffield about
the stock.  We'd better have a few posters stuck about at once, saying
that business will be carried on in the Hall for the present."

Mr. Furze saw the complexity unravel itself, and the knot in his head
began to loosen, but he did not quite like to reflect that he owed his
relief to Tom, and that Tom had seen his agitation.  Accordingly, when a
proof of the poster was brought, he was the master, most particularly the
master, and observed with much dignity and authority that it ought not to
have been set up without the benefit of his revision; that it would not
do by any means as it stood, and that it had better be left with him.

Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins insisted upon continuing their hospitality until a
new home could be found, and Mrs. Furze urged her project of the Terrace
with such eagerness, that at last her husband consented.

"I think," said Mrs. Furze, when the debate was concluded, "that
Catharine had better go away for a short time until we are settled in the
Terrace and the shop is rebuilt.  She would not be of much use in the new
house, and would only knock herself up."

That was not Mrs. Furze's reason.  She had said nothing to Catharine, but
she instinctively dreaded her hostility to the scheme.  Mr. Furze knew
that was not Mrs. Furze's reason, but he accepted it.  Mrs. Furze knew it
was not her own reason, but she also accepted it, and believed it to be
the true reason.  Such contradictions are quite possible in that mystery
of mysteries the human soul.

"My dear Catharine," quoth her mother that evening, "you look worried and
done up.  No wonder, considering what we have gone through.  A change
would do you good, and you had better go and stay with your aunt at Ely
till we have a roof of our own over our heads once more.  She will be
delighted to see you."

Catharine particularly objected to her aunt at Ely.  She was a maiden
lady and elder sister to Mrs. Furze.  She had a small annuity, had turned
herself into a most faithful churchwoman, and went to live at Ely because
it was cheap and a cathedral city.  Every day, morning and afternoon, was
Aunt Matilda to be seen at the cathedral services, and frequently she was
the only attendant, save the choir and officials.

"Why do you want me out of the way?" said Catharine, dismissing without
the least notice the alleged pretext.

"I have told you, my dear."

"I cannot go to Ely.  If you wish me to go anywhere, I will go to Mrs.
Bellamy's."

"My dear, that is not a sufficient change for you.  Ely is a different
climate, and I cannot consent to quartering you on a stranger for so
long."

"Mrs. Bellamy will not object.  Will the new house be like the old one?"

"Well, really, may dear, nothing at present is quite determined; no doubt
your father will take the opportunity of making a few improvements."

"My bedroom, I hope, will be what it was before, and in the same place."

"Oh, I--I trust there will be no serious alteration, except what--what
will be agreeable to us all, but your father is so much bothered now;
perhaps you will have a room which is a little larger, but I really do
not know.  I cannot say anything: how can you _expect_ me to say anything
just at present, my dear child?"

Again there was the same contradiction.  Mrs. Furze knew this was wrong,
but she believed it was right.  There was, however, a slight balance in
favour of what she knew against what she believed, and she hastened to
appease her conscience by a mental promise that, as soon as possible, she
would tell Catharine that, upon full consideration, they had determined,
&c., &c.  That would put everything straight morally.  Had Catharine put
her question yesterday--so Mrs. Furze argued--the answer now given would
have been perfectly right.  She was doing nothing more than giving a
reply which was a trifle in arrear of the facts, and, if she rectified it
at the earliest date, the impropriety would be nothing.  It is sometimes
thought that it is those who habitually speak the truth who are most
easily deceived.  It is not quite so.  If the deceivers are not entirely
deceived, they profess acquiescence, and perpetual acquiescence induces
half-deception.  It is, perhaps, more correct to say that the word
deception has no particular meaning for them, and implies a standard
which is altogether inapplicable.  There is a tacit agreement through all
society to say things which nobody believes, and that being the
constitution under which we live, it is absurd to talk of truth or
falsity in the strict sense of the terms.  A thing is true when it is in
accordance with the system and on a level with it, and false when it is
below it.  Every now and then at rarest intervals a creature is
introduced to us who speaks the veritable reality and wakes in us the
slumbering conviction of universal imposture.  We know that he is not as
other men are; we look into his eyes and see that they penetrate us
through and through, but we cannot help ourselves, and we jabber to him
as we jabber to the rest of the world.  It was ridiculous that her mother
should talk as she did to Catharine.  Mrs. Furze was perfectly aware that
she was not deluding her daughter; but she assumed that the delusion was
complete.

"Well, mother, I say I cannot go to Ely."

Catharine again had her own way.  She went to Mrs. Bellamy's, and Mrs.
Furze, after having told Mrs. Bellamy what was going to happen, begged
her not to say anything to Catharine about it.



CHAPTER IV


Mr. Bellamy's farm of Westchapel--Chapel Farm it was usually called--lay
about half a mile from Lampson's Ford, and about five miles from
Eastthorpe.  The road from Eastthorpe running westerly and parallel with
the river at a distance of about a mile from it sends out at the fourth
milestone a byroad to the south, which crosses the river by a stone
bridge, and there is no doubt that before the bridge existed there was a
ford, and that there was also a chapel hard by where people probably
commended their souls to God before taking the water.  In the angle
formed by the main road, the lane, and the river, lay Chapel Farm.  The
house stood on a gentle slope, just enough to lift it above the range of
the worst of winter floods, and faced the south.  It was not in the lane,
but on a kind of private road or cart-track which issued from it; went
through a gate and under a hedge; expanded itself in an open space of
carefully weeded gravel just opposite the front door, and became a more
insignificant and much rougher track on the other side, passing by the
stacks into the field, and finally disappearing altogether.  From the
hand-post on the main road to the gate was half a mile, and from the gate
to the farm nearly another half-mile.  In driving from Chapel Farm you
feel, when you reach the gate, you are in the busy world again, and when
you reach the hand-post and turn to Eastthorpe you are in the full tide
of life, although not a soul is to be seen.  Opposite the house were the
farm-buildings and the farmyard.  The gate to the right of the
farm-buildings led into the meadow, and thus anybody sitting in the front
rooms could see the barges slowly and silently towed from the sea to the
uplands and back again, the rising ground beyond, and so on to Thingleby,
whose little spire just emerged above the horizon.  The river, deep and
sluggish for the most part, was fringed with willows on the side opposite
the towing-path.  At the bridge, just where the ford used to be, it was
broken into shallows, over which the stream slipped faster, and here and
there there were not above two or three feet of water, so that sometimes
the barges were almost aground.  The farmhouse was not quite ideal.  It
was plain red brick, now grey and lichen-covered, about a hundred years
old; the windows were white-painted, with heavy frames, and the only
attempt at ornament was a kind of porch over the front door, supported by
brackets, but with no sides to it.  Nevertheless, it had its charms.  Save
on the northern side, where it was backed by the huge elms in the home-
field, it lay bare to the winds, breezy, airy, full of light.  In summer
the front door was always open, and even when it was shut in cold weather
no knocker was ever used.  If a visitor came by daylight he was always
seen, and if after dark he was heard.  The garden, which lay on the west
side of the house and at the back, was rather warm in hot weather, but
was delicious.  Under the wall on the north side the apricot and Orleans
plum ripened well, and round to the right was the dairy, always cool,
sweet, and clean, with the big elder trees before the barred window.

The mistress of the house, Mrs. Bellamy, was not a very robust woman.  She
was generally ailing, but never very seriously ill.  She had had two
children, but they had both died.  Mrs. Bellamy's mind, unoccupied with
parental cares, with politics, or with literature, let itself loose upon
her house, her dairy, and her fowls.  She established a series of
precautions to prevent dirt, and the precautions themselves became
objects to be protected.  There was a rough scraper intervening on behalf
of the black-leaded scraper; there was a large mat to preserve the mat
beyond it: and although a drugget coveted the stair carpet, Mrs. Bellamy
would have been sorely vexed if she had found a footmark upon it.  If a
friend was expected she put some straw outside the garden gate, and she
asked him in gentle tones when he dismounted if he would kindly "just
take the worst off" there.  The kitchen was scoured and scrubbed till it
was fleckless.  It was theoretically the living-room, and a defence for
the parlour, but it also was defended in its turn like the scraper, and
the back kitchen, which had a fireplace, was used for cooking, the fire
in the state kitchen not being lighted in summer time.  Partly Mrs.
Bellamy's excessive neatness was due to the need of an occupation.  She
brooded much, and the moment she had nothing to do she became
low-spirited and unwell.  Partly also it was due to a touch of poetry.
She polished her verses in beeswax and turpentine, and sought on her
floors and tables for that which the poet seeks in Eden or Atlantis.  It
must not be imagined that because she was so particular she was stingy.
She was one of the most open-handed creatures that ever breathed.  She
loved plenty.  The jug was always full to overflowing with beer, and the
dishes were always heaped up with good things, so that nobody was ever
afraid of robbing his neighbour.

Catharine was never weary of Chapel Farm.  She was busy from morning to
night, and the living creatures on it were her especial delight.
Naturally, as is the case with all country girls, the circumference of
her knowledge embraced a region which a town matron would have veiled
from her daughters with the heaviest curtains.

"How's the foal going on?" said Mrs. Bellamy to her husband one evening
when he came in to supper.

"Oh, the foal's all right; he'll be just like his father--just the same
broad hind-quarters.  Lord! we shall hardly get him into the shafts.  You
remember, Miss Catharine, as I showed you what extrornary quarters King
Tom had when he came here?  It is a curious thing, there ain't one of his
foals that hasn't got that mark of him.  I allus likes a horse, I do,
that leaves his mark strong.  If you pay pretty heavy you ought to have
something for your money.  The mother, though, is in a bad way: my belief
is she'll have milk-fever."

"That mare never seemed healthy to me," said Catharine.

"No; she was brought up anyhow.  When she was about a fortnight old her
mother died.  They didn't know how to manage her, and half starved her."

"I don't believe in starvin' creatures when they are young," said Mrs.
Bellamy, who was herself a very small eater.

"Nor I, either, and yet that mare, although, as you say, Miss Catharine,
she was never healthy, has the most wonderful pluck, as you know.  I
remember once I had two ton o' muck in the waggon, and we were stuck.
Jack and Blossom couldn't stir it, and, after a bit, chucked up.  I put
in Maggie--you should have seen her!  She moved it, a'most all herself,
aye, as far as from here to the gate, and then of course the others took
it up.  That's blood!  What a thing blood is!--you may load it, but you
can't break it.  Never a touch of the whip would she stand, and yet it's
quite true she isn't right, and never was.  Maybe the foal will be like
her; the shape goes after the father mostly, but the sperrit and temper
after the mother."

The next morning Maggie was worse.  Catharine was in the stable as soon
as anybody was stirring, and the poor creature was trembling violently.
She was watched with the most tender care, and when she became too weak
to stand to eat or drink she was slung with soft bands and pads.  Her
groans were dreadful.  After about a week of cruel misery she died.  It
was evening, and Catharine sat down and looked at what was left of her
friend.  She had never before even partly realised what death meant.  She
was too young to feel its full force.  The time was yet to come when
death would mean despair--when the insolubility of the problem would
induce carelessness to all other problems and their solution.
Furthermore, this was only a horse.  Still, the contrast struck her
between the corpse before her and Maggie with her bright eyes and vivid
force.  What had become of all that strength; what had become of
_her_?--and the girl mused, as countless generations had mused before
her.  Then there was the pathos of it.  She thought of the brave animal
which she had so often seen, apparently for the mere love of difficulty,
struggling as if its sinews would crack.  She thought of its glad
recognition when she came into the stable, and of its evident affection,
half human, or perhaps wholly human, and imprisoned in a form which did
not permit full expression.  She looked at its body as it lay there
extended, quiet, pleading as it were against the doom of man and of
beast, and tears came to her eyes as she noted the appeal--tears not
altogether of sorrow, but partly of revolt.

Mr. Bellamy came in.

"Ah, Miss Catharine, I don't wonder at it.  There's many a human as I
should less have missed than Maggie.  I can't make out at times why we
should love the beasts so as perish."

"Perhaps they don't."

"Really, Miss, of course they do.  What's the Lord to do with all the
dead horses and cows?"

Catharine thought, "Or with the dead men and women," but she said
nothing.  The subject was new to her.  She took her scissors and cut off
a wisp of Maggie's beautiful mane, twisted it up, put it carefully in a
piece of paper, and placed it in a little pocket-book which she always
carried.  The next morning as soon as it was daylight a man came over
from Eastthorpe; Maggie was hoisted into a cart, her legs dangling down
outside, and was driven away to be converted into food for dogs.

One of Catharine's favourite haunts was a meadow by the bridge.  She was
not given to reading, but she liked a stroll and, as there were plenty of
rats, the dog enjoyed the stroll too.  Not a week after Maggie's death
she had wandered to this point without her usual companion.  A barge had
gone down just before she arrived, and for some reason or other had made
fast to the bank about a quarter of a mile below her on the side opposite
to the towing-path.  She sat down under a willow with her face to the
water and back to the sun, for it was very hot, and in a few minutes she
was half dozing.  Suddenly she started, and one of the bargemen stood
close by her.

"Hullo, my beauty!  Why, you was asleep!  Wot's the time?"

"I haven't a watch."

"Haven't a watch!  Now that's a shame; if you was mine, my love, you
should 'ave one o' gold."

"It is time I was at home," said Catharine, rising with as much presence
of mind as she could muster; "and I should think it must be your dinner-
hour."

"Damn my dinner-hour, when I've got the chance of sittin' alongside a gal
with sich eyes as yourn, my beauty.  Why, you make me all of a tremble.
Sit down for a bit."

Catharine moved away, but the bargee caught her round the waist.

"Sit down, I tell yer, jist for a minute.  Who's a-goin' to hurt yer?"

It was of no use to resist, and she did not scream.  She sat down, and
his arm relaxed its hold to pick up his pipe which had fallen on the
other side.  Instantly, without a second's hesitation she leaped up, and,
before his heavy bulk could lift itself, she had turned and rushed along
the bank.  Had she made for the bridge, he would have overtaken her in
the lane, but she went the other way.  About fifty yards down the stream,
and in the direction of Chapel Farm, was a deep hole in the river bed,
about five feet wide.  On the other side of it there were not more than
eighteen inches of water at any point.  Catharine knew that hole well, as
the haunt of the jack and the perch.  She reached it, cleared it at a
bound, and alighted on the bit of shingle just beyond it.  Her pursuer
came up and stared at her silently, with his mouth half open.  Just at
that moment the instant sound of wheels was heard, and he slowly
sauntered back to his barge.  Catharine boldly waded over the intervening
shallows, and was across just as the cart reached the top of the bridge,
but her shoes remained behind her in the mud.  It proved to be her
father's cart, and to contain Tom, who had been over to Thingleby that
morning to see what chance there was of getting any money out of a
blacksmith who was largely in Mr. Furze's debt.  He saw there was
something wrong, and dismounted.

"Why, Miss Catharine, you are all wet!  What is the matter?"

"I slipped down."

She could not tell the truth, although usually so straightforward.  Tom
looked at her inquiringly as if he was not quite sure, but there was
something in her face which forbade further investigation.

"You've lost your shoes; you cannot walk home; will you let me give you a
lift to Chapel Farm?"

"They do not matter a straw: it is grass nearly the whole way."

"I'll fish them out, if you will show me where they are."

"Carried down by this time ever so far."

"But you will hurt your feet; it isn't all grass; you had better get in."

She thought suddenly of the bargee again, and reflected that the barge
might still be moored where it was an hour ago.

"Very well, then, I will go."

She essayed to put her foot upon the step, but the mud on her stocking
was greasy, and she fell backwards.  Tom caught her in his arms, and a
strange thrill passed through him when he felt that the whole weight of
her body rested on him.  Many a man there is who can call to mind, across
forty years, a silly passage like this in his life.  His hair has
whitened; all passion ought long ago to have died out of him; thousands
of events of infinitely greater consequence have happened; he has read
much in philosophy and religion, and has forgotten it all, and a slip on
the ice when skating together, or a stumble on the stair, or the pressure
of a hand prolonged just for a second in parting, is felt with its
original intensity, and the thought of it drives warm blood once more
through the arteries.

"Let me get in first," said Tom, putting some straw on the step.

He got into the cart, and he gently pulled her up, relinquishing her very
carefully, and, in fact, not until after his assistance was no longer
needed.

"How _did_ you manage it?"

"You know how these things happen: it was all-over in a minute: how are
father and mother?"

"They are very well."

There was a pause for a minute or two.

"Well, how are things going on at Eastthorpe?"

"Oh, pretty well; the building is three parts done.  I don't think, Miss
Catharine, you'll ever go back to the old spot again."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't think your father and mother will leave the Terrace."

"Very likely," she replied, decisively.  "It will be better, perhaps,
that they should not.  I am sure that whatever they do will be quite
right."

"Of course, Miss Catharine, but _I_ shall be sorry.  I wish my bedroom
could have been built up again between the old walls.  In that bedroom
you saved my life."

"Rubbish!  Even suppose _I_ had done it, as you say, I should have done
just the same for my silkworms, and then, somehow when I do a thing on a
sudden like that, I always feel as if _I_ had not done it.  I am sure I
didn't do it."

The last few words were spoken in a strangely different tone, much softer
and sweeter.

"I don't quite understand."

"I mean," said Catharine, speaking slowly, as if half surprised at what
had occurred to her, and half lost in looking at it--"I mean that I do
not a bit reflect at such times upon what I do.  It is as if something or
somebody took hold of me, and, before I know where I am, the thing is
done, and yet there is no something nor somebody--at least, so far as I
can see.  It is wonderful, for after all it is I who do it."

Tom looked intently at her.  She seemed to be taking no notice of him and
to be talking to herself.  He had never seen her in that mood before,
although he had often seen her abstracted and heedless of what was
passing.  In a few moments she recovered herself, and the usual everyday
accent returned with an added hardness.

"Here we are at Chapel Farm.  Mind you say nothing to father or mother;
it will only frighten them."

Mrs. Bellamy came to the gate.

"Lor' bless the child! wherever have you been!"

"Slipped into the water and left my shoes behind me, that's all"; and she
ran indoors, jumping from mat to mat, and without even so much as bidding
Tom goodbye, who rode home, not thinking much about his business, but
lost in a muddle of most contradictory presentations, a constant glimmer
of Catharine's ankles, wonderment at her accident--was it all true?--the
strange look when she disclaimed the honour of his rescue and expounded
her philosophy, and the fall between his shoulders.  When he slept, his
sleep was usually dreamless, but that night he dreamed as he hardly ever
dreamed before.  He perpetually saw the foot on the step, and she was
slipping into his arms continually, until he awoke with the sun.



CHAPTER V


Catharine went home, or rather to the Terrace, soon afterwards, and found
that there was no intention of removing to the High Street, although,
notwithstanding their three months' probation in the realms of
respectability, Mrs. Colston had not called, and Mrs. Furze was beginning
to despair.  The separation from the chapel was nearly complete.  It had
been done by degrees.  On wet days Mrs. Furze went to church because it
was a little nearer, and Mr. Furze went to chapel; then Mrs. Furze went
on fine days, and, after a little interval, Mr. Furze went on a fine day.
A fund had been set going to "restore" the church: the heavy roof was to
be removed, and a much lighter and handsomer roof covered with slate was
to be substituted; the stonework of many of the windows, which the rector
declared had begun to show "signs of incipient decay," was to be cut out
and replaced with new, so as to make, to use the builder's words, "a good
job of it," and a memorial window was to be put in near the great west
window with its stained glass, the Honourable Mr. Eaton having determined
upon this mode of commemorating the services of his nephew, Lieutenant
Eaton, who had died of dysentery in India, brought on by inattention to
tropical rules of eating and drinking, particularly the latter.  Oliver
Cromwell, it was said, had stabled his horses in the church.  This,
however, is doubtful, for the quantity of stable accommodation he must
have required throughout the country, to judge from vergers and
guidebooks, must have been much larger than his armies would have needed,
if they had been entirely composed of cavalry; and the evidence is not
strong that his horses were so ubiquitous.  It was further affirmed that,
during the Cromwellian occupation, the west window was mutilated; but
there was also a tradition that, in the days of George the Third, there
were complaints of dinginess and want of light, and that part of the
stained glass was removed and sold.  Anyhow, there was stained glass in
the Honourable Mr. Eaton's mansion wonderfully like that at Eastthorpe.
It was now proposed to put new stained glass in the defective lights.
Some of the more advanced of the parishioners, including the parson and
the builder, thought the old glass had better all come out, "the only way
to make a good job of it"; but at an archidiaconal visitation the
archdeacon protested, and he was allowed to have his own way.  Then there
was the warming, and this was a great difficulty, because no natural exit
for the pipe could be found.  At last it was settled to have three
stoves, one at the west end of the nave, and one in each transept.  With
regard to the one in the nave there was no help for it but to bore a hole
through the wall.  The builder undertook "to give the pipe outside a
touch of the Gothic, so that it wouldn't look bad," and as for the other
stoves, there were two windows just handy.  By cutting out the head of
Matthew in one and that of Mark in another, the thing was done, and, as
Mrs. Colston observed, "the general confused effect remained the same."
There were one or two other improvements, such as pointing all over
outside, also strongly recommended by the builder, and the shifting some
of the tombs, and repairing the tracery, so that altogether the sum to be
raised was considerable.  Mrs. Colston was one of the collectors, and
Mrs. Furze called on her after two months' residence in the Terrace, and
intimated her wish to subscribe.  Mrs. Colston took the money very
affably, but still she did not return the visit.

Meanwhile Mrs. Furze was doing everything she could to make herself
genteel.  The Terrace contained about a dozen houses; the two in the
centre were higher than the rest, and above them, flanked by a large
scroll at either end, were the words "THE TERRACE," moulded out of the
stucco; up to each door was a flight of stone steps; before each front
window on the dining-room floor and the floor above was a balcony
protected by cast-iron filigree work, and between each house and the road
was a little piece of garden surrounded by dwarf wall and arrow-head
railings.  Mrs. Furze's old furniture had, nearly all, been discarded or
sold, and two new carpets had been bought.  The one in the dining-room
was yellow and chocolate, and the one upstairs in the drawing-room was a
lovely rose-pattern, with large full-blown roses nine inches in diameter
in blue vases.  The heavy chairs had disappeared, and nice light elegant
chairs were bought, insufficient, however, for heavy weights, for one of
Mr. Furze's affluent customers being brought to the Terrace as a special
mark of respect, and sitting down with a flop, as was his wont, smashed
the work of art like card-board and went down on the door with a curse,
vowing inwardly never again to set foot in Furze's Folly, as he called
it.  The pictures, too, were all renewed.  The "Virgin Mary" and "George
the Fourth" went upstairs to the spare bedroom, and some new oleographs,
"a rising art," Mrs. Furze was assured, took their places.  They had very
large margins, gilt frames, and professed to represent sunsets, sunrises,
and full moons, at Tintern, Como, and other places not named, which Mrs.
Furze, in answer to inquiries, always called "the Continent."

Mr. Furze had had a longish walk one morning, and was rather tired.  When
he came home to dinner he found the house upset by one of its periodical
cleanings, and consequently dinner was served upstairs, and not in the
half-underground breakfast-room, as it was called, which was the real
living-room of the family.  Mr. Furze, being late and weary, prolonged
his stay at home till nearly four o'clock, and, notwithstanding a rebuke
from Mrs. Furze, insisted on smoking his pipe in the dining-room.
Presently he took off his coat and put his feet on a chair, Sunday
fashion.

"My dear," said his wife.  "I don't want to interfere with your comfort,
but don't you think you might give up that practice of sitting in your
shirt-sleeves now we have moved?"

"Why because we've moved?" interposed Catharine.

"Catharine, I did not address you; you have no tact, you do not
understand."

"Coat doesn't smell so much of smoke," replied Mr. Furze, giving, of
course, any reason but the true reason.

"My dear if that is the reason, put on another coat, or, better still,
buy a proper coat and a smoking-cap.  Nothing could be more appropriate
than some of those caps we saw at the restoration bazaar."

"Really, mother, would you like to see father in a velvet jacket and one
of those red-tasselled things on his head?  I prefer the shirt-sleeves."

"No doubt you do; you are a Furze, every inch of you."

There is no saying to what a height the quarrel would have risen if a
double knock had not been heard.  A charwoman was in the passage with a
pail of water and answered the door at once, before she could be
cautioned.  In an instant she appeared, apron tucked up.

"Mrs. Colston, mum," and in Mrs. Colston walked.

Mrs. Furze made a dash at her husband's clay pipe, forgetting that its
destruction would not make matters better; but she only succeeded in
upsetting the chair on which his legs rested, and in the confusion he
slipped to the ground.

"Oh, Mrs. Colston, I am so sorry you have taken us by surprise; our house
is being cleaned; pray walk upstairs--but oh dear, now I recollect the
drawing-room is also turned out; what _will_ you do, and the smell of the
smoke, too!"

"Pray do not disconcert yourself," replied the brewer's wife,
patronisingly; "I do not mind the smoke, at least for a few minutes."

Mrs. Colston herself had objected strongly to calling on Mrs. Furze, but
Mr. Colston had urged it as a matter of policy, with a view to Mr.
Furze's contributions to Church revenues.

"I have come purely on a matter of business, Mrs. Furze, and will not
detain you."

Mr. Furze had retreated into a dark corner, and was putting on his
waistcoat with his back to his distinguished guest.  Catharine sat at the
window quite immovable.  Suddenly Mrs. Furze bethought herself she ought
to introduce her husband and daughter.

"My husband and daughter, Mrs. Colston."

Mr. Furze turned half round, put his other arm into his waistcoat, and
bowed.  He had, of course, spoken to her scores of times in his shop, but
he was not supposed to have seen her till that minute.  Catharine rose,
bowed, and sat down again.

"Take a chair, Mrs. Colston, take a chair," said Mr. Furze, although he
had again turned towards the curtain, and was struggling with his coat.
Mrs. Furze, annoyed that her husband had anticipated her, pulled the easy-
chair forward.

"I am afraid I deprived you of your seat," said the lady, alluding, as
Mrs. Furze had not the slightest doubt, to his tumble.

"Not a bit, ma'am, not a bit," and he moved towards Catharine, feeling
very uncomfortable, and not knowing what to do with his hands and legs.

"We are so much obliged to you, Mrs. Furze, for your subscription to the
restoration fund, we find that a new pulpit is much required; the old
pulpit, you will remember, is much decayed in parts, and will be out of
harmony with the building when it is renovated.  Young Mr. Cawston, who
is being trained as an architect--the builder's son, you know--has
prepared a design which is charming, and the ladies wish to make the new
pulpit a present solely from themselves."  The smoke got into Mrs.
Colston's throat, and she coughed.  "We want you, therefore, to help us."

"With the greatest pleasure."

"Then how much shall I say?  Five pounds?"

"Would you allow me just to look at the subscription list?" interposed
Mr. Furze, humbly; but before it could be handed to him Mrs. Furze had
settled the matter.

"Five pounds--oh yes, certainly, Mrs. Colston.  Mr. Cawston is, I
believe, a young man of talent?"

"Undoubtedly, and he deserves encouragement.  It must be most gratifying
to his father to see his son endeavouring to raise himself from a
comparatively humble occupation and surroundings into something demanding
ability and education, from a mere trade into a profession."

Catharine shifted uneasily, raised her eyes, and looked straight at Mrs.
Colston but said nothing.

Meanwhile Mr. Furze was perusing the list with both elbows on his knees.
The difficulty with his hands and legs increased.  He was conscious to a
most remarkable degree that he had them, and yet they seemed quite
foreign members of his body which he could not control.

"Well, ma'am, I think I must be going.  I'll bid you good-bye."

"I have finished my errand, Mr. Furze, and I must be going too."

"Oh, pray, do not go yet," said Mrs. Furze, hoping, in the absence of her
husband, to establish some further intimacy.  Mr. Furze shook Mrs.
Colston's hand with its lemon-coloured glove and departed.  Catharine
noticed that Mrs. Colston looked at the glove--for the ironmonger had
left a mark on it--and that she wiped it with her pocket-handkerchief.

"I wish to ask," said Mrs. Furze, in her mad anxiety to secure Mrs.
Colston, "if you do not think a new altar-cloth would be acceptable.  I
should be so happy--I will not say to give one myself, but to undertake
the responsibility, and to contribute my share.  The old altar-cloth will
look rather out of place."

"Thank you, Mrs. Furze; I am sure I can answer at once.  It will be most
acceptable.  You will not, I presume, object to adopting the design of
the committee!  We will send you a correct pattern.  We have thought
about the matter for some time, but had at last determined to wait
indefinitely on the ground of the expense."

The expense!  Poor Mrs. Furze had made her proposal on the spur of the
moment.  She, in her ignorance, had not thought an altar-cloth a very
costly affair, and now she remembered that she had no friends who were
not Dissenters.  Moreover, to be on the committee was the object of her
ambition, and it was clear that not only had nobody thought of putting
her on it, but that she was to pay and take its directions.

"I believe," continued Mrs. Colston, "that the altar-cloth which we had
provisionally adopted can be had in London for 20 pounds."

A ring at the front bell during this interesting conversation had not
been noticed.  The charwoman, still busy with broom and pail outside,
knocked at the door with a knock which might have been given with the
broom-handle and announced another visitor.

"Mrs. Bellamy, mum."

Catharine leaped up, rushed to meet her friend, caught her round the
neck, and kissed her eagerly.

"Well, Miss Catharine, glad to see you looking so well; still kept the
colour of Chapel Farm.  This is the first time I've seen you in your new
house, Mrs. Furze.  I had to come over to Eastthorpe along with Bellamy,
and I said I _must_ go and see my Catharine, though--and her
mother--though they _do_ live in the Terrace, but I couldn't get Bellamy
to come--no, he said the Terrace warn't for him; he'd go and smoke a pipe
and have something to drink at your old shop, or rather your new shop,
but it's in the old place in the High Street--leastways if you keep any
baccy and whiskey there now--and he'd call for me with the gig, and I
said as I knew my Catharine--her mother--would give me a cup of tea; and,
Miss Catharine, you remember that big white hog as you used to look at
always when you went out into the meadow?--well, he's killed, and I know
Mr. Furze likes a bit of good, honest, country pork--none of your nasty
town-fed stuff--you never know what hogs eat in towns--so Bellamy has a
leg about fourteen pounds in the gig, but I thought I'd bring you about
two or three pounds of the sausages myself in my basket here," and Mrs.
Bellamy pointed to a basket she had on her arm.  She paused and became
aware that there was a stranger sitting near the fireplace.  "But you've
got a visitor here; p'r'aps I shall be in the way."

"In the way!" said Catharine.  "Never, never; give me your basket and
your bonnet; or stay, Mrs. Bellamy, I will go upstairs with you, and you
shall take off your things."

And so, before Mrs. Furze had spoken a syllable, Catharine and Mrs.
Bellamy marched out of the room.

"Who is that--that person?" said Mrs. Colston.  "I fancy I have seen her
before.  She seems on intimate terms with your daughter."

"She is a farmer's wife, of humble origin, at whose house my
daughter--lodged--for the benefit of her health."

"I must bid you good-day, Mrs. Furze.  If you will kindly send a cheque
for the five pounds to me, the receipt shall be returned to you in due
course, and the drawing of the altar-cloth shall follow.  I can assure
you of the committee's thanks."

Mrs. Furze recollected she ought to ring the bell, but she also
recollected the servant could not appear in proper costume.  Accordingly
she opened the dining-room door herself.

"Let me move that ere pail, mum, or you'll tumble over it," said the
charwoman to Mrs. Colston, "and p'r'aps you won't mind steppin' on this
side of the passage, 'cause that side's all wet.  'Ere, Mrs. Furze, don't
you come no further, I'll open the front door"; and this she did.

Mrs. Furze felt rather unwell, and went to her bedroom, where she sat
down, and, putting her face on the bedclothes, gave way to a long fit of
hysterical sobbing.  She would not come down to tea, and excused herself
on the ground of sickness.  Catharine went up to her mother and inquired
what was the matter, but was repulsed.

"Nothing is the matter--at least, nothing you can understand.  I am very
unwell; I am better alone; go down to Mrs. Bellamy."

"But, mother, it will do you good to be downstairs.  Mrs. Bellamy will be
so glad to see you, and she was so kind to me; it will be odd if you
don't come."

"Go _away_, I tell you; I am best by myself; I can endure in solitude;
you cannot comprehend these nervous attacks, happily for you; go _away_,
and enjoy yourself with Mrs. Bellamy and your sausages."

Catharine had had some experience of these nervous attacks, and left her
mother to herself.  Mrs. Bellamy and Catharine consequently had tea
alone, Mr. Furze remaining at his shop that afternoon, as he had been
late in arrival.

"Sorry mother's so poorly, Catharine.  Well, how do you like the
Terrace?"

"I hate it.  I detest every atom of the filthy, stuck-up, stuccoed hovel.
I hate--"  Catharine was very excited, and it is not easy to tell what
she might have said if Mrs. Bellamy had not interrupted her.

"Now, Miss Catharine, don't say that; it's a bad thing to hate what we
must put up with.  You never heard, did you, as Bellamy had a sister a
good bit older than myself?  She _was_ a tartar, and no mistake.  She
lived with Bellamy and kept house for him, and when we married, Bellamy
said she must stay with us.  She used to put on him as you never saw, but
he, somehow, seemed never to mind it; some men don't feel such things,
and some do, but most on 'em don't when it's a woman, but I think a
woman's worse.  Well, what was I saying?--she put on me just in the same
way and come between me and the servant-girl and the men, and when I told
them to go and do one thing, went and told them to do another, and I was
young, and I thought when I was married I was going to be mistress, and
she called me 'a chit' to her brother, and I mind one day I went upstairs
and fell on my knees and cried till I thought my heart would break, and I
said, 'O my God, when will it please Thee to take that woman to Thyself!'
Now to wish anybody dead is bad enough, but to ask the Lord to take 'em
is awful; but then it was so hard to bear 'cause I couldn't say nothing
about it, and I'm one of them as can't keep myself bottled up like ginger-
beer.  You don't remember old Jacob?  He had been at Chapel Farm in
Bellamy's father's time, and always looked on Bellamy as his boy, and
used to be very free with him, notwithstanding he was the best creature
as ever lived.  He took a liking to me, and I needn't say that, liking of
me, he didn't like Bellamy's sister.  Well, I came down, and I went out
of doors to get a bit of fresh air--for I'm always better out of
doors--and I went up by the cart-shed, and being faint a bit, sat down on
the waggon shafts.  Old Jacob, he came by; I can see him now; it was just
about Michaelmas time, a-getting dark after tea, though I hadn't had any,
and he said to me, 'Hullo, missus, what are here for? and you've been a-
cryin',' for I had my face toward the sky and was looking at it.  I never
spoke.  'I know what's the matter with you,' says he; 'do you think I
don't?  Now if you go on chafing of yourself, you'll worrit yourself into
your grave, that's all.  Last week there was something the matter with
that there dog, and she howled night after night, and I never slept a
wink.  The first morning after she'd been a-yelping I was in a temper,
and had half a mind to kill her.  I felt as if she'd got a spite against
me; but it come to me as she'd got no spite against _me_, and then all my
worriting went away.  I don't say as I slept much till she was better,
but I didn't _worrit_.  Now Bellamy's sister don't mean nothing against
you.  That's the way God-a-mighty made her.'  I've never forgot what
Jacob said, and I know it made a difference, but the Lord took her not
long afterwards."

"But I don't see what that has to do with me.  It isn't the same thing."

"Yes, that's just what Bellamy says.  He says I always go on with
anything that comes into my head; but then it has nothing to do with
anything he is saying, and maybe that's true, for one thing seems always
to draw me on to another, and so I go round like, and I don't know myself
where I am when I've finished.  A little more tea, my dear, if you
please.  And yet," continued Mrs. Bellamy, when she had finished half of
her third cup, "what I meant to say really has to do with you.  It's all
the same.  You wouldn't hate the Terrace so much if you knew that nobody
meant to spite you, as Jacob says.  Suppose your father was driven to the
Terrace and couldn't help it, and there wasn't another house for him, you
wouldn't hate it so much then.  It isn't the Terrace altogether.  Now,
Miss Catharine, you won't mind my speaking out to you.  You know you are
my girl," and Mrs. Bellamy turned and kissed her; "you mustn't, you
really mustn't.  I've seen what was coming for a long time.  Your mother
and you ain't alike, but you mustn't rebel.  I'm a silly old fool, and I
know I haven't got a head, and what is in it is all mixed up somehow, but
you'll be ever so much better if you leave your mother out of it, and
don't, as I've told you before, go on dreaming she came here because you
didn't want to come, or that she set herself up on purpose against you.
And then you can always run over to Chapel Farm just whenever you like,
my pet, and there's your own room always waiting for you."

An hour afterwards, when Mrs. Bellamy had left, Mr. Furze came home.  Mrs.
Furze was still upstairs, but consented to be coaxed down to supper.  She
passed the drawing-room; the door was wide open, and she reflected
bitterly upon the new carpet, the oleographs, and the schemes erected
thereon.  To think on what she had spent and what she had done, and then
that Mrs. Colston should be received by a charwoman with a pail, should
be shown into the room downstairs, and find it like a public-house bar!
If Mr. Furze had been there alone it would not so much have mattered, but
the presence of wife and daughter sanctioned the vulgarity, not to say
indecency.  Mrs. Colston would naturally conclude they were accustomed to
that sort of thing--that the pipe, Mrs. Bellamy and the sausages, the
absence of Mr. Furze's coat and waistcoat, were the "atmosphere," as Mrs.
Furze put it, in which they lived.

"That's right; glad to see you are able to come down," said Mr. Furze.

"I must say that Catharine is partly the cause of my suffering.  When
Mrs. Colston called here Catharine sat like a statue and said not a word,
but when her friend Mrs. Bellamy came she precipitated herself--yes, I
say precipitated herself--into her arms.  I've nothing to say against
Mrs. Bellamy, but Catharine knows perfectly well that Mrs. Colston's
intimacy is desired, and _that's_ the way she chose to behave.  Mrs.
Bellamy was the last person I should have wished to see here this
afternoon; an uneducated woman, a woman whom we could not pretend to know
if we moved in Mrs. Colston's circle; and what we have done was all done
for my child's benefit.  She, I presume, would prefer decent society to
that of peasants."

Catharine stopped eating.

"Mrs. Bellamy was the last person _I_ should have wished to see here."

"I don't know quite what you mean, but it is probably something
disobedient and cruel," and Mrs. Furze became slightly hysterical again.

Catharine made no offer of any sympathy, but, leaving her supper
unfinished, rose without saying good-night, and appeared no more that
evening.



CHAPTER VI


"My dear," said Mrs. Furze to her husband the next night when they were
alone, "I think Catharine would be much better if she were sent away from
home for a time.  Her education is very imperfect, and there are
establishments where young ladies are taken at her age and finished.  It
would do her a world of good."

Mr. Furze was not quite sure about the finishing.  It savoured of a
region outside the modest enclosure within which he was born and brought
up.

"The expense, I am afraid, will be great, and I cannot afford it just
now.  There is no denying that business is no better; in fact, it is not
so good as it was, notwithstanding the alterations."

"You cannot expect it to recover at once.  Something must be done to put
Catharine on a level with the young women in her position, and my notion
is that everything which will help to introduce us into society will help
you.  Why does Mrs. Butcher go out so much?  It is because she knows it
is a good investment."

"An ironmonger is not a doctor."

"Who said he was?" replied Mrs. Furze, triumphant in the consciousness of
mental superiority.  "Furze," she once said to him, when it was proposed
to elect him a guardian of the poor, "take my advice and refuse.  Your
_forte_ is not argument: you will never held your own in debate."

"I know an ironmonger is not a doctor," she continued.  "_I_ of all
people have reason to know it; but what I do say is, that the more we mix
with superior people, the more likely you are to succeed, and that if you
bury yourself in these days you will fail."

The italicised "I" was an allusion to a fiction that once Mrs. Furze
might have married a doctor if she had liked, and thereby have secured
the pre-eminence which the wife of a drug-dispenser assumes in a country
town.  The grades in Eastthorpe were very marked, and no caste
distinctions could have been more rigid.  The county folk near were by
themselves.  They associated with none of the townsfolk, save with the
rector, and even in that relationship there was a slight tinge of
ex-officiosity.  Next to the rector were the lawyer and the banker and
the two maiden banker ladies in the Abbey Close.  Looked at from a
distance these might be supposed to stand level, but, on nearer approach,
a difference was discernible.  The banker and the ladies, although they
visited the lawyer, were a shade beyond him.  Then came the brewer.  The
days had not arrived when brewing--at least, on the large scale--is
considered to be more respectable than a learned profession, and Mrs.
Colston, notwithstanding her wealth, was incessantly forced by the
lawyer's wife to confess subordination.  The brewer kept three or four
horses for pleasure, and the lawyer kept only one; but "Colston's Entire"
was on a dozen boards in the town, and he supplied private families and
sent in bills.  The position of Mrs. Butcher was perhaps the most
curious.  She visited the rector, banker, lawyer, and brewer, and was
always well received, for she was clever, smart, young, and well behaved.
She had established her position solely by her wits.  She did not spend a
quarter as much as Mrs. Colston, but she always looked better.  She was
well shaped, to begin with, and the fit of her garments was perfect.  Not
a wrinkle was to be seen in gown, gloves, or shoes.  Mrs. Colston's
fashion was that imposed on her by the dressmaker, but Ms. Butcher always
had a style peculiarly her own.  She knew the secret that a woman's
attractiveness, so far as it is a matter of clothes, depends far more
upon the manner in which they are made and worn than upon costliness.  It
was always thought that she ruled her husband and had just a spice of
contempt for him.  She gained thereby in Eastthorpe, at least with the
men, for her superiority to him gave her an air which was slightly
detached, free, and fascinating.  She always drove when she went out with
him, and it was really a sight worth seeing she bolt upright with her
hands well down, her pretty figure showing to the best advantage the neat
turn-out--for she was very particular on this point and understood horses
thoroughly--and Butcher, leaning back, submissive but satisfied.  She had
made friends with the women too.  She was much too shrewd to incur their
hostility by openly courting the admiration of their husbands.  She knew
they did admire her, and that was enough.  She was most deferential to
Mrs. Colston, so much so that the brewer's wife openly expressed the
opinion that she was evidently well bred, and wondered how Butcher
managed to secure her.  Furthermore she was useful, for her opinion, when
anything had to be done, was always the one to be followed, and without
her the church restoration would never have been such a success.
Eastthorpe, like Mrs. Colston, often marvelled that Butcher should have
been so fortunate.  It mostly knew everything about the antecedents of
everybody in the town, but Mrs. Butcher's were not so well known.  She
came from Cornwall, she always said, and Cornwall was a long way off in
those days.  Her maiden name was Treherne, and Mrs. Colston had been told
that Treherne was good Cornish.  Moreover, soon after the marriage she
found on the table, when she called on Mrs. Butcher, a letter which she
could not help partly reading, for it lay wide open.  All scruples were
at once removed.  It had a crest at the top, was dated from Helston,
addressed Mrs. Butcher by a nickname, and was written in a most
aristocratic hand--so Mrs. Colston averred to her intimate friends.  She
could not finish the perusal before Mrs. Butcher came into the room; but
she had read enough, and the doctor's elect was admitted at once without
reservation.  Eastthorpe was slightly mistaken, but Mrs. Butcher's
history cannot be told here.

So much by way of digression on Eastthorpe society.  Mrs. Furze carried
her point as usual.  As for Catharine, she did not object, for there was
nothing in Eastthorpe attractive to her.  The Limes, Abchurch, was the
"establishment" chosen.  It was kept by the Misses Ponsonby, Abchurch
being a large village five miles farther eastward.  It was a peculiar
institution.  It was a school for girls, but not for little girls, and it
was also an educational home for young ladies up to one- or
two-and-twenty whose training had been neglected or had to be completed
beyond the usual limits.  It was widely-known, and, as its purpose was
special, it had little or no competition, and consequently flourished.
Many parents who had become wealthy, and who hardily knew the manners and
customs of the class to which they aspired, sent their daughters to the
Limes.  The Misses Ponsonby--Mrs Ponsonby and Miss Adela Ponsonby--were
of Irish extraction, and had some dim connection with the family of that
name.  They also preserved in their Calvinistic evangelicalism a trace of
the Cromwellian Ponsonby, the founder of the race.  There was a
difference of two years in the age of the two ladies, but no perceptible
difference in their characters.  The same necessity to conceal or
suppress all individuality on subjects disputable in their own sect had
been imposed on each.  Both had the same "views" on all matters religious
and social, and both of them confessed that on many points their "views"
were "strict"--whatever that singular phrase may have meant.
Nevertheless, they displayed remarkable tact in reconciling parents with
the defects and peculiarities of their children.  There were always girls
in the school of varying degrees of intelligence, from absolute stupidity
to brilliancy, but the report at the end of the term was so fashioned
that the father and mother of the idiot were not offended, and the idiocy
was so handled that it appeared to have some advantages.  If Miss Carter
had been altogether unable to master the French verbs, or to draw the
model vase until the teacher had put in nearly the whole of the outline,
there was a most happy counterpoise, as a rule, in her moral conduct.  In
these days of effusive expression, when everybody thinks it his duty to
deliver himself of everything in him--doubts, fears, passions--no matter
whether he does harm thereby or good, the Misses Ponsonby would be
considered intolerably dull and limited.  They did not walk about without
their clothes--figuratively speaking--it was not then the fashion.  They
were, on the contrary, heavily draped from head to foot, but underneath
the whalebone and padding, strange to say, were real live women's hearts.
They knew what it was to hope and despair; they knew what it was to
reflect that with each of them life might and ought to have been
different; they even knew what it was sometimes to envy the beggar-women
on the doorstep of the Limes who asked for a penny and clasped a child to
her breast.  We mistake our ancestors who read Pope and the _Spectator_.
They were very much like ourselves essentially, but they did not believe
that there was nothing in us which should be smothered or strangled.
Perhaps some day we shall go back to them, and find that the "Rape of the
Lock" is better worth reading and really more helpful than magazine
metaphysics.  Anyhow, it is certain that the training which the Misses
Ponsonby had received, although it may have made them starched, prim, and
even uninteresting, had an effect upon their character not altogether
unwholesome, and prevented any public crying for the moon, or any public
charge of injustice against its Maker because it is unattainable.

The number of girls was limited to thirty.  The house was tall,
four-square, built of white brick about the year 1780, had a row of
little pillars running along the roof at the top, and a Grecian portico.
It was odd that there should be such a house in Abchurch, but there it
was.  It was erected by a Spitalfields silk manufacturer, whose family
belonged to those parts.  He thought to live in it after his retirement,
but he came there to die.  The studies of the pupils were superintended
by the Misses Ponsonby and sundry teachers, all female, except the
drawing-master and the music-master.  The course embraced the usual
branches of a superior English education, French, Italian, deportment,
and the use of the globes, but, as the Misses Ponsonby truly stated in
their prospectus, their sole aim was not the inculcation of knowledge,
but such instruction as would enable the young ladies committed to their
charge to move with ease in the best society, and, above everything, the
impression of correct principles in morality and religion.  In this
impression much assistance was given by the Reverend Theophilus Cardew,
the rector of the church in the village.  The patronage was in the hands
of the Simeonite trustees, and had been bought by them in the first
fervour of the movement.

The thirty pupils occupied fifteen bedrooms, although each had a separate
bed, and to Catharine was allotted Miss Julia Arden, a young woman with a
pretty, pale face, and black hair worn in ringlets.  Her head was not
firmly fixed on her shoulders, and was always in motion, as if she had
some difficulty in balancing it, the reason being, not any physical
defect, but a wandering imagination, which never permitted her to look at
any one thing steadily for an instant.  Nine-tenths of what she said was
nonsense, but her very shallowness gave occasionally a certain value and
reality to her talk, for the simple reason that she was incapable of the
effort necessary to conceal what she thought for the moment.  In her
studies she made not the slightest progress, for her memory was shocking.
She confounded all she was taught, and never could recollect whether the
verb was conjugated and the noun declined, or whether it was the other
way round, to use one of her favourite expressions, so that her
preceptors were compelled to fall back, more exclusively than with her
schoolfellows, on her moral conduct, which was outwardly respectable
enough, but by the occupant of the other bed might perhaps have been
reported on in terms not quite so satisfactory as those in the quarterly
form signed by Miss Ponsonby.

Catharine's mother came with her on a Saturday afternoon, but left in the
evening.  At half-past eight there were prayers.  The girls filed into
the drawing-room, sat round in a ring, of which the Misses Ponsonby
formed a part, but with a break of about two feet right and left, the
servants sitting outside near the door: a chapter was read, a prayer also
read, and then, after a suitable pause, the servants rose from their
knees, the pupils rose next, and the Misses Ponsonby last; the time which
each division, servants, pupils, and Ponsonbys, remained kneeling being
graduated exactly in proportion to rank.  A procession to the supper-room
was then formed.  Catharine found herself at table next to Miss Arden,
with a spotless napkin before her, with silver forks and spoons, and a
delicately served meal of stewed fruits, milk-puddings, bread-and-butter,
and cold water.  Everything was good, sweet, and beautifully clean, and
there was enough.  At half-past nine, in accordance with the usual
practice, one of the girls read from a selected book.  On Saturday a
book, not exactly religious, but related to religion as nearly as
possible as Saturday is related to Sunday, was invariably selected.  On
this particular Saturday it was Clarke's "Travels in Palestine."
Precisely as the chock struck ten the volume was closed and the pupils
went to bed.

"I am sure I shall like you," observed Miss Arden, as they were
undressing.  "The girl who was here before was a brute, so dull and so
vulgar.  I hope you will like me."

"I hope so too."

"It's dreadful here: so different to my mother's house in Devonshire.  We
have a large place there near Torquay--do you know Torquay?  And I have a
horse of my own, on which I tear about during the holidays, and there are
boats and sailing matches, and my brothers have so many friends, and I
have all sorts of little affairs.  I suppose you've had your affairs.  Of
course you won't say.  We never see a man here, except Mr. Cardew.  Oh,
isn't he handsome?  He's only a parson, but he's such a dear; you'll see
him to-morrow.  I can't make him out: he's lovely, but he's queer, so
solemn at times, like an owl in daylight.  I'm sure he's well brought up.
I wonder why he went into the church: he ought to have been a gentleman."

"But is he not a gentleman?

"Oh, yes, of course he's a gentleman, but you know what I mean."

"No, I don't."

"There, now, you are one of those horrid creatures, I know you are, who
never _will_ understand, and do it on purpose.  It is so aggravating."

"Well, but you said he was not a gentleman, and yet that he was a
gentleman."

"You _are_ provoking.  I say he is a gentleman--but don't some gentlemen
keep a carriage?--and his father is in business.  Isn't that plain?  You
know all about it as well as I do."

"I still do not quite comprehend."

Catharine took a little pleasure in forcing people to be definite, and
Miss Arden invariably fell back on "you understand" whenever she herself
did not understand.  In fact, in exact proportion to her own inability to
make herself clear to herself, did she always insist that she was clear
to other people.

"I cannot help it if you don't comprehend.  He's lovely, and I adore
him."

Next morning, being Sunday, the Limes was, if possible, still more
irreproachable; the noise of the household was more subdued; the passions
appeared more utterly extinguished, and any indifferent observer would
have said that from the Misses Ponsonby down to the scullery-maid, a big
jug had been emptied on every spark of illegal fire, and blood was toast
and water.  Alas! it was not so.  The boots were cleaned overnight to
avoid Sunday labour, but when the milkman came, a handsome young fellow,
anybody with ears near the window overhead might have detected a
scuffling at the back door with some laughter and something like "Oh,
don't!" and might have noticed that Elizabeth afterwards looked a little
rumpled and adjusted her cap.  Nor was she singular, for many of the
young women who were supposed to be studying a brief abstract of the
history of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, in parallel columns, as
arranged by the Misses Ponsonby, were indulging in the naughtiest
thoughts and using naughty words as they sat in their bedrooms before the
time for departure to church.  At a quarter-past ten the girls assembled
in the dining-room, and were duly marshalled.  They did not, however,
walk two-and-two like ordinary schools.  In the first place, many of them
were not children, and, in the second place, the Misses Ponsonby held
that even walking to church was a thing to be taught, and they desired to
turn out their pupils so that they might distinguish themselves in this
art also as well-bred people.  It was one of the points on which the
Misses Ponsonby grew even eloquent.  How, they said, are girls to learn
to carry themselves properly if they march in couples?  They will not do
it when they leave the Limes, and will be utterly at fault.  There is no
day in the week on which more general notice is taken than on Sunday;
there is no day on which differences are more apparent.  The pupils
therefore walked irregularly, the irregularity being prescribed.  The
entering the church; the leaving the pews; the loitering and salutations
in the churchyard; the show, superior saunter homewards were all the
result of lecture, study, and even of practice on week-days.
"Deliberation, ease," said Miss Ponsonby, "are the key to this, as they
are to so much in our behaviour, and surely on the Sabbath we ought more
than on any other day to avoid indecorous hurry and vulgarity."

Catharine's curiosity, after what Miss Arden had said, was a little
excited to know what kind of a man Mr. Cardew might be, and she imagined
him a young dandy.  She saw a man about thirty-five with dark brown hair,
eyes set rather deeply in his head, a little too close together, a
delicate, thin, very slightly aquiline nose, and a mouth with curved
lips, which were, however, compressed as if with determination or
downright resolution.  There was not a trace of dandyism in him, and he
reminded her immediately of a portrait she had seen of Edward Irving in a
shop at Eastthorpe.

He stood straight up in the pulpit reading from a little Testament he
held in his hand, and when he had given out his text he put the Testament
down and preached without notes.  His subject was a passage in the life
of Jesus taken from Luke xviii. 18--

   18.  _And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I
   do to inherit eternal life_?

   19.  _And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou Me good?  None is
   good, save one, that is God_.

   20.  _Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not
   kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and
   mother_.

   21.  _And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up_.

   22.  _Now when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, Yet lackest
   thou one thing: sell all that thou hast and distribute unto the poor,
   and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me_.

Mr Cardew did not approach this theme circuitously or indifferently, but
seemed in haste to be on close terms with it, as if it had dwelt with him
and he was eager to deliver his message.

"I beseech you," he began, "endeavour to make this scene real to you.  A
rich man, an official, comes to Jesus, calls Him Teacher--for so the word
is in the Greek--and asks Him what is to be done to inherit eternal life.
How strange it is that such a question should be so put! how rare are the
occasions on which two people approach one another so nearly!  Most of us
pass days, weeks, months, years in intercourse with one another, and
nothing which even remotely concerns the soul is ever mentioned.  Is it
that we do not care?  Mainly that, and partly because we foolishly hang
back from any conversation on what it is most important we should reveal,
so that others may help us.  Whenever you feel any promptings to speak of
the soul or to make any inquiries on its behalf, remember it is a sacred
duty not to suppress them.

"This ruler was happy in being able to find a single authority to whom he
could appeal for an answer.  If anybody wishes for such an answer now, he
can find no oracle sole and decisive.  The voices of the Church, the
sects, the philosophers are clamorous but discordant, and we are
bewildered.  And yet, as I have told you over and over again in this
pulpit, it is absolutely necessary that you should have one and one only
supreme guide.  To say nothing of eternal salvation, we must, in the
conduct of life, shape our behaviour by some one standard, or the result
is chaos.  We must have some one method or principle which is to settle
beforehand how we are to do this or that, and the method or principle
should be Christ.  Leaving out of sight altogether His divinity, there is
no temper, no manner so effectual, so happy as His for handling all human
experience.  Oh, what a privilege it is to meet with anybody who is
controlled into unity, whose actions are all directed by one consistent
force!

"Jesus, as if to draw from this ruler all that he himself believed, tells
him to keep the Law.  The Law, however, is insufficient, and it is
noteworthy that the ruler felt it to be so.  To begin with, it is largely
negative: there are three negatives in this twentieth verse for one
affirmative, and negations cannot redeem us.  The law is also external.
As a proof that it is ineffectual, I ask, Have you ever _rejoiced_ in it?
Have you ever been kindled by it?  Have all its precepts ever moved you
like one single item in the story of the love of Jesus?  Is the man
attractive to you who has kept the law and done nothing more?  Would not
the poor woman who anointed our Lord's feet and wiped them with her hair
be more welcome to you than the holy people who had simply never
transgressed?

"We are struck with the magnitude of the demand made by Jesus on this
ruler.  To obtain eternal life he was to sell all he had, give up house,
friends, position, respectability, and lead a vagrant life in Palestine
with this poor carpenter's son.  Alas! eternal life is not to be bought
on lower terms.  Beware of the damnable doctrine that it is easy to enter
the kingdom of heaven.  It is to be obtained only by the sacrifice of
_all_ that stands in the way, and it is to be observed that in this, as
in other things, men will take the first, the second, the third--nay,
even the ninety-ninth step, but the hundredth and last they will not
take.  Do you really wish to save your soul?  Then the surrender must be
absolute.  What! you will say, am I to sell everything?  If Christ comes
to you--yes.  Sell not only your property, but your very self.  Part with
all your preferences, your loves, your thoughts, your very soul, if only
you can gain Him, and be sure too that He will come to you in a shape in
which it will not be easy to recognise Him.  What a bargain, though, this
ruler would have made!  He would have given up his dull mansion in
Jerusalem, Jerusalem society, which cared nothing for _him_, though it
doubtless called on him, made much of him, and even professed undying
friendship with him; he would have given this up, nothing but this, and
he would have gained those walks with Jesus across the fields, and would
have heard Him say, 'Consider the lilies!'  'Oh, yes, we would have done
it at once!' we cry.  I think not, for Christ is with us even now.'

Curiously enough, the conclusion was a piece of the most commonplace
orthodoxy, lugged in, Heaven knows how, and delivered monotonously, in
strong contrast to the former part of the discourse.--M. R.

* * * * *

These notes, made by one who was present, are the mere ashes, cold and
grey, of what was once a fire.  Mr. Cardew was really eloquent, and
consequently a large part of the effect of what he said is not to be
reproduced.  It is a pity that no record is possible of a great speaker.
The writer of this history remembers when it was his privilege to listen
continually to a man whose power over his audience was so great that he
could sway them unanimously by a passion which was sufficient for any
heroic deed.  The noblest resolutions were formed under that burning
oratory, and were kept, too, for the voice of the dead preacher still
vibrates in the ears of those who heard him.  And yet, except in their
hearts, no trace abides, and when they are dead he will be forgotten,
excepting in so far as that which has once lived can never die.

Whether it was the preacher's personality, or what he said, Catharine
could hardly distinguish, but she was profoundly moved.  Such speaking
was altogether new to her; the world in which Mr. Cardew moved was one
which she had never entered, and yet it seemed to her as if something
necessary and familiar to her, but long lost, had been restored.  She
began now to look forward to Sunday with intense expectation; a new
motive for life was supplied to her, and a new force urged her through
each day.  It was with her as we can imagine it to be with some bud long
folded in darkness which, silently in the dewy May night, loosens its
leaves, and, as the sun rises, bares itself to the depths of its cup to
the blue sky and the light.



CHAPTER VII


The Misses Ponsonby speedily came to a conclusion about Catharine, and
she was forthwith labelled as a young lady of natural ability, whose
education had been neglected, a type perfectly familiar, recurring every
quarter, and one with which they were perfectly well able to deal.  All
the examples they had had before were ticketed in exactly the same terms,
and, so classed, there was an end of further distinction.  The means
taken with Catharine were those which had been taken since the school
began, and special attention was devoted to the branches in which she was
most deficient, and which she disliked.  Her history was deplorable, and
her first task, therefore, was what were called dates.  A table had been
prepared of the kings and queens of England--when they came to the
throne, and when they died; and another table gave the years of all the
battles.  A third table gave the relationship of the kings and queens to
each other, and the reasons for succession.  All this had to be learned
by heart.  In languages, also, Catharine was singularly defective.  Her
French was intolerable and most inaccurate, and of Italian she knew
nothing.  Her dancing and deportment were so "provincial," as Miss Adela
Ponsonby happily put it, that it was thought better that the dancing and
deportment teacher should give her a few private lessons before putting
her in a class, and she was consequently instructed alone in the
rudiments of the art of entering and leaving a room with propriety, of
sitting with propriety on a sofa when conversing, of reading a book in a
drawing-room, of acknowledging an introduction, of sitting down to a meal
and rising therefrom, and in the use of the pocket-handkerchief.  She had
particularly shocked the Misses Ponsonby on this latter point, as she was
in the habit of blowing her nose energetically, "snorting," as one of the
young ladies said colloquially, but with truth, and the deportment
mistress had some difficulty in reducing them to the whisper, which was
all that was permitted in the Ponsonby establishment, even in cases of
severe cold.  On the other hand, in one or two departments she was far
ahead of the other girls, particularly in arithmetic and geometry.

It was the practice on Monday morning for the girls to be questioned on
the sermons of the preceding Sunday, and a very solemn business it was.
The whole school was assembled in the big schoolroom, and Mr. Cardew,
both the Misses Ponsonby being present, examined _viva voce_.  One Monday
morning, after Catharine had been a month at the school, Mr. Cardew came
as usual.  He had been preaching the Sunday before on a favourite theme,
and his text had been, "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of
God, but with the flesh the law of sin," and the examination at the
beginning was in the biography of St. Paul, as this had formed a part of
his discourse.  No fault was to be found with the answers on this portion
of the subject, but presently the class was in some difficulty.

"Can anybody tell me what meaning was assigned to the phrase, 'The body
of this death'?"

No reply.

"Come, you took notes, and one or two interpretations were discarded for
that which seemed to be more in accordance with the mind of St. Paul.
Miss Arden"--Miss Arden was sitting nearest to Mr. Cardew--"cannot you
say?"

Miss Arden shook her ringlets, smiled, and turned a little red, as if she
had been complimented by Mr. Cardew's inquiries after the body of death,
and, glancing at her paper, replied--"The death of this body."

"Pardon me, that was one of the interpretations rejected."

"This body of death," said Catharine.

"Quite so."

Mr. Cardew turned hastily round to the new pupil, whom he had not noticed
before, and looked at her steadily for a moment.

"Can you proceed a little and explain what that means?"

Catharine's voice trembled, but she managed to read from her paper: "It
is strikingly after the manner of St. Paul.  He opposes the two pictures
in him by the strongest words at his command--death and life.  One _is_
death, the other _is_ life, and he prays to be delivered from death; not
the death of the body, but from death-in-life."

"Thank you; that is very nearly what I intended."

Mr. Cardew took tea at the Limes about once a fortnight with Mrs. Cardew.
The meal was served in the Misses Ponsonby's private room, and the girls
were invited in turn.  About a fortnight after the examination on St.
Paul's theory of human nature, Mr. and Mrs. Cardew came as usual, and
Catharine was one of the selected guests.  The company sat round the
table, and Mrs. Cardew was placed between her husband and Miss Furze.  The
rector's wife was a fair-haired lady, with quiet, grey eyes, and regular,
but not strikingly beautiful, features.  Yet they were attractive,
because they were harmonious, and betokened a certain inward agreement.
It was a sane, sensible face, but a careless critic might have thought
that it betokened an incapability of emotion, especially as Mrs. Cardew
had a habit of sitting back in her chair, and generally let the
conversation take its own course until it came very chose to her.  She
had a sober mode of statement and criticism, which was never brilliant
and never stupid.  It ought to have been most serviceable to her husband,
because it might have corrected the exaggeration into which his impulse,
talent, and power of pictorial representation were so apt to fall.  She
had been brought up as an Evangelical, but she had passed through no
religious experiences whatever, and religion, in the sense in which
Evangelicalism in the Church of England of that day understood it, was
quite unintelligible to her.  Had she been born a few years later she
would have taken to science, and would have done well at it, but at that
time there was no outlet for any womanly faculty, much larger in quantity
than we are apt to suppose, which has an appetite for exact facts.

Mr. Cardew would have been called a prig by those who did not know him
well.  He had a trick of starting subjects suddenly, and he very often
made his friends very uncomfortable by the precipitate introduction,
without any warning, of remarks upon serious matters.  Once even,
shocking to say, he quite unexpectedly at a tea-party made an observation
about God.  Really, however, he was not a prig.  He was very sincere.  He
lived in a world of his own, in which certain figures moved which were as
familiar to him as common life, and he consequently talked about them.  He
leaned in front of his wife and said to Catharine--

"Have you read much, Miss Furze?"

"No, very little."

"Indeed!  I should have thought you were a reader.  What have you read
lately? any stories?"

"Yes, I have read 'Rasselas.'"

"'Rasselas'!  Have you really?  Now tell me what you think of it."

"Oh!  I cannot tell you all."

"No; it is not fair to put the question in that way.  It is necessary to
have some training in order to give a proper account of the scope and
purpose of a book.  Can you select any one part which struck you, and
tell me why it struck you?"

"The part about the astronomer.  I thought all that is said about the
dreadful effects of uncontrolled imagination was so wonderful."

"Don't you think those effects are exaggerated?"

She lost herself for a moment, as we have already seen she was in the
habit of doing, or rather, she did not lose herself, but everything
excepting herself, and she spoke as if nobody but herself were present.

"Not in the least exaggerated.  What a horror to pass days in dreaming
about one particular thing, and to have no power to wake!"

Her head had fallen a little forward; she suddenly straightened herself;
the blood rose in her face, and she looked very confused.

"I should like to preach about Dr. Johnson," said Mr. Cardew.

"Really, Mr. Cardew," interposed the elder Miss Ponsonby, "Dr. Johnson is
scarcely a sacred subject."

"I beg your pardon; I do not mean preaching on the Sabbath.  I should
like to lecture about him.  It is a curious thing, Miss Ponsonby, that
although Johnson was such a devout Christian, yet in his troubles his
remedy is generally nothing but that of the Stoics--courage and
patience."

Nobody answered, and an awkward pause followed.  Catharine had not
recovered from the shock of self-revelation, and the Misses Ponsonby were
uneasy, not because the conversation had taken such an unusual turn, but
because a pupil had contributed.  Mrs. Cardew, distressed at her
husband's embarrassment, ventured to come to the rescue.

"I think Dr Johnson quite right: when I am in pain, and nothing does me
any good, I never have anything to say to myself, excepting that I must
just be quiet, wait and bear it."

This very plain piece of pagan common sense made matters worse.  Mr.
Cardew seemed vexed that his wife had spoken, and there was once more
silence for quite half a minute.  Miss Adela Ponsonby then rang the bell,
and Catharine, in accordance with rule, left the room.

"Rather a remarkable young woman," carelessly observed the rector.

"Decidedly!" said both the Misses Ponsonby, in perfect unison.

"She has been much neglected," continued Miss Ponsonby.  "Her manners
leave much to be desired.  She has evidently not been accustomed to the
forms of good society, or to express herself in accordance with the usual
practice.  We have endeavoured to impress upon her that, not only is much
care necessary in the choice of topics of conversation, but in the mode
of dealing with them.  I thought it better not to encourage any further
remarks from her, or I should have pointed out that, if what you say of
Dr. Johnson is correct, as I have no doubt it is, considering the party
in the church to which he belonged, it only shows that he was
unacquainted experimentally with the consolations of religion."

"Isn't Mr. Cardew a dear?" asked Miss Arden, when she and Catharine were
together.

"I hardly understand what you mean, and I have not known Mr. Cardew long
enough to give any opinion upon him."

"How exasperating you are again!  You _do_ know what I mean; but you
always pretend never to know what anybody means."

"I do _not_ know what you mean."

"Why, isn't he handsome; couldn't you doat on him, and fall in love with
him?"

"But he's married."

"You fearful Catharine! of course he's married; you do take things so
seriously."

"Well, I'm more in the dark than ever."

"There you shall stick," replied Miss Arden, lightly shaking her curls
and laughing.  "Married!--yes, but they don't care for one another a
straw."

"Have they ever told you so?"

"How very ridiculous!  Cannot you see for yourself?"

"I am not sure: it is very difficult to know whether people really love
one another, and often equally difficult to know if they dislike one
another."

"What a philosopher you are!  I'll tell you one thing, though: I believe
he has just a little liking for me.  Not for his life dare he show it.
Oh, my goodness, wouldn't the fat be in the fire!  Wouldn't there be a
flare-up!  What would the Ponsonbys do?  Polite letter to papa announcing
that my education was complete!  That's what they did when Julia Jackson
got in a mess.  They couldn't have a scandal: so her education was
complete, and home she went.  Now the first time we are out for a walk
and he passes us and bows, you watch."

Miss Julia Arden went to sleep directly she went to bed, but Catharine,
contrary to her usual custom, lay awake till she heard twelve o'clock
strike from St. Mary, Abchurch.  She started, and thought that she alone,
perhaps, of all the people who lay within reach of those chimes had heard
them.  Why did she not go to sleep?  She was unused to wakefulness, and
its novelty surprised her with all sorts of vague terrors.  She turned
from side to side anxiously while midnight sounded, but she was young,
and in ten minutes afterwards she was dreaming.  She was mistaken in
supposing that she was the only person awake in Abchurch that night.  Mrs.
Cardew heard the chimes, and over her their soothing melody had no power.
When she and her husband left the Limes he broke out at once, with all
the eagerness with which a man begins when he has been repeating to
himself for some time every word of his grievance--

"I don't know how it is, Jane, but whenever I say anything I feel you are
just the one person on whom it seems to make an impression.  You have a
trick of repetition, and you manage to turn everything into a platitude.
If you cannot do better than that, you might be silent."

He was right so far, that it is possible by just a touch to convert the
noblest sentiment into commonplace.  No more than a touch is necessary.
The parabolic mirror will reflect the star to a perfect focus.  The
elliptical mirror, varying from the parabola by less than the breadth of
a hair, throws an image which is useless.  But Mr. Cardew was far more
wrong than he was right.  He did not take into account that what his wife
said and what she felt might not be the same; that persons, who have no
great command over language, are obliged to make one word do duty for a
dozen, and that, if his wife was defective at one point, there were in
her whole regions of unexplored excellence, of faculties never
encouraged, and an affection to which he offered no response.  He had not
learned the art of being happy with her: he did not know that happiness
is an art: he rather did everything he could do to make the relationship
intolerable.  He demanded payment in coin stamped from his own mint, and
if bullion and jewels had been poured before him he would have taken no
heed of them.

She said nothing.  She never answered him when he was angry with her.  It
was growing dark as they went home, and the tears came into her eyes and
the ball rose in her throat, and her lips quivered.  She went back--does
a woman ever forget them?--to the hours of passionate protestation before
marriage, to the walks together when he caught up her poor phrases and
refined them, and helped her to see herself, and tried also to learn what
few things she had to teach.  It was all the worse because she still
loved him so dearly, and felt that behind the veil was the same face, but
she could not tear the veil away.  Perhaps, as they grew older, matters
might become worse, and they might have to travel together estranged down
the long, weary path to death.  Death!  She did not desire to leave him,
but she would have lain down in peace to die that moment if he could be
made to see her afterwards as she knew she was--at least in her love for
him.  But then she thought what suffering the remembrance of herself
would cost him, and she wished to live.  He felt that she moved her hand
to her pocket, and he knew why it went there.  He pitied her, but he
pitied himself more, and though her tears wrought on him sufficiently to
prevent any further cruelty, he did not repent.



CHAPTER VIII


Mrs. Cardew met Catharine two or three times accidentally within the next
fortnight.  There were Dorcas meetings and meetings of all kinds at which
the young women at the Limes were expected to assist.  One afternoon,
after tea, the room being hot, two or three of the company had gone out
into the garden to work.  Catharine and Mrs. Cardew sat by themselves at
one corner, where the ground rose a little, and a seat had been placed
under a large ash tree.  From that point St. Mary's spire was visible,
about half a mile away in the west, rising boldly, confidently, one might
say, into the sky, as if it dared to claim that it too, although on earth
and finite, could match itself against the infinite heaven above.  On
this particular evening the spire was specially obvious and attractive,
for it divided the sunset clouds, standing out black against the long,
narrow interspaces of tender green which lay between.  It was one of
those evenings which invite confidence, when people cannot help drawing
nearer than usual to one another.

"Is it not beautiful, Miss Furze?"

"Beautiful; the spire makes it so lovely."

"I wonder why."

"I am sure I do not know; but it is so."

"Catharine--you will not mind my calling you by your Christian name--you
can explain it if you like."

Catharine smiled.  "It is very kind of you, Mrs. Cardew, to call me
Catharine, but I have no explanation.  I could not give one to save my
life, unless it is the contrast."

"You cannot think how I wish I had the power of saying what I think and
feel.  I cannot express myself properly--so my husband says."

"I sympathise with you.  I am so foolish at times.  Mr. Cardew, I should
think, never felt the difficulty."

"No, and he makes so much of it.  He says I do not properly enjoy a thing
if I cannot in some measure describe my enjoyment--articulate it, to use
his own words."

He had inwardly taunted her, even when she was suffering, and had said to
himself that her trouble must be insignificant, for there was no colour
nor vivacity in her description of it.  She did not properly even
understand his own shortcomings.  He could pardon her criticism, so he
imagined, if she could be pungent.  Mistaken mortal! it was her patient
heroism which made her dumb to him about her sorrows and his faults.  A
very limited vocabulary is all that is necessary on such topics.

"I am just the same."

"Oh, no, you are not; Mr. Cardew says you are not."

"Mr. Cardew?--he has not noticed anything in me, I am certain, and if he
has, why nobody could be less able to talk to him than I am."

Catharine knew nothing of what had passed between husband and wife--one
scene amongst many--and consequently could not understand the peculiar
earnestness, somewhat unusual with her, with which Mrs. Cardew dwelt upon
this subject.  We lead our lives apart in close company, with private
hopes and fears unknown to anybody but ourselves, and when we go abroad
we often appear inexplicable and absurd, simply because our friends have
not the proper key.

"Do you think, Catharine--you know that, though I am older than you and
married, I feel we are friends."  Here Mrs. Cardew took Catharine's hand
in hers.  "Do you think I could learn how to talk?  What I mean is, could
I be taught how to say what is appropriate?  I _do_ feel something when
Mr. Cardew reads Milton to me.  It is only the words I want--words such
as you have."

"Oh, Mrs. Cardew!"--Catharine came closer to her, and Mrs. Cardew's arm
crept round her waist--"I tell you again I have not so many words as you
suppose.  I believe, though, that if people take pains they can find
them."

"Couldn't you help me?"

"I?  Oh, no!  Mr. Cardew could.  I never heard anybody express himself as
he does."

"Mr. Cardew is a minister, and perhaps I should find it easier with you.
Suppose I bring the 'Paradise Lost' out into the garden when we next
meet, and I will read, and you shall help me to comment on it."

Catharine's heart went out towards her, and it was agreed that "Paradise
Lost" should be brought, and that Mrs. Cardew would endeavour to make
herself "articulate" thereon.  The party broke up, and Catharine's
reflections were not of the simplest order.  Rather let us say her
emotions, for her heart was busier than her head.  Mrs. Cardew had deeply
touched her.  She never could stand unmoved the eyes of her dog when the
poor beast came and laid her nose on her lap and looked up at her, and
nobody could have persuaded her of the truth of Mr. Cardew's doctrine
that the reason why a dog can only bark is that his thoughts are nothing
but barks.  Mrs. Cardew's appeal, therefore, was of a kind to stir her
sympathy; but--had she not heard that Mr. Cardew had observed and praised
her?  It was nothing--ridiculously nothing; it was his duty to praise and
blame the pupils at the Limes; he had complimented Miss Toogood on her
Bible history the other day, and on her satisfactory account of the
scheme of redemption.  He had done it publicly, and he had pointed out
the failings of the other pupils, she, Catharine herself, being included.
He had reminded her that she had not taken into account the one vital
point, that as we are the Almighty Maker's creatures, His absolutely, we
have no ground of complaint against Him in whatever way He may be pleased
to make us.  Nevertheless, just those two or three words Mrs. Cardew
reported were like yeast, and her whole brain was in a ferment.

The Milton was produced next week.  Since Catharine had been at the Limes
she had read some of it, incited by Mr. Cardew, for he was an enthusiast
for Milton.  Mrs. Cardew was a bad reader; she had no emphasis, no light
and shade, and she missed altogether the rhythm of the verse.  To
Catharine, on the other hand, knowing nothing of metre, the proper
cadence came easily.  They finished the first six hundred lines of the
first book.

"You have not said anything, Catharine."

"No; but what have you to say?"

"It is very fine; but there I stick; I cannot say any more; I want to say
more; that is where I always am.  I can _not_ understand why I cannot go
on as some people do; I just stop there with 'very fine.'"

"Cannot you pick out some passage which particularly struck you?"

"That is very true, is it not, that the mind can make a heaven of hell
and a hell of heaven?"

"Most true; but did you not notice the description of the music?"

Catharine was fond of music, but only as an expression of her own
feelings.  For music as music--for a melody of Mozart, for example--that
is to say, for pure art, which is simply beauty, superior to our
personality, she did not care.  She liked Handel, and there was a choral
society in Eastthorpe which occasionally performed the "Messiah."

"Don't you remember what Mr. Cardew said about it--it was remarkable that
Milton should have given to music the power to chase doubt from the mind,
doubt generally, and yet music is not argument?"

"Oh, yes, I recollect, but I do not quite comprehend him, and I told him
I did not see how music could make me sure of a thing if there was not a
reason for it."

"What did he say then?"

"Nothing."

Mr. Cardew called that evening to take his wife home.  He was told that
she was in the garden with Miss Furze, and thither he at once went.

"Milton!" he exclaimed.  "What are you doing with Milton here?"

"Miss Furze and I were reading the first book of the 'Paradise Lost'
together."

Mrs. Cardew looked at her husband inquiringly, and with a timid smile,
hoping he would show himself pleased.  His brow, however, slightly
wrinkled itself with displeasure.  He had told her to read Milton, had
said, "Fancy an Englishwoman with any pretensions to education not
knowing Milton!" and now, when she was doing exactly what she was
directed to do, he was vexed.  He was annoyed to find he was precisely
obeyed, and perhaps would have been in a better temper if he had been
contradicted and resisted.  Mrs. Cardew turned her head away.  What was
she to do with him?  Every one of her efforts to find the door had
failed.

"What has struck you particularly in that book, Miss Furze?"

Catharine was about to say something, but she caught sight of Mrs.
Cardew, and was arrested.  At last she spoke, but what she said was not
what she at first had intended to say.

"Mrs. Cardew and I were discussing the lines about doubt and music, and
we cannot see what Milton means.  We cannot see how music can make us
sure of a thing if there is not good reason for it."

Catharine used the first person plural with the best intention, but her
object was defeated.  The rector recognised the words at once.

"Yes, yes," he replied, impatiently; "but, Miss Furze, you know better
than that.  Milton does not mean doubt whether an arithmetical
proposition is true.  I question if he means theological doubt.  Doubt in
that passage is nearer despondency.  It is despondency taking an
intellectual form and clothing itself with doubts which no reasoning will
overcome, which re-shape themselves the moment they are refuted."  He
stopped for a moment.  "Don't you think so, Miss Furze?"

She forgot Mrs. Cardew, and looked straight into Mr. Cardew's face bent
earnestly upon her.

"I understand."

Mrs. Cardew had lifted her eyes from the ground, on which they had been
fixed.  "I think," said she, "we had better be going."

"We can go out by the door at the end of the garden, if you will go and
bid the Misses Ponsonby good-bye."

Mrs. Cardew lingered a moment.

"I have bidden them good-bye," said her husband.

She went, and Miss Ponsonby detained her for a few minutes to arrange the
details of an important quarterly meeting of the Dorcas Society for next
week.

"What do you think of the subject of the 'Paradise Lost.'  Miss Furze?"

"I hardly know; it seems so far away."

"Ah! that is just the point.  I thought so once, but not now.  Milton
could not content himself with a common theme; nothing less than God and
the man--mortal feud between Him and Satan would suffice.  Milton is
representative to me of what I may call the heroic attitude towards
existence.  Mark, too, the importance of man in the book.  Men and women
are not mere bubbles--here for a moment and then gone--but they are
actually important, all-important, I may even say, to the Maker of the
universe and his great enemy.  In this Milton follows Christianity, but
what stress he lays on the point!  Our temptation, notwithstanding our
religion, so often is to doubt our own value.  All appearances tend to
make us doubt it.  Don't you think so?"

Catharine looked earnestly at the excited preacher, but said nothing.

"I do not mean our own personal worth.  The temptation is to doubt
whether it is of the smallest consequence whether we are or are not, and
whether our being here is not an accident.  Oh, Miss Furze, to think that
your existence and mine are part of the Divine eternal plan, and that
without us it would be wrecked!  Then there is Satan.  Milton has gone
beyond the Bible, beyond what is authorised, in giving such a distinct,
powerful, and prominent individuality to Satan.  You will remember that
in the great celestial battle--

         "'Long time in even scale
   The battle hung.'

But what a wonderful conception that is of the great antagonist of God!
It comes out even more strongly in the 'Paradise Regained.'  Is it not a
relief to think that the evil thought in you or me is not altogether
yours and mine, but is foreign; that it is an incident in the war of
wars, an attack on one of the soldiers of the Most High?"

Mr. Cardew paused.

"Have you never written anything which I could read?"

"Scarcely anything.  I wrote some time ago a little story of a few pages,
but it was never published.  I will lend you the manuscript, but you will
please remember that it is anonymous, and that I do not wish the
authorship revealed.  I believe most people would not think any the
better of me, certainly as a clergyman, if they knew it was mine."

"That is very kind of you."

Catharine felt the distinction, the confidence.  The sweetest homage
which can be offered us is to be entrusted with something which others
would misinterpret.

"I should like, Miss Furze, to have some further talk with you about
Milton, but I do not quite see" (musingly) "how it is to be managed."

"Could you not tell us something about him when you and Mrs. Cardew next
have tea with us at the Limes?"

"I do not think so.  I meant with you, yourself.  It is not easy for me
to express myself clearly in company--at any rate, I should not hear your
difficulties.  You seem to possess a sympathy which is unusual, and I
should be glad to know more of your mind."

"When Mrs. Cardew comes here, could you not fetch her, and could we not
sit out here together?"

He hesitated.  They were walking slowly over the grass towards the gate,
and were just beginning to turn off to the right by the side path between
the laurels.  At that point, the lawn being levelled and raised, there
were two stone steps.  In descending them Catharine slipped, and he
caught her arm.  She did not fall, but he did not altogether release her
for at least some seconds.

"Mrs. Cardew has no liking for poetry."

Catharine was silent.

"It is quite a new thing to me, Miss Furze, to find anybody in Abchurch
who cares anything for that which is most interesting to me."

"But, Mr. Cardew, I am sure I have not shown any particular capacity, and
I am very ignorant, for I have read very little."

"It does not need much to reveal what is in a person.  It would be a
great help to me if we could read a book together.  This
self-imprisonment day after day and self-imposed reticence is very
unwholesome.  I would give much to have a pupil or a friend whose world
is my world."

To Catharine it seemed as if she was being sucked in by a whirlpool and
carried she knew not whither.  They had reached the gate, and he had
taken her hand in his to bid her good-bye.  She felt a distinct and
convulsive increase of pressure, and she felt also that she returned it.
Suddenly something passed through her brain swift as the flash of the
swiftest blazing meteor: she dropped his hand, and, turning instantly,
went back to the house, retreating behind the thick bank of evergreens.

"Where is Miss Furze?" said Mrs. Cardew, who came down the path a minute
or two afterwards.

"I do not know: I suppose she is indoors."

"A canting, hypocritical parson, type not uncommon, described over and
over again in novels, and thoroughly familiar to theatre-goers."  Such,
no doubt, will be the summary verdict passed upon Mr. Cardew.  The truth
is, however, that he did not cant, and was not a hypocrite.  One or two
observations here may perhaps be pertinent.  The accusation of hypocrisy,
if we mean lofty assertion, and occasional and even conspicuous moral
failure, may be brought against some of the greatest figures in history.
But because David sinned with Bathsheba, and even murdered her husband,
we need not discredit the sincerity of the Psalms.  The man was
inconsistent, it is true, inconsistent exactly because there was so much
in him that was great, for which let us be thankful.  Let us take notice
too, of what lies side by sidle quietly in our own souls.  God help us if
all that is good in us is to be invalidated by the presence of the most
contradictory evil.

Secondly it is a fact that vitality means passion.  It does not mean
avarice or any of the poor, miserable vices.  If David had been a wealthy
and most pious Jerusalem shopkeeper, who subscribed largely to missionary
societies to the Philistines, but who paid the poor girls in his employ
only two shekels a week, refusing them ass-hire when they had to take
their work three parts of the way to Bethlehem, and turning them loose at
a minute's warning, he certainly would not have been selected to be part
author of the Bible, even supposing his courtship and married life to
have been most exemplary and orthodox.  We will, however, postpone any
further remarks upon Mr. Cardew: a little later we shall hear something
about his early history, which may perhaps explain and partly exculpate
him.  As to Catharine, she escaped.  It is vexatious that a complicated
process in her should be represented by a single act which was transacted
in a second.  It would have been much more intelligible if it could have
written itself in a dramatic conversation extending over two or three
pages, but, as the event happened, so it must be recorded.  The
antagonistic and fiercely combatant forces did _so_ issue in that deed,
and the present historian has no intention to attempt an analysis.  One
thing is clear to him, that the quick stride up the garden path was urged
not by any single, easily predominating impulse which had been enabled to
annihilate all others.  Do not those of us, who have been mercifully
prevented from damming ourselves before the whole world, who have
succeeded and triumphed--do we not know, know as we know hardly anything
else, that our success and our triumph were due to superiority in
strength by just a grain, no more, of our better self over the raging
rebellion beneath it?  It was just a tremble of the tongue of the
balance: it might have gone this way, or it might have gone the other,
but by God's grace it was this way settled--God's grace, as surely, in
some form of words, everybody must acknowledge it to have been.  When she
reached her bedroom she sat down with her head on her hands, rose, walked
about, looked out of window in the hope that she might see him, thought
of Mrs. Cardew; forgot her; dwelt on what she had passed through till she
almost actually felt the pressure of his hand; cursed herself that she
had turned away from him; prayed for strength to resist temptation, and
longed for one more chance of yielding to it.

The next morning a little parcel was left for Miss Furze.  It contained
the promised story, which is here presented to my readers:--



"Did he Believe?


"Charmides was born in Greece, but about the year 300 A.D. was living in
Rome.  He had come there, like many of his countrymen, to pursue his
calling as sculptor in the imperial city, and he cherished a great love
for his art.  He knew too well that it was not the art of the earlier
days of Athens, and that he could never catch the spirit of that golden
time, but he loved it none the less.  He was also a philosopher in his
way.  He had read not only the literature of Greece, but that of his
adopted land, and he was especially familiar with Lucretius and his pupil
Virgil.  His intellectual existence, however, was not particularly happy.
Rome was a pleasant city; his occupation was one in which he delighted;
the thrill of a newly noticed Lucretian idea or of a tender touch in
Virgil were better to him than any sensual pleasure, but his dealings
with his favourite authors ended in his own personal emotion, and it was
sad to think that the Hermes on which he had spent himself to such a
degree should become a mere decoration to a Roman nobleman's villa,
valued only because it cost so much, and that nobody who looked at it
would ever really care for it.  Once, however, he was rewarded.  He had
finished a Pallas Athene just as the sun went down.  He was excited, and
after a light sleep he rose very early and went into the studio with the
dawn.  There stood the statue, severe, grand in the morning twilight, and
if there was one thing in the world clear to him, it was that what he saw
was no inanimate mineral mass, but something more.  It was no mere
mineral mass with an outline added.  Part of the mind which formed the
world was in it, actually in it, and it came to Charmides that intellect,
thought, had their own rights, that they were as much a fact as the
stone, and that what he had done was simply to realise a Divine idea
which was immortal, no matter what might become of its embodiment.  The
weight of the material world lifted, an avenue of escape seemed to open
itself to him from so much that oppressed and deadened him, and he felt
like a man in an amphitheatre of overhanging mountains, who should espy
in a far-off corner some scarcely perceptible track, and on nearer
inspection a break in the walled precipices, a promise, or at least a
hint, of a passage from imprisonment to the open plain.  It was nothing
more than he had learned in his Plato, but the truth was made real to
him, and he clung to it.

"Rome at the end of the third century was one of the most licentious of
cities.  It was invaded by all the vices of Greece, and the counterpoise
of the Greek virtues was absent.  The reasoning powers assisted rather
than prevented the degradation of morals, for they dissected and
represented as nothing all the motives which had hitherto kept men
upright.  The healthy and uncorrupted instinct left to itself would have
been a sufficient restraint, but sophistry argued and said, _What is
there in it_?--and so the very strength and prerogative of man hired
itself out to perform the office of making him worse than a beast.
Charmides was unmarried, and it is not to be denied that though his life
as a whole was pure, he had yielded to temptation, not without loathing
himself afterwards.  He did not feel conscious of any transgression of a
moral law, for no such law was recognised, but he detested himself
because he had been drawn into close contact with a miserable wretch
simply in order to satisfy a passion, and in the touch of mercenary
obscenity there was something horrible to him.  It was bitter to him to
reflect that, notwithstanding his aversion from it, notwithstanding his
philosophy and art, he had been equally powerless with the uttermost fool
of a young aristocrat to resist the attraction of the commonest of
snares.  What were his books and fine pretensions worth if they could not
protect him in such ordinary danger?  Thus it came to pass that after a
fall, when he went back to his work, it was so unreal to him, such a
mockery, that days often elapsed before he could do anything.  It was a
mere toy, a dilettante dissipation, the embroidery of corruption.  Oh,
for a lawgiver, for a time of restraint, for the time of Regulus and the
republic!  Then, said Charmides to himself, my work would have some
value, for heroic obedience would he behind it.  He was right, for the
love of the beautiful cannot long exist where there is moral pollution.
The love of the beautiful itself is moral--that is to say, what we love
in it is virtue.  A perfect form or a delicate colour are the expression
of something which is destroyed in us by subjugation to the baser desires
or meanness, and he who has been unjust to man or woman misses the true
interpretation of a cloud or falling wave.

"One night Charmides was walking through the lowest part of the city, and
he heard from a mere hovel the sound of a hymn.  He knew what it was--that
it was the secret celebration of a religious rite by the despised sect of
the Jews and their wretched proselytes.  The Jews were especially hateful
to him and to all cultured people in Rome.  They were typical of all the
qualities which culture abhorred.  No Jew had ever produced anything
lovely in any department whatever--no picture, statue, melody, nor poem.
Their literature was also barbaric: there was no consecutiveness in it,
no reasoning, no recognition in fact of the reason.  It was a mere mass
of legends without the exquisite charm and spiritual intention of those
of Greece, of bloody stories and obscure disconnected prophecies by
shepherds and peasants.  Their god was a horror, a boor upon a mountain,
wielding thunder and lightning.  Aphrodite was perhaps not all that could
be wished, but she was divine compared with the savage Jehovah.  It was
true that a recent Jewish sect professed better things and recognised as
their teacher a young malefactor who was executed when Tiberius was
emperor.  So far, however, as could be made out he was a poor
crack-brained demagogue, who dreamed of restoring a native kingdom in
Palestine.  What made the Jews especially contemptible to culture was
that they were retrograde.  They strove to put back the clock.  There is
only one path, so culture affirmed, and that is the path opened by
Aristotle, the path of rational logical progress from what we already
know to something not now known, but which can be known.  If our present
state is imperfect, it is because we do not know enough.  Every other
road, excepting this, the king's highway, heads into a bog.  These Jews
actually believed in miracles; they had no science, and thought they
could regenerate the world by hocus-pocus.  They ought to be suppressed
by law, and, if necessary, put to death, for they bred discontent.

"Nevertheless, Charmides decided to enter the hovel.  He was in idle
mood, and he was curious to see for himself what the Jews were like.  He
pushed open the door, and when he went in he found himself in a low, mean
room very dimly lighted and crowded with an odd medley of Greeks, Romans,
tolerably well-dressed persons, and slaves.  The poor and the shaves were
by far the most numerous.  The atmosphere was stifling, and Charmides sat
as near the door as possible.  Next to him was a slave-girl, not
beautiful, but with a peculiar expression on her face very rare in Rome
at that time.  The Roman women were, many of them, lovely, but their
loveliness was cold--the loveliness of indifference.  The somewhat common
features of this slave, on the contrary, were lighted up with eagerness:
to her there was evidently something in life of consequence--nay, of
immense importance.  There were few of her betters in Rome to whom
anything was of importance.  A hymn at that moment was being sung, the
words of which Charmides could not catch, and when it was finished an
elderly man rose and read what seemed the strangest jargon about
justification and sin.  The very terms used were in fact unintelligible.
The extracts were from a letter addressed to the sect in Rome by one
Paul, a disciple of that Jesus who was crucified.  After the reading was
over came an address, very wild in tone and gesture, and equally
unintelligible, and then a prayer or invocation, partly to their god, but
also, as it seemed, to this Jesus, who evidently ranked as a daemon, or
perhaps as Divine, Charmides was quite unaffected.  The whole thing
appeared perfect nonsense, not worth investigation, but he could not help
wondering what there was in it which could so excite that girl, whom he
could hardly conclude to be a fool, and whose earnestness was a surprise
to him.  He thought no more about the affair until some days afterwards
when he happened to visit a friend.  Just as he was departing he met this
very slave in the porch.  He involuntarily stopped, and she whispered to
him.

"'You will not betray us?'

"'I?  Certainly not.'

"'I will lend you this.  Read it and return it to me.'  So saying, she
vanished.

"Charmides, when he reached home, took out the manuscript.  He recognised
it as a copy of the letter which he had partly heard at the meeting.  He
was somewhat astonished to find that it was written by a man of learning,
who was evidently familiar with classic authors, but surely never was
scholarship pressed into such a service!  The confusion of metaphor, the
suddenness of transition, the illogical muddles were bad enough, but the
chief obstacle to comprehension was that the author's whole scope and
purpose, the whole circle of his ideas, were outside Charmides
altogether.  He was not attracted any more than he was at the meeting,
but he was a little piqued because Paul had certainly been well educated,
and he determined to attend the meeting again.  This time he was late,
and did not arrive till it was nearly at an end.  His friend was there,
and again he sat down next to her.  When they went out it was dark, and
he walked by her side.

"'Have you read the letter?'

"'Yes, but I do not understand it, and I have brought it back.'

"'May Christ the Lord open your eyes!'

"'Who is this Christ whom you worship?'

"'The Son of God, He who was crucified; the man Jesus; He who took upon
Himself flesh to redeem us from our sins; in whom by faith we are
justified and have eternal life.'

"It was all pure Hebrew to him, save the phrase 'Son of God,' which
sounded intelligible.

"'You are Greek,' he said, for he recognised her accent although she
spoke Latin.

"'Yes, from Corinth: my name is Demariste;' and she explained to him
that, although she was a slave, she was partly employed in teaching Greek
to the children of her mistress.

"'If you are Greek and well brought up, you must know that I cannot
comprehend a word of what you have spoken.  It is Judaism.'

"'To me, too,' she replied, speaking Greek to him, 'it was
incomprehensible, but God by the light which lighteth every man hath
brought me into His marvellous light, and now this that I have told you
is exceedingly clear--nay, clearer than anything which men say they see.'

"'Tell me how it happened.'

"'When I first came to Rome I had a master who desired to make me his
concubine, and I hated him; but what strength had I?--and I was tempted
to yield.  My parents were dead; I had no friends who cared for me--what
did it matter!  I had read in my books of the dignity of the soul, but
that was a poor weapon with which to fight, and, moreover, sin was not
exceeding sinful to me.  By God's grace I was brought amongst these
Christians, and I was convinced of sin.  I saw that it was not only
transgression against myself, but against the eternal decrees of the Most
High, against those decrees which, as one of our own poets still dear to
me has said--

   "'[Greek text].' {1}

"'I saw that all art, all learning, everything which men value, were as
straw compared with God's commandments, and that it would be well to
destroy all our temples, and statues, and all that we have which is
beautiful, if we could thereby establish the kingdom of God within us,
and so become heirs of the life everlasting.  Oh, my friend, my friend in
Christ, I hope, believe me, Rome will perish, and we shall all perish,
not because we are ignorant, but because we have not obeyed His word.  But
how was I to obey it?  Then I heard told the life of Christ the Lord: how
God the Father in His infinite pity sent His Son into the world; how He
lived amongst his and died a shameful death upon the cross that we might
not die: and all His strength passed into me and became mine through
faith, and I was saved; saved for this life; saved eternally; justified
through Him; worthy to wait for Him and meet Him at His coming, for He
shall come, and I shall be for ever with the Lord.'

"Demariste stood straight upright as she spoke, and the light in her
transfigured her countenance as the sun penetrating a grey mass of vapour
informs it with such an intensity of brightness that the eye can scarcely
endure it.  It was a totally new experience to Charmides, an entire
novelty in Rome.  He did not venture to look in her face directly, for he
felt that there was nothing in him equal to its sublime, solemn pleading.

"'I do not know anything of your Jesus,' he said at last, timidly; 'upon
what do you rest His claims?'

"'Read His life.  I will lend it to you; you will want no other evidence
for Him.  And was He not raised from the dead to reign for ever at His
Father's right hand?  No, keep the letter for a little while, and perhaps
you will understand it better when you know upon what it is based.'

"A day or two afterwards the manuscript was sent to him secretly with
many precautions.  He was not smitten suddenly by it.  The Palestinian
tale, although he confessed it was much more to his mind than Paul, was
still _rude_.  It was once more the rudeness which was repellent, and
which almost outweighed the pathos of many of the episodes and the
undeniable grandeur of the trial and death.  Moreover, it was full of
superstition and supernaturalism, which he could not abide.  He was in
his studio after his first perusal, and he turned to an Apollo which he
was carving.  The god looked at him with such overpowering, balanced
sanity, such a contrast to Christian incoherence and the rhapsodies of
the letter to the Romans, that he was half ashamed of himself for
meddling with it.  He opened his Lucretius.  Here was order and sequence;
he knew where he was; he was at home.  Was all this nought, were the
accumulated labour and thought of centuries to be set aside and trampled
on by the crude, frantic inspiration of clowns?  The girl's face,
however, recurred to him; he could not get rid of it, and he opened the
biography again.  He stumbled upon what now stand as our twenty-third and
twenty-fourth chapters of Matthew, containing the denunciation of the
Pharisees, and the prophecy of the coming of the Son of Man.  He was
amazed at the new turn which was given to life, at the reasons assigned
for the curses which were dealt to these Jewish doctors.  They were
damned for their lack of mercy, judgment, faith, for their extortion,
excess, and because they were full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  They were
fools and blind, but not through defects which would have condemned them
in Greece and Rome at that day, but through failings of which Greece and
Rome took small account.  Charmides pondered and pondered, and saw that
this Jew had given a new centre, a new pivot to society.  This, then, was
the meaning of the world as nearly as it could be said to have a single
meaning.  Read by the light of the twenty-third chapter, the
twenty-fourth chapter was magnificent.  'For as the lightning cometh out
of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall the coming of the
Son of Man be.'  Was it not intelligible that He to whom right and wrong
were so diverse, to whom their diversity was the one fact for man, should
believe that Heaven would proclaim and enforce it?  He read more and
more, until at last the key was given to him to unlock even that strange
mystery, that being justified by faith we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ.  Still it was idle for him to suppose that he could
ever call himself a Christian in the sense in which those poor creatures
whom he had seen were Christians.  Their fantastic delusions, their
expectation that any day the sky might open and their Saviour appear in
the body, were impossible to him; nor could he share their confidence
that once for all their religion alone was capable of regenerating the
world.  He could not, it is true, avoid the reflection that the point was
not whether the Christians were absurd, nor was it even the point whether
Christianity was not partly absurd.  The real point was whether there was
not more certainty in it than was to be found in anything at that time
current in the world.  Here, in what Paul called faith, was a new spring
of action, a new reason for the blessed life, and, what was of more
consequence, a new force by which men might be enabled to persist in it.
He could not, we say, avoid this reflection; he could not help feeling
that he was bound not to wait for that which was in complete conformity
with an ideal, but to enlist under the flag which was carried by those
who in the main fought for the right, and that it was treason to cavil
and stand aloof because the great issue was not presented in perfect
purity.  Nevertheless, he was not decided, and could not quite decide.  If
he could have connected Christianity with his own philosophy; if it had
been the outcome, the fulfilment of Plato, his duty would have been so
much simpler; it was the complete rupture--so it seemed to him--which was
the difficulty.  His heart at times leaped up to join this band of
determined, unhesitating soldiers; to be one in an army; to have a cause;
to have a banner waving over his head; to have done with isolation,
aloofness, speculation ending in nothing, and dreams which profited
nobody: but even in those moments when he was nearest to a confession of
discipleship he was restrained by faintness and doubt.  If he were to
enrol himself as a convert his conversion would be due not to an
irresistible impulse, but to a theory, to a calculation, one might almost
say, that such and such was the proper course to take.

"He went again to the meeting, and he went again and again.  One night,
as he came home, he walked as he had walked before, with Demariste.  She
was going as far as his door for the manuscript which he had now copied
for his own use.  As they went along a man met them who raised a lantern,
and directed it full in their faces.

"'The light of death,' said Demariste.

"'Who is he?'

"'I know him well; he is a spy.  I have often seen him at the door of our
assembly.'

"'Do you fear death?'

"'I?  Has not Christ died?'

"Charmides hath fallen in love with this slave, but it was love so
different from any love which he had felt before for a woman, that it
ought to have had some other name.  It was a love of the soul, of that
which was immortal, of God in her; it was a love too, of no mere
temporary phenomenon, but of reality outlasting death into eternity.
There was thus a significance, there was a grandeur in it wanting to any
earthly love.  It was the new love with which men were henceforth to love
women--the love of Dante for Beatrice.

"She waited at the door while he went inside to fetch in the parchment.
He brought it out and gave it to her, and as he stood opposite to her he
looked in her face, and her eyes were not averted.  He caught her hand,
but she drew back.

"''Tis but for a day or two,' she said; 'a week will see the end.'

"'A week!' he cried!  'Oh, my Demariste, rather a week with thee than an
age with anything less than thee!'

"'You will have to die too.  Dare you die?  The spirit may be willing,
but the flesh may be weak.'

"'Death?  Yes, death, if only I am yours!'

"'Nay, nay, my beloved, not for me, but for the Lord Jesus!'

"He bent nearer to her; his head was on her neck, and his arms were round
her body.  Oh, son and daughter of Time! oh, son and daughter of
Eternity!

"He had hardly returned to his house, when he was interrupted by his
friend Callippus, just a little the worse for wine.

"'What new thing is this?' said Callippus.  'I hear you have consorted
with the Jews, and have been seen at their assembly.'

"'True, my friend.'

"True!  By Jupiter! what is the meaning of it?  You do not mean to say
that you are bitten by the mad dog?'

"'I believe.'

"'Oh, by God, that it should have come to this!  Are you not ashamed to
look him in the face?' pointing to the Apollo statue.  'Ah! the old
prophecy is once more verified!--

   "'Tutemet a nobis iam quovis tempore vatum
   terriloquis victus dictis desciscere quaeres.' {2}

But I must be prudent.  I saw somebody watching your house on the other
side of the street.  If I am caught they will think I belong to the
accursed sect too.  Farewell."

"The morning came, and about an hour after Charmides had risen two
soldiers presented themselves.  He was hurried away, brought before the
judges, and examined.  Some little pity was felt for him by two or three
members of the court, as he was well known in Rome, and one of them
condescended to argue with him and to ask him how he could become
ensnared by a brutal superstition which affirmed, so it was said, the
existence of devil-possessed pigs, and offered sacrifices to them.

"'You,' said he, 'an artist and philosopher--if it be true that you are a
pervert, you deserve a heavier punishment than the scum whom we have
hitherto convicted.'

"'For Christ and His Cross!' cried Charmides.

"'Take him away!'

"The next day Charmides and Demariste met outside the prison gates.  They
were chained together in mockery, the seducer, Demariste, and the
seduced, Charmides.  They were marched through the streets of Rome, the
crowd jeering them and thronging after them to enjoy the sport of their
torments and death.  Charmides saw the eyes of Demariste raised
heavenward and her lips moving in prayer.

"'He has heard me,' she said, 'and you will endure.'

"He pressed her hand, and replied, with unshaken voice, 'Fear not.'

"They came to the place of execution, but before the final stroke they
were cruelly tortured.  Charmides bore his sufferings in silence, but in
her extremest agony the face of Demariste was lighted with rapture.

"'Look, look, my beloved, there, there!' trying to lift her mangled arm,
'Christ the Lord!  One moment more and we are for ever with Him.'

"Charmides could just raise his head, and saw nothing but Demariste.  He
was able to turn himself towards her and move her hand to his lips, the
second, only the second and the last kiss.

"So they died.  Charmides was never considered a martyr by the Church.
The circumstances were doubtful, and it was not altogether clear that he
deserved the celestial crown."



CHAPTER IX


The school broke up next week for the summer holidays, and Catharine went
home.  Her mother was delighted with her daughter.  She was less awkward,
straighter, and her air and deportment showed the success of the plan.
The father acquiesced, although he did not notice the change till Mrs.
Furze had pointed it out.  As to Mrs. Bellamy, she declared, when she met
Catharine in the street the first market afternoon, that "she had all at
once become a woman grown."  Mrs. Furze's separation from her former
friends was now complete, but she had, unfortunately, not yet achieved
admission into the superior circle.  She had done so in a measure, but
she was not satisfied.  She felt that these people were not intimate with
her, and that, although she had screwed herself with infinite pains into
a bowing acquaintance, and even into a shaking of hands, they formed a
set by themselves, with their own secrets and their own mysteries, into
which she could not penetrate.  Their very politeness was more annoying
than rudeness would have been.  It showed they could afford to be polite.
Had she been wealthy, she could have crushed all opposition by sheer
weight of bullion; but in Eastthorpe everybody's position was known with
tolerable exactitude, and nobody was deluded into exaggerating Mr.
Furze's resources because of the removal to the Terrace.  Eastthorpe, on
the contrary, affirmed that the business had not improved, and that
expenses had increased.

When Catharine came home a light suddenly flashed across Mrs. Furze's
mind.  What might not be done with such a girl as that!  She was good-
looking--nay, handsome; she had the manners which Mrs. Furze knew that
she herself lacked, and Charlie Colston, aged twenty-eight, was still
disengaged.  It was Mrs. Furze's way when she proposed anything to
herself, to take no account of any obstacles, and she had the most
wonderful knack of belittling and even transmuting all moral objections.
Mr. Charlie Colston was a well-known figure in Eastthorpe.  He was an
only son, about five feet eleven inches high, thin, unsteady on his legs,
smooth-faced, unwholesome, and silly.  He had been taken into his
father's business because there was nothing else for him, and he was a
mere shadow in it, despised by every cask-washer.  There was nothing
wicked recorded against him; he did not drink, he did not gamble, he
cared nothing for horses or dogs; but Eastthorpe thought none the better
of him for these negative virtues.  He was not known to be immoral, but
he was for ever playing with this girl or the other, smiling, mincing,
toying, and it all came to nothing.  A very unpleasant creature was Mr.
Charlie Colston, a byword with women in Eastthorpe, even amongst the
nursery-maids.  Mrs. Furze knew all about his youth; but she brought out
her philosopher's stone and used it with effect.  She did not intend to
mate Catharine with a fool, and make her miserable.  If she could not
have persuaded herself that the young man was everything that could be
desired she would have thought no more about him.  The whole alchemical
operation, however, of changing him into purest gold occupied only a few
minutes, and the one thought now was how to drop the bait.  It did cross
her mind that Catharine herself might object; but she was convinced that
if her daughter could have a distinct offer made to her, all opposition
might somehow be quenched.

Fate came to her assistance, as it does always to those who watch
persistently and with patience.  One Sunday evening at church it suddenly
began to rain.  The Furze family had not provided themselves with
umbrellas, but Mrs. Furze knew that Mr. Charlie Colston never went out
without one.  Her strategy, when the service was over, was worthy of
Napoleon, and, with all the genius of a great commander, she brought her
forces into exact position at the proper moment.  She herself and Mr.
Furze detained the elder Mr. Colston and his wife, and kept them in check
a little way behind, so that Catharine and their son were side by side
when the entrance was reached.  Of course he could do nothing but offer
Catharine his umbrella, and his company on the way homewards, but to his
utter amazement, and the confusion of Mrs. Furze, who watched intently
the result of her manoeuvres, Catharine somewhat curtly declined, and
turned back to wait for her parents.  Mr. Charlie rejoined his father and
mother, who naturally forsook the Furzes at the earliest possible moment
in such a public place as a church porch.  In a few minutes the shower
abated.  Mrs. Furze could not say anything to her daughter; she could not
decently appear to force Charlie on her by rebuking her for not
responding to his generosity, but she was disappointed and embittered.

On the following morning Catharine announced her intention of going to
Chapel Farm for a few days.  Her mother remonstrated, but she knew she
would have to yield, and Catharine went.  Mrs. Bellamy poured forth the
pent-up tale of three months--gossip we may call it if we wish to be
contemptuous; but what is gossip?  A couple of neighbours stand at the
garden gate on a summer's evening and tell the news of the parish.  They
discuss the inconsistency of the parson, the stony-heartedness of the
farmer, the behaviour of this young woman and that young man; and what
better could they do?  They certainly deal with what they
understand--something genuinely within their own circle and experience;
and there is nothing to them in politics, British or Babylonian, of more
importance.  There is no better conversation than talk about Smith,
Brown, and Harris, male and female, about Spot the terrier or Juno the
mare.  Catharine had many questions to answer about the school, but Mr.
Cardew's name was not once mentioned.

One afternoon, late in August, Catharine had gone with the dog down to
the riverside, her favourite haunt.  Clouds, massive, white, sharply
outlined, betokening thunder, lay on the horizon in a long line; the fish
were active; great chub rose, and every now and then a scurrying dimple
on the pool showed that the jack and the perch were busy.  It was a day
full of heat, a day of exultation, for it proclaimed that the sun was
alive; it was a day on which to forget winter with its doubts, its
despairs, and its indistinguishable grey; it was a day on which to
believe in immortality.  Catharine was at that happy age when summer has
power to warm the brain; it passed into her blood and created in her
simple, uncontaminated bliss.  She sat down close to an alder which
overhung the bank.  It was curious, but so it was, that her thoughts
suddenly turned from the water and the thunderclouds and the blazing heat
to Mr. Cardew, and it is still more strange that at that moment she saw
him coming along the towing-path.  In a minute he was at her side, but
before he reached her she had risen.

"Good morning, Miss Furze."

"Mr. Cardew!  What brings you here?"

"I have been here several times; I often go out for the day; it is a
favourite walk."

He was silent, and did not move.  He seemed prepossessed and anxious,
taking no note of the beauty of the scene around him.

"How is Mrs. Cardew?"

"She is well, I believe."

"You have not left home this morning, then?"

"No; I was not at home last night."

"I think I must be going."

"I will walk a little way with you."

"My way is over the bridge to the farmhouse, where I am staying."

"I will go as far as you go."

Catharine turned towards the bridge.

"Is it the house beyond the meadows?"

"Yes."

It is curious how indifferent conversation often is just at the moment
when the two who are talking may be trembling with passion.

"You should have brought Mrs. Cardew with you," said Catharine, tearing
to pieces a water lily, and letting the beautiful white petals fall bit
by bit into the river.

Mr. Cardew looked at her steadfastly, scrutinisingly, but her eyes were
on the thunderclouds, and the lily fell faster and faster.  The face of
this girl had hovered before him for weeks, day and night.  He never for
a moment proposed to himself deliberate love for her--he could not do it,
and yet he had come there, not, perhaps, consciously in order to find
her, but dreaming of her all the time.  He was literally possessed.  The
more he thought about her, the less did he see and hear of the world
outside him, and no motive for action found access to him which was not
derived from her.  Of course it was all utterly mad and unreasonable,
for, after all, what did he really know about her, and what was there in
her to lay hold of him with such strength?  But, alas! thus it was, thus
he was made; so much the worse for him.  Was this a Christian believer?
was he really sincere in his belief?  He was sincere with a sincerity, to
speak arithmetically, of the tenth power beyond that of his exemplary
churchwarden Johnson, whose religion would have restrained him from
anything warmer than the extension of a Sunday black-gloved finger-tip to
any woman save "Mrs. J."  Here he was by the riverside with her; he was
close to her; nobody was present, but he could not stir nor speak!
Catharine felt his gaze, although her eyes were not towards him.  At last
the lily came to an end and she tossed the naked stalk after the flower.
She loved this man; it was a perilous moment: one touch, a hair's breadth
of oscillation, and the two would have been one.  At such a crisis the
least external disturbance is often decisive.  The first note of the
thunder was heard, and suddenly the image of Mrs. Cardew presented itself
before Catharine's eyes, appealing to her piteously, tragically.  She
faced Mr. Cardew.

"I am sorry Mrs. Cardew is not here.  I wish I had seen more of her.  Oh,
Mr. Cardew! how I envy her! how I wish I had her brains for scientific
subjects!  She is wonderful.  But I _must_ be going; the thunder is
distant; you will be in Eastthorpe, I hope, before the storm comes.  Good-
bye," and she had gone.

She did not go straight to the house, however, but went into the garden
and again cursed herself that she had dismissed him.  Who had dismissed
him?  Not she.  How had it been done?  She could not tell.  She crept out
of the garden and went to the corner of the meadow where she could see
the bridge.  He was still there.  She tried to make up an excuse for
returning; she tried to go back without one, but it was impossible.
Something, whatever it was, stopped her; she struggled and wrestled, but
it was of no avail, and she saw Mr. Cardew slowly retrace his steps to
the town.  Then she leaned upon the wall and found some relief in a great
fit of sobbing.  Consolation she had none; not even the poor reward of
conscience and duty.  She had lost him, and she felt that, if she had
been left to herself, she would have kept him.  She went out again late
in the evening.  The clouds had passed away to the south and east, but
the lightning still fired the distant horizon far beyond Eastthorpe and
towards Abchurch.  The sky was clearing in the west, and suddenly in a
rift Arcturus, about to set, broke through and looked at her, and in a
moment was again eclipsed.  What strange confusion!  What inexplicable
contrasts!  Terror and divinest beauty; the calm of the infinite
interstellar space and her own anguish; each an undoubted fact, but each
to be taken by itself as it stood: the star was there, the dark blue
depth was there, but they were no answer to the storm or her sorrow.

She returned to Eastthorpe on the following day and immediately told her
mother she should not go back to the Misses Ponsonby.



CHAPTER X


The reader has, doubtless, by this time judged with much severity not
only Catharine, but Mr. Cardew.  It is admitted to the full that they are
both most unsatisfactory and most improbable.  Is it likely that in a
sleepy Midland town, such as Eastthorpe, knowing nothing but the common
respectabilities of the middle of this century, the daughter of an
ironmonger would fall in love with a married clergyman?  Perhaps to their
present biographer it seems more remarkable than to his readers.  He
remembers what the Eastern Midlands were like fifty years ago and they do
not.  They are thinking of Eastthorpe of the present day, of its
schoolgirls who are examined in Keats and Shelley, of the Sunday morning
walks there, and of the, so to speak, smelling acquaintance with
sceptical books and theories which half the population now boasts.  But
Eastthorpe, when Mr. Cardew was at Abchurch, was totally different.  It
knew what it was for parsons to go wrong.  It had not forgotten a former
rector and the young woman at the Bell.  What talk there was about that
affair!  Happily his friends were well connected: they exerted
themselves, and he obtained a larger sphere of usefulness two hundred
miles away.  Mr. Cardew, however, was not that rector, and Catharine was
not the pretty waitress, and it is time now to tell the promised early
history of Mr. Cardew.

He was the son of a well-to-do London merchant, who lived in Stockwell,
in a large, white house, with a garden of a couple of acres, shaded by a
noble cedar in its midst.  There were four children, but he was the only
boy.  His mother belonged to an old and very religious family, and
inherited all its traditions of Calvinistic piety and decorum.  Her love
for this boy was boundless, and she had a double ambition for him, which
was that he might become a minister of God's Word, and in due time might
marry Jane Berdoe, the only daughter of the Reverend Charles Berdoe,
M.A., and Euphemia, her dearest friend.  Mrs. Cardew had heard so much of
the contamination of boys' schools that Theophilus was educated at home
and sent straight from home to Cambridge.  At the University he became a
member of the ultra-evangelical sect of young men there, and devoted
himself entirely to theology.  He thus passed through youth and early
manhood without any intercourse with the world so called, and he lacked
that wholesome influence which is exercised by healthy companionship with
those who differ from us and are not afraid to oppose us.  Of course he
married Jane Berdoe.  His mother was always contriving that Jane should
be present when he was at home; he was young; he had never known what it
was to go astray with women, and he was unable to stand at a distance
from her and ask himself if he really cared for her.  He fell in love
with himself, married himself, and soon after discovered that he did not
know who his wife was.  After his marriage he became wholly unjust to
her, and allowed her defects to veil the whole of her character.

The ultra-evangelical school in the Church preserved at that time the
religious life of England, although in a very strange form.  They
believed and felt certain vital truths, although they did not know what
was vital and what has not.  They had real experience, and their roots
lay, not upon the surface, but went deep down to the perennial springs,
and the articles of their creed became a vehicle for the expression of
the most real emotions.  Evangelicalism, however, to Mr. Cardew was
dangerous.  He was always prone to self-absorption, and the tendency was
much increased by his religion.  He lived an entirely interior life, and
his joys and sorrows were not those of Abchurch, but of another sphere.
Abchurch feared wet weather, drought, ague, rheumatism, loss of money,
and, on Sundays, feared hell, but Mr. Cardew's fears were spiritual or
even spectral.  His self-communion produced one strange and perilous
result, a habit of prolonged evolution from particular ideas uncorrected
by reference to what was around him.  If anything struck him it remained
with him, deduction followed deduction in practice unfortunately as well
as in thought, and he was ultimately landed in absurdity or something
worse.  The wholesome influence of ordinary men and women never permits
us to link conclusion to conclusion from a single premiss, or at any rate
to act upon our conclusions, but Mr. Cardew had no world at Abchurch save
himself.  He saw himself in things, and not as they were.  A sunset was
just what it might happen to symbolise to him at the time, and his
judgments upon events and persons were striking, but they were frequently
judgments upon creations of his own imagination, and were not in the
least apposite to what was actually before him.  The happy, artistic,
Shakespearean temper, mirroring the world like a lake, was altogether
foreign to him.

When he saw Catharine a new love awoke in him instantaneously.  Was it
legitimate or illegitimate?  In many cases of the same kind the answer
would be that the question is one which cannot be put.  No matter how
pure the intellectual bond between man and woman may be, it is certain to
carry with it a sentiment which cannot be explained by the attraction of
mere mental similarity.  A man says to a man, "Do you really believe it?"
and, if the answer is "yes," the two become friends; but if it is a woman
who responds to him, something follows which is sweeter than friendship,
whether she be bound or free.  It cannot be helped; there is no reason
why we should try to help it, provided only we do no harm to others, and
indeed these delicate threads are the very fairest in the tissue of life.
With Mr. Cardew it was a little different.  Undoubtedly he was drawn to
Catharine because her thoughts were his thoughts.  St. Paul and Milton in
him saluted St. Paul and Milton in her.  But he did not know where to
stop, nor could he look round and realise whither he was being led.  Any
other person in six weeks would have noticed the milestones on the road,
and would have determined that it was time to turn, but he gaily walked
forward with his head in the clouds.  If anybody at that particular
moment when he left the bridge could have made him comprehend that he was
making love to a girl; that what he was doing was an ordinary,
commonplace criminal act, or one which would justifiably be interpreted
as such, he not only would have been staggered and confounded, but would
instantly have drawn back.  As it was, he was neither staggered nor
confounded, and went home to his wife with but one image in his brain,
that of Catharine Furze.

Catharine was one of those creatures whose life is not uniform from
sixteen to sixty, a simple progressive accumulation of experiences, the
addition of a ring of wood each year.  There had come a time to her when
she had suddenly opened.  The sun shone with new light, a new lustre lay
on river and meadow, the stars became something more than mere luminous
points in the sky, she asked herself strange questions, and she loved
more than ever her long wanderings at Chapel Farm.  This phenomenon of a
new birth is more often seen at some epochs than at others.  When a
nation is stirred by any religious movement it is common, but it is also
common in a different shape during certain periods of spiritual activity,
such as the latter part of the eighteenth century and the first half of
the nineteenth in England and Germany.  Had Catharine been born two
hundred years earlier, life would have been easy.  All that was in her
would have found expression in the faith of her ancestors, large enough
for any intellect or any heart at that time.  She would have been happy
in the possession of a key which unlocks the mystery of things, and there
would have been ample room for emotion.  How impatient she became of
those bars which nowadays restrain people from coming close to one
another!  Often and often she felt that she could have leaped out towards
the person talking to her, that she could have cried to him to put away
his circumlocutions, his forms and his trivialities, and to let her see
and feel what he really was.  Often she knew what it was to thirst like
one in a desert for human intercourse, and she marvelled how those who
pretended to care for her could stay away so long: she could have
humiliated herself if only they would have permitted her to love them and
be near them.  Poor Catharine! the world as it is now is no place for
people so framed!  When life runs high and takes a common form men can
walk together as the disciples walked on the road to Emmaus.  Christian
and Hopeful can pour out their hearts to one another as they travel
towards the Celestial City and are knit together in everlasting bonds by
the same Christ and the same salvation.  But when each man is left to
shift for himself, to work out the answers to his own problems, the
result is isolation.  People who, if they were believers, would find the
richest gift of life in utter confidence and mutual help are now
necessarily strangers.  One turns to metaphysics; another to science; one
takes up with Rousseau's theory of existence, and another with Kant's;
they meet; they have nothing to say; they are of no use to one another in
trouble; one hears that the other is sick; what can be done?  There is a
nurse; he does not go; his old friend dies, and as to the funeral--well,
we are liable to catch cold.  Not so Christian and Hopeful! for when
Christian was troubled "with apparitions of hobgoblins and evil spirits,
even on the borderland of Heaven--oh, Bunyan!  Hopeful kept his brother's
head above water, and called upon him to turn his eyes to the Gate and
the men standing by it to receive him."  My poor reader-friend, how many
times have you in this nineteenth century, when the billows have gone
over you--how many times have you felt the arm of man or woman under you
raising you to see the shining ones and the glory that is inexpressible?

Had Catharine been born later it would have been better.  She would
perhaps have been able to distract herself with the thousand and one
subjects which are now got up for examinations, or she would perhaps.
have seriously studied some science, which might at least have been
effectual as an opiate in suppressing sensibility.  She was, however, in
Eastthorpe before the new education, as it is called, had been invented.
There was no elaborate system of needle points, Roman and Greek history,
plain and spherical trigonometry, political economy, ethics, literature,
chemistry, conic sections, music, English history, and mental philosophy,
to draw off the electricity within her, nor did she possess the
invaluable privilege of being able, after studying a half-crown handbook,
to unbosom herself to women of her own age upon the position of Longland
as an English poet.

Shakespeare or Wordsworth might have been of some use to her, but to
Shakespeare she was not led, although there was a brown, dusty,
one-volume edition at the Terrace; and of Wordsworth nobody whom she knew
in Eastthorpe had so much as heard.  A book would have turned much that
was vague in her into definite shape; it would have enabled her to
recognise herself; it would have given an orthodox expression to cloud
singularity, and she would have seen that she was a part of humanity in
her most extravagant and personal emotions.  As it was, her position was
critical because she stood by herself, affiliated to nothing, an
individual belonging to no species, so far as she knew.  She then met Mr.
Cardew.  It was through him the word was spoken to her, and he was the
interpreter of the new world to her.  She was in love with him--but what
is love?  There is no such thing: there are loves, and they are all
different.  Catharine's was the very life of all that was Catharine,
senses, heart, and intellect, a summing-up and projection of her whole
selfhood.  He was more to her than she to him--was any woman ever so much
to a man as a man is to a woman?  She was happy when she was near him.
When she was in ordinary Eastthorpe society she felt as a pent-up lake
might feel if the weight of its waters were used in threading needles,
but when Mr. Cardew talked to her, and she to him, she rejoiced in the
flow of all her force, and that horrible oppression in her chest
vanished.

Nevertheless, the fear, the shudder, came to her and not to him; the
wrench came from her and not from him.  It was she and not he who watched
through the night and found no motive for the day, save a dull, miserable
sense that it was her duty to live through it.



CHAPTER XI


It was a fact, and everybody noticed it, that since the removal to the
Terrace, and the alteration in their way of living, Mr. Furze was no
longer the man he used to be, and seemed to have lost his grasp over his
business.  To begin with, he was not so much in the shop.  His absences
in the Terrace at meal-times made a great gap in the day, and Tom
Catchpole was constantly left in sole charge.  Mr. Bellamy came home one
evening and told his wife that he had called at Furze's to ask the
meaning of a letter Furze had signed, explaining the action of a
threshing-machine which was out of order.  To his astonishment Furze, who
was in his counting-house, called for Tom, and said, "Here, Tom, this is
one of your letters; you had better tell Mr. Bellamy how the thing
works."

"I held my tongue, Mrs. Bellamy, but I had my thoughts all the same, and
the next time I go there, _if_ I go at all, I shall ask for Tom."

Mr. Furze was aware of Tom's growing importance, and Mrs. Furze was aware
of it too.  The worst of it was that Mr. Furze, at any rate, knew that he
could not do without him.  It is very galling to the master to feel that
his power is slipping from him into the hands of a subordinate, and he is
apt to assert himself by spasmodic attempts at interference which
generally make matters worse and rivet his chains more tightly.  There
was a small factory in Eastthorpe in which a couple of grindstones were
used which were turned by water-power at considerable speed.  One of them
had broken at a flaw.  It had flown to pieces while revolving, and had
nearly caused a serious accident.  The owner called at Mr. Furze's to buy
another.  There were two in stock, one of which he would have taken; but
Tom, his master being at the Terrace, strongly recommended his customer
not to have that quality, as it was from the same quarry as the one which
was faulty, but that another should be ordered.  To this he assented.
When Mr. Furze returned Tom told him what had happened.  He was in an
unusually irritable, despotic mood.  Mrs. Furze had forced him to yield
upon a point which he had foolishly made up his mind not to concede, and
consequently he was all the more disposed to avenge his individuality
elsewhere.  After meditating for a minute or two he called Tom from the
counter.

"Mr. Catchpole, what do you mean by taking upon yourself to promise you
would obtain another grindstone?"

"Mean, sir!  I do not quite understand.  The two out there are of the
same sort as the one that broke, and I did not think them safe."

"Think, sir!  What business had you to think?  I tell you what it is, you
are much too fond of thinking.  If you would only leave the thinking to
me, and do what you are told, it would be much better for you."

Tom's first impulse was to make a sharp reply, and to express his
willingness to leave, but for certain private reasons he was silent.
Encouraged by the apparent absence of resistance, Mr. Furze continued--

"I've meant to have a word or two with you several times.  You seem to
have forgotten your position altogether, and that I am master here, and
not you.  You, perhaps, do not remember where you came from, and what you
would have been if I had not picked you up.  Let there be no
misunderstanding in future."

"There shall be none, sir.  Shall I call at the factory and explain your
wishes about the grindstone?  I will tell them I was mistaken, and that
they had better have one of those in stock."

"No, you cannot do that now; let matters remain as they are; I must lose
the sale of the stone and put up with it."

Tom withdrew.  That evening, after supper, Mr. Furze, anxious to show his
wife that he possessed some power to quell opposition, told her what had
happened.  It met with her entire approval.  She hated Tom.  For all
hatred, as well as for all love, there is doubtless a reason, but the
reasons for the hatreds of a woman of Mrs. Furze's stamp are often
obscure, and perhaps more nearly an exception than any other known fact
in nature to the rule that every effect must have a cause.

"I would get rid of him," said she.  "I think that his not replying to
you is ten times more aggravating than if he had gone into a passion."

"You cannot get rid of him," said Catharine.

"Cannot!  What do you mean, Catharine--cannot?  I like that!  Do you
suppose that I do not understand my own business--I who took him up out
of the gutter and taught him?  Cannot, indeed!"

"Of course you _can_ get rid of him, father; but I would not advise you
to try it."

"Now, do take _my_ advice," said Mrs. Furze: "send him about his
business, at once, before he does any further mischief, and gets hold of
your connection.  Promise me."

"I will," said Mr. Furze, "to-morrow morning, the very first thing."

Morning came, and Mr. Furze was not quite so confident.  Mrs. Furze had
not relented, and as her husband went out at the door she reminded him of
his vow.

"You will, now?  I shall expect to hear when you come home that he has
had notice."

"Oh, certainly he shall go, but I am doubtful whether I had better not
wait till I have somebody in my eye whom I can put in his place."

"Nonsense! you can find somebody easily enough."

Mr. Furze strode into his shop looking and feeling very important.
Instead of the usual kindly "Good morning," he nodded almost
imperceptibly and marched straight into his counting-house.  It had been
his habit to call Tom in there and open the letters with him, Tom
suggesting a course of action and replies.  To-day he opened his
correspondence in silence.  It happened to be unusually bulky for a small
business, and unusually important.  The Honourable Mr. Eaton was about to
make some important alterations in his house and grounds.  New
conservatories were to be built, and an elaborate system of hot-water
warming apparatus was to be put up both for house and garden.  He had
invited tenders to specification from three houses--one in London, one in
Cambridge, and from Mr. Furze.  Tom and Mr. Furze had gone over the
specification carefully, but Tom had preceded and originated, and Mr.
Furze had followed, and, in order not to appear slow of comprehension,
had frequently assented when he did not understand--a most dangerous
weakness.  To his surprise he found that his tender of 850 pounds was
accepted.  There was much work to be done which was not in his line, but
had been put into his contract in order to save subdivision, and
consequently arrangements had to be made with sub-contractors.  Materials
had also to be provided at once, and there was a penalty of so much a day
if the job was not completed by a certain time.  He did not know exactly
where to begin; he was stunned, as if somebody had hit him a blow on the
head, and, after trying in vain to think, he felt that his brain was in
knots.  He put the thing aside; looked at his other letters, and they
were worse.  One of his creditors, a blacksmith, who owed him 55 pounds
for iron, had failed, and he was asked to attend a meeting of creditors.
A Staffordshire firm, upon whom he had depended for pipes, in case he
should obtain Mr. Eaton's order, had sent a circular announcing an
advance in iron, and he forgot that in their offer their price held good
for another week.  He was trustee under an old trust, upon which no
action had been taken for years; he remembered none of its provisions,
and now the solicitors had written to him requesting him to be present at
a most important conference in London that day week.  There was also a
notice from the Navigation Commissioners informing him that, in
consequence of an accident at one of their locks, it would be fully a
fortnight before any barge could pass through, and he knew that his
supply of smithery coal would be exhausted before that date, as he had
refrained from purchasing in consequence of high prices.  To crown
everything a tap came at the door, and in walked his chief man at the
foundry to announce that he would shortly leave, as he had obtained a
better berth.  Mr. Furze by this time was so confused that he said
nothing but "Very well," and when the man had gone he leaned his head on
his elbows in despair.  He looked through the glass window of the
counting-house and saw Tom quietly weighing some nails.  He would have
given anything if he could have called him in, but he could not.  As to
dismissing him, it was out of the question now, and yet his sense of
dependence on him excited a jealousy nearly as intense as his wife's
animosity.  When a man cannot submit to be helped he dislikes the
benevolent friend who offers assistance worse than an avowed enemy.  Mr.
Furze felt as if he must at once request Tom's aid, and at the same time
do him some grievous bodily harm.

The morning passed away and nothing was advanced one single step.  He
went home to his dinner excited, and he was dangerous.  It is very
trying, when we are in a coil of difficulty, out of which we see no way
of escape, to hear some silly thing suggested by an outsider who perhaps
has not spent five minutes in considering the case.  Mrs. Furze, knowing
nothing of Mr. Eaton's contract, of the blacksmith's failure, of the
advance in iron, of the trust meeting, of the stoppage of the navigation,
and of the departure of the foundryman, asked her husband the moment the
servant had brought in the dinner and had left the room--

"Well, my dear, what did Tom say when you told him to go?"

"I haven't told him."

"Not told him, my dear! how is that?"

"I wish with all my heart you'd mind your own affairs."

"Mr. Furze! what is the matter?  You do not seem to know what you are
saying."

"I know perfectly well what I am saying.  I wish you knew what _you_ are
saying.  When we came up here to the Terrace--much good has it done us--I
thought I should have no interference with my business.  You understand
nothing whatever about it, and I shall take it as a favour if you will
leave it alone."

Mrs. Furze was aghast.  Presently she took out her pocket-handkerchief
and retreated to her bedroom.  Mr. Furze did not follow her, but his
dinner remained untouched.  When he rose to leave, Catharine went after
him to the door, caught hold of his hand and silently kissed him, but he
did not respond.

During the dinner-hour Tom had looked in the counting-house and saw the
letters lying on the table untouched.  Mr. Eaton's steward came in with
congratulations that the tender was accepted, but he could not wait.  As
Mr. Furze passed through the shop Tom told him simply that the steward
had called.

"What did he want?"

"I do not know, sir."

Mr. Furze went to his papers again and shut the door.  He was still more
incapable of collecting his thoughts and of determining how to begin.
First of all came the contract, but before he could settle a single step
the navigation presented itself.  Then, without any progress, came the
rise in the price of iron, and so forth.  In about three hours the post
would be going, and nothing was done.  He cast about for some opportunity
of a renewal of intercourse with Tom, and looked anxiously through his
window, hoping that Tom might have some question to ask.  At last he
could stand it no longer, and he opened the door and called out--

"Mr. Catchpole"--not the familiar "Tom."  Mr. Catchpole presented
himself.

"I wish to give you some instructions about these letters.  I have
arranged them in order.  You will please write what I say, and I will
sign in time for the post to-night.  First of all there is the contract.
You had better take the necessary action and ask the Staffordshire people
what advance they want."

"Yes, sir, but"--deferentially--"the Staffordshire people cannot claim an
advance if you accept at once: you remember the condition?"

"Certainly; what I mean is that you can accept their tender.  Then there
is the meeting of creditors."

"I suppose you wish Mr. Eaton's acceptance acknowledged and the
sub-contractors at once informed?"

"Of course, of course; I said necessary action--that covers everything.
With regard to the creditors' meeting, my proposal is--"

A pause.

"Perhaps it will be as well, sir, if you merely say you will attend."

"I thought you would take that for granted.  I was considering what
proposal I should make when we meet."

"Probably, sir, you can make it better after you hear his statement."

"Well, possibly it may be so; but I am always in favour of being
prepared.  However, we will postpone that for the present.  Then there is
the trustee business.  That is a private matter of my own, which you will
not understand.  I will give you the papers, however, and you can make an
abstract of them.  I cannot carry every point in my head.  If you are in
any doubt come to me."

"You wish me to say you will go, sir?"

"I should have thought there was no need to ask.  You surely do not
suppose that I am to give instructions upon every petty detail!  Then
about the navigation: I _must_ have some coal, and that is the long and
the short of it."

The "how" was probably a petty detail, for Mr. Furze went no further with
the subject, and was inclined to proceed with the man at the foundry.

"It will be too late if we wait till the lock is repaired, sir.  I
understand it will be three weeks really.  Will you write to Ditchfield
and tell them five tons are to come to Millfield Sluice?  We will then
cart it from there.  That will be the cheapest and the best way."

"Yes, I do not object; but we _must_ have the coal--that is really the
important point.  As to Jack in the foundry, I will get somebody else.  I
suppose we shall have to pay more."

"How would it be, sir, if you put Sims in Jack's place, and Spurling in
Sims' place?  You would then only want a new labourer, and you would pay
no more than you pay now.  Sims, too, knows the work, and it might be
awkward to have a new man at the head just now."

"Yes, that may do; but what I wish to impress on you is that the vacancy
_must_ be filled up.  That is all, I think; you can take the letters."

Tom took them up and went to his little corner near the window to
reperuse them.  There was much to be done which had not been mentioned,
particularly with regard to Mr. Eaton's contract.  He took out the
specification, jotted down on a piece of paper the several items, marked
methodically with a cross those which required prompt attention, and
began to write.  Mr. Furze, seeing his desk unencumbered, was very well
satisfied with himself.  He had "managed" the whole thing perfectly.  His
head became clear, the knots were untied, and he hummed a few bars of a
hymn.  He then went to his safe, took out the trust papers without
looking at them, handed them over to Tom with a remark that he should
like the abstract the next morning, and at once went up to the Terrace.
He was hungry: he had left Mrs. Furze unwell, and, in his extreme good-
humour, had relented towards her.  She had recovered, but did not mention
again the subject of Tom's discharge.  He had ham with his tea, but it
was over sooner than usual, and he rose to depart.

"You are going early, father," said Catharine.

"Yes, my dear; it has been a busy day.  I have been successful with my
tender for Mr. Eaton's improvements; iron has advanced; the navigation
has stopped; Castle, the blacksmith, has gone to smash; I have to go to a
trustees' meeting under that old Fothergill trust; and Jack in the
foundry has given notice to leave."

"When did you hear all this?"

"All within an hour after breakfast.  I have been entirely occupied this
afternoon in directing Tom what to do, and I must be off to see that he
has carried out my instructions.  What a coil it is! and yet I rather
like it."

Catharine reflected that her father did not seem to like it at dinner-
time, and went through the familiar operation of putting two and two
together.  She accompanied him to the front gate, and as he passed out
she said--

"You have not given Tom notice?"

"No, my dear, not yet.  It would be a little inconvenient at present.  I
_could_ do without him easily, even now; but perhaps it will be better to
wait.  Besides, he is a little more teachable after the talking-to I have
given him."

Mr. Furze signed his letters.  He did not observe that many others, of
which he had not thought, remained to be written, and when Tom brought
them the next day he made no remark.  The assumption was that he had
noticed the day before what remained to be done, saw that it was not
urgent, and consented to the delay.  The curious thing was that he
assumed it to himself.  It is a tact--not incredible to those who know
that nobody, not the most accomplished master in flattery, can humbug us
so completely as we can and do humbug ourselves--that Mr. Furze, ten
minutes after the letters were posted, was perfectly convinced that he
had foreseen the necessity of each one--that he had personally and
thoroughly controlled the whole day's operations, and that Tom had
performed the duties of a merely menial clerk.  As he went home he
thought over Catharine's attitude with regard to Tom.  She, in reality,
had been anxious to protect her father; but such a motive he could not be
expected to suggest to himself.  A horrid notion came into his head.  She
might be fond of Tom!  Did she not once save his life?  Had she not, even
when a child, pleaded that something ought to be done for him?  Had she
not affirmed that he was indispensable?  Had she not inquired again about
him that very day?  Had she not openly expressed her contempt for that
most eligible person, Mr. Colston?  He determined to watch most strictly,
and again he resolved to dismiss his assistant.  A trifling increase in
his attention to small matters should enable him to do this within a
month or two.  It would be as well for Mrs. Furze to watch too.  After
supper Catharine went to bed early, and her father hung out the white
flag, to which friendly response was given directly the subject of his
communications was apparent.  It became a basis of almost instantaneous
reconciliation, and Mrs. Furze, mindful of the repulse of the brewer's
son and the ruin of her own scheme thereon built, hated Tom more than
ever.  It was Tom, then, who had prevented admission into Eastthorpe
society.



CHAPTER XII


Mr. Tom Catchpole had never had any schooling.  What he had learned he
had learned by himself, and the books he had read were but few, and
chosen rather by chance.  He had never had the advantage of the common
introduction to the world of ideas which is given, in a measure, to all
boys who are systematically taught by teachers, and consequently, not
knowing the relative value of what came before him, his perspective and
proportion were incorrect.  His mind, too, was essentially plain.  He was
perfect in his loyalty to duty; he was, as we have seen, very good in
business matters, had a clear head, and could give shrewd advice upon any
solid, matter-of-fact difficulty, but the spiritual world was
non-existent for him.  He attended chapel regularly, for he was a
Dissenter, but his reasons for going, so far as he had any, were very
simple.  There was a great God in heaven, against whom he had sinned and
was perpetually sinning.  To save himself from the consequences of his
transgressions certain means were provided and he was bound to use them.
On Monday morning chapel and all thoughts connected with it entirely
disappeared, but he said his prayers twice a day with great regularity.
There are very few, however, of God's creatures to whom the supernatural
does not in some way present itself, and no man lives by bread alone.  To
Tom, Catharine was miracle, soul, inspiration, religion, enthusiasm,
patriotism, immortality, the fact, essentially identical, whatever we
like to call it, which is not bread and yet is life.  He never dared to
say anything to her.  He felt that she lived in a world beyond him, and
he did not know what kind of a world it was.  He knew that she thought
about things which were strange to him, and that she was anxious upon
subjects which never troubled him.  She was often greatly depressed when
there was no cause for depression so far as he could see, and he could
not comprehend why a person should be ill when there was nothing the
matter.  If he felt unwell--a rare event with him--he always took two
antibilous pills before going to bed, and was all right the next morning.
He wished he himself could be ill without a reason, and then perhaps he
would be able to understand Catharine better.  Her elation and excitement
were equally unintelligible.  He once saw her sitting in her father's
counting-house with a book.  She was not a great reader--nobody in
Eastthorpe read books, and there were not many to read--but she was so
absorbed in this particular book that she did not lift her eyes from it
when he came in, and it was not until her father had spoken twice to her,
and had told her that he was expecting somebody, that she moved.  She
then ran upstairs into a storeroom, and was there for half an hour in the
cold.  The book was left open when she went away, and Tom looked at it.
It was a collection of poems by all kinds of people, and the one over
which she had been poring was about a man who had shot an albatross.  Tom
studied it, but could make nothing of it, and yet this was what had so
much interested her!  "O God!" he said to himself passionately, "if I
could, if I did but know!  She cares not a pin for me; this is what she
cares for."  Poor Tom! he did not pride himself on the absence of a sense
in him, but knew and acknowledged to himself that he was defective.  It
is quite possible to be aware of a spiritual insensibility which there is
no power to overcome--of the existence of a universe in which other
favoured souls are able to live, one which they can report, and yet its
doors are closed to us, or, if sitting outside we catch a glimpse of what
is within, we have no power to utter a single sufficient word to acquaint
anybody with what we have seen: Catharine respected Tom greatly, for she
understood well enough what her father owed to him, but she could not
love him.  One penetrating word from Mr. Cardew thrilled every fibre in
her, no matter what the subject might be.  Tom, in every mood and on
every topic, was uninteresting and ordinary.  To tell the truth, plain,
common probity taken by itself was not attractive to her.  Horses, dogs,
cows, the fields were more stimulant than perfect integrity, for she was
young and did not know how precious it was; but, after all, the reason of
reasons why she did not love Tom was that she did not love him.

It was announced one day by small handbills in the shop windows that a
sermon was to be preached by Mr. Cardew, of Abchurch, in Eastthorpe, on
behalf of the County Infirmary, and Catharine went to hear him.  It was
in the evening, and she was purposely late.  She did no go to her
mother's pew, but sat down close to the door.  To her surprise she saw
Tom not far off.  He was on his way to his chapel when he noticed
Catharine alone, walking towards the church, and he had followed her.  Mr.
Cardew took for his text the parable of the prodigal son.  He began by
saying that this parable had been taken to be an exhibition of God's love
for man.  It seemed rather intended to set forth, not the magnificence of
the Divine nature, but of human nature--of that nature which God assumed.
The determination on the part of the younger son to arise, to go to his
father, and above everything to say to him simply, "Father, I have
sinned," was as great as God is great: it was God--God moving in us; in a
sense it was far more truly God--far greater than the force which binds
the planets into a system.  But the splendour of human nature--do not
suppose any heresy here; it is Bible truth, the very gospel--is shown in
the father as well as in the son.

"When he was yet a great way off."  We are as good as told then, that day
after day the father had been watching.  How small were the probabilities
that at any particular hour the son would return, and yet every hour the
father's eyes were on that long, dusty road!  When at last he saw what he
was dying to see, what did he say?  Was there a word of rebuke?  He
stopped his boy's mouth with kisses and cried for the best robe and the
ring and the shoes, and proclaimed a feast--the ring, mark you, a sign of
honour!

   "Say nothing of pardon; the darkness hath gone:
   Shall pardon be asked for the night by the sun?
   No word of the past; of the future no fear:
   'Tis enough, my beloved, to know thou art here."

"Oh, my friends," said the preacher, "just consider that it is this upon
which Jesus, the Son of God, has put His stamp, not the lecture, not
chastisement, not expiation, but an instant unquestioning embrace, no
matter what the wrong may have been.  If you say this is dangerous
doctrine, I say it is _here_.  What other meaning can you give to it?  At
the same time I am astonished to find it here, astonished that
priestcraft and the enemy of souls should not have erased it.  Sacred
truth!  Is it not moving to think of all the millions of men who for
eighteen hundred years have read this parable, philosophers and peasants,
in every climate, and now are we reading it to-day!  Is it not
moving--nay, awful--to think of all the good it has done, of the sweet
stream of tenderness, broad and deep, which has flowed down from it
through all history?  History would all have been different if this
parable had never been told."

Mr. Cardew paused, and after his emotion had a little subsided he
concluded by an appeal on behalf of the infirmary.  He inserted a saving
clause on Christ's mediatorial work, but it had no particular connection
with the former part of his discourse.  It was spoken in a different
tone, and it satisfied the congregation that they had really heard
nothing heterodox.

Tom watched Catharine closely.  He noted her eager, rapt attention, and
that she did not recover herself till the voluntary was at an end.  He
went out after her; she met Mr. and Mrs. Cardew at the churchyard gates;
he saw the excitement of all three, and he saw Catharine leave her
friends at the Rectory, for they were evidently going to stay the night
there.  Mrs. Cardew went into the house first, but Catharine turned down
Fosbrooke Street, a street which did not lead, save by a very roundabout
way, to the Terrace.  Presently Mr. Cardew came out and walked slowly
down Rectory Lane.  In those days it was hardly a thoroughfare.  It ended
at the river bank, and during daylight a boat was generally there,
belonging to an old, superannuated boatman, who carried chance passengers
over to the mill meadows and saved them a walk if they wanted to go that
side of the town.  A rough seat had been placed near the boat moorings
for the convenience of the ferryman's customers.  At this time in the
evening the place was deserted.  Tom followed Mr. Cardew, and presently
overtook him.  Mr. Cardew and he knew one another slightly, for there
were few persons for miles round who did not know and then visit Mr.
Furze's shop.

"Good evening, Mr. Cardew."

"Ah!  Mr. Catchpole, is that you?  What are you doing here?"

"I have been to hear you preach, sir, and I thought I would have a stroll
before I went home."

"I thought I should like a stroll too."

The two went on together, and sat down on the seat.  The moon had just
risen, nearly full, sending its rays obliquely across the water, and
lighting up the footpath which went right and left along the river's
edge.  Mr. Cardew seemed disinclined to talk, was rather restless, and
walked backwards and forwards by the bank.  Tom reflected that he might
be intruding, but there was something on his mind, and he did not leave.
Mr. Cardew sat down again by his side.  They both happened to be looking
in the same direction eastwards at the same moment.

"If that lady thinks to cross to-night," said Tom, "she's mistaken.  I'd
take her over myself, though it is Sunday, if the boat were not locked."

"What lady?" asked Mr. Cardew--as if he were frightened, Tom thought.

"The lady coming down there just against the willow."

Mr. Cardew was short-sighted, and could not see her.  He made as if he
would go to meet her, but he stopped, returned, and remained standing.
The figure approached, but before Tom could discern anything more than
that it was a woman, it disappeared behind the hedge up the little bypath
that cut off the corner into Rectory Lane.

"She's gone," said Tom.  "I suppose she was not coming here after all."

"Which way has she gone?" asked Mr. Cardew, looking straight on the
ground and scratching it with his stick.

"Into the town."

"I must be going, I think, Mr. Catchpole; good-night."

"I'll walk with you as far as your door, sir.  There's something I want
to say to you."

Mr. Cardew did not reply, and meditated for a moment.

"It is a lovely evening.  We will sit here a little longer.  What is it?"

"Mr. Cardew, as I said, I have been to hear you preach, and I thank you
with all my heart for your sermon, but I want to ask you something about
it.  What you said about the Mediator was true enough, but somehow, sir,
I feel as if I ought to have liked the first part most, but I couldn't,
and perhaps the reason is that it was poetry.  Oh, Mr. Cardew, if you
could but tell me how to like poetry!"

"I am afraid neither I nor anybody else can teach you that; but why are
you anxious to like it?  Why are you dissatisfied with yourself?"

"I do not think I am stupid.  When I am in the shop I know that I am more
of a match for most persons, and yet, Mr. Cardew, there are some people
who seem to me to have something I have not got, and they value it more
than anything besides, and they have nothing to say really, _really_, I
mean, to those who have not got it, although they are kind to them."

"It is not very easy to understand what you mean."

"Well now to-night, sir, when you talked about God moving in us, and the
force which binds the planets together, and all that, I am sure you felt
it, and I am sure it is true, and yet I was out of doors, so to speak."

"Perhaps I may be peculiar, and it is you who are sane and sound."

"Ah, Mr. Cardew, if you were alone in it, and everybody were like me,
that might be true, but it is not so; it is I who am alone."

"Who cares for it whom you know?  You are under a delusion."

"Oh, no, I am not.  Why there--there."  Tom stopped.

"There was what?"

"There was Miss Furze--she took it in."

"Indeed!"  Mr Cardew again looked straight on the ground, and again
scratched it with his stick.  It was a night of nights, dying twilight
long lingering in the north-west, the low golden moon, the slow, placid,
shining stream, perfect stillness.  Tom was not very susceptible, but
even he was overcome and tempted into confidence.

"Mr. Cardew, you are a minister, and I may tell you: I know you will not
betray me.  I love Miss Furze; I cannot help it.  I have never loved any
girl before.  It is very foolish, for I am only her father's journeyman;
but that might be got over.  She would not let that stand in her way, I
am sure.  But, Mr. Cardew, I am not up to her; she is strange to me.  If
I try to mention her subjects, what I say is not right, and when I drove
her home from Chapel Farm, and admired the view I know she admired, she
directly began to speak about business, as if she did not wish to talk
about better things; perhaps it is because I never was taught.  I had no
schooling; cannot you help me, sir?  I shall never set eyes on anybody
like her.  I would die this instant to save her a moment's pain."

Mr. Cardew was silent.  It was characteristic of him that often when he
himself was most personally affected, the situation became an object of
reflection.  What a strange pathos there was in this recognition of
superiority and in the inability to rise to it and appropriate it!  Then
his thoughts turned to himself again, and the flame shot up clear and
strong, as if oil had been poured on the fire.  She understood him; she
alone.

"I am very sorry for you, Mr. Catchpole, more sorry than I can tell you.
I will think over what you have said, and we will have another talk about
it.  I must be going now."

Mr. Cardew, however, did not go towards Rectory Lane, but along the side
path.  Tom mechanically accompanied him, but without speaking.  At last
Mr. Cardew, finding that Tom did not leave him, retraced his steps and
went up the lane.  In about two minutes they met Mrs. Cardew.

"I wondered where you were.  I was coming down to the ferry to look for
you, thinking that most likely you were there.  Ah, Mr. Catchpole! is
that you?  I am glad my husband has had company.  Let me go back and look
at the water."

"Certainly."

Tom stopped and took his leave.

The two went back to the river and sat on the seat.

Mrs. Cardew took her husband's hand in her own sweet way, kissed it, and
held it fast.  At last, with a little struggle, she said--

"My dear, you have never preached--to me, at least--as you have preached
to-night."

"You really mean it?"

She kissed his hand again, and leaned her head on his shoulder.  That was
her reply.  He clasped her tenderly, fervently, more than fervently, and
yet! while his mouth was on her neck, and his arms were round her body,
the face of Catharine presented itself, and it was not altogether his
wife whom he caressed.

Meanwhile Tom, pursuing his way homeward, overtook Miss Furze, to his
great surprise.

"Tom, where have you been?"

"I have just left Mr. and Mrs. Cardew."

Catharine, on her way home, hesitating--for it was Catharine whom Tom and
Mr. Cardew saw--had met Mrs. Cardew just about to leave the house.

"Why, Catharine! you here?"

"I was tempted by the night."

"Catharine, did you ever hear my husband preach better than he did to-
night?"

"Never!"

"I was so proud of him, and I was so happy, because just what touched him
touched me too.  Come back with me: I know he has gone to the ferry."

"No, thank you; it is late."

"I am sure he will see you home."

"I am sure he shall not.  What! walk up to the Terrace after a day's hard
work!"

So they parted.  What had passed between Catharine and Mrs. Cardew when
they lingered behind at the Rectory gate, God and they only know, but
what we call an accident prevented their meeting.  Accident! my friend
Reuben told me the other day his marriage was an accident.  The more I
think about accidents, the less do I believe in them.  By chance he had
an invitation to go to Shott Woods one afternoon, and there he saw the
girl who afterwards became his wife and the mother of children with a
certain stamp upon them.  They in turn will have other children, all of
them moulded after a fashion which would have been different if his wife
had been another woman.  Nay, _these_ children would not have existed if
this particular marriage had not taken place.  Thus the whole course of
history is altered, because of that little note and a casual encounter.
But, putting aside the theory of a God who ordains results absolutely
inevitable, although to us it seems as if they might have been different,
it may be observed that the attraction which drew Reuben to his dear
Camilla was not quite fortuitous.  What decided her to go?  It was
perfect autumn weather; it was just the time of year she most loved;
there would be no crowding or confusion, for many people had gone away to
the seaside, and so she was delighted at the thought of the picnic.  What
decided him to go?  The very same reasons.  They had both been to Shott
during the season, and he had talked and laughed there with some
delightful creatures before she crossed his path and held him for ever.
Why had he waited?  Why had she waited?  We have discarded Providence as
our forefathers believed in it; but nevertheless there is a providence
without the big P, if we choose so to spell it, and yet surely deserving
it as much as the Providence of theology, a non-theological Providence
which watches over us and leads us.  It appears as instinct prompting us
to do this and not to do that, to decide this way or that way when we
have no consciously rational ground for decision, to cleave to this
person and shun the other, almost before knowing anything of either: it
has been recognised in all ages under various forms as Demon, Fate, or
presiding Genius.  But still further.  Suppose they both went to Shott
Woods idly; suppose--which was not the case--they had never heard of one
another before, is it not possible that they were brought together by a
law as unevadable as gravity?  There would be nothing more miraculous in
such attraction than there is in that thread which the minutest atom of
gas in the Orion nebula extends across billions of miles to the minutest
atom of dust on the road under my window.  However, be all this as it
may, it would be wrong to say that the meeting between Catharine and Mr.
Cardew was prevented by accident.  She loitered: she went up Fosbrooke
Street: if she had gone straight to Mr. Cardew she might have been with
him before Tom met him.  Tom would not have interrupted them, for he
ventured to speak to Mr. Cardew merely because he was alone, and Mrs.
Cardew would not have interrupted them, for they would have gone further
afield.  Tom's appearance even was not an accident, but a thread
carefully woven, one may say, in the web that night.

"I saw you at church to-night, Miss Catharine," said Tom, as they walked
homewards.

"Why did you go?  You do not usually go to church."

"I thought I should like to hear Mr. Cardew, and I am very glad I went."

"Are you?  What did you think of him?  Did you like him?"

"Oh, yes; it was all true; but what he said about Christ the Mediator was
so clearly put."

"You did not care for the rest then?"

"I did indeed, Miss Catharine, but it is just the same with our minister;
I get along with him so much better when he seems to follow the
catechism, but"--he looked up in her face--"I know that is not what you
cared for.  Oh, Miss Catharine," he cried suddenly, and quite altering
his voice and manner, "I do not know when I shall have another chance; I
hardly dare tell you; you won't spurn me, will you?  My father was a poor
workman; I was nothing better, and should have been nothing better if it
had not been for you; all my schooling almost I have done myself; I know
nothing compared with what you know; but, Miss Catharine, I love you to
madness: I have loved no woman but you; never looked at one, I may say.
Do you remember when you rode home with me from Chapel Farm?  I have
lived on it ever since.  You are far above me: things come and speak to
you which I don't see.  If you would teach me I should soon see them
too."

Catharine was silent, and perfectly calm.  At last she said--

"My dear Tom."

Tom shuddered at the tone.

"No, Miss Catharine, don't say it now; think a little; don't cast me off
in a moment."

"My dear Tom, I may as well say it now, for what I ought to say is as
clear as that moon in the sky.  I can _never_ love you as a wife ought to
love her husband."

"Oh, Miss Catharine! you despise me, you despise me!  Why in God's name?"
Tom rose above himself, and became such another self that Catharine was
amazed and half staggered.  "Why in God's name did He make you and me
after such a fashion, that you are the one person in the world able to
save me, and you cannot!  Why did He do this!  Why did He put me where I
saw you every day and torment me with the hope of you, knowing that you
would have nothing to do with me!  He maimed my father and made him a
beggar: He prevented me from learning what would have made me fit for
you, and then He drove me to worship you.  Do not say 'never'!"

They were close to her father's door at the Terrace.  She stopped, looked
at him sadly, but decisively, straight in the face, and said--

"Never! never!  Never your lover, but your best friend for ever," and she
opened the gate and disappeared.



CHAPTER XIII


Mr. and Mrs. Furze were not disturbed because their daughter was late.  A
neighbour told them that she had gone to the Rectory with Mr. and Mrs.
Cardew, and Mrs. Furze was pleased that Eastthorpe should behold her
daughter apparently on intimate terms with a clergyman so well known and
so respectable.  But it was ten o'clock, and they wished to be in bed.
Mrs. Furze had gone to the window, and had partly pushed aside the blind,
watching till Catharine should appear.  Just as the clock struck she saw
Catharine approaching with somebody whom she of course took for Mr.
Cardew.  The pair came nearer, and, to her astonishment, she recognised
Tom.  Nay more, she saw the couple halt near the gate, and that Tom was
speaking very earnestly.  Mrs. Furze was so absorbed that she did not
recover herself until the interview was at an end, and before she could
say a word to her husband, who was asleep in the arm-chair, her daughter
was at the door.  Mrs. Furze went to open it.

"Why, Catharine, that surely wasn't Tom!"

"Yes, it was, mother.  Why not?"

"To-om!" half shrieked Mrs. Furze.

"Yes, Tom: I suppose father has gone to bed?  Good-night, mother," and
Catharine kissed her on the forehead and went upstairs.

Mrs. Furze shut the door and rushed into the room.

"My dear! my dear!" shaking him, "Catharine has come, and Tom brought
her, and they stood ever so long talking to one another."

Mr. Furze roused himself and took a little brandy-and-water.

"Rubbish!"

"Rubbish! it's all very well for you to say 'rubbish' when you've been
snoring there!"

"Well, where is she?  Make her come in; let us hear what she has to say."

"She's gone to bed.  Now take my advice: don't speak to her to-night, but
wait till to-morrow; you know what she is, and you had better think a
bit."

Mrs. Furze, notwithstanding her excitement, dreaded somewhat attacking
Catharine without preparation.

"There's no mistake about it," observed Mr. Furze, rousing himself, "that
I have had my suspicions of Master Tom, but I never thought it would come
to this; nor that Catharine would have anything to say to him.  It was
she, though, who said I could not do without him."

"It was she," added Mrs. Furze, "who always stuck out against our coming
up here, and was rude to Mrs. Colston and her son.  I do not blame her so
much, though, as I do that wretch of a Catchpole.  What he wants is plain
enough: he'll marry her and have the business, the son of a blind beggar
who used to go on errands!  Oh me! to think it has come to this, that my
only child should be the wife of a pauper's son, and we've struggled so
hard!  What will the Colstons say, and all the church folk, and all the
town, for the matter of that!"

Here Mrs. Furze threw herself down in a chair and became hysterical.  Poor
woman! she really cared for Catharine, loved her in a way, and was
horrified for her sake at the supposed engagement, but her desire for her
daughter's welfare was bound up with a desire for her own, a strand of
one interlaced with a strand of the other, so that they could not be
separated.  It might be said that the union of the two impulses was even
more intimate, that it was like a mixture of two liquids.  There was no
conflict in her.  She was not selfish at one moment, and unselfishly
anxious for her child the next; but she was both together at the same
instant, the particular course on which she might determine satisfying
both instincts.

Mr. Furze unfastened his wife's gown and stay-laces, and gave her a
stimulant.  Presently, after directing him with a gasp to open the
window, she recovered herself.

"I'll discharge Mr. Tom at once," said her husband, "and tell him the
reason."

"Now, don't be stupid, Furze; pull down that blind, will you?  Fancy
leaving it up, and the moon staring straight down upon me half undressed!
Don't you admit anything of the kind to Tom.  I would not let him believe
you could suspect it.  Besides, if you were to dismiss him for a such a
reason as that, you would make Catharine all the more obstinate, and the
whole town would hear of it, and we should perhaps be laughed at, and
lots of people would take Tom's part and say we might go farther and fare
worse, and were stuck up, and all that, for we must remember that all the
Furzes were of humble origin, and Eastthorpe knows it.  No, no, we will
get rid of Tom, but it shall not be because of Catharine--something
better than that--you leave it to me."

"Well, how about Catharine?"

"We will have her in to-morrow morning, when we are not so flurried.  I
always like to talk to her just after breakfast if there is anything
wrong; but do not you say a word to Tom."

Mrs. Furze took another sip of the brandy-and-water and went to bed.  Mr.
Furze shut the window, mixed a little more brandy-and-water, and, as he
drank it, reflected deeply.  Most vividly did that morning come back to
him when he had once before decided to eject Mr. Catchpole.

"I do not know how it is with other people," he groaned, "but whenever I
have settled on a thing something is sure to turn up against it, and I
never know what to be at for the best.  My head, too, is not quite what
it used to be.  Half a dozen worries at once do muddle me.  If they would
but come, one up and one down, nobody could beat me."  He took another
sip of the brandy-and-water.  "Want of practice--that's all.  I have been
an idiot to let him do so much.  He shall go"; and Mr. Furze put out the
candles.

Catharine was down before either her father or mother, and stood at the
window reading when her father came in.  She bade him good morning and
kissed him, but he was ill at ease, and pretended to look for something
on the side-table.  He felt he was not sufficiently supported by the main
strength of his forces; he was afraid to speak, and he retreated to his
bedroom, sitting down disconsolately on a rush-bottom chair whilst his
wife dressed herself.

"She's there already," he said.

"Then it is as well you came back."

"I think you had better begin with her; you are her mother, and we will
wait till breakfast is over.  Perhaps she will say something to us.  How
had we better set about it?"

"I shall ask her straight what she means."

"How shall we go on then?"

"How shall we go on then?  What! won't _you_ have a word to put in about
her marrying a fellow like that, your own servant with such a father?  And
how are they to live, pray?  Am I to have him up here to tea with us, and
is Phoebe to answer the front door when they knock, and is she to wait
upon him, _him_ who always goes down the area steps to the kitchen?  I do
not believe Phoebe would stop a month, for with all her faults she does
like a respectable family.  And then, if they go to church, are they to
have our pew, and is Mrs. Colston to call on me and say, 'How is
Catharine, and how is your _son-in-law_?'  And then--oh dear, oh dear!--is
his father to come here too, and is Catharine to bring him, and is he to
be at the wedding breakfast?  And perhaps Mrs. Colston will inquire after
him too.  But there, I shall not survive _that_!  Oh!  Catharine,
Catharine!"

Mrs. Furze dropped on the chair opposite the looking-glass, for she was
arranging her back hair while this monologue was proceeding, although the
process was interrupted here and there when her emotions got the better
of her.  Her hair fell into confusion again, and it seemed as if she
would again be upset even at that early hour.  Her husband gave her a
smelling-bottle, and she slowly recommenced her toilette.

"Would it not," he said, "be as well to try and soften her a bit, and
remind her of her duty to her parents?"

"You might finish up with that, but I don't believe she'd care; and what
are we to do if she owns it all and sticks out?  That's what I want to
know."

Mr. Furze was silent.

"There you sit, Furze; you _are_ provoking!  Pick up that hairpin, will
you?  You always sit and sit whenever there's any difficulty.  You never
go beyond what I have in my own head, and when I _do_ stir you up to
think it is sure to be something of no use."

"I'll do anything you want," said the pensive husband as his wife rose
and put on her cap.  "I've told you before I'll get rid of Tom, and then
perhaps it will all come round!"

"At it again!  What _did_ I tell you last night?--and yet you go on with
your old tune.  All come round, indeed!  Would it!  She's your daughter,
but you don't know her as I do."

Here there came a tap at the door.  It was Phoebe: Miss Catharine sent
her to say it was a quarter-past eight: should she make the coffee?

"Look at that!" said Mrs. Furze: "shall she make the coffee!--after what
has happened!  That's the kind of girl she is.  It strikes me you had
better have nothing to do with her and leave her to me."

Phoebe tapped again.

"Certainly not," replied Mrs. Furze.  "I'll begin," she added to her
husband, "by letting her know that at least I am not dead."

"We'll, we'd better go.  You just tackle her, and I'll chime in."

The couple descended, but their plan of campaign was not very clearly
elaborated, and even the one or two lines of assault which Mrs. Furze had
prepared turned out to be useless.  It is all very well to decide what is
to be done with a human being if the human being will but comport himself
in a fairly average manner, but if he will not the plan is likely to
fail.

Mr. Furze was very restless during his meal.  He went to the window two
or three times, and returned with the remark that it was going to be wet;
but the observation was made in a low, mumbling tone.  Mrs. Furze was
also fidgety, and, in reply to her daughter's questions, complained of
headache, and wondered that Catharine could not see that she had had no
sleep.  At last the storm broke.

"Catharine!" said Mrs. Furze, "it _was_ Tom, then, who came home with you
last night."

"It was Tom, mother."

"Tom!  What do you mean, child?  How--how did he--where did you meet
him?"

Mr. Furze retired from the table, where the sun fell full upon him, and
sat in the easy chair, where he was more in the shade.

"He overtook me somewhere near the Rectory."

"Now, Catharine, don't answer your mother like that," interposed Mr.
Furze; "you know what you heard, or might have heard, last Sunday
morning, that prevarication is very much like a lie; why don't you speak
out the truth?"

Catharine was silent for a moment.

"I have answered exactly the question mother asked."

"Catharine, you know perfectly well what I mean," said Mrs. Furze; "what
is the use of pretending you do not!  Tom would never dare to walk with
you in a public street, and at night, too, if there were not something
more than you like to say.  Tom Catchpole! whose father sold laces on the
bridge; and to think of all we have done for you, and the money we have
spent on you, and the pains we have taken to bring you up respectably!  I
will not say anything about religion, and all that, for I daresay that is
nothing to _you_, but you might have had some consideration for your
mother, especially in her weak state of health, before you broke her
heart, and yet I blame myself, for you always had low tastes--going to
Bellamy's, and consorting with people of that kind rather than with your
mother's friends.  Do you suppose Mrs. Colston will come near us again!
And it all comes of trying to do one's best, for there's Carry Hawkins,
only a grocer's daughter, who never had a sixpence spent on her compared
with what you have, and she is engaged to Carver, the doctor at
Cambridge.  Oh, it's a serpent's tooth, it is, and if we had never
scraped and screwed for you, and denied ourselves, but left you to
yourself, you might have been better; oh dear, oh dear!"

Catharine held her tongue.  She saw instantly that if she denied any
engagement with Tom she would not be believed, and that in any case Tom
would have to depart.  Moreover, one of her defects was a certain
hardness to persons for whom she had small respect, and she did not
understand that just because Mrs. Furze was her mother, she owed her at
least deference, and, if possible, a tenderness due to no other person.
However weak, foolish, and even criminal parents may be, a child ought to
honour them as Moses commanded, for the injunction is, and should be,
entirely unconditional.

"Catharine," said Mr. Furze, "why do you not answer your mother?"

"I cannot; I had better leave."

She opened the door and went to her room.  After she had left further
debate arose, and three points were settled: First, that no opposition
should be offered to a visit to Chapel Farm, which had been proposed for
the next day, as she would be better at the Farm than at the Terrace;
secondly, that Tom and she were in love with one another; and thirdly,
that not a word should be said to Tom.  "Leave that to me," said Mrs.
Furze again.  Although she saw nothing distinctly, a vague, misty hope
dawned upon her, the possibility of something she could not yet discern,
and, notwithstanding the blow she had received, she was decidedly more
herself within an hour after breakfast than she had been during the
twelve hours preceding.



CHAPTER XIV


In Mr. Furze's establishment was a man who went by the name of Orkid Jim,
"Orkid" signifying the general contradictoriness and awkwardness of his
temper.  He had a brother who was called Orkid Joe, in the employ of a
builder in the town, but it was the general opinion that Orkid Jim was
much the orkider of the two.  He was a person with whom Mr. Furze seldom
interfered.  He was, it is true, a good workman in the general fitting
department, in setting grates, and for jobs of that kind, but he was
impertinent and disobedient.  Mr. Furze, however, tolerated his insults,
and generally allowed him to have his own way.  He was not only afraid of
Orkid Jim, but he was a victim to that unhappy dread of a quarrel which
is the torment and curse of weak minds.  It is, no doubt, very horrible
to see a man trample upon opinions and feelings as easily and carelessly
as he would upon the grass, and go on his way undisturbed, but it is more
painful to see faltering, trembling incapacity for self-assertion,
especially before subordinates.  Mr. Furze could not have suffered more
than two or three days' inconvenience if Orkid Jim had been discharged,
but a vague terror haunted him of something which might possibly happen.
Partly this distressing weakness is due to the absence of a clear
conviction that we are right; it is an intellectual difficulty; but
frequently it is simple mushiness of character, the same defect which
tempts us, when we know a thing is true, to whittle it down if we meet
with opposition, and to refrain from presenting it in all its sharpness.
Cowardice of this kind is not only injustice to ourselves, but to our
friends.  We inflict a grievous wrong by compromise.  We are responsible
for what we see, and the denial or the qualification should be left to
take care of itself.  Our duty is, if possible, to give a distinct
outline to what we have in our mind.  It is easy to say we should not be
obstinate, pigheaded, and argue for argument's sake.  That is true, just
as much as every half truth is true, but the other half is also true.

Mr. Furze, excepting when he was out of temper, never stood up to Orkid
Jim.  He needed the stimulus of passion to do what ought to have been
done by reason, and when we cannot do what is right save under the
pressure of excitement it is generally misdone.  Orkid Jim had a great
dislike to Tom, which he took no pains to conceal.  It was difficult to
ascertain the cause, but partly it was jealousy.  Tom had got before him.
This, however, was not all.  It was a case of pure antipathy, such as may
often be observed amongst animals.  Some dogs are the objects of special
hatred by others, and are immediately attacked by them, before any cause
of offence can possibly have been given.

Jim had called at the Terrace on the morning after the explosion with
Catharine.  He came to replace a cracked kitchen boiler, and Mrs. Furze,
for some reason or other, felt inclined to go down to the kitchen and
have some talk with him.  She knew how matters stood between him and Tom.

"Well, Jim, how are you getting on now?  I have not seen you lately."

"No, marm, I ain't one as comes to the front much now."

"What do you mean?  I suppose you might if you liked.  I am sure Mr.
Furze values you highly."

Jim was cautious and cunning; not inclined to commit himself.  He
consequently replied by an "Ah," and knocked with great energy at the
brickwork from which he was detaching the range.

"Anything been the matter then, Jim?"

"No, marm; nothing's the matter."

"You have not quarrelled with Mr. Furze, I hope?  You do not seem quite
happy."

"Me quarrel with Mr. Furze, marm!--no, I never quarrel with _him_.  He's
a gentleman, he is."

Mrs. Furze was impatient.  She wanted to come to the point, and could not
wait to manoeuvre.

"I am afraid you and Tom do not get on together."

"Well, Mrs. Furze, if we don't it ain't my fault."

"No, I dare say not; in fact, I am sure it is not.  I dare say Tom is a
little overbearing.  Considering his origin, and the position he now
occupies, it is natural he should be."

"He ain't one as ought to give himself airs, marm.  Why--"

Jim all at once dropped his chisel and his mask of indifference and
flashed into ferocity.

"Why, my father was a tradesman, he was, and I was in your husband's
foundry earning a pound a week when Master Tom was in rags.  Who taught
him I should like to know?"

"Jim, you must not talk like that; although, to tell you the truth, Tom
is no favourite of mine.  Mr. Furze, however, relies on him."

"Relies on him, does he?  Leastways, I know he does; just as if scores of
others couldn't do jist as well, only they 'aven't 'ad his chance!  Relies
on him, as yer call it!  But there, if I wur to speak, wot 'ud be the
use?"

It is always a consolation to incapable people that their lack of success
is due to the absence of chances.  From the time of Korah, Dathan, and
Abiram--who accused Moses and Aaron of taking too much upon themselves,
because every man in the congregation was as holy as his God-selected
leaders--it has been a theory, one may even say a religion, with those
who have been passed over, that their sole reason for their super-session
is an election as arbitrary as that by the Antinomian deity, who, out of
pure wilfulness, gives opportunities to some and denies them to others.

"What do you mean, Jim?  What is it that you see?"

"You'll excuse me, missus, if I says no more.  I ain't a-goin' to meddle
with wot don't concern me, and get myself into trouble for nothing: wot
for, I should like to know?  Wot good would it do me?"

"But, Jim, if you are aware of anything wrong it is your duty to report
it."

"Maybe it is, maybe it isn't; but wot thanks should I get?"

"You would get my thanks and the thanks of Mr. Furze, I am sure.  Look
here, Jim."  Mrs. Furze rose and shut the kitchen door.  Phoebe was
upstairs, but she thought it necessary to take every precaution.  "I know
you may be trusted, and therefore I do not mind speaking to you.  Tom's
conduct has not been very satisfactory of late.  I need not go into
particulars, but I shall really be glad if you will communicate to me
anything you may observe which is amiss.  You may depend upon it you
shall not suffer."

She put two half-crowns into Jim's hand.  He turned and looked at her
with one eye partly shut, and a curious expression on his face--half
smile, half suspicion.  He then looked at the money for a few seconds and
put it deliberately in his pocket, but without any sign of gratitude.

"I'll bear wot you say in mind," he replied.

At this instant the kitchen door opened, and Phoebe entered.  Mrs. Furze
went on with the conversation immediately, but it took a different turn.

"How do you think the old boiler became cracked?"  He was taken aback;
his muddled brain did not quite comprehend the situation, but at last he
managed to stammer out that he did not know, and Mrs. Furze retired.

Jim was very slow in arranging his thoughts, especially after a sudden
surprise.  A shock, or a quick intellectual movement on the part of
anybody in contact with him, paralysed him, and he recovered and extended
himself very gradually.  Presently, however, his wits returned, and he
concluded that the pretext of the shop and business mismanagement was but
very partially the cause of Mrs. Furze's advances.  He knew that although
Mr. Furze was restive under Tom's superior capacity, there was no doubt
whatever of his honesty and ability.  Besides, if it was business, why
did the mistress interfere?  Why did she thrust herself upon him?--"coming
down 'ere a purpose," thought Mr. Orkid Jim.  "No, no, it ain't
business," and, delighted with his discovery so far, and with the
conscious exercise of mental power, he smote the bricks with more vigour
than ever.

"Good-bye, Phoebe," said Catharine, looking in at the door.

"Good-bye, Miss," said Phoebe, running out; "hope you'll enjoy yourself:
I wish I were going with you."

"Where is she a-goin'?" asked Jim, when Phoebe returned.

"Chapel Farm."

"Oh, is she?  Wot, goin' there agin!  She's oftener there than here.  Not
much love lost 'twixt her and the missus, is there?"

Phoebe was uncommunicative, and went on with her work.

"I say, Phoebe, has Catchpole been up here lately?"

"Why do you want to know?  What is it to you?"

"Now, my beauty, wot is it to me?  Why, in course it's nothin' to me; but
you know he's been here."

"Well, then, he hasn't."

Phoebe, going to bed, had seen Tom and Catharine outside the gate.

"Wy, now, I myself see'd 'im out the night afore last, and I'd swear he
come this way afore he went home."

"He did not come in; he only brought Miss Catharine back from church:
she'd gone there alone."

Jim dropped his chisel.  The three events presented themselves
together--Tom's escort of Catharine, the interview with Mrs. Furze, and
the departure to Chapel Farm.  He was excited, and his excitement took
the form of a sudden passion for Phoebe.

"You're ten times too 'ansom for that chap," he cried, and turning
suddenly, he caught her with one arm round her waist.  She strove to
release herself with great energy, and in the struggle he caught his foot
in his tool basket and fell on the floor, cutting his head severely with
a brick.  Phoebe was out of the kitchen in an instant.

"You damned cat!" growled he, "I'll be even with you and your Master Tom!
I know all about it now."



CHAPTER XV


As Jim walked home to his dinner he became pensive.  He was under a kind
of pledge to his own hatred and to Mrs. Furze to produce something
against Tom, and he had nothing.  Even he could see that to make up a
charge would not be safe.  It required more skill than he possessed.  The
opportunity, however, very soon came.  Destiny delights in offering to
the wicked chances of damning themselves.  It was a few days before the
end of the quarter.  The builder--in whose service Jim's brother, Joe,
was--sent Joe to pay a small account for ironmongery, which had been due
for some weeks.  When he entered the shop Tom was behind his desk, and
Jim was taking some instructions about a job.  Mr. Furze was out.  Joe
produced his bill, threw it across to Tom, and pulled the money out of
his pocket.  It was also market day; the town was crowded, and just at
that moment Mr. Eaton drove by.  Tom looked out of the window on his left
hand and saw the horse shy at something in the cattle pens, pitching Mr.
Eaton out.  Without saying a word he rushed round the counter and out
into the street, the two men, who had not seen the accident, thinking he
had gone to speak to Mr. Eaton.  He was absent some minutes.

"A nice sort of a chap, this," said Jim; "he's signed your bill, and he
ain't got the money."

"S'pose I must wait, then."

"Look 'ere, Joe: don't you be a b---y fool!  You take your account.  If
he writes his name afore he's paid, that's _his_ look-out."

Joe hesitated.

"Wot are you a-starin' at?  You've got the receipt, ain't yer?  Isn't
that enough?  You ain't a-robbin' of him, for you never giv him the
money, and I tell yer agin as he's the one as ought to lose if he don't
look sharp arter people.  That's square enough, ain't it?"

Joe had a remarkably open mind to reasoning of this description, and,
without another word, he took up the bill and was off.  Jim also thought
it better to return to the foundry.  Mr. Eaton, happily, was not injured,
for he fell on a truss of straw, but the excitement was great; and, when
Tom returned, Joe's visit completely went out of his head, and did not
occur to him again, for two or three customers were waiting for him, and,
as already observed, it was market day.

Now, it was Mr. Furze's practice always to make out his accounts himself.
It was a pure waste of time, for he would have been much better employed
in looking after his men, and any boy could have transcribed his ledger.
But no, it was characteristic of the man that he preferred this
occupation--that he took the utmost pains to write his best copybook
hand, and to rule red-ink lines with mathematical accuracy.  Two days
after the quarter a bill went to the builder, beginning, "To account
delivered."  The builder was astonished, and instantly posted down to the
shop, receipt in hand, signed, "For J. Furze, T. C."  Mr. Furze looked at
his ledger again, called for the day-book, found no entry, and then sent
for Tom.  The history of that afternoon flashed across him in an instant.

"That's your signature, Mr. Catchpole," said Mr. Furze.

"Yes, sir."

"But here's no entry in the day-book, and, what's more, there weren't
thirty shillings that night in the till."

"I cannot account for it, unless I signed the receipt before I had the
money.  It was just when Mr. Eaton's accident happened, and I ran out of
the shop while Joe was waiting.  When I came back he had gone."

"Which is as much as to say," said the builder, "that Joe's a thief.
You'd better be careful, young man."

"Well, Mr. Humphries," said Mr. Furze, loftily, "we will not detain you:
there is clearly a mistake somewhere; we will credit you at once with the
amount due for the previous quarter, and if you will give me your account
I will correct it now."

Mr. Furze took it, and ruled through the first line, altering the total.

"This is very unpleasant, Mr. Catchpole," observed Mr. Furze, after the
builder had departed.  "Was there anybody in the shop besides yourself
and Joe?"

"Jim was there."

Mr. Furze rang a bell, and Jim presently appeared.  "Jim, were you in the
shop when your brother came to pay Mr. Humphries' bill about a week ago?"

"I wor."

"Did he pay it? did you see him hand over the money?"

"I did, and Mr. Catchpole took it and put it in the till.  I see'd it go
in with my own eyes."

"Well, what happened then?"

"He locked the till all in a hurry, put the key in his waistcoat pocket;
let me see, it wor in his left-hand pocket--no, wot am I a-sayin'?--it
wor in his right-hand pocket--I want to be particklar, Mr. Furze--and
then he run out of the shop.  Joe, he took up his receipt, and he says,
says he, 'He might a given me the odd penny,' and says I, 'He ain't Mr.
Furze, he can't give away none of the guvnor's money.  If it wor the
guvnor himself he'd a done it,' and with that we went out of the shop
together."

"That will do, Jim; you can go."

"Mr. Catchpole, this assumes a very--I may say--painful aspect."

"I can only repeat, sir, that I have not had the money.  It is
inexplicable.  I may have been robbed."

"But there is no entry in the day-book."

It did not occur to Tom at the moment to plead that if he was dishonest
he would have contrived not to be so in such a singularly silly fashion:
that he might have taken cash paid for goods bought, and that the
possibility of discovery would have been much smaller.  He was stunned.

"It is so painful," continued Mr. Furze, "that I must have time to
reflect.  I will talk to you again about it to-morrow."

The truth was that Mr. Furze wished to consult his wife.  When he went
home his first news was what had happened, but he forgot to mention the
corroboration by Jim.

"But," said Mrs. Furze, "Joe may have been mistaken; perhaps, after all,
he did not pay the money."

"Ah! but Jim was in the shop at the time.  I had Jim in, and he swears
that he saw Joe give it to Tom, and that Tom put it in the till."

Mrs. Furze seemed a little uncomfortable, but she soon recovered.

"We ought to have proof beyond all doubt of Tom's dishonesty.  I do not
see that this is proof.  At any rate, it would not satisfy Catharine.  I
should wait a month.  It is of no use making two faces about this
business; we must take one line or the other.  I should tell him that, on
reconsideration, you cannot bring yourself to suspect him; that you have
perfect confidence in him, and that there must be some mistake somewhere,
though you cannot at present see how.  That will throw him off his
guard."

Mr. Furze acknowledged the superiority of his wife's intellect and
obeyed.  Tom came to work on the following morning in a state of great
excitement, and with an offer of restitution, but was appeased, and Orkid
Jim, appearing in the shop, was astonished and dismayed to find Tom and
his master on the same footing as before.  He went up to the Terrace, the
excuse being that he called to see how the new boiler was going on.  Phoebe
came to the door, but he wanted to see the mistress.

"What do you want her for?  She knows nothing about the boiler.  It is
all right, I tell you."

"Never you mind.  It wor she as give me the directions, worn't it, when I
was 'ere afore?"

Accordingly the mistress appeared, and Phoebe, remaining in the kitchen,
was sent upstairs upon some important business, much cogitating upon the
unusual interest Mrs. Furze took in the kitchen range, and the evident
desire on her part that her instructions to Jim should be private.

"Well, Jim, the boiler is all right."

"That's more nor some things are."

"Why, what has happened?"

"I s'pose you know.  Joe paid Humphries' bill, and Mr. Catchpole swears
he never had the money, but Joe's got his receipt."

"You were in the shop and saw it paid?"

"Of course I was.  I s'pose you heerd that too?"

"Yes.  We do not think, however, that the case is clear, and we shall do
nothing this time."

"I don't know wot you'd 'ave, Mrs. Furze.  If this ere ain't worth the
five shillin' yer gave me, nothin' is--that's all I've got to say."

"But, Jim, you must see we cannot do anything unless the proof is
complete.  Now, if there should happen to be a second instance, that
would be a different thing altogether."

"It ain't very comfortable for _me_."

"What do you mean?  Mr. Furze sent for you, and you told him what you saw
with your own eyes."

"Ah! you'd better mind wot you're sayin', Mrs. Furze, and you needn't put
it in that way.  Jist you look 'ere: I ain't very particklar myself, I
ain't, but it may come to takin' my oath, and, to tell yer the truth,
five shillin' don't pay me."

"But we are not going to prosecute."

"No, not now, but you may, and I shall have to stick to it, and maybe
have to be brought up.  Besides, it was put straight to me by the guvnor
and Mr. Tom was there a-lookin' at me right in my face.  As I say, five
shillin' don't pay me."

"Well, we shall not let the matter drop.  We shall keep our eyes open:
you may be sure of that, Jim.  I dare say you have been worried over the
business.  Here's another five shillings for you."

Again Jim refrained from thanking her, but slowly put on his cap and left
the house.



CHAPTER XVI


Mr. Furze tried several experiments during the next two or three weeks.
It was his custom to look after his shop when Tom went to his meals, and
on those rare occasions when he had to go out during Tom's absence, Orkid
Jim acted as a substitute.  Whenever Mr. Furze found a sovereign in the
till he quietly marked it with his knife or a filet but it was invariably
handed over to him in the evening.  On a certain Wednesday afternoon, Tom
being at his dinner, Mr. Furze was summoned to the Bell by a message from
Mr. Eaton, and Jim was ordered to come immediately.  He usually went
round to the front door.  He preferred to walk down the lane from the
foundry, and when the back rooms were living rooms, passage through them
was of course forbidden.

As the summons, however, was urgent, he came the shortest way, and,
looking in through the window which let in some borrowed light from the
back of the shop to the warehouse behind, he saw Mr. Furze, penknife in
hand, at the till.  Wondering what he could be doing, Jim watched him for
a moment.  As soon as Mr. Furze's back was turned he went to the till,
took out a sovereign which was in it, closely examined it, discovered a
distinct though faint cross at the back of his Majesty George the Third's
head, pondered a moment, and then put the coin back again.  He looked
very abstruse, rubbed his chin, and finally smiled after his fashion.
Tom's shop coat and waistcoat were hung up just inside the
counting-house.  Jim went to them and turned the waistcoat pockets inside
out.  To put the sovereign in an empty pocket would be dangerous.  Tom
would discover it as soon as he returned, and would probably inform Mr.
Furze at once.  A similar test for the future would then be impossible.
Jim thought of a better plan, and it was strange that so slow a brain was
so quick to conceive it.  Along one particular line, however, that brain,
otherwise so dull, was even rapid in its movements.  It was Mr. Furze's
practice to pay wages at half-past five on Saturday afternoon, and he
paid them himself.  He generally went to his tea at six on that day, Tom
waiting till he returned.  On the following Saturday at half-past six Jim
came into the shop.

"I met Eaton's man a minute ago as I wur goin' 'ome.  He wanted to see
the guvnor particklar, he said."

This was partly true, but the "particklar" was not true.

"I told him the guvnor warn't in, but you was there.  He said he was
goin' to the Bell, but he'd call again if he had time.  You'd better go
and see wot it is."

Tom took off his black apron and his shop coat and waistcoat, put them up
in the usual place, and went out, leaving Jim in charge.  Jim instantly
went to the till.  There were several sovereigns in it, for it had been a
busy day.  He turned them over, and again recognised the indubitable
cross.  With a swift promptitude utterly beyond his ordinary self, he
again went to Tom's waistcoat--Tom always put gold in his waistcoat
pocket--took out a sovereign of the thirty shillings there, put it in his
own pocket, and replaced it by the marked sovereign.  Just before the
shop closed, the cash was taken to Mr. Furze.  He tied it carefully in a
bag, carried it home, turned it over, and the sovereign was absent.
Meanwhile Orkid Jim had begun to reflect that the chain of evidence was
not complete.  He knew Tom's habits perfectly, and one of them was to buy
his Sunday's dinner on Saturday night.  He generally went to a small
butcher near his own house.  Jim followed him, having previously
exchanged his own sovereign for twenty shillings in silver.  As soon as
Tom had left the butcher's shop Jim walked in.  He was well known.

"Mr. Butterfield, you 'aven't got a sovereign, 'ave you, as you could
give me for twenty shillings in silver?"

"Well, that's a rum 'un, Mr. Jim: generally it's t'other way: you want
the silver for the gold.  Besides, we don't take many sovereigns here--we
ain't like people in the High Street."

"Mr. Butterfield, it's jist this: we've 'ad overwork at the guvnor's, and
I'm a-goin' to put a sovereign by safe come next Whitsuntide, when I'm a-
goin' to enjoy myself.  I don't get much enjoyment, Mr. Butterfield, but
I mean to 'ave it then."

"All right, Mr. Jim.  I've only two sovereigns, and there they are.
There's a bran-new one, and there's the other."

"I don't like bran-new nothin's, Mr. Butterfield.  I ain't a Radical, I
ain't.  Why, I've seed in my time an election last a week, and beer a-
runnin' down the gutters.  It was the only chance a poor man 'ad.  Wot
sort of a chance 'as he got now?  There's nothin' to be 'ad now unless
yer sweat for it: that's Radicalism, that is, and if I 'ad my way I'd
upset the b---y Act, and all the lot of 'em.  No, thank yer, Mr.
Butterfield, I'll 'ave the old sovereign; where did he come from now, I
wonder."

"Come from?  Why, from your shop.  Mr. Catchpole has just paid it me.  You
needn't go a-turnin' of it over and a-smellin' at it, Mr. Jim; it's as
good as you are."

"Good!  I worn't a-thinking' about that.  I wor jist a-looking at the
picter of his blessed Majesty King George the Third, and the way he wore
his wig.  Kewrus, ain't it?  Now, somebody's been and scratched 'im jist
on the neck.  Do yer see that ere cross?"

"You seem awful suspicious, Mr. Jim.  Give it me back again.  I don't
want you to have it."

"Lord! suspicious!  Ere's your twenty shillin's, Mr. Butterfield.  I wish
I'd a 'undred sovereigns as good as this."  And Mr. Jim departed.

Mr. Furze lost no time in communicating his discovery to his wife.

"Furze," she said, "you're a fool: where's the sovereign?  You haven't
got it, but how are you to prove now that he has got it?  We are just
where we were before.  You ought to have taxed him with it at once, and
have had him searched."

Mr. Furze was crestfallen, and made no reply.  The next morning at church
he was picturing to himself incessantly the dreadful moment when he would
have to do something so totally unlike anything he had ever done before.

On the Sunday afternoon Jim appeared at the Terrace, and Phoebe, who was
not very well, and was at home, announced that he wished to see Mr.
Furze.

"What can the man want?  Tell him I will come down."

"I think," said Mrs. Furze, "Jim had better come up here."

Mr. Furze was surprised, but, as Phoebe was waiting, he said nothing, and
Jim came up.

"Beg pardon for interruptin' yer on Sunday arternoon, but I've 'eerd as
yer ain't satisfied with Mr. Catchpole, and I thought I'd jist tell yer
as soon as I could as yesterday arternoon, while I was mindin' the shop,
and he was out, I 'ad to go to the till, and it jist so 'appened, as I
was a-givin' change, I was a-lookin' at a George the Third sovereign
there, and took particklar notice of it.  There was a mark on it.  That
werry sovereign was changed by Mr. Catchpole at Butterfield's that night,
and 'ere it is.  I 'ad to go in there, as I wanted a sovereign for a lot
of silver, and he giv it to me."

"Can Butterfield swear that Catchpole gave it him?" said Mrs. Furze,
quite calmly.

"Of course he can, marm; that's jist wot I asked him."

"That will do, Jim; you can go," said Mrs. Furze.

Jim looked at her, loitered, played with his cap, and seemed unwilling to
leave.

"I'm comm' up to-morrow mornin', marm, just to 'ave one more look at that
biler."  He then walked out.

"I suppose I must prosecute now," said Mr. Furze.

"Prosecute!  Nothing of the kind.  What is your object?  It is to get rid
of him, and let Catharine see what he is.  Suppose you prosecute and
break down, where will you be, I should like to know?  If you succeed,
you won't be a bit better off than you are now.  Discharge him.  Everybody
will know why, and will say how kind and forgiving you are, and Catharine
cannot say we have been harsh to him."

Mr. Furze was uneasy.  He had a vague feeling that everything was not
quite right; but he said nothing, and mutely assented to his wife's
proposals.

"Then I am to give him notice to-morrow?"

"You cannot keep him after what has happened.  You must give him a week's
wages and let him go."

"Who is to take his place?"

"Why do you not try Jim?  He is rough, it is true, but he knows the shop.
He can write well enough for that work, and all you want is somebody to
be there when you are out."

Mr. Furze shuddered.  That was not all he wanted, but he had hardly
allowed himself, as we have already seen, to confess his weakness.

"It might be as well, perhaps," added Mrs. Furze, "to have Tom up
to-morrow and talk to him here."

"That will be much better."

It was now tea-time, and immediately afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Furze went
to church.

Soon after nine on the following morning, and before Mr. Furze had left,
Jim appeared with another request "to see the missus."

"I'll go downstairs," she said.  "He wants to see me about the boiler."

There was nobody but Jim in the kitchen.

"Well, Jim?"

"Well, marm."

"What have you got to say?"

"No, marm, it's wot 'ave you got to say?"

"It is very shocking about Mr. Catchpole, is it not?  But, then, we are
not surprised, you know; we have partly suspected something for a long
time, as I have told you."

"'Ave you really?  Well, then, it's a good thing as he's found out."

"I am very sorry.  He has been with us so long, and we thought him such a
faithful servant."

"You're sorry, are you?  Yes, of course you are.  Wot are yer goin' to do
with him?"

"We shall not prosecute."

"No, marm, you take my advice, don't yer do that; it wouldn't do nobody
no good."

"We shall discharge him at once."

"Yes, that's all right; but don't you prosecute 'im on no account, mind
that.  _Mis-sis_ Furze," said Jim, deliberately, turning his head, and
with his eyes full upon her in a way she did not like, "wot am I a-goin'
to get out of this?"

"Why, you will be repaid, I am sure, by Mr. Furze for all the time and
trouble you have taken."

"Now, marm, I ain't a-goin' to say nothin' as needn't be said, but I know
that Tom's been makin' up to Miss Catharine, and yer know that as soon as
yer found that out yer come and spoke to me.  Mind that, marm; it was yer
as come and spoke to me; it wasn't me as spoke first, was it?"  Jim was
unusually excited.  "And arter yer spoke to me, yer spoke to me agin--agin
I say it--arter I told you as I seed Joe pay the money, and then I
brought yer that ere sovereign."

Mrs. Furze sat down.  In one short minute she lived a lifetime, and the
decision was taken which determined her destiny.  She resolved that she
would _not_ tread one single step in one particular direction, nor even
look that way.  She did not resolve to tell a lie, or, in fact, to do
anything which was not strictly defensible and virtuous.  She simply
refused to reflect on the possibility of perjury on Jim's part.  Refusing
to reflect on it, she naturally had no proof of it; and, having no proof
of it, she had no ground for believing that she was not perfectly
innocent and upright--a very pretty process, much commoner than perhaps
might be suspected.  After the lapse of two or three hours there was in
fact no test by which to distinguish the validity of this belief from
that of her other beliefs, nor indeed, it may be said, from that of the
beliefs in which many people live, and for the sake of which they die.

"It is true, Jim," said Mrs. Furze, after a pause, "that we thought Tom
had so far forgotten himself as to make proposals to Miss Catharine, but
this was a mere coincidence.  It is extremely fortunate that we have
discovered just at this moment what he really is; most fortunate.  I have
not the least doubt that he is a very bad character; your evidence is
most decisive, and, as we owe so much to you, we think of putting you in
Tom's place."

Jim had advanced with wariness, and occupied such a position that he
could claim Mrs. Furze as an accomplice, or save appearances, if it was
more prudent to do so.  The reward was brilliant, and he saw what course
he ought to take.

"Thank yer, marm; it was very lucky; now I may speak freely I may say as
I've 'ad my eyes on Mr. Catchpole ever so long.  I told yer as much
afore, and this ain't the fust time as he's robbed yer, but I couldn't
prove it, and it worn't no good my sayin' wot I worn't sure of."

This, then, is the way in which Destiny rewards those who refuse to
listen to the Divine Voice.  Destiny supplies them with reasons for
discrediting it.  Mrs. Furze was more than ever thankful to Jim; not so
much because of these additional revelations, but because she was still
further released from the obligation to turn her eyes.  Had not Jim said
it once, twice, and now thrice?  Who could condemn her?  She boldly faced
herself, and asked herself what authority this other self possessed
which, just for a moment, whispered something in her ear.  What right had
it thus to interrogate her?  What right had it to hint at some horrid
villainy?  "None, none," it timidly answered, and was silent.  The
business of this other self is suggestion only, and, if it be resisted,
it is either dumb or will reply just as it is bidden.

"You can tell Mr. Catchpole his master wishes to see him here."

"Thankee, marm; good mornin'."

Tom came up to the Terrace much wondering, and was shown into the dining-
room by Phoebe not a little suspicious.  Mr. Furze sat back in the easy-
chair with his elbows on the arms and his hands held up and partly
interlaced.  It was an attitude he generally assumed when he was grave or
wished to appear so.  He had placed himself with his back to the light.
Mrs. Furze sat in the window.  Mr. Furze began with much hesitation.

"Sit down, Mr. Catchpole.  I am sorry to be obliged to impart to you a
piece--a something--which is very distressing.  For some time, I must
say, I have not been quite satisfied with the--the affairs--business at
the shop, and the case of Humphries' account made me more anxious.  I
could not tell who the--delinquent--might be, and, under advice, under
advice, I resorted to the usual means of detection, and the result is
that a marked coin placed in the till on Saturday was changed by you on
Saturday night."

A tremendous blow steadies some men, at least for a time.  Tom quietly
replied--

"Well, Mr. Furze, what then?"

"What then?" said Mrs. Furze, with a little titter; "the evidence seems
complete."

"A marked coin," continued Mr. Furze.  "I may say at once that I do not
propose to prosecute, although if I were to take proceedings and to
produce the evidence of Jim and his brother with regard to Humphries, I
should obtain a conviction.  But I cannot bring myself to--to--the--forget
your past services, and I wish to show no unchristian malice, even for
such a crime as yours.  You are discharged, and there are a week's
wages."

"I am not sure," said Mrs. Furze, "that we are not doing wrong in the eye
of the law, and that we might not ourselves be prosecuted for conniving
at a felony."

Tom was silent for a moment, but it never entered into his head to ask
for corroboration or any details.

"I will ask you both"--he spoke with deliberation and emphasis--"do you,
both of you, believe I am a thief?"

"Really," said Mrs. Furze, "what a question to put!  Two men declare
money was paid to you for which you never accounted, and a marked
sovereign, to which you had no right, was in your possession last
Saturday evening.  You seem rather absurd, Mr. Catchpole."

"Mrs. Furze, I repeat my question: do you believe I am a thief?"

"We are not going to prosecute you: let that be enough for you; I decline
to say any more than it suits me to say: you have had the reasons for
dismissal; ask yourself whether they are conclusive or not, and what the
verdict of a jury would be."

"Then I tell you, Mrs. Furze, and I tell you, Mr. Furze, before the all-
knowing God, who is in this room at this moment, that I am utterly
innocent, and that somebody has wickedly lied."

"Mr. Catchpole," replied Mrs. Furze, "the introduction of the sacred name
in such a conjunction is, I may say, rather shocking, and even
blasphemous.  Here is your money: you had better go."

Tom left the money and walked out of the room.

"Good-bye, Phoebe."

"Are you going to leave, Tom?"

"Discharged!"

"I knew there was some villainy going on," said Phoebe, greatly excited,
as she took Tom's hand and wrung it, "but you aren't really going for
good?"

"Yes;" and he was out in the street.

"H'm," said Mr. Furze, "it's very disagreeable.  I don't quite like it."

"Don't quite like it?--why, what _would_ you have done? would you have
had Catharine marry him?  I have no patience with you, Furze!"

Mr. Furze subsided, but he did not move to go to his business, and Mrs.
Furze went down into the kitchen.  Mr. Eaton had called at the shop at
that early hour wishing to see Mr. Furze or Tom.  He was to return
shortly, and Mr. Orkid Jim, not knowing exactly what to do with such a
customer, and, moreover, being rather curious, had left a boy in charge
and walked back to the Terrace.

"There's Jim again at the door," said Mrs. Furze to Phoebe; "let him in."

"Excuse me, ma'am, but never will I go to the door to let that man in
again as long as I live."

"Phoebe! do you know what you are saying?  I direct you to let him in."

"No, ma'am; you may direct, but I shan't.  Nothing shall make me go to
the door to the biggest liar and scoundrel in this town, and if you don't
know it yourself, Mrs. Furze, you ought."

"You do not expect me to stand this, Phoebe?  You will have a month's
wages and go to-night."

"This morning, ma'am, if you please."

Before noon her box was packed, and she too had departed.



CHAPTER XVII


Tom began to understand, as soon as he left the Terrace, that a
consciousness of his own innocence was not all that was necessary for his
peace of mind.  What would other people say?  There was a damning chain
of evidence, and what was he to do for a living with no character?

He did not return home nor to the shop.  He took the road to Chapel Farm.
He did not go to the house direct, but went round it, and walked about,
and at last found himself on the bridge.  It was there that he met
Catharine after her jump into the water; it was there, although he knew
nothing about it, that she parted from Mr. Cardew.  It was no thundery,
summer day now, but cold and dark.  The wind was north-east, persistent
with unvarying force; the sky was covered with an almost uniform sheet of
heavy grey clouds, with no form or beauty in them; there was nothing in
the heavens or earth which seemed to have any relationship with man or to
show any interest in him.  Tom was not a philosopher, but some of his
misery was due to a sense of carelessness and injustice somewhere in the
government of the world.  He was religious after his fashion, but the
time had passed when a man could believe, as his forefathers believed,
that the earth is a school of trial, and that after death is the
judgment.  What had he done to be visited thus?  How was his integrity to
be discovered?  He had often thought that it was possible that a man
should be convicted of some dreadful crime; that he should be execrated,
not only by the whole countryside, but by his own wife and children; that
his descendants for ages might curse him as the solitary ancestor who had
brought disgrace into the family, and that he might be innocent.  There
might be hundreds of such; doubtless there have been.  Perhaps, even
worse, there have been men who have been misinterpreted, traduced,
forsaken, because they have been compelled for a reason sacredly secret
to take a certain course which seemed disreputable, and the word which
would have explained everything they have loyally sworn, for the sake of
a friend, never to speak, and it has remained unspoken for ever.  As he
stood leaning over the parapet he saw Catharine coming along the path.
She did not attempt to avoid him, for she wandered what he could be
doing.  He told her the whole story.  "Miss Catharine, there is just one
thing I want to know: do you believe I am guilty?"

"I know you are not."

"Thank God for that."

Both remained silent for a minute or two.  At last Tom spoke.

"Oh, Miss Catharine, this makes it harder to bear.  You are the one
person, perhaps, in the world now who has any faith in me; there is,
perhaps, no human being at this moment, excepting yourself, who, after
having heard what you have heard, would at once put it all aside.  What
do you suppose I think of you now?  If I loved you before, what must my
love now be?  Miss Catharine, I could tear out my heart for you, and if
you can trust me so much, why can you not love me too?  What is it that
prevents your love?  Why cannot I alter it?  And yet, what am I saying?
You may think me honest, but how can I expect you to take a discharged
felon?"

Catharine knew what Tom did not know.  She was perfectly sure that the
accusation against him was the result of the supposed discovery of their
love for one another.  If she had denied it promptly nothing perhaps
would have happened.  It was all due to her, then.  She gazed up the
stream; the leaden clouds drove on; the leaden water lay rippled; the
willows and the rushes, vexed with the bitter blast, bent themselves
continually.  She turned and took her ring off her finger.

"It can never be," she slowly said; "here is my ring; you may keep it,
but while I am alive you must never wear it."

Tom took it mechanically, bent his head over the parapet, and his anguish
broke out in sobs and tears.  Catharine took his hand in hers, leaned
over him, and whispered:

"Tom, listen--I shall never be any man's wife."

Before he could say another word she had gone, and he felt that he should
never see her again.

What makes the peculiar pang of parting?  The coach comes up; the friend
mounts; there is the wave of a handkerchief.  I follow him to the crest
of the hill; he disappears, and I am left to walk down the dusty lane
alone.  Am I melancholy simply because I shall not see him for a month or
a year?  She whom I have loved for half a life lies dying.  I kiss her
and bid her good-bye.  Is the bare loss the sole cause of my misery, my
despair, breeding that mad longing that I myself might die?  In all
parting there is something infinite.  We see in it a symbol of the order
of the universe, and it is because that death-bed farewell stands for so
much that we break down.  "If it pleases God," says Swift to Pope, "to
restore me to my health, I shall readily make a third journey; if not, we
must part _as all human creatures have parted_."  As all human creatures
have parted!  Swift did not say that by way of consolation.

Tom turned homewards.  Catharine's last words were incessantly in his
mind.  What they meant he knew not and could not imagine, but in the
midst of his trouble rose up something not worth calling joy, a little
thread of water in the waste: it was a little relief that nobody was
preferred before him, and that nobody would possess what to him was
denied.  He told his father, and found his faith unshakable.  There was a
letter for him in a handwriting he thought he knew, but he was not quite
sure.  It was as follows:--

   "DEAR MR. CATCHPOLE,--I hope you will excuse the liberty I have taken
   in writing to you.  I have left my place at the Terrace.  I cannot
   help sending these few lines to say that Orkid Jim has been causing
   mischief here, and if he's had anything to do with your going he's a
   liar.  It was all because I wouldn't go to the door and let him in,
   and gave missus a bit of my mind about him that I had notice.  I
   wasn't sorry, however, for my cough is bad, and I couldn't stand
   running up and down those Terrace stairs.  It was different at the
   shop.  I thought I should just like to let you know that whatever
   missus and master may say, _I'm_ sure you have done nothing but what
   is quite straight.

   "Yours truly,

   "PHOEBE CROWHURST."

Tom was grateful to Phoebe, and he put her letter in his pocket: it
remained there for some time: it then came out with one or two other
papers, was accidentally burnt with them, and was never answered.  Day
after day poor Phoebe watched the postman, but nothing came.  She
wondered if she had made any mistake in the address, but she had not the
courage to write again.  "He may be very much taken up," thought she,
"but he might have sent me just a line;" and then she felt ashamed, and
wished she had not written, and would have given the world to have her
letter back again.  She had been betrayed into a little tenderness which
met with no response.  She was only a housemaid, and yet when she said to
herself that maybe she had been too forward, the blood came to her
cheeks; beautifully, too beautifully white they were.  Poor Phoebe!

Tom met Mr. Cardew in Eastthorpe the evening after the interview with
Catharine, and told him his story.

"I am ruined," he said: "I have no character."

"Wait a minute; come with me into the Bell where my horse is."

They went into the coffee-room, and Mr. Cardew took a sheet of note-paper
and wrote:--

   "MY DEAR ROBERT,--The bearer of this note, Mr. Thomas Catchpole, is
   well known to me as a perfectly honest man, and he thoroughly
   understands his business.  He is coming to London, and I hope you will
   consider it your duty to obtain remunerative employment for him.  He
   has been wickedly accused of a crime of which he is as innocent as I
   am, and this is an additional reason why you should exert yourself on
   his behalf.

   "Your affectionate cousin,

   "THEOPHILUS CARDEW.

   "TO ROBERT BERDOE, Esq.,

   "Clapham Common."

Mr. Cardew married a Berdoe, it will be remembered, and this Robert
Berdoe was a wealthy wholesale ironmonger, who carried on business in
Southwark.

"You had better leave Eastthorpe, Mr. Catchpole, and take your father
with you.  Are you in want of any money?"

"No, sir, thank you; I have saved a little.  I cannot speak very well,
Mr. Cardew; you know I cannot; I cannot say to you what I ought."

"I want no thanks, my dear friend.  What I do is a simple duty.  I am a
minister of God's Word, and I know no obligation more pressing which He
has laid upon me than that of bearing witness to the truth."

Mr. Cardew went off as usual away from what was before him.

"The duty of Christ's minister is, generally speaking, _to take the other
side_--that is to say, to resist the verdicts passed by the world upon
men and things.  Preaching mere abstractions, too, is not by itself of
much use.  What we are bound to do is not only to preserve the eternal
standard, but to measure actual human beings and human deeds by it.  I
sometimes think, too, it is of more importance to say _this is right_
than to say _this is wrong_, to save that which is true than to assist
into perdition that which is false.  Especially ought we to defend
character unjustly assailed.  A character is something alive, a soul; to
rescue it is the salvation of a soul!"

He stopped and seemed to wake up suddenly.

"Good-bye!  God's blessing on you."  He shook Tom's hand and was going
out of the yard.

"There is just one thing more, sir: I do not want to leave Eastthorpe
with such a character behind me--to leave in the dark, one may say, and
not defend myself.  It looks as if it were an admission I was wrong.  I
should, above everything, like to get to the bottom of it, and see who is
the liar or what the mistake is."

"Nobody would listen to you, and if you were to make a noise Mr. Furze
might prosecute, and with the evidence he has we do not know what the end
might be; I will do my part, as I am bound to do, to set you right.  But,
above everything, Mr. Catchpole, endeavour to put yourself where the
condemnation of the world and even crucifixion by it are of no
consequence."  Mr. Cardew gave Tom one more shake of the hand, mounted
his horse, and rode off.  He had asked Tom for no proofs: he had merely
heard the tale and had given his certificate.

Mr Furze distinctly enjoined Orkid Jim to hold his tongue.  Neither Mr.
nor Mrs. Furze wished to appear in court, and they were uncertain what
Catharine might do if they went any further.  Mr. Orkid Jim had the best
of reasons for silence, but Mr. Humphries, the builder, of course
repeated what he himself knew, and so it went about that Tom was wrong in
his accounts, and all Eastthorpe affirmed him to be little better than a
rascal.  Mr. Cardew, with every tittle of much stronger and apparently
irresistible testimony before him, never for a moment considered it as a
feather's weight in the balance.

"But the facts, my good sir, the facts; the facts--there they are: the
receipt to the bill; Jim's declaration; his brother's declaration; the
marked coin; the absolute proof that Catchpole gave it to Butterfield,
and he could not, as some may think, have changed silver of his own for
it, for Mr. Furze paid him in gold, and there was not twenty shillings
worth of silver in the till; what _have_ you got to say?  Do you tell me
all this may be accident and coincidence?  If you do, we may just as well
give up reasoning and the whole of our criminal procedure."

Mr. Cardew did know the facts, _the_ facts, and relying on them he
delivered his judgment.  Catharine, Phoebe, and Tom's father agreed with
him--four jurors out of one thousand of full age; but the four were right
and the nine hundred odd were wrong.  In the four dwelt what aforetime
would have been called faith, nothing magical, nothing superstitious, but
really the noblest form of reason, for it is the ability to rest upon the
one reality which is of value, neglecting all delusive appearances which
may apparently contradict it.

Tom left Eastthorpe the next morning, and on that day Catharine received
the following letter from her mother:

   "MY DEAR CATHARINE,--I write to tell you that we have made an awful
   discovery.  Catchpole has appropriated money belonging to your father,
   and the evidence against him is complete.  (Mrs. Furze then told the
   story.)  You will now, my dear Catharine, be able, I hope, to do
   justice to your father and mother, and to understand their anxiety
   that you should form no connection with a man like this.  It is true
   that on the morning when we spoke to you we did not know the extent of
   his guilt, but we had suspected him for some time.  It is quite
   providential that the disclosure comes--at the present moment, and I
   hope it will detach you from him for ever.  Your father and I send our
   love, and please assure Mr. and Mrs. Bellamy of our regard.

   "Your affectionate mother,

   "AMELIA FURZE."

On the same morning Mr. Furze received the following note from Mr.
Cardew:--

   "DEAR SIR,--I regret to hear that a false charge has been preferred
   against my friend Mr. Catchpole.  By my advice he has left Eastthorpe
   without any attempt to defend himself, but I consider it my duty to
   tell you he is innocent; that you have lost a faithful servant, and,
   what is worse, you have done him harm, not only in body, but in soul,
   for there are not many men who can be wrongfully accused and remain
   calm and resigned.  You ask me on what evidence I acquit him.  I know
   the whole story, but I also know him, and I know that he cannot lie.  I
   beg you to consider what you do in branding as foul that which God has
   made good.  I offer no apology for thus addressing you, for I am a
   minister of God's Word, and I have to do all that He bids.  I should
   consider I was but a poor servant of the Most High if I did not
   protest against wrong-doing face to face with the doer of it.

   "Faithfully yours,

   "THEOPHILUS CARDEW."

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,

   "J. FURZE."

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.



CHAPTER XVIII


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 said."

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 careful."

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?"

"None."

"What occupation have you?"

"None."

"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 home.

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.



CHAPTER XIX


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
Phoebe.

"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
Eastthorpe?"

"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?"

"Nothing."

"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 ideal."

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 that--"

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
consented.

"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."

"Better."

"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 commonplace is true.  _We must learn to bear our troubles
patiently_, 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.



CHAPTER XX


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 starvation."

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."

"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 crossing.

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

"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 singular.



CHAPTER XXI


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 hour."

"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 grass.

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 more."

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 redemption.

* * * * *

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.



Footnotes:


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

{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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