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´╗┐Title: Miriam's Schooling and Other Papers
Author: Rutherford, Mark, 1831-1913
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Miriam's Schooling and Other Papers" ***

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PAPERS***


MIRIAM'S SCHOOLING AND OTHER PAPERS

by

MARK RUTHERFORD

Edited by His Friend, Reuben Shapcott.

London:
Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner, & Co., Ltd.

1890



TO STEPHEN WILLSHER.

I dedicate this result of my editorial labours to you, because you
were dear to our friend who is dead, and are almost the only person now
alive, save myself, who knew him at the time these papers were written.
A word of explanation is necessary with regard to the picture at the
beginning of the book.  You will remember that Rutherford had in his
possession a seal, which originally belonged to some early ancestor.
It was engraved with a device to illustrate a sentence from Lilly.  The
meaning given to the sentence was not exactly Livy's, but still it may
very well be a little extended, and there is no doubt that the Roman
would not have objected.  This seal, as you know, was much valued by
Rutherford, and was curiously connected with certain events in his life
which happened when Miriam was at school.  Nevertheless, it cannot
anywhere be found.  It has been described, however, to Mr. Walter
Crane, and he has reproduced it with singular accuracy.  It struck me,
that although it has no direct relation with anything in the volume, it
might be independently interesting, especially considering the part the
motto played in Rutherford's history.

R. S.



CONTENTS.


GIDEON

SAMUEL

SAUL

MIRIAM'S SCHOOLING

MICHAEL TREVANION



GIDEON.

_The story which Jotham told his children on the day before his death
concerning the achievements of his father Gideon--His comments and
those of Time thereon._


I am an old man, and I desire before I die to tell you more fully the
achievements of your grandfather.  Strange that this day much that I
had forgotten comes back to me clearly.

During his youth the children of the East possessed the land for seven
years because we had done evil.  We were driven to lodge in the caves
of the mountains, so terrible was the oppression.  If we sowed corn,
the harvest was not ours, for the enemy came over Jordan with the
Midianites and the Amalekites and left nothing for us, taking away all
our cattle and beasts of burden.  We cried unto God, and He sent a
prophet to us, who told us that our trouble came upon us because of our
sins, but otherwise he did nothing to help us.  One day your
grandfather was threshing wheat, not near the threshing-floor, for the
Midianites watched the threshing-floors to see if any corn was brought
there, but close to the wine-press.  It was at Ophrah in Manasseh, the
home of his father.  While he threshed, thinking upon all his troubles
and the troubles of his country, not knowing if he could hide enough
corn to save himself and his household from hunger and death, the angel
of the Lord descended and sat under the oak.  He may have been there
for some time before my father was aware of him, for my father was busy
with his threshing, and his heart was sore.  At last he turned and saw
the angel bright and terrible, and before he could speak the angel said
to him, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour."  My father,
as I have said, was threshing by the wine-press, on his guard even
there lest he should be robbed or slain, and it seemed strange to him
that the angel should say the Lord was with him.  So strange did it
seem, that even before he fell down to worship, he turned and asked the
seraph why, if the Lord was with him, all this mischief had befallen
them, and where were all the miracles which the Lord wrought to save
His people from the land of Egypt.  For there had been neither sign nor
wonder for many years--nothing to show that the Lord cared for us more
than He did for the heathen.  My father had thought much over all the
deeds which the Lord had done for Israel; he had thought over the
passage of the sea when Israel could not find any way open before them,
and the very waves which were to overwhelm them rose like a wall and
became their safeguard.  But he himself had seen nothing of this kind,
and he almost doubted if the tales were true, and if times had not
always been as they were then, all events happening alike to all, and
hardly believing that God had ever appeared to man.

The angel did not answer him, but looked him in the face, and said, "Go
in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the
Midianites: have not I sent thee?"  My grandfather, Joash, was one of
the poorest men of his tribe, and as for my father, nobody had ever
thought anything of him, nor had he thought anything of himself.  _He_,
a solitary labourer, unknown, with no friends, no arms; he to do what
the princes could not do! he to lead these frightened slaves against
soldiers who were as the sand for numbers!  It was not to be believed,
and yet--there sat the angel.  It was broad noon; in the shade of the
oak his light was like that of the sun.  It was not a dream of the
night, and he could not be mistaken.  Nay, the angel's voice was more
sharp and clear than the voice in which we speak to one another--a
voice like the command of a king who must not be disobeyed.  Yet he
comforted my father.  "Surely I will be with thee," he added, "and thou
shalt smite the Midianites as one man."  If the Lord was to be with
him, my father need not have hesitated, but in truth he did not care
for the duty which was thrust upon him.  He would have been glad to do
anything for his country which was within his power, but he did not
feel equal to the task of leading it against its oppressors, nor did he
covet it.  He would rather have endured in silence and died unknown
than take such a weight upon his shoulders, for he was not one of those
who desire power for power's sake.  The apparition, too, was so sudden.
The angel was there with his divine face looking steadily at him, with
eyes so piercing that no secret in the inmost soul could remain hidden
from them, and the man upon whom they were turned could not even think
without being sure that his thought was known.  Yet my father doubted,
and this dread of the task imposed on him increased his doubt.  Yes; he
doubted an order given him at midday by a messenger sitting in front of
him flaming with heavenly colour.  It might after all be a delusion.
He prayed, therefore, for a sign, and then as he prayed he thought he
might be smitten for his presumption.  But the angel was tender to his
misgivings, and said he would wait for the offering which was to test
his authority.  My father went into the house and brought out a kid and
unleavened bread, and presented it.  The angel directed him to put the
flesh and the cake on the rock and pour out the broth.  He did so, and
the angel then rose, and stretching out the staff that was in his hand,
touched the flesh and cakes.  No sooner had he touched them
than--wonder of wonders!--a fire leapt up out of the rock; they were
consumed before his eyes, and the angel had departed.  A great terror
overcame my father, for it had always been said that it was impossible
for man to look upon a Spirit from the Lord and live.  He was left
alone, too, with the message, but without the Comforter, and he cried
unto God in despair, not knowing what to do.  As he cried, a word was
spoken in his ear soft and sweet, like the voice of the aspen by the
brook; soft and sweet, and yet so sure: "Peace be unto thee; fear not:
thou shalt not die."  Then he rose and built an altar, to mark the
sacred spot where God had talked with him and he had received his
divine commission.  There it is to this day in Ophrah of the
Abiezrites.  As you pass it, remember that where those stones now stand
the Most High conversed with him whose blood is in your veins.

As yet Gideon was without any direct orders, but that night he heard
again the same soft, sweet voice, and it commanded him to build another
altar upon the highest point of Ophrah, to throw down Baal's altar, and
upon the altar to the Holy One to sacrifice the second of the bullocks
belonging to Joash, the bullock of seven years old, burning it with the
wood of the great idol.  The angel under the oak was before my father's
eyes, the soft, sweet voice, telling him he should not die, was in his
ears; but not even the Lord God can conquer our fears, and although my
father was a brave man and saved Israel, no man ever had worse sinkings
of heart than he.  It was as if he had more courage and more fear than
his fellows.  He did what the Lord said unto him, but he was afraid to
do it by day, for not only was his tribe against him, but his father's
house also.  He took ten of his servants, and when the city awoke one
morning the altar of Baal was cast down, the altar to the Lord God
stood on the hill, and there lay on it the half-burnt logs of the image
of Baal.  Our nation has never believed in Baal as it has believed in
the Lord God.  How should it believe in Baal?  Baal has done nothing
for it, but the Lord God brought us from Egypt through the desert, and
was the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.  Nevertheless,
when the altar of Baal was cast down and the idol was destroyed the
people demanded the death of Gideon, and you know that at this day,
though Baal is a false god, and in their hearts they confess it, they
would murder us if we said anything against him: they went therefore to
Joash and told him to bring forth his son that they might slay him.
These, my children, were not the Midianites nor the Amalekites, but our
own nation.  At the very time when the heathen were upon us we turned
from the Lord to Baal, and sought to destroy the man who could have
rescued us.  Thus we have ever done, and we are surely a race accursed.
But Joash secretly contemned Baal, although until now he had not
ventured to say anything against him.  It made him bold to see how his
son and his servants had over-thrown the altar and burnt the idol which
lay there charred and unresisting.  He stood up before the altar, and
facing the mob which howled at him; asked them why they should take
upon themselves to plead for Baal: "If he be a god, let him plead for
himself, because one hath cast down his altar."  The charred logs never
stirred; there was no sound in the sky; Joash was not struck dead; Baal
was proved to be nothing.  That was a sight to see that morning: the
ashes smouldering in the sunlight, the raging crowd, Gideon and his
fellows behind Joash, and Joash calling on Baal to avenge himself if he
was a god as his worshippers pretended.  Ah, if that had been Jehovah's
altar!  When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord, fire
came down from the Lord and devoured them.  When Miriam spoke against
His servant she became a leper; and when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
blasphemed, they were swallowed up in the pit.  But Baal could not move
a breath of heaven on his behalf.  What kind of a god is he?  A god who
cannot punish those who insult him is but a word.

As for Gideon, he grew in strength.  Nothing happened to him because he
had thus dared Baal.  He went about his work daily; no judgment fell on
him, and nobody dared to meddle with him.

Soon afterwards the Midianites and Amalekites, who had withdrawn for a
while, overspread the land again, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.
Gideon having suffered nothing for his insult to Baal, had become
bolder.  Moreover, his tribe, the Abiezrites, had seen that he had
suffered nothing.  Thus it came to pass that when the Spirit of the
Lord came upon him; and he blew a trumpet, all Abiezer followed him.
Not only so; he sent messengers through Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and
Naphtali, and they came up to meet him, the very people who a few
months before would have stoned him.  They thronged after him, and now
professed themselves believers in Jehovah.  They were not hypocrites.
They really believed now, after a fashion, that Baal could not help
them.  Their fault was that they believed one thing one day and another
thing the next.  That has always been the fault of the people.  Your
grandfather did not despise them for their instability.  So far as they
were not stable to Baal it was good, and he pitied them as they flocked
to his standard, hoping that he could deliver them.  He blew the
trumpet, and at the simple blast of that trumpet in each village and
town the nation seemed to rise as one man, such strength was there in
its tones.  These men had been idolaters, and it might have been
thought that to turn them all would have taken years of persuasion; but
no, at the simple sound of the trumpet the religion of Baal vanished.

Gideon was now at the head of a great host; he had been favoured with
visions from the Most High; the angel of the Lord had appeared to him;
he had burnt the image; and yet now, when the army was round him, fear
fell upon him again, and he doubted if he could save Israel, or if God
would keep His promise.  So it always was with him, as I have already
said.  He therefore prayed for another sign, and the Lord did not
rebuke him, as a man would have done if his promise had been
mistrusted.  Gideon's test was strange; he did not pray that he might
see the angel again, for the thoughts that came into his mind were
always strange, not like those of other men, and were unaccountable
even to himself.  That night the fleece of wool on the ground was wet
and the earth was dry.  He prayed yet again, and still God was tender
to him, for He knows the weakness of the creatures He has made.  This
time the fleece was dry and the earth was wet, and Gideon thereupon
rose up early with all the host, and moved towards the host of Midian,
till he came in sight of them as they lay in the valley by the hill of
Moreh.

But the Lord would not have so many to do His work, and most of them
were afraid and useless.  He therefore commanded Gideon to send away
all who were frightened, and ten thousand only were left.  These ten
thousand were still too many, for most of them were impatient, not able
to restrain themselves, and likely to fail, either through fear or
foolhardiness, in the stratagem the Lord designed.  He therefore
commanded Gideon, when they were all thirsty, to bring them down to the
water.  Nine thousand seven hundred were in such a hurry to reach it
that they dropped on their knees to drink, but three hundred were
collected and patient, and were content to lift their hands to their
mouths.  The three hundred were kept and the rest sent home.  That
night God, the ever merciful, had promised Gideon to deliver the
Midianites into His servant's hands, and had confirmed His promise by
miracle, but nevertheless He directed Gideon to go down to the camp, so
that he might hear a man's dream and its interpretation, and be further
strengthened in his faith.  Gideon went down and listened at a tent
door; and when the dream was told, how a cake of barley bread tumbled
into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent and smote it that it
fell, all fear departed, and he rose up and went back to the three
hundred, and cried to them, "Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into
your hand the host of Midian."

Forthwith he divided his three hundred into three bands, and each man
took an empty pitcher and placed a torch inside it.  In the dead of the
night they marched to the camp, this little three hundred, and placed
themselves round it.  Then Gideon broke his pitcher and showed his
torch, and all the others did likewise, and shouted, "The sword of the
Lord, and of Gideon."

The host cried and fled, for a terror from the Lord descended on them,
and turned their own swords against them.  When they were defeated all
Israel went out after them, and there was great slaughter, and Oreb and
Zeeb, two princes of Midian, were slain.

As soon as the victory was achieved, and while he was yet in pursuit,
the men of Ephraim turned upon him and abused him because he had not
taken them with him to fight the battle against the Midianites, but
never had they lifted a finger to save themselves before Gideon
appeared.  When, however, he had caught and destroyed Zebah and
Zalmunna, the two Midianitish kings, and had chastised Succoth and
beaten down the tower of Penuel, Israel came to him and asked him to
rule over them, but he would not.  He cared not to be king.  He
remembered with what difficulty he had believed the angel and the
promise, the sickly faintness which had overcome him on that night
before the Midianitish overthrow.  Whatever he had done had not been
his doing, but the Lord's; and how did he know that the Lord's help
would continue?  The thought of being king, and of having a set office,
perhaps without the Lord's assistance, was too much for him.  He was
right in his refusal.  He was one of those men who can do much if left
to themselves, and if they are supported by the Most High, but who
shrink and tremble when something is expected from them.  "The Lord
shall be your King," he said.  He trusted that God would speak to the
nation as He had spoken to him, and without any leader would guide them
aright.  That is not the Lord's way.  But though Gideon would not be
king, he desired some honour, and he asked that he might have the
ear-rings of the Midianites who had fallen.  Therewith he made an
image, a thing forbidden.  It stood in his house, a record of what the
Lord had done for him; and yet this very record became a snare, and
Israel fell to worshipping it, and Jehovah was displaced by the
testimony of His own love for us.

Your grandfather is now dead.  Abimelech reigns in his place, and has
slain all the children of Gideon save myself.  Israel has returned to
Baal; its strength has departed; before long we shall be subdued under
the Philistines.  Excepting in our own house, there are none that have
not gone a-whoring after Baal; the memory of the battle by the hill
Moreh is clean forgotten; and soon the memory of my father will also
disappear, and it will be as if he had never lived.  To think that the
vision of the angel in Ophrah and the night in the valley of Jezreel
should end in nothing!

     *     *     *     *     *     *

That night Jotham died.


_Fourteen Hundred Tears Later_.

"The time would fail me to tell of Gideon, . . . who through
faith . . . out of weakness was made strong, waxed valiant in fight,
turned to flight the armies of the aliens."--_Epistle to the Hebrews_.

_Three Thousand Years Later_.

"'The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon,' answered Balfour as he parried
and returned the blow."--_Old Mortality_.



SAMUEL.

_Samuel immediately before his death spoke thus at Bamah:--_

I am now old, and before many days are past I shall be gathered to my
fathers.  Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord: Whose
ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded?
whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to
blind mine eyes therewith, and I will restore it you.  How could it be
that I could be other than that which I have been, seeing that from my
childhood upwards I have been the chosen of the Lord, the instrument to
do His bidding?

There are none of you who remember the evil days of Eli.  Many times
before then your fathers went astray after false gods, but when Eli was
high priest the Tabernacle itself was profaned by his sons, the sons of
Belial; for they robbed the people of their meat which they brought for
the sacrifice, so that men abhorred the offering, and they lay with
loose women at the door of the Tabernacle, after the manner of those
who worship the gods of the heathen.  To turn aside from the Lord and
serve these gods is wickedness, but to serve them in the presence of
the Ark, and to defile the sanctuary itself, was an abomination worse
than any in Ashdod or Gaza.  The Lord might assuredly have left Israel
to the Philistines, but He desired that there should be a people
preserved to do honour to His name, and He called me, called me even as
a child, and to Him have I been dedicate.  What I have said and done
has not been mine but His, and if any have any fault to find, they must
find it with Him and not with me.

My father, Elkanah, was one of the faithful in Israel, and he went up
yearly to Shiloh; my mother, Hannah, was his beloved wife, though it
was Peninnah who had given him children.  I was born in answer to a
prayer which my mother prayed in bitterness of soul, and she vowed that
if she should have a man child he should be the Lord's all the days of
his life; no razor should come upon his head, neither should he drink
strong drink.  My mother redeemed her vow, and I was taken to Shiloh,
and there I ministered before the Lord.  I lived in the midst of the
iniquity which was wrought by the sons of Eli; but although a youth,
the vow which my mother had made for me protected me.  The Lord had
then withdrawn Himself from Israel, and no word had been spoken to us
by Him for years, save a message from a prophet who prophesied the fall
of Eli and his house.  Still I served, although He gave no sign of His
presence, for my mother visited me continually, and she kept me strong
and pure.  One night, when I had lain down to sleep, I suddenly heard a
voice, which I took to be the voice of Eli, and it called me by name.
This it did thrice, and each time I went to Eli and asked him what he
wished with me, but he had not called.  When the voice had come again
and again, I answered, "Speak; for Thy servant heareth," and then for
the first time was I bidden to execute a command from the Lord; and I,
Samuel, a boy, was ordered to tell Eli, the high priest from the Lord,
whose minister he was, that a deed was about to be done which should
make tingle the ears of every one who heard it, and that for the
iniquity of his sons, and because he did not restrain them, no
sacrifice should avail to protect him from judgment.  Such was the
message given to me; to me, Samuel the child, and thus was I honoured
even then.  I had never heard the voice before that night, and I lay
awake till the morning, fearing to tell Eli what had been said to me,
and I went out and opened the doors.  But Eli sent for me, and when he
saw me he perceived that the Lord had been with me, and he directed me
to hide nothing from him of what had been said to me.  I told him the
vision every whit, and from that day forth I have been at the Lord's
bidding, and have interpreted His will to Israel.

Although I had never heard the Lord's voice before, and it came with no
sign nor miracle, I did not doubt that it was His, for there was that
in it which proclaimed Him.  Nevertheless I wondered what His judgment
would be, and in what manner it would come to pass.  Soon afterwards
the Israelites went out to battle against the Philistines in Aphek, and
were smitten with great slaughter.  Then the elders of Israel, thinking
that the Ark of the covenant would save them, sent to Shiloh and
brought it thence, and when it came into the camp they all shouted with
a great shout, so that the earth rang again.  Fools to believe that the
Ark was anything if the Living God was not with it!  When He was with
it, and the men of Bethshemesh did but look at it, they died; but
without Him it is nothing.  The Israelites were greatly heartened when
the Ark came, and the Philistines were afraid, believing, idolaters as
they were, that God must be in it.  But the Israelites were defeated;
thirty thousand of them fell; the very Ark was taken; Hophni and
Phinehas were also slain.  When Eli heard the news he fell backward and
died, and his daughter-in-law, who was in travail, died also.  Thus was
the word delivered to me fulfilled suddenly in one day, and for the
sins of the priests even the Ark whereon were the cherubim was
permitted to depart to the Philistines and keep company with Dagon.
After that day, when Eli died and I looked into the empty sanctuary,
could I hesitate to believe and obey the Lord's word?

The Lord had no mind that the Philistines, who were His scourge for the
Israelites, should vaunt themselves over Him, or should believe that of
their own strength they had prevailed.  Wonderful is He!  He takes the
wicked to punish His people, and the wicked are but tools in His hand,
and He uses them for His own designs.  The Ark came to Ashdod, and was
put in the house of Dagon; but when the men of Ashdod arose early on
the morrow, behold Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before
the Ark.  They took Dagon and set him in his place again; and when they
arose early on the morrow morning, behold Dagon was fallen upon his
face to the ground before the Ark, and the head of Dagon and both the
palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold.  Furthermore, the
men of Ashdod were destroyed with a secret and dreadful disease.  They
thereupon determined to get rid of the Ark, and they sent it to Gath.
When it came to Gath the pestilence fell upon the men of Gath also, and
they sent it away to Ekron, and the pestilence fell also upon the men
of Ekron.  Then the wise men of the Philistines were called together,
and they counselled that the Ark should be returned with a
trespass-offering to Israel, and that it should be carried in a new
cart by two milch kine on which there had come no yoke, and that their
calves should be brought home from them.  Then if the kine of their own
accord took the cart to Bethshemesh, it would be known that it was the
God of Israel who had plagued the land; but if they refused to go, then
it might be chance which had done it.  The Ark was placed in the cart,
and the Spirit of the Lord came upon the kine.  Remembering their
calves, they nevertheless went straight along the road to Bethshemesh,
lowing as they went, and turning not aside to the right hand or to the
left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border
of Bethshemesh.  The men of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat
harvest in the valley, and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the Ark,
and rejoiced to see it, and the cart came into the field of Joshua the
Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone, and they
clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine as a burnt-offering.
And the Levites took down the Ark, and the coffer that was with it,
wherein the jewels of stone were, and put them on the great stone, and
the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offering and sacrifices.  When the
Philistines had seen all these things, and when they knew that the
plague in their land was stayed, did they acknowledge the Lord God?
How should they, seeing that they were not His elect?

The children of Israel continually turned aside to the lewd gods of the
heathen, and at times it seemed as if the whole earth would be given up
to the abominations of the Canaanites.  The Lord had brought us out of
Egypt, and through the desert.  He had appeared to us on Sinai, and had
given us His commandments, by which alone we could live.  He had
revealed unto us that we should be pure, and separate ourselves from
the filth around us.  He had roused up Moses, and Joshua, and the
Judges, all of whom strove to preserve and ever build higher and
stronger the wall which was to protect us, so that the sacred Law and
the service of the one God might continue.  Israel was but a handful in
the midst of Philistines and Amalekites, nations which worshipped Baal
with fornication and all kinds of uncleanness, and Israel was ever at
the point of mingling with them.  Then it would have been forgotten as
they will be forgotten; but if it will only abide in the Law, as given
in thunder and lightning in the wilderness, it will be great, when,
except for their struggles with Israel, the recollection of Amalekite
and Philistine shall have perished.

I often was alone amidst a people which had well nigh all gone astray,
but I remembered the voice which I heard in the Temple when I was a
child.  I sought the Most High day and night, and He came very close to
me, and it became clearer and clearer to me that all things were as
nothing compared with the Law, and that everything was to be set aside
for its sake.  Alone, I say, I testified on His behalf, but He kept me.
Neither women nor wine have I ever known when men were given over to
women and wine: His Vision has filled me, dedicate to Him ere I was
born.

The Lord chastised Israel through their enemies, and I besought the
people to turn away from the Philistine gods and their iniquities.  I
gathered them together in Mizpeh: the Philistines heard of it, and came
down upon Mizpeh, thinking that now they could wipe us out from the
face of the earth.  Kings have had their captains, but I had none, and
was not a man of war; the people were in a panic; their lascivious
idolatry of Baal had destroyed their strength, and the enemy lay
opposite us.  That night I did not sleep, but went to the Lord in
prayer.  If I had had nothing but my own strength which I could trust I
should have fainted, for what could I, unlearned in battle, do against
such an army, and with no soldiers save a frightened mob, which knew
that it deserved God's wrath.  I wrestled with the Most High as Jacob
wrestled, and I implored Him to remember His promise to our fathers.  I
called to mind that day by the borders of the sea, when His angel which
went before the camp of the Israelites removed and went behind them,
and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face and stood
behind them, and how the waters were a wall on the right hand and on
the left, and in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the
Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the
host of the Egyptians.  I called to mind the night when Gideon and his
three hundred stood round the Midianites, and the Lord set every man's
sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host.  I called to
mind the voice which spoke to me when as a child I lay on my bed in the
Lord's House.  As I communed and wrestled, the tent was filled with
light, brighter than that of the sun at noon.  No word was spoken, but
I knew it was the light of Him whom to see is death, but whose light is
life.  All fear departed, and as the glory slowly waned, sleep overcame
me--sleep like that of an infant; and when the morning dawned, and I
opened the doors of my tent and watched the sun rise, I was strong with
the strength of ten thousand men, and rejoiced, although the
Philistines were like the sand on the seashore for multitude.  I caused
the trumpet to sound, and brought Israel together.  On the hill there
in Mizpeh, in sight of the people who stood round trembling, I builded
an altar and slew a lamb, and offered it as a sacrifice to Him who had
appeared unto me.  I prayed again, for as the smoke of the
burnt-offering rose in the clear air, the Philistines came up the hill
to battle with us, and the people cried, and were on the point of
fleeing this way and that way, to be pursued and slain.  I commanded
them to be still.  The Philistines drew nearer and nearer, and I prayed
ever more and more earnestly.  The smoke of the offering was beginning
to die down, and yet I prayed.  The fire was well nigh out to the last
spark, and for a moment I doubted, forgetful of the vision, for the
music of the army of Dagon could now be heard.  Suddenly the fire
flamed up on high from the grey ashes, as if a heap of the driest wood
of summer had been thrown on it, and I saw a little cloud gather on the
other side of the Philistine hosts, and I knew that my prayer was
answered.  The flame dropped instantly, but the cloud spread itself
even as I looked, and the wind arose, and hither and thither across the
cloud flashed the lightning.  Onward it came till it rested over the
Philistines, and then it broke and descended on them, and they were
shut out from us in thick darkness.  The thunder of the Lord crashed
and rolled, and we saw His lightnings pierce down like swords.  Silent
we stood, and presently the cloud lifted, and the Philistines, who, a
few minutes before, marched against us in order, were a confused mass,
struggling hither and thither, and many of them were lying dead on the
ground.  Then, with one accord, Israel shouted, and ran and smote the
Philistines until they came under Bethcar.  I went not with them; but
when they had all departed, I took a stone and set it up between Mizpeh
and Shen, and wrote on it Ebenezer, for hitherto had the Lord helped
us--the Lord, I say, and never a man, as it was the Lord and never a
man who has helped us since we left Egypt.

After that defeat the Philistines troubled us no more, and the cities
which they had taken from us were restored; but when I became old, the
people grew restless, and desired a change.  The Lord, to humble me,
and prevent boasting by His servant, had afflicted me with two sons,
who obeyed not His commandments; and the people put forward these two
sons, who were judges under me, as a reason why a king should be given
them.  If, however, my sons did injustice, I was still alive to whom
appeal could be made, and why should a king, because he was a king, be
better?  The Lord had brought us out of Egypt, and had ruled us through
His ministers.  We had no court, with women and with splendour; and
those who won our battles lived like those whom they led.  Our gold and
our silver were saved for the House of the Lord, which was His, and for
all of us.  The office of king was foreign to us: it was heathen and
hateful to me.  None more earnestly than I worshipped the Lord, and
submitted myself to His direction, and imposed His will even to death
upon the people.  But that a man, because he was called king, should
rule, and send the people hither and thither for his own ends, and
slaughter them, was horrible to me.  I sought the Lord in prayer to
know how I should meet this request, and He counselled me to yield.

I assembled the people together, and rehearsed unto them all that had
been done for them without the help of a king.  I foretold to them that
the king would be for himself, and not for them--that he would press
their sons and daughters into his service; but the people would not
listen to me.  The Lord had said unto me that they had not rejected me,
but rejected Him that He should not reign over them, as they had ever
done since the day when they were brought up out of Egypt.  I cared
not, however, for their rejection of me, but because it was He who was
rejected.  I thought over it night and day, and it well nigh broke my
heart.

Those who had hitherto been placed over us had not been chosen because
they were the sons of the rich, or of those who were chosen before
them.  Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Jephthah, were all of them select of the
Lord from the people.  Nay, even a woman had been taken to judge
Israel--Deborah the prophetess, who dwelt under the palm-tree here
between Ramah and Bethel.  It was Deborah who sent for Barak to lead
the host against Sisera, and Barak said to her that if she went he
would go, but if she went not he would not go, so mighty was her
presence.  Sisera gathered together his army and all his chariots, nine
hundred chariots of iron; but Deborah spoke a word in the ears of
Barak, when he was afraid, and Sisera was discomfited with all his
chariots and his host.  He fled, and it was a woman, Jael, the wife of
Heber, who slew him--for ever honoured be her name.  In the days of
Shamgar, the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were
unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byeways; the rulers
ceased in Israel; the people chose new gods; there was war in the
gates; there was no shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel
until Deborah arose.  The family of Gideon also was the poorest in
Manasseh, and yet it was to him that the angel was sent, and he subdued
the Midianites and the children of the East.  This hitherto had been
the Lord's way with us; and now we were to abandon Him for a king,
whose children, because they were king's children, were to be our
commanders.  It well nigh broke my heart, I say.  The glory of the
Tabernacle was henceforth to be dim, overshadowed by the pomp of a
monarch.  I could not endure it, and again I went to the Lord, and
besought Him to turn the people or visit them with the thunder and
lightning of Mizpeh, that they might repent of their iniquity and live.
But He would not speak to them beyond what He had spoken through me,
and I returned and sent the assembly away, every man to his own city.

I called the people together in Mizpeh again, the place where they had
seen the Lord save them Himself, and yet even there they would not
yield.  Then I prophesied against them, because they had cast aside Him
who had delivered them out of all their adversities and tribulations;
and I caused all their tribes to assemble before me.  Saul the son of
Kish was taken, and the fools shouted God save the king.  I did my best
for them.  I wrote laws for them to protect them against him, and I put
them in a book and laid them up in the sanctuary.

Henceforth I was in a measure more solitary than before.  Saul was a
brave man, and led the people to war, and they were pleased with his
success, but he was not single in his service of the Lord, and he had
for a wife a Horite, one Rizpah, who worshipped false gods.  He
believed he could make Israel a nation by battles, and he saw not what
I saw--that the one thing necessary for our salvation was to keep
ourselves pure and separate.  The people complained that the Law was a
burden, but it was their safeguard: it was the Law which marked them
off from the heathen, who were doomed to fall by their sins.  I toiled
daily to preserve the Law, and to insist upon the observance of its
ceremonies, knowing full well that if the people let them go, they
would let go the commandments from Sinai; would let go the sobriety and
the chastity of their bodies; would mix in the worship of Baal, and be
lost.  Saul was no observer of ceremonies, and considered them naught,
the idiot, who forgot that they were ordained of God, with whom there
is no small nor great, and that through them the people are taught.
More solitary than ever I was, I say; but I sought the Lord more than
ever, and kept closer to me the memory of the Voice which first called
me.  If Israel is to live, it will not be because Saul overcame the
Amalekites and Philistines, but because the Lamp of God in my hands has
not been extinguished.  When the Philistines came against us at
Michmash, Saul was in Gilgal, and I went to meet him there.  Because I
came not at the time appointed, he, the impious one, took upon himself
to offer the sacrifice, pleading that the people were leaving him, and
that the Philistines were encamped against him.  He forgot the thunder
and lightning at Mizpeh, and that it was his duty to obey the least
word of the Lord, whatever might happen.  It was a surer way to save
Israel than to teach it by the king's example that the ordinances of
the Lord could be set aside because it was convenient.  I cared not for
myself: how can he who is His messenger care for aught save His honour?
But I saw by this act of Saul what was in him--that it was an example
of his heart--that if he could conquer the Philistines he cared not for
the Law.  His victories without the Law would have melted away like
snow in summer.  They would have been as the victories of Philistines
over Amalekites, or Amalekites over Philistines.  It was one of the
first things he did after becoming king, and the Spirit of the Lord
came upon me, and I denounced him, and was directed to seek a successor
outside his house.  If the kingdom had remained in the house of Saul,
Israel would have become a heathen tribe, and it was not for this that
God called it out of Egypt and led it through the Red Sea.

I was commanded to send Saul against the Amalekites.  What Amalek did
to us when we came out of Egypt had been written down, and the
direction concerning him.  He met us by the way, and smote the hindmost
of us, even all that were feeble, when we were faint and weary; and it
had been said to our fathers that when we had rest from our enemies
round about us, we were to blot out the remembrance of Amalek from
under heaven--"_Thou shalt not forget it_" was the word delivered to
us.  I had the record of the battle in Rephidim when Joshua discomfited
Amalek, not in his own strength, but in the strength of the uplifted
arms of the aged Moses, the man of God.  His arms, withered and feeble,
defeated Amalek that day.  Does not the altar still stand,
Jehovah-nissi, to testify that we should war with Amalek from
generation to generation?  Furthermore, Amalek feared not God, but
worshipped strange gods with abominable rites, after which the sons and
daughters of Israel lusted.  It was the Lord's desire that we should
root up Amalek, as a man roots up a weed, and fears to leave a thread
of it in the ground, lest it should again grow.

Saul was willing to arm himself against the Amalekites, and to do his
best to defeat them after the manner of a king, and to bring them into
subjection; but he saw not with my eyes, and knew not what a Law of the
Lord was.  Therein have I stood apart from Saul and his friends and
this nation.  They also were not ignorant of the Law, but they thought
it could be observed like the laws of men, not understanding that it is
binding to the last jot and tittle, and that if a man fails at the last
jot or tittle, he fails altogether.

Saul smote the Amalekites, and everything that was vile and refuse he
utterly destroyed with the edge of the sword, but he spared Agag and
the best of the spoil; and when he came to meet me, he saluted me, and
said he had performed the commandment of the Lord.  His commandments
are not thus to be performed, and I asked him what meant then the
bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen.  He had reserved
them, he said, as a sacrifice.  I asked him whether the Lord had as
great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice
of the Lord, I told him that to obey is better than sacrifice, and to
hearken than the fat of rams; and I denounced him there, and foretold
that his kingdom should be given to a neighbour better than he.  He was
then greatly afraid, for although he feared not the Lord, and was brave
before his enemies, he was at times much given to secret terror, and he
besought me to stay with him and pardon him.  But I would not, and when
I had worshipped, I ordered Agag to be brought before me.  He came
trembling and asking for mercy, but I hewed him in pieces.  Mercy?
Mercy to whom?  Would it have been mercy to Israel to let him live and
become a leader of the Amalekites against us?  Moreover, a clear
command had been given me, and was set plainly before me, as a candle
in front of me in darkness, to which I was to walk, swerving not a
hair's breadth, that the Amalekite was to be destroyed utterly; and
always when the Light was before me I strove to reach it, never looking
this way nor that way.  Before Saul also the Light was set, but he went
aside, thinking he could come to it if he bent his path and compassed
other things, not knowing that the track is very narrow, and that if we
diverge therefrom and take our eyes off the Light we are lost.  Who was
Agag, that I should show any tenderness to him, a foul worshipper of
false gods?  I rejoiced when he lay bound for the knife in the agony of
death, and his blood was a sacrifice with which God was well pleased.

David now waits until Saul's death, for the king is still a strength in
Israel.  I fear that David will dishonour himself with grievous sin,
for he is a lover of women, and a man of words and of song: treacherous
is he also at times.  But he belongs to us; he fears the Lord and His
prophets and priests; he may go a-whoring, but it will not be after
Baal; he will war against the heathen, and will not show mercy to them.
Now I am about to die, and to descend into the darkness whither my
fathers, and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses have gone before me.  I
bless the Lord that I have lived, for I have preserved the knowledge of
Him and His Law.  My life ends, but the Lord liveth, all honour and
glory to His sacred name.



SAUL.

_Rizpah, the Horite, in her old age, talks of Saul to the wife of
Armoni, her son_.

This is the day on which your husband's father fell on the mountains of
Gilboa.  Though I was no Israelite, but born in the desert, I was his
beloved before he became king.  I am eighty years old now, but the
blood moves in me, and I grow warm as I think of him.  There was not a
goodlier person than he--from his shoulders and upwards he was higher
than any of the people.  Why did the Lord choose him?  He never coveted
that honour, and he suffered because there was laid on him that which
he did not seek.  Yet the Lord was right, for there was not one in all
Israel so royal as he, and it was he who redeemed it and made it a
nation.  Samuel had grown old--he was always a priest rather than a
captain--and his sons, whom he made judges, turned aside after lucre,
took bribes, and perverted judgment.  The people were weary of their
oppression and the hand of the Amalekites and the Philistines were very
heavy on the land.  They therefore prayed for a king, and the thing
displeased Samuel, and he tried to turn them from it.  But they refused
to listen to him, and when they came together at Mizpeh, Saul was the
man upon whom the lot fell.  Again, I say, he desired not to be king.
He had hidden himself on that day, but he could not be hidden, and he
was dragged forth to glory and to ruin.  I was there: I heard the
shouts as they cried God save the king.  I saw him no more that day,
for the tumult was great, and there was much for him to do.  But that
evening he came back to me at Gibeah; he, my Saul, came to me as
anointed king.  O that night! never to be forgotten, were I to live a
thousand years, when I held the king in my arms!  Never--no, not even
on the night when I first became his--had I known such delight.  I have
seen more misery than has fallen to the lot of any woman in this land,
and it has not passed over me senseless.  I am not one of those who can
go through misfortune untouched, as a drop of oil can rise through
water.  I have taken it all in, felt it all, to the last sting there
was in it; and yet now, when I call to mind the night after he was
crowned, and its rapture of an hour--the strength and the eagerness of
his love: the strength, the eagerness, and the pride of mine--I say it
is good that I have lived.  The next morning I saw him with his valiant
men--the men whose heart God had touched; how he set them in order, and
how they followed him--him higher than any of them, from the shoulders
upwards; and I said to myself, he is mine, the king is mine, that body
of his is mine, and I am his.

Tell you all about him?  How can I?  But I will tell you a little--what
I have told you again and again before--so that you may tell it to your
children, and the name of Saul may never be forgotten.

After he was chosen, the children of Belial said, How shall this man
save us?  But he held his peace, for he foresaw what was at hand,
Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh-gilead; and
when the men of Jabesh-gilead offered to become his slaves if he would
but make a covenant with them, he consented, but upon this condition,
that they should thrust out their right eyes.  Such thralls had the
children of Israel become whom Saul had to save, that Nahash dared to
put this upon them in mockery.  They sent messengers to Gibeah, where
Saul was--not to him, but to tell the people there; and Saul heard the
message as he drove the herd out of the field after work, for he was
still at his farm, his day not yet having come.  When he listened to
the story of the men of Jabesh-gilead, the Spirit of God came upon him;
and he took a yoke of his oxen and hewed them in pieces, and sent them
throughout all the coasts of Israel, saying, Whosoever cometh not after
Saul, and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen.  The fear of
the Lord fell on the people, such strength was there in Saul's command,
and they came out with one consent.  He numbered his men, divided them
into three bands, marched all night from Bezek, fell upon the Ammonites
in the morning watch, and so slaughtered and scattered them that two of
them were not left together.  Where now were the men of Belial who had
mocked him?  The people cried out that they might be brought forth and
put to death; but Saul, ever noble and great of heart, forbade it.
"Not a man," he said, "shall be put to death this day, for to-day the
Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel."

The Philistines had for a long time oppressed the land, so that men who
were their neighbours hid themselves in caves, thickets, and rocks.
They were not armed, for the Philistines had forbidden the working of
iron, lest their slaves should have anything wherewith they might
defend themselves.  Having defeated the Ammonites, Saul went up to
Gilgal, and a great crowd came after him trembling.  He waited there
seven days for Samuel, and meanwhile the people began to slip away from
him.  What was he to do?  He could wait no longer, and he commanded the
burnt-offering to be brought to him.  Just as he had made an end of the
sacrifice, Samuel appeared, and Saul went out to meet him and take his
blessing.  But Samuel turned upon him and doomed him, because he had
meddled with the priest's office.  He was to be cast out from his
kingship, and another was chosen in his place.  That was the root of
all my lord's trouble, as we shall afterwards see--the seed of the
madness which made his life worse than death.  What had he done?
Nothing, but set fire to that miserable beast.  Had he slain a man, or
robbed the widow or the fatherless, or defrauded those who came to him
for judgment, his punishment would have been just; but that he should
be deposed because, in his extremity against the Lord's enemies, he had
taken upon him to do what Samuel neglected to do, was a strange
sentence from the Lord.  Would you or I deal so with our friends? would
we give them no place for repentance? would we let the penalty endure
when, the heart is changed and forgiveness is sought?  The Lord's ways
are wonderful.  But it was Samuel's doing.  If it had not been for
Samuel, the Lord would have shown mercy.  Samuel was ever the priest,
and had no compassion in him.  He had been chosen as a child, and he
never forgot he was the Lord's selected servant.  He hated Saul because
Saul was king, and he loved to show his power over him.  Before that
day in Gilgal, he had called down thunder and lightning from heaven to
show that Jehovah listened to him, and to prove that Jehovah resented
the request that the people should have some one to command them other
than the sons of Eli.  He hated Saul because the people obeyed him and
fled to him when they were in danger.  Who could help obeying him; who
was there who knew him who did not love to obey?  However, he was
cursed--cursed for a ceremony of the Law; and that dancing David, the
man who took Uriah's wife and basely murdered Uriah, was said to be the
man after God's own heart.

Soon afterwards the evil spirit fell upon my lord.  Samuel had
commanded him to smite the Amalekites, and to spare not men or women,
infants or sucklings, oxen or sheep, camel or ass.  Saul gathered his
soldiers together and lay in wait in the valley.  In his mercy, for he
was ever tender-hearted, he warned the Kenites that they might escape.
He then smote the Amalekites from Havilah to Shur, but he took Agag
alive, and spared some of the spoil.  When the battle was over, Samuel
came to meet him, and rebuked him as if he had been a child for what he
called rebellion and stubbornness.  The priest stood up before the
king, and told him that his rebellion was as witchcraft, and his
stubbornness as idolatry.  "Because thou hast rejected the word of the
Lord," he cried, "He hath also rejected thee from being king."
Rebellion, stubbornness!  Saul was neither rebellious nor stubborn.  He
had smitten the Amalekites; in obedience to Samuel's command, he had
done what he hated to do; he had slaughtered young and old, but he had
saved Agag, and although he humbled himself before Samuel, and prayed
him to remain, he would not.  Saul laid hold upon the skirt of his
mantle; but he departed, and it was rent, and he cursed Saul, and
declared that as the garment was rent, so had the Lord rent the kingdom
of Israel from him that day, and given it to another better than he.
Then Samuel called Agag unto him, and hewed the unarmed man in pieces,
and declared he would see Saul no more.  Now Saul was brave, the
bravest of the brave, but he greatly feared at times what he called his
Terror.  What it was which troubled him none ever rightly knew.  He was
not mad as others are mad, for his senses never left him, and he was
always the counsel and the strength of the nation, whom they all sought
in their distress.  But something had caught him of which he could not
rid himself, and he would come to me with wild eyes, and clasp me in
his arms.  I could not comfort him; and all I heard was a strange word
or two about a Face which haunted him and would not leave him.  I could
not comfort him, but it was to me nevertheless he always fled; and
although he spoke so little, for he dared not name his Terror, he said
to me more than he has said to any man or woman: it was I, it was I
more than any other who knew the secrets of the king's soul.  My belief
is that Samuel brought the Terror on him.  He never forgot that
dreadful day when Agag was murdered, and it was always before his eyes
that he was doomed, and that there was another man in the land, who was
to rule in his stead.  I tried to appease him.  I told him that life to
all of us is short, that in the grave there is forgetfulness, and bade
him drink wine, lie in my bosom, and shut out the morrow, but it was of
no avail.  There was nothing to be dreaded in the thought that some one
would supplant him, and other men would have endured it in peace; but
it was the constant presence of the thought, the impossibility of
getting rid of it, which darkened the sun for him.  Day after day,
night after night, this one thing was before him.  It was as if he were
bound to a corpse, and ever dragged it after him.  Higher than any of
the people from his shoulders and upwards, like a lion for courage, and
yet he would have fled even to Death from this thing, for he could not
face it.  What a mockery is the strength of the strongest!  A word from
the Lord can cause the greatest to grovel in the dust!  It was thought
that music would help him, and they brought to him David, who was
skilled with the harp, and had moreover a ruddy, cheerful countenance.
Gay and light of heart was he, and as he sang and played the Terror
would sometimes loosen its hold, and Saul was himself again, but it
never left him for long.

Much has been made by Saul's enemies of his hatred of David.  It came
in this way.  Saul loved David, and made him a captain, and they went
out together to war against the Philistines.  When they returned, the
women, smitten with his pretty face--they were always ready to go after
him, and he after them--sang aloud in the streets that Saul had slain
his thousands and David his ten thousands.  The Terror was on Saul; he
believed David was Samuel's friend, and David and the Terror became
one.  He eyed David from that day.  He was not blameworthy.  It was the
Evil Spirit from God, and the Evil Spirit put a fixed thought in his
mind, that if he could but remove David, the Terror would depart.
Although I hated the son of Jesse from the beginning, I made light of
my lord's dread of him, but who can reason against an Evil Spirit from
God; and while David was playing the second time, my lord cast a
javelin at him to kill him.  When the Evil Spirit departed, the desire
to destroy David departed with it.  After Saul had cast the javelin,
Jonathan pleaded with his father for David, and Saul listened, and
swore that no harm should befall him; but when David soon afterwards
returned from another battle with the Philistines, the Spirit came
again and turned David's music into an instrument of torture, and again
put the javelin in Saul's hand, and strove through Saul to strike David
with it.  Hard ridden was Saul by the Spirit at that time, and he went
to Ramah to see Samuel; and when he saw him, he, the king, my beloved,
was so beset that he tore off his clothes, and lay down naked all
night.  When he came back at the feast of the new moon, he sat down to
meat with his princes, and with Abner and Jonathan; but David was not
there.  He asked the reason of his absence, and Jonathan explained that
David had leave to go to Bethlehem to visit his father.  Jonathan said
nothing more, but the Evil Spirit descended even at the feast, in the
company of all the lords, and Saul imagined that Jonathan was plotting
against him; and in his fury, possessed by the Lord, he cast his spear
against Jonathan also, his own best beloved son.  That was the misery
of it; the Spirit brought him to violence, not only against those who
were his enemies, but against those whom he loved.  To me, though, he
was ever tender, and over our love the Spirit had no power.  Jonathan's
anger at the time was fierce; but Jonathan was noble of heart--his
father's son, without his father's affliction; and he knew, when he
came to himself, that it was not the father whom he honoured who had
done this deed.  He went out and warned David, but he did not go with
him, and presently he returned into the city and comforted his father.
When David had gathered together his four hundred knaves in rebellion,
Saul sat in Gibeah under the tree there, and his servants stood round
him in council.  They were all of them valiant and faithful, but he
broke out against them, and accused them of conspiring with David
against him.  "There is none," he cried, "that sheweth me that my son
hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that
is sorry for me."  "None of you that is sorry!"  His suffering was so
great, and so little was it understood, that he believed no one cared
for him, and at times he said bitter things which kept men apart from
him, and sent some of them to David.  His anguish was all the greater
because he thought Jonathan, his son, whom he so much loved, had become
estranged from him, and secretly communicated with David, and was
content to give up his succession to the royal crown, and take the
second place when David should be upon the throne.  But again I say it,
no harsh word ever came to me, although for days he would hardly speak;
and then, suddenly, as he sat by me, he would lay his head upon my
neck, and tears would come of which he was ashamed.

The never-ceasing pursuit of David was sad even to me, and yet when the
Spirit left him to himself Saul relented.  When David was in Engedi,
and hard pressed, he came out to Saul and submitted himself to him.  He
boasted that he could have slain Saul--what a boast to make! that he
had spared the Lord's anointed and the father of Jonathan, his chosen
friend!

The king was much given to sudden change.  Sometimes his mood would
leave him, and his face become clear in a moment, like the heavens in a
thunderstorm when the lightning has spent itself, and the wind shifts,
and the blue sky in an instant is revealed.  Never, when this happened,
did he resist, and by constraint remain in his sorrow, but sang and was
glad, and if I was beside him, delighted himself with me.  The happiest
of men would he have been, even as a king, if the Evil Spirit from the
Lord would have left him.  He was overcome with his ancient love for
David, and wept, and acknowledged, although it was false, that David
was more righteous than he, and prayed for the Lord's blessing upon
him.  Yet even then the ever-present Fear was before him.  "I know
well," he said, "that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom
of Israel shall be established in thine hand."  And he made David swear
that he would not cut off the seed of the royal house, so that the name
of Saul might live.  And David sware: David sware, the blaspheming
liar, who gave up to the Gibeonites my sons, and the sons of Merab.  It
was Jonathan, whom Saul had in mind when he caused David to swear; but
Saul's prayer was but breath, for the Lord cut off Jonathan in battle,
and Saul was the only king of the house of Kish.

After Samuel's death, David, with his men, went over to the
Philistines, who gave him Ziklag as the place of his abode.  He played
the traitor to Achish as he had done to Saul, and he went out against
the Geshurites, the Gezrites, and the Amalekites, the friends of
Achish, murdering both men and women, and returned and lied to Achish,
telling him he had fought against Judah and its allies.  Had it been
his purpose to hide himself and to do good service to his master Saul
in the war which the Philistines were preparing for him, his treachery
might have excused him; but he had no mind to assist Saul or Israel.
He sang a song after Gilboa in memory of the king and Jonathan, but he
came not near them in the day of battle, and he profited by their
overthrow.  He brought his men to Achish, as if he would go down with
him to the fight; but the Philistines distrusted him, and sent him back
to Ziklag.  Who knows what he intended?  He told Achish that he meant
to take his part against Saul, but no word of his could ever be
believed.  Nevertheless, I doubt not that he would have been as good as
his promise if it had been permitted to him.  It is certain that he
knew what was about to happen, and that, if he had been loyal to his
prince, he would have striven to assist him.

I remember that dreadful day before the day of Gilboa.  The host of the
Philistines came and pitched in Shunem as the sand of the desert for
number.  Saul had gathered all Israel together, but they were fewer
than the Philistines, and disheartened.  He knew, moreover, that David
and his men were with the enemy; and as he went out that morning, and
saw the host of the Philistines lie upon the hillside, he greatly
trembled, not with fear of death, for he never feared to die, but
because his Terror was upon him, and the Lord refused to speak to him.
He inquired of Him, but the Lord answered him not.  The high priest had
brought the ephod, but was dumb, and the prophets heard nothing.  Two
nights before the day of the battle, he had sought the Lord for a
dream, and had lain down by my side in hope.  The dream came, but it
was a dream of the Terror, and he shrieked and turned, and clasped me
in his arms; and I soothed him, and asked him what he had dreamed, but
he could not tell--it was a horror, awful, shapeless, which he dared
not try to utter; and he clasped me again, me wretched, clasped me for
the last time.  He rose and went out in the morning early; went round
his army by himself.  He was alone, and he knew that God had forsaken
him.

In his extremity he bethought him of witchcraft.  In his zeal for God,
which availed him nothing, he had cast out of the land all those who
dealt with familiar spirits, but one was still left at Endor.  To her
he went to obtain some voice from the unknown world, thinking that by
chance light might shine in upon his despair.  But when he came to the
woman, and she asked him what spirit she should call, he could do
nothing but ask for Samuel.  He feared him, and yet he desired to see
him.  It was always strange to me that he, such a king, should be so
subdued by Samuel's presence.  It was so in life, and it was so in
death.  The spirit of Samuel rose, and Saul humbled himself before the
shadow.  Alas, Samuel had learned no pity through death, and his ghost
was as fierce as the living man of years gone.  He had passed into the
land of emptiness and vanity, yet his wrath burnt as if mortal blood
had been in him.  Saul bowed unto him and told him his trouble, how he
was sore distressed, for the Philistines made war upon him, and God had
departed from him, and answered him not.  It was a dreadful sight, so
the woman herself told me afterwards, a king abasing himself before a
spectre of a priest and craving mercy.  The worst foe whom Saul had in
the land would have felt his heart touched, and the wicked woman
herself was moved with great compassion.  If success could not be
promised, at least some comfort might have been given, but Samuel was
bitterness itself; terrible he always was to me, so bitter and so hard
that I shuddered at him.  He turned upon Saul and denounced him, he,
the dead, denounced him who was about to die, and declared that the
Lord was his enemy.  Enemy! for what, because he had spared Agag?  And
yet that was, in a measure, the reason; for Saul was too much of a man
for the priest, and therefore the priest set up David against him.  The
ghost stood there, and doomed the king.  "The Lord," he cried, "hath
rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even
to David, because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord, nor
executedst His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done
this thing unto thee this day.  Moreover, the Lord will also deliver
Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines; and to-morrow shalt
thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of
Israel into the hand of the Philistines."  For this cause Saul was to
fall, and his three sons, and there was to be a great slaughter of
Israel.  When David the adulterer murdered Uriah, was that not a worse
crime, yet was his punishment as Saul's?  And what punishment there was
fell not on David as it would have fallen upon my lord and upon me.
After David's son died, he straightway rose up, eat and drank, and went
in unto Bathsheba the whore; and she, the wife of Uriah, whom he had
murdered, submitted to be comforted by him.

When Saul heard the words of Samuel, he fell straightway in the
darkness all along on the earth, and there was no strength in him, for
he had eaten no bread all the day nor all the night.  The woman offered
him bread, but he sat on the bed and would not eat.  At last, as the
morning was breaking, he consented to eat, and he went away to make
ready for the fight.  He was assured he would perish that day, and that
before the sun set he would be in Sheol with Samuel, bat he did not
play the coward and nee.  He fought as the king he was, but the
Philistines were too many for him; the curse from the Lord was upon the
Israelites, so that they feared and fled.  Jonathan, with Abinadab and
Melchishua, his brothers, were around Saul to the last, but they were
slain.  The men-at-arms dared not come near Saul, but the archers
pressed him sorely from afar, and he could not close with them, and he
saw his end was at hand.  He would not have the Philistines take him
alive, wounded for sport, even if they might spare his life; and he
therefore prayed his armour-bearer to thrust him through, but his
armour-bearer would not.  Thereupon Saul took his sword, and fell upon
it; and his armour-bearer fell likewise upon his sword, and died with
him.  The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they
found Saul and his sons dead on Gilboa, and carried off their bodies,
shamefully using them.  But though the alarm at the victory was great,
there were men in Israel who dared do anything for their master, the
men of Jabesh-gilead, who remembered what Saul had done for them
against the Ammonites; and they went by night and rescued the bodies,
and burnt them, and buried them under this tree in Jabesh, whence they
afterwards came to Zelah, where I shall lie.

David, when he heard that Saul was dead, sang a song in his
praise--David turned everything into songs; but nevertheless he made
himself king, and warred against the house of his master.  Ever singing
and dancing!  When the Ark was brought from the house of Obed-edom,
David leaped, and danced, and played before it like an empty fool.
Michal, who was her father's own daughter, despised her husband--as
well she might--for his folly, and rebuked him because he behaved as a
vain fellow rather than as a king; but she was abused, and he told her
that if she did not honour him, he would be honoured by her maids; and
this was true, for he never held back from a woman if she pleased him,
and of concubines had a score.  My lord never sang, nor danced, nor
played; it was as much as he could do if he smiled.  Would to God he
had smiled oftener; and yet if he could not laugh, he could love.  Ah
me! how strait was his embrace.  Was the love of that ruddy-faced,
light-minded, lying dancer a thousandth part of Saul's?  If David had
loved Bathsbeba, would he have sought by the basest of deceit to force
Uriah to her after she had fallen, so that her son might be taken to be
his?  And yet if Samuel had been alive, would he have cursed David as
he did my lord?  I think not, for the sin and the lie with Bathsheba,
and the murder of Uriah, were not a crime like that of sparing the
Amalekite Agag.  Nevertheless the Lord visited him also, and he tasted
the bitterness of revolt, for Absalom, his own son, turned against him,
and lay with his father's concubines in the sun in the sight of all
Israel, and sought his father's life.  Why do I talk thus?  I meant not
to talk of David, but of my lord.  One word more.  We never speak
without coming to that dreadful day.  Your husband, Armoni, was
shamefully handed over to the Gibeonites and hung.  May every messenger
of evil that does the bidding of Baal and Jehovah for ever follow the
man who consented to that deed because Saul had rooted out the
Gibeonites from the land in his zeal for the Lord.  In his zeal for the
Lord!  His zeal for the Israelitish Lord, and at Samuel's bidding!  It
was not the desire of Saul to deal thus with the Gibeonites, for he,
the husband of a Horite, was never a fool in his wrath for his God; but
Samuel, whom he dreaded more than the Philistines, bade him.  And the
plague came, and they said it was from the Lord, because of these
Gibeonites whom the Lord, through Samuel, had directed should be slain.
Ah me!  I, a Horite, know not the ways of Jehovah.  I sit here in
Jabesh and wait till I shall be with those whom I loved, with Saul,
Armoni, and his brother.  I go down into the darkness with them, but it
will be better than the light.  Maybe though dark I shall see them, and
be something of a queen--I, Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, queen of the
first king of Israel, he who has made it a nation.



MIRIAM'S SCHOOLING.

"_He wrung the water from his dress, and, plunging into the moors,
directed his course to the north-east by the assistance of the polar
star_."--THE MONASTERY.

"_That man amongst mortals who has acquiesced in Necessity is wise, and
is acquainted with divine things_."--EURIPIDES.

Giacomo Tacchi was a watchmaker in Cowfold.  He lived, not in the
central square or market-place of the town, for a watchmaker's business
in Cowfold was scarcely of sufficient importance for such a position,
but two or three doors round the corner.  It was in Church Street, just
before the private houses begin, a little low-roofed cottage, much
lower than its neighbours, for what reason nobody could tell--much
lower certainly; and yet there it was, a solid, indisputable, wedged-in
assertion, not to be ousted in any way.  It had two small bow windows,
one belonging to a sitting-room, and the other to the shop.  Across the
curve of the shop bow window a kind of counter was fixed.  Here were
Giacomo's lamp, his glass-globe reflector, or light-condenser; here
were all his tools; here lay under tumblers or wine-glasses the works
of the watches on which he was operating, and here he wrought from
morning to night with a lens which slipped into its place in his eye
with such wonderful celerity and precision, that it was difficult to
believe it had not by long acquaintance with the eye become as much a
part of it as the eyelid itself.  Inside the window, along the window
frames, hung perhaps twenty or thirty watches, some of which had been
cleaned or repaired, and were waiting till their owners might call,
whilst others had been acquired in different ways, by exchange or by
purchase, and were for sale.  There were no absolutely brand new
watches in the collection.  If a new watch was ordered as a wedding
present or a gift to a son or daughter on the twenty-first birthday, it
was specially manufactured.  Immediately to the left of Giacomo was his
regulator, of which he was justly proud, for it did not vary above a
minute a month.  Nevertheless its performance was checked every week by
the watch of the mail-coach guard, who brought the time from St. Paul's
as he started from St. Martin's-le-Grand, and communicated it to the
Cowfold mail-cart driver.  All round the shop were clocks of numerous
patterns, but mostly of two types, one Dutch, and one with oak or
mahogany case.  Perhaps a dozen or so were generally going, and it was
rather distracting to a visitor to see the pendulums of the Dutch
clocks wagging at different rates, some with excited haste, others with
solemn gravity, and no two at the same speed.  Each seemed confident it
was in direct communication with Greenwich Observatory, and paid not
the slightest attention to the others.  It was seldom that the footpath
in front of the watchmaker's window was empty.  Generally a boy or girl
stood there with nose flattened against the panes staring at Giacomo
busied with his craft.  For it was a genuine mystery to the children,
and he was a mysterious person in other ways.  Under his care was the
church clock.  He went up into the tower, and into a great closet in
which nobody else in Cowfold had ever been.  Furthermore, as an adjunct
to the watchmaking, he repaired barometers and thermometers, and it is
certain that not a farmer within ten miles of Cowfold knew what was at
the back of the plate of his weather-glass.

How a man with such a name as Tacchi came to settle in Cowfold was
never understood.  Giacomo's father and mother appeared there about the
beginning of the century: a son was born within three years after their
arrival, and is the Tacchi now before us.

It might have been supposed that his occupation would have inclined him
to melancholy.  Far from it.  He was a brisk, active creature, about
middle height, with jet black hair, and a quick circulation.  He was
never overcome, as he might reasonably have been, with meditations on
the flux of time.  He never rose in the morning saddened by the thought
that the day would be just like the day before, or that the watches
with which he had to deal would show just the same faults and just the
same carelessness on the part of their possessors.  On the contrary, he
always sprang out of bed with as much zest and buoyancy as if he were a
Columbus confidently expecting that before noon the shores of a new
world would rise over the ocean's edge.

Giacomo, when he succeeded to the business, married the daughter of a
small farmer in the neighbourhood.  It all came about through a couple
of little oak wedges.  He took a tall clock home after it had been
repaired, and as the floor of the living-room on which it stood was
uneven, the front of the clock at the base was always wedged up to
bring it perpendicular, and keep the top from overhanging.  He was
obliged to ask Miriam, the eldest girl, to stand on a footstool, and
push the clock towards the wall.  As she stretched her right arm up
just under the little gilt cherub who expanded his wings above the
dial, holding the frame with her left, he stepped back a little, and
was suddenly struck with the beauty of her attitude.  A lovely line it
was from the tips of her fingers down to her heel, and the slight
strain just lifted the hem of her gown, and showed the whitest of white
stockings, and a shapely foot.  Giacomo instantly fell in love.

"Is that right, Mr. Tacchi?" she said.

"Quite right; nothing could be better."

Giacomo would not, however, insert the wedges; they were soft, and
might be broader; he would cut some better ones out of mahogany or oak,
and bring them the next day.  The next day he brought them, and in a
very short time married Miss Miriam solely on the strength of the
lovely line, the white stockings, and the foot.  When she came to live
at his house in Cowfold, he found that she did not always stand on the
footstool and display the same curve, but nevertheless she made him a
fairly good wife, and he and she lived together on the usual marital
terms, without any particular raptures, and without any particular
discord, for five years, when unfortunately she died, after giving
birth to her second child, which was named Miriam, after its mother.
Giacomo was left with an elder boy, Andrew, and with the infant.

Andrew grew up something like his mother, a fairly average mortal who
learned his lessons tolerably, was distinguished by no eminent virtues
nor eminent vices, no eminent gratitude nor hatreds; and it seemed as
if he would one day in the fulness of time do what Cowfold for
centuries had done before him--that is to say, succeed his father in
his business, marry some average Cowfold girl, beget more average
Cowfold children, lead a life unvexed by any speculation or dreams,
unenlightened by any revelation, and finally sleep in Cowfold
churchyard with thousands of his predecessors, remembered for perhaps a
year, and then forgotten for ever.

Miriam, however, was of a different stamp.  Her real ancestry was a
puzzle.  In some respects she resembled her father.  Knowing that she
was Giacomo's child, it was easy for the observer to trace the lineage
of some of her qualities; but nevertheless they reappeared in her on a
different scale, in different proportions, so that in action they
became totally different, and there were others not inherited from
Giacomo which modified all the rest.  It is impossible to throw a new
characteristic into a given nature, and obtain as a result the original
nature _plus_ the characteristic added.  The addition will most likely
change the whole mass, and often entirely degrade or translate it.  It
is just possible, such are the wonders of spiritual chemistry, that
there may have been nothing in Miriam but her father with a touch of
her mother, and that the combination of the two may have wrought this
curiously diverse product; or the common explanation may have been
correct, that in her there was a resurrection of some unknown ancestor,
either on the father's or mother's side.  She was a big girl--her
father was rather short and squat--with black hair and dark eyes, limbs
loosely set, with a tendency to sprawl, large feet and hands.  She had
a handsome, regular face, a little freckled; but the mouth, although it
was beautifully curved, was a trifle too long, and except when she was
in a passion, was not sufficiently under the control of her muscles, so
that her words escaped not properly formed.  Generally she was rather
languid in her attitudes, sitting in her chair in any way but the
proper way, and often giving her father cause of correction on this
point as she grew up, inasmuch as he properly objected that when she
came to be thirteen or fourteen she ought to show that she duly
appreciated the reasons why her frocks were lengthened.  Her room was
never in order.  Nothing was ever hung up; nothing was put in its
place.  Shoes were here and there--one might be under the
dressing-table and the other under the bed; but with, an odd
inconsistency she was always personally particularly clean, and
although bathing was then unknown in Cowfold, she had a tub, and used
it too with constant soap and water.  With her lessons she did not
succeed, more particularly with arithmetic, which she abhorred.
Sometimes they were done, sometimes left undone, but she never failed
in history.  Her voice was a contralto of most remarkable power, strong
enough to fill a cathedral, but altogether undisciplined.  She was fond
of music, and the organist at the church offered to teach her with his
own daughters, if she would sing with them on Sundays; but she could
not get through the drudgery of the exercises, and advanced only so far
as to be able to take her proper part in a hymn.  Here, however, she
was almost useless, from incapability of proper subordination, the
sopranos, tenors, and basses being well nigh drowned.

She was fond of live creatures, and had cats, canaries, white mice, and
rabbits, which she treated with great tenderness; but they were never
kept clean, and caused much annoyance to her family.  She was also
truthful; but what distinguished her most was a certain originality in
her criticisms on Cowfold men, women, and events, a certain
rectification which she always gave to the conventional mode of
regarding them.  There was a bit of sandstone rock near the town, by
the side of the road, which from time immemorial had been called the
Old Man's Nose.  It was something like a nose when seen at a certain
angle, but why it should have been described as the nose of an old man
rather than that of a young man, no mortal could have explained.
Nevertheless all Cowfold had for ages said it was the Old Man's Nose;
and when strangers came it was pointed out with a "don't you see, isn't
it hooked, just like a nose, and that is where his spectacles might
lie."  But Miriam made a small revolution in Cowfold.  She never would
admit the likeness to a nose, but with a pleasant humour observed that
it was like a _mug_ upside down--"mug," it must be explained, meaning
not only a drinking utensil, but in very vulgar language a human face.
Cowfold gradually heard of Miriam's joke, and instantly saw that the
rock was really like a mug.  There was the upper part, there was the
handle; the resemblance to the nose disappeared, and what was most
strange, could no more be imagined.  Cowfold now repeated to visitors
this little bit of not very brilliant smartness, elaborating it heavily
at times, till it would have become rather a weariness to the flesh, if
it had not been a peculiarity of Cowfold, that it was never tired of
saying the same thing over and over again, and laughing at it
perpetually.

One day a great event happened.  There was a fire in the town, and the
house of Mr. Cutts, the saddler, was burnt down.  A week afterwards
some very unpleasant rumours were abroad, and the Tacchis, with Mrs.
and Mr. Cattle, and the two Misses Cattle, sat talking over them in Mr.
Tacchi's parlour after supper.  The Cattles were small farmers who
lived about a mile out of Cowfold, on the way to Shott, but within
Cowfold parish, and came to Cowfold Church.

"If," said Cattle, "they can prove as the fire broke out in three
places at once, the office has got him."

"His stock," continued his wife, "to my certain knowledge, warn't worth
fifty pound, for I was in the shop a fortnight ago, and says I to
myself, 'What can the man have let it down like this for--who'd come
here for anything; and it _did_ cross my mind as it was very odd, and I
went home a thinking and a thinking, but of course I never dreamed as
he was so awful wicked as this."

"He was always very peculiar, mother," said the elder Miss Cattle.  "Do
you remember, Carry," turning to her younger sister, "how he jumped out
of the hedge that Sunday evening, just as we turned down our lane.  Oh
my, I never had such a fright--you might have knocked me down with a
straw; and he never spoke, but walked straight on."

"He might have been nutting," said Giacomo--"he was always going out
nutting; and perhaps he didn't notice he had frightened you."

"Not notice!  I am sure he might have done; and then, why did he come
out just then, I should like to know.  If he had come out just after
we'd got by, I shouldn't have thought so much of it."

"If the poor man was in the hedge, he must come out at some time, and
it happened to be just then," observed Giacomo reflectively.

"Ah!" continued Carry, incapable of replying to Giacomo's philosophy,
and judiciously changing her attack, "whenever you went to buy anything
he never spoke up to you like--there was always an underhand look about
him; and then his living alone as he did with nobody but that old woman
with him."

"He always sold good leather," continued Mr. Cattle, who planted both
his elbows on the table, and placed his head in his hands in a fit of
abstraction, much perplexed by this apparent contradiction in Cutts's
character.

"Sold good leather," retorted his wife with great sharpness, as if in
contempt of her husband's stupidity; "sold good leather--of course he
did.  That was part of his plan to make people believe he was an honest
man.  Besides, if he hadn't, how could he have got rid of his stock as
he did.  Do you recollect," she proceeded with increasing asperity, as
became a Cowfold matron, "as it was him as got up that petition for
that Catchpool gal as was going to be hanged for putting her baby in
the pond?"

"His father," quoth Mr. Cattle, inclining again to his wife's side,
"had a glass eye, and I've heerd his mother was a Papist."

"Well," interrupted Miriam at last, "what if he did set fire to his
house?"

They all looked amazed.  "What if he did! what if he did!" repeated Mr.
Cattle; "why, it's arson, that's all."

"Oh, that's saying the same thing over again."

"He'll be transported, that's 'what if he did,'" interposed Mrs. Cattle.

"I suppose," said Miriam, "he wanted to get money out of the Insurance
Office.  It was wrong, but he hasn't done much harm except to the
office, and they can afford it."

They were all still more amazed, and justly, for Miriam, amongst her
other peculiarities, did not comprehend how society necessarily
readjusts the natural scale of reward and punishment.

"'Pon--my--word," exclaimed Mrs. Cattle, after a long pause, slowly
dwelling on each syllable, "hasn't--done--much--harm; and for aught we
know, in a month, or at most six weeks, he'll be tried, and then after
that, in a fortnight, he may be on his way to Botany Bay.  What do you
think, Mr. Tacchi?"

Giacomo did not occupy the same position as his daughter.  His eyes
were screwed very nearly, although not quite, to the conventional
angle; but he loved her, and had too much sense not to see that she was
often right and Cowfold was wrong.  Moreover, he enjoyed her antagonism
to the Cattles, of whose intellect he had not, as a clock and barometer
maker, a very high opinion.  He evaded the difficulty.

"He hasn't been convicted yet."

"That's true," said Mr. Cattle, to whom, as an Englishman, the
principle of not passing sentence till both sides are heard was happily
familiar.  It was a great thought with him, and he re-expressed it with
earnestness--"That's true enough."

But Miriam did not let them off.  "I want to know if he is as bad as
those contractors that father was reading about in the newspaper last
week, who filled up the soldiers' boots between the soles with clay.
If they hadn't been found out, the poor soldiers would have gone
marching with those boots, and might have been out in the wet, and
might have died."

"Ah!" retorted Miss Cattle, "that's all very well; but that isn't
arson."

Miss Cattle was not quite so absurd as she seemed.  The contractors'
crime was not catalogued with an ugly name.  It was fraud or breach of
contract, and that of course made all the difference.

Miriam did not notice her antagonist's argument, but proceeded
musingly--"He was never unkind.  He was very good to that old woman,
his aunt."

"Unkind!"  Mrs. Cattle almost screamed, her harsh grating voice
contrasting most unpleasantly with the low, indistinct, mellow tones in
which Miriam had uttered the last two or three words.  "Unkind!  What's
that in a man as is a going to be brought up before the 'sizes.  I can
see the judge a sentencing of him now."

"He may have been very poor, and may have lost all his money,"
continued Miriam; "anyhow, he wasn't cruel.  I would sooner have hung
old Scrutton, who flogged little Jack Marshall for stealing apples till
his back was all covered with bloody weals."

The clocks in the shop began at that moment to strike ten in a dozen
different tones, as if they discerned the hopelessness of the
discussion, and were determined to cut it short.  The company
consequently separated, and Miriam went to bed; but not to sleep, for
before her eyes, half through the night, was sailing the ship in which
she thought poor Cutts would be exiled.  Let it not for a moment be
supposed that Mr. Cutts was a young man, and that Miriam was in love
with him.  He was about fifty.

Next morning she was still more distressed.  Sometimes the morning
brings forgetfulness of the trouble of the day before, and at other
times it revives with peculiar power just at the moment when we wake,
especially if it be dark.  Miriam was confused.  The belief that she
ought to do something if possible to help Cutts was just dawning upon
her; but although she was singularly liable to be set fast to any
purpose when once she had it clearly formed, it was always a long time
before it became formed.  She was not one of those happy persons whose
thoughts are always beneath them, as the horses of a coach are beneath
the driver, and can be directed this way or that way at his bidding.
She could not settle beforehand that she would think upon a given
subject, and step by step disentangle its difficulties, and pursue it
to the end.  That is the result of continuous training, and of this she
had had none.  Ideas passed through her mind with great rapidity, but
they were spontaneous, and consequently disconnected, so that in
difficulty the path was chosen without any balancing of the reasons on
this and on the other side, which, forced the conclusion that it was
the proper path to take.

A thousand things whirled through her brain.  She had known all about
Cutts before the conversation with the Cattles, or with the Cattle, as
she generally called them; but the case had not struck her till they
and she began to talk about it.  She was in a great turmoil, and plans
presented themselves to her, were discarded, and then presented
themselves again as if they were quite new.  The next night she slept
well.  More than ever was she impressed with horror at what seemed to
be Cutts's certain fate--more than ever was she resolved to help him if
she could; and now at last she was a little clearer, and had determined
to go over to the county town and see Messrs. Mortimer, Wake, Collins
and Mortimer, the solicitors in whose hands the defence lay.  She did
not doubt it to be her duty to go, although Cutts was no more to her
than to any other person in Cowfold, and she had no notion of what she
was going to say to the lawyers when she saw them.  On the following
morning she started, under the pretence that she wanted something she
could not obtain in Cowfold.  Having no mother, and being manageress in
a small way at home, these trips were not unusual.  Courageous as she
was, when she reached the office her heart sank, and she then first
remembered that she had no very solid ground for her visit.  She had
brooded in her bedroom over Cutts, and had thought what a grand thing
it would be to save him, but when she stepped inside Messrs. Mortimer's
door, and was face to face with a raised desk, protected by rails,
behind which clerks were busy writing, or answering questions, her
dreams disappeared; she saw what a fool she was, and she would have
liked to retreat.  However, it was too late, for one of the gentlemen,
behind the rails asked what she wanted.

"I've come about Mr. Cutts."

"Oh yes; committed for arson at Cowfold.  Sit down in that room for a
few minutes.  Mr. Mortimer will attend to you presently."

Miriam was shown into a little box-like den, in which there was a
round, leather-covered table, with a couple of chairs, but no books,
and no newspaper.  She had to wait for twenty terrible minutes, in
which her excitement increased to such a degree that once or twice she
was on the point of rushing out past the clerks, and running back to
Cowfold.  But she did not do it, and after a while Mr. Mortimer entered.

"Well, Miss Tacchi, what can I do for you?"  He was gentle in his
behaviour, and he soothed by his first words poor Miriam's flutter.

"Oh, if you please, sir, Mr. Cutts is not guilty."

"Why not?"

"It is a cruel thing that he should suffer.  He is as kind a creature
as ever lived.  You don't know how kind he has been to his old aunt.
He always sold honest things.  There are scores of people in Cowfold
who deserve to be transported more than he."

"That won't help him much.  Good people are a queer set sometimes.  But
why should _you_ interfere?"

"I cannot tell," replied Miriam, her voice beginning to shake; "but I
thought and I thought over it, and it is so wrong, so unfair, so
wicked, and I know the poor man so well.  Why should they do anything
to him?"  She would have proceeded in the same strain, and would have
compared the iniquity of arson with that of fraudulent contractors and
the brutal Scrutton, but she checked herself.  "He is not guilty," she
added.

Mr. Mortimer was perplexed.  He was accustomed in his profession to all
kinds of concealment of motives, and he conjectured that there must be
some secret of which he was unaware.

"Are you any relation?"

"No."

"Have you ever visited at his house, or has he been in the habit of
calling at yours?"

"No."

He was still more perplexed.  He could not comprehend, and might very
well be excused for not comprehending, why the daughter of a
respectable tradesman in Cowfold should walk six miles on behalf of a
stranger, and be so anxious about him.

"One more question.  You have had nothing whatever to do with Mr.
Cutts, except by going to his shop, and by talking to him now and then
as a neighbour?"

"Nothing;" and Miriam said it in such a manner, that the most hardened
sceptic must have believed her.

"The fire broke out at a quarter to eight.  Had you seen Cutts about
that time?"

"I had met him in the street that evening as I came home."

"Where had you been?"

"Practising in the church."

"What time was it when you met him?  Be careful."

Miriam now realised the importance of her answer.

The exact truth was that she had reached home at half-past seven, and
had seen Cutts going into his house then.  It must be remembered that
although, as before observed, she was naturally truthful, she was so
because she was fearless, and had the instinctive tendency to
directness possessed by all forceful characters.  Her veracity rested
on no principle.  She was not like Jeanie Deans, that triumph of
culture, in whom a generalisation had so far prevailed that it was able
to overcome the strongest of passions and prevent a lie even to save a
sister's life.  Miriam had been brought up in no such divine school.
She had heard that lying was wrong, but she had no religion, although
she listened to a sermon once every Sunday, and consequently the
relation in which the several duties and impulses stood to one another
was totally different from that which was established in Sir Walter's
heroine.  By some strange chance, too, tradition, which often takes the
place of religion, had no power over her; and although hatred of
oppression and of harsh dealing is a very estimable quality, and one
which will go a long way towards constructing an ethical system for us,
it will not do everything.

She began to reflect.  She had no watch with her.  She had noticed the
clocks when she returned, and she remembered that they showed half-past
seven.  She could not at the moment deliberately say a quarter to
eight, although really it did not much matter.  Who would be the worse
if she declared it was a quarter to eight?  Nobody, and she knew that
Cutts would be the better.  She had not specially observed the clocks;
how could she, for she had no notion that anything important depended
upon accuracy.  She was short-sighted, and she had not seen the
regulator.  Nothing was actually before her eyes but a great Dutch
kitchen clock, which showed half-past seven, and might have been wrong.
Something struck when she left the church, and the strokes chimed again
in her ears as she was shaping her reply to Mr. Mortimer.  They sounded
like half-past, and in that case it must have been a quarter to eight
when she stood on her doorstep.  Finally, there was the reason of
reasons which superseded the necessity of any further attempt to
persuade herself by any casuistry--she must save Cutts.

"A quarter to eight," she said decisively,

"Odd that you should have seen him just at that time.  In less than
five minutes the place was in a blaze.  He could hardly have lit it up
himself.  Would you swear before the Court it was a quarter to eight?"

If she had been asked this at first she would have hesitated, but she
now boldly said "Yes."

"Very well; I do not see what more I can do now.  I will think over the
matter," and Miriam departed.

The lawyer had his suspicions, and determined, after some inquiries in
Cowfold, that Miss Miriam should not be called.  He told the story to
his partner, who laughed, and said he did not see anything
extraordinary in it.  It was a common case of perjury.  Mr. Mortimer
was not sure that it was common perjury.  Externally it might be so,
and yet there seemed to be a difference.  Moreover, he could not find
out anything in Cowfold to make him believe that there was any motive
for it.

"Perfectly motiveless," he replied.  "A noteworthy instance," for he
was a bit of a philosopher, "of an action performed without any motive
whatever.  I have always maintained the possibility of such actions."

As to Miriam, she went back to Cowfold without any self-accusation or
self-applause.  She did not know that there was anything criminal or
generous in her attempt on behalf of Cutts.  We may say in parting that
he was acquitted, to her great delight; and Mr. Cattle, with the pride
of a British citizen who has served on a jury and knows the law, did
not cease to preach to his wife, whenever the opportunity offered, that
you should never pronounce the verdict till you've heard the evidence.

Soon after Mr. Cutts's return to Cowfold Mr. Tacchi one day surprised
his household by telling them he meant to take another wife.  Andrew
was silent, but Miriam at once flew into a violent passion, and thereby
greatly incensed her father.  There was no cause for her anger.  Mrs.
Brooks, whom Giacomo had chosen, was, as the second choice often is,
just the woman who was necessary to him.  She was about forty, a good
manager, with an equable temper, a widow, with no children, not in the
least degree rigid, but, on the contrary, affectionate.  She had seen
some trouble with her first husband, who was a little farmer and drank,
and consequently, although she was a churchwoman, had been driven to
the Bible, and had found much comfort therein.  "Although she was a
churchwoman" may sound rather strange, but still it is a fact that in
those days in Cowfold the church people, and for that matter the
Dissenters too, did not read their Bibles; but amongst the Dissenters
there was here and there a remnant of the ancient type to whom the
Bible was everything.  Amongst the church people there were very few or
none.

Why Miriam should be so wrathful with her father it is extremely
difficult to say.  It is certain she did not object to her deposition
as housekeeper.   She never cared for her duties as mistress.  Perhaps
one reason was that she chose to resent the apparent displacement of
her own mother.  She never knew her, and owed her nothing except her
birth; but she was _her_ mother, and she took sides with her, and
considered her insulted, and became her partisan with perfect fury.
Perhaps, too, Miriam was slightly jealous that her father, who was now
nearing his half century, should show himself not altogether dead to
love.  She would have liked to find him insensible, leaving all love
affairs to his children, and she once even went so far as to use the
word "disgusting" in conversing with Andrew on the subject.

Giacomo, however, was very determined, notwithstanding his affection
for his daughter, and disagreeable scenes took place between them.  She
showed her displeasure in a thousand ways, and was positively rude to
Mrs. Brooks when she invited Miriam to her house.

Giacomo had a sister, a Mrs. Dabb, who lived in London.  She had
married a provision dealer in the Borough, and he employed not only a
staff of assistants, but a couple of clerks.  Mrs. Dabb, oddly enough,
was a fair-haired woman, with blue eyes and a rosy complexion.  She had
rather a wide, plump face, and wore her hair in ringlets.  She lived at
the shop, but she had a drawing-room over it with a circular table in
the middle, and round it lay the "Keepsake" and "Friendship's
Offering," in red silk, with Mrs. Hemans' and Mr. Montgomery's poetry.
Into these she occasionally looked, and refreshed herself by comparing
her intellect with that of the female kind generally.  She desired
above everything not to be considered commonplace, believed in love at
first sight, was not altogether unfavourable to elopements, carefully
repressed any tendency to unnecessary order, wore a loose dressing-gown
all the morning, had her breakfast in bed, let her hair stray a little
over her face, cultivated a habit of shaking it off and pushing it back
with her fingers, and generally went as far to be thought a little
"wild" as was possible for the wife of a respectable, solid, eminently
British, close-fisted Borough tradesman.  Nevertheless she had a huge
appetite, and always had ham or sausages for tea.  Giacomo she
despised, on the ground that his occupation was so limited, that it
contracted the imagination, and that he did not "live in the
metropolis, but vegetated in a country town."  She consequently very
seldom visited Cowfold, and very seldom wrote to her brother.  Giacomo,
however, thought it his duty to tell his sister of his approaching
marriage; and Mrs. Dabb, who was endowed with great curiosity, replied
that, if it was quite agreeable, she would come to Cowfold for two or
three days to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Brooks and obtain a change
of air, as she had suffered somewhat from feelings of languor of late
and a little fever on the nerves.  Accordingly she came, and in a short
time saw what was the state of affairs between Miriam and her father.
She rather liked Miriam, chiefly for her defects; and as Giacomo had
been a little freer than usual with his sister one evening, and had
expressed his fears that Miriam and Mrs. Brooks would not agree, Mrs.
Dabb gave him some advice.

"Miriam, my dear Giacomo, is a bit of a genius, untamed and irregular,
reminding me something of myself."

Giacomo did not much believe in untamed irregular genius.  It was
certainly of no use in clockmaking.

"Well, what then?"

"I should say that she suffers through limitation of her sphere.  No
suffering like that, Giacomo.  Ah me!"

Mrs. Dabb shook back her hair, and put both her hands to her forehead.

"Does your head ache?"

"No; at least not more than usual.  I always have a weight there; I
believe it is merely ideas.  I asked a very eminent young man who lives
not far from us--he occupies a high position in the hospital--a
dresser, I think, they call him; and he said it was due to
overstrung--dear me, what was it!  I remember putting it down, it
seemed so exactly to coincide with my own views."

Mrs. Dabb looked in her pocket-book.

"Overstrung cerebration, that was it; overstrung cerebration."

"What were you going to say about Miriam?"

"A little proposal.  My husband wants a clerk.  Why not let Andrew take
the place, and Miriam be his housekeeper?  We have no room for them,
but apartments are to be procured at a low rate."

This was in reality Miriam's scheme.  She had heard of the vacancy in
Mr. Dabb's establishment, and had implored her aunt to use her
influence with Giacomo to gain his assent to Andrew's removal.  Mrs.
Dabb was not an unkind woman; she really thought she liked Miriam, and
she consented.  She had even gone so far as to encourage her in the
belief that she "vegetated," and the word opened up to her a new world.
"Vegetate"--it stuck to her, and became a motive power.  Great is the
power of a thought, but greater still is the power of a phrase, and it
may be questioned whether phrase is not more directly responsible than
thought for our religion, our politics, our philosophy, our love, our
hatred, our hopes and fears.

"I do not think," said Giacomo, "they could live on a clerk's salary.
Andrew would not be worth much as a beginner."

"It is astonishing, my dear Giacomo, upon how little people can live,
if their wants are simple, like my own, for example; and then Andrew
would have the opportunity of acquiring animal food at a cheap rate."

"I do not like the thought of parting with the children, and I fear the
dangers of London, especially for a girl like Miriam."

"I would take them, Giacomo, under my wing.  Besides, as a dear friend
once observed to me, evil has no power over the pure soul.  I feel it
myself; it cannot come near me; it dissolves, it departs.  What is the
Borough to me with all its snares?  I am in a different world."

Giacomo for some time refused; but Miriam was alternately so unpleasant
and so coaxing, that at last he consented.  Poor Andrew had really no
will of his own in the affair.  He was a gentle, docile creature whom
clockmaking suited, but he was pleased at the thought of the change,
and who could tell? he might rise to a position at his uncle's far
beyond anything which he could attain in Cowfold.

After some negotiation, therefore, Miriam and Andrew departed for
London, the salary being fixed at thirty-eight shillings a week.  To
this Giacomo added twelve shillings a week--two pounds ten shillings
altogether.  It was a happy day for both of them when they journeyed to
the end of Cowfold Lane, and waited for the coach; they were happier
still when they were mounted on the top, and were at last on the great
London road, and already on the line which, was in direct communication
with the great city.  It was different altogether from the Cowfold
roads, and there was a metropolitan air about it.  They continually met
coaches going away to York, Newcastle, and even to Edinburgh, and the
drivers mutely saluted by lifting their whips as they passed.  Two
drivers had thus met for forty years, and had never spoken a single
word to one another.  At last one died, and the other took his death so
much to heart that he sickened and died too.  The inns were nothing
like the Cowfold inns.  They were huge places, with stables like
barracks, and outside each of them were relays of beautiful horses
standing ready for the change.  The scenery from Huntingdon to London
is not particularly attractive, but to Miriam and Andrew the Alps could
not have been more fascinating.  They wondered that others did not
share their excitement, and Andrew thought that a coachman must be the
happiest of men.

At last they reached Barnet, the last stage, and immediately afterwards
they saw the line of the smoke-cloud which lay over the goal of all
their aspirations, the promised land in which nothing but golden
romance awaited them.  Presently a waypost was passed, with the words
_To the West End_ upon it, so that they might now be fairly said to be
at least in a suburb.  Ten minutes more brought them to Highgate
Archway, and there, with its dome just emerging above the fog, was St.
Paul's!  They could hardly restrain themselves, and Miriam squeezed
Andrew's hand in ecstasy.  They rattled on through Islington, and made
their first halt at the "Angel," astonished and speechless at the
crowds of people, at the shops, and most of all at the infinity of
streets branching off in all directions.  Dingy Clerkenwell and
Aldersgate Street were gilded with a plentiful and radiant deposit of
that precious metal of which healthy youth has such an infinite
store--actual metal, not the "delusive ray" by any means, for it is the
most real thing in existence, more real than the bullion forks and
spoons which we buy later on, when we feel we can afford them, and far
more real than the silver tea-service with which, still later, we are
presented amidst cheers by our admiring friends in the ward which we
represent in the Common Council, for our increasing efforts to uphold
their interests.

At the Bull and Mouth they saw that marvel, the General Post Office,
but they had not much time to look at it, for here they were met by a
young man from Mr. Dabb.  They were disappointed that Mrs. Dabb had not
come, but a verbal excuse was offered that she was in bed with a
headache.  Mr. Dabb, of course, was too busy to leave.  The messenger
was commissioned to take them to their uncle's, where they were to have
tea; and after tea they were to go to the lodgings which Mrs. Dabb had
provisionally selected for them.  In a few minutes they had crossed
London Bridge, and drew up in front of Mr. Dabb's house.  There was no
private entrance, and they encountered their uncle on the pavement.  He
was short and thick, with a very florid complexion, and wore a brown
jersey, and a white apron fastened at the back with a curious brass
contrivance.  There were two or three people with him, and he had a
knife in his hand.  The doors were wide open; there seemed to be no
windows, and in fact Mr. Dabb's establishment was a portion of the
street just a little recessed.  He was in and out continually, now on
the pathway talking to a customer there, and then passing inside to the
ladies who were a little more genteel, and preferred to state their
wants under cover.  At the back of the shop was a desk perched up
aloft, just big enough for one person, and with a gaslight over it.
Andrew noticed it, and thought of winter, and wondered how anybody
could sit there during a January day with the snow on the ground, or
during a cold thaw.

Mr. Dabb put down his knife and shook hands with them.

"Well, Mr. Andrew, so you've come to make your fortune--long hours,
hard work, stick at nothing; cutting place the Borough.  Better go
inside.  Put your traps up in that corner; you'll want 'em again
directly.  Aunt's abed upstairs; can't see you to-night."

They went into a little greasy back parlour, lighted by a skylight, if
indeed a window could be so called whose connection with the sky was so
far from being immediate.

Mr. Dabb looked in.  "You'll have some tea in a minute.  I myself can't
leave--shorthanded."

They were not asked to wash or take off their travelling clothes.

Presently a slut of a girl appeared with a tray on which there were
some ham, a shapeless mass of butter which looked as if it had been
scooped out of a pot, a loaf, a teapot, some cups and saucers, a milk
jug, and two plates, with knives and forks.  She went to a cupboard,
put a black cruet-stand on the table, and as the milk had been spilt
over the bread, she took the plate to the fender, emptied it amongst
the ashes, and wiped it with her apron.  The apron was also used to
wipe the butter plate, on which there was an unusually black mark, with
lines resembling the imprint of a very big thumb.  In about
half-an-hour after they had refreshed themselves Uncle Dabb looked in.

"Better be off before it gets dark.  Eight o'clock sharp to-morrow
morning, Andrew.  Sharp's the word.  Breakfast before you come.  My boy
will show you your quarters.  Needn't take them unless you like them."

A cab was called, their luggage was put upon it, and they were landed
in Nelson Square.  The lodgings were three rooms at the back of the
house, two of them garrets at the top, and the third a small
sitting-room on the ground floor, behind the front parlour.  They
looked rather dismal, and Miriam inquired whether they could not have
front rooms.

"Oh yes, ma'am; but they would come more expensive.  Mrs. Dabb told me
she didn't think you would like to pay more than thirteen shillings and
sixpence a week without extras, which is exceedingly cheap for this
part, and the front rooms corresponding would be five-and-twenty
shillings."

This settled the question.  They had fancied an outlook on a gay
promenade, and they had in its place a waste expanse of dirty dull
roofs and smoking chimneys.  If they looked down below, they saw a
series of small courtyards used for the purpose of storing refuse which
could not be put in the dustbin--bottles, broken crockery, and odd bits
of rusty iron.  The first thing was to provide the breakfast for the
following morning.  This their landlady offered to do for them.  The
next thing was to go to bed utterly wearied and worn out.  They both
slept soundly, and both woke much refreshed and full of buoyant hope.
A pleasant and seductive vista lay before them--seductive and pleasant,
although they were in Nelson Square, as that which we see in one of
Turner's Italian pictures--a temple at the side, a lake in front and
beyond it a valley embosomed in woods and mountains, basking in golden
light.

They planned the day.  Miriam had to lay in her stock of eatables, and
of course must call on her aunt.  At twenty minutes to eight Andrew
started.  The way was easy to find, and he was at his uncle's five
minutes before his time.  The shopmen were already there, and Andrew
had rather a rough greeting.

"An't yer brought yer warming-pan with yer, young 'un?  You'll find it
cool a sittin' still all day long."

Andrew then found out that the desk up aloft was really his appointed
post.

"Don't yer be so free, Bill," said the other; "he's the govnor's nevvy.
You'd better mind what you're at, old man, now we've got the nevvy
here."

"I suppose you'll be a pardner next week," continued the first with a
bow.

The truth was that Mr. Dabb had told his men that he was expecting a
nephew "of his missus's," and that "he was took on as a kind of charity
like."

Mr. Dabb now appeared.

"Here you are--all right.  Sharp's the word--that's my motter.  Keep on
your coat and hat--you'll want 'em, I can tell you.  This isn't a place
for coddlin', is it, Bill?"  Bill smiled.  "You've got to take the
money--all ready money here, except a few weeklies.  You get a ticket,
see as you have the right amount; we keep a duplicate, and so we check
you.  Things as go in the books you put down.  Three-quarters of an
hour for your dinner and half-an-hour for tea--not like Cowfold, eh?
You'll see life here--_life_, my boy;" and Mr. Dabb, full of ham,
buttered toast, and hot coffee, and feeling very well that morning,
began to chop with great vigour at the spine of a dead pig suspended by
its hind-legs.  "Life," he said again--"there isn't such a place in
London for life as the Borough; and though I say it, there aren't many
more places in the Borough where there's more life than at Dabb's.  Now
then, mount."

Andrew assumed his new position.  Fortunately for him, he was, like
many other youths of his bent, rather quick at arithmetic; Mr. Dabb was
not very busy, and whatever his faults may have been, was by no means
disposed to be hard upon a beginner.  Still the day was insufferably
long, and he rejoiced with a foolish extravagance of delight when the
hour came for going home.  There was nothing exhilarating in the
streets through which he raced: there was no certainty of anything
particularly pleasant in Nelson Square, and the morrow would inevitably
be as to-day.  But still he was glad; and as for the morrow, he did not
see it.

At three o'clock Miriam called on her aunt.  As she passed through the
shop she saw her brother, but it was full of people, and she could not
speak to him.  She found Mrs. Babb still in bed with her nerves in
disorder; other things were in disorder too, and Miriam particularly
wondered at the dishevelled condition of Mrs. Dabb's hair, nightcaps
being the custom at Cowfold for all people who were not girls nor boys.
Miriam was not an orderly person, as we know, but Mrs. Dabb's room was
a surprise to her.  In one corner was an old green sofa, on which
clothes were thrown; on the top of the clothes was a tray with some
half-eaten bread and butter, a piece of bacon, and some tea things--we
will not, however, go any further.

"I am glad you've come, my dear," said Mrs. Dabb, "although I am afraid
I shall not be able to see you so often as I could wish, for my health
is not good, and when I am better there is so much to be done."

Miriam thought that if this might be true, there was no reason to put
it in the forefront of the reception.

"Your brother, I believe, will do very well.  It must be a great relief
to him to be freed from his mechanical labours in a provincial town,
and to find himself in a more extended circle."

Miriam thanked her aunt, and said that she was sure her uncle would be
kind.

"Yes, he will be kind; although I should not say that kindness is the
one thing prominent in him.  In such large commercial undertakings the
feelings are not developed.  I am often sensible of it.  There is no
response in your uncle to what is best in me, yet I must not complain.
Perhaps if we had children it might have been different, and yet who
knows?  Maternal solicitude might have destroyed the sentiment I now
possess.  But I must not weary myself by talking--I must bid you
good-bye.  Come again soon."

Miriam rose, ventured to kiss her aunt, and departed.

Three months passed, and Miriam and Andrew agreed that there was
vegetation in London as well as in Cowfold.  They began indeed to think
it was even a little greener in Cowfold than in Nelson Square itself.

Miriam had been out for walks--she had been as far as Regent Street;
but Regent Street began to lose its charms, especially as she had no
companions.  Her landlady, Miss Tippit, was a demure little person of
about fifty years, but looking rather younger, for her hair was light.
It was always drawn very tightly over her forehead, and with extreme
precision under her ears.  She invariably wore a very tight-fitting
black gown, and as her lips too were somewhat tightly set, she was a
very tight Miss Tippit altogether.  It was necessary to be so, for
beyond an annuity of 20 pounds a year, she had no means of support save
letting her lodgings.  She was very good, but her goodness appeared to
lack spontaneity.  It seemed as if she did everything, and even
bestowed her rare kisses, under instructions from her conscience, and
every tendency to effusiveness was checked as a crime.  Yet the truth
was that she was naturally kind and even generous, but disbelieving in
nature on the whole, she never would sanction any natural instinct
unless she could give it the form of duty.  She was an unpleasant
companion at times, because she often felt bound to "set things right,"
and made suggestions which were resented as interference.  When she
visited her friends, for she had two or three, she invariably assumed
the reins, and was provocative by reason of her unauthorised
admonitions to the servants or remarks upon defective management.
Another odd thing was that Miss Tippit was a Christian.  She went to
church regularly twice every Sunday, and it was always her parish
church.  She might have found something to do her more good if she had
gone farther afield; but she considered it her duty to go to her own
church as she called it.  The parson was not eminent, belonged to no
school, and said nothing which was specially helpful; but Miss Tippit
listened with respect, heard the Bible read, did her best to join in
the hymns with her little thin voice, and prayed the church prayers.
She contrived, through what she heard, and what she sang, and what she
prayed, not only to provide herself with an explanation which she did
not doubt of the here and hereafter--an explanation which would not
probably have been secure against Strauss--but she obtained a few
principles by which she regulated this present life--principles of
extreme importance, which scepticism must admit if the world is not to
go to ruin.  In the church, too, in the corner against the wall, when
the music sounded, or when the voice of the priest was heard asking for
the Divine mercy, the heart of Miss Tippit often moved, notwithstanding
the compression of her tight black dress, and something seemed to rebel
in her throat against her bonnet-strings.  What did she think in those
sacred moments?  Let us not profane her worship with too minute
inquiry.  Whatever she thought, those emotions were perfectly valid.
She might be snappish, limited, and say ugly things during half the
week, but there was something underneath all that which was in
communication with the skies.  The church was the only mental or
spiritual education which Miss Tippit received.  Books she never
read--she had not time; and if she tried to read one she was instantly
seized with a curious fidgetiness--directly she sat down with a volume
in her hand it was just as if things went all awry, and compelled her
instantly to rise and adjust them.  In church all this fidgetiness
vanished, and no household cares intruded.  It was strange, considering
her temper, and how people generally carry their secular world with
them wherever they go, but so it was.  There was a secret in her
history, her friends said, for though they knew nothing of her little
bit of private religion, and although she never admitted a soul into
the little oratory where the image of her Saviour hung, everybody was
aware that there was "a something about her" which took her out of the
class to which she externally and by much of her ordinary conduct
appeared to belong, and of course the theory was an early love
disappointment, the only theory which the average human intellect is
capable of forming in such cases.  It was utterly baseless; and Miss
Tippit was touched with this faint touch of supernal grace just because
her Maker had so decreed.

Miriam disliked Miss Tippit on account of her primness and old
maidishness, and the frequent hints which she gave to keep her room in
order.  Miriam had picked up an epithet, perhaps from her aunt, perhaps
from a book which seemed exactly to describe Miss Tippit--she was
"conventional;" and having acquired this epithet, her antipathy to Miss
Tippit increased every time she used it.  It was really not coin of the
realm, but gilded brass--a forgery; and the language is full of such
forgeries, which we continually circulate, and worst of all, pass off
upon ourselves.  Thus it happened that although Miss Tippit would have
been glad to do Miriam many a service, her offers were treated with,
something like disdain, and were instantly withdrawn.  The only other
lodgers in the house were an old gentleman and his wife on the first
floor, whom Miriam never saw, and about whom she knew nothing.

Andrew at last began to feel the wear of London life.  When he came
home in the evening he suffered from an exhaustion which he never felt
in Cowfold.  It was not that weariness of the muscles which was a
pleasure after a game at cricket or football, but a nervous distress
which craved a stimulant.  He had confined himself hitherto to a single
glass of beer at supper, but this was not enough, and a glass of whisky
and water afterwards was added to keep company with the pipe.  By
degrees also he dropped into a public-house as he left Mr. Dabb's for
just threepennyworth to support him on his way.  Frequently when he
went there he met a man of about thirty who also was apparently
enjoying a modest threepennyworth to help him home or help him away
from it or help him to do something which he could not do without it,
and Andrew and he began gradually, under the influence of their
threepennyworths, to talk to one another.  He was clean shaven, had
glossy black hair, a white and somewhat sad face, was particularly neat
but rather shabby, and, what at first was a puzzle to Andrew, looked as
if he was going to begin work rather than leave it, for his boots were
evidently just blacked.  He was a music-hall comic singer.  His father
and mother--fathers and mothers, even the best of them, will do such
things--had given him a fairish schooling, but had never troubled
themselves to train him for any occupation.  They stuck their heads in
the sand, believed something would turn up, and trusted in Providence.
Considering the kind and quantity of trust which is placed in
Providence, the most ambitious person would surely not aspire to its
high office, and it may be pardoned for having laid down the inflexible
rule to ignore without exception the confidence reposed in it.  Poor
George Montgomery found himself at eighteen without any outlook,
although he was a gentleman, and his father was a clergyman.  The only
appointment he could procure was that of temporary clerk in the War
Office during a "scare"--"a merely provisional arrangement," as the
Rev. Mr. Montgomery explained, when inquiries were made after George.
The scare passed away; the temporary clerks were discharged; the father
died; and George, still more unfitted for any ordinary occupation, came
down at last, by a path which it is not worth while to trace, to earn a
living by delighting a Southwark audience nightly with his fine
baritone voice, good enough for a ballad in those latitudes, and good
enough indeed for something much better if it had been properly
exercised under a master.  He was not downright dissolute, but his
experience with his father, who was weak and silly, had given him a
distaste for what he called religion; and he was loose, as might be
expected.  Still, he was not so loose as to have lost his finer
instincts altogether, for he had some.  He read a good deal, mostly
fiction, played the organ, and actually conducted the musical part of a
service every Sunday, heathen as he was.  His vagrant life of
excitement begot in him a love of liquor, which he took merely to quiet
him, but unfortunately the dose required strengthening every now and
then.  He was mostly in debt; prided himself on not dishonouring
virtuous women--a boast, nevertheless, not entirely justifiable; and
through his profession had acquired a slightly histrionic manner,
especially when he was reciting, an art in which he was accomplished.
He found out that Andrew had a sister, and he gave him a couple of
tickets for an entertainment which had been got up by some well-meaning
people to draw the poor to his church.  They were tickets for the
respectable end of the schoolroom, and Andrew having obtained
permission to leave an hour earlier, took Miriam in her very best
dress, and with one or two little additional and specially purchased
articles of finery.  It never entered Mr. Montgomery's head to invite
even Andrew to the music hall.  He was ashamed of it, and he saw that
Andrew was not exactly the person to be taken there.  Mr. Montgomery
had two classes of songs, both of which found favour with his ordinary
nightly audience.  One was coarse, and the other sentimental.

Of the coarse, his always applauded "Hampstead-Heath Donkey and what he
thought of his Customers" might be taken as a sample, but there was
just as vigorous clapping when he produced his "Sackmaker's Dream," and
this he now sang.  Miriam was much affected by it, and dwelt upon it as
the three--the singer, Andrew, and herself--walked home to their
lodgings whither Mr. Montgomery had been invited to supper.

"Did you write the Sackmaker's Dream yourself?" she asked, as they went
along.

"Yes; just by way of a change.  It does not pay to sing nothing but
comic stuff."

"It is very pathetic.  Is it true?"

"Oh, I don't quite know.  Founded on fact, as they say, dressed up a
bit by the author," and Mr. Montgomery laughed.

"But how did you ever hear of such a thing?"

"Oh, I've heard a good many strange things since I've been knocking
about town."

"Then you had some particular person in your eye when you were
composing it?"

"Yes, partly, but not much of her," and Mr. Montgomery laughed again.

"How much?"

"How inquisitive you are.  Well, to tell you the truth, no more than
this, that one night I saw one of these women coming out of a sack
factory.  She looked awfully wretched, and I made up all the rest."

Miriam was much astonished.  She was actually in company with an
author, and with one who could invent scenes, descriptions, and
characters like those in the novels of which she was now so fond.  Mr.
Montgomery was a marvel to her.  He, too, was somewhat struck with
Miriam; with her beauty, and with a certain freshness in her
observations; but a man who had lived as he had lived in London is not
likely to admire any woman with much fervour, and indeed the incapacity
for genuine admiration of women is one of the strongest arguments
against such a life.

They had their supper, and after supper some whisky was produced, and
Andrew and Montgomery smoked.

"Talking about sackmakers," said Montgomery, "I can tell you a true
story of one, quite true, every word of it.  I knew a fellow who had
been awfully wild when he was young, but he was converted, as they call
it, and turned city missionary.  He came to know in this way one of
these sackmaking women.  She was above the usual run, well-behaved, and
very good-looking.  He fell desperately in love with her, and she with
him, but he always thought she held back a little.  At last she told
him she had lived with a man, and that he had left her.  The missionary
said he did not care, and would marry her, but she refused.  She was
bound, she said, and nothing could get that notion out of her head.
The missionary was in despair; he was trained for foreign service, and
went to India.  There he married, well enough, I was told, and was
happy; but the sackmaker was never forgotten.  He became the minister
of a big chapel in Calcutta, but he always somehow, through somebody in
London, managed to find out what the girl was doing.  When he was
forty-five, his wife died.  They had no children, and he came back to
England.  One fine morning he knocked at his old friend's door.  You
may imagine their meeting!  The man with whom she had lived was dead.
The missionary and she were married.  He gave up his preaching; he had
saved up a bit of money, and took his wife and himself off to America.
What do you think of her, Andrew?"

Andrew's notions on social and moral questions were what are commonly
called "views."  They were not thoughts, and furthermore they were
"average views."  Having had some whisky, his views were very
average--that is to say, precisely what is usual and customary.  "I
suppose it was the best thing he could do," he somewhat sleepily
replied.

"The best thing he could do!" retorted Miriam, with much scorn.  "I
would have worn that woman like a jewel, if I had been her husband.  He
ought never to have married his first wife."

Six months afterwards, the position of affairs in the little household
in Nelson Square had changed.  Andrew, finding that vegetation in
London was very slow work, had contracted the habit of taking whisky a
little more frequently, and had even--not unnoticed by Mr.
Dabb--provided himself with a small flask, from which he was accustomed
to solace himself by "nips" during business hours when he thought he
was not seen.  Once or twice he had been late in the morning, and had
been reminded by Mr. Dabb.  "Sharp's the word in my establishment,
nephew, and I show no favour."

Mr. Montgomery, too, had become a constant visitor at the Tacchis' on
Sunday, and Miriam had found herself beginning on the Monday morning to
count the hours till the next Sunday should arrive.  She had told Mr.
Montgomery that she should like to hear him sing in his own hall, but
he did not receive the proposal very graciously.

"They are a rough set that go there, and you would not like to mix with
them."

"If you do not mind, why should I?  Besides, could you not find some
place apart where Andrew and myself could be quiet?"

"You would object to some of the songs; they are not adapted for your
ears."

"You know nothing about my ears.  I do not suppose there will be
anything wrong.  Come now, promise."

Mr. Montgomery thought a little, and reflected that he could easily
obtain a secluded seat; and as for the programme, he could perhaps for
once exclude everything offensive.  He said he would write and fix an
evening.

"Andrew is out all day; perhaps you had better send the note to me, so
that I may have more time to make arrangements."  Miriam usually said
what she meant; but this was not what she meant.  She was possessed now
by a passion which was stronger than her tendency to speak the truth.
She longed for the pleasure of a letter to herself in Mr. Montgomery's
own writing.  The next morning, when she went downstairs, she looked
anxiously at the breakfast table.  It was utterly impossible that he
could have written, but she thought there was a chance.  She listened
for the postman's knock all day, but nothing came.  How could it be
otherwise, seeing that Mr. Montgomery must go to the music hall first.
She knew he must go, and yet she listened.  Reason has so little to do
with the conduct of life, even in situations in which its claim is
incontestable.  The next day she had a right to expect, but she
expected in vain.

Mr. Montgomery was not a stone, but he saw no reason why he should be
in a hurry.  Miriam was a bewitching creature, but he had been
frequently bewitched, and had recovered.  The notion, of course, that
he was wrecking Miriam's peace of mind by delaying a little business
note, or by omitting to fix the earliest possible moment for the visit,
was too absurd to present itself to him.  At last he wrote, telling
Miss Tacchi that he hoped to have the pleasure of seeing her and Andrew
at the hall on the day following.  He would call for them both.  Miriam
had not stirred from home since she last saw him, and was in the little
back room when the letter arrived.  Miss Tippit brought it to her, and
she took it with an affected air of total unconcern.

"Thank you, Miss Tippit.  I am sorry to see you looking so poorly."

"Thank you, Miss Tacchi; I am not well by any means," and Miss Tippit
departed.

Miriam had not latterly inquired after Miss Tippit's health, but being
excited and happy, she not only inquired, but actually felt a genuine
interest in Miss Tippit's welfare.  She read the note twice--there was
nothing in it; but she took it upstairs and read it again in her
bedroom, and finally locked it up in her desk, putting it in a little
secret drawer which opened with a spring.  She had in her possession
something in his hand--she was going out with him; and the outlook from
her back window over the tiles was not to be surpassed by that down a
Devonshire glen in mid-summer, with Devonshire azure on the sea.

The evening came, and Mr. Montgomery called before Andrew had arrived.
Miriam was, nevertheless, ready.  She asked him if he would like
anything; could she get him any tea?  But he had prepared himself for
his night's work by a drop of whisky, and did not care for tea.  He did
not, however, suggest any more whisky; he was always indeed
particularly careful not to overstep the mark before his performances,
whatever he might do afterwards.

"Really, Mr. Montgomery, this is too kind of you to take the trouble to
come here out of your way for Andrew and myself."

"It is not out of my way, Miss Tacchi, and I do not believe that you
can honestly say that I, who have been idling about for three or four
hours, could find it a trouble to be here."

"Do you think I deal in hypocritical compliments?"

"Of course not; but we are all of us liars a little bit--women more
than men; and perhaps they are never so delightful as when they are
telling their little bits of falsehoods.  They speak the truth, but
they _do_ lie--truth and lie, lie and truth--the truest truth, the most
lying lie;" and Mr. Montgomery took up a couple of wax ornamental
apples which were on the mantelpiece and tossed them up alternately
with one hand with the greatest dexterity, replacing them on the
mantelpiece with a smile.

At that moment Andrew appeared at the door, and in a few moments they
were all three ready.  Just as they were departing, a gentleman came
downstairs.

"Pardon me," he said, speaking to Miriam, "do you live in this house?"

"Yes."

"Miss Tippit is very dangerously ill.  I am her doctor.  I do not like
to leave her alone with the little girl.  I am going to fetch a nurse,
and will probably be able to get one in an hour.  Do you mind waiting
till I return?"

Miriam was almost beside herself.  She was not simply vexed, but she
cursed Miss Tippit, and would have raged at her if the presence of
others had not restrained her.

"It is extremely awkward.  I have a most pressing engagement."

Andrew stared.  He did not see anything particularly pressing.

"I will wait for you, Miriam."

She now hated Andrew as much as she did Miss Tippit.

"Absurd to talk of waiting.  You know nothing about it.  Go on.  Don't
stay for me.  Of course I must give it up altogether;" and she clutched
at her bonnet-strings, and tore her bonnet off her head.  The doctor
was amazed, and doubted for a moment whether it would not be better to
do without her help.

"It doesn't matter, Miss Tacchi," said Mr. Montgomery; "I shall not be
on for an hour and a half, but I must be there.  If you will come with
your brother, you will be in plenty of time."

She sullenly went upstairs, and Andrew remained below.  When she
entered the room she shut the door with some vehemence, and the little
maid-of-all-work, who was at the head of the bed, came to meet her.

"Oh, if you please, Miss Tacchi, the doctor said she was to be kept so
quiet.  Poor Miss Tippit; she is very bad, Miss; I think she's
insensible."

"You need not tell me what to do.  I know just as well as yourself."

The sufferer lay perfectly still, and apparently unconscious.  Miriam
looked at her for a moment; and felt rebuked, but went and sat by the
fire.

"I don't mind doing anything for her," she said to herself, "although,
she is no particular friend of mine, and not a person whom it is a
pleasure to assist; but I really don't know whether, in justice to
myself and Andrew, I ought to remain, seeing how seldom we get a chance
of enjoying ourselves, and how important a change is for both of us."

There is no person whom we can more easily deceive--no, not even the
silliest gull--than ourselves.  We are always perfectly willing to deny
ourselves to any extent, or even to ruin ourselves, but unfortunately
it does not seem right we should do so.  It is not selfishness, but a
moral obligation which intervenes.

The man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves
was left half-dead.  The priest and the Levite, who came and looked and
passed by on the other side, assuredly convinced themselves that most
likely the swooning wretch was not alive.  They were on most important
professional errands.  _Ought_ they to run the risk of entirely
upsetting those solemn, engagements by incurring the Levitical penalty
of contact with a corpse?  There was but a mere chance that they could
do any good.  This person was entirely unknown to them; his life might
not be worth saving, for he might be a rascal; and, on the other hand,
there were sacred duties--duties to their God.  What priest or Levite,
with proper religious instincts, could possibly hesitate?

Was the Miriam who chafed at her disappointment, and invented
casuistical arguments to excuse herself, the same Miriam who walked
over to see Mortimer, Wake, and Collins on behalf of Mr. Cutts?
Precisely the same.

The doctor kept his engagement, and in an hour returned with a nurse.
When Miriam saw she was relieved, she became compassionate.

"I am so grieved," she said to the doctor, "to see Miss Tippit so ill.
Is there really _nothing_ I can do for her?"

"Nothing, madam."

Miriam, so grieved, rushed downstairs wild with excitement and delight,
laid hold of Andrew, half asleep, twitched him merrily out of the
chair, and they were off.  In a few minutes they were at the hall, and
found that they were in ample time to hear Mr. Montgomery's first song.

He had taken particular care not to include anything offensive or even
broad, so that one of his audience who eat below Miriam and Andrew
exclaimed in their hearing that it was "a d----d pious night," and
wondered "what Mont's little game was."

One of Mr. Montgomery's most telling serious songs was sung in the
costume of a sailor.  There was a description of his wanderings over
the "salt, salt sea," which rhymed with something "free," as it always
does, and there was a slightly veiled account of his exploits amongst
the damsels of different countries, always harmless, so at least ran
the version for the night, and yet he swore when he returned that

  "My lovely Poll at Portsmouth,
    When in my arms I caught her,
  Was worth a hundred foreign gals
    On the t'other side the water"--

a sentiment which was tumultuously applauded, although few of the men
present had travelled, and those who were married were probably not so
rapturously in love with their own domestic Polls.

Andrew was not quite comfortable, but Miriam applauded with the rest.

"How cleverly," she said, "he manages, although he is a gentleman, born
and bred, to adapt himself to the people beneath him.  It is a pity,
though, that he hasn't a better sphere for his talents."

When they came out, Mr. Montgomery accompanied them home; and as it was
night, and the streets were crowded with rather rough and disorderly
persons, he offered Miriam his arm, Andrew walking on the other side of
her.

"I was half ashamed, Miss Tacchi, that you should see me go through
such a performance."

"There was nothing objectionable in it; and for that matter, we all
have to do what we do not quite like.  I am sure it was very good of
you to let us come, and I enjoyed myself very much.  By the way, when
you sing any of the songs, which are not comic, do you feel them?  I
often wonder if a professional gentleman who can produce such an effect
on others, produces anything like the same effect on himself."

"It depends upon the mood.  Do you know now that when I was singing
to-night that stupid thing about the sailor and his Portsmouth Poll, it
all at once came to my mind that no Portsmouth Poll would ever wait for
me.  Did you ever hear anything so ridiculously absurd--such a bit of
maudlin nonsense.  I laughed at myself afterwards.  It gave me a good,
idea, though.  I'll compose a burlesque, and the refrain shall be,
weeping--

  "No Po-o-ortsmouth Poll is a-waiting for me."

"I don't think it was absurd," said Miriam gravely.

"You don't?" he replied, in a suddenly changed tone.

"No."

"The path is rather narrow here; you had better come a little closer."
He took her hand, and pulled her arm a little further through his own.
Was it fancy or not?  He thought he detected that the pressure on his
arm was increased.  When they reached Nelson Square they had supper,
and after supper Andrew and Montgomery, according to custom, enjoyed
themselves over the tobacco and whisky.  Miriam knew well enough, long
before they separated, that it was time for Andrew at least to go to
bed, but she was unwilling to break up the party.  At last, when it was
past one, Mr. Montgomery rose.  Andrew had had more whisky than was
good for him, and Miriam went with their guest to the door.  He had a
strong head, and could drink a good deal of liquor without confusing
it, but liquor altered him nevertheless.  To-night it made him more
serious, and yet, strangely enough, strengthened the evil tendency in
him to cross his seriousness with instantaneous levity.  He was much
given to mocking his own emotions, not only to others, but to himself.
When the door opened, he looked out into the night, and if there had
been a lamp there Miriam would have seen that for a moment his face was
very sad, but he at once recovered, or seemed to recover.

"Ah, well, I must be off.  It is dark, it is late, and it rains, and
alas

  "No Po-o-ortsmouth Poll is a-waiting for me."

Miriam was silent.  She pitied him profoundly, and thought it was
nothing but pity.

"Good-bye, Miss Tacchi."

He took her hand in his, held it a little longer than was necessary for
an ordinary farewell, then raised it to his lips and kissed it.  She
did not at once release him.  "Good-bye," she said.  He had moved a
little farther from her, and was descending the step, but the hands
still held.  One more "good-bye," and they slowly parted their grasp,
as things part under a strain which are not in simple contact, but
intermingle their fibres.

Mr. Montgomery in a quarter of an hour was at home, and in another
quarter of an hour was asleep.  Miriam, on the contrary, lay awake till
daylight, with her brain on fire, and when she woke it was nine
o'clock.  Coming downstairs as soon as she was dressed, she was greatly
surprised to find that Andrew was still in bed.  She was much alarmed,
went to his room, and roused him.  He complained of headache and
sickness, and wished to remain at home for the day, but Miriam would
not listen to it--rather unwisely, for it would have been better if he
had not appeared before Mr. Dabb that morning.  Mr. Dabb had in fact
been much provoked of late by small irregularities in Andrew's
attendance, and had at last made up his mind that on the next occasion
he would tell him, notwithstanding their relationship, that his
services were no longer required.

"Nice time to show yourself, Mr. Andrew," observed Mr. Dabb, pulling
out his watch.

"I was not well."

"I've got a word or two to say to you.  Perhaps we'd better go into the
parlour."

Thither Mr. Dabb went, and Andrew followed him.

"Look you here, Mr. Andrew, I know perfectly well what is the matter
with you.  You don't think that I haven't got a nose, do you?  You are
my nephew, but just for that very reason you shan't be with me.  I'm
not agoing to have it said that I've got a relative in my business who
drinks.  I won't turn you out into the street, as I might have done,
with nothing but what was due to you.  There's two months' pay, and now
we're quits.  You take my advice, and let this be a lesson to you, or
you'll go from bad to worse."

Mr. Dabb produced the money, and handed it to Andrew.  He was
confounded, and almost dumb with terror.  At last he found words, and
implored his uncle to forgive him.

"Forgive you?  Yes, I forgive you, if that will do you any good; but
business is business, and what I've settled to do that I do.  Now,
then, you'd better go; I can't stand here any longer.  I don't bear any
ill-will to you, but it's of no use your talking."

He opened the door, and in another minute Andrew was in the street.

Miriam heard his story.  She had anticipated it, and for the moment she
said nothing.  Her first care was to prevent her uncle or aunt from
communicating with Cowfold.  She foresaw that her father, if he knew
her brother's disgrace, might possibly stop the allowance.  She at once
put on her bonnet and called at the shop.  She made no appeal for
reconsideration of the sentence--all she asked was that there should be
silence.  To this Uncle Dabb assented willingly, for Miriam was half a
favourite with him, and he even went so far as somewhat to apologise
for what he had done.

"But you know," said he, "this is a shop.  As I have told him over and
over again, business is business.  I couldn't help it, and it's just as
well as he should have a sharpish lesson at first--nothing like that
for curing a man."

Mr. Dabb unfortunately did not know how much it takes to cure a man of
anything.

Miriam felt it would be graceless not to see her aunt, although she had
no particular desire for an interview just then.

"My dear Miriam," began that lady, without waiting for a word, "I do
regret so what has happened.  I am so sorry I could not prevent it, but
I never interfere in your uncle's commercial transactions, and
reciprocally he never intrudes into my sphere.  It is most
unfortunate--what do you think we can do to arrest this propensity in
your brother?"

Miriam was silent.

"It is astonishing how much may be done by cultivating the finer
emotions.  Your brother has always seemed to me not sufficiently
susceptible.  Supposing I were to lend you a book of my favourite
poetry, and you were to read to him, and endeavour to excite an
interest in him for higher and better things--who knows?"

Miriam had no special professional acquaintance with the theory of
salvation, but she instinctively felt that a love of drink was not to
be put down by the "Keepsake" in red silk.

She was still silent.  At last she said--"I am much obliged to you,
aunt; I will take anything you may like to lend.  You have a good deal
of influence, doubtless, over uncle.  If you can persuade him to say
what he can in case application is made to him for a character, I shall
think it very kind of you."

"My dear Miriam, I have no influence over your uncle.  His is not a
nature upon which I can exert myself.  I think some pieces in this
would be suitable;" and Mrs. Dabb offered Miriam a volume of Mrs.
Hemans' works.

Miriam took it, and bade her aunt good-bye.

She was now face to face with a great trouble, and she had to encounter
it alone, and with no weapons and with no armour save those which
Nature provides.  She was not specially an exile from civilisation;
churches and philosophers had striven and demonstrated for thousands of
years, and yet she was no better protected than if Socrates, Epictetus,
and all ecclesiastical establishments from the time of Moses had never
existed.

She did not lecture her brother, for she had no materials for a sermon.
She called him a fool when she came home; and having said this, she had
nothing more to say, except to ask him bitterly what he meant to do.
What could he do?--a poor, helpless, weak creature, half a stranger in
London; and without expostulating with her for her roughness with him,
he sat still and cried.  It was useless to think of obtaining a
situation like the one he had lost.  He could prove no experience, he
dared not refer to his uncle, and consequently there was nothing before
him but a return to clockmaking, or rather clock repairing.  Here
again, however, he was foiled, for his apprenticeship was barely
concluded, and he had never taken to the business with sufficient
seriousness to become proficient.  After one or two inquiries,
therefore, he found that in this department also he was useless.

The affection of Miriam for her brother, never very strong, was not
increased by his ill-luck.  She began, in fact, to dislike him because
he was unfortunate.  She imagined that her dislike was due to his
faults, and every now and then she abused him for them; but his faults
would have been forgotten if he had been prosperous.  She hated misery,
and not only misery in the abstract, but miserable weak creatures.  She
was ready enough, as we have seen, to right a wrong, especially if the
wrong was championed by those whom she despised; but for simple
infirmity, at least in human beings, she had no more mercy than the
wild animals which destroy any one of their tribe whom they find
disabled.  There was more than a chance, too, that Andrew would
interfere with her own happiness.  If he could not get anything to do,
they must leave London, for living on the allowance from Cowfold was
impossible.  Reproof, when it is mixed with personal hostility,
although the person reproving and the person reproved may be
unconscious of it, is never persuasive; and as a tendency to whisky and
water requires a very powerful antidote, it is not surprising that
Andrew grew rather worse than better.

One evening Montgomery called.  He had come to ask them both to the
hall.  He was in a very quiet, rational humour, for he had not as yet
had his threepennyworth.  Andrew had been out all day, had come home
none the better for his excursion, and had gone to bed.

"Your brother not at home?"

"Yes; but he is not very well, and is upstairs."

"I've brought you a couple of tickets for next week.  I hope you will
be able to go; that is to say, if you were not disgusted when you were
last there."

"Disgusted!  I am afraid, Mr. Montgomery, you have a very poor opinion
of my 'gusts' and disgusts."

It was unfortunate for Miriam that she had no work before her, such as
sewing or knitting.  She abominated it; but in conversation, especially
between a man and a woman who find themselves alone, it is useful.  It
not only relieves awkwardness, but it prevents too much edge and
directness during the interview.

"Well, you might reasonably have been offended with both the songs and
the company."

"Neither.  As to the company, I did not see much of it, thanks to your
kindness in getting us such a good place; and as to the songs, to say
nothing of the way in which they were sung, there was a
straight-forwardness about them that I liked.

"I don't quite know what you mean."

"Well," said Miriam, with a little laugh, which was not exactly the
light effervescence of gaiety, "your people, if they love one another,
say so outright, without any roundaboutness."

Mr. Montgomery was puzzled.  He did not quite know what to make out of
this girl.  There was something in her way of speaking and in her
frankness which offered itself to him, and yet again there was
something which stopped him from attempting any liberties.  She did not
classify herself in any of the species with which he was familiar.

At last he said--"You object, then, to all roundaboutness in such
matters."

"Well, yes; but perhaps I might be misunderstood.  I should like people
to be plain both ways, about their dislikes as well as their likes."

"Good gracious me, Miss Tacchi, what a pretty world you would live in.
There would be no fun in it.  Half the amusement of life consists in
trying to find out what we really think of one another underneath all
our fine speeches."

"I would rather amuse myself in some other way.  I have often dreamt of
an island in which everybody should say exactly what was in his mind.
Of course it would be very shocking, but I do really believe that in
the end we should be happier.  It would be delightful to me if my
cousins were to tell me, 'We hate you--you are dirty, disagreeable, and
ugly; and we do not intend to call upon you any more.'  For mind,
people would then believe in expressions of affection.  They do not
believe in them now."

"Yes; your island would be all very well for attractive young women,
but what would it be for poor devils such as I am.  I _know_ that
nobody can care twopence for me, but the illusion of politeness is
pleasant.  It is a wonderful thing how we enjoy being cheated, though
we know we are cheated.  A man will give a cabman sixpence more than
his fare for the humbug of a compliment, and I confess that if people
were to say to my face what I am certain they say behind my back, I
should hang myself.  Illusion, delusion--delusion, illusion," he hummed
it as if it were the refrain of a ballad; "it is nothing but that from
the day we are born till the day we die, and the older we become the
more preposterously are we deluded, until at last--but the Lord--to
think of preaching," and he laughed--"you must have made me do it;" and
he rose and played with his favourite toys, the wax apples, pitching
them up to the ceiling alternately and catching them in one hand.  "I
must be off."

Miriam did not appear to take any notice,

"Pray," said he, "if you lived in this island of which you dream, would
you tell me you hated me?  I am beginning to be rather nervous."

"We are not living in it just yet."

"But in one just as disagreeable, for it is pouring with rain."

Miriam gave a sudden start.  She unconsciously looked that the
conversation would prolong itself in the same interior strain.
Reference to the outside world was impossible to her just then, and
that Mr. Montgomery was capable of it was a shock like that of cold
water.  She came to herself, and went to the window.

"Must you go out in this storm?"

"Must; and what is more, I haven't got a minute to spare.  I may take
it for granted, then, you and Andrew will come."

"Yes, certainly."

He hastily put on his coat; shook hands--nothing more--and was off.

Miriam ran upstairs into her bedroom, went to the little box in which
she kept her treasures, unlocked it, took out the little note--the only
note she had ever had from him--read it again and again, and then tore
it into twenty pieces, each one of which she picked up and tried to put
together.  She then threw herself on the bed, and for the first time in
her life was overcome with hysterical tears.  She dared not confess to
herself what she wanted.  She would have liked to cast herself at his
feet; but notwithstanding her disbelief in form and ceremony, she could
not do it.  She cursed the check which had held her so straitly while
she was talking with him, and cursed him that he dealt with her so
lightly.  The continued sobbing at last took the heat out of her, and
she rose from her bed, collected the pieces of the note, went
downstairs, and put them one by one deliberately in the fire.

It was time now that they should seriously consider how they stood.
Andrew had nothing to do, and the wages paid him in advance were nearly
exhausted.  They decided that they would move into cheaper lodgings.
They had some difficulty in finding any that were decent but they
obtained three miserable rooms at the top of a house occupied by a man
who sold firewood and potatoes in one of the streets running out of the
Blackfriars Road.  They left Miss Tippit without bidding her good-bye,
for she was still unwell, and in bed.  They actually began to know what
poverty was, but Miriam as yet did not feel its approach.  There were
thoughts and hopes in her which protected her against all apprehension
of the future, although the cloud into which they must almost
inevitably enter was so immediately in front of her.

The evening came on which she and Andrew were to go to the hall, but
Andrew had gone out early to look for some employment, and had not
returned.  Miriam's hatred rose again, and again assumed an outward
garb of the purest virtue.  She sat for some time in rapid debate with
herself as to what she dare do.  Even she recoiled a little from going
to a music hall without her brother, but passion prevailed.  She did
not simply determine to go knowing it to be wrong, but with great
earnestness demonstrated to herself that she was right; and then, as a
kind of sop to any lingering suspicions, left a note on the mantelpiece
for Andrew, upbraiding him for delay, and directing him to follow.  No
Andrew appeared.  She now began to feel how strange her position was.
She might easily before she started have conjectured that Andrew might
fail, and might have pictured to herself how difficult and awkward it
would be to sit there throughout the evening alone and return alone;
but she did not possess the faculty of picturing uncertainties any
distance ahead, although the present was generally so vivid.  She could
never say to herself: "Probably this arrangement now proposed will
break down, and if it does; I shall stand in such and such a situation;
what, in that situation, ought I to do?"  She had, in fact, no
strategical faculty--certainly none when temptation was strong.  She
dreaded turning out into the street with the rough crowd, and she
wondered if Montgomery would come to her assistance.  The audience
gradually departed; she was nearly the last, and she determined that
she would walk round to the door by which she knew Montgomery usually
left, and try to encounter him casually.  She paced up and down a few
moments, and he met her.  He was much surprised, and she, with some
excitement, explained to him that she had left home a little before
Andrew, expecting him to overtake her, but that she had seen nothing of
him.

"Of course you will let me accompany you to your lodgings?"

"Thank you; it is very kind of you."

She took the arm he offered her.  She thought she detected he was a
little unsteady, and after a word or two he became silent.

She was not particularly well acquainted with the district round the
hall, but she soon perceived that they were not on the straight road
for her house.

"Is this our nearest way?" she asked.

"No, I can't say it is; but I thought you would not object to just a
turn round.  It's a lovely night--a lovely night!"

Presently they came into a very shabby street, and he stopped.  The
cold air had begun to upset him a little.

"These are my quarters," he stammered.  "I'm rather tired, and I should
think you must be tired too.  Just come in for a moment and have
something, and then we will go on."

"Oh no, thank you," said Miriam, who was becoming alarmed.  "I must go
back at once."

"Won't you come?  Do come; just a moment."

But Miriam steadfastly refused.

"Nonsense, come in just for a second till I----" and he used some
little force to compel her.  She looked round, and without any mental
process of which she was conscious determining her to action, instantly
slipped from him, and ran with furious haste.  She inquired her way of
a policeman, but otherwise she saw nothing, thought nothing, and heard
nothing till she was at her own door.  She opened it softly--it was
late; she went into their little parlour, and there lay Andrew on the
floor.  He had fallen against the fender, his head was cut open, and he
was senseless.  A half empty whisky bottle told the rest of the story.
There was nobody stirring--her landlord and landlady were strangers; if
she called them, and they saw what was the matter, she might have
summary notice to quit.  What was she to do?  She took some cold water,
washed his face, unfastened his neckcloth, and sat down.  She imagined
it was nothing but intoxication, and that in a few hours at most he
would recover.  So she remained through the dreadful night hearing
every quarter strike, hearing chance noises in the general quietude, a
drunken man, a belated cart, and worse than anything, the slow
awakening between four and five, the whistle of some early workman who
has to light the engine fire or get the factory ready for starting at
six--sounds which remind the sleepless watcher that happiness after
rest is abroad.

She hid the whisky bottle and glass; and as her brother showed no signs
of recovery, she went to seek advice and help as soon as she heard
somebody stirring.  The woman of the house, not a bad kind of woman,
although Miriam had feared her so much, came upstairs instantly.
Andrew was lifted on the bed, and a messenger was despatched for the
doctor.  Miriam recognised him at once: he was the doctor who had asked
her to stay with Miss Tippit.  He said there was concussion of the
brain--that the patient must be kept quiet, and watched night and day.
To her surprise, her landlady instantly offered to share the duty with
her.  A rude, stout, hard person she was, who stood in the shop all day
long, winter and summer, amidst the potatoes and firewood, with a
woollen shawl round her neck and over her shoulders.  A rude, stout,
hard person, we say, was Mrs. Joll, fond of her beer, rather grimy,
given to quarrel a little with her husband, could use strong language
at times, had the defects which might be supposed to arise from
constant traffic with the inhabitants of the Borough, and was utterly
unintelligent so far as book learning went.  Nevertheless she was well
read in departments more important perhaps than books in the conduct of
human life, and in her there was the one thing needful--the one thing
which, if ever there is to be a Judgment Day, will put her on the right
hand; when all sorts of scientific people, religious people, students
of poetry, people with exquisite emotions, will go on the left and be
damned everlastingly.  Miriam was at once sent to bed, and it was
arranged that she should take charge during the following night.
Afterwards the night duty was to fall equally between them.  She was so
shut up in herself that she did not recognise the full value of Mrs.
Joll's self-sacrifice, but she did manage to express her thanks, and
ask how Mrs. Joll could leave the business.

"That's nothing to you, Miss; my gal Maud has a head on her shoulders,
and can keep an eye on the place downstairs.  Besides, I've allus found
that at a pinch things will bear a lot of squeezing.  I remember when
my good man were laid up with the low fever for six weeks, and I had a
baby a month old, I thought to myself as I should be beaten; but Lord,
I was young then, and didn't know how much squeezing things will take,
and I just squeezed through somehow."

"He ain't very strong, is he?" continued Mrs. Joll.  "I don't mean in
his constitution, but here," and she tapped her head.  "Likes a drop or
two now and then?"

Miriam was silent.

"Ah! well, as I said about Joll's brother when I was a-nussing of
him--he was rather a bad lot--it's nothing to me when people are ill
what they are.  Besides; there ain't so much difference 'twixt any of
us."

The night came.  Miriam rose and went down to her brother's room.  She
tried to read, but she could not, and her thoughts were incessantly
occupied with her own troubles.  Andrew lay stretched before her--he
might be dying for aught she knew; and yet the prospect of his death
disturbed her only so far as it interfered with herself.  Montgomery
was for ever in her mind.  What was he that he should set the soul of
this girl alight!  He was nothing, but she was something, and he had by
some curious and altogether unaccountable quality managed to wake her
slumbering forces.

She was in love with him, but it was not desire alone which had tired
her, and made her pace up and down Andrew's sick chamber.  Thousands of
men with the blackest hair, the most piercing eyes, might have passed
before her, and she would have remained unmoved.  Neither was it love
as some select souls understand it.  She did not know what it was which
stirred her; she was hungry, mad, she could not tell why.  Nobody could
have predicted beforehand that Montgomery was the man to act upon this
girl so miraculously--nobody could tell, seeing the two together, what
it was in him which specially excited her--nobody who has made men and
women, his study would have wasted much time in the inquiry, knowing
that the affinities, attractions, and repulsions of men and women are
beyond all our science.

Brutally selfish is love, although so heroically self-sacrificing.
Miriam thought that if Andrew had not been such an idiot, the
relationship with Montgomery might have remained undisturbed.  He might
still have continued to call, but how could she see him now?  The
sufferer lay there unconscious, pleading for pity, as everything
lifeless or unconscious seems to plead--no dead dog in a kennel fails
to be tragic; but Miriam actually hated her brother, and cursed him in
her heart as a stone over which she had stumbled in the pursuit; of
something madly coveted but flying before her.

It was midnight.  She went to the window and looked out.  The
public-houses were being closed, and intoxicated or half-intoxicated
persons were groping their way homewards.  Suddenly she caught sight of
one man whom she thought she recognised.  He was with a woman, and his
arm was round her waist.  Softly she opened the window, and as it was
only one story high, she caught a full view of him as he came under the
gaslight.  It was Montgomery beyond a doubt.  He reeled just a trifle,
and slowly disappeared in the gloom.  The moment he had passed she was
not quite sure it was he.  She went downstairs in the dark, having
taken off her shoes to prevent any noise.  She put on her shoes again,
drew back the bolts softly, left the door upon the latch, and crept out
into the street.  Swiftly she walked, and in a few moments she was
within half-a-dozen yards of those whom she followed.  She could not
help being sure now.  She continued on their track, her whole existence
absorbed in one single burning point, until she saw the pair disappear
into a house which she did not know.  She stood stock still, till a
policeman was close upon her, and roused her from her reverie; and then
hardly knowing what she was doing, she went home, and returned to her
room.  Every interest which she had in life had been allowed to die
under the shadow of this one.  Every thought had taken one
direction--everything had been bitter or sweet by reference to one
object alone; and this gone, there followed utter collapse.  She had no
friends, and probably if she had known any they would have been of
little use to her, for hers was a nature requiring comfort of a
stronger kind than that which most friends can supply.  It was
unfortunate, and yet she was spared that aggravation of torture which
is inflicted by people who offer vague commonplaces, or what they call
"hopes;" she was spared also that savage disappointment to which many
are doomed who in their trouble find that all philosophy fails them,
and the books on their shelves look so impotent, so beside the mark,
that they narrowly escape being pitched into the fire.

Andrew began to recover slowly, but he could do no work, and Miriam had
to think about some employment for herself in order to prevent deeper
immersion in debt.  It was very difficult to find anything for a girl
who had been brought up to no trade; but at last, through the kindness
of her landlady, she obtained second-hand an introduction to the
manager of an immense drapery firm which did a large business through
circulars sent all over the country.  Miriam was employed in addressing
the circulars.  It was work which she could do at home, and by writing
incessantly for about seven hours a day she could earn twelve shillings
a week.  The occupation was detestable, and it was with the greatest
difficulty that she could persevere with it; but after some time it
ceased to be quite so repulsive.

Her relief, however, was the relief of stupefaction and not of
reconciliation.  Sorrow took the form of revolt.  It had always been so
with her whenever anything was the matter with her: it was the sense of
wrong which made it so intolerable.  What had she done, she said to
herself a hundred times a day, that she should have been betrayed into
wretched poverty, that she should have been deserted, and that her
fortunes should have been linked with those of an imbecile brother.

Andrew was still very weak--he could hardly speak; and as he lay there
impassive, Miriam's hatred of his silent white face increased.  She had
too much self-control to express herself; but at times she was almost
on the point of breaking out, of storming at him, and asking him
whether he had no pity for her.  One night, as she sat brooding at the
window, and her trouble seemed almost too much for her, and she thought
she must give way under it, a barrel organ stopped and began playing a
melody from an opera by Verdi.  The lovely air wound its way into
Miriam's heart; but it did not console her.  It only increased her
self-sympathy.  She listened till she could listen no longer, and
putting her hands over her ears she rested her head upon the table, and
was overcome with unconquerable emotion.  Poor Andrew stared at her,
utterly incapable of comprehending the scene.  When she had recovered,
he quietly asked her what was the matter.

"Matter!" she cried.  "I don't believe you understand or care any more
than the bedstead on which you lie," and she rose and flung herself out
of the house.  In those days there was, perhaps there is now, a
path--it could not be called a road--from the southern end of London
Bridge to Bankside.  It went past St. Saviour's Church, and then
trending towards the river, dived, scarcely four feet wide, underneath
some mill or mill offices, skirting a little dock which, ran up between
the mill walls.  Barges sometimes lay moored in this dock, and
discharged into the warehouses which towered above it.  The path then
emerged into a dark trench between lofty buildings connected overhead
with bridges, and finally appeared in Bankside amidst heaps of old iron
and broken glass, the two principal articles of merchandise in those
parts.  A dismal, most depressing region, one on which the sun never
shone, gloomy on the brightest day.  It was impossible to enter it
without feeling an instantaneous check to all lightness of heart.  The
spirits were smitten as if with paralysis directly St. Saviour's was
passed.  Thither went Miriam aimlessly that night; and when she reached
the dock, the temptation presented itself to her with fearful force to
throw herself in it and be at rest.  Usually in our troubles there is a
prospect of an untried resource which may afford relief, or a glimmer
of a distance which we may possibly reach, and where we may find peace,
but for Miriam there was no distance, no reserve: this was her first
acquaintance with an experience not rare, alas! but below it humanity
cannot go, when all life ebbs from us, when we stretch out our arms in
vain, when there is no God--nothing but a brazen Moloch, worse than the
Satan of theology ten thousand times, because it is dead.  A Satan we
might conquer, or at least we should feel the delight of combat in
resisting him; but what can we do against this leaden "order of things"
which makes our nerves ministers of madness?  Miriam did not know that
her misery was partly a London misery, due to the change from fresh air
and wholesome living to foul air and unnatural living.  If she had
known it, it would not have helped her.  She could not have believed
it, for it is the peculiarity of certain physical disorders that their
physical character does not appear, and that they disguise themselves
under purely mental shapes.  Montgomery, her brother, the desperate
outlook in the future, it is true, were real; but her lack of health
was the lens which magnified her suffering into hideous dimensions.
The desire to get rid of it by one sudden plunge was strong upon her,
and the friendly hand which at the nick of time intervenes in romances
did not rescue her.  Nevertheless, she held back and passed on.
Afterwards the thought that she had been close to suicide was for
months a new terror.  She was unaware that the distance between us and
dreadful crimes is much greater often than it appears to be.  The man
who looks on a woman with adulterous desire has already committed
adultery in his heart if he be restrained only by force or fear of
detection; but if the restraint, although he may not be conscious of
it, is self-imposed, he is not guilty.  Nay, even the dread of
consequences is a motive of sufficient respectability to make a large
difference between the sinfulness of mere lust and that of its
fulfilment.  No friendly hand, we say, interrupted her purpose, but she
went on her way.  Hardly had she reached the open quay, when there came
a peal of thunder.  In London the gradual approach of a thunderstorm
working up from a long distance is not perceived, and the suddenness of
the roar for a moment startled her.  But from her childhood she had
always shown a strange liking to watch a thunderstorm, and, if
possible, to be in it.  It was her habit, when others were alarmed and
covered their eyes, to go close to the window in order to see the
lightning, and once she had been caught actually outside the door
peering round the corner, because the strength of the tempest lay in
that direction.  The rain in an instant came down in torrents, the
flashes were incessant, and flamed round the golden cross of St. Paul's
nearly opposite to her.  She took off her bonnet and prayed that she
might be struck, and so released with no sin and no pain.  She was not
heard; a bolt descended within a few feet of her, blinding her, but it
fell upon a crane, passed harmlessly down the chain into a lot of rusty
old scrap, and so spent itself.  She remained standing there alone and
unnoticed, for the street was swept clear as if by grapeshot of the
very few persons who might otherwise have been in it at that hour.
Gradually the tumult ceased, and was succeeded by a steady, dull
downpour; Miriam then put on her bonnet and walked home.

The next day she was ill, unaccountably feverish and in great pain.
Hers was one of those natures--happy natures, it may perhaps be
said--which hasten always to a crisis.  She had nothing of that
miserable temperament which is never either better or worse, and
remains clouded with slow disease for months or years.  She managed to
do her work, but on the following morning she was delirious.  She
remembered nothing more till one afternoon when she seemed to wake.
She looked up, and whose face was that which bent over her?  It was
Miss Tippit's.  Miss Tippit had learned through the doctor what was the
state of affairs, and had managed, notwithstanding the demand which the
lodgings made upon her, to take her share in watching over the
sufferer.  Her stepmother had been summoned from Cowfold, and these
two, with the landlady, had tended her and had brought her back to
life.  In an instant the scene in Miss Tippit's room when she was sick
passed through Miriam's brain, and she sobbed piteously, lifted up her
arms as if to clasp her heroic benefactor, but the thought was too
great for her, and she fainted.  Nevertheless she was recovering, and
when she came to herself again, Miss Tippit was ready with the
intervention of some trifle to distract her attention.  As her strength
returned she was able to talk a little, and her first question was--

"Miss Tippit, why did you come here?  Oh, if you but knew!  What claim
have I on you?"

"Hush, my dear; those days are past.  You did not love me then perhaps;
but what of that?  I am sure, you will not mind my saying it: 'If ye
love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the
publicans the same?'  But I know you did love me really."

"Where is Andrew?"

"Quite well, at home in Cowfold."

That was as much as Miriam could stand then.  For weeks to come she was
well-nigh drained of all vitality, and it flowed into her gradually and
with many relapses.  The doctor thought she ought to be moved into the
country.  Mrs. Tacchi had some friends in one of the villages lying by
the side of the Avon in Wiltshire, just where that part of Salisbury
Plain on which stands Stonehenge slopes down to the river.  Miriam knew
nothing of the history of the Amesbury valley, but she was sensible--as
who must not be?--to its exquisite beauty and the delicacy of the
contrasts between the downs and the richly-foliaged fields through
which the Avon winds.  It is a chalk river, clear as a chalk river
always is if unpolluted; the downs are chalk, and though they are
wide-sweeping and treeless, save for clusters of beech here and there
on the heights, the dale with its water, meadows, cattle, and dense
woods, so different from the uplands above them, is in peculiar and
lovely harmony with them.

One day she contrived to reach Stonehenge.  She was driven there by the
farmer with whom she was staying, and she asked to be left there while
he went forward.  He was to fetch her when he returned.  It was a clear
but grey day, and she sat outside the outer circle on the turf looking
northwards over the almost illimitable expanse.   She had been told as
much as is known about that mysterious monument,--that it had been
built ages before any record, and that not only were the names of the
builders forgotten, but their purpose in building it was forgotten too.
She was oppressed with a sense of her own, nothingness and the
nothingness of man.  If those who raised that temple had so utterly
passed away, for how long would the memory of her existence last?
Stonehenge itself too would pass.  The wind and the rain had already
worn perhaps half of it; and the place that now knows it will know it
no more save by vague tradition, which also will be extinguished.

Suddenly, and without any apparent connection with what had  gone
before, and indeed in contrast with it, it came into Miriam's mind that
she must do something for her fellow-creatures.  How came it there?
Who can tell?  Anyhow, there was this idea in the soul of Miriam Tacchi
that morning.

The next question was, What could she do?  There was one thing she
could do, and she could not go astray in doing it.  Whatever may be
wrong or mistaken, it cannot be wrong or a mistake to wait upon the
sick and ease their misery.  She knew, however, that she could not take
up the task without training, and she belonged to no church or
association which could assist her.  Perhaps one of the best
recommendations of the Catholic Church was that it held out a hand to
men who, having for some reason or other, learned to hold their lives
lightly, were candidates for the service of humanity--men for whom
death had no terrors--by whom it was even courted, and who were willing
therefore to wait upon the plague-smitten, or to carry the Cross
amongst wild and savage tribes.  Those who are skilled in quibbling may
say that neither in the case of the Catholic missionary nor in that of
the Sister of Mercy is there any particular merit.  What they do is
done not from any pure desire for man's welfare, but because there is
no healthy passion for enjoyment.  Nothing is idler than disputes about
the motives to virtuous deeds, or the proportion of praise to be
assigned to the doers of them.  It is a common criticism that a sweet
temper deserves no commendation, because the blessed possessor of it is
naturally sweet-tempered, and undergoes no terrible struggle in order
to say the sweet word which he who is cursed with spite only just
manages to force himself to utter.  What we are bound to praise or
blame, however, is the result, and the result only--just as we praise
or blame perfect or imperfect flowers.  If it comes to a remorseless
probing of motives, there are none of us who can escape a charge of
selfishness; and, in fact, a perfectly _abstract_ disinterestedness is
a mere logical and impossible figment.

To revert to what was said a moment ago, it may be urged that no
sufficient cause is shown for Miriam's determination.  What had she
undergone?  A little poverty, a little love affair, a little sickness.
But what brought Paul to the disciples at Damascus?  A light in the sky
and a vision.  What intensity of light, what brilliancy of vision,
would be sufficient to change the belief and the character of a modern
man of the world or a professional politician?  Paul had that in him
which could be altered by the pathetic words of the Crucified One, "I
am He whom thou persecutest."  The man of the world or the politician
would evade an appeal from the heaven of heavens, backed by the glory
of seraphim and archangel.  Miriam had a vitality, a susceptibility or
fluidity of character--call it what you will--which did not need great
provocation.  There are some mortals on this earth to whom nothing more
than a certain, summer morning very early, or a certain chance idea in
a lane ages ago, or a certain glance from a fellow-creature dead for
years, has been the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, or
the Descent of the Holy Ghost.

A man now old and nearing his end is known to Miriam's biographer, who
one Sunday November afternoon, when he was but twenty years old, met a
woman in a London street and looked in her face.  Neither he nor she
stopped for an instant; he looked in her face, passed on, and never saw
her again.  He married, had children, who now have children, but that
woman's face has never left him, and the colours of the portrait which
hangs in his soul's oratory are as vivid as ever.  A thousand times has
he appealed to it; a thousand times has it sat in judgment; and a
thousand times has its sacred beauty redeemed him.

Miriam wrote to Miss Tippit expressing her newly-formed wish.  Miss
Tippit, with some doubts as to her friend's fitness for the duty,
promised to do what she could; and at last, after complete recovery,
Miriam was allowed to begin a kind of apprenticeship to the art of
nursing in a small hospital, recommended by Miss Tippit's friend, the
doctor.  One morning, a bright day in June, she was taken there.  When
the door opened, there was disclosed a long white room with beds on
either side, and a broad passage down the middle.  The walls were
relieved by a few illuminated sentences, scriptural and secular; women
dressed in a blue uniform were moving about noiselessly, and one of the
physicians on the staff, with some students or assistants, was standing
beside a patient happily unconscious, and demonstrating that he could
not live.  Round one of the beds a screen was drawn; Miriam did not
quite know what it meant, but she guessed and shuddered.  She passed on
to a little room at the end, and here she was introduced to her new
mistress, the lady-superintendent.  She was a small, well-formed woman
of about thirty, with a pale thin face, lightish brown hair, grey eyes,
and thinnish lips.  She also was dressed in uniform, but with a
precision and grace which showed that though the material might be the
same as that used by her underlings, it was made up at the West End.
She was evidently born to command, as little women often are.  It was
impossible to be five minutes in her company without being affected by
her domination.  Her very clothes felt it, for not a rebellious wrinkle
or crease dared to show itself.  The nurses came to her almost every
moment for directions, which were given with brevity and clearness, and
obeyed with the utmost deference.  The furniture was like that of a
yacht, very compact, scrupulously clean, and very handy.  There was a
complete apparatus for instantaneously making tea, a luxurious little
armchair specially made for its owner, a minute writing-case, and, for
decorations, there were dainty and delicate water-colours.
Half-a-dozen books lay about, a novel or two of the best kind, and two
or three volumes of poems.

"You wish to become a nurse?" said Miss Dashwood.

"Yes."

"I am afraid you hardly know what it is, and that when you do know you
will find it very disagreeable.  So many young women come here with
entirely false notions as to their duties."

Miriam was silent; Miss Dashwood's manner depressed her.

"However, you can try.  You will have to begin at the very bottom.  I
always insist on this with my probationers.  It teaches them how the
work ought to be done, and, in addition, proper habits of
subordination.  For three months you will have to scrub the floors and
assist in keeping the wards in order."

Miriam had imagined that she would at once be asked to watch over
grateful patients, to give them medicine, and read to them.  However,
she was determined to go through with her project, and she assented.
The next morning saw her in coarse clothes, busy with a pail and soap
and water.  It was very hard.  She was not a Catholic novice; she was
not penetrated with the great religious idea that, done in the service
of the Master, all work is alike in dignity; she had, in fact, no
religion whatever, and she was confronted with a trial severe even to
an enthusiast received into a nunnery with all the pomp of a gorgeous
ritual and sustained by the faith of ages.

Specially troublesome was her new employment to Miriam, because she was
by nature so unmethodical and careless.  Perhaps there are no habits so
hard to overcome as those of general looseness and want of system.
They are often associated with abundance of energy.  The corners are
not shirked through fatigue, but there is an unaccountable persistency
in avoiding them, which resolution and preaching are alike unable to
conquer.  The root of the inconsistency is a desire speedily to achieve
results.  To keep this desire in subjection, to shut the eyes to
results, but patiently to remove the dust to the last atom of it lying
in the dark angle, is a good part of self-culture.

In a hospital Miriam's defect was one of the deadly sins, and many were
the admonitions which she received from Miss Dashwood.  One evening,
after a day in which they had been more frequent than usual, she went
to bed, but lay awake.  She was obliged to confess to herself that the
light of three months ago, which had then shone round her great design,
had faded.  To conceive such a design is one thing, to go down on the
knees and scour floors week after week is something different.

She did not intend, however, to give up.  When she rose in the morning
she looked out over the London tiles and through the smoke with a
miserable sinking of heart, hoping, if she hoped for anything, for the
end of the day, and still more for the end of life; but still she
persevered, and determined to persevere.

One day a new case came into the ward.  It was evidently serious.  A
man returning home late at night, drunk or nearly so, had fallen under
a cart in crossing a road and had been terribly crushed.  He had
received some injury to the head and was unconscious.  Miriam, to whom
such events were now tolerably familiar, took no particular notice
until her work brought her near the bed, and then she saw to her
amazement and horror that the poor wretch was Montgomery.  Instantly
all that had slumbered in her, as fire slumbers in grey ashes, broke
out into flame.  She continually crept as well as she could towards
him, and listened for any remark which might be dropped by nurse or
doctor upon his condition.  Three days afterwards he died, without
having once regained his reason save just one hour before death.  He
then opened his eyes--they fell upon Miriam; he knew her, and with a
faint kind of astonishment muttered her name.  Before she could come
close to him he had gone.

Another month passed, and as Miriam's constitutional failings showed no
sign of mitigation, Miss Dashwood found herself obliged to take serious
notice of them.  The experienced, professional superintendent knew
perfectly well that the smart, neat, methodical girl, with no motive in
her but the desire of succeeding and earning a good living, was worth a
dozen who were self-sacrificing but not soldierly.  One morning, after
Miss Dashwood's patience had been more than usually tried, she sent for
Miriam, and kindly but firmly told her that she was unsuitable for a
hospital and must prepare to leave.  She was not taken by surprise; she
had said the same thing to herself a dozen times before; but when it
was made certain to her by another person, it sounded differently.

She sought her friend Miss Tippit.  To Miss Tippit the experience was
not new.  She had herself in her humble way imagined schemes of
usefulness, which were broken through personal unfitness; she knew how
at last the man who thinks he will conquer a continent has to be
content with the conquest of his own kitchen-garden, fifty feet by
twenty.  She knew this in her own humble way, although her ambition, so
far from being continental, had never extended even to a parish.  She,
however, could do Miriam no good.  She had learned how to vanquish her
own trouble, but she was powerless against the very same trouble in
another person.  She had the sense, too, for she was no bigot, to see
her helplessness, and she gave Miriam the best of all advice--to go
home to Cowfold.  Alpine air, Italian cities, would perhaps have been
better, bat as these were impossible, Cowfold was the next best.
Perhaps the worst effect of great cities, at any rate of English
cities, is not the poverty they create and the misery which it brings,
but the mental mischief which is wrought, often unconsciously, by their
dreariness and darkness.  In Pimlico or Bethnal Green a man might have
a fortune given him, and it would not stir him to so much gratitude as
an orange if he were living on the South Downs, and the peculiar
sourness of modern democracy is due perhaps to deficiency of oxygen and
sunlight.  Miriam had no objection to return.  She was beaten and
indifferent; her father and mother wrote to welcome her, and she
recollected her mother's devotion to her when she was ill.  She had not
the heart to travel by the road on which she and Andrew came to London,
and she chose a longer route by which she was brought to a point about
ten miles from Cowfold.  She found affection and peace, and Andrew, who
had lost his taste for whisky, was quietly at work in his father's shop
at his old trade.  There was at the same time no vacant space for her
in the household.  There was nothing particular for her to do, and
after a while, when the novelty of return had worn off, she grew weary,
and longed unconsciously for something on which fully to exercise her
useless strength.

In Cowfold at that time dwelt a basketmaker named Didymus Farrow.  Why
he was called Didymus is a very simple story.

His mother had once heard a sermon preached by a bishop from the text,
"Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow-disciples,
Let us also go, that we may die with Him."  The preacher enlarged on
the blessed privilege offered by our Lord, and observed how happy he
should have been--how happy all his dear brethren in Christ would have
been, if the same privilege had been extended to them.  But, alas! God
had not so decreed.  When the day arrived on which they would see their
Master in glory, they could then assure Him, and He would believe them,
how willingly they would have borne His cross--aye, and even have hung
with Him on the fatal tree.

Some weeks before Didymus Farrow was born, Mrs. Farrow remembered the
bishop and part of his discourse, but what she remembered most
distinctly was, "Thomas, which is called Didymus."  These words were
borne in upon her, she said, and accordingly the son was baptized
Didymus.  When he grew up, he entered upon his father's trade, which
was that of making the willow hampers for fruit-growers, of whom there
were a good many round Cowfold, and who sent their fruit to London,
stacked high on huge broad-wheeled waggons.  Didymus also manufactured
hand-baskets, all kinds of willow ware and white wood goods.  He had a
peculiar aptitude for the lathe, and some of his bread-plates were
really as neatly executed as any that could be seen in London.  He had
even turned in poplar some vases, which found their way to a
drawing-master, and were used as models.  He was now about thirty, had
yellow hair, blue eyes, a smiling face, widish mouth, always a little
open, nose a little turned up, whistled a good deal, and walked with a
peculiar dance-like lilt.  He was a gay, innocent creature, honest in
all his dealings, and fairly prosperous.  He had been married early,
but had lost his wife when he was about twenty-six, and had been left
with one daughter, whom his sister had in charge.  The sister was about
to be married, and when her brother knew that the day for her departure
was fixed, it came into his head that he ought to be married again.
Otherwise, who could manage his house and his family?

He was not a man to seek any recondite reasons for doing or not doing
anything.  He was not in the habit of pausing before he acted, and
demanding the production of every conceivable argument, yea or nay, and
then with toil adjusting the balance between them.  If a lot of withies
looked cheap, he bought them straightway, and did not defer the bargain
for weeks till he could ascertain if he could get them cheaper
elsewhere.

Going home one evening, he passed his friend Giacomo's shop, and
through the window saw Miriam talking to her father.  Instantly it
struck him that Miriam was the girl for him, and he began to whistle
the air to "Hark the Lark," for he was a member of the Cowfold Glee
Club, and sang alto.  This was on the 25th May.  Miriam being
accustomed to walk in the fields in the evening, and Mr. D. Farrow
being fully aware of her custom, he met her on the 26th and after some
preliminary skirmishing requested her to take him for better or for
worse.  She was surprised, but did not say so, and asked time for
consideration.  She did consider, but consideration availed nothing.
It is so seldom even at the most important moments that our faculties
are permitted fully to help us.  There is no free space allowed, and we
are dragged hither and thither by a swarm of temporary impulses.  The
result has to stand, fixed for ever, but the operative forces which
determine it are those of the moment, and not of eternity.  Miriam,
moreover, just then lacked the strong instinct which mercifully for us
so often takes us in hand.  She was not altogether unhappy, but dull
and careless as to what became of her.  No oracle advised her.  There
is now no pillar of cloud or of fire to guide mortals; the heavenly
apparition does not appear even in extremities; and consequently a week
afterwards she said yes, and six months afterwards she was Mrs. Farrow.

For some time the day went pleasantly enough.  She had plenty to do as
mistress of the house, and in entertaining the new friends who came to
see her.  After a while, when the novelty had worn off, the old
insuperable feeling of monotony returned, more particularly in the
evening.  Mr. Farrow never went near a public-house, but he never
opened a book, and during the winter, when the garden was closed,
amused himself with an accordion, or in practising his part in a catch,
or in cutting with a penknife curious little wooden chairs and tables.
This mode of passing the time was entertaining enough to him, but not
so to Miriam, who was fatally deficient, as so many of her countrymen
and countrywomen are, in that lightness which distinguishes the French
or the Italians, and would have enabled her, had she been so
fortunately endowed with it, to sit by the fire and prattle innocently
to her husband, whatever he might be doing.  When she came to her new
abode and was turning out the corners, she discovered upstairs in a
cupboard a number of brown-looking old books, which had not been
touched for many a long day.  Amongst them were Rollin's Ancient
History, some of Swift's Works with pages torn out, doubtless those
which some impatiently clean creature had justly considered too filthy
for perusal.  There were also Paul and Virginia, Dryden's Virgil,
Robinson Crusoe, and above all a Shakespeare.  Miriam had never been
much of a reader; but now, having nothing better to do, she looked into
these books, and generally brought one downstairs in the afternoon.
Swift she did not quite understand, and he frightened her; she never,
in fact, got through anything but Gulliver and the Tale of a Tub; but
some of his sayings stuck to her and came up against her again and
again, until, like most of us who have had even a glimpse of the dark
and dreadful caverns in that man's soul, she wished that he had never
been born.  For years, even to the day of her death, the poison of one
sentence in the Tale of a Tub remained with her--those memorable words
that "happiness is a perpetual possession of being well deceived."  Yet
she pitied him; who does not pity him?  Who is there in English history
who excites and deserves profounder pity?

Of all her treasures, however, the one which produced the deepest
impression on her was "Romeo and Juliet."  She saw there the
possibilities of love.  For the first time she became fully aware of
what she could have been.  One evening she sat as in a trance.  Cowfold
had departed; she was on the balcony in Verona, Romeo was below.  She
leaned over and whispered to him--

  "My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
  My love as deep: the more I give to thee,
  The more I have, for both are infinite."

She went on; the day was breaking; she heard the parting--

  "Farewell! farewell! one kiss and I'll descend,"

Her arms were round his neck with an ecstasy of passion; he was going;
the morning star was flashing before the sun, and she cried after him--

  "Art thou gone so? love, lord, ay husband, friend!
  I must hear from thee every day in the hour,
  For in a minute there are many days."

Ah, God! what is the count of all the men and women whom, since it was
first "plaid publiquely with great applause," this tragedy has reminded
of the _what might have been_!

Mr. Didymus Farrow, during his wife's absence in Verona, had been very
much engaged in whittling a monkey which toppled over on a long pole,
but being dissatisfied with its performance he had taken his accordion
out of the box, and, just as Lady Capulet called, he struck up "Down
amongst the dead men," which, whatever its merit may be, is not
particularly well adapted to that instrument.  Verona and Romeo were
straightway replaced by Cowfold and the Cowfold consort.  He was in the
best of spirits, and he stooped down just as his wife was waking, took
the cat--which was lying before the fire--and threw it on her lap.

"Oh, please do not!" she exclaimed, a little angry, shocked, and sad.

"I wish you would not sit and addle your brains over those books.
Blessed if I don't burn them all!  What good do they do?  Why don't you
talk?"

"I've nothing particular to say."

"You never have anything to say when you've been reading.  Now if I
read a bit of the newspaper, I've always something to talk about."

She was silent, and her husband continued his tune.

"Miriam, my dear, you aren't well.  Are you in pain?"

Mr. Farrow never understood any suffering unless it was an ache of some
bind.

"Let me get you just a drop of brandy with some ginger in it."

"No, thank you."

"Yes, you will have just a drop," and he jumped up at once and went to
the cupboard.

"I tell you I will not."

The "not" came out with such emphasis that he desisted and sat down.
The monkey lay on the table, the accordion lay there too; Mr. Farrow
stopped his whistling and sat back in his chair with his finger to his
mouth.  At last, he took up the book, turned it over, and put it down
again.  He loved his wife after his fashion, and could not bear to see
anybody distressed.   He placed his chair beside hers, and lifting her
arm, put it round his neck, she nothing resisting.

"Tell me now, there's a dear, what's the matter," and he kissed her.

"Nothing," she said, somewhat softened by his caresses.

"That's right, my twopenny," a name he used confidentially to her.  "A
little faint; the room is rather close," and he opened the window a
trifle at the top, returning to his seat, and embracing her again.

Yet, though she yielded, it was not Mr. Farrow who held her in his
arms; she purposely strove to think an imaginary Romeo's head was on
her neck--his face was something like the face of Montgomery--and she
kept up the illusion all that night.  When she came down to breakfast
and sat opposite her husband, it struck her suddenly that she had
cheated him and was a sinner.

In the afternoon she went out for a stroll through the streets, and up
to the monument in the park.  Cowfold was busy, for it was market-day.
Sheep-pens were in the square full of sheep, and men were purchasing
them and picking them out as they were sold; dogs were barking; the
wandering dealer who pitched his earthenware van at the corner was
ringing his plates together to prove them indestructible; old Madge
Campion, who sold gooseberry-tarts and hot mutton-pies on her board
under an awning supported by clothes-props, was surrounded by a shoal
of children, as happy as the sunshine; the man with the panorama was
exhibiting, at one halfpenny a head, the murder of Lord William Russell
to a string of boys and girls who mounted the stool in turn to look
through the glasses; and the cheapjack was expatiating on the merits of
cutlery, pictures, fire-irons, and proving that his brass candlestick,
honestly-worth-ten-shillings-but-obtainable-at-one-and-four-pence-
because-he-really-could-not-cart-it-about-any-longer answered the
double purpose of a candlestick and burglar-alarm by reason of the
tremendous click of the spring, which anybody might--if they
liked--mistake for a pistol.

Through all the crowd Miriam walked unsympathetic.  She cursed the
constitution with which she was born.  She wished she had been endowed
with that same blessed thoughtlessness, and that she could be taken out
of herself with an interest in pigs, pie-dishes, and Cowfold affairs
generally.  She went on up to her favourite resting-place; everything
was so still, and her eye wandered over the illimitable distance but
without pleasure.  She recollected that she had an engagement; that two
cousins of her husband were coming to tea, and she slowly returned.  At
half-past five they appeared.  They chattered away merrily with Mr.
Farrow, who was as lively as they were, until by degrees Miriam's
silence began to operate, and they grew dull.  Tea being over, she
managed to escape, and as she went upstairs she heard the laughter
recommence, for it was she who had suppressed it.  Lying down in her
room overhead, the noise continued, and it came into her mind that
wherever she went she cast a cold shadow.  "They must wish me dead,"
she thought.

She had been married so short a time; to what a dreary length the
future stretched before her, and she did not love the man she had
chosen, as she understood love.  How was life to be lived?  She did not
reproach herself.  If she could have done that, if she could have
accused herself of deliberate self-betrayal, it would have been better;
but she seemed to have been blindfolded, and led by some unknown force
into the position in which she found herself.

For some days she went on with her books, but the more she read the
more miserable she became, because there was nobody with whom she could
interchange what she thought about them.  She was alarmed at last to
find that something very much like hatred to her husband was beginning
to develop itself.  She was alarmed because she was too much of an
Englishwoman to cherish the thought of any desperate remedy, such as
separation; and yet the prospect of increasing aversion, which appeared
to grow she knew not how, terrified her.  One Monday afternoon she had
gone out to her usual haunt in the park, and near the monument she saw
somebody whom she presently recognised to be Mr. Armstrong, the vicar
of Marston-Cocking, a village about four miles from Cowfold.  She knew
him because he had dealt with her husband, and she had met him in the
shop.  Marston-Cocking was really nothing better than a hamlet, with a
little grey squat church with a little square tower.  Adjoining the
churchyard was Mr. Armstrong's house.  It was not by any means a model
parsonage.  It was a very plain affair of red brick with a door in the
middle, a window with outside shutters on either side, and one story
above.  There was a small garden in front, protected from the road by
white palings and a row of laurels.  At the back was a bigger garden,
and behind that an orchard.  It had one recommendation, worth to its
tenant all the beauty of a moss-covered manse in Devonshire, and that
was its openness.  It was on a little sandy hill.  For some
unaccountable reason there was a patch of sand in that part of the
country, delicious, bright, cheerful yellow and brown sand, lifting
itself into little cliffs here and there, pierced with the holes of the
sand-martin.  It exhaled no fogs, and was never dull even on a November
day, when the clay-lands five miles away breathed a vapour which lay
blue and heavy on the furrows, and the miry paths, retaining in their
sullenness for weeks the impress of every footmark, almost pulled the
boots off the feet as you walked along them.  At Marston, on the
contrary, the rain disappeared in an hour; and the landscape always
seemed in the depths of winter to retain something of summer sunshine.
The vicarage was open, open to every wind, and from the top rooms the
stars could be seen to rise and set, no trees intercepting the view.
Mr. Armstrong was a man of sixty, a widower with no children.  His
income from his living was about two hundred pounds annually, and the
number of his parishioners all told, men, women, and children, was, as
nearly as may be, two hundred.  He had been at Marston-Cocking for
thirty-five years.  He came just after his wife died--how he hardly
knew.  The living was offered him; he thought the change would do him
good, although he did not intend to remain; but there he had stayed,
and there was no chance of his removal.  He was completely out of the
world, troubled himself with no church controversies, and preached
little short sermons telling his congregation not to tell lies nor be
unkind to one another.  Every now and then he introduced into his
discourses his one favourite subject, astronomy, and by degrees the
labourers in Marston-Cocking knew more about the sky and its daily and
nightly changes than many a highly educated person in the city.  Mr.
Armstrong, otherwise a very plain, simple creature, always grew
eloquent on the common ignorance of the heavens.  "Here," he would say,
"has God thrust upon us these marvellous sights.  These are not the
secrets hidden in the mine--they are forced upon us; and yet we walk
with our heads to the earth; we do not know the morning star when we
see it, nor can we even recognise the Pleiads and Arcturus which Job
knew."  Mr. Armstrong had made all his instruments with his own hands,
and had even used the top of the church-tower as an observatory.  Mrs.
Bullen, the wife of the one farmer in the parish, a lady who wrote the
finest of Italian pointed hands, who had been in a Brighton
boarding-school for ten years, and had been through "Keith on the Use
of the Globes," was much scandalised at this "appropriation of the
sacred edifice to secular purposes," as she called it, but she met with
no encouragement.  The poor people somehow connected heaven with the
stars, and Mr. Armstrong never undeceived them, so that they saw
nothing improper in the big telescope under the weathercock.

"Really, James," said Mrs. Bullen one morning to Mr. Armstrong's
gardener and general man-of-all-work as he was carrying a chair from
the house into the tower, "do you think this is quite right?  Do you
think our Saviour would have sanctioned the erection of a profane
instrument over the house of prayer?"

James was very thick-headed, and hardly knew the meaning of these long
words, bat he did not like Mrs. Bullen, and he resented her talking to
him, a servant, in that strain about his master.

"Ah!  Mrs. Bullen, you needn't bother yourself.  He's all right with
the Saviour,--more so nor many other people, maybe."

"Well, but, James, this is a church consecrated to the service of God."

"Ah! how do you know?  Very likely o' nights--for he's up there when
you're abed and asleep--he's a looking into heaven through that there
glass, and, sees God and the blessed angels."

"Really, James, can you be so ignorant as not to know that God is a
Spirit?  I am astonished at you."  And Mrs. Bullen passed on without a
single doubt in her mind that there was a single weak spot in her
creed, or that anybody could question its intelligibility and coherence
who would not also question the multiplication-table.  She told her
husband when she got home that it was really dreadful to think that the
poor had such low views of the Divine Being.  How degraded!  No wonder
they were so immoral.  Bullen, however, did not trouble himself much
about these matters.  He assented to what his wife said, but then he
called "spirit" "sperrit," to her annoyance, and she could not get him
to comprehend what she meant by "entirely immaterial," although it was
so plain.

Mr. Armstrong, as we have said, was in front of Miriam.  He had brought
a small telescope to that point to be tested, for exactly eight miles
away was a church-tower with a clock, and he wished to see if he could
tell the time by it.  Miriam was about to avoid him, but he recognised
her and beckoned to her.

"Ah! Mrs. Farrow, is it you?  Would yon like to look through my glass?"

He adjusted it for her, and she saw the hour quite plainly.

"Oh," she exclaimed, "that is wonderful!"

"Yes, it is pretty well.  We will now put him in his box.  For the box
I have to thank Mr. Farrow.  He is one of the neatest hands at that
kind of work I know, although it is not exactly his trade.  I never was
much of a joiner."

Miriam was a little surprised.  She knew that her husband was clever
with his tools, but she had never set any value on his labours.  Now,
however, she was really struck with the well-polished mahogany and the
piece of brass neatly let into the lid, and when she heard Mr.
Armstrong's praises she began to think a little differently.

"Ah!" he continued, "it is so difficult now to get anybody to take any
interest in such a job as that.  I have got another box at home made by
a professed cabinetmaker, and it is really disgraceful.  It will never
be right, although I have had it altered two or three times.  When it
was shut it caught the object-glass inside.  I remedied that defect,
but only to create a worse, for then the instrument shook about.  So it
is, when once a thing is badly done, you had better get rid of it; it
is of no use to bother with it.  You may depend upon it, it is not bad
just here or there, but is bad all through, and the attempt to mend it
serves no other purpose than to bring to light hidden weakness.  On the
other hand, if you are fortunate enough to have work done like Mr.
Farrow's, it is perfect all through.  You can never surprise it, so to
speak.  Just look at it.  Look at that green baize rest.  There is not
the thirty-second part of an inch to spare on either side, and the lid
comes down so evenly that you can hardly see where the edge is.  Shake
the box, and you will not feel a single movement.  You have never seen
my big telescope at Marston?"

"No."

"Well, if you like, you can come over with your husband any bright
night, and I shall be happy to show it to you."

Miriam thanked him, and they parted.

A few days afterwards Mrs. and Mr. Farrow presented themselves at the
vicarage.  It was a lovely evening, and so clear that the outline of
the constellations was obscured by the multitude of small stars, which
usually are not seen, or seen but imperfectly.  In the south was
Jupiter, mild, magnificent, like a god amongst the crowd of lesser
divinities.

Mr. Armstrong, with all the ardour of an enthusiast for his science,
began a little preliminary lecture.

"I am not going to let you peep simply in order to astonish you.  I
abominate what are called popular lectures for that very reason.  If
you can be made to understand the apparent revolution of the heavens,
that is better than all speculation.  To understand is the great thing,
not to gape.  Now I assume you know that the earth goes round on its
axis, and that consequently the stars seem to revolve round the earth.
But the great difficulty is to realise _how_ they go round, because the
axis is not upright, nor yet horizontal, but inclined, and points to
that star up there, the pole-star.  Consequently the stars describe
circles which are not at right angles with the horizon, nor yet
parallel to it.  That is my first lesson."

Mr. Farrow comprehended without the slightest difficulty, but Miriam
could not.  She had noticed that some of the stars appear in the east
and disappear in the west, but beyond that she had not gone.  Mr.
Armstrong continued--

"The next thing you have to bear in mind is that the planets move about
amongst the stars.  Just think!  They go round the sun, and so do we.
The times of their revolution are not coincident with ours, and their
path is sometimes forwards and sometimes backwards.  Suppose we were in
the centre of the planetary system, all these irregularities would
disappear; but we are outside, and therefore it looks so complicated."

Again Mr. Farrow comprehended, but to Miriam it was all dark.

"Now," continued Mr. Armstrong, "these are the two great truths which I
wish you not simply to acknowledge, but to _feel_.  If you can once
from your own observation _realise_ the way the stars revolve--why some
near the pole never set--why some never rise, and why Venus is seen
both before the sun and after it--you will have done yourselves more
real good than if you were to dream for years of immeasurable
distances, and what is beyond and beyond and beyond, and all that
nonsense.  The great beauty of astronomy is not what is
incomprehensible in it, but its comprehensibility--its geometrical
exactitude.  Now you may look."

Miriam looked first.  Jupiter was in the field.  She could not suppress
a momentary exclamation of astonished ecstasy at the spectacle.  While
she watched, Mr. Armstrong told her something about the mighty orb.  He
pointed out the satellites, contrasted the size of Jupiter with that of
the earth, and explained to her the distances at which parts of the
planet are from each other as compared with those of New Zealand and
America from London.  But what affected her most was to see Jupiter's
solemn, still movement, and she gazed and gazed, utterly absorbed,
until at last he had disappeared.  The stars had passed thus before her
eyes ever since she had been born, but what was so familiar had never
before been emphasised or put in a frame, and consequently had never
produced its due effect.

Afterwards Mr. Farrow had his turn, and Mr. Armstrong then observed
that they had had enough; that it was getting late, but that he hoped
they would come again.  They started homewards, but their teacher
remained solitary till far beyond midnight at his lonely post.  The
hamlet lay asleep beneath him in profoundest peace.  His study had a
strange fascination for him.  He never wrote anything about it; he
never set himself up as a professional expert; he could not preach much
about it; most of what he acquired was incommunicable at
Marston-Cocking, or nearly so, and yet he was never weary.  It was for
some inexplicable reason the food and the medicine which his mind
needed.  It kept him in health, it pacified him, and contented him with
his lot.

On the following evening Miriam and her husband sat at tea.

"You didn't quite understand Mr. Armstrong, Miriam?"

"No, not quite."

"Ah! it is not easy; it all lies in the axis not being perpendicular,
and in our not being in the middle.  Now look here!"

He took a long string; tied one end to the curtain-rod over the window,
and brought the other down to the floor.  He then took Miriam, placed
her underneath it in the middle with her face to the window.

"Now, that is the north, and the top of the string is the pole star.
Just imagine the string the axis of a great globe in which the stars
are fixed, and that it goes round from your right hand to your left."
But to Miriam, although she had so strong an imagination, it was
unimaginable.  It was odd that she could create Verona and Romeo with
such intense reality, and yet that she could not perform such a simple
feat as that of portraying to herself the revolution of an inclined
sphere.

Mr. Farrow was not disappointed.

"It will be all right," he said, and the next morning he was busy in
the shed in the bottom of the garden.  He came to his afternoon meal
with glee, and directly it was over, took his wife away to see what he
had been doing.  The shed had two floors, with a trap-door in the
middle.  To the topmost corner of the upper story he had fixed a pole
which descended obliquely through a hole in the floor.  This was the
axis, and the floor was the horizon.  He had also, by the help of some
stoutish wire and some of his withies, fairly improvised a few
meridians, so that when Miriam put her head through the trap-door, she
seemed to be in the centre of a half globe.

"Now, my dear, it will all be plain.  I cannot make the thing turn, but
you can fancy a star fixed down there in the east at the end of that
withy, and if the withy were to go round, or if the star were to climb
up it, it would just go so," tracing its course with his finger, "and
set there.  Now, those stars near the pole, you see, would never set,
and that is why we see them all night long."

It all came to her in an instant.

"Really, how clever you are!" she said.

"Do you think so?" and there was a trace of something serious,
something of a surprise on his countenance.

"I have heard Mr. Armstrong talk about the stars before, although never
so much as he did that night, and then I've watched them a good bit,
and noticed the way they go.  As for the planets, they are not so easy,
but I think I have got hold of it all."

Miriam looked out of window when she went to bed, and felt a new
pleasure.  The firmament, instead of being a mere muddle--beautiful,
indeed, she had always thought it--had a plan in it.  She marked where
one particularly bright star was showing itself in the south-east--it
was Sirius; and in the night she rose softly, drew aside the blind, saw
him again due south, and recognised the similarity of the arc with that
which her husband had constructed with his withies and wire.  She lay
down again, thinking, as she went off to sleep, that still that silent,
eternal march went on.  At four she again awoke from light slumber, and
crept to the blind again.  Another portion of the same arc had been
traversed, and Sirius with his jewelled flashes was beginning to
descend.  She thought she should like to see him actually sink, and she
waited and waited till he had disappeared, till the first tint of dawn
was discernible in the east, and that almost indistinguishable murmur
was heard which precedes the day.  She then once more lay down, and
when she rose, she was richer by a very simple conception, but still
richer.  She felt as a novice might feel who had been initiated, and
had been intrusted at least with the preliminary secrets of her
community.  She owed her initiation to Mr. Armstrong, but also to her
husband.  Experts no doubt may smile, and so may the young people who,
in these days of universal knowledge, have got up astronomy for
examinations, but nevertheless, in the profounder study of the science
there is perhaps no pleasure so sweet and so awful as that which
arises, not when books are read about it, but when the heavens are
first actually watched, when the movement of the Bear is first actually
seen for ourselves, and with the morning Arcturus is discerned
punctually over the eastern horizon; when the advance of the stars
westwards through the year, marking the path of the earth in its orbit,
is noted, and the moon's path also becomes intelligible.

Mr. Armstrong had long desired to make an orrery for the purpose of
instructing a few children and friends, but had never done anything
towards it, partly for lack of time, and partly for lack of skill with
joinery tools.  He now, however, had in Farrow at once a willing pupil
and an artist, and the work went forward in Farrow's house, Miriam
watching its progress with great interest.  She could even contribute
her share, and the graduation of the rim was left to her, a task she
performed with accuracy after a few failures in pencil.  It was a
handsome instrument when it was completed.  The relative distances of
the planets from the sun could not be preserved, nor their relative
magnitudes; but what was of more importance, their relative velocities
in their orbits were maintained.  The day came when the machine was to
be first used.  Miriam insisted that there should be no experiments
with it beforehand.  She desired, even at the risk of disappointment,
to see a dramatic start into existence.  She did not wish her pleasure
to be spoiled and her excitement to be diminished by trials.  Her
husband humoured her, but secretly he took care that every preventible
chance of a breakdown should be removed.  When she was absent, he
tested every pinion and every cog, eased a wheel here and an axle
there, and in truth what he had to do in this way with file and
sandpaper was almost equal to the labour spent upon saw and chisel.
Infinite adjustment was necessary to make the idea a noiseless, smooth
practical success, and infinite precautions had to be taken and devices
invented which were not foreseen when the drawing first appeared on
paper.  With some of these difficulties Miriam, of course, was
acquainted.  They would not probably have been so great to a
professional instrument-maker, but they were very considerable to an
amateur.  Farrow selected the best-seasoned wood he could find, but it
frequently happened that after it was cut it warped a little, and the
slightest want of truth threw all the connected part out of gear.
Miriam learned something when she saw that a wheel whose revolution was
not in a perfect plane could give rise to so much annoyance, and she
learned something also when she saw how her husband, in the true spirit
of a genuine craftsman, remained discontented if there was the
slightest looseness in a bearing.

"Do you think it matters?" said she.

"Matters!  Don't you see that if it goes on it gets worse?  Every
wobble increases the next, and not only so, it sets the whole thing
wobbling."

"Couldn't you manage to put a piece on?  Suppose you lined that hole
with something."

"Oh, no!  Not the slightest use; out it must come, and a new one must
be put in."

At length the day came for the start.  Farrow had made a trial by
himself the night before, and nothing could be better.  Mr. Armstrong
came over, and after tea they all three went upstairs into the large
garret which had been used as a workshop.  The great handle was taken
down and fitted into its place, Mr. Armstrong standing at one end and
Miriam and her husband at the other.  Obedient to the impulse, every
planet at once answered; Mercury with haste, and Saturn with such
deliberation that scarcely any motion was perceptible.  The Earth spun
its diurnal round, the Moon went forward in her monthly orbit.  The
lighted ground-glass globe which did duty for the sun showed night and
day and the seasons.  Miriam was transported, when suddenly there was a
jerk and a stop.  Something was wrong, and Farrow, who was fortunately
turning with great caution, gave a cry such as a man might utter who
was suddenly struck a heavy blow.  He recovered himself instantly, and
luckily at the very first glance saw what was the matter.  The nicety
of his own handicraft was the cause of the disaster.  A shaving not
much thicker than a piece of writing-paper had dropped between two
cogs.  A gentle touch of a quarter of an inch backwards released it.

"Hooray!" he cried in his mad delight, and the mimic planets
recommenced their journeys as silently almost as their great archetypes
outside.

"Strange," he said with a smile, "that such a chip as that should upset
the whole solar system."

Miriam looked at him for a moment inquiringly, and then fell to
watching the orrery again.  Slowly the moon waxed and waned.  Slowly
the winter departed from our latitude on the little ball representing
our dwelling-place, and the summer came; and as she still watched,
slowly and almost unconsciously her arms crept round her husband's
waist.

"That is a fair representation," said Mr. Armstrong, "of all that is
directly connected with us, excepting, of course, as I have told you,
that we could not keep the distances."  A little later on, although he
disapproved of "gaping," as he called it, he taught Miriam so much of
geometry as was sufficient to make her understand what he meant when he
told her that a fixed star yielded no parallax, and that the earth was
consequently the merest speck of dust in the universe.  She found his
simple trigonometry very, very hard, but to her husband it was easy,
and with his help she succeeded.

One afternoon, wet and dreary, Miriam had taken up her book.  There was
nothing to do in the shop, and Mr. Farrow entered the parlour in one of
his idle moods, repeating the same behaviour which had so often
distressed Miriam when she was reading anything for which he did not
care.  She had recovered from the dust upstairs a ragged volume in
paper boards, and she was musing over the lines--

  "But bound and fixed in fettered solitude
  To pine, the prey of every changing mood."

The poem was about as remote in its whole conception and treatment from
Mr. Farrow as it could well be, and his monkey-tricks exasperated her.
She shut her book in wrath and misery, left the room, dressed, and went
out.  The sky had cleared, and just after the sunset there lay a long
lake of tenderest bluish-green above the horizon in the west, bounded
on its upper coast by the dark grey cloud which the wind was slowly
bearing eastward.  In the midst of that lake of bluish-green lay Venus,
glittering like molten silver.  Miriam's first thought was her husband.
She always thought of him when she looked at planets or stars, because
he was so intimately connected with them in her mind.  She waited till
it was late and she then turned homewards.  A man overtook her whom she
recognised at once as Fitchew the jobbing gardener, porter, rough
carpenter, creature of all work in Cowfold, one of the honestest souls
in the place.  He had his never-failing black pipe in his mouth, which
he removed for a moment in order to bid her good-night.  She kept up
with him, for it was dusk, and she was glad to walk by his side.
Fitchews had lived in Cowfold for centuries.  An old parson always
maintained that the name was originally Fitz-Hugh, but this particular
representative of the family was certainly not a Fitz-Hugh but a
Fitchew, save that he was as independent as a baron, and,
notwithstanding his poverty, cared little or nothing what people
thought about him.  He could neither read nor write, and was full of
the most obstinate and absurd prejudices.  He was incredulous of
everything which was said to him by people with any education, but what
he had heard from those who were as uneducated as himself, or the
beliefs, if such they can be called, which grew in his skull
mysteriously, by spontaneous generation, he held most tenaciously.  His
literature was Cowfold, the people, the animals, the inanimate objects
of which it was made up, and his criticism on these was often just.  He
never could be persuaded to enter either church or chapel.  Of the
arguments for Christianity, of the undesigned coincidences in the
Bible, of the evidence from prophecy, of the metaphysical necessity for
an incarnation and atonement, he knew nothing, and it was a marvel to
all respectable young persons how Fitchew, whose ignorance would
disgrace a charity child, and who did not know that the world was
round, or the date of the battle of Hastings, should set himself up
against those who were so superior to him.

"What should we say," observed the superintendent of the Dissenting
Sunday-school one day to one of his classes, having Fitchew in his
mind, "of a man who, if he was on a voyage in a ship commanded by a
captain with a knowledge of navigation, should refuse in a storm to
obey orders, affirming that they were all of no use, and should betake
himself to his own little raft?"

Curiously enough, the Sunday before, the vicar, having the Dissenter in
his mind, had said just the same of "unlettered schismatics," as he
called them.

Fitchew always had one argument for those friends who strove to convert
him.  "I don't see as them that goes to church are any better than them
as don't.  What's he know about it?" meaning the parson or the
minister, as the case might be.

Fitchew was very rough and coarse, and rather grasping in his dealings
with those who employed him, not so much because he was naturally mean,
but because he was always determined that well-dressed folk should not
"put on him."  Nevertheless, he was in his way sympathetic and even
tender, particularly to those persons who suffered as he did, for he
was afflicted with a kind of nervous dyspepsia, not infrequent even
amongst the poor, and it kept him awake at night and gave him the
"horrors."

"Well, Fitchew, are you any better?" said Miriam.

"Bad just now.  Ain't had no regular sleep for a fortnight.  Last night
it was awful.  I kicked about and sat up; the noise in my ears was
something, I can tell you; and then the wind in me!  It's my belief
that that there noise in my ears is the wind a coming out through them.
I couldn't stand it any longer, and I got up and walked up and down the
road.  Would you believe it, the missus never stirred; there she lay
like a stone, and when I came in she says to me, 'Wot's the matter with
you?'  That's just like her.  She goes to bed, turns round, and never
knows nothing of anything till the morning.  I could, have druv my head
agin the door-post."

"Well, she cannot help sleeping."

"No," after a long pause, "that's true enough.  I tell you what it
is--_I_ don't want to live for ever."

"Cannot you do anything to help yourself?  Have you seen the doctor?"

"Doctor!" in great scorn.  "He's no more use than that there dog behind
me, nor yet half so much.  I am better when I am at work, that's all as
I can tell."

"Have you had plenty to do lately?"

"No, not much.  Folk are allers after me in the summer-time, but in the
winter, when their gardens don't want doing, they never have nothing to
say to me.  There's one thing about my missus, though.  She's precious
careful.  I never touches the money part of the business.  So we get's
along."

Miriam knew the "missus" well.  She was a little thin-lipped woman,
who, notwithstanding her poverty, was most particularly clean.  No
speck of dirt was to be seen on her person or in her cottage, but she
was as hard as flint.  She never showed the least affection for her
husband.  They had married late in life--why, nobody could tell--and
had one child, a girl, whom the mother seemed to disregard just as she
did her husband, saving that she dressed her and washed her with the
same care which she bestowed on her kettle and candlesticks.

"It's a good thing for you, Fitchew, that she is what she is."

Fitchew hesitated for some time.

"Yes, well, I said to myself, after I'd had a cup of tea and something
to eat this morning--I didn't say it afore then, though--that it might
be wuss.  If she was allus a slaverin' on me and a pityin' me, it
wouldn't do me no good; and then we are as we are, and we must make the
best of it."

When Miriam parted from Fitchew she had still ten minutes' walk.
Before the ten minutes had expired the black veil of rain-cloud was
rolled still farther to the east, and the crescent of the young moon
gleamed in the dying twilight.

It poured with rain nevertheless during the night Miriam lay and
listened, thinking it would be wet and miserable on the following day.
She dropped off to sleep, and at four she rose and went to the window
and opened it wide.  In streamed the fresh south-west morning air,
pure, delicious, scented with all that was sweet from fields and woods,
and the bearer inland even as far as Cowfold of Atlantic vitality,
dissipating fogs, disinfecting poisons--the Life-Giver.

She put on her clothes silently, went downstairs and opened the
back-door.  The ever-watchful dog, hearing in his deepest slumbers the
slightest noise, moved in his kennel, but recognised her at once and
was still.  She called to him to follow her, and he joyfully obeyed.
He would have broken out into tumultuous barking if she had not
silenced him instantly, and he was forced to content himself with
leaping up at her and leaving marks of his paws all over her cloak.
Not a soul was to be seen, and she went on undisturbed till she came to
her favourite spot where she had first met Mr. Armstrong.  She paced
about for a little while, and then sat down and once more watched the
dawn.  It was not a clear sky, but barred towards the east with cloud,
the rain-cloud of the night.  She watched and watched, and thought
after her fashion, mostly with incoherence, but with rapidity and
intensity.  At last came the first flash of scarlet upon the bars, and
the dead storm contributed its own share to the growing beauty.  The
rooks were now astir, and flew, one after the other, in an irregular
line eastwards black against the sky.  Still the colour spread, until
at last it began to rise into pure light, and in a moment more the
first glowing point of the disc was above the horizon.  Miriam fell on
her knees against the little seat and sobbed, and the dog, wondering,
came and sat by her and licked her face with tender pity.  Presently
she recovered, rose, went home, let herself in softly before her
husband was downstairs, and prepared the breakfast.  He soon appeared,
was in the best of spirits, and laughed at her being able to leave the
room without waking him.  She looked happy, but was rather quiet at
their meal; and after he had caressed the cat for a little while, he
pitched her, as he had done before, on Miriam's lap.  She was about to
get up to cut some bread and butter, and she went behind him and kissed
the top of his head.  He turned round, his eyes sparkling, and tried to
lay hold of her, but she stepped backward and eluded him.  He mused a
little, and when she sat down he said in a tone which for him was
strangely serious--

"Thank you, my dear; that was very, very sweet."



MICHAEL TREVANION.

Michael Trevanion was a well-to-do stonemason in the town of Perran in
Cornwall.  He was both working-man and master, and he sat at one end of
the heavy stone-saw, with David Trevenna, his servant, at the other, each
under his little canopy to protect them a trifle from the sun and rain,
slowly and in full view of the purple Cornish sea, sawing the stone for
hours together: the water dripped slowly on the saw from a little can
above to keep the steel cool, and occasionally they interchanged a word
or two--always on terms of perfect equality, although David took wages
weekly and Michael paid them.  Michael was now a man of about five and
forty.  He had married young and had two children, of whom the eldest was
a youth just one and twenty.  Michael was called by his enemies
Antinomian.  He was fervently religious, upright, temperate, but given
somewhat to moodiness and passion.  He was singularly shy of talking
about his own troubles, of which he had more than his share at home, but
often strange clouds cast shadows upon him, and the reasons he gave for
the change observable in him were curiously incompetent to explain such
results.  David, who had watched him from the other end of the saw for
twenty years, knew perfectly what these attacks of melancholy or wrath
meant, and that, though their assigned cause lay in the block before them
or the weather, the real cause was indoors.  His trouble was made worse,
because he could not understand why he received no relief, although he
had so often laid himself open before the Lord, and wrestled for help in
prayer.  In his younger days he had been subject to great temptation.
One night he had nearly fallen, but an Invisible Power seized him.  "It
was no more I," he said, "than if somebody had come and laid hold of me
by the scruff of my neck," and he was forced away in terror upstairs to
his bedroom, where he went on his knees in agony, and the Devil left him,
and he became calm and pure.  But no such efficient help was given him in
the trial of his life.  He knew in his better moments, that the refusal
of grace was the Lord's own doing, and he supposed that it was due to His
love and desire to try him; but upon this assurance he could not
continually rest.  It slipped away from under him, and at times he felt
himself to be no stronger than the merest man of the world.

His case was very simple and very common--the simplest, commonest case in
life.  He married, as we have said, when he was young, before he knew
what he was doing, and after he had been married twelvemonths, he found
he did not care for his wife.  When they became engaged, he was in the
pride of youth, but curbed by his religion.  He mistook passion for love;
reason was dumb, and had nothing to do with his choice; he made the one,
irretrievable false step and was ruined.  No strong antipathy developed
itself; there were no quarrels, but there was a complete absence of
anything like confidence.  Michael had never for years really consulted
his wife in any difficulty, because he knew he could not get any advice
worth a moment's consideration; and he often contrasted his lot with that
of David, who had a helpmate like that of the left arm to the right, who
knew everything about his affairs, advised him in every perplexity, and
cheered him when cast down--a woman on whom he really depended.  As David
knew well enough, although he never put it in the form of a proposition,
there is no joy sweeter than that begotten by the dependence of the man
upon the woman for something she can supply but he cannot--not affection
only, but assistance.

Michael, as we have said, had two children, a girl and a boy, the boy
being the eldest.  Against neither could he ever utter a word of
complaint.  They were honest and faithful.  But the girl, Eliza, although
unlike her mother, was still less like her father, and had a plain mind,
that is to say, a mind endowed with good average common sense, but
unrelieved by any touch of genius or poetry.  Her intellect was solid but
ordinary--a kind of homely brown intellect, untouched by sunset or
sunrise tint.  A strain of the mother was in her, modified by the
influence of the father, and the result was a product like neither father
nor mother, so cunning are the ways of spiritual chemistry.  The boy,
Robert Trevanion, on the contrary, was his father; not only with no
apparent mixture of the mother, but his father intensified.  The outside
fact was of far less consequence to him than the self-created medium
through which it was seen, and his happiness depended much more
intimately on himself as he chanced to be at the time than on the world
around him.  He was apprenticed to his father, and the two were bound
together by the tie of companionship and friendship, intertwined with
filial and paternal love.  What Eliza said, although it was right and
proper, never interested the father; but when Robert spoke, Michael
invariably looked at him, and often reflected upon his words for hours.

There was in the town of Perran a girl named Susan Shipton.  Michael knew
very little of the family, save that her father was a draper and went to
church.  Susan was reputed to be one of the beauties of Perran, although
opinion was divided.  She had--what were not common in Cornwall--light
flaxen hair, blue eyes, and a rosy face, somewhat inclined to be plump.
The Shiptons lay completely outside Michael's circle.  They were mere
formalists in religion, fond of pleasure, and Susan especially was much
given to gaiety, went to picnics and dances, rowed herself about in the
bay with her friends, and sauntered about the town with her father and
mother on Sunday afternoon.  She was also fond of bathing, and was a good
swimmer.  Michael hardly knew how to put his objection into words, but he
nevertheless had a horror of women who could swim.  It seemed to him an
ungodly accomplishment.  He did not believe for a moment that St. Paul
would have sanctioned it, and he sternly forbade Eliza the use of one of
the bathing-machines which had lately been introduced into Perran for the
benefit of the few visitors who had discovered its charms.

It was a summer's morning in June, and Robert had gone along the shore on
business to a house which was being built a little way out of the town.
The tide was running out fast to the eastward.  A small river came down
into the bay, and the current was sweeping round the rocks to the left in
a great curve at a distance of about two hundred yards from the beach.
Inside the curve was smooth water, which lay calmly rippling in the sun,
while at its edge the buoys marking the channel were swaying to and fro,
and the stream lifted itself against them, swung past them, with bright
multitudinous eddies, and went out to sea.  Half-way in the shallows was
one of the bathing-machines, and Robert saw that a girl whom he could not
recognise was having a bathe.  She swam well, and presently she started
off straight outwards.  Robert watched her for a moment, and saw her go
closer and closer to the dangerous line.  He knew she could not see it so
well as he could, and he knew too that the buoys which were placed to
guide small craft into the harbour were well in the channel, and that at
least twenty yards this side of them the ebb would be felt, and with such
force that no woman could make headway against it.  Suddenly he saw that
her course was deflected to the left, and he knew that unless some help
could arrive she would be lost.  In an instant his coat, waistcoat, and
boots were off, and he was rushing over the sandy shallows, which
fortunately stretched out a hundred yards before he was out of his depth.
Susan--for it was Miss Shipton--had now perceived her peril and had
turned round, but she was overpowered, and he heard a shriek for help.
Raising himself out of the water as far as he could, he called out and
signalled to her not to go dead against the tide, or even to try and
return, but to go on and edge her way to its margin, and so make for the
point.  This she tried to do, but her strength began to fail--the drift
was too much for her.  Meanwhile Robert went after her.  He was one of
the best swimmers in Perran, but when he felt the cooler, deeper water,
he was suddenly seized with a kind of fainting and a mist passed over his
eyes.  He looked at the land, and he was in a moment convinced he should
never set foot on it again.  He was on the point of sinking, when he
bethought himself that if he was to die, he might just as well die after
having put forth all his strength; and in an instant, as if touched by
some divine spell, the agitation ceased, and he was himself again.  In
three minutes more he was by Susan's side, had gripped her by the
bathing-dress at the back of the neck, and had managed to avail himself
of a little swirl which turned inwards just before the rocks were
reached.  They were safe.  She nearly swooned, but recovered herself
after a fit of sobbing.

"I owe you my life, Mr. Trevanion; you've saved me--you've saved me."

"Nonsense, Miss Shipton!"  He hardly knew what to say.  "I would not go
so near the tide again, if I were you.  You had better get back to the
machine as soon as you can and go home.  You are about done up."  So
saying, he ran away to the place where he had left his coat, and went up
into the town, thinking intently as he went.  Very earnestly he thought;
so earnestly that he saw nothing of Perran, and nothing of his
neighbours, who wondered at his dripping trousers; thinking very
earnestly, not upon his own brave deed, nor even upon his strange attack
of weakness, and equally strange recovery, but upon Miss Shipton as she
stood by his side at the rock very earnestly picturing to himself her
white arms, her white neck, her long hair falling to her waist, and her
beautiful white feet, seen on the sand through the clear sun-sparkling
water.

Robert Trevanion, although brought up in the same school of philosophy as
his father, belonged to another generation.  The time of my history is
the beginning of the latter half of the present century, and Michael was
already considered somewhat of a fossil.  Robert was inconsistent, as the
old doctrine when it is decaying, or the new at its advent always is; but
the main difference between Michael and Robert was not any distinct
divergence, but that truths believed by Michael, and admitted by Robert,
failed to impress Robert with that depth and sharpness of cut with which
they were wrought into his father.  Mere assent is nothing; the question
of importance is whether the figuration of the creed is dull or vivid--as
vivid as the shadows of a June sun on a white house.  Brilliance of
impression, is not altogether dependent on mere processes of proof, and a
faultless logical demonstration of something which is of eternal import
may lie utterly uninfluential and never disturb us.

Robert walked out the next morning to the house he went to visit the day
before.  Nobody save Miss Shipton and himself knew anything about his
adventure.  He had made some excuse for his wet clothes.  The beach of
the little village in the early part of the day was almost always
deserted, and the man who attended to the machine had been lying on his
back on the shingle smoking his pipe during the few minutes occupied in
Miss Shipton's rescue.  It was settled weather.  The sky was cloudless,
and the blue seemed on fire.  What little wind there was, was from the
south-south-east, and every outline quivered in the heat.  The water
inshore was absolutely still, and of such an azure as nobody whose sea is
that of the Eastern Coast or the Channel can imagine.  A boat lay here
and there idle, with its shadow its perfect double in unwavering detail
and blackness.  Just beyond this cerulean lake the river ebb, as
yesterday, rippled swiftly round Deadman's Nose; the buoys, with their
heads all eastward, breaking the stream as it impatiently hurried past
them on its mysterious errand.  Beyond and beyond lay the ocean,
unruffled, melting into the white haze which united it with the sky on
the horizon.  Robert loved the summer, and especially a burning summer.
The sun, of which other persons complained, some perhaps sincerely, but
for the most part hypocritically--can anybody really hate the
sun?--rejoiced him.  He loved to be out in it when the light on the
unsheltered Cornish rocks and in the whitewashed street was so "glaring,"
as silly people called it, that they put up parasols and umbrellas, and
the warmth which made him withdraw his hand smartly from the old anchor
that lay on the grass just above high-water-mark, exhilarated him like
wine.  He was not a poet, he knew nothing of Greek mythology; and yet on
summer days like these, the landscape and seascape were all changed for
him.  To say that they were a dream would be untrue--they were the
reality; the hideous winter, with its damp fogs and rain, were the dream;
and yet upon seascape and landscape rested such a miraculous charm that
they seemed visionary rather than actual.  As he walked along, he
naturally thought of yesterday, and the light, the heat, and the colour
naturally also renewed in him the picture which he had been continually
repainting for himself since yesterday morning.  He went to the house,
saw the stonework was going on all right, and as he returned, whom should
he meet but Miss Shipton, who, undeterred by the fright of the day
before, had just had another bathe, and was taking a turn along the cliff
to dry her hair, which was hanging over her shoulders.  She was not by
any means what is called "fast," but she knew how to dress herself.  She
had a straw hat with a very large brim, a plain brown holland dress, a
brown holland parasol, and pretty white shoes; for nothing would ever
induce Miss Shipton to put her feet into the yellow abominations which
most persons wore at Perran in the summer.

Robert took off his cap.

"Oh, Mr. Trevanion, I am so glad to see you.  You must have thought me
such a queer creature.  I have not half thanked you.  But what could I
do?  I couldn't write, and I couldn't call, and I thought you would not
like a noise being made about it.  Yet you saved me from being drowned."

"It was nothing, Miss Shipton," said Robert, smiling.  "You were in the
ebb there, and I pulled you out of it--just twenty yards, that was all.
I hope you haven't told anybody."

"No; as I have said, I thought you wouldn't like it; but nevertheless,
although it is all very well for you to talk in that way, I owe you my
life."

"Are you going any farther?"

"Just a few steps till my hair is dry."

He turned and walked by her side.

"You see that the buoys are beyond where the channel really begins.  I
once tried to swim round two of them, but it was as much as ever I could
do to get back.  If I were you, I would give them a wide berth again; but
if you should be caught, go on and do what we did yesterday--try to turn
off into the back-stream just inside the point."

"You may be sure I shall never go near them any more."

"Unless you happen to see me," said Robert, his face flushed with his
happy thought, "and then you will give me the pleasure of coming after
you."

She looked at him, shifted her parasol, and laughed a little.

"Pleasure! really, Mr. Trevanion, were you not very much frightened?"

"Not for myself, except just for an instant."

"Oh, I was awfully frightened!  I thought I must give up.  I never, never
shall forget that moment when you laid hold of me."

"But you have been in the water again this morning."

"Oh, yes!  I do enjoy it so, and of course I did not go far.  That stupid
bathing-man, by the way, ought to have looked out yesterday.  He might
have come in the boat and have saved you a wetting.  I believe he was
asleep."

"He is old, and I am very, very glad he did not see you.  Aren't you
tired?  Would you not like to sit down a moment before we go back?"

They sat down on one of the rocks near the edge of the water.

"You are a very good swimmer, Mr. Trevanion."

"No, not very; and yesterday I was particularly bad, for a kind of
faintness came over me just before I reached you, and I thought I was
done for."

"Dear me! how dreadful!  How did you conquer it?"

"Merely by saying to myself I would not give in, and I struggled with it
for a minute and then it disappeared."

"How strong you must be!  I am sure I could not do that."

"Ah! there was something else, Miss Shipton.  You see, I had you ahead of
me, and I thought I could be of some service to you."

Miss Shipton made no direct reply, but threw some pebbles in the water.
Robert felt himself gradually overcome, or nearly overcome, by what to
him was quite new.  He could not keep his voice steady, and although what
he said was poor and of no importance, it was charged with expressionless
heat.  For example, Miss Shipton's parasol dropped and she stooped to
pick it up.  "Let me pick it up," he said, and his lips quivered, and the
let me pick it up--a poor, little, thin wire of words--was traversed by
an electric current raising them to white-hot glow, and as powerful as
that which flows through many mightier and more imposing conductors.
What are words?  "Good-bye," for example, is said every morning by
thousands of creatures in the London suburbs as they run to catch their
train, and the present writer has heard it said by a mother to her
beloved boy as she stepped on board the tug which was about to leave the
big steamer, and she knew she would never see him again.  Robert handed
her the parasol, and unconsciously, by that curious sympathy by which we
are all affected, without any obvious channel of communication, she felt
the condition in which his nerves were.  She was a little uncomfortable,
and, rising, said she thought it was time she was at home.  They rose and
walked back slowly till their paths parted.

The next day Robert renewed his walk, but there was no Miss Shipton.  The
summer heat had passed into thunderstorms, and these were succeeded by
miserable grey days with mist, confusing sea, land, and sky, and
obliterating every trace of colour.  As he went backwards and forwards to
the house over the hill, he watched every corner and turned round a
hundred times, although his reason would have told him that to expect
Miss Shipton in the rain was ridiculously absurd.

Michael Trevanion loved his son with a father's love, but with a mother's
too.  He rejoiced to talk with him as his father and friend, but there
was in him also that wild, ferocious passion for his child which
generally belongs to the woman, a passion which in its intense vitality
forecasts, apprehends, and truly discerns danger where, to the mere
intellect, there is nothing.  Michael wondered a little at Robert's
unusually frequent visits to his work over the hill, and as he was in the
town one morning, he determined to cross the hill himself and see how the
house was going on.  The mist, which had hung about for a week, had
gradually rolled itself into masses as the sun rose higher.  It was no
longer without form and void, but was detaching itself into huge
fragments, which let in the sun and were gradually sucked up by him.
Rapidly everything became transformed, and lo! as if by enchantment, the
whole sky resumed once more its deepest blue, the perfect semicircle of
the horizon sharply revealed itself, and vessels five miles off were
visible to their spars.  Michael reached the end of his journey and
waited, looking out from one of the upper stories.  He saw nothing of the
splendour of the scene before him.  He was restless, he did not quite
know why.  He could not tell exactly why he was there, but nevertheless
he determined to remain.  He generally carried a Bible in his pocket, and
he turned where he had turned so often before, to the fifteenth chapter
of Luke, and read the parable of the prodigal son.  He had affixed his
own interpretation to that story, and he always held that the point of it
was not the love of the father, but the magnificent repentance of the boy
who could simply say, "_I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, and
am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired
servants_."  No wonder the fatted calf was killed for him.  No excuses; a
noble confession and a trust in his father's affection for him!  His own
Robert would never go wrong, but if he did, it would cost nothing to
forgive him.  Then, as he often did, he fell on his knees, and, in front
of the space where the window was to come, which would open on a little
southern balcony looking over the sea, there, amid the lumps of plaster
and shavings, he besought his Maker to preserve the child.  Michael was
sincere in his prayers, nakedly sincere, and yet there were some things
he kept to himself even when he was with his God.  He never mentioned his
disappointment with his wife, never a word; but he assumed a right to the
perfect enjoyment of Robert by way of compensation.  Calvinist as he was
to the marrow, he would almost have impeached the Divine justice if
Robert had been removed from him.

Robert, walking leisurely, turning to look behind him for the hundredth
time, had spied Miss Shipton on her road to the town from her accustomed
plunge.  He intercepted her by going round a meadow to the left at a
great rate, and found himself face to face with her as she was about to
pass the corner.  The third side of the meadow round which he had raced
was an unfinished road, and was a way, though not the usual way, back to
Perran.

"Good morning, Miss Shipton.  Are you going home?"

"Yes!  I suppose you are going to your house."

"Yes," and Robert walked slowly back along the way he had come, Miss
Shipton accompanying him, for it was the way home.  When they came to the
corner, however, they both, without noticing it, went eastward, and not
to the town.

"Should you like to be a sailor, Mr. Trevanion?" said Miss Shipton,
catching sight of the fishing vessels over the low sea-beaten hedge.

"No, I think not.  At least it would depend----"

"Depend on what?"

"I should not like to be away for weeks during the North Sea fishing,
if----"

"If it were very cold?"

"Oh, no; that is not what I meant--if I had a wife at home who cared for
me and watched for me!"

"Really, Mr. Trevanion, if you were a fisherman you would not take things
so seriously.  It would all come as a matter of course.  Yon would be
busy with your nets, and have no time to think of her."

"But she might think of me."

"Oh, well, perhaps she might now and then; but she would have her house
to look after, and all her friends would be near her."

"On stormy nights," said Robert, musingly.

"How very serious you are!  Such a lovely day, too--a nice time to be
talking about stormy nights!  Of course there are stormy nights, but the
boats can run into harbour, and if they cannot, the men are not always
drowned."

"Certainly not; how foolish, and to think of coming home after five or
six weeks on the Doggerbank--oh me!  But here is the very rock where we
sat the other morning.  I am sure you are tired, let us sit down again;
your hair is not dry yet."

They sat down.

"It is quite wet still," and Robert ventured to touch it, putting his
hand underneath it.

"An awful plague it is!  Horrid sandy-coloured stuff, and such a nuisance
in the water!  I think I shall have it cut short."

"I am sure you won't.  Sandy-coloured! it is beautiful."

Miss Shipton tossed her parasol about, shaking her hair loose from his
fingers.

"When it is spread out in the sunshine," said Robert, as he separated a
little piece of it between his fingers, "the sun shows its varying
shades.  How lovely they are!"  His hand went a little higher, till it
touched the back of her neck.

"On stormy nights.--on stormy nights," he almost whispered, "I should
think of you if you did not think of me."

The hand went a little farther under the hair, his head inclined to it,
and he was intoxicated with its own rich scent mingled with, that of the
sweet sea-water.  He trembled with emotion from head to foot.  What is
there in life like this?  Old as creation, ever new; and under the almost
tropical sun, fronting the ocean, in the full heat of youth, he drew her
head to his.  She yielded, and in a moment his eyes and mouth were buried
in her loose-clustering tresses.  Before, however, he could say another
word he was interrupted.  A sheep, feeding above them, alarmed by a
stranger's approach, rushed down past them; and hastily recovering
himself, Robert looked up.  There was nobody, but he saw that they were
near his house, and that his father, who had just come to the window, was
looking down straight upon them.  Miss Shipton immediately said that it
was late, rose, and walked homewards; and Robert alone went up the cliff.
Michael had seen the girl walk away and had recognised her, but he had
not seen what had preceded her departure.  Instantly, however, he
penetrated the secret, and his first words when Robert presented himself
were--

"Why, Robert, that was Miss Shipton."

"Yes, father."

"What were she and you doing here?"

"We happened to meet."

There was something in the tone in which Robert replied which showed the
father at once that his son's confidence in him was not illimitable, as
he had believed it to be hitherto.  It is a heart-breaking time for
father and mother when they first become aware that the deepest secrets
in their children are intrusted not to them, but to others.  Michael felt
repelled and was silent; but after a while, as they both were leaning
over the garden-wall and gazing upon the water, he said--

"Mere worldlings, those Shiptons, Robert!"

"I do not know much about them, but they seem an honest, good sort of
people."

"Ah! yes, my son; they may be all that.  But what is it?  They are not
the Lord's."

Robert made no reply, and presently father and son left the house and
went back to Perran to their work, uncommunicative.

It was a peculiar misfortune for a man of Michael's temperament that he
had nobody save his son who could assist him in the shaping of his
resolves or in the correction of his conclusions.  Brought up in a narrow
sect, self-centred, moody, he needed continually that wholesome twist to
another point of the compass which intercourse with equals gives.  He was
continually prone to subjection under the rigorous domination of a single
thought, from which he deduced inference after inference, ending in
absurdity, which would have been dissipated in an instant by discussion.
We complain of people because they are not original, but we do not ask
what their originality, if they had any, would be worth.  Better a
thousand times than the originality of most of us is the average
common-sense which is not our own exclusively, but shared with millions
of our fellow-beings, and is not due to any one of them.  Michael ought
to have talked over the events of the morning with his wife; but alas!
his wife's counsel was never sought, and not worth having.  He did seek
counsel at the throne of heavenly grace that night, but the answer given
by the oracle was framed by himself.  He was in sore straits.  Something
seemed to have interposed itself between him and Robert, and when,
instead of the old unveiled frankness, Robert was reticent and even
suspicious, Michael's heart almost broke, and he went up to his room, and
shutting the door, wept bitter tears.  His sorrow clothed itself, even at
its uttermost, with no words of his own, but always in those of the Book.

"O my son Absalom!" he cried, "my son, my son, Absalom!  Would God I had
died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

He remembered also what his own married life had been; he always trusted
that Robert would have a wife who would be a help to him, and he felt
sure that this girl Shipton, with her pretty rosy face and blue eyes, had
no brains.  To think that his boy should repeat the same inexplicable
blunder, that she was _silly_, that he would never hear from her lips a
serious word!  What will she be if trouble comes on him?  What will she
be when a twelvemonth has passed?  What will _he_ be when he sits by his
fireside in long winter evenings, alone with her, and finds she cannot
interest him for a moment?

Worse still, she was not a child of God.  He did not know that she ever
sought the Lord.  She went to church once a day and read her prayers, and
that was all.  She was not one of the chosen, and she might corrupt him,
and he might fall away, and so commit the sin against the Holy Ghost  "O
Lord, O Lord!" he prayed one evening, in rebellion rather than as a
suppliant, "what has Thy servant done that Thou shouldst visit him thus?"
He almost mutinied, but he was afraid, and his religion came to his
rescue, and he broke down into "And yet not my will, the will of the
meanest of sinners, but Thine be done."  He made up his mind once or
twice that he would solemnly remonstrate with his son, but his aspect was
such whenever the subject was approached, even from a distance, that he
dared not.  Hitherto the boy had joyfully submitted to be counselled, and
had sought his father's direction, but now, if the conversation turned in
a certain direction, a kind of savage reserve was visible, at which
Michael was frightened.  He was a man of exceedingly slow conception.
For days and days he would often debate within himself, and at the end
the fog was as thick as ever.  He complained once to David Trevenna of
this failing, and David gave him a useful piece of practical advice.

"Leave it alone, master.  The more you thinks, the more you muddle
yourself.  Leave it alone, and when it comes into your head, try to get
rid of it.  In a week or so the thing will do more for itself than you'll
do for it.  It will settle, like new beer, and come clear enough.  That's
what my missus has often said to me, and I know she's right."

But, do what he might, Michael could not in this instance leave it alone.
He cast about incessantly for some device by which he could break his son
loose from the girl.  It was all in vain.  She might be frivolous, but
there was nothing against her character, and he saw evident signs that if
he attempted any exercise of authority he would lose Robert altogether in
open revolt.  For Robert, it must be remembered, had never scattered his
strength in loose love.  He had grown up to manhood in perfect innocence,
and all his stored-up passion spent itself in idealising the object which
by chance had provoked it.

Michael one night--it was a Sunday night--he was always worse on Sundays
when he had not been at work--was unable to sleep, and rose and read the
Book.  He turned to the Epistle to the Romans, a favourite epistle with
him, and deservedly so, for there we come face to face with the divine
apostle, with a reality unobscured by miracle or myth.  And such a
reality!  Christianity becomes no longer a marvel, for a man with that
force and depth of experience is sufficient to impose a religion on the
whole human race, no matter what the form of the creed may be.  Michael
read in the ninth chapter, "_I could wish that myself were accursed from
Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh_."  What did
Paul mean?  Accursed from Christ!  What _could_ he mean save that he was
willing to be damned to save those whom he loved.  Why not?  Why should
not a man be willing to be damned for others?  The damnation of a single
soul is shut up in itself, and may be the means of saving not only
others, but their children and a whole race.  Damnation!  It is awful,
horrible; millions of years, with no relief, with no light from the Most
High, and in subjection to His Enemy.  "And yet, if it is to save--if it
is to save Robert," thought Michael, "God give me strength--I could
endure it.  Did not the Son Himself venture to risk the wrath of the
Father that He might redeem man?  What am I?  what is my poor self?"  And
Michael determined that night that neither his life in this world nor in
the next, if he could rescue his child, should be of any account.

How sublime a thing is this dust or dirt we call man!  We grovel in view
of the vast distances of the fixed stars and their magnitudes, but these
distances and these dimensions are a delusion.  There is nothing grander
in Sirius than in a pebble, nor anything more worthy of admiration and
astonishment in his remoteness than in the length of Oxford Street.  The
true sublime is in the self-negation of the martyr, and it became doubly
magnificent in the case of Michael, who was willing not merely to give up
a finite existence for something other than himself--to be shot and so
end, or to be burnt with a hope of following glory--but to submit for
ever to separation and torment, if only he might shield his child from
God's displeasure.  It may be objected that such a resolution is
impossible.  Doubtless it is now altogether incredible; but it is so
because we no longer know what religion means, or what is the effect
produced upon the mind by the constant study of one book and a perfectly
unconditional belief in it.  Furthermore, as before said, Michael never
corrected himself or preserved his sanity by constant intercourse with
his fellows.  He incessantly brooded, and the offspring of a soul like
his, begotten on itself, is monstrous and grotesque.  He questioned
himself and his oracle further.  What could Paul mean exactly?  God could
not curse him if he did no wrong.  He could only mean that he was willing
to sin and be punished provided Israel might live.  It was lawful then to
tell a lie or perpetrate any evil deed in order to protect his child.
Something suddenly crossed his mind; what it was we shall see later on.
And yet the thought was too awful.  He could not endure to sin, not only
against his Creator, but against his boy.  Perhaps God might pardon him
after centuries of suffering; and yet He could not.  The gates of hell
having once closed upon him, there could be no escape.  He struggled in
agony, until at last he determined that, first of all, he would speak to
Robert, although he knew it would be useless.  He would conquer the
strange dread he had of remonstrance, and then, if that failed, he
would--do anything.

On the Sabbath following, as they came out of the meeting-house in the
evening, Michael proposed to Robert that they should walk down to the
shore.  It was a very unusual proposal, for walking on the Sabbath, save
to and from the means of grace, was almost a crime, and Robert assented,
not without some curiosity and even alarm.  The two went together in
silence till they came to the deserted shore.   The sun had set behind
the point on their right, and far away in the distance could he seen the
beneficent interrupted ray of the revolving light.  Father and son walked
side by side.

"Robert," said Michael at last, "I have long wished to speak to you.  God
knows I would not do it if He did not command me, but I cannot help it.
I fear you have engaged yourself with a young woman who is not one of His
children."

"Who told you she was not, father?"

"Who told me?  Why, Robert, it is notorious.  Who told me?  Is she not
known to belong to the world? does she ever appear before the Lord?"

"Do you think then, father, that because she does not come to our chapel
she cannot be saved?"

"No, you know I do not.  The Lord has His followers doubtless in other
communions besides our own, but the Shiptons are not His."

"You mean, I suppose, that they do not believe exactly what we believe,
and that they go to church?"

"No, no; I mean that she has not found Him, and that she is of the
world--of the world!  O Robert, Robert! think what you are doing--that
you will mate yourself with one who is not elect, that you may have
children who will he the children of wrath.  You don't know what I have
gone through for you.  I have wrestled and prayed before I could bring
myself to do my duty and talk with you, and even now I cannot speak.
What is it which chokes me?  O Robert, Robert!"

But Robert, usually docile and tender, was hard and obdurate.  The image
of Susan rose before his eyes with her head on his shoulder, and he
thought to himself that it was necessary at once to make matters quite
plain and stop all further trespass on his prerogative.  So it is, and so
it ever has been.  For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and
cleave to his wife.  There comes a time when the father and mother find
that they must withdraw; but it is the order of the world, and has to be
accepted, like sickness or death.

"Father," said Robert, "I am not a boy, and you must allow me in these
matters to judge for myself."  As he spoke his spirit rose; the image of
the head on his shoulder, defenceless against attack save for him, became
clearer and clearer, and words escaped him which he never afterwards
forgot, nor did his father forget.  "And it is a shame--I say it is a
shame to speak against her.  You know nothing about her.  Worldly! her
children children of wrath, just because she is not of your way of
thinking, and isn't--and isn't a humbug, as some of them are.  From
anybody else I wouldn't stand it," and Robert turned sharply away and
went home.

Michael leant against a groyne to support himself, and looked over the
water, seeing nothing.  At first he was angry, and if his son had been
there, he could have struck him; but presently his anger gave way to
pity, to hatred of the girl who had thus seduced him, and to a fixed
determination to save him, whatever it might cost.  He pondered again and
again over that verse of Paul's.  He did not believe that he should be
excused if he did evil that good might come.  He knew that if he did
evil, no matter what the result might be, the penalty to the uttermost
farthing would be exacted.  If Christ's purpose to save mankind could not
prevent the Divine anger being poured out on perfect innocence, how much
greater would not that anger have been if it had been necessary for Him
to sin in order to make the world's salvation sure!  Michael firmly
believed, too, in the dreadful doctrine that a single lapse from the
strait path is enough to damn a man for ever; that there is no finiteness
in a crime which can be counterbalanced by finite expiation, but that sin
is infinite.  Monstrous, we say; and yet it is difficult to find in the
strictest Calvinism anything which is not an obvious dogmatic reflection
of a natural fact, a mere transference to theology of what had been
pressed upon the mind of the creator of the creed as an everyday law of
the world.  A crime is infinite in its penalties, and the account is
never really balanced, as many of us know too well, the lash being laid
on us day after day, even to death, for the failings of fifty years ago.

Michael, with his slow ways, remained many weeks undecided.  During these
weeks he said nothing more to his son, nor did his son say anything to
him upon the one subject.  Robert was more than ever deferent, and even
more than ever affectionate, but there were no signs of any conversion on
his part, and to his deference and affection his father paid no regard.
He walked in a world by himself, shut up in it, and incessantly repeated
the one question, how could he save his son's soul?  He pictured himself
as a second Christ.  If the Christ, the mighty Saviour, felt His Father's
wrath on that one dreadful night, it was only fitting that he, Michael, a
man who was of so much less worth, should feel it for ever to accomplish
a similar end.  He was a little exalted by his resolve, and spiritual
pride began to show itself; so utterly impossible is it that the purest
self-devotion should be, if we may use the word, chemically pure.  It is
very doubtful if he ever fully realised what he was doing, just as it is
doubtful whether in the time of liveliest conviction there has been a
perfect realisation of the world to come.  Had he really appreciated the
words "torment" and "infinite;" had he really put into "torment" the
pangs of a cancer or a death through thirst; had he really put twenty
years into "infinity," he would perhaps have recoiled.  Nevertheless, the
fact remains that this man by some means or other had educated himself
into complete self-obliteration for the sake of his child.  The present
time is disposed to over-rate the intellectual virtues.  No matter how
unselfish a woman may be, if she cannot discuss the new music or the new
metaphysical poetry, she is nothing and nobody cares for her.  Centuries
ago our standard was different, and it will have to be different again.
We shall, it is to be hoped, spend ourselves not in criticism of the
record of the saints who sat by the sepulchre, but we shall love as they
loved.

Michael comforted himself by a piece of sophistry.  He had made up his
mind to attempt a stratagem, a wicked lie, if we choose to call it so,
for his son's sake, and he was prepared to suffer the penalty for it.  If
he had thought that in thus sinning he was sinning as an ordinary sinner,
he perhaps could not have dared to commit the crime; he could not have
faced the Almighty's displeasure.  But he thought that, although bound by
the Divine justice to mete out to him all the punishment which the sin
merited, God would, nevertheless, consider him as a sinner for His glory.

One evening--the summer had not yet departed--father and son walked out
to the house on the cliff.

"Robert," said Michael suddenly, and with the strength of a man who
gathers himself up to do what for a long time he has been afraid to do,
and is even bolder apparently than if he had known no fear, "I have
spoken my mind to you as God in heaven bade me about Miss Shipton, and
this is the last word I shall say.  He knows that I have prayed for you
from your childhood up--that I have prayed that, above everything, he
would grant that you should have one of His own for your wife, who should
bring up your children in the fear of the Lord.  He alone knows how I
have wrestled for you day and night, ay, in the dark hours of the night;
for you are my only son, and I looked that you and she whom God might
choose for you should be the delight and support of my old age.  But it
is not to be.  God has, for His own good purposes, not blessed me as He
has blessed others, and the home for which I hoped I am not to have.  Oh,
my son, my son!"  He had meant to say more, but at the moment he could
not.

"Father, father!" said Robert, much moved--the anger he usually felt at
his father's references to Susan Shipton melting into pity--"why not?
why not?  You don't know Susan; you condemn her just because she don't go
to our meeting.  She shall love you like your own child."

Another man would, perhaps, have relented, but his system was wrought
into his very marrow--a part of himself in a manner incomprehensible.
The distinction between the world and the Church is now nothing to us.
We are on the best of terms with people who every Sunday are expressly
assigned to everlasting fire.  But to Michael the distinction was what it
was to Ephraim MacBriar.  The Spirit descended on him--whose spirit, it
is not for us to say.

"Are you sure of Miss Shipton, Robert?"

"Sure of her, father!  What do you mean?"

"Do you know what she has been in time past?"

"I don't understand you."

"Do you know why Cadman left the Shiptons?"

Robert stopped suddenly as if struck by a blow, and then his behaviour
instantly changed.  He completely forgot himself and was furious.

"Father, I say it is a wicked, cruel shame--a wicked, cruel lie.  I do
not care if I tell you so.  I will not listen to it," and he tore himself
away.

He believed it was a lie--believed it with the same distinctness as he
believed in the existence of the hedge by his side which lacerated his
hand as he turned round; and yet the lie struck him like a poisoned
barbed arrow, and he could not drag himself loose from it.  No man could
have loved Desdemona better than Othello, and yet, before there was any
evidence, did he not say of Iago--

              "This honest creature doubtless
  Sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds."

He went home, and on his way to his room upstairs he passed through the
little office in which he and his father made out their bills and kept
their accounts.  On the desk lay half a sheet of a letter.  He looked at
it at first mechanically, and then began to read with the most intense
interest.  It was only half a sheet, and the other half was nowhere to be
found.  It ran as follows:--


"and I can assure you I cannot afford to marry.  Besides, I don't know
that she cares anything for me now.  It was very wrong; but, sir, when
you remember that I am a young man and that Susan was so attractive, I
think I may be forgiven.  I hope some day to make her amends if she still
loves me, but, sir, I must wait.--Yours truly,

         "WALTER CADMAN.

"MR. MICHAEL TREVANION."


This was the plot.  The Shiptons some short time ago had an assistant in
their employ, who was dismissed for improper intimacy with a servant-girl
named Susan Coleman, who lived next door.  As was the case with most
servant-girls in those days, nobody ever heard her surname, and she was
known by the name of Susan only.  The affair was kept a profound secret,
for she was a member of the congregation to which Michael belonged; and
Mr. Shipton, for trade reasons, was anxious that it should not be made
public.  Michael, as one of the deacons, knew all about it, but Robert
knew nothing.  The girl left her place before the consequences of her
crime became public; and Michael had written to the man Cadman, telling
him he ought to support the child of which he was the father.  When he
received the answer, a sudden thought struck him.  The last page might be
used for a purpose, and so he hatched his monstrous scheme, and left the
paper where he knew that, sooner or later, Robert would see it.

When Michael came home, Robert was not there; a bill-head lay near
Cadman's note with the brief announcement--


"I have left for ever.--Your affectionate son,

      "ROBERT."


Michael's first emotion, strange to say, was something like joy.  He had
succeeded, and Robert was removed from the wiles of the tempter.  But
when the morning came, he looked again, and he saw the words "for ever,"
and he realised that his son had gone; that he would never see him any
more; that perhaps he might have committed self-murder.  His human nature
got the better of every other nature in him, divine or diabolic, and he
was distracted.  He could not pray after his wont; he tried, but he had
no utterance; he felt himself rebellious, blasphemous, impious, and he
rose from his bedside without a word.  He went out into the street and
down to the shore, trembling lest he should hear from the first man he
saw that his son's body had been thrown up on the sand; and then he
remembered how Robert could swim, and that he would probably hang a stone
round his neck and be at the bottom of some deep pool.  He could not go
back; people would ask where his son was, and what could he say?  He had
murdered him.  He had thought to save him, and he was dead.  He walked
and walked till he could walk no more, and a great horror came on him--a
horror of great darkness.  The Eternal Arms were unclasped, and he felt
himself sinking--into what he knew not.  He could not describe his terror
to himself.  It was nameless, shapeless, awful, infinite; and all he
could do was to cry out in agony; the words of the Book, even in this his
most desperate moment, serving to voice the experience for him--"My God!
my God! why hast Thou forsaken me?"  It became intolerable, and his brain
began to turn.  He reflected though, even then, upon the disgrace of
suicide.  For himself he did not care; for had not God abandoned him? and
what worse thing could befall him?  But then his good name, and the brand
of infamy which would be affixed to Robert should he still live!  Could
he not die so that it might be set down as an accident?  He could swim;
and although he had not been often in the water of late years, it would
not be thought extraordinary if on a blazing morning he should bathe.  He
took off his clothes, and in a moment was in the sea, striking out for
the river channel and the ebbing tide, which he knew would bear him away
to the ocean.  He saw nothing, heard nothing, till just as he neared the
buoy and the fatal eddy was before him, when there escaped from him a
cry--a scream--a prayer of commitment to Him whom he believed he had so
loyally served--served with such damnable, such treasonable fidelity--the
God who had now turned away from him.

But the buoy was not reached.  A hand was on him, firm but soft, grasping
him by the hair at the back of his neck, which he wore long in Puritanic
fashion, and the hand held him and he knew no more.  Susan Shipton,
bathing that morning, had seen a human being in the water nearing the
point where she herself so nearly lost her life.  Without a moment's
hesitation she made after him, and was fortunate enough to attract the
attention of two men in a punt, who followed her.  She came up just in
time, and with their help Michael was saved.  He was senseless, but after
a few hours he recovered, and asked his wife, who was standing by his
bedside, who rescued him.

"Why, it was Susan Shipton.  She was in the water and came after you, and
then, luckily, there was a boat near at hand."

Susan was on the other side of the bed, and he did not see her.  She bent
over him and kissed him.

He turned round, and thoughts rushed through his brain with a rapidity
sufficient to make one short moment a thousand years; but he said
nothing, and presently, almost for the first time in his life, he broke
down into sobbing.  He turned away from her and could not look at her.

"You see, Mr. Trevanion," she said smilingly, "just about that very place
I was nearly drowned myself--I don't know whether you ever heard of
it--and I hardly ever keep my eyes off it now when I am anywhere near it,
although I am not afraid of going pretty near after what Robert told me.
When you want a wash again.--I knew you could swim well, by the way, but
I didn't know you ever went into the water now--you must give the buoy a
wider berth."  She stooped down and whispered to him--"I never told a
soul before, but it was Robert who saved me.  We are quits now.  Robert
saved me, and I have done something to save you, though not so much as
Robert, because he had no boat."  Then she kissed his forehead again,
delighted at the thought that she could put something into the balance
against her lover's heroism.  How proud he would be of her!  She would be
able, moreover, to stand up a little bit against him.  It was very
pleasant to her to think she owed so much to him, but she liked also to
think that she had something of her own.

Michael caught hold of her round the neck, embracing her with a
passionate fervour which she supposed to be gratitude, but it was not
altogether that.

"Do you know where Robert has gone?" she said.  "He was not at home last
night."

"He has gone on--on--some business.  I must go too."

"You cannot go just yet; not till you have got over the shock."

"I can--I can.  Leave me, and I will dress myself.  It is important
business, and I must see him.  But, Susan, here--I want you."

It was the first time he had ever called her Susan.  She came back to
him.  "Listen!" he cried.  She bent her head down, but he was silent.  At
last, with his arms again around her, he said, "My child, my child, my
child!"

"Me!" she answered innocently.  "Do you mean me? do you really?  I
couldn't think what you wanted to say, but that's enough.  My dearest,
dearest father!  Oh, how happy Robert will be! and so am I.  We thought
you didn't care for me; and I know I am a poor, foolish girl, not half
good enough for Robert; but I _do_ love him, and I never loved anybody
else; and I _do_ love you."

When she had left, Michael rose from his bed.  His faith remained
unchanged, but it presented itself to him in a different shape.  A new
and hitherto unnoticed article in his creed forced itself before him.
God's hand--for it _was_ God's hand--had plucked him out of the sea and
brought him back to life.  What did that mean?  Ah! what was he?--a worm
of the earth!  How dare he lift himself up against the Almighty's
designs?  The Almighty asked him the question eternally repeated to us,
which He had asked thousands of years ago, "Where wast thou when I laid
the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. . . .
Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings forward to the
south?"  "The hawk flies not by my wisdom," murmured Michael to himself,
"nor doth the eagle at my command make her nest on high.  Ah, it is by
His wisdom and at His command; how should I dare to interfere?  I see
it--I see it all now.  'I have uttered that I understood not; things too
wonderful for me, which I knew not.'"  After his fashion and through his
religion he had said to himself the last word which can be uttered by
man.  He knelt down and prayed, and although he was much given to
extempore prayer, he did not, in this his most intense moment, go beyond
the prayer of our Lord, which, moreover, expressed what he wanted better
than any words of his own.  "_Thy will_," he repeated, "_Thy_ will."  His
one thought now was his son, but he knew not where to find him.  He went
out and he saw his man, David Trevenna.

"He was off in a hurry; only just caught the coach," said David.

"Who?  What coach?"

"Why, Robert; going to Plymouth."

Michael did not answer, but hurried to his stable where his little pony
was kept, and put him in the light cart.  He told his wife that he had
some business in Plymouth with Robert, packed up a few things, took some
money, and in a few minutes was on the Truro road.  At Truro he found the
mail, and within twelve hours he was at Plymouth.  Dismounting, he asked
eagerly if they had a young man at the inn who had come from Cornwall the
day before.

"What, one as is waiting for the packet?"

"Yes," said Michael at a venture.

"Yes, he's here, but he isn't in just now.  Gone out for a walk."

The one point in Plymouth to which everybody naturally turns is the Hoe,
and thither Michael went.  It was morning in early autumn or late summer,
and the whole Sound lay spread out under the sun in perfect peace.  The
woods of Mount Edgecumbe were almost black in the intense light, and far
away in the distance, for the air was clear, a sharp eye might just
discern the Eddystone, the merest speck, rising above the water.  It was
a wonderful scene, but Michael saw nothing of it.  When he came out of
the street which leads up from the town to the Hoe, he looked round as a
man might look for escape if a devouring fire were behind him, and he saw
his son a hundred yards in front of him gazing over the sea.  With a cry
of thanks to his God Michael rushed forward, and just as Robert turned
round caught him in his arms, but could not speak.

At last he found a few words.

"It is all a mistake, Robert--it is all wrong.  Susan is yours--she is
mine.  Come back with me."

Robert, as much moved as his father, fell on his neck as if he had been a
woman, and then led him gently down the slope, away from curious persons
who had watched this remarkable greeting, and took Michael to be some
strange person who had accidentally met his child or a relative after
long separation.

"Foreigners, most likely; that's their way.  It looks odd to English
people," remarked a lady to her daughter.  It did look odd, and would
have looked odd to most of us--to us who belong to a generation which
sees in the relationship between father and son nothing more than in that
between the most casual acquaintances with the disadvantage of inequality
of age, a generation to whom the father is--often excusably--a person to
be touched twice a day with the tips of the fingers, a postponement of a
full share in the business, a person to be treated with--respect?  Good
gracious!  If it were not bad form, it would be a joke worth playing to
slip the chair away from the old man as he is going to sit down, and see
him sprawl on the floor.  Why, in the name of heaven, does he come up to
the City every day?  He ought to retire, and leave that expensive place
at Clapham, and take a cottage in some cheap part, somewhere in
Cambridgeshire or Essex.

"Robert," said Michael, "I have sinned, although it was for the Lord's
sake, and He has rebuked me.  I thought to take upon myself His direction
of His affairs; but He is wiser than I.  I believed I was sure of His
will, but I was mistaken.  He knows that what I did, I did for love of
your soul, my child; but I was grievously wrong."

The father humbled himself before the son, but in his humiliation became
majestic, and in after years, when he was dead and gone, there was no
scene in the long intercourse with him which lived with a brighter and
fairer light in the son's memory.

"You know nothing then against Susan?"

"Nothing!"

"I found a bit of a letter on your desk from Cadman.  I could not help
reading it.  Had that anything to do with her?"

"Nothing!"

"Father, you seem faint and you tremble; hadn't you better go in doors
and take something, and lie down?  We cannot get home till to-morrow."

The father went to the inn with difficulty; he had tasted no food for
many hours, and had not slept for some time, but he could neither eat nor
sleep.  Hitherto God's will had appeared to him ascertainable with
comparative ease, and he had been as certain of the Divine direction as
if he had seen a finger-post or heard the word in his ear.  But now he
was dazed and, in doubt.  He was convinced that his rescue by Susan was
an interposition of Providence, and if so, then all his former
conclusions were wrong.  What was he to do?  How was he henceforth to
know the mind of his Master?  Oh, how he wished he had lived in the days
when the oracle was not darkened--in the days of Moses, when God spake
from the Mount, when there was the continual burnt-offering at the door
of the tabernacle, "where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee."
God really did intend that Robert should marry Susan!  "If righteousness
and judgment," he cried, inverting the Psalm, "are the habitation of His
throne, clouds and darkness are round about Him." But he submitted.
"Thou art wiser than I," he prayed.  It was mere presumption then to have
risked the loss of his soul in the blind belief that it was for God's
cause.  The sin had been committed, the lie had been uttered; would God
pardon him?  and it was mercifully whispered to him that he was forgiven
for His sake.  So was he saved from uttermost despair.

In the evening he said he would go out and breathe a little fresh air
before bedtime.  It was a perfectly unsullied night, with no moon, but
with brilliant stars.  Father and son sat upon a bench facing the sea,
and the lighthouse from the rock sent its bright beam across the water.
There is consolation and hope in those vivid rays.  They speak of
something superior to the darkness or storm--something which has been
raised by human intelligence and human effort.

Robert turned round to his father.

"Look at the light, father, fourteen miles away."

But his father did not see any light, or, if he did, it was not the
Eddystone light--he was dead!

Robert never revealed his father's secret to a soul--not even to Susan.
Nobody but Robert ever knew the reason for the journey to Plymouth.  His
interpretation of God's designs turned out to be nearer the truth than
that of his father; for Susan, the worldling, as Michael thought her to
be, became a devoted wife, and made Robert a happy husband to the end of
his days.


Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson and Co.
Edinburgh and London.





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