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Title: A Second Coming
Author: Marsh, Richard, -1915
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 "A Second Coming" ***

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          Canvasback library of Popular Fiction. Volume IX



                           A Second Coming



                          _A SECOND COMING_



                                 _BY_
                            RICHARD MARSH



                    _JOHN LANE: THE BODLEY HEAD_
                      _NEW YORK & LONDON MCMIV_



                           Copyright, 1900
                             By John Lane



'If,' asked the Man in the Street, 'Christ were to come again to
London, in this present year of grace, how would He be received, and
what would happen?'

'I will try to show you,' replied the Scribe.

                          *   *   *   *   *

These following pages represent the Scribe's attempt to achieve the
impossible.



                               CONTENTS


                     I. THE TALES WHICH WERE TOLD

      CHAPTER

          I. THE INTERRUPTED DINNER.

         II. THE WOMAN AND THE COATS.

        III. THE WORDS OF THE PREACHER.

         IV. THE CHILDREN'S MOTHER.

          V. THE OPERATION.

         VI. THE BLACKLEG.

        VII. IN PICCADILLY.

       VIII. THE ONLY ONE THAT WAS LEFT.

         IX. THE FIRST DISCIPLE.

          X. THE DEPUTATION.

         XI. THE SECOND DISCIPLE.



                      II. THE TUMULT WHICH AROSE

        XII. THE CHARCOAL-BURNER.

       XIII. A TRIUMPHAL ENTRY.

        XIV. THE WORDS OF THE WISE.

         XV. THE SUPPLICANT.

        XVI. IN THE MORNING.

       XVII. THE MIRACLE OF HEALING.

      XVIII. THE YOUNG MAN.



                    III. THE PASSION OF THE PEOPLE

        XIX. THE HUNT AND THE HOME.

         XX. THEY THAT WOULD ASK WITH A THREAT.

        XXI. THE ASKING.

       XXII. A SEMINARY PRIEST.

      XXIII. AND THE CHILD.



                                  I

                      The Tales which were Told



                           A Second Coming

                              CHAPTER I

                        THE INTERRUPTED DINNER


He stood at the corner of the table with his hat and overcoat on,
just as he had rushed into the room.

'Christ has come again!'

The servants were serving the entrees. Their breeding failed them.
They stopped to stare at Chisholm. The guests stared too, those at
the end leaning over the board to see him better. He looked like a
man newly startled out of dreaming, blinking at the lights and
glittering table array. His hat was a little on one side of his head.
He was hot and short of breath, as if he had been running. They
regarded him as a little bewildered, while he, on his part, looked
back at them as if they were the creatures of a dream.

'Christ has come again!'

He repeated the words in a curious, tremulous, sobbing voice, which
was wholly unlike his own.

Conversation had languished. Just before his entrance there had been
one of those prolonged pauses which, to an ambitious hostess, are as
a sound of doom. The dinner bade fair to be a failure. If people will
not talk, to offer them to eat is vain. Criticism takes the place of
appetite. Amplett looked, for him, bad-tempered. He was leaning back
in his chair, smiling wryly at the wineglass which he was twiddling
between his fingers. His wife, on the contrary, sat very upright--
with her an ominous sign. She looked straight in front of her, with a
tender softness in her glance which only to those who did not know
her suggested paradise. Over the whole table there was an air of
vague depression, an irresistible tendency to be bored.

Chisholm's unceremonious entry created a diversion. It filliped the
atmosphere. Amplett's bad temper vanished on the instant.

'Hollo, Hugh! thought you weren't coming. Sit down, man; in your coat
and hat if you like, only do sit down!'

Chisholm eyed him as if not quite certain that it was he who was
being spoken to, or who the speaker was. There was that about his
bearing which seemed to have a singular effect upon his host.
Amplett, leaning farther over the table, called to him in short,
sharp tones:

'Why do you stand and look like that? What's the matter?'

'Christ has come again!'

As he repeated the words for the third time, there was in his voice a
note of exultation which was in odd dissonance with what was
generally believed to be his character. The self-possession for which
he was renowned seemed to have wholly deserted him. Something seemed
to have shaken his nature to its depths; he who was used to declare
that life could offer nothing which was of interest to him.

People glanced at each other, and at the strange-looking man at the
end of the table. Was he mad or drunk? As if in answer to their
glances he stretched out his hands a little in front of him, saying:

'It is true! It is true! Christ has come again! I have come from His
presence here to you!'

Mrs. Amplett's voice rang out sharply:

'Hugh, what is the matter with you? Are you insane?'

'I was insane. Now I am wise. I know, for I have seen. I have been
among the first to see.'

There was something in his manner which affected them strangely. A
wildness, an exultation, an intensity! If it had not been so entirely
out of keeping with the man's everyday disposition it might not have
seemed so curious. But those who knew him best were moved most. They
were aware that his nerves were not easily affected; that something
extraordinary must have occurred to have produced this bearing.
Clement Fordham rose from his chair and went to him.

'Come, Hugh, tell me what's wrong outside.'

He made as if to slip his arm through Chisholm's, who would have none
of it. He held Fordham off with hand extended.

'Thank you, Fordham, but for the present I'll stay here. I am not
mad, nor have I been drinking. I'm as sober and as sane as you.'

A voice came down the table, Bertie Vaughan's. In it there was a ring
of laughter:

'Tell us, Chisholm, what you've seen.'

'I will tell you.'

Chisholm removed his hat, as if suddenly remembering that he had it
on. He rested the brim against the edge of the table, looking down
the two rows of faces towards Amplett at the end. Mrs. Amplett
interposed:

'Hadn't you better sit down, Hugh, and have something to eat? The
entrees are getting cold. Or you might tell your story after we've
finished dinner. Hunger magnifies; wonders grow less when one has
dined.'

There was a chorus of dissentient voices.

'No, no, Mrs. Amplett. Let him tell his story now.'

'I will tell it to you now.'

The hostess gave way. Chisholm told his tale. He riveted his
auditors' attention. The servants listened openly.

'I walked here. As you know, the night is fine, and I thought the
stroll would do me good. As I was passing through Bryanston Square a
man came round the corner on a bicycle. The road has recently been
watered, and is still wet and greasy. His tyre must have skidded, or
something, because he entirely lost control of his machine, and went
dashing into the hydrant which stands by the kerb. He was moving
pretty fast, and as it came into contact with the hydrant his machine
was splintered, and he was pitched over the handle-bar heavily on to
his head. He was some fifteen or twenty yards from where I was. I
went to him as rapidly as I could, but by the time I reached him he
was already dead.'

'Dead!'

The word came in a sort of chorus from half a dozen throats.

'Dead,' repeated Chisholm.

'Are you sure that he was dead?'

The question came from Amplett.

'Certain. He was a very unpleasant sight. He must have fallen with
more violence even than I had supposed. His skull was shattered. He
must have come down on it on the hard road, and then twisted over on
to his back. He was a big, heavy man, and the wrench which he had
given himself in rolling over had broken his neck. I was so
astonished to find him dead, and at the spectacle which he presented,
that for a second or two I was at a loss as to what steps I ought to
take. No other person was in the square, and, so far as I could
judge, the accident had not been witnessed from either of the
windows. While I hesitated, on a sudden I was conscious that someone
was at my side.'

He stopped as if to take breath. There came a rain of questions.

'Someone? What do you mean by someone?'

'I will try and tell you exactly what I saw. It is not easy. I am yet
too near--fresh from the Presence.'

He clasped his hands a little more tightly on the brim of his hat,
then closed his eyes for a second or two, opening them to look
straight down the table, as if endeavouring to bring well within the
focus of his vision something which was there.

'I was looking down at the dead man as he lay there in an ugly heap,
conscious that I was due for dinner, and wondering what steps I ought
to take. I felt no interest in him--none whatever; neither his living
nor his dying was anything to me. My chief feeling was one of
annoyance that he should have chosen that moment to fall dead right
in my path; it was an unwarrantable intrusion of his affairs into
mine. As I stood, I knew that someone was on his other side, looking
down at him with me. And I was afraid--yes, I was afraid.'

The speaker had turned pale--the pallor of fear had come upon the
cheeks of the man whose imperturbable courage had been proved a
hundred times. His voice sank lower.

'For some moments I continued with eyes cast down; I did not dare to
look up. At last, when my pulse grew a little calmer, I ventured to
raise my eyes. On the other side of the dead bicyclist was one who
was in the figure of a man. I knew that it was Christ.'

He spoke with an accent of intense conviction, the like of which his
hearers had never heard from the lips of anyone before. It was as
though Chisholm spoke with the faith which can move mountains. Those
who listened were perforce dumb.

'His glance met mine. I knew myself to be the thing I was. I was
ashamed. He pointed to the body lying in the roadway, saying: "Your
brother sleeps?" I could not answer. Seeing that I was silent, He
spoke again: "Are you not of one spirit and of one flesh? I come to
wake your brother out of slumber." He inclined His hand towards the
dead man, saying: "Arise, you who sleep." Immediately he that was
dead stood up. He seemed bewildered, and exclaimed as in a fit of
passion: "That's a nice spill. Curse the infernal slippery road!"
Then he turned and saw Who was standing at his side. As he did so, he
burst into a storm of tears, crying like a child; and when he cried,
He that had been there was not. The bicyclist and I were alone
together.'

A pause followed Chisholm's words.

'And then what happened?'

The query came from Mrs. Amplett.

'Nothing happened. I hurried off as fast as I could, for I was still
afraid, and left the bicyclist sobbing in the roadway.'

There was another interval of silence, until Gregory Hawkes, putting
his eyeglass in its place, fixedly regarded Chisholm.

'Are we to accept this as a sober narrative of actual fact,
or--where's the joke?'

'I have told you the truth. Christ has come again!'

'Christ in Bryanston Square!'

Mr. Hawkes's tone was satirical.

'Yes, Christ in Bryanston Square. Why not in Bryanston Square if on
the hill of Calvary? Is not this His own city?'

'His own city!'

Again there was the satiric touch.

One of the servants, dropping a dish, began to excuse himself.

'Pardon me, sir, but I'm a Seventh-Day Christian, and I've been
looking for the Second Coming these three years now, and more.
Hearing from Mr. Chisholm that it's come at last has made me feel a
little nervous.'

Mrs. Amplett turned to the butler.

'Goss, let the servants leave the room.'

They went, as if they bore their tails between their legs, some with
the entrée dishes still in their hands.

'I wish,' murmured Bertie Vaughan,' that this little incident could
have been conveniently postponed till after we had dined.'

Arthur Warton, of St. Ethelburga's, showed signs of disapprobation.

'I believe that I am as broad-minded a priest as you will easily
find, but there are seasons at which certain topics should not be
touched upon. Without wishing in any way to thrust forward my
clerical office, I would point out to Mr. Chisholm that this
assuredly is one.'

'Is there then a season at which Christ should not come again?'

'Mr. Chisholm!'

'Or in which He should not restore the dead to life?'

'I should not wish to disturb the harmony of the gathering,
Mr. Amplett, but I am afraid the--eh--circumstances are
not--eh--fortuitous. I cannot sit here and allow my sacred office to
be mocked.'

'Mocked! Is it to mock your sacred office to spread abroad the news
that He has come again? I am fresh from His presence, and tell you
so--you that claim to be His priest.'

Fordham, who had been standing by him all the time, came a little
closer.

'Come, Hugh, let's get out of this, you and I, and talk over things
quietly together.'

Again Chisholm kept him from him with his outstretched hand.

'In your tone, Fordham, more even than in your words, there
is suggestion. Of what? that I am mad? You have known me
all my life. Have I struck you as being of the stuff which
makes for madness? As a victim of hysteria? As a subject of
hallucinations? As a liar? I am as sane as you, as clear-headed, as
matter-of-fact, as truthful. I tell you, in very truth and very deed,
that to-night I have seen Christ hard by here in the square.'

'My dear fellow, these people have come here to dine.'

'Is, then, dinner more than Christ?'

Smiling his easy, tolerant smile, Fordham touched Chisholm lightly
with his fingers on the arm.

'My very dear old chap, this sort of thing is so awfully unlike you,
don't you know?'

'You, also, will be changed when you have seen Christ. Fordham, I
have seen Christ!'

The intensity of his utterance seemed to strike his hearers a blow.
The women shivered, turning pale--even those who were painted. Mr.
Warton leaned across the table towards Mrs. Amplett.

'I really think that you ladies had better retire. Our friend seems
to be in a curious mood.'

The hostess nodded. She rose from her seat, looking very queerly at
Mr. Chisholm, for whom her penchant is well known. The other women
followed her example. The rustling concourse fluttered from the room,
the Incumbent of St. Ethelburga holding the door open to let them
pass, and himself bringing up the rear. The laymen were left alone
together, Chisholm and Fordham standing at the head of the table
with, on their faces, such very different expressions.

The host seemed snappish.

'You see what you've done? I offer you my congratulations, Mr.
Chisholm. I don't know if you call the sort of thing with which you
have been favouring us good form.'

'Is good form more than Christ?'

Amplett made an impatient sound with his lips. He stood up.

'Upon my word of honour, Mr. Chisholm, you must be either drunk or
mad. I trust, for your own sake, that you are merely mad. Come,
gentlemen, let's join the ladies.'

The men quitted the room in a body. Only Clement Fordham stayed with
his friend. Chisholm watched them as they went. Then, when the last
had gone and the door was closed, he turned to his companion.

'Yet it is the truth that this night I have seen Christ!'

The other laughed.

'Then, in that case, let's hope that you won't see much more of Him--
no impiety intended, I assure you. Now let you and me take our two
selves away.'

He slipped his arm through his friend's. As they were about to move,
the door opened and a servant entered. It was the man who had dropped
the dish. He approached Chisholm with stuttering tongue.

'Pardon me, sir, if I seem to take a liberty, but might I ask if the
Second Coming has really come at last? As a Seventh-Day Christian
it's a subject in which I take an interest, and the fact is that
there's a difference of opinion between my wife and me as to whether
it's to be this year or next.'

The man bore ignorance on his countenance written large, and worse.
Hugh Chisholm turned from him with repugnance.

'He's your brother,' whispered Fordham in his ear, as they moved
towards the door.

The expression of Hugh Chisholm's face was stern.



                              CHAPTER II

                       THE WOMAN AND THE COATS


Mr. Davis looked about him with bloodshot eyes. His battered bowler
was perched rakishly on the back of his head, and his hands were
thrust deep into his trousers pockets. He did not seem to find the
aspect of the room enlivening. His wife, standing at a small oblong
deal table, was making a parcel of two black coats to which she had
just been giving the finishing stitches. The man, the woman, the
table, and the coats, practically represented the entire contents of
the apartment.

The fact appeared to cause Mr. Davis no slight dissatisfaction. His
bearing, his looks, his voice, all betrayed it.

'I want some money,' he observed.

'Then you'll have to want,' returned his wife.

'Ain't you got none?'

'No, nor shan't have, not till I've took these two coats in.'

'Then what'll it be?'

'You know very well what it'll be--three-and-six--one-and-nine
apiece--if there ain't no fines.'

'And this is what they call the land of liberty, the 'ome of the
free, where people slave and slave--for one-and-nine.'

Mr. Davis seemed conscious that the conclusion of his sentence was
slightly impotent, and spat on the floor as if to signify his regret.

''Tain't much slaving you do, anyhow.'

'No, nor it ain't much I'm likely to do; I'm no servile wretch; I'm
free-born.'

'Prefers to make your living off me, you do.'

'Well, and why not? Ain't woman the inferior animal? Didn't Nature
mean it to be her pride to minister to man? Ain't it only the false
veneer of a rotten civilization what's upset all that? If I gives my
talents for the good of the species, as I do do, as is well known I
do do, ain't it only right that you should give me something in
return, if it's only a crust and water? Ain't that law and justice--
natural law, mind you, and natural justice?'

'I don't know nothing about law, natural or otherwise, but I do know
it ain't justice.'

Mr. Davis looked at his wife, more in sorrow than in anger. He was
silent for some seconds, as if meditating on the peculiar baseness of
human nature. When he spoke there was a whine in his raucous voice,
which was, perhaps, meant to denote his consciousness of how much he
stood in need of sympathy.

'I'm sorry, Matilda, to hear you talk to me like that, because it
forces me to do something what I shouldn't otherwise have done. Give
me them coats.'

She had just finished packing up the coats in the linen wrapper, and
was pinning up one end. Snatching up the parcel, she clasped it to
her bosom as if it had been some precious thing.

'No, Tommy, not the coats!'

'Matilda, once more I ask you to give me them coats.'

'What do you want them for?'

'Once more, Matilda, I ask you to give me them coats.'

'No, Tommy, that I won't--never! not if you was to kill me! You know
what happened the last time, and all I had to go through; and you
promised you'd never do it again, and you shan't, not while I can
help it--no, that you shan't!'

Clasping the parcel tightly to her, she drew back towards a corner of
the room, like some wild creature standing at bay. Mr. Davis,
advancing towards the table, leaned on it, addressing her as if he
desired to impress her with the fact that he was endeavouring not to
allow his feelings to get the better of his judgment.

'Listen to me, Matilda. I'm soft and tender, as well you know, and
should therefore regret having to start knocking you about; but want
is want, and I want 'arf a sovereign this day, and have it I must.'

'What do you want it for?'

Mr. Davis brought his clenched fist sharply down upon the
table--possibly by way of a hint.

'Never you mind what I want it for. I do want it, and that's enough
for you. You trouble yourself with your own affairs, and don't poke
your nose into mine, my girl; you'll find it safest.'

'I'll try to get it for you, Tommy.'

Mr. Davis was scornful.

'Oh, you will, will you! How are you going to set about getting 'arf
a sovereign? Perhaps you'll be so good as to let me know. Because if
you can lay hands on 'arf a sovereign whenever one's wanted, it's a
trick worth knowing. You're such a clever one at getting 'old of the
pieces, you are, and always have been.'

The man's irony seemed to cause the woman to wince. She drew a little
farther back towards her corner.

'I don't rightly know how I shall get hold of it, not just now, I
don't; but I daresay I shall manage somehow.'

'Oh, you do, do you? Shall I tell you how you'll manage? You listen
to me. You'll go to them there slave-drivers with them two coats, and
they'll keep you waiting for two mortal hours or more. Then they'll
dock sixpence for fines--you're always getting fined; you 'ardly ever
take anything in without you're fined; you're a slovenly workwoman,
that's what you are, my lass, and that's the truth!--you'll come away
with three bob, and spend 'arf a crown on rent, or some such silly
nonsense; and then when it comes to me, you'll start snivelling, and
act the crybaby, and I shall have to treat you to a kicking, and find
myself further off my 'arf sovereign than ever I was. I don't want no
more of your nonsense. Give me them two coats!'

'You'll pawn 'em if I do.'

'Of course I'll pawn 'em. What do you suppose I'm going to do with
them--eat 'em, or give them to the Queen?'

'You'll get me into trouble again! They're due in to-day. You know
what happened last time. If they lock me up again, I'll be sent
away.'

'Then be sent away, and be 'anged to you for a nasty, mean,
snivelling cat! Why don't you earn enough to keep your 'usband like a
gentleman? If you don't, it's your fault, isn't it? Give me them two
coats!'

'No, Tommy, I won't!'

He went closer to her.

'For the last time; will you give me them two coats?'

'No!'

She hugged the parcel closer, and she closed her eyes, so that she
should not see him strike her. He hit her once, twice, thrice,
choosing his mark with care and discretion. Under the first two blows
she reeled; the last sent her in a heap to the floor. When she was
down he kicked her in a business-like, methodical fashion, then
picked up the parcel which had fallen from her grasp.

'You've brought it on yourself, as you very well know. It's the kind
of thing I don't care to have to do. I'm not like some, what's always
spoiling to knock their wives about; but when I do have to do it,
there's no one does it more thorough, I will say that.'

He left her lying in a heap on the boards. On his way to the
pawnbroker's he encountered a friend, Joe Cooke. Mr. Cooke stopped
and hailed him.

'What yer, Tommy! Are you coming along with us to-night on that there
little razzle?'

'Of course I am. Didn't I say I was? And when I say I'm coming, don't
I always come?'

'All right, old coxybird! Keep your 'air on! No one said you didn't.
Got the rhino?'

'I have. Leastways, I soon shall have, when I've turned this little
lot into coin of the realm.'

He pointed to the bundle which he bore beneath his arm. Mr. Cooke
grinned.

'What yer got there?'

'I've got a couple of coats what my wife's been wearing out her eyes
on for a set of slave-driving sweaters. Three-and-six they was to pay
her for them. I rather reckon that I'll get more than three-and-six
for them, unless I'm wrong. And when I have melted 'em, Joe, I don't
mind if I do you a wet.'

Joe did not mind, either. The two fell in side by side. Mr. Cooke
drew his hand across his mouth.

'Ever since my old woman died I've felt I ought to have
another--a good one, mind you. There's nothing like having someone to
whom you can turn for a bob or so.'

'It's more than a bob or so I get out of my old woman, you may take
my word. If she don't keep me like a gentleman, she hears of it.'

Mr. Cooke regarded his friend with genuine admiration.

'Ah! but we're not all so fly as you, Tommy, nor yet so lucky.'

'Perhaps not--not, mind you, that that's owing to any fault of yours.
It's as we're made.'

Mr. Davis, with the bundle under his arm, bore himself with an air of
modest pride, as one who appreciated his natural advantages.

They reached the pawnbroker's. The entrance to the pledge department
was in a little alley leading off the main street. As Mr. Davis stood
at the mouth of this alley to say a parting word to his friend as a
prelude to the important business of the pledging, someone touched
him on the arm.

A voice accosted him.

'What is it that you would do?'

Mr. Davis spun round like a teetotum. He stared at the Stranger.

'Hollo, matey! Who are you?'

'I am He that you know not of.'

Mr. Davis drew a little back, as if a trifle disconcerted. His voice
was huskier than even it was wont to be.

'What's the little game?'

'I bid you tell me what is this thing that you would do?'

Mr. Davis seemed to find in the words, which were quietly uttered, a
compelling influence which made him curiously frank.

'I am going to pawn these here two coats which my wife's been
making.'

'Is it well?'

Mr. Davis slunk farther from the Stranger. 'What's it got to do with
you?'

'Is it well?'

There was a sorrowful intonation in the repetition of the inquiry,
blended with a singularly penetrant sternness. Mr. Davis cowered as
if he had been struck a blow. He turned to his friend.

'Say, Joe, who is this bloke?'

The Stranger spoke to Mr. Cooke.

'Look on Me, and you shall know.'

Mr. Cooke looked--and knew. He began to tremble as if he would have
fallen to the ground. Mr. Davis, noting his friend's condition,
became uneasy.

'Say, Joe, what's the matter with you? What's he done to you, Joe?'

Mr. Cooke was silent. The Stranger answered:

'Would that that which has been done to him could be done to you, and
to all this city! But you are of those that cannot know, for in them
is no knowledge. Yet return to your wife, and make your peace with
her, lest worse befall.'

Mr. Davis began to slink out of the alley, with furtive air and face
carefully averted from the Stranger. As he reached the pavement, a
big man, with a scarlet handkerchief twisted round his neck, caught
him by the shoulder. The big man's speech was flavoured with
adjectives.

'Why, Tommy! what's up with you? You look as if you was just
a-going to see Jack Ketch.'

Then came the flood of adjectives to give the sentence balance. Mr.
Davis tried to wriggle from his questioner's too strenuous grip.

'Let me go, Pug--let me go!'

'What for? What's wrong? Who's been doing something to yer?'

Mr. Davis made a movement of his head towards the Stranger. He spoke
in a husky whisper.

'That bloke--over there.'

The big man dragged the unwilling Mr. Davis forward.

'What's my friend been doing to you, and what have you been doing to
him?'

There was the usual adjectival torrent. The Stranger replied to the
inquiry with another.

'Why are you so unclean of mouth? Is it because you are unclean of
heart, or because you do not know what the things are which you
utter?'

The retorted question seemed to take the big man aback. His manner
became still more blusterous:

'I don't want none of your lip, and I won't have any, and you can
take that from me! I don't know what kind of a Gospel-pitcher you
are; but if you think because preaching's your lay that you can come
it over me, I'll just show you can't by knocking the head right off
yer.'

'What big things the little say!'

The retort seemed to goad Mr. Davis's friend to a state of
considerable excitement.

'Little, am I? I'll show you! I'll learn you! I'll give you a lesson
free gratis, and for nothing now, right straight off.' He began to
tear off his cap and coat. 'Here, some of you chaps, catch hold while
I'm a-showing him!' As he turned up his shirtsleeves, he addressed
the crowd which had gathered: 'These blokes come to us, and because
we're poor they think they can treat us as if we was dirt, and come
the pa and ma game over us as if we was a lot of kids. I've had
enough of it--in fact, I've had too much. For the future I mean to
set about every one of them as tries to come it over me. Now, then,
my bloke, put up your dooks or eat your words. Don't think you're
going to get out of it by standing still, because if you don't beg
pardon for what you said to me just now I'll----'

The man, who was by profession a pugilist, advanced towards the
Stranger in professional style. The Stranger raised His right hand.

'Stay! and let your arm be withered. Better lose your arm than all
that you have.'

Before the eyes of those who were standing by the man's arm began to
dwindle till there was nothing protruding from the shirtsleeve which
he had rolled up to his shoulder but a withered stump. The man stood
as if rooted to the ground, the expression of his countenance so
changed as to amount to complete transfiguration. The crowd was still
until a voice inquired of the Stranger:

'Who are you?'

The Stranger pointed to the man whose arm was withered.

'Can you not see? The world still looks for a sign.'

There were murmurs among the people.

'He's a conjurer!'

'The bloke's a mesmerist, that's what he is!'

'He's one of those hanky-panky coves!'

'I am none of these things. I come from a city not built of hands to
this city of man's glory and his shame to bring to you a message--no
new thing, but that old one which the world has forgotten.'

'What's the message, Guv'nor?'

'Those who see Me and know Me will know what is My message; those who
know Me not, neither will they know My message.'

Mr. Cooke fell on his knees on the pavement.

'Oh, Guv'nor, what shall I do?'

'Cease to weep; there are more than enough tears already.'

'I'm only a silly fool, Guv'nor; tell me what I ought to do.'

'Do well; be clean; judge no one.'

A woman came hurrying through the crowd. It was Mrs. Davis. At sight
of her husband she burst into exclamations:

'Oh, Tommy, have you pawned them?'

'No, Matilda, I haven't, and I'm not going to, neither.'

'Thank God!'

She threw her arms about her husband's neck and kissed him.

'That is good hearing,' said the Stranger.

The people's attention had been diverted by Mrs. Davis's appearance.
When they turned again to look for the Stranger He was gone.



                             CHAPTER III

                      THE WORDS OF THE PREACHER


'They say that the Jews do not look forward to the rebuilding of
their Holy City of Jerusalem, to their return to the Promised Land.
They say that we Christians do not look forward to the Second Coming
of Christ. As to the indictment against the Chosen People, we will
not pronounce: we are not Jews. But as to the charge against us
Christians, there we are on firmer ground. We can speak, and we must.
My answer is, It's a lie. We do look forward to His Second Coming. We
watch and wait for it. It is the subject of our constant prayers. We
have His promise, in words which cannot fail. The whole fabric of our
faith is built upon our assurance of His return. If the delay seems
long, it is because, in His sight, a thousand years are as a day. Who
are we to time His movements, and fix the hour of His coming so that
it may fall in with our convenience? We know that He will come, in
His own time, in His own way. He will forgive us if we strain our
eyes eastward, watching for the first rays of the dawn to gild the
mountains and the plains, and herald the glory of His advent. But
beyond that His will, not ours, be done. We know, O Lord Christ, Thou
wilt return when it seems well in Thy sight.'

The Rev. Philip Evans was a short, somewhat sturdily built man, who
was a little too heavy for his height. His dress was, to all intents
and purposes, that of a layman, though something about the colour and
cut of the several garments suggested the dissenting minister of a
certain modern type. He was a hairy man; his brown hair, beard, and
whiskers were just beginning to be touched with gray. He wore
spectacles, big round glasses, set in bright steel frames. He had a
trick of snatching at them with his left hand every now and then, as
if to twitch them straight upon his nose. He was not an orator, but
was something of a rhetorician. He had the gift of the gab, and the
present-day knack of treating what are supposed to be sacred subjects
in secular fashion--of 'bringing them down,' as he himself described
it, 'to the intelligence' of his hearers, apparently unconscious of
the truth that what he supposed to be their standard of intelligence
was, in fact, his own.

There was about his manner, methods, gestures, voice, a species of
nervous force, the product of restlessness rather than vitality,
which attracted the sort of persons to whom he specially appealed,
when they had nothing better to do, and held them, if not so
firmly as the music-hall and theatrical performances which they
preferentially patronised, still, with a sufficient share of
interest. The band and the choir had something to do with the
success which attended his labours. But, after all, these were merely
side-shows. Indubitably the chief attraction was the man himself, and
the air of brightness and 'go' which his personality lent to the
proceedings. One never knew what would be the next thing he would say
or do.

That Sunday evening the great hall was thronged. It nearly always
was. In the great thoroughfare without the people passed continually
to and fro, a motley crowd, mostly in pursuit of mischief. All sorts
and conditions of persons, as they neared the entrance, would come
in, if only to rest for a few minutes, and listen by the way, and
look on. There was a constant coming and going. Philip Evans was one
of the sights of town, not the least of its notorieties; and those
very individuals against whom his diatribes were principally directed
found, upon occasion, a moderate degree of entertainment in listening
to examples of his comminatory thunders.

The subject of his evening's discourse had been announced as 'The
Second Coming: Is it Fact or Dream?' He had chosen as his text the
eleventh verse of the third chapter of St. John's Revelation:
'Behold, I come quickly; hold fast that which thou hast, that no man
take thy crown.' He had pointed out to his audience that these words
were full of suggestion, even apart from their context; pre-eminently
so in connection with it. They had in them, he maintained, Christ's
own promise that He would return to the world in which He had endured
so much disappointment and suffering, such ignominy and such shame.
He supported his assertion by the usual cross references to Biblical
passages, construing them to suit his arguments by the dogmatic
methods with which custom has made us familiar.

'If there is one thing sure, it is the word of Jesus Christ; if there
is one thing Christ has promised us, it is that He will return. If we
believe that He came once, we must believe that He will come again.
We have no option, unless we make out Christ to be a liar. There was
no meaning in his First Coming unless it is His intention to return.
The work He began has to be finished. If you deny a personal Christ,
then you are at least logical in regarding His whole story as
allegorical, the story that He was and will be; in which case may He
help you, and open your eyes that you may see. But if you are a
Christian, it is because you believe in Christ, the living Christ,
the very Christ, the Christ made man, that was and will be. Your
faith, our faith, is not a symbol, it's a fact. It's a solid thing,
not the distillation of a dream. We believe that Jesus Christ was
like unto us, hungry as we are, and athirst; that He felt as we feel,
knew our joys and sorrows, our trials and temptations. He came to us
once, that is certain. To attempt to whittle away that fact is to
make of our Christianity a laughing-stock, and our plight most
lamentable. Better for us, a thousand, thousand times, that we had
never been born! But He came--we know He came! And, knowing that, we
know that we have His promise that He will come again, and rejoice!

'Of the time and manner of His Second Coming there is none mortal
that may certainly speak. To pretend to speak on the subject with
special insight or knowledge would be intolerable presumption--worse,
akin to blasphemy! Thy will, not ours, be done. We only stand and
wait. In Thy hand, Lord God, is the issue. We know it, and give
thanks. But while recognising our inability to probe into the
workings of the Most High, I think we may be excused if we make
certain reflections on the theme which to us, as Christians, is of
such vital moment.

'First, as to the time. Knowing nothing, we do know this, that it may
be at any instant of any hour of any day. The Lord Jesus Christ may
be speeding to us now. He may be in our midst even while I speak. Why
not? We know that He was in a certain synagogue while service was
taking place, without any there having had the slightest warning of
His intended presence. What He did then can He not do now? And will
He not? Who shall say?

'For, as to the manner, we can at least venture to say this, that we
know not, with any sort of certainty, what the manner of His coming
will be. The dark passages of the Scripture are dark perhaps of
intention, and, maybe, will continue obscure, until in the fulness of
time all things are made plain. There are those who affirm that He
will come with pomp and power, in the fulness of His power, as a
conquering king, with legions of angels, to be the Judge of all the
earth. To me it appears that those who say this go further than the
evidence before us warrants. And it may be observed that precisely
the same views were held by a large section of the Jews in the year
of our Lord. They thought that He would come in the splendour of His
majesty. And because He did not, they hung Him on the tree. Let us
not stand in peril of the same mistake. As He came before, in the
simple garb of a simple man, may He not come in that same form again?
Why not? Who are we that we should answer? I adjure you, in His most
holy Name, to keep on this matter an open mind, lest we be guilty of
the same sin as those purblind Jews.

'What we have to do is to know Him when He does come. The notion that
we shall be sure to do so seems to me to be born of delusion. Did the
Jews know Him when He came before? No! Why? Because He was a
contradiction of all their preconceived ideas. They expected one
thing, and found another. They looked for a king in his glittering
robes; and, instead, there was a Man who had not where to lay His
head. There is the crux of the matter; because He was so like
themselves, they did not know Him for what He was. The difference was
spiritual, whereas they expected it to be material. The tendency of
the world is now, as it was then, to look at the material side. Let
us be careful that we are not deceived. It is by the spirit we shall
know Him when He comes!'

The words had been rapidly spoken, and the preacher paused at this
point, perhaps to take breath, or perhaps to collect his thoughts
prior to diverting the current of his discourse into a slightly
different channel. At any rate, there was a distinct pause in the
flow of language. While it continued, Someone stood up in the body of
the hall, and a Voice inquired:

'Who shall know Him when He comes?'

The question was clearly audible all over the building. It was by no
means unusual, in that place, for incidents to occur which were not
in accordance with the programme. Interruptions were not infrequent.
Both preacher and people were used to them. By a considerable part of
the audience such interludes were regarded as not the least
interesting portion of the proceedings. To the fashion in which he
was wont to deal with such incidents the Rev. Philip Evans owed, in
no slight degree, his vogue. It was his habit to lose neither his
presence of mind nor his temper. He was, after his manner, a fighter
born. Seldom did he show to more advantage than in dealing out
cut-and-thrust to a rash intervener.

When the Voice asking the question rose from the body of the hall,
there were those who at once concluded that such an intervention had
occurred. For the instant, the movement in and out of the doors
ceased. Heads were craned forward, and eyes and ears strained to lose
nothing of what was about to happen. Mr. Evans, to whom the question
seemed addressed, appeared to be no whit taken by surprise. His
retort was prompt:

'Sir, pray God that you may know Him when He comes.'

The Voice replied:

'I shall know as I shall be known. But who is there shall know Me?'

The Speaker moved towards the platform, threading His way between the
crowded rows of seats with an ease and a celerity which seemed
strange. None endeavoured to stop Him. Philip Evans remained silent
and motionless, watching Him as He came.

When the Stranger had gained the platform, He turned towards the
people, asking:

'Who is there here that knows Me? Is there one?' There was not one
that answered. He turned to the preacher. 'Look at Me well. Do you
not know Me?'

For once in a way Philip Evans seemed uncomfortable and ill at ease
and abashed.

'How shall I know you, since you are to me a stranger?'

'And yet you have looked for My coming?'

'Your coming? Who are you?'

'Look at Me well. Is there nothing by which you may know Me?'

'I may have seen you before; but, if so, I have certainly forgotten
it, which is the more strange, since your face is an unusual one.'

'Oh, you Christians, that preach of what you have no knowledge, and
lay down the law of which you have no understanding!' He turned to
the people. 'You followers of Christ, that never knew Him, and never
shall, and would not if you could, yet make a boast of His name, and
blazon it upon your foreheads, crying, Behold His children! You call
upon Him in the morning and at night, careless if He listen, and
fearful lest He hear; saying, with your lips, "We look for His
coming"; and, with your hearts, "Send it not in our time." It is by
the spirit you shall know Him. Yes, of a truth. Is there not one
among you in whom the spirit is? Is there not one?'

The Stranger stood with His arms extended in front of Him, in an
attitude of appeal. The hush of a perfect silence reigned in the
great hall. Every countenance was turned to Him, but so far as could
be seen, not a muscle moved. The predominant expression upon the
expanse of faces was astonishment, mingled with curiosity. His arms
sank to His sides.

'He came unto His own, and His own knew Him not!'

The words fell from His lips in tones of infinite pathos. He passed
from the platform through the hall, and out of the door, followed by
the eyes of all who were there, none seeking to stay Him.

When He had gone, one of the persons who were associated with the
conduct of the service went up to Mr. Evans. A few whispered words
were exchanged between them. Then this person, going to the edge of
the platform, announced:

'After what has just occurred, I regret to have to inform you that
Mr. Evans feels himself unable to continue his address. He trusts to
be able, God willing, to bring it to a close on a more auspicious
occasion. This evening's service will be brought to a conclusion by
singing the hymn "Lo, He comes, in clouds descending!"'



                              CHAPTER IV

                        THE CHILDREN'S MOTHER


'You've had your pennyworth.'

'Oh, Charlie, I haven't! you must send me higher. You mustn't stop;
I've only just begun to swing.'

'I shall stop; it's my turn. You'd keep on for ever.'

The boy drew to one side. The swing began to slow. Doris grew
indignant. She endeavoured to swing herself, wriggling on the seat,
twisting herself in various attitudes. The result was failure. The
swing moved slower. She tried a final appeal.

'Oh, Charlie, I do think you might push me just a little longer; it's
not fair. You said you'd give me a good one. Then I'll give you a
splendid swing.'

'You've had a good one. You'd keep on for ever, you would. Get off!'

The swing stopped dead. The girl made a vain attempt to give it
momentum.

'It's beastly of you,' she said.

She scrambled to the ground. The boy got on. He was not content to
sit; he stood upright.

'Now, then,' he cried, 'why don't you start me? Don't you see I'm
ready?'

'You'll tumble off. Mamma said you weren't to stand.'

'Shall stand. Go and tell! Start me!'

'You will tumble.'

'All right, then, I will tumble. Start me! Don't you hear?'

She 'started' him. The swing having received its initial impetus, he
swung himself. He mounted higher and higher. Doris watched him,
leaning her right shoulder against the beech tree, her hands behind
her back. She interpolated occasional remarks on the risk which he
was running.

'You'll fall if you don't take care. You oughtn't to go so high.
Mamma said you oughtn't to go so high.'

He received her observations with scorn.

'Just as though I will fall! How silly you are! You will keep on!'

As he spoke, one of the ropes gave way. The other rope swerving, he
was dashed against an upright. He fell to the ground. The thing was
the work of an instant. He was ascending jubilantly towards the sky:
the same second he was lying on the ground. Doris did not realise
what had happened. She had been envying him the ease with which he
swung himself, the height of his ascent. She did not understand why
he had stopped so suddenly. She perceived how still he seemed, half
wondering.

'Charlie!' His silence frightened her. Her voice sank. 'Charlie!' She
became angry. 'Why don't you answer me?' She moved closer to him,
observing in what an ugly heap he lay. 'Charlie!'

Yet he vouchsafed her no reply. He lay so still. It was such an
unusual thing for Charlie to be still, the strangeness of it began to
get upon her nerves. Her face clouded. She was making ready to rush
off and alarm the house in an agony of weeping. Already she was
starting, when Someone came to her from across the lawn, and laid His
hand upon her shoulder.

'Doris, what is wrong?'

The voice was a stranger's, and the presence. But she paid no heed to
that: all her thoughts were concentrated on a single theme.

'Charlie!' she gasped.

'What ails Charlie?'

The Stranger, kneeling beside the silent boy, bent over him, gently
turning him so that He could see his face. Then, raising him from the
ground, gathering him in His arms, He held him to His breast; and,
stooping, He whispered in his ear:

'Wake up, Charlie! Doris wants you.'

And the boy sat up, and looked in the face of Him in whose arms he
was.

'Hollo!' he said. 'Who are you?'

'The friend of little children.'

There was an appreciable space of time before the answer came, and
when it did come it was accompanied by a smile, as the Stranger
looked the boy straight in the eyes. The boy laughed outright.

'I like the look of you.'

Doris drew a little nearer. She had her fingers to her lips, seeming
more than half afraid.

'Charlie, I thought you were hurt.'

'Hurt!' he flashed at her; then back at the Stranger: 'I'm not hurt,
am I?'

'No, you are not hurt; you are well, and whole, and strong.'

'But you tumbled from the swing.' The boy stared at Doris as if he
thought she must be dreaming. 'The swing broke.'

'Broke?' Glancing up, he perceived the severed rope. 'Why, so it
has.'

'It can soon be mended.'

The Stranger put the boy down, and went to the swing, and
in a moment the two ends of the rope were joined together.
Then He lifted them both on the seat, the boy and the girl together--
there was ample room for both--and swung them gently to and fro. And
as He swung He talked to them, and they to Him.

And when they had had enough of swinging He went with them, hand in
hand, and sat with them on the grass by the side of the lake, with
the trees at their back. And again He talked to them, and they to
Him. And the simple things of which He spoke seemed strange to them,
and wonderful. Never had anyone talked to them like that before. They
kept as close to Him as they could, and put their arms about Him so
far as they were able, and nestled their faces against His side, and
they were happy.

While the Stranger and the children still conversed together there
came down through the woods, towards the lake, a lady and a
gentleman. He was a tall man, and held himself very straight,
speaking as if he were very much in earnest.

'Doris, why should we keep on pretending to each other? I know that
you love me, and you know that I love you. Why should you spoil your
life--and mine!--for the sake of such a hound?'

'He is my husband.'

She spoke a little below her breath, as if she were ashamed of the
fact. He struck impatiently at the bracken with his stick.

'Your husband! That creature! As though it were not profanation to
link you with such an animal.'

'And then there are the children.'

Her voice sank lower, as if this time she spoke of something sacred.
He noted the difference in the intonation; apparently he resented it.
He struck more vigorously at the bracken, as if actuated by a desire
to relieve his feelings. There was an interval, during which both of
them were silent. Then he turned to her with sudden passion.

'Doris, come with me, at once! now! Give yourself to me, and I'll
devote my whole life to you. You've known enough of me through all
these things to be sure that you can trust me. Aren't you sure that
you can trust me?'

'Yes, I am sure that I can trust you--in a sense.'

Something in her face seemed to make an irresistible appeal to him.
He took her in his arms, she offering no resistance.

'In a sense? In what sense? Can't you trust me in every sense?'

'I can trust you to be true to me; but I am not so sure that I can
trust you to let me be true to myself.'

'What hair-splitting's this? I'll let you be true to your own
womanhood; it's you who shirk. You seem to want me to treat you as if
you were an automatic figure, not a creature of flesh and blood. I
can't do it--you can't trust me to do it; that thing's plain. Come,
darling, let's take the future in our own hands, and together wrest
happiness from life. You know that at my side you'll be content. See
how you're trembling! There's proof of it. I'll swear I'll be content
at yours! Come, Doris, come!'

'Where will you take me?'

'That's not your affair just now. I'll take you where I will. All you
have to do is--come.'

She drew herself out of his arms, and a little away from him. She put
up her hand as if to smooth her hair, he watching her with eager
eyes.

'I'll come.'

He took her again in his embrace, softly, tenderly, as if she were
some fragile, priceless thing. His voice trembled.

'You darling! When?'

'Now. Since all's over, and everything's to begin again, the sooner a
beginning's made the better.' A sort of rage came into her voice--a
note of hysteric pain. 'If you're to take me, take me as I am, in
what I stand. I dare say he'll send my clothes on after me--and my
jewels, perhaps.'

It seemed as if her tone troubled him, as if he endeavoured to soothe
her.

'Don't talk like that, Doris. Everything that you want I'll get you--
all that your heart can desire.'

'Except peace of mind!'

'I trust that I shall be able to get you even that. Only come!'

'Don't I tell you that I am ready? Why don't you start?'

He appeared to find her manner disconcerting. He searched her face,
as if to discover if she were in earnest, then looked at his watch.

'If we make haste across the park, we shall be able to catch the
express to town.'

'Then let's make haste and catch it.'

'Come!'

They began to walk quickly, side by side. As they passed round the
bend they came on the two children sitting, with the Stranger, beside
the lake. The children, scrambling to their feet, came running to
them.

'Mamma,' they cried, 'come and see the friend of little children!'

At sight of them the woman drew back, as if afraid. The man
interposed.

'Don't worry, you youngsters! Your mother's in a hurry--run away!
Come, Doris, make haste; we've no time to lose if we wish to catch
the train.'

He put his arm through hers, and made as if to draw her past them.
She seemed disposed to linger.

'Let me--say good-bye to them.'

He whispered in her ear:

'There'll only be a scene; don't be foolish, child! There's not a
moment to lose!' He turned angrily to the boy and girl. 'Don't you
hear, you youngsters!--run away!' As the children moved aside,
frightened at his violence, and bewildered by the strangeness of
their mother's manner, he gripped the woman's arm more firmly,
beginning by sheer force to hurry her off. 'Come, Doris,' he
exclaimed, 'don't be an idiot!'

The Stranger, who had been sitting on the grass, stood up and faced
them.

'Rather be wise. There still is time. What is it you would do?'

The interruption took the pair completely by surprise. The man stared
angrily at the Stranger.

'Who are you, sir? And what do you mean by interfering in what is no
concern of yours?

'Are you sure that it is no concern of Mine?'

The man endeavoured to meet the Stranger's eyes, with but scant
success. His erect, bold, defiant attitude gave place to one of
curious uncertainty.

'How can it be any concern of yours?'

'All things are My concern, the things which you do, and the things
which you leave undone. Would it were not so, for many and great are
the burdens which you lay upon me. You wicked man! Yet more foolish
even than wicked! What is this woman to you that you should seek to
slay her body and soul? Is she not of those who know not what is the
thing they do till it is done? It is well with you if this sin, also,
shall not be laid to your charge,--that you are a blind leader of the
blind!'

The Stranger turned to the woman.

'Your eyes shall be opened. Look upon this man to see him as he is.'

The woman looked at the man. As she looked, a change came over him.
Before her accusatory glance he seemed to dwindle and wax old. He
grew ugly, his jaw dropped open, his eyes were full of lust, cruelty
was writ upon his countenance. On a sudden he had become a thing of
evil. She shrank back with a cry of horror and alarm, while he stood
before her cowering like some guilty creature whose shame has been
suddenly made plain. And the Stranger said to him:

'Go! and seek that peace of which you would have robbed her.'

The man, shambling away round the bend in the path, presently was
lost to sight. The Stranger was left alone with the children and the
woman. The woman stood before Him trembling, with bowed form and face
cast down, and she cried:

'Who are you, sir?'

The Stranger replied:

'Look upon Me: and as you knew the man, so, also, you shall know Me.'

She looked on Him, and knew Him, and wept.

'Lord, I know You! Have mercy upon me!'

He answered:

'I am the friend of little children, and of the mothers that bare
them; for the pains of the women are not little ones; and because
they are great, so also shall great mercy be shown unto them. For
unto those that suffer most, shall not most be forgiven? for is not
suffering akin to repentance?'

And the woman cried:

'Lord, I am not worthy Thy forgiveness!'

And to her He said:

'Is any worthy? No, not one. Yet many are those to whom forgiveness
comes. There are your children, that are an heritage to you of God.
Take them, and as you are unto them, so shall God be unto you, and
more. Return to your husband; say to him what things have happened
unto you, and fear not because of him.'

And the woman went, holding a child by either hand. And the Stranger
stood and watched them as they went. And when they had gone some
distance, the woman turned and looked at Him. And He called to her:

'Be of good courage!'

And after that she saw Him no more.



                              CHAPTER V

                            THE OPERATION


The students crowded the benches. Some wore hats and gloves,
and carried sticks or umbrellas; they had the appearance of having
just dropped in to enjoy a little passing relaxation. Others, hatless
and gloveless, wore instead an air of intense pre-occupation; they
had note-books in their hands, and spent the time studying anatomical
charts in sombre-covered volumes. Many were smoking pipes for the
most part; the air was heavy with tobacco smoke. Nearly everybody
talked; there was a continual clatter of voices; men on one side
called to men on the other, exchanging jokes and laughter.

In the well below were the tables for the operator and his
paraphernalia. Assistants were making all things ready. The smell of
antiseptic fluids mingled with the odour of tobacco. Omnipresent was
the pungent suggestion of carbolic acid. A glittering array of
instruments was being sterilised and placed in order for the
operator's hand. The anæsthetists were busy with their preparations
to expedite unconsciousness, the dressers with their bandages to be
applied when the knives had made an end.

There was about the whole theatre, and in particular about the little
array of men upon the floor in their white shrouds, who were occupied
in doing things the meaning of which was hidden from the average
layman, something which the unaccustomed eye and ear and stomach
would have found repulsive. But in the bearing of those who were
actually present there was no hint that the work in which they were
to be engaged had about it any of the elements of the disagreeable.
They were, taking them all in all, and so far as appearances went, a
careless, lighthearted, jovial crew.

When the operator entered, accompanied by two colleagues, there was
silence, or, rather, a distinct hush. Pipes were put out, men settled
in their seats, note-books were opened, opera-glasses were produced.
The operator was a man of medium height and slender build, with
slight side-whiskers and thin brown hair, which was turning gray. He
wore spectacles. Having donned the linen duster, he turned up his
shirtsleeves close to his shoulders, and with bare arms began to
examine the preparations which the assistants had made. He glanced at
the instruments, commented on the bandages, gave some final
directions to an irrigator; then each man fell into his place and
waited. The door opened and a procession entered. A stretcher was
carried in by two men, one at the head and one at the foot. A nurse
walked by the side, holding the patient by the hand; two other nurses
accompanied. The patient was lifted on to the table. The porters,
with the stretcher, withdrew. The nurse who had held the patient's
hand stooped and kissed her, whispering words of comfort. The
operator bent also. What he said was clearly audible.

'Don't be afraid; it will be all right.'

The patient said nothing. She was a woman of about thirty years, and
was suffering from cancer in the womb.

Anæsthetics were applied, but she took them badly, fighting,
struggling against their influence, crying and whimpering all the
time. Force had to be used to restrain her movements on the table.
When she felt their restraining hands, she began to be hysterical and
to scream. A second attempt was made to bring about unconsciousness;
again without result. The surgeons held a hurried consultation as to
whether the operation should be carried out with the patient still in
possession of her senses. It was resolved that there should be a
third and more drastic effort to produce anæsthesia. On that occasion
the desired result was brought about. Her cries and struggles ceased;
she was in a state of torpor.

The body was bared; the knife began its work....

The operation was not wholly successful. There had been fears that it
would fail; but as, if it were not attempted, an agonising death
would certainly ensue, it had been felt that it was a case in which
every possible chance should be taken advantage of, and in which the
undoubted risk was worth incurring. The woman was still young. She
had a husband who loved her and children whom she loved. She did not
wish to die; so it had been decided that surgical science should do
its best to win life for her.

But it appeared that the worst fears on her account were likely to be
realised. The operation was a prolonged one. The resistance she had
offered to the application of the anæsthetics had weakened her. Soon
after the surgeon began his labours it became obvious to those who
knew him best that he had grave doubts as to what would be the issue.
As he continued, his doubts grew more; they were exchanged for
certainties, until it began to be whispered through the theatre that
the operation, which was being brought to as rapid a conclusion as
possible, was being conducted on a subject who was already dead.

The woman had died under the surgeon's knife. Shortly the fact was
established beyond the possibility of challenge. Reagents of every
kind were applied in the most effective possible manner; medical
skill and experience did its utmost; but neither the Materia Medica
nor the brains of doctors shall prevail against death, and this woman
was already dead.

When the thing was made plain, there came into the atmosphere a
peculiar quality. The students were very still; they neither moved
nor spoke, but sat stiffly, with their eyes fixed on the naked woman
extended on the oilskin pad. Some of those faces were white, their
features set and rigid. This was notably the case with those who were
youngest and most inexperienced, though there were those among the
seniors who were ill at ease. It was almost as if they had been
assisting at a homicide; before their eyes they had seen this woman
done to death. The operator was a man whose nerve was notorious, or
he would not have held the position which he did; but even he seemed
to have been nonplussed by what had happened beneath his knife. His
assistants clustered together, eyeing him askance, and each other,
and the woman, with the useless bandages hiding the gaping wound. His
colleagues whispered apart. They and he were all drabbled with blood;
each seemed conscious of his ensanguined hands. All in the building
had come full of faith in the man whose fame as a surgeon was a
byword; it was as though their faith had received an ugly jar.

While the hush endured, One rose from His place on the benches, and
stepping on to the operating floor, moved towards the woman. An
assistant endeavoured to interpose.

'Go back to your place, sir. What do you mean by coming here?'

'You have done your work. Am I not, then, to do Mine?'

The assistant stared, taken aback by what seemed to him to be
impudence.

'Don't talk nonsense! Who are you, sir?'

'I am He you know not of--a help to those in pain.'

The assistant hesitated, glancing from the Speaker to his chief. The
Stranger drew a sheet over the woman, so that only her face remained
uncovered. Turning to the operator, He beckoned with His finger.

'Come!'

The surgeon went. The Stranger said to him, pointing towards the
woman:

'Insomuch as what you have done was done for her, it is well;
insomuch as it was done for your own advancing, it was ill. Yet be
not afraid. Blessed are the hands which heal men's wounds, and wipe
the tears of pain out of their eyes. Better to be of use to those
that suffer than to be a king. For the time shall come when you shall
say: "As I did unto others, so do, Lord, unto me." And it shall be
done. Yet do it, not for the swelling of your purse, but for your
brother's sake, and your payment shall be of God.'

And the Stranger, turning, spoke to the students on the benches; and
their eyes never moved from Him as, wondering, they listened to His
words.

'Hearken, O young men, while I speak to you of the things which your
fathers have forgotten, and would not remember if they could. You
would go forth as healers of men? It is well. Go forth! Heal! The
world is very sick. Women labour; men sigh because of their pains.
But, physicians, heal first yourselves. Be sure that you go forth in
the spirit of healing. Where there is suffering, there go; ask not
why it comes, nor whence, nor what shall be the fee. Heal only. The
labourer is worthy of his hire; yet it is not for his hire he should
labour. Heal for the healing's sake, and because of the pain which is
in the world. God shall measure out to the physician his appointed
fee. Trouble not yourselves with that. The less your gain, the
greater your gain. There is One that keeps count. Each piece of money
you heap upon the other lessens your store. I tell you that there is
joy in heaven each time a sufferer is eased, at his brother's hands,
of pain, because it was his brother.'

When the Stranger ceased, the students looked from him at each other.
They began to murmur among themselves.

'Who is this fellow?'

'What does he mean by preaching at us?'

'Inflicting on us a string of platitudes!'

And one, bolder than the rest, called out:

'Yours is excellent advice, sir, but in the light of what's just
occurred it seems hardly to the point. Couldn't you demonstrate
instead of talk?'

The Stranger looked in the direction from which the voice came.

'Stand up!'

The student stood up. He was a young man of about twenty-four, with a
shrewd, earnest face. In his hand he held an open note-book.

'Always the world seeks for a sign; without a sign it will not
believe--nor with a sign. What demonstration would you have of Me?'

'Are you a doctor, sir?'

'I am a healer of men.'

'With what degree?'

'One you know not of.'

'Yet I thought I knew something of all degrees.'

'Not all. Young man, you will find the world easy, heaven hard. Yet
because there are many here like unto you, I will show to you a sign;
exhibit My degree.'

The Stranger turned to the operating surgeon.

'You say that the woman whom you sought to heal is dead?'

'Beyond a doubt, unfortunately.'

'You are sure?'

'Certain.'

'Of that you are all persuaded?'

Again there came murmurs from the students on the benches:

'What's he up to?'

'Who's he getting at?'

'Throw him out!'

The Stranger waited till the murmuring was at an end. Then He turned
to the woman, and, stooping, kissed her on the lips.

'Daughter!' He said.

And, behold, the woman sat up and looked about her.

'Where am I?' she asked, as one who wakes from sleep.

'Is all well with you?'

'Oh, yes, all's well with me, thank God!'

'That is good hearing.'

Then there was a tumult in the theatre. The students stood up in
their places, speaking all together.

'How's he done it?'

'She must have been only shamming.'

'It's a trick!'

'It's a plant!'

'It's a got-up thing between them.'

Insults were hurled at the Stranger by a hundred different voices. In
the heat of their excitement the students came streaming down from
their seats on to the operating floor. They looked for the man who
had done this thing.

'Where is he?' they cried. 'We'll make him confess how the trick was
done.'

But He whom they sought was not there. He had already gone. When they
discovered that this was so, and that He whom they sought was not to
be found, but had vanished from before their eyes, their bewilderment
grew still more. With one accord they turned to look at the woman.

As if alarmed by the noise of their threatening voices, and the
confusion caused by their tumultuous movements, she had raised
herself upon the operating table, so that she stood upright before
them all, naked as she was born. And they saw that the bandages had
fallen from off her, and that her body was without scratch and
blemish, round and whole.

'It's a miracle!' they exclaimed.

A great silence fell over them all, until, presently, the surgeons
and the students, looking each into the other's faces, began to ask,
each of his neighbour:

'Who is the man that has done this thing?'

But the woman gave thanks unto God, weeping tears of joy.



                              CHAPTER VI

                             THE BLACKLEG


The foreman shrugged his shoulders. He avoided looking at the
applicant, an undersized man, with straggling black beard and dull
eyes. Even now, while pressing his appeal, he wore an air of being
but slightly interested.

'You know, Jones, what the conditions of employ were--keep on the
works.'

'But my little girl's ill!'

'Sorry to hear it; but you don't want to have any trouble. You heard
how they treated your wife when she came in; they'd be much worse to
you if I was to let you out. They're pretty near beat, and they know
it, and they don't like it, and before they quite knock under they'd
like to make a mark of someone. If it was you, they might make a mark
too many; they're not overfond of you just now, as you know very
well. And then where will you be, eh? How would your little girl be
any better for their laying you out?'

Jones turned to his wife, a sort of feminine replica of himself. She
had her shawl drawn over her head.

'You hear, Jane, what Mr. Mason says?'

Mrs. Jones sighed; even in her sigh there was a curious reproduction
of her husband's lack of interest.

'All I know is that the doctor don't seem to have no great 'opes
about Matilda, and that she keeps a-calling for you, Tom.'

'Does she? Then I go! Mr. Mason, I'm a-goin'.'

'All right, Jones, go! Don't think that I don't feel for yer, 'cause
I do, but as to coming back again, that's another matter. Mind, we
can do without yer, and we don't want no fuss, that's all. Things
have been bad enough up to now, and we don't want 'em to be no
worse.'

Outside the gates there was a considerable crowd. Among the crowd
were the pickets and a fair leaven of the men on strike; but a large
majority of the people might have been described as sympathisers.
Unwise sympathisers they for the most part were; more bent on
striking than the strikers; more resolute to fight the battle to the
bitter end. The knowledge that already surrender was in the air
angered them. They were in an ugly temper, disposed to 'take it out
of' the first most convenient object.

As Mrs. Jones had made her way through them towards the gates she had
been subjected to gibes and jeers, and worse. She had been pushed and
hustled. More than one hand had been laid rudely on her. Someone had
thrown a shovelful of dirt with such adroitness that it had burst in
a shower on her head. While she was still nearly blinded she had been
pushed hither and thither with half good-humoured horse-play, which
was near akin to something else.

Tom Jones was an unpopular figure. He was one of the most notorious
of the blacklegs, in a sense their leader. He had persisted in being
master of his own volition; asserted his right to labour for whom he
pleased, at whatever terms he chose. Such men are the greatest
enemies of trades unions. Allow a man his freedom, and unionism, in
its modern sense, is at an end. It is one of the questions of the
moment whether the good of the greatest number does not imperatively
demand special legislation which shall hold such men in bonds; which
shall make it a penal offence for them to consider themselves free.

Word had gone round that Jones's little girl was ill; that the doctor
had decided she was dying; that Mrs. Jones had come to fetch him home
to bid the child good-bye. By most of those there it was
unhesitatingly agreed that this was as it should be; that Jones was
being served just right; that he was only getting a bit of what he
ought to have, which, it was quite within the range of possibility,
they would supplement with something else.

It was because of Jones and his like that the strike was failing, had
failed; that they were beaten and broken, brought to their knees, in
spite of all their organisation, of what they had endured. Jones! It
was currently reported that the idea of giving the blacklegs food and
lodging on the premises, and so rendering the wiles of the pickets of
no avail, was Jones's. At any rate, he had been among the first to
fall in with the proposition, and for many days he had not been
outside the gates. Jones! Let him put his face outside those gates
now and he would see what they would show him.

When the gates were opened, and Mrs. Jones had entered, they waited,
murmuring and muttering, with twitching fingers and lowering brows,
wondering if the prospect of being able to bid his dying child
good-bye would be sufficient inducement to him to trust himself
outside there in the open. And while they wondered he came.

Again the gate was opened. Out came Jones; close behind him was his
wife. Then the gate was shut to with a bang.

He was known by sight to many in the crowd. By them the knowledge of
who he was was instantly communicated to all the rest. He was not
greeted with any tumult; they were too much in earnest to be noisy.
But, with one accord, they cursed him, and their curses, though not
loudly uttered, reached him, every one. He stood fronting the array
of angry faces, all inclined in his direction.

The three policemen, who kept a clear space in front of the works,
and saw that ingress and egress was gained with some sort of ease,
hardly seemed to know what to make of him, or of the situation. They
glanced at Jones, then at the crowd, then at each other. All the
morning the people had been gathering round the gate, the number
increasing as the minutes passed. Except that they could not be
induced to move away, there had been little to object to in their
demeanour until now. As Jones appeared with his wife they formed
together into a more compact mass. Another shovelful of dust was
thrown by someone at the back with the same dexterity as before, so
that it lighted on the man and the woman, partially obscuring them
beneath a cloud of dust. That same instant perhaps a dozen stones
were thrown, some of which struck both Mr. and Mrs. Jones, the rest
rattling against the gate.

It was done so quickly that the police had not a chance to offer
interference. They had been instructed to make as little show of
authority as possible, to bear as much as could be borne, and, until
the last extremity, to do nothing to rouse the rancour of the
strikers. In the face of this sudden assault the trio hesitated. Then
the one nearest to the gate held his hand up to the crowd, shouting:

'Now, you chaps, none of that! Don't you go making fools of
yourselves, or you'll be sorry!' He turned to the Joneses. 'You'd
better go back and try to get out some other way. There'll be trouble
if you stop here.'

Tom Jones asked him stolidly, gazing with his lack-lustre eyes
intently at the crowd:

'Which other way?'

'I don't know--any other way. You can't get this way, that's plain--
they mean mischief. Back you go, before you're sorry.'

The constable endeavoured to hustle the pair back within the gate.
But Jones would not have it.

'My child's dying; this is the nearest way to her. I'm going this
way.'

The officer persisted in his attempt to persuade him to change his
mind.

'Don't be silly! You won't do your child any good by getting yourself
knocked to pieces, will you?'

Tom Jones was obstinate.

'I'm going this way.'

Slipping past the constable, he moved towards the crowd. The people
confronted him like a solid wall.

'Let me pass, you chaps.'

That moment the storm broke. The man's stolid demeanour, the complete
indifference with which he faced their rage, might have had something
to do with it. The effect of his request to be allowed to pass was as
if he had dropped a lighted match into a powder-magazine. An
explosion followed. The air was rent by curses; the people became all
at once like madmen. Possessed with sudden frenzy, they crowded round
the man, raining on him a hail of blows, each man struggling with his
fellow in order to reach the object of his rage. Their very fury
defeated their purpose. Not a few of the blows which were meant for
Jones fell on their own companions. With the commencement of the
attack Jones's stolidity completely vanished. He was transformed into
a fiend, and behaved like one. His voice was heard above the others,
pouring forth a flood of objurgations on the heads of his assailants.
His wife was his slavish disciple. Her shrill tones were mingled with
his deeper ones; they were at least as audible. Her language was no
better, her passion was no less. The man and the woman fought like
wild beasts. And so blinded by fury were the efforts of their
assailants that the pair were able to give back much more than they
received.

The attempts of the police at pacification were useless. They were
not in sufficient force. And there is a point in the temper of a
crowd at which its rage is not to be appeased until it has vented
itself on the object of its fury. All that the officers succeeded in
doing was to lose their own tempers. Under certain circumstances
there is irresistible contagion in a madman's frenzy. Presently they
themselves were mingling in the frantic mêlée, apparently with as
little show of reason as the rest.

Suddenly the crowd gave way towards the centre. Those in the middle
were borne down by those who persisted in pressing on. There was a
struggling, heaving, mouthing mass upon the ground, with the Joneses
underneath. And, as the writhings and contortions of this heap grew
less and less, there came One, before whose touch men gave way, so
that, before they knew it, He stood there, in their very midst,
before them all. In His presence their rage was stilled. Ceasing to
contend, they drew back, looking towards Him with their bloodshot
eyes. Where had been the pile of living men was a clear space, in
which He stood. At His feet were two forms--Tom Jones and his wife.
The woman cried and groaned, twisting her limbs; but the man lay
still.

'What is it that you would do?'

With the sorrowful inflexion of the voice was blended a satiric
intonation which seemed to strike some of those who heard as with a
thong. One man, a big, burly fellow, chose to take the question as
addressed to himself. He still trembled with excess of rage; his
voice was husky; from his mouth there came a volley of oaths.

'Bash the ---- to a jelly--that's what we'd like to do to
his ---- carcase! It's through the likes of him that our homes are
broken up, our kids starving, our wives with pretty near nothing on.
Killing's too good for such a----!'

'Who are you that you should judge your brother?'

The man spat on the pavement.

'He's no brother of mine--not much he ain't! If I'd a brother like
him, I'd cut my throat!'

'Since all men are brethren, and this is a man, if he is not your
brother, what, then, are you?'

'He's no man! If he is, I hope I ain't.'

The Stranger was for a moment silent, looking at the speaker, who,
drawing the back of his hand across his mouth, averted his glance.

'You are a man--as he is. Would that you both were more than men, or
less. Go, all of you that would shed innocent blood, knowing not what
it is you do. Wash the stain from off your hands; for if your hands
are clean, so also are your hearts. As your ignorance is great, so
also is God's mercy. Go, I say, and learn who is your brother.'

And the people went, slinking off, for the most part, in little
groups of threes and fours, muttering together. Some there were who
made haste, and ran, thinking that the man was dead, and fearful of
what might follow.

When they were all gone, the Stranger turned to the woman, who still
cried and made a noise.

'Cease, woman, and go to your daughter, lest she be dead before you
come.'

And stooping, he touched the man upon the shoulder, saying:

'Rise!'

And the man stood up, and the Stranger said to him:

'Haste, and go to your daughter, who calls for you continually.'

And the man and the woman went away together, without a word.



                             CHAPTER VII

                            IN PICCADILLY


It was past eleven. The people, streaming out of the theatres, poured
into Piccadilly Circus. The night was fine, so that those on foot
were disposed to take their time. The crowd was huge, its constituent
parts people of all climes and countries, of all ranks and stations.
To the unaccustomed eye the confusion was bewildering; omnibuses
rolled heavily in every direction; hansom cabs made efforts to break
through what, to the eyes of their sanguine drivers, seemed breaks in
the line of traffic; carriages filled with persons in evening-dress
made such haste as they could. The pavements were crowded almost to
the point of danger; even in the roadway foot-passengers passed
hither and thither amidst the throng of vehicles, while on every side
vendors of evening papers pushed and scrambled, shouting out, with
stentorian lungs, what wares they had to sell.

The papers met with a brisk demand. Strange tales were told in them.
Readers were uncertain as to the light in which they ought to be
regarded; editors were themselves in doubt as to the manner in which
it would be proper to set them forth. Some wrote in a strain which
was intended to be frankly humorous; others told the stories baldly,
leaving readers to take them as they chose; while still a third set
did their best to dish them up in the shape of a wild sensation.

It was currently reported that a Mysterious Stranger had appeared in
London. During the last few hours He had been seen by large numbers
of people. The occasions on which He had created the most remarkable
impressions had been two. At St. John's Hall the Rev. Philip Evans
had been preaching on the Second Coming, when, in the middle of the
discourse, a Stranger had appeared upon the platform, actually
claiming, so far as could be gathered, to be the Christ. In the
operating theatre at St. Philip's Hospital, just as a subject--a
woman--had succumbed under the surgeon's knife, a Stranger had come
upon the scene, and, before all eyes, had restored the dead to life.
It was this story of the miracle, as it was called, at St. Philip's
Hospital, which had been exciting London all that day. The thing was
incredible; but the witnesses were so reputable, their statements so
emphatic, the details given so precise, it was difficult to know what
to make of it. And now in the evening papers there was a story of how
a riot had taken place outside Messrs. Anthony's works. The strikers
had attacked a blackleg. A stranger had come upon them while they
were in the very thick of the fracas; at a word from Him the tumult
ceased; before His presence the brawlers had scattered like chaff
before the wind. The latest editions were full of the tale; it was in
everybody's mouth.

Christ's name was in the air, the topic of the hour. The Stranger's
claim was, of course, absurd, unspeakable. He was an impostor, some
charlatan; at best, a religious maniac. Similar creatures had arisen
before, notably in the United States, though we had not been without
them here in England, and Roman Catholic countries had had their
share. The story of the dead woman who had been restored to life at
St. Philip's Hospital was odd, but it was capable of natural
explanation. To doubt this would be to write one's self down a
lunatic, a superstitious fool, a relic of medieval ignorance. There
is no going outside natural laws; the man who pretends to do so
writes himself down a knave, and pays those to whom he appeals a very
scanty compliment. Why, even the most pious of God's own ministers
have agreed that there are no miracles, and never have been. Go to
with your dead woman restored to life! Yet, the tale was an odd one,
especially as it was so well attested. But then the thing was so well
done that it seemed that those present were in a state of mind in
which they would have been prepared to swear to anything.

Still, Christ's name was in the air--in an unusual sense. It came
from unaccustomed lips. Even the women of the pavement spoke of
Jesus, wondering if there was such a man, and what would happen if He
were to come again.

'Suppose this fellow in the papers turned out to be Him, how would
that be then?' one inquired of the other. Then both were silent, for
they were uneasy; and at the first opportunity they solaced
themselves with a drink.

The men for the most part were more outspoken in ribaldry than
the women, especially those specimens of masculinity who frequented
at that hour the purlieus of Piccadilly Circus. Common-sense was
their stand-by. What was not in accordance with the teachings of
common-sense was nothing. How could it be otherwise? Judged by this
standard, the tales which were told were nonsense, sheer and
absolute. Therefore, in so far as they were concerned, the scoffer's
was the proper mental attitude. The editors who wrote of them
humorously were the level-headed men. They were only fit to be
laughed at.

'If I'd been at St. Philip's, I'd have got hold of that very
mysterious stranger, and I'd have kept hold until I'd got from him an
explanation of that pretty little feat of hanky-panky.'

The speaker was standing at the Piccadilly corner of the Circus, by
the draper's shop. He was a tall man, and held a cigar in his mouth.
His overcoat was open, revealing the evening dress beneath. The man
to whom he spoke was shorter. He was dressed in tweeds; his soft felt
hat, worn a little on one side of his head, lent to him a mocking
air. When the other spoke, he laughed.

'I'd like to have a shy at him myself. I've seen beggars of his sort
in India, where they do a lot of mischief, sometimes sending whole
districts stark staring mad. But there they do believe in them; thank
goodness we don't!'

'How do you make that out, when you read the names of the people who
are prepared to swear to the truth of the St. Philip's tale?'

'My dear boy, long before this they're sorry. Fellows lost their
heads--sort of moment of delirium, which will leave a bad taste in
their mouths now they've got well out of it. If that mysterious
gentleman ever comes their way again, they'll be every bit as ready
to keep a tight hold of him as you could be.'

'I wonder.' The tall man puffed at his cigar. 'I'd give--well, Grey,
I won't say how much, but I'd give a bit to have him stand in front
of me just here and now. That kind of fellow makes me sick. The
common or garden preacher I don't mind; he has his uses. But the kind
of creature who tries to trade on the folly of the great majority, by
trying to make out that he's something which he isn't--whenever he's
about there ought to be a pump just handy. We're too lenient to
cattle of his particular breed.'

'Suppose, Boyle, this mysterious stranger were to appear in
Piccadilly now, what's the odds that you, for one, wouldn't try to
plug him in the eye?'

'I don't know about me, but I'm inclined to think that there are
others who would endeavour their little best to reach him
thereabouts. Piccadilly at this time of night is hardly the place for
a mysterious anyone to cut a figure to much advantage. I fancy
there'd be ructions. Anyhow, I'd like to see him come.'

Mr. Boyle's tone was grim. His companion laughed; but before the
sound of his laughter had long died out the speaker's wish was
gratified.

All in an instant, without any sort of warning, there was one of
those scenes which occur in Piccadilly on most nights of the week. A
woman had been drinking; she was young, new to her trade, still
unaccustomed to the misuse of stimulants. She made a noise. A female
acquaintance endeavoured to induce her to go away; in vain. The
girl, pulling up her skirts, began to dance and shout, and to behave
like a virago, among the throng of loiterers who were peopling the
pavement. A man made some chaffing remark to her. She flew at him
like a tiger-cat. Directly there was an uproar. There are times and
seasons when it requires but a very little thing to transform those
midnight Saturnalia into chaos. The police hurled themselves into the
struggling throng, making captives of practically everyone on whom
they could lay their hands.

The crowd was in uncomfortable proximity to Mr. Grey and his friend.
It swayed in their direction.

'We'd better clear out of this, Boyle, before there's an ugly rush
comes our way. Let's get across the road. I'm in no humour for
skittles to-night, if you don't mind.'

The speaker glanced smilingly towards the seething throng. It was the
humorous side of the thing which appealed to him; he had seen it so
often before. Boyle diverted his attention.

'Hollo! who's this?'

Someone stepped from the roadway on to the pavement, moving quickly,
yet lightly, so that there was about His actions no appearance of
haste. He held His hands a little raised. People made way to let Him
pass, as if they knew that He was coming, even though He approached
them in silence from behind.

'It's Christ!'

The exclamation was Grey's reply to his friend's query. Boyle,
starting, turned to stare at him.

'Grey, what do you mean?'

'It's Christ! Don't you know Christ when you see him? It's the
mysterious stranger! Why don't you go and lay fast hold on him?'

Boyle stared at his friend in silence. There was that in his manner
which was disconcerting--an obsession. The fashion of his face was
changed; a new light was in his eyes. The big man seemed half amused,
half startled. As he stood and listened and watched, his amusement
diminished, his appearance of being startled grew.

The crowd had given way before the Stranger, making a lane through
which He had passed to its midst; and it was silent. The vehicles
rumbled along the road; from the other side of the street the voices
of newsboys assailed the air; pedestrians went ceaselessly to and
fro; but there, where the noise had just been greatest, all was
still--a strange calm had come on the excited throng.

There were there all sorts and conditions of men and women that had
fallen away from virtue. There were men of all ages, from white
haired to beardless boys; from those who had drained the cup of vice
to its uttermost dregs, yet still clutched with frantic, trembling
fingers at the empty goblet, to those who had just begun to peep over
its edge, and to feast their eyes on its fulness to the brim. There
were men of all stations, from old and young rakes of fortune and
family to struggling clerks, shop-assistants, office-boys, and those
creatures of the gutter who rake the kennels for offal with which to
fill their bellies. Among the women there was the same diversity.
They were of all nations--English, French, German, and the rest; of
all ages--grandmothers and girls who had not yet attained to the age
of womanhood. There were some of birth and breeding, and there were
daughters of the slums, heritors of their mothers' foulness. There
were the comparatively affluent, and there were those who had gone
all day hungry, and who still looked for a stroke of fortune to gain
for them a night's lodging. But they all were the same; they all had
painted faces, and they all were decked in silks and satins or such
other tawdry splendour as by any crooked means they could lay their
hands on which would serve to advertise their trade.

And in the midst of this assemblage of the dregs of humanity the
Stranger stood; and He put to them the question which was to become
familiar ere long to not a few of the people of the city:

'What is it you would do?'

They returned no answer; instead, they looked at Him askance, doubt,
hesitancy, surprise, wonder, awe, revealing themselves in varying
degrees upon their faces as they were seen beneath the paint.

Two policemen had in custody the young woman who had been the
original cause of disturbance. Each held her by an arm. The Stranger
turned to them.

'Loose her.'

Without an attempt at remonstrance they did as He bade. They took
their hands from off her and set her free. She stood before them,
seeming ashamed and sobered, with downcast face, seeking the pavement
with her eyes. But all at once, as if she could not bear the silence
any longer, she raised her head and met His glance, asking:

'Who are you?'

'Do you not know Me?'

'Know you?'

Her tone suggested that she was searching her memory to recall His
face.

'If you do not know Me now that you look on Me, then shall I never be
known to you. Yet it is strange that it should be so, for I am the
Friend of sinners.'

'The Friend----'

The girl got so far in repeating the Strangers words, then suddenly
stopped, and, bursting into a passion of tears, threw herself on her
knees on the pavement at His feet crying:

'Lord, I know You! Have mercy upon me!'

The Stranger touched her with His hand.

'In that you know Me it shall be well with you.'

He looked about him on the crowd.

'Would that you all knew Me, even as this woman does!'

But the people eyed each other, wondering. There were some who
laughed, and others inquired among themselves:

'Who is this fellow? And what is the matter with the girl, that she
goes on like this?'

One there was who cried:

'Tell us who you are.'

'I am He that you know not of.'

'That's all right, so far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough;
it's an insufficient definition. What's your name?'

'Day and night you call upon My name, yet do not know Me.'

'Look here, my friend; are you suggesting that you're anybody in
particular? because, if so, tell us straight out, who? We're not good
at conundrums, and at this time of night it's not fair to start us
solving them.'

The Stranger was silent. His gaze passed eagerly from face to face.
When He had searched them all, He cried:

'Is there not one that knows Me save this woman? Is there not one?'

A man came out from amidst the people, and stood in front of the
Stranger.

'I know You,' he said. 'You are Christ.'



                             CHAPTER VIII

                      THE ONLY ONE THAT WAS LEFT


Stillness followed the man's words until the people began to fidget,
and to shuffle with their feet, and to murmur:

'What talk is this? What blasphemy does this man utter? Who is this
mountebank to whom he speaks?'

But the Stranger continued to look at the man who had come out from
the crowd. And He asked him:

'How is it that you know Me, since I do not know you?'

The man laughed, and, as he did so, it was seen that the Stranger
started, and drew a little back.

'Because I know You, it doesn't follow that You should know me. I'd
rather that You didn't. Directly You came into the street I knew that
it was You, and wished You further. What do You want to trouble us
for? Aren't we better off without You?'

The Stranger held up His hand as if to keep the other from Him.

'You thing all evil, return to your own kind!'

The man drew back into the crowd, a little uncertainly, as if
crestfallen, but laughing all the time. He strode off down the
street; they could still hear his laughter as he went. The Stranger,
with the people, seemed to listen. As the sound grew fainter He cried
to them with a loud voice:

'Save this woman and that man, is there none that knows Me? No, not
one!'

The traffic had been brought almost to a standstill. The dimensions
of the crowd had increased. There was a block of vehicles before it
in the street. From the roof of an omnibus, which was crowded within
and without with passengers, there came a shout as of a strong man:

'Lord, I know You! God be thanked that He has suffered me to see this
day!'

The Stranger replied, stretching out His arms in the direction in
which the speaker was:

'It is well with you, friend, and shall be better. Go, spread the
tidings! Tell those that know Me that I am come!'

There came the answer back:

'Even so, Lord, I will do Your bidding; and in the city there shall
rise the sound of a great song. Hark! I hear the angels singing!'

There came over the crowd's mood one of those sudden changes to which
such heterogeneous gatherings are essentially liable. As question and
answer passed to and fro, and the man's voice rose to a triumphal
strain, the people began to be affected by a curious sense of
excitation, asking of each other:

'Who, then, is this man? Is he really someone in particular? Perhaps
he may be able to do something for us, or to give us something, if we
ask him. Who knows?'

They began to press upon Him, men and women, old and young, rich and
poor, each with a particular request of his or her own.

'Give us a trifle!'

'The price of a night's lodging!'

'A drop to drink!'

'A cab-fare!'

'Tell us who you are!'

'Give us a speech!'

'If you can do miracles, do one now!'

'Cure the lot of us!'

'Make us whole!'

The requests were of all sorts and kinds. The Stranger looked upon
the throng of applicants with glances in which were both pity and
pain.

'What I would give to you you will not have. What, then, is it that I
shall give to you?'

There was a chorus in return. For every material want He was
entreated to provide. He shook His head.

'Those things which you ask I cannot give; they are not Mine. I have
not money, nor money's worth. There is none amongst you that is so
poor as I am.'

'Then what can you give?'

'Those who would know what I can give must follow Me. The way is
hard, and the journey long. At the end is the peace which is not of
this world.'

'Where do you go?'

'Unto My Father.'

'Who is your father?'

'Those that know Me know also My Father.'

Turning as he spoke, He began to walk in the direction of Hyde Park.
Some of the people, apparently supposing that His injunction to
follow Him was to be understood in a literal sense, formed in a
straggling band behind Him. At first there were not many. His
movement, which was unexpected, had taken the bulk of the crowd by
surprise. For some seconds it was not generally realised that He had
commenced to pass away. When all became aware of what was happening,
and it was understood that the mysterious Stranger was going from
them, another wave of excitement passed through the throng, and
something like a rush was made to keep within sight of Him. The
farther they went, the greater became the number of those that went
with Him. But it was observed that none came within actual touch. He
walked with people in front, behind, on either side, yet alone. He
occupied an empty space in their very midst, with no one within six
or seven feet, moving neither quickly nor slowly, with head bowed,
and hands hanging loose at His sides, seeming to see none of those
that went with Him; and it was as though an unseen barrier was round
about Him which even the more presumptuous of His attendants could
not pass.

Along Piccadilly, past the shops, past Green Park, the procession
went, growing larger and larger as it progressed. Persons, wondering
what was the cause of the to-do, asked questions; then fell in with
the others, curious to learn what the issue of the affair would be.
Traffic in the road became congested. Vehicles could not proceed
above a walking pace, because of the people who hemmed them in. Nor
did their occupants, or their drivers, seem loath to linger with the
throng. The police adapted their mood to that of the crowd. They saw
men and women pouring out of restaurants and public-houses to join
the Stranger's retinue, and were, for the most part, content to keep
pace with it, keeping a watchful eye for what might be the possible
upshot of the singular proceedings.

At Hyde Park Corner the Stranger stopped, and it could then be seen
to what huge proportions the throng had grown. The whole open space
was filled with people, and when, with the Stranger's, their advance
was stayed, pedestrians and vehicles seemed mixed in inextricable
confusion. Probably the large majority of those present had but the
faintest notion of what had brought them there. In obedience to a
sudden impulse of the gregarious instinct they had joined the crowd
because the crowd was there to join.

As He stopped the Stranger raised His head, and looked about Him. He
saw how large was the number of the people, and He said, in a voice
which was only clearly audible to those who stood near:

'It is already late. Is it not time that you should go to your homes
and rest?'

A man replied; he was a young fellow in evening dress; he had had
more than enough to drink:

'It's early yet. You don't call this late! The evening's only just
beginning! We're game to make a night of it if you are. Where you
lead us we will follow.'

The young man's words were followed by a burst of laughter from some
of those who heard. The Stranger sighed. Turning towards Hyde Park,
He moved towards the open gates. The crowd opened to let Him pass,
then closing in, it followed after. The Stranger entered the silent
park. Crossing Rotten Row, He led the way to the grassy expanse which
lay beyond. Not the whole crowd went with Him. The vehicles went
their several ways, many also of the people. Some stayed, loitering
and talking over what had happened; so far, that is, as they
understood. These the police dispersed. Still, those who continued
with the Stranger were not few.

When He reached the grass the Stranger stopped again. The people,
gathering closer, surrounded Him, as if expecting Him to speak. But
He was still. They looked at Him with an eager curiosity. At first He
did not look at them at all. So that, while with their intrusive
glances they searched Him, as it were, from head to foot, He stood in
their midst with bent head and downcast eyes. They talked together,
some in whispers, and some in louder tones; and there were some who
laughed, until, at last, a man called out:

'Well, what have you brought us here for? To stand on the grass and
catch cold?'

The Stranger answered, without raising His eyes from the ground:

'Is it I that have brought you here? Then it is well.'

There was a titter--a woman's giggle rising above the rest. The
Stranger, raising His head, looked towards where the speaker stood.

'It were well if most of you should die to-night. O people of no
understanding, that discern the little things and cannot see the
greater, that have made gods of your bellies, and but minister unto
your bodies, what profiteth it whether you live or whether you die?
Neither in heaven nor on earth is there a place for you. What, then,
is it that you do here?'

A man replied:

'It seems that you are someone in particular. We want to know who you
are, according to your own statement.'

'I am He on whose name, throughout the whole of this great city, men
call morning, noon, and night. And yet you do not know Me. No!
neither do those know Me that call upon Me most.'

'Ever heard of Hanwell?' asked one. 'Perhaps there's some that have
known you there.'

The questioner was called to order.

'Stow that! Let's know what he's got to say! Let's hear him out!'

The original inquirer continued.

'For what have you come here?'

'For what?' The Stranger looked up towards the skies. 'It is well
that you should ask. I am as one who has lost his way in a strange
land, among a strange people; yet it was to Mine own I came, in Mine
own country.'

There was an interval of silence. When the inquirer spoke again, it
was in less aggressive tones.

'Sir, there is a music in your voice which seems to go to my heart.'

'Friend!' The Stranger stretched out His hand towards the speaker.
'Friend! Would that it would go to all your hearts, the music that is
in Mine--that the sound of it would go forth to all the world! It was
for that I came.'

This time there was none that answered. It was as though
there was that in the Stranger's words which troubled His listeners--
which made them uneasy. Here and there one began to steal away.
Presently, as the silence continued, the number of these increased.
Among them was the inquirer; the Stranger spoke to him as he turned
to go.

'It was but seeming--the music which seemed to speak to your heart?'

Although the words were quietly uttered, they conveyed a sting; the
man to whom they were addressed was plainly disconcerted.

'Sir, I cannot stay here all night. I am a married man; I must go
home.'

'Go home.'

'Besides, the gates will soon be shut, and late hours don't agree
with me; I have to go early to business.'

'Go home.'

'But, at the same time, if you wish me to stop with you--'

'Go home.'

The man slunk away, as if ashamed; the Stranger followed him with His
eyes. When he had gone a few yards he hesitated, stopped, turned,
and, when he saw that the Stranger's eyes were fixed on him, he made
as if to retrace his steps. But the Stranger said:

'Go home.'

Taking the gently spoken words as a positive command, the man, as if
actuated by an uncontrollable impulse, or by sudden fear, wheeling
round again upon his heels, ran out of the park as fast as he was
able. When the man had vanished, the Stranger, looking about Him,
found that the number of His attendants had dwindled to a scanty few.
To them He said:

'Why do you stay? Why do you, also, not go home?'

A fellow replied--his coat was buttoned to his chin; his hands were
in his pockets; a handkerchief was round his neck:

'Well, gov'nor, I reckon it's because some of us ain't got much of a
'ome to go to. I know I ain't. A seat in 'ere'll be about my mark--
that is, if the coppers'll let me be.'

Again the Stranger's glance passed round the remnant which remained.
As the fellow's speech suggested, it was a motley gathering. All
told, it numbered, perhaps, a dozen--all that was left of the great
crowd which had been there a moment ago. Three or four were women,
the rest were men. They stood a little distance off, singly--one here
and there. As far as could be seen in the uncertain light, all were
poorly clad, most were in rags--a tatterdemalion crew, the sweepings
of the streets.

'Are you all homeless, as I am?'

A man replied who was standing among those who were farthest off; he
spoke as if the question had offended him.

'I ain't 'omeless--no fear! I've got as food a 'ome as anyone need
want to 'ave; 'm none o' yer outcasts.'

'Then why do you not go to it?'

'Why? I am a-goin', ain't I? I suppose I can go 'ome when I like,
without none o' your interference!'

The man slouched off, grumbling as he went, his hands thrust deep
into his trousers pockets, his head sunk between his shoulders. And
with him the rest of those who were left went too, some of them
sneaking off across the grass, further into the heart of the park,
bent nearly double, so as to get as much as possible into the shadow.

The cause of this sudden and general flight was made plain by the
approach of a policeman, shouting:

'Now, then! Gates going to be closed! Out you go!'

The Stranger asked of him: 'May I not stay here and sleep upon the
grass?

The policeman laughed, as if he thought the question was a joke.

'Not much you mayn't! Grass is damp--might catch cold--take too much
care of you for that.'

'Where, then, can I sleep?'

'I don't know where you can sleep. I'm not here to answer questions.
You go out!

The Stranger began to do as He was bid. As He was going towards the
gate, a man came hastening to His side; he had been holding himself
apart, and only now came out of the shadow. He was a little man; his
eagerness made him breathless.

'Sir, it's not much of a place we've got, my wife and I, but such as
it is, we shall be glad to give You a night's lodging. I can answer
for my wife, and the place is clean.'

The Stranger looked at him, and smiled.

'I thank you.'

Together they went out of the park, the new-comer limping, for he was
lame of one foot, the Stranger walking at his side. And all those
whom they passed stopped, and turned, and looked at them as they
went; some of them asking of themselves:

'What is there peculiar about that man?'

For it was as though there had been an unusual quality in the
atmosphere as He went by.



                              CHAPTER IX

                          THE FIRST DISCIPLE


'This,' said the lame man, 'is where I live. My rooms are on the
first floor. My name is Henry Fenning. I am a shoemaker. My wife
helps me at my trade. Our son lives with us, he's a little chap, just
nine, and, like me, he's lame.'

The man had conducted the Stranger to a street opening on to the
Brompton Road. Even in that uncertain light it could be seen that the
houses stood in need of repairs; they were of irregular construction,
small, untidy, old. On the ground floor of the one in which he had
paused was a shop, a little one; the shop front was four shutters
wide. One surmised, from the pictures on the wall, that it sold
sweetstuff and odds and ends. The man's manner was anxious, timid, as
if, while desirous that his Visitor should take advantage of such
hospitality as he could offer, he yet wished to inform Him as to the
kind of place He might expect. The Stranger smiled; there was that in
His smile which seemed to fill His companion with a singular sense of
elation.

'It is good of you to give Me what you can.'

The shoemaker laughed gently, as if his laughter was inspired by a
sudden consciousness of gladness.

'It is good of You to take what I can give.' He opened the door.
'Wait a moment while I show You a light.' Striking a match, he held
it above his head. 'Take care how You come in; the boards are rough.'
The Stranger, entering, followed His host up the narrow stairs, into
a room on the first floor. 'Mary, I have brought you a Visitor.'

At the utterance of the name the Stranger started.

'Mary!' He exclaimed. 'Blessed are you among women!'

It was a small apartment--work-room, living-room, kitchen, all in
one. Implements of the shoemaker's trade were here and there; some
partly finished boots were on a bench at one side. The man's wife was
seated at a sewing-machine, working; she rose, as her husband
entered, to give him greeting. She was a rosy-faced woman, of medium
height, but broadly built, with big brown eyes, about forty years of
age. She observed the Stranger with wondering looks.

'Sir, I seem to know You.'

And the Stranger said:

'I know you.'

The woman turned to her husband.

'Who is this?'

Her husband replied:

'It is the Welcome Guest. Give Him to eat and to drink, and after, He
would sleep.'

The woman put some cold meat and cheese and bread upon a small table,
which she drew into the centre of the floor.

'Sir, this is all I have.'

'I know it.' He took the chair which her husband offered. 'Come and
sit and eat and drink with Me.'

The man and his wife sat with Him at the table, and they ate and
drank together. When the meal was finished, He said:

'You are the first that have given Me food. What you have given Me
shall be given you, and more.'

Presently the shoemaker came to the Stranger.

'Sir, in our bedroom we have only one bed. If You will sleep in it,
my wife will make up another for us here upon the floor. We shall do
very well.'

In the bedroom the Stranger saw that a child slept in a little bed
which was against a wall. The shoemaker explained.

'It is my son. He will not trouble You. He sleeps very sound.'

The Stranger bent over the bed.

'In his sleep he smiles.'

'Yes, he often does. He has happy dreams. And he comes of a smiling
stock.'

The Stranger turned to the lame man.

'Do you often smile?'

'Yes; why not? God has been very good to me.'

'God is good to all alike.'

'That's what my wife and I say to each other; but it's only the lucky
ones who know it.'

When the shoemaker and his wife were alone in the living-room
together, they kissed and gave thanks unto God. For they said:

'This night the Lord is with us. Blessed is the name of the Lord!'

In the morning, when it was full day, the boy woke up and went to the
bed on which the Stranger lay asleep, crying:

'Father!'

And the Stranger was roused, and saw the boy standing at his side. He
stretched out His arms to him.

'My son!'

But the boy shrank back.

'You are not my father. Where is my father and my mother?'

'They are in the next room, asleep. They have given Me their bed.
And, because they have done so, I am your Father too. So in your
sleep you smiled?'

'Did I? I expect it was because I dreamed that I was happy.'

'Was your happiness but a dream?'

'While I was asleep. Now I am awake I know I'm happy.'

'But you are lame?'

'So's father. I don't mind being lame if father is.'

The Stranger was still. He smiled, and touched the child upon the
shoulder. And the boy gave a sudden cry. He drew up his night-shirt,
and looked down at his right leg.

'Why, it's straight!--like the other.' He began to move about the
room. 'I'm not lame! I'm not lame!' All aglow with excitement, he
went running through the door. 'Father! mother! my leg's gone
straight! I can run about like other boys. Look!--I'm no longer
lame!'

When his mother saw that it was so, she took him into her arms and
cried:

'My boy! my boy! God be thanked for what He has done to you this
day!'

When they saw that the Stranger was standing in the doorway the
father and mother were silent. Their hearts were too full to find
speech easy. But the boy ran to Him.

'Oh, sir! make father's leg straight like mine!'

The Stranger asked of his father:

'Would you have it so?'

But the lame man answered:

'If it may be, let me stay as I am; for if I had not been lame I
might never have known Your face.'

To which the Stranger said:

'That is a true saying. For by suffering eyes are opened; so that he
who endures most sees best. For to all men God gives gifts.'

The woman busied herself in making breakfast ready. When they were at
table, the lame man said:

'Lord, if You will not stay with us, may we come with You?'

'Nay; you are with Me although you stay. For where My own are, I am.'

'Lord, suffer me to come! Suffer it, Lord!'

'If you will, come, until you find the way too long and the path too
hard for your feet to travel; for the road by which I go is not an
easy one.' He turned to the woman. 'Do you come also?'

'If You will, I will stay at home, to make ready against You come
again.'

He answered:

'You have not chosen the worse part.'

While they had been sitting at breakfast the boy had run out into the
street, and told first to one and then to another how, with a touch,
a wonderful Stranger had straightened his leg, so that he was no
longer lame. And, since they could see for themselves that he was
healed of his lameness, the tale was quickly noised about; so that
when the Stranger came out of the shoemaker's house, He found that a
number of people awaited Him without. A woman came pushing through
the crowd, bearing a crooked child in her arms.

'Heal my son also! Make him straight like the other!'

And being moved by pity for the child, He touched him, so that he
sprang from his mother's arms, and stood before them whole. And all
the people were amazed, saying:

'What manner of man is this, that makes the lame to walk with a
touch?'

So when He came out into the Brompton Road He was already attended by
a crowd, some crying:

'This is the man who works miracles!'

Others:

'Bring out your sick!'

With each step He took the crowd increased, so that when He came to
the narrow part of Knightsbridge the street became choked and the
traffic blocked. The people, because there were so many, pressed
against Him so that He could not move, and there began to be danger
of a riot.

The lame man, who found it difficult to keep close to His side, said
to Him:

'Lord, if You do not send them from us we shall be hurt.'

But He replied:

'It is to these I have come, although they know it not. If I send
them from us, why did I come?'

When they reached that portion of the road where it grows wider in
front of the park, the pressure became less. But still the crowd
increased.

'He goes to the hospital,' they cry, 'to heal the sick with a touch.'

And some ran on to St. George's Hospital, and pushed past the porters
up the stairs and into the wards, and began to lift the sick out of
their beds. And those who could walk, being persuaded by them that
had run on, went out into the streets. So that when He came, He found
awaiting Him a strange collection of the sick, who were ill of all
manner of diseases. And the people cried:

'Heal them!--heal them with a touch!'

But He replied:

'What is it you ask of Me? I came not to heal the sick, but to call
sinners to repentance.'

They cried the more:

'Heal them!--heal them with a touch!'

'If I heal them, what then? Of what shall they be healed? Of what
avail to heal the body if the spirit continues sick?'

But they persisted in their exclamations. While still they pressed on
Him, an inspector of police edged his way through the crowd.

'I don't know who you are, sir, but you are doing a very dangerous
thing in causing these people to behave like this.'

'Suffer Me first to do as they ask.'

He stretched out His hand and touched those that were sick, so that
they were whole. But when they came to look for Him who had done them
this service, behold He was gone. And the lame man had gone with Him.



                              CHAPTER X

                            THE DEPUTATION


He came, with His disciple to a gate which led into a field, through
which there ran a stream. It was high noon. He entered the gate, and
sat beside the stream. And the lame man sat near by. The Stranger
watched the water as it plashed over the stones on its race to the
mill. When presently He sighed, the lame man said:

'I have money; there is a village close handy. Let me go and buy
food, and bring it to you here.'

But He answered:

'We shall not want for food. There is one who comes to offer it to us
now.'

Even as He spoke a carriage drew up in the road on the other side of
the hedge. A lady, standing up in it, looked through a pair of
glasses into the field. Bidding the footman open the carriage-door,
alighting, she came through the gate to where He sat with His
disciple beside the stream. She was a woman of about forty years of
age, very richly dressed. As she walked, with her skirts held well
away from the grass, she continued to stare through the glasses,
which were attached to a long gold handle. Looking from one to the
other, her glance rested, on the Stranger.

I Are you the person of whom such extraordinary stories are being
told? You look it--you must be--you are. George Horley just told me
he saw you on the Shaldon Road. I don't know how he knew it was you--
and his manner was most extraordinary--but he's a sharp fellow, and I
shouldn't be surprised if he was right. Tell me, are you that
person?'

'I am He that you know not of.'

'My dear sir, that doesn't matter one iota. What I've heard of you is
sufficient introduction for me. I don't know if you're aware that
this field is mine, and that you're trespassing. I'm very particular
about not allowing the villagers to come in here--they will go after
the mushrooms. But if you'll take a seat in my carriage I shall be
very happy to put you up for a day or two. I'm Mrs. Montara, of Weir
Park. I have some very delightful people staying with me, who will be
of the greatest service to you in what I understand is your
propaganda. Most interesting what I've heard of you, I'm sure.' The
Stranger was silent. 'Well, will you come?'

'Woman, return to your own place. Leave Me in peace.'

'I don't admire your manners, my good man, especially after my going
out of my way to be civil to you. Is that all the answer you have to
give?'

'What have I to do with you, or you with Me? I am not that new thing
which you seek. I am of old.'

He looked at her. The great lady shrank back a little, as if abashed.

'Whoever you are, I shall be glad to have you as my guest.'

'I am not found in rich women's houses. They are too poor. They offer
nothing. They seek only to obtain.'

'I offer you, in the way of hospitality, whatever you may want.'

'You cannot offer Me the one thing which I desire.'

'What is that?'

'That you should know Me even as you are known. For unless you know
Me I have nothing, and less than nothing, and there is nothing in the
world that is at all to be desired. For if I have come unto Mine own,
and they know Me not, then My coming indeed is vain. Go! Strip
yourself and your house, and be ashamed. In the hour of your shame
come to Me again.'

'If that's the way you talk to me, get up and leave my field, before
I have you locked up for trespass.'

He stood up, and said to the lame man:

'Come!'

And they went out of the field, and passed through that place without
staying to eat or drink. In the next village an old woman, who was
standing at a cottage gate, stopped them as they were passing on.

'You are tired. Come in and rest.'

And they entered into her house. And she gave them food, refusing the
money which the lame man offered.

'I have a spare bedroom. You can have it if you'd like to stay the
night, and you'll be kindly welcome.'

So they stayed with her that night.

And in the morning, while it was yet early, they arose and went upon
their way. And when they had gone some distance they heard on the
road behind them the sound of a horse's hoofs. And when they turned,
they saw that a wagonette was being driven hotly towards them. When,
on reaching them, it stopped, they saw that it contained five men.
One, leaning over the side, said to the Stranger:

'Are you he we are looking for?'
The Stranger replied:

'I am He whom you seek.'

'That is,' added a second man, 'you are the individual who is stated
to have been performing miracles in London?'

The Stranger only said:

'I am He whom you seek.'

'In that case,' declared the first speaker, 'we are very fortunate.'

He scrambled out on to the road, a short, burly man, with restless
bright eyes and an iron-gray beard. He wore a soft, round, black felt
hat, and was untidily dressed. He seemed to be in perpetual movement,
in striking contrast to the Stranger's immutable calm.

'Will you come with us in the wagonette?' he demanded. 'Or shall
we say what we have to say to you here? It is early; we're in the
heart of the country; no one seems about. If we cross the stile
which seems to lead into that little copse, we could have no better
audience-chamber, and need fear no interruption.'

'Say what you have to say to Me here.'

'Good! Then, to begin with, we'll introduce ourselves.'

His four companions were following each other out of the wagonette.
As they descended he introduced each one in turn.

'This is Professor Wilcox Wilson, the pathologist. Professor Wilson
does not, however, confine himself to one subject, but is interested
in all live questions of the day; and, while he keeps an open mind,
seeks to probe into the why and wherefore of all varieties of
phenomena. This is the Rev. Martin Philipps, the eminent preacher and
divine, who joins to a liberal theology a far-reaching interest in
the cause of suffering humanity. Augustus Jebb, perhaps the greatest
living authority on questions of social science and the welfare of
the wage-earning classes. John Anthony Gibbs, who may be said to
represent the religious conscience of England in the present House of
Commons. I myself am Walter S. Treadman, journalist, student,
preacher, and, I hope, humanitarian. I only know that where there is
a cry of pain, there my heart is. I heard that you were in this
neighbourhood, and lost no time in requesting these gentlemen to
associate themselves with me in the appeal which I am about to make
to you. Therefore I beg of you to regard me as, in a sense, a
deputation from England. Your answer will be given to England. And on
that account, if no other, we implore you to weigh, with the utmost
care, any words which you may utter. To come to the point: Do we
understand you to assert that the feats with which you have set all
London agape are, in the exact sense of the word, miraculous--that
is, incapable of a natural interpretation?'

'Why do you speak such words to Me?'

'For an obvious reason. England is at heart religious. Though, for
the moment, she may seem torpid, it needs but a breath to fan the
smouldering embers into a mighty blaze which will light the world,
and herald in the brightness of the eternal dawn. If these things
which you have done are of God, then you must be of Him, and from
Him, and may be the bearer of a message to the myriads whose ears are
strained to listen. Therefore I implore you to answer.'

'What I have done, I have done not as a sign, nor to be magnified in
the eyes of men, but to dry the tears which were in their eyes.'

'Then they were miracles. So the question at once assumes another
phase--Who are you?'

'I am He whom you know not of, though you call often on My name.'

'You are the Christ--the Lord Christ?'

Professor Wilson laid his hand on Mr. Treadman's arm.

'You go too fast. No such assertion has been made; no such claim has
been put forth. I may add that there has been no such outrage on good
taste.'

The Rev. Martin Philipps interposed.

'Good taste is not necessarily outraged by such a claim; or, if it is
now, it was also at the first. Jesus was a man, such as we are, such
as this one here.'

Mr. Jebb agreed.

'And a labouring man at that. He worked with His own hands--a
wage-earner if ever there was one.'

'But,' pleaded the Professor, 'at least something was known of His
pedigree, of His credentials.'

'I am not so sure of that.'

'Nor I.'

'At any rate, let us proceed as if we were reasonable beings, and
actuated by the dictates of common-sense. Permit me to put one or two
questions: Are you an Englishman?'

'I am of a country which also you know not of. Thither I return to
meet Mine own.'

'Your answer is evasive. Allow me to point out, with the greatest
possible deference, that it is on record how Jesus originally damaged
His own case by the vagueness of the replies which He gave to
questions and the want of lucidity which characterised His
description of Himself. If you claim any, even the remotest,
connection with Him, let me advise you to avoid His errors.'

'You know not what you say, you fool of wisdom!'

'Lord,' cried Mr. Treadman,' I believe--help Thou my unbelief! I
believe because faith is the great want of the age, and it shall
remove mountains; I believe because belief is like the pinch of yeast
which, being dropped into the dough, leavens the whole. The leaven
spreads through the whole body politic, so that out of a little thing
proceeds a great. And, Lord, suffer Thy servant to entreat with Thee.
Lose no time. Thy people wait--have waited long; they cry aloud; they
look always for the little speck upon the sky; they lift up their
hands and beat against heaven's gates. Speak but the word--the one
word which Thou canst speak so easily! A whole world will leap into
Thy arms.'

'Their will, not mine, be done?'

'Nay, Lord, not so--not so! Esteem me not guilty of such presumption;
but I have lived among them, and have seen how the world labours and
is in pain, and how Thy people are crushed beneath heavy burdens
which press them down almost to the confines of the pit. And
therefore out of the fulness and anguish of my knowledge I cry: Lord,
come quickly--come quickly! Lose not a moment's time!'

'Your knowledge is greater than Mine?'

'Nay, Lord, I do not say that, nor think it. But Thou art immortal;
Thy children are mortal--very mortal. I understand the agony of
longing with which they look for Your presence--Your very presence--
in their midst.'

'They that know Me know that I am ever with them. They that do not
know Me know not that they see Me before their eyes.'

'You speak in a spiritual sense, I in a material. I know with what a
passionate yearning they desire to see you with their mortal eyes,
flesh of their flesh, bone of their bone--a man like unto
themselves.'

'You also seek a sign?'

'Who does not seek a sign? The soldier watches for the sign which
shows that his general is in command; the child looks for the sign
which proclaims his parent is at hand; the explorer searches for the
sign which shows his guide is leading him aright. There is chaos
where there is no sign.'

'Did I not say I am He you know not of? Those who know Me need no
sign.'

'Nor, in that sense, do I need one either. I have been unfortunate in
my choice of words if I have conveyed the impression that I do.'

'I have suffered you too much.' He turned to the lame man. 'Come!'

The Stranger and His disciple were continuing on their way when Mr.
Treadman's companions placed themselves in the path.

'Mr. Treadman's well-known command of language,' explained the
Professor, 'is likely to obscure the purpose of our presence here. We
have come to ask you to accompany us to town as our guest, and to
avail yourself of our services in placing, in the most efficient and
practical manner possible, your views and wishes before the country
as a whole.'

'In other words,' observed the Rev. Martin Philipps, 'we are here as
the Lord's servants, desirous to do His work and His will.'

'Having at heart,' continued Mr. Jebb, 'the welfare--spiritual,
moral, and physical--of the struggling millions.'

'Acting also,' added Mr. Gibbs, 'as the mouthpiece of Christ's
kingdom as it exists in our native land.'

The Professor's tone, as he commented on his colleagues' remarks, was
a little grim.

'What my friends say is, no doubt, very excellent in its way; but the
main point still is--Will you come with us? If so, here is a
conveyance. You have only to jump in at once, and we shall be in time
to catch a fast train back to town. My strong advice to you is, Be
practical, and come.'

'Suffer Me to go My way.'

'Is that your answer? Remember that history records how, on a
previous occasion, a great opportunity was frittered away for lack of
a little business acumen. There can be no doubt that the great need
of the hour is a practical religion. It is quite within the range of
possibility that you might go far towards placing such a propaganda
on a solid basis. Consider, therefore; before you treat our offer
with contempt.'

He made no answer, but went along the road, with the lame man at His
side.

For some seconds the deputation stood staring after Him. Then the
Professor gave expression to his feelings in these words:

'An impracticable person.'

The Rev. Martin Philipps had something to say on this curt summing up
of the position.

'I think, Professor, that what you call practicality is likely to be
your stumbling-block. In your sense, God is not always practical.'

'In a country of practical men that is unfortunate.'

'When you say practical you mean material. There is something higher
than materiality.'

'The material and the spiritual, Philipps, are more closely allied
than you may suppose. It is useless to ask a mere man to give primary
attention to his spiritual wants when, in a material sense, he lacks
everything. To formulate such a demand, even by inference, is to play
into the hands of the plutocracy.'

'Still,' remarked Mr. Gibbs,' I think there might have been more said
of the things of the soul, and less of the things of the body. It is
the soul of England we are here to plead for, not its mere corporeal
husk.'

While they talked Mr. Treadman stood looking after the retreating
Stranger. Suddenly he started running, calling as he went:

'Lord, Lord, suffer that I may come with You!'

He went on, with the lame man at His side, and Mr. Treadman at His
heels, calling persistently: 'Suffer that I may come with You!' until
presently He turned, saying:

'Why do you continue to entreat that I should suffer you? Have I
forbidden you to come?'

For a time Mr. Treadman was still. But continually he broke again
into speech, talking of this thing and of that.

But there was none that answered him.



                              CHAPTER XI

                         THE SECOND DISCIPLE


They lay that night at the house of a certain curate, who stopped the
Stranger, saying:

'You are he of whom I have heard?'

Mr. Treadman said:

'It is the Lord--the Lord Christ! He has come again!'

The Stranger rebuked Mr. Treadman.

'Peace! Why do you trouble Me with your babbling tongue?' To the
curate He said: 'What do you want of Me?'

'Nothing but to offer you shelter for the night. I cannot give you
much, for I am poor, and have a small house and a large family, but
such as I have is at your service. Not that I wish you to understand
that my action marks my approval of your proceedings, of which, as I
say, I have heard. For I am an ordained priest of the Church of
England, and have sufficient trouble with dissent and such-like fads
already. But I am a Christian, and, I trust, a gentleman, and in that
dual capacity would not wish one of whom I have heard such remarkable
things to remain in need of shelter when near my house.'

So they went with the curate. But the family was found to be so
large, and the house so small, that there was not room within its
walls for three unexpected guests. So it was arranged that they would
sleep in the loft over the stable where hay was kept. Thither, after
supper, the Stranger and the lame man repaired. But Mr. Treadman
remained talking to the host.

They stood outside the house in the moonlight, looking towards the
loft in which the Stranger sought slumber.

'That is a good man,' said the curate, 'and a strange one. He has
filled my mind with curious thoughts.'

'It is the Lord! said Mr. Treadman.

'The Lord?' The curate regarded the speaker with a peculiar smile.
'Are you mad, sir? Or do you think I am?'

'It is the Lord!' Mr. Treadman held out his clenched fists in front
of him, as if to add weight to his assertion. 'I know it of a
surety!'

'Does it not occur to you what an awful thing it would be if what you
say were true?' Awful? How awful?'

'When He came before He found them unprepared--so unprepared that
they could not believe it was He. What would it not mean if, at His
Second Coming, He found us still unready? He might be moving among
us, and we not know it; we might meet Him in the street, and pass Him
by. The human mind is not at its best when it is wholly unprepared:
it cannot twist itself hither and thither without even a moment's
notice. And our civilisation is so complex that the first result of
an unexpected Advent would be to plunge it into chaos. Saints and
sinners alike would be thrown off their balance. There would be a
carnival of confusion. The tragedy which rings down the ages might be
re-enacted. Christ might be crucified again by Christian hands.'

'We must avoid it! We must avoid it! We must prepare the people's
minds; we must let them know that His reign is about to begin. They
need but the knowledge to fill the world with songs of gladness.'

'You really believe your friend is a supernatural being?'

'It is the Lord! I know it of a surety! You call yourself His
minister. Is it possible you do not know Him, too?'

'No; I do not. For one thing, I do not think that, really and truly,
I have ever contemplated the possibility of such an occurrence. To me
the Second Coming has been an abstraction--a nebulous something that
would not happen in my time. Yet he troubles me, the more so since I
remember that good men must have stood in His presence aforetime, and
yet not have known Him for what He was, although He troubled them.
However, it may be written to the good of my account that for your
friend I have done what I could.'

The curate returned into his house. But it was long before Mr.
Treadman sought the shelter of the loft. He passed here and there in
an agony of mind which grew greater as the night went on. By the
light of the waning moon he wrought himself into a frenzy of
supplication.

'O Lord, I say it in no spirit of irreverence, but in a sense, You do
not understand the idiosyncrasies and character of those to whom You
are about to appeal. To come to them unheralded, to move about among
them unannounced, will be useless--ah, and worse than useless! O
Lord, do not take them by surprise. Sound, at least, one trumpet
blast. Come to them as You should come--as their Christ and King. It
needs such a very little, and You will have them at Your feet. Do not
lose all for want of such a little. Let me tell them You are on the
way, that You are here, that You are in their very midst. Let me be
John Baptist. I promise You that I shall not be a voice crying in the
wilderness, but that at the proclamation of the tidings, trumpeted by
all the presses of the land, and from ten thousand pulpits, from all
the cities and the villages will issue happy, hot-footed crowds,
eager to look upon the face they have had pictured in their hearts
their whole lives long, and on the form they have yearned to see,
filled with but one desire--to lay themselves at the feet of their
Christ and King! But, Lord, if no one tells them You are here, how
shall they know it? They are but foolish folk, fashioned as Thou
knowest they are fashioned. If You come upon them at the market or
the meeting, and take them unawares, they will not know that it is
You. Suffer me first to spread the glad tidings through all the land.
I have but to put a plain statement on the wires, and foot it with my
name, and there is not a newspaper in an English-speaking country
which will not give it a prominent place in its morning's issue.
Suffer me at least to do so much as that.'

The figure of the Stranger appeared at the door which led into the
loft; and He spoke to Mr. Treadman, saying:

'You know not what are the things of which you speak, as is the
manner of men. Are you, then, so ignorant as not to be aware that
God's ways are not as men's? Let your soul cease from troubling. God
asks not to learn of you. He made you; He holds you in the hollow of
His hand; you are the dust of the balance. Come, and sleep.'

Mr. Treadman went up into the loft, crying like a child. Almost as
soon as he laid himself down among the sweetness of the hay his tears
were dried, and his eyes were closed in slumber. And he and the lame
man slept together.

But the Stranger sought not sleep. Through the night He did not close
His eyes. As the day came near He stood looking down upon the
sleepers. And His face was sorrowful.

'Men are but little children: if they had but the heart of a child!'

And He went down the loft out into the morning.

And presently the lame man woke up and found that he was alone with
Mr. Treadman. So he began to scramble down the ladder. As he went,
because of his haste and his lameness, he stumbled and fell. The
noise of his fall woke Mr. Treadman, who hurried down the ladder
also. At the foot he found the lame man, who was rising to his feet.

'Are you hurt?' he asked.

'I think not. I am only shaken. The Lord has gone!'

'Gone! Lean on me. We will find Him.'

The two went out into the lifting shadows, the lame man on Mr.
Treadman's arm. The country was covered by a morning mist. It was
damp and cold. The light was puzzling. Mr. Treadman looked to the
right and left.

'Which way can He have gone?'

'There! there He is! I see Him on the road. My leg is better; let us
hasten. We shall catch Him.'

'No. Do not let us catch Him. Let us follow and see which way He
goes. I have a reason.'

'But He will know you are following, and your reason.'

'May be. Still let us follow.'

Mr. Treadman had his way. They followed at a distance. As was his
habit, Mr. Treadman talked as he went.

'It is strange that He should try to leave us like this, when He
knows that we would leave no stone unturned to follow Him, through
life, to death.'

'It is not strange. He does nothing strange.'

'You think not?'

'How can the Lord of all the earth do wrong?'

'There is something in that.' Mr. Treadman was still for a time. 'Yet
He runs a great risk of wrecking His entire cause.' The lame man said
nothing. 'It is necessary that the people should be told that He is
coming, that their minds should be prepared. If they have authentic
information of His near neighbourhood, then He will triumph at once
and for always. If not--if He comes on them informally, unheralded,
unannounced, then there will be a frightful peril of His cause being
again dragged in the mire.'

Yet the lame man said nothing. But Mr. Treadman continued to talk,
apparently careless of the fact that he had the conversation to
himself.

When they came to a place where there were cross-roads, and Mr.
Treadman saw which way He went, he caught the lame man by the arm.

'I thought as much! He's heading for London.'

Taking out a note-book, he began to write in it with a fountain pen,
still continuing to walk and to talk.

'I know this country well. There's a telegraph-office about a mile
along the road. It ought to be open by the time we get there. If it
isn't, I'll rouse them up. I'll send word to some friends of mine--
men and women whose lifelong watchword has been God and His gospel--
that He is coming. They will run to meet Him. They will bring with
them some of the brightest spirits now living; and He will have a
foretaste of that triumph which, if matters are properly organised,
awaits Him. He shall enter on His inheritance as the Christ and King,
and pain, sin, sorrow, shall cease throughout the world, if He will
but suffer me to make clear the way. Tell me, my friend,--you don't
appear to be a loquacious soul,--don't you think that to be prepared
is half the battle?'

But the lame man made no reply. He only kept his eyes fixed on the
Figure which went in front.

His companion's irresponsive mood did not appear to trouble Mr.
Treadman. He never ceased to talk and write, except when he broke
into the words of a hymn, which he sung in a loud, clear voice, as if
he wished that all the country-side should hear.

'There,' he cried, after they had gone some distance, 'is the place I
told you of. The village is just round the bend in the road. If I
remember rightly, the post-office is on the left as you enter. Soon
the telegraph shall be on the side of the Lord, and the glad tidings
be flashing up to town. We're not twenty miles from London. Within an
hour a reception committee should be on the way. Before noon many
longing eyes will have looked with knowledge on the face of the Lord;
and joyful hearts shall sing: "Hosanna in the highest! Hallelujah!
Christ has come!"'

On their coming to the village Mr. Treadman made haste to the
post-office. It was not yet open. He began a violent knocking at the
door.

'I must rouse them up. Official hours are as nothing in such a case
as this. I must get my messages upon the wires at once, whatever it
may cost.'

The lame man made all haste to reach the Stranger that went in front,
passing alone through the quiet village street.



                                 II

                       The Tumult which Arose



                             CHAPTER XII

                         THE CHARCOAL-BURNER


When Mr. Treadman had brought the post-office to a consciousness of
his presence, and induced the postmaster, with the aid of copious
bribes, to do what he desired, some time had passed. On his return
into the street neither the Stranger nor the lame man was in sight.
At this, however, he was little concerned, making sure of the way
they had gone, and of his ability to catch them up. But after he had
gone some distance, at the top of his speed, and still saw no sign of
the One he sought, he began to be troubled.

'They might have waited. The Lord knew that I was engaged upon His
work. Why has He thus left me in the lurch?'

A cart approached. He hailed the driver.

'Have you seen, as you came along, two persons walking along the road
towards London?'

'Ay; about half a mile ahead.'

'Half a mile! So much as that! I shall never catch them if I walk.
You will have to give me a lift, and make all haste after them.'

He began to bargain with the driver, who, agreeing to his terms,
permitted him to climb into his cart, and turning his horse's head,
set off after those of whom he had spoken. But they were nowhere to
be seen.

'It was here I passed them.'

'Probably they are a little further on. Drive more quickly. We shall
see them in a minute. The winding road hides them, and the hedges.'

The driver did as he was bid. But though he went on and on, he saw
nothing of those whom he was seeking. Mr. Treadman began to be
alarmed.

'It is a most extraordinary thing. Where can He have got to? Is it
possible that that lame fellow can have told Him of the message I was
sending, and that He has purposely given me the slip? If so, I shall
be placed in an embarrassing position. These people are sure to come.
Mrs. Powell and Gifford will be off in an instant. They have been
looking for the Lord too long not to make all haste to see Him now.
For all I know, they may bring half London with them. If they find
they have come for nothing, the situation will be awkward. My
reputation will be damaged. I ask it with all possible reverence, but
why is the Lord so little mindful of His own?'

The driver stopped his horse.

'You must get out here. I must go back. I'll be late as it is.'

'Go back! My man, you must press forward. It is for the Lord that I
am looking.'

'The Lord!'

'The Lord Christ. He has come to us again, this time to win the world
as a whole, and for ever; and by some frightful accident I have
allowed Him to pass out of my sight.'

'I've heard tell of something of the kind. But I don't take no count
of such things. There's some as does; but I'm not one. I tell you you
must get out. I'm more than late enough already.'

Left stranded in the middle of the road, Mr. Treadman stared after
the retreating carter.

'The man has no spiritual side; he's a mere brute! In this age of
Christianity and its attendant civilisation, it's wonderful that such
creatures should continue to exist. If there are many such, it is a
hard task which He has set before Him. He will need all the help
which we can give. Why, then, does he seem to slight the efforts of
His faithful servant? I don't know what will happen if those people
find that they have come from town for nothing. His cause may receive
an almost irreparable injury at the very start.'

Those people came. The messages with which he troubled the wires were
of a nature to induce them to come. There was Mrs. Miriam Powell,
whose domestic unhappiness has not prevented her from doing such good
work among fallen women, that it is surprising how their numbers
still continue to increase. And there was Harvey Gifford, the founder
of that Christian Assistance Society which has done such incalculable
service in providing cheap entertainments for the people, and which
ceaselessly sends to the chief Continental pleasure resorts hordes of
persons, in the form of popular excursions, whose manners and customs
are hardly such as are even popularly associated with Christianity.
When these two Christian workers received Mr. Treadman's telegram,
phrased in the quaint Post-Office fashion--'Christ is coming to
London the Christ I have seen him and am with him and I know he is
here walking on the highroad come to him and let your eyes be
gladdened meet him if possible between Guildford and Ripley I will
endeavour to induce him to come that way about eleven spread the glad
tidings so that he enters London as one that comes into his own this
is the Lord's doing this is the day of the Lord we triumph all along
the line the stories told of his miracles are altogether inadequate
state that positively to all inquirers as from me no more can be said
within the limits of a telegram for your soul's sake fail not to be
on the Ripley road in time the faithful servant of the Lord--
Treadman'--their minds were made up on the instant. London was
ringing with inchoate rumours. Scarcely within living memory had the
public mind been in a state of more curious agitation. The truth or
falsehood of the various statements which were made was the subject
of general controversy. Where two or three were gathered together,
there was discussed the topic of the hour. It seemed, from Treadman's
telegram, that he of whom the tales were told was coming back in
town, which he had quitted in such mysterious fashion. It seemed that
Treadman himself actually believed he was the Christ.

Could two such single-minded souls, in the face of such a message,
delay from making all haste in the direction of the Ripley road?

Yet before they went, and as they went, they did their best to spread
the tidings. Mr. Treadman had done his best to spread them too. He
had sent messages to heads of the Salvation and Church Armies, and of
the various great religious societies, to ministers of all degrees
and denominations, and, indeed, to everyone of whom, in his haste, he
could think as being, in a religious or philanthropic, or, in short,
in any sense, in that curious place--the public eye.

And presently various specimens of these persons were on their way to
the Ripley road--some journeying by train, some on foot, some on
horseback; a large number, both men and women, upon bicycles, and
others in as heterogeneous a collection of vehicles as one might wish
to see. Sundry battalions of the Salvation Army confided themselves
to vans such as are used for beanfeasts and Sunday-School treats.
They shouted hymns; their bands made music by the way.

He whom all these people were coming out to see had gone with the
lame man across a field-path to a little wood, which lay not far from
the road. In the centre of the wood they found a clearing, where the
charcoal-burners had built their huts and plied their trade. An old
man watched the smouldering heap. He sat on some billets of wood, one
of which he was carving with a clumsy knife. The Stranger found a
seat upon another heap, and the lame man placed himself, cobbler
fashion, upon the turf at His side. For some moments nothing was
said. Then the old man broke the silence.

'Strangers hereabouts?'

He replied:

'My abiding-place is not here.'

'So I thought. I fancied I hadn't seen you round about these parts;
yet there's something about you I seem to know. Come in here to
rest?'

'It is good to rest.'

'That's so; there's nothing like it when you're tired. You look as if
you was tired, and you look as if you'd known trouble. There's a
comfortable look upon your face which never comes upon a man or
woman's face unless they have known trouble. I always says that no
one's any good until it shines out of their eyes.'

'Sorrow and joy walk hand in hand.'

'That's it: they walk hand in hand, and you never know one till
you've known the other, just as you never know what health is till
you've had to go without it. Do you see what I'm doing here? I'm a
charcoal-burner by trade, but by rights I ought to have been a
wood-carver. There's few men can do more with a knife and a bit of
wood than I can. All them as knows me knows it. That's a cross I'm
carving. My daughter's turned religious, and she's a fancy that I
should cut her a cross to hang in her room, so that, as she says, she
can always think of Christ crucified. To me that's a queer start. I
always think of Him as Christ crowned.'

'He is crowned.'

'Of course He is. As I put it, what He done earned Him the V.C. It's
with that cross upon His breast I like to think of Him. In what He
done I can't see what people see to groan about. It was something to
glory in, to be proud of.'

'He was crucified by those to whom He came.'

'There is that. They must have been a silly lot, them Jews. They
didn't know what they was doing of.'

'Which man knows what he does, or will let God know, either?'

'It's a sure and certain thing that some of us ain't over and above
wise. There do be a good many fools about. I mind that I said to my
daughter a good score times: "Don't you have that Jim Bates." But she
would. Now he's took himself off and she's took to religion. It's a
true fact she didn't know what she was doing of when she had him.'

'Did Jim Bates know what he was doing?'

'I shouldn't be surprised but what he didn't. He never did know much,
did Jim. It isn't everyone as can live with my daughter, as he had
ought to have known. She's kept house for me these twelve year, so I
do know. She always were a contrary piece, she were.'

'The world is full of discords, but He who plays upon it tunes one
note after another. In the end it will be all in tune.'

'There's a good many of us as'll wish that we was deaf before that
time comes.'

'Because many men are deaf they take no heed of the harmonies.'

'There's something in that. I shouldn't wonder but what there's a lot
of music as no one notices. The more you speak, the more I seem to
know you. You're like a voice I've heard talking to me when the
speaker was hid by the darkness.'

'I have spoken to you often.'

'Ay, I believe you have. I thought I knew you from the first. I felt
so comfortable when you came. All the morning I've been troubled,
what with worries at home and the pains what seems all over me, so
that I can't move about as I did use to; and then when I saw you
coming along the path all the trouble was at an end.'

'I heard you calling as I passed along the road.'

'You heard me calling? Why, I never opened my mouth!'

'Not the words of the lips are heard in heaven, but none ever called
from his heart in vain.'

The charcoal-burner rose from his heap of billets.

'Why, who are you?' He came closer, peering with his dim eyes. 'It is
the Lord! What an old fool I am not to have known You from the first!
Yet I felt that it was You.'

'You know Me, although you knew Me not.'

'And me that's known You all my life, and my old woman what knew You
too! Anyhow, I'd have seen You before long.'

'You have seen Me from the first.'

'Not plain--not plain. I've heard You, and I've known that You was
there, but I haven't seen You as I've tried to. You know the sort of
chap I am--a silly old fool what's been burning since I was a little
nipper. I ain't no scholar. The likes of me didn't have no schooling
when I was young, and I ain't no hand at words; but You know how I'm
all of a twitter, and there ain't no words what will tell how glad I
am to see You. Like the silly old jackass that I am, I'm a-cryin'!'

The Stranger stood up, holding out His hand.

'Friend!'

The charcoal-burner put his gnarled, knotted, and now trembling hand
into the Stranger's palm.

'Lord! Lord!'

'So often I have heard you call upon My Name.'

'Ay, in the morning when the day was young; at noon, when the work
was heavy; at night, when rest had come. Youth and man, You've been
with me all the time, and with my old woman, too.'

'She and I met long since.'

'My old woman! She was a good one to me, she was.'

'And to Me.'

'A better wife no man could have. It weren't all lavender, her life
wasn't, but it smelt just as sweet as if it were.'

'The perfume of it ascended into heaven.'

'My temper, it be short. There were days when I was sharp with her.
She'd wait till it was over, and me ashamed, and then she'd say:
"Each time, William, you be in a passion it do bring you nearer to
the Lord." I'd ask her how she made that out, and she'd say: "'Tis
like a bit of 'lastic, William. When you pulls it the ends get drawed
apart, but when you lets it go again, the ends come closer than they
was before. When you be in a passion, William, you draws yourself
away from the Lord's end; when your passion be over, back you goes
with a rush, until you meets Him plump. Only," she'd say, "don't you
draw away too often, lest the 'lastic break." I never could tell if
she were laughing at me, or if she weren't. But I do know she did
make me feel terrible ashamed. I used to wonder if the Lord's temper
ever did go short.'

'The Lord is like unto men--He knows both grief and anger.'

'Seems to me as how He wouldn't be the Lord if He didn't. He feels
what we feels, or how'd He be able to help us?'

'The Lord and His children are of one family. Did you not know that?'

'I knowed it. But there's them as thinks the Lord's a fine gentleman,
what's always a-looking you up and down, and that you ain't never to
come near Him without your best clothes and your company manners on.
Seems to me the Lord don't only want to know you now and then, He
wants to know you right along. If you can't go to Him because you be
mucked with charcoal, it be bitter hard.'

'You know you can.'

'I do know you can, I do. When I've been as black as black can be
I've felt Him just as close as in the chapel Sundays.'

'The Lord is not here or there, in the house or in the field; He is
with His children.'

'Hebe that! He be!'.



                             CHAPTER XIII

                          A TRIUMPHAL ENTRY


The people came to meet the Lord upon the Ripley road, and they were
not a few.

The first that found Mr. Treadman were Mrs. Powell and Harvey
Gifford. They took a fly from the station, bidding the driver drive
straight on. Nor had they gone far before they came on Mr. Treadman
sitting on a gate. They cried to him:

'What is the meaning of your telegram?'

'It means that the Lord has come again, in very surety and very
truth.'

'Are you in earnest?'

'Did they not ask that question of the prophets? Were they in
earnest? Then am I.'

'But where is He?'

'He has given me the slip.'

'Given you the slip? What do you mean?'

Mr. Treadman explained. While he did so, others arrived, men and
women of all sorts, ranks, and ages. They were agog with curiosity.

'What like is He to look at? Does the sight of Him blind, as it did
Moses?'

'Nothing of the sort. He is just an ordinary man, like you and me.'

'An ordinary man! Then how can you tell it is the Lord?'

'He is not to be mistaken. You cannot be in His presence twenty
seconds without being sure of it.'

'But--I don't understand! I thought that when He came again it was to
be with legions of angels, in pomp and glory, to be the Judge of all
the earth.'

'The Jews looked for a material display. They thought He was to come
in Majesty. And because, to their unseeing eyes, He appeared as one
of themselves, in their disappointment they nailed Him upon a tree.
Oh, my friends, don't let a similar mistake be ours! That is the
awful, immeasurable peril which already stares us in the face.
Because, in His infinite wisdom, for reasons which are beyond our
ken, and, perhaps, beyond our comprehension, He has again chosen to
put on the guise of our common manhood, let us not, on that account,
the less rejoice to see Him, nor let us fail to do Him all possible
honour. He has come again unto His children; let His children receive
Him with shouts and with Hosannas. It is possible, when He perceives
how complete is His dominion over your hearts and minds, that He will
be pleased to manifest Himself in that splendour of Godhead for which
I know some of you have been confidently looking. Only, until that
hour comes, let us not fail to do reverence to the God in man.'

'But where is He? You told us to meet Him on the Ripley road. How can
we do Him reverence if we do not know where He is?'

The question came in different forms from many throats. The crowd had
grown. The people were eager.

A boy threaded his way among them. He addressed himself to Mr.
Treadman.

'Please, sir, there's someone in the wood with Mr. Bates. When I took
Mr. Bates his dinner he called him "Lord."'

Presently the crowd were following the boy. He led them some little
distance along the road, and then across a field into a wood. There
they came upon the Stranger and the charcoal-burner eating together,
seated side by side; and the lame man also ate with them, sitting on
the ground. Mr. Treadman cried:

'Lord, we have found You again!'

He looked at the people, asking:

'Who are these?'

They are Your children--Your faithful, loving, eager children, who
have come to give You greeting.'

'My children? There are many that call themselves My children that I
know not of.'

Mr. Treadman cried:

'Oh, my friends, this is the Lord! Rejoice and give thanks. Many are
the days of the years in which you have watched for Him, and waited,
and He has come to you at last.'

For the most part the people were still. There were some that pressed
forward, but more that hung back. For now that they came near to the
Stranger's presence they began to be afraid. Yet Mrs. Powell went
close to Him, asking:

'Are you in very deed the Lord?'

He replied:

'Are you of the children of the Lord?

She drew a little back.

'I do not know Him; I do not know Him! Yet I am afraid.'

'Love casteth out fear; but where there is no love, there fear is.'

She drew still more away, saying again:

'I am afraid.'

Mr. Treadman explained:

'We are here to meet You, Lord, and to entreat You to let us come
with You to London.'

'Why should you come with Me?'

'Because we are Your children.'

'My children!'

'Yes, Lord, Your children, each in his or her own fashion, but each
with his or her whole heart. And because we are Your children, we are
here to meet You--many of us at no slight personal inconvenience--to
keep You company on the way, so that by our testimony we may begin to
make it known that the Lord has come again to be the Judge of all the
earth.'

'What know you of the why and wherefore of My coming?'

'Actually nothing. But I am very sure You are here for some great and
good purpose, and trust, before long, to prove myself worthy of the
Divine confidence. In the meantime I implore You to suffer those who
are here assembled to accompany You as a guard of honour, so that You
may make, though in a rough-and-ready fashion, a triumphant entry
into that great city which is the capital of Your kingdom here on
earth.'

'I will come with you.' To the lame man and to the
charcoal-burner He said: 'Come also.'

He went with them. And when they came into the road nothing would
content Mr. Treadman but that He should get into the fly which had
brought Mrs. Powell and Mr. Gifford from the station. The lame man
and the charcoal-burner rode with Him. As Mr. Treadman was preparing
to mount upon the box Mrs. Powell came.

'What am I to do? I cannot walk all the way. It is too far.'

'Get in also. There is room.'

She shuddered.

'I dare not--I am afraid.'

So the fly went on without her.

As they went the bands played and the people sang hymns. There were
some that shouted texts of Scripture and all manner of things. In the
towns and villages folk came running out to learn what was the cause
of all the hubbub.

'What is it?' they cried.

Mr. Treadman standing up would shout: 'It is the Lord! He has come to
us again! Rejoice and give thanks. Come, all ye that are weary and
heavy laden, for He has brought you rest.'

They pressed round the fly, so that it could scarcely move.

In a certain place a great man who was driving with his wife, when he
saw the crowd and heard what they were saying, was angry, crying with
a loud voice:

'What ribaldry is this? What blasphemous words are these you utter? I
am ashamed to think that Englishmen should behave in such a fashion.'

Mr. Treadman answered:

'You foolish man! you don't know what it is you say. Yours is the
shame, not ours. It is the Lord in very deed!'

The other, still more angry, caused his coachman to place his
carriage close beside the fly, intending to reprimand Him whom he
supposed to be the cause of the commotion. But when he saw the
Stranger he was silent. His wife cried: 'It is the Lord!'

She went quickly from the carriage to the fly. When she reached it
she fell on her knees, hiding her face on the seat at the Stranger's
side.

'You have my son, my only son!'

He said:

'Be comforted. Your son I know and you I know. To neither of you
shall any harm come.'

Her husband called to her.

'Are you mad? What is the meaning of this extraordinary behaviour? Do
you wish to cause a public scandal?'

She answered:

'It is the Lord!'

But her husband commanded her:

'Come back into the carriage!'

She cried:

'Lord, let me stay with You. You have my boy; where my boy is I would
be also.'

The Stranger said:

'Return unto your husband. You shall stay with Me although you return
to him.'

She went back into the carriage weeping bitterly.

The news of the strange procession which was coming went on in front.
All the way were people waiting, so that the crowd grew more and
more. All that came had to make room for it, waiting till the press
was gone. Though the way was long, but few seemed to tire. Those that
were at the first continued to the end, the bands playing almost
without stopping, and the people singing hymns.

By the time they neared London it was evening. The throng had grown
so great the authorities began to be concerned. Policemen lined the
roads, ready if necessary to preserve order. But their services were
not needed, as Mr. Treadman proclaimed:

'Constables, we are, glad to see you. Representatives of the law, He
who comes is the Lord. Therefore shout Hosanna with the best of us
and give Him greeting.'

Presently someone pressed a piece of paper into his hand on which was
written:


'If the Lord would but stay this night in the house of the chief of
sinners.

                               'MIRIAM POWELL.'


He took a pencil from his pocket, and wrote beneath:


'He shall stay in your house this night, thou daughter of the Lord.

                               'W. S. T.'


From his seat on the box Mr. Treadman leaned over towards the fly.

'Lord, I entreat You to honour with Your presence the habitation of
Your very daughter, Miriam Powell, whose good works, done in Your
name, shine in the eyes of all men.'

He replied:

'Thy will, not Mine, be done!' Mr. Treadman shouted to the people:
'My friends, I am authorised by the Lord to announce that He will
rest in the house of His faithful servant, Miriam Powell, whose name,
as a single-minded labourer in Christ's vineyard, is so well-known to
all of you. To mark our sense of His appreciation of the manner in
which Mrs. Powell has borne the heat and burden of the day, let us
join in singing that beautiful hymn which has comforted so many of us
when the hours of darkness were drawing nigh, "Abide with me, fast
fall the eventide."'

Mrs. Powell's house was in Maida Vale. It was late when the
procession arrived. Even then it was some time before the fly could
gain the house itself. The crowd had been recruited from a less
desirable element since its advent in the streets of London, and this
reinforcement was disposed to show something of its more disreputable
side. The vehicle, with its weary horse and country driver, had to
force its way through a scuffling, howling mob. For some moments it
looked as if, unless the police arrived immediately in great force,
there would be mischief done; until the Stranger, standing up in the
fly, raised His hand, saying:

'I pray you, be still.'

And they were still. And He passed through the midst of them, with
the charcoal-burner and the lame man. Mr. Treadman came after.

When He entered the house, He sighed.

Now Mrs. Powell, when she had learned that the Stranger was to be her
guest, had hastened home to make ready for His coming, so that the
table was set for a meal. But when He saw that there was a place for
only one, He asked:

'What is this? Is there none that would eat with me?'

Mr. Treadman answered:

'Nay, Lord, there is none that is worthy. Suffer us first to wait
upon You. Then afterwards we will eat also.'

He said:

'Does not a father eat with his children? Are they not of him? If
there is any in this house that calls upon My name, let him sit down
with me and eat.'

So they sat down and ate together. While they continued at
table but little was said; for the day had been a long one, and they
were weary. When they had eaten, the Stranger was shown into the best
room, where was a bed which offered a pleasant resting-place for
tired limbs. But He did not lie on it, nor sought repose, but went
here and there about the room, as if His mind were troubled. And He
cried aloud:

'Father, is it for this I came?'

In the street were heard the voices of the people, and those that
cried:

'Christ has come again!'

And in the best room of the house the Stranger wept, lamenting:

'I have come unto Mine own, and Mine own know Me not. They make a
mock of Me, and say, He shall be as we would have Him; we will not
have Him as He is. They have made unto themselves graven images, not
fashioned alike, but each an image of his own, and each would have Me
to be like unto the image which he has made. For they murmur among
themselves: It is we that have made God; it is not God that has made
us.'



                             CHAPTER XIV

                      THE WORDS OF THE WISE


There began to be in London that night a feeling of unrest. A sense
of uncertainty came into men's minds, a desire to find answers to the
questions which each asked of the other:

'Who is this man? Who does he pretend to be? Where does he come from?
What does he want?'

In the minds of some that last inquiry assumed a different form. They
asked, of their own hearts, if not of one another:

'Why has he come to trouble us?'

The usual showed signs of the unusual. In a great city a divergence
from the normal means disturbance; which is to be avoided. When the
multitude is strongly stirred by a consciousness of the abnormal in
its midst, to someone, or to something, it means danger. Order is not
preserved by authority, but by tradition. A suspicion that events are
about to happen which are contrary to established order shakes that
tradition, with the immediate result that confusion threatens.

There was that night hardly one person who was not conscious of more
or less vague mental disturbance. There were those who at once leaped
to the conclusion that the words of Scripture, as they interpreted
them, were about to receive complete illustration. There were others
whose theological outlook was capable of less mathematically accurate
definition, who were yet in doubt as to whether some supernatural
being might not have appeared among men. There was that large class
which, having no logical grounds for expectation, is always looking
for the unexpected, ever eager to believe it is upon them. The
members of this class are not interested in current theories of a
deity; they are indifferent whether God is or is not. The phrase 'a
Second Coming' conveyed no meaning to their minds. They would welcome
any new thing, whether it was Christ Jesus or Tom Fool; though, when
they realised who Christ Jesus was, their preference would be
strongly in favour of Tom Fool. It was, for the most part,
individuals of this sort who bent their steps towards the house in
which the Stranger was, and, by way of diversion, loitered in its
neighbourhood throughout the night.

In the house itself a consultation was being held. Various persons
who take a notorious interest in subjects of the hour were gathered
together, like bees about a flower, desirous to extract from the
occasion such honey as they could. Mr. Treadman, who presided, had
explained to the meeting, in words which burned, what a matter of
capital importance it was which had brought them there.

Professor Wilcox Wilson displayed his usual fondness for destructive
criticism.

'Our friend Treadman speaks of the frightful consequences
which would attend an only partial recognition of the Lord's
divinity. He says nothing of the at least equally bad results which
would ensue from giving credit to an impostor. Apart from the fact
that there are those who are still in doubt as to which portion of
the New Testament narrative is to be regarded as mythical----'

Mr. Treadman sprang to his feet.

'Mr. Wilson, this meeting is for believers only. We are not here for
an academical discussion; we are here as children of Christ.'

'Quite so. I, also, am anxious to be a child of Christ. I only say,
with another, "Help Thou my unbelief." It seems to me that the
personage whom we will call our distinguished visitor----'

'Wilson, sit down! In my presence you shall not speak with such
flippancy of the Lord Christ. It is to protest against such frames of
mind that we are here. Don't you realise that He who is in the room
above us has but to lift His little finger to lay you dead?'

'It would prove nothing if he did; certainly not that he is the Lord
Christ. My dear Treadman, let me ask you seriously to consider
whether you propose to conduct your crusade on logical lines or as
creatures of impulse. If it is as the latter you intend to figure,
you will do an incalculable amount of mischief. The Lord who made us
is aware of our deficiencies. He is responsible for them.'

'No! No!'

'Who, then, is? Is there a greater than God? Do you blaspheme? He
knows that He has given us, as one of the strongest passions of our
nature, a craving for demonstrable proof. If this is shown in little
things, then how much more in greater! If you want it proved that two
and two are five, then are you not equally desirous of having it
clearly established that a wandering stranger has claims to call
himself divine? So put, the question answers itself. If this man is
God, he will have no difficulty in demonstrating the fact beyond all
possibility of doubt; and he will demonstrate it, for he knows that
human nature, for which he is responsible, requires such
demonstration. If he does not, then rest assured he is no God.'

Mr. Jebb stood up.

'What sort of proof does Professor Wilson require? What amount would
he esteem sufficient? Would he expect that the demonstration should
be repeated in the case of each separate individual? I put these
questions, feeling that the Professor has possibly his own point of
view, because it is asserted that miracles have taken place. A large
body of apparently trustworthy evidence testifies to the fact. I am
bound to admit that my own researches go to show that the occurrences
in question are at least extra-natural. Does the Professor suggest
that any power short of what we call Divine can go outside nature?'

The Professor replied:

'I will be candid, and confess that it is because the events referred
to are of so extraordinary a nature that I am in this galley. I have
hitherto seen no reason to doubt that everything which has happened
in cosmogony is capable of a natural explanation. If I am to admit
the miraculous, I find myself confronted by new conditions, on which
account I ask this worker of wonders to show who and what he is.'

'He has already shown Himself to be more than man.'

'I grant that he has shown himself to be a remarkable person. But it
does not by any means therefore follow that he is the Son of God, the
Christ of tradition.'

Mr. Treadman broke into the discussion.

'He has shown Himself to me to be the Christ.'

'But how? that's what I don't understand. How?'

'Wilson, pray that one day He may show Himself to you before it is
too late. Pray! pray! then you'll understand the how, wherefore, and
why, though you'll still not be able to express them in the terms of
a scientific formula.'

The Professor shrugged his shoulders.

'That is the sort of talk which has been responsible for the
superstition which has been the world's greatest bane. The votaries
of the multifarious varieties of hanky-panky have always shown a
distaste for the cold, dry light of truth, which is all that science
is.'

Jebb smiled.

'I am not so exigent as the Professor. I recognise the presence in
our midst of a worker of wonders--a god among men. And although in
that latter phrase some may only see a poetic license, I am disposed
to be content. For I represent a too obvious fact--the fact that one
portion of the world is the victim of the other part's injustice. As
I came here to-night I passed through men and women, ragged,
tattered, and torn, smirched with all manner of uncleanliness, who
were hastening towards this house as if towards the millennium.
Remembering how often that quest had been a dream, I asked myself if
it were possible that at last it gleamed on the horizon. As I put to
myself the question, my heart leaped up into my mouth. For it was
borne in upon me, as a thing not to be denied, that it might be that,
in the best of all possible senses, the Day of the Lord has arrived--
the Great Day of the Lord.'

'It has arrived, Jebb, be sure of it!'

'I think--I say it with all due deference--that it will not
be our fault if it has not, in the sense in which I use the phrase. I
am told that we have Christ again among us. On that pronouncement I
pass no opinion. I stand simply for those that suffer. I do know that
we are in actual touch with one who has given proofs of his capacity
to alleviate pain and make glad the sorrowful. Experience has shown
that by nothing less than a miracle can the submerged millions be
raised out of the depths. Here is a doer of miracles. Already he has
shown that a cry of anguish gains access to the heart, and impels him
to a removal of the cause. Here is a great healer, the physician the
world is so much in want of. Would it not be well for us, sinking all
controversial differences, to join hands in approaching him, and in
showing him, with all humility, the wounds which gape widest, and the
souls which are enduring most, doing this in the trust that the sight
of so much affliction will quicken his sympathies, and move him to
right the wrong, and to make the rough ways smooth? How he will do it
I cannot say. But he who can raise a cancerous corpse from an
operating table, and endue it with life and health upon the instant,
can do that and more. To such an one all things are possible. I ask
you to consider whether it will not be well that we should discuss
the best and most effective manner in which, in the morning, this
matter can be laid before him who has come among us.'

Scarcely had Mr. Jebb ceased to speak than there rose a huge man,
with matted beard, untidy hair, eager eyes, and a voice which seemed
to shake the room. This was the socialist, Henry Walters. He spoke
with tumultuous haste, as if it was all he could do to keep up with
the words which came rushing along his tongue.

'I say, Yes! if that's the Christ you're talking about, I'm for him.
If this disturber of the peace is a creature with red blood in his
veins, count me on his side. For he'll be a disturber of the peace
with a vengeance. If at last Heaven has given us someone who is
prepared to deal, not with abstractions, but with facts, then I cry:
"Hallelujah for the King of Kings!" For it's more important that our
rookeries should be made decent dwelling-places than that all the
Churches should plump for the Thirty-nine Articles. The prospect of a
practical Christ almost turns my brain. Religion is a synonym for
contradiction in theory and practice, but a Christ who is a live man,
and not a decoration for an altarpiece, will be likely to have clear
notions on the problems which are beyond our finding out, and to care
little for singing bad verses about the golden sea. We want a Saviour
more than the handful of Jews did, who at least had breathing space
in the 11,000 miles of open country, with a respectable climate,
which you call Palestine. But he must be a Saviour that is a Saviour;
not an utterer of dark sayings which are made darker by being
interpreted, but a doer of deeds. Let him purify the moral and
physical atmosphere of a single London alley, and he'll not want for
followers. Let him assure the London dockers of a decent return for
honest labour, and he'll write his name for all time on their hearts.
Let him put an end to sweating, and explain to the wicked mighty that
by right their seats should be a little lower down, and he'll have
all that's worth having in the world upon his side. You talk about a
Saviour of the poor. If such an one has come at last, the face of
this country will be transformed in a fashion which will surprise
some of you who live on the poor. There'll be no need of a second
crucifixion, or for more tittle-tattle about dying for sinners. Let
him live for them. He has but to choose to conquer, to will to extend
his empire, eternally, from pole to pole. And since these are my
sentiments I need not enlarge on the zest with which I shall join in
the discussion suggested by Mr. Jebb as to the most irresistible
method of laying before him who has come among us the plain fact that
this chaos called a city is but a huge charnel-house of human
misery.'

When Mr. Walters sat down the Rev. Martin Philipps rose:

'I have listened in silence to the remarks which we have just heard
because I felt that this was pre-eminently an occasion on which every
man, conscious of his own responsibility, was entitled to an
uninterrupted exposition of his views, however abhorrent those views
might be to some of us. I need not tell you how both the tone and
spirit of those to which we have just been listening are contrary to
every sense and fibre of my being. Mr. Jebb and the last speaker seem
only to see the secular side of the subject which is before us. This
is the more surprising as it has no secular side. If Christ has come,
it is as a Divinity, not as an adherent of this or that political or
social school, but as an intermediary between heaven and earth. I
cannot express to you the horror with which I regard the notion that
the purport of His presence here can be to administer to the material
wants of men. To suppose so is indeed to mock God. We as Christians
know better. It is our blessed privilege to be aware that it is not
our bodies which He seeks, but our souls. Our body is but the
envelope which contains the soul, and from which one day it emerges,
like the chrysalis from the cocoon. The one endures but for a few
years, the other through all eternity.

'I would not inflict on you these platitudes were it not necessary,
after the remarks which we have heard, for us, as Christians to make
our position plain. If Christ has come again, it is in infinite love,
to make a further effort to save us from the consequences of our own
sin, to complete the work of His atonement, and to seek once more to
gather us within the safety of His fold.

'I had never thought that under any possible circumstances I should
be constrained to ask myself the question, Has Christ come again?
Strange human blindness! I had always supposed that, as a believer in
Christ, and Him crucified, and as a preacher, I should never have the
slightest doubt as to whether or not He had returned to earth. I see
now with clearer eyes; I perceive my own poor human frailty; I
realise more clearly the nature of the puzzle which must have
presented itself to the Jews of old. I use the word "puzzle" because
it seems to define the situation more accurately than any other which
occurs to me. Looking back across the long tale of the years, it is
difficult for us to properly apprehend the full bearing of the fact
that Christ, the Son of God, was once an ordinary man, in manners,
habits, and appearance exactly like ourselves. We say glibly: "He was
made man," but how many of us stop to realise what, in their
entirety, those words mean! When I first heard that someone was in
London who, it was rumoured, was the Lord Jesus, my feeling was one
of shock, horror, amazement, to think that anyone could be guilty of
so blasphemous a travesty. If you consider, probably the same
sensation was felt by Jews who were told that the Messiah, to whose
advent their whole history pointed, was in their midst. When they
were shown an ordinary man, who to their eyes looked exactly like his
fellows--a person of absolutely no account whatever--their feeling
was one of deep disgust, derision, scorn, which presently became
fanatical rage. Exactly what they were looking for, more or less
vaguely (for the promise was of old, and the performance long
delayed), they scarcely knew themselves. But it was not this. Who is
this man? What is his name? Where does he come from? What right has
he to hold himself up as different from us? These were questions
which they asked. When the answers came their rage grew more, until
the sequel was the hill of Calvary.

'A similar problem confronts us to-day in London. We believe in
Christ, although we never saw Him. I sometimes think that, if we had
seen Him, we might not have believed. God grant that I am wrong! For
nearly nineteen hundred years we have watched and waited for His
Second Coming. The time has been long; the disappointments have been
many, until at last there has grown up in the midst of some a sort of
dull wonder as to whether He will ever come again at all. "How long?"
many of us have cried--"O Lord, how long?" Suddenly our question
receives an answer of a sort. We are told: "No longer--now. The great
day of the Lord is already here. Christ has come again." When in our
bewilderment we ask, "Where is He? What is He like? Whence has He
come, and how? Why wholly unannounced, in such guise and fashion?" we
receive the same answer as did the Jews of old.

'This is a grave matter which we have met to discuss--so grave that I
hardly dare to speak of it; but this I will venture to say: I know
that my Redeemer liveth; but whether I should know Him, as He should
be known, if I met Him face to face, very man of very man, here upon
earth, I cannot certainly say. I entreat God to forgive me in that I
am compelled, to my shame, to make such a confession; and I believe
that He will forgive me, for He knows, as none else can, how strange
a thing is the heart of man. He who is with us in this house tonight
has been spoken of as a worker of wonders. That I myself know he is,
and of wonders which are other than material. When yesterday I stood
before him, I was abashed. The longer I stayed, the more my sense of
self-abasement grew. I felt as if I, a thing of impurity, had been
brought into sudden, unexpected contact with one who was wholly pure.
I was ashamed. I am conscious that there is a presence in this house
which, though intangible, is not to be denied. Whether or not the
physical form and shape of our Lord is in the room above us, He is
present in our midst; and I confidently hope, when I have sought
guidance from God in prayer--as I trust that we presently shall all
do--to obtain light from the Fountain of all light which shall make
clear to me the way.'

The Rev. Martin Philipps was succeeded by Mr. John Anthony Gibbs. Mr.
Gibbs was a short, portly person, with a manner which suggested,
probably in spite of himself, a combination of the pedagogue with the
man of business.

'I believe that I am entitled to say that I represent certain
religious bodies in the present House of Commons, and while endorsing
what the last speaker has said, I would add to his remarks one or two
of my own. I apprehend that it is generally allowed that we have
among us a remarkable man. I understand that he is with us to-night
beneath this very roof. The spirit of the age is inclined towards
incredulity, but I for one am disposed to be convinced that he is not
as others are. Admitting the bare possibility of his being more than
man, even though he be less than God, I confidently affirm that it is
to the Churches first of all that the question is of primary
importance. I would suggest that representations be at once made to
the different Churches.'

'Including the Roman Catholic?'

The question came from Henry Walters.

'No, sir; not to the Roman Catholic hierarchy; I was speaking of the
Christian Churches only.'

'And the Roman Catholic is not one of them?'

'Most emphatically not, as it is within the bounds of possibility
that it will speedily and finally learn. I speak for the Churches of
Protestant Christendom only.'

'That is very good of you.'

'And I repeat that I would suggest that representations should be
made to those that are in authority, and that meetings be called; a
first to be attended by the clergy only, and a second by both the
clergy and laity, at which this great question should be properly and
adequately discussed.'

'And what's to happen in the meantime?'

'Sir, I was not addressing you.'

'But I was addressing you. We all know what religious meetings are
like, especially when they are attended by representatives of
Protestant Christendom only. While they are making up their minds
about the differences between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, is Christ,
humbly quiescent, to stand awaiting their decision?'

'Sir, your language is repulsive. I am only addressing myself to
those persons present who are proud to call themselves Christians.
And them I am asking to consider whether it is not in the highest
degree advisable that we should endeavour to obtain at the earliest
possible moment the opinion of our bishops and clergy on this
question of the most supreme importance.'

'Hear, hear! And when we've got them, we shall know how to appreciate
them at their proper value. The Lord deliver us from our bishops and
clergy!'

After Mr. Gibbs had resumed his seat there ensued an interval, during
which no one evinced an inclination to continue the discussion.
Possibly Mr. Walters's interruptions had not inspired anyone with a
desire to incur his criticism. His voice and manner were alike
obstreperous. There were those present who knew from experience that
it was extremely difficult to shout him down.

When some moments had passed without the silence being broken, Mr.
Treadman leaned across the table towards where sat that singular
personality whose name is a synonym for the Salvation Army, and who
has credited himself with brevet rank as 'General' Robins.

'General, is there nothing which you wish to say to us? Surely this
is not a subject on which you would desire to have your voice
unheard?'

The 'General' was sitting right back in his chair. He was an old man.
The suggestion of age was accentuated by his attitude. His back was
bowed, his head hung forward on his chest, his hands lay on his
knees, as if the arms to which they were attached were limp and
weary. He did not seem to be aware that he was being addressed, so
that Mr. Treadman had to repeat his question. When it was put a
second time he glanced up with a start, as if he had been brought
back with a shock from the place of shadows in which his thoughts had
been straying.

'I was thinking,' he replied.

'Of what? Will you not allow us to hear our thoughts on a subject
whose magnitude bulks larger with each word we utter?'

The old man was silent, as if he were considering. Then he said,
without altering his position:

'I was thinking that I knew more when I was young than I do now that
I am old. All my life I have been sure--till now. Now, the first time
that assurance is really needed, it is gone, and has left me
troubled. God help us all!'

'Explain yourself, General.'

'That's another part of the trouble, that I'm pretty nearly afraid to
explain. All the days of my life I've been crying: "Take courage! Put
doubt behind you!" And now, when courage is what I most am wanting,
it's fled; only doubt remains.'

'But, General, you of all others have no cause for doubt; and you've
proved your courage on a hundred fields. You've not only fought the
good fight yourself, you have shown others how to fight it too.'

'That's it--have I? As Mr. Philipps said, to-night there's
a Presence in the air, I felt It as I came up the street,
as I entered this house, and more and more as I've been
seated in this room. And in that Presence I have grown afraid,
fearful lest in all that I have done I have done wrong. I confess--
because It knows--that I have had doubts as to the propriety of my
proceedings from the first. Like Saul, I seem to have been smitten
with sudden blindness in order that I may see at last. I see that
what Christ wants is not what I have given Him. I understood man's
nature, but refused to understand His. I realised that there is
nothing like sensationalism to attract a certain sort of men and
women; I declined to realise that it does not attract Christ.
Confident assertion pleases the mob, when it's in a certain humour,
but not Him. Bands, uniforms, newspapers, catchwords--all the
machinery of advertisement I have employed;--but He does not
advertise. Worst of all, I've taught from a thousand platforms that a
man may be a notorious sinner one minute and a child of Christ the
next. I know that is not so.'

The old man stood up, his quavering tones rising in a shrill
crescendo.

'You ask me to tell you what I think. I think that we are about to
stand before the judgment-seat of God as doomed men. We have been
like the Scribes and Pharisees, saying, We know Christ, and are
therefore not as others, when all the time our knowledge has been
hurrying us not to but from Him. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and
have used that knowledge for my own ends. Because it seemed to me
that His methods were ineffective, I have said, Not His will, but
mine be done. I have taught Him, not as He would be taught, but as it
has suited me to teach Him. I have lied of Him and to Him, and have
taught a great multitude to lie also. I have made of Him a mockery in
the eyes of men, dragged Him through the gutter, flaunted Him from
the hoardings, used Him as a street show, and as a mountebank in the
houses which I have called not His, but mine. I have blasphemed His
Name by using it as a meaningless catch-phrase in the foolish mouths
of men and women seeking for a new sensation, or for self-display. I
have done all these things and many more. I am an old man. What time
have I for atonement? For I know now that what Christ wants is a
man's life, not merely a part of it--the beginning, the middle, or
the end. You cannot win him with a phrase in a moment of emotion. You
have gradually, persistently, quietly, to mould yourself in His
image. Nothing else will serve. For that, for me, the time is past. I
cannot undo what I have done, nor can I begin again. It is too late.

'You ask me what I think. I think if Christ has come again--I fear He
has, for strange things have happened to me since I entered the
Presence that is in this room--that we had better flee, though where,
I do not know; for wherever we go we shall take Him with us. I, for
one, dare not meet Him face to face. I envy him his courage that
dare, though he will have to be made of different stuff from any of
us if it is to avail him anything. Be assured of this, that for us
the Second Coming will not be a joyful advent. It will mean, at best,
the pricking of the bubbles we have so long and so laboriously been
blowing. We shall be made to know ourselves as He knows us. There
will be the beginning of the end. What form that end will take I dare
not endeavour to foresee. God help us all!'

There was a curious quality in the silence that ensued when the
'General' ceased, until Mr. Treadman sprang to his feet.

'I protest, with all the strength that is in me, against the doctrine
which we have just heard! It is abominable--a thing of horror--
contrary to all that we know of God's love and His infinite mercy! I
know that it is false!'

'Oh, man! man! it's few things we haven't known, you and
I--except ourselves. And that knowledge is coming to us too soon.
Woeful will be the day!'

'I cannot but think that the sudden rush of exciting events has
turned our honoured friend's brain.'

'It has, towards the light; so that I can see the outer darkness
which lies beyond.'

'General, I cannot find language with which to express the pain I
feel at the tendency which I perceive in your attitude to turn your
back on all the teachings of your life.'

'Your sentence is involved--your sentences sometimes are; but your
meaning's tolerably clear. I'm sorry too.'

'Do you mean to deny that he who repents finds God--you who have been
vehement in the cause of instant conversion.'

'To my shame you say it.'

'Your shame! Have you forgotten that there is more joy in heaven over
one sinner that repenteth than over ninety-nine just persons? You
out-Herod Calvin in his blackest moods.'

'I'll not dispute with you. It's but words, words. I only hope that
by repentance He means what you do. But I greatly fear.'

'I am sure.'

'Oh, man, how often we have been sure--we two!'

'I am sure still. My friends, the General is nearer to Christ than he
thinks, and Christ is nearer to him. We shall do no harm, any of us,
by expressing our consciousness of sin, though at such a time as this
I cannot but think that such an expression may go too far. We who are
here have all of us laboured in our several ways in the Lord's
vineyard. To suggest that the fruit of our endeavours has been all
that it might have been would be presumption. We are but men. The
best that men can do is faulty. But we have done our best, each
according to his or her light. And having done that best, we are
entitled to wait with a glad confidence the inspection of the Master.
To suppose that He will require from us what He knows it has not been
in our power to give or to do--I thank God that there is nothing in
Scripture or out of it to cause any one to imagine that He is so
relentless a taskmaster. And I--I have enjoyed the glad and glorious
privilege of standing in His very presence. I have dared to speak to
Him, to look Him in the face. I give you my personal assurance that I
have not suffered for my daring, but have been filled instead with a
great joy, and with an infinite content. No, General; no, my friends;
the Lord has not come to us in anger, but in peace--a man like unto
ourselves, knowing our infirmities, to wipe the tears out of our
eyes. Do not, I beseech you, look upon Him for a moment as the
dreadful being the General has depicted. The General himself, when
his black mood has passed, and he finds himself indeed face to face
with his Master, will be the first to perceive how contrary to truth
that picture is. And in that moment he will know, once and forever,
how very certain it is that the Second Coming of our Lord and Saviour
is to us, His children, an occasion of great joy.'



                              CHAPTER XV

                            THE SUPPLICANT


There was in the house that night one person who did not attempt to
sleep--its mistress, Mrs. Miriam Powell, a woman of character; a fact
which was sufficiently demonstrated by the name by which she was best
known to the world. For when the Christian name of a married woman is
familiar to the public it is because she is a person of marked
individuality.

Something of her history was notorious; not only within a large
circle of acquaintance, but outside of it. It had lost nothing in the
telling. An unhappy marriage; a loose-living husband--a man who was
in more senses than one unclean; a final resolution on her part to
live out her life alone. Out of these data she had evolved a set of
opinions on sexual questions to which she endeavoured to induce
anyone and everyone, in season and out of season, to listen. There
were some who regarded her with sympathy, some with admiration, some
with respect, and some with fatigue.

In such cases women are apt to be regarded as representatives of a
class; as abstractions, not concrete facts. The accident of her
having had a bad husband was known to all the world; that she was
herself the victim of a temperament was not. She was of the stuff out
of which saints and martyrs may have been made, which is not
necessarily good material out of which to make a wife. Enthusiasm was
a necessity of her existence--not the frothy, fleeting frenzy of a
foolish female, but an enduring possession of the kind which makes
nothing of fighting with beasts at Ephesus. Although she herself
might not be aware of it, the nature of her matrimonial experiences
had given her what her instincts craved for: a creed--sexual reform.

She maintained that sexual intercourse was a thing of horror; the
cause of all the evil which the world contains. Although she was wise
enough not to proclaim the fact, in her heart she was of opinion that
it would be better that the race should die out rather than that the
evil should continue. She aimed at what she called universal
chastity; maintaining that the less men and women had to do with each
other the better. In pursuit of this chimera she performed labours
which, if not worthy of Hercules, at least resembled those of
Sisyphus in that they had to be done over and over again. The stone
would not stay at the top of the hill.

At the outset she had been convinced--as the fruit of her own
experience--that the fault lay with the men. Latterly she had been
inclining more and more to the belief that the women had something to
do with it as well. Indeed, she was beginning to more than suspect
that theirs might be the major part of the blame. The suspicion
filled her with a singular sort of rage.

This was the person to whose house the Stranger had come at this
particular stage of her mental development. His advent had brought
her to the verge of what is called madness in the case of an ordinary
person of to-day; and spiritual exaltation in the case of saints and
martyrs. She already knew that she was on a hopeless quest, and,
although the fact did not daunt her for a moment, had realised that
nothing short of a miracle would bring about that change in the human
animal which she desired. Here was the possibility of a miracle
actually at hand. Here was a worker of wonders--men said, the very
Christ.

It was the reflection that what men said might be true which made her
courage quail at last.

A miracle-monger she desired. But--the Christ! To formulate the
proposition which was whirling in her brain to a
doer-of-strange-deeds was one thing, but--to Him! That was another.

When she had come into His near neighbourhood she had shrunk back, a
frightened creature. She had been afraid to look Him in the face.
Ever since He had been beneath her roof she had been shaken as with
palsy.

Dare she do this thing?

That was the problem which had been present in her mind the whole day
long, and which still racked it in the silent watches of the night.
To and fro she passed, from room to room, from floor to floor. More
than once she approached the door behind which He was, only to start
away from it again and flee. She did not even dare to kneel at His
portal, fearful lest He, knowing she was there, might come out and
see. In her own chamber she scanned the New Testament in search of
words which would comfort and encourage her. In vain. The sentences
seemed to rise up from off the printed pages to condemn her.

She had an idea. The lame man and the charcoal-burner were the joint
occupants of a spare room. She would learn from them what manner of
man their Master was--whether He might be expected to lend a
sympathetic ear to such a supplication as that which she had it in
her heart to make. But when she stood outside their apartment she
reflected that they were common fellows. Her impulse had been to
refuse them shelter, being at a loss to understand what connection
there could be between her guest and such a pair. That they had
thrust themselves upon Him she thought was probable; the more reason,
therefore, why she should decline to countenance their presumptuous
persistence. To seek from them advice or information would be an act
of condescension which would be as resultless as undignified.

No. Better go directly to the fountainhead. That would be the part
both of propriety and wisdom.

She screwed her courage to the sticking-point, and went.

The two disciples were lodged in an upper story. She had her knuckles
against the panel of their door when at last her resolution was
arrived at. Straightway relinquishing her former purpose, she
hastened down the stairs to the floor on which He was. As she went
the clock in the hall struck three.

The announcement of the hour moved her to fresh irresolution. Would
it be seemly to rouse Him out of slumber to press on Him such a
petition? Yet if she did not do it now, when could she? She might
never again have such an opportunity. Were His ears not always open
to the prayers of those that stood in need of help? What difference
did the night or the morning make to Him? She put out her hand
towards the door.

As she did so a great fear came over her. It was as though she was
stricken with paralysis. She could neither do as she intended nor
withdraw her hand. She remained as one rooted to the floor. How long
she stayed she did not know. The seconds and the minutes passed, and
still she did not move. Presently her fear grew greater. She knew,
although she had not made a sound, that, conscious of her presence,
He was coming towards her on the other side of the door.

Then the door was opened, and she saw Him face to face. He
did not speak a word; and she was still. The gift of fluent speech
for which she was notorious had gone from her utterly. He looked at
her in such fashion that she was compelled to meet His eyes, though
she would have given all that she had to have been able to escape
their scrutiny. For in them was an eloquence which was not of words,
and a quality which held her numb. For she was conscious not only
that He knew her, in a sense of which she had never dreamed in her
blackest nightmares, but that He was causing her to know herself. In
the fierce light of that self-knowledge her heart dried up within
her. She saw herself as what she was--the embittered, illiberal,
narrow-minded woman who, conscious of her isolation, had raised up
for herself a creed of her own--a creed which was not His. She saw
how, with the passage of the years, her persistence in this creed had
forced her farther and farther away from Him, until now she had grown
to have nothing in common with Him, since she had so continually
striven to bring about the things which He would not have. She had
placed herself in opposition to His will, and now had actually come
to solicit His endorsement of her action. And she knew that in so
doing she had committed the greatest of all her sins.

She did not offer her petition. But when the door was closed again,
and He had passed from her actual sight, there stood without one from
whose veins the wine of life had passed, and whose hair had become
white as snow. Although not a word had been spoken, she had stood
before the Judgment Seat, and tasted of more than the bitterness of
death. When she began to return to her own room she had to feel her
way with her hands. Her sight had become dim, her limbs feeble. She
had grown old.



                             CHAPTER XVI

                            IN THE MORNING


All through the night people remained in the street without. With the
return of day their numbers so increased that the authorities began
to be concerned. The house itself was besieged. It was with
difficulty that the police could keep a sufficient open space in
front to enable persons to pass in and out. An official endeavoured
to represent to the inmates the authoritative point of view.

'Whose house is this?' he asked of the servant who opened the door.

He was told.

'Can I see Mrs. Powell?'

The maid seemed bewildered.

'We don't know what's the matter with her. We're going to send for a
doctor.'

'Is she ill?'

'She's grown old since last night.'

'What do you mean?'

The officer stared. The girl began to cry.

'I want to get away. I'm frightened.'

'Don't be silly. What have you got to be frightened at? Can't I see
someone who's responsible? I don't know who you've got in the house,
but whoever it is, he'd better go before there's trouble.'

'They say it's Christ.'

'Christ or no Christ, I tell you he'd better go somewhere where his
presence won't be the occasion of a nuisance. Is there no one I can
see?'

'I am here.' The answer came from Mr. Treadman, who, with three other
persons, had just entered the hall. 'What is it, constable? Is there
anything you want?'

'I don't know who you are, sir, but if you're the cause of the
confusion outside you're incurring a very serious responsibility.'

'I am not the cause; it is not me they have come to see. They have
come to see the Lord. Officer, Christ has come again.'

Mr. Treadman laid his hand upon the official's arm; who instantly
shook it off again.

'I know nothing about that; I want to know nothing. I only know that
no one has a right to cause a nuisance.'

'Cause a nuisance? Christ! Officer, are you mad?'

'I don't want to talk to you. I have my instructions; they're enough
for me. My instructions are to see that the nuisance is abated. The
best way to do that is to induce your friend to take himself
somewhere else without any fuss.' Voices came from the street. 'Do
you hear that? A lot of half-witted people have foolishly brought
their sick friends, and have actually got them out there, as if this
was some sort of hospital at which medical attendance could be had
for the asking. If anything happens to those sick people, it won t be
nice for whoever is to blame.'

'Nothing will happen. The Lord has only to raise His hand, to say the
word, for them to be made whole. They know it; their faith has made
them sure.'

The officer regarded the other for a moment or two before he spoke
again.

'Look here, I don't know what your game is----'

'Game?'

'And I don't know what new religion it is you're supposed to be
teaching----'

'New religion? The religion we are teaching is as old as the hills.'

'Very well; then that's all right. You take it to the hills; there'll
be more room there. You tell your friend that the sooner he takes a
trip into the country the better it'll be for everyone concerned.'

'Officer, don't you understand what it means when you are told that
Christ has come again? Can it be possible that you are not a
Christian?'

The official waved his hand.

'The only thing about which I'm concerned is my duty, and my duty is
to carry out my instructions. If, as I say, your friend is a sensible
man, he'll change his quarters as soon as he possibly can. You'll
find me waiting outside, to know what he intends to do. Don't keep me
any longer than you can help.'

The official's disappearance was followed by a momentary silence;
then Mr. Treadman laughed awkwardly, as if his sense of humour had
been tickled by something which was not altogether pleasant.

'That is the latest touch of irony, that Christ should be regarded as
a common nuisance, and on His Second Coming to be the Judge of all
the earth requested to take Himself elsewhere!'

The Rev. Martin Philipps pursed his lips.

'What you say is correct enough; it is a ludicrous notion. But, on
the other hand, the position is not a simple one. If, as they bid
fair to do, the people flock here in huge crowds, at the very least
there will be confusion, and the police will have difficulty in
keeping order.'

'You would not have the people refrain from coming to greet their
Lord?'

'I would nave them observe some method. Do you yourself wish that
they should press upon Him in an unmanageable mob?'

'Have no fear of that. He will hold them in the hollow of His hand,
and will see that they observe all the method that is needed. For my
part, I'd have them flock to Him from all the corners of the earth--
and they will.'

'In that case I trust that they will not endeavour to pack themselves
within the compass of the London streets.'

'Be at peace, my friend; do not let yourself be troubled. All that He
shall do will be well. Now, first, to see our dear sister, whose
request He granted, and whom He so greatly blessed by staying beneath
her roof.'

As he spoke, turning, he saw a figure coming down the stairs--an old
woman, who tottered from tread to tread, clinging to the banister, as
if she needed it both as a guide and a support.

'Who is this?' he asked. Then: 'It can't be Mrs. Powell?' It was. He
ran to her. 'My dear friend, what has happened to you since I saw you
last?'

The old woman, grasping the banister with both hands, looked down at
him.

'I have seen Him face to face!'

'Seen whom?'

'Christ. I have stood before the judgment-seat of God.'

There was a quality in her voice which, combined with the singularity
and even horror of her appearance, caused them to stare at her with
doubting eyes. Mr. Treadman put a question to the servant, who still
lingered in the passage:

'What does she mean? What has taken place?'

The girl began again to whimper.

'I don't know. I want to go--I daren't stop--I'm frightened!'

Mr. Treadman ascended to the old woman.

'Take my arm; let me help you down, then you can tell me all that has
happened.'

With her two hands she caught his arm in a convulsive grip. At her
touch they saw that his countenance changed. As they descended side
by side upon his face was a curious expression, almost as if he was
afraid of his companion. As she came the others retreated. When he
led her into a room the others followed at a distance, showing a
disposition to linger in the doorway. He brought her to a chair.

'Here is a seat. Sit down.'

She glanced with her dim eyes furtively to the front and back, to the
right and left, continuing to clutch his arm, as if unwilling to
relinquish its protection. He was obviously embarrassed.

'Did you not hear what I said? Here is a seat. Let me go.'

She neither answered nor showed any signs of releasing him. He called
to those in the doorway:

'Come and help me, someone; she grips my arm as in a vice. Mrs.
Powell, I must insist upon your doing as I request. Let me go!'

With a sudden wrench he jerked himself away. Deprived of his support,
she dropped on to the ground. Indifferent to her apparent
helplessness, he hurried to the trio at the door.

'There's something awful about her--worse than madness. She has given
me quite a nervous shock.'

'General' Robins answered; he was one of the three who had come with
Mr. Treadman.

'As she herself says, she has seen Him face to face. Wait till we
also have seen Him face to face. God help us all!'

The Rev. Martin Philipps fidgeted.

'Without wishing to countenance any extravagant theories, it is plain
that something very strange has happened to Mrs. Powell. I trust that
we ourselves are incurring no unnecessary risks.'

Mr. Jebb, who also had come with Mr. Treadman, regarded the speaker
in a manner which was not flattering.

'You religious people are always thinking of yourselves. It is
because you are afraid of what will happen to what you call your
souls that you try to delude yourselves with the pretence that you
believe; regarding faith as a patent medicine warranted to cure all
ills. You might find indifference to self a safer recipe.'

Picking up Mrs. Powell from where she still lay upon the floor, he
placed her in a chair.

'My good lady, the proper place for you is in bed.' He called to the
maid: 'See that your mistress is put to bed at once, and a doctor
sent for.'

'A doctor,' cried Mr. Treadman, 'when the Great Healer Himself is
upstairs!'

'You appear to ignore the fact that, according to your creed, the
Great Healer, as you call him, metes out not rewards only, but
punishments as well. He is not a doctor to whom you have only to
offer a fee to command his services.'

'General' Robins caught at the words.

'He does ignore it; and by his persistence in so doing he makes our
peril every moment greater.'

'At the same time,' continued Mr. Jebb, 'it is just as well that we
should keep our heads. A person of Mrs. Powell's temperament and
history may pass from what she was to what she is in the twinkling of
an eye without the intervention of anything supernatural. So much is
certain.'

Mr. Treadman, who had been wiping his brow with his
pocket-handkerchief, as if suffering from a sudden excess of heat,
joined in the conversation.

'My dear friend, God moves in a mysterious way. We all know that. Let
us not probe into His actions in this or that particular instance,
but rest content with the general assurance that all things work
together for the good of those that love the Lord. Let us not forget
the errand which has brought us here. Let us lose no more time, but
use all possible expedition in opening our hearts to Him.'

'I wish, Treadman, since you are not a parson, that you wouldn't ape
the professional twang. Isn't ordinary English good enough for you?'

'My dear Jebb, you are pleased to be critical. My sole desire is to
speak of Him with all possible reverence.'

'Then be reverent in decent every-day English. Are you suggesting
that we should seek his presence? Because, if so I'm ready.'

It seemed, however, that the other two were not. 'General' Robins
openly confessed his unwillingness to, as he put it, meet the
Stranger face to face. Nor was Mr. Philipps's eagerness in that
direction much greater than his. Even Mr. Treadman showed signs of a
chastened enthusiasm. It needed Mr. Jebb's acerbity to rekindle the
expiring flame. Mr. Treadman repudiated the hints which his associate
threw out with a show both of heat and scorn.

Soon the quartette were mounting the stairs which led to the
Stranger's room. On the landing there was a pause. The 'General' and
Mr. Philipps, whose unwillingness to proceed further had by no means
vanished, still lagged behind. Mr. Jebb lashed them with his tongue.

'What's wrong with you? Is it spiritual fear or physical? In either
case, what fine figures you both present! All these years you have
been sounding your trumpets, proclaiming that you are Christ's, and
Christ is yours; that the only thing for which you have yearned is
His return. Now see how you shiver and shake! Is it because you are
afraid that He has come, or because you fear He hasn't?'

'I don't think,' stammered Mr. Philipps, 'that you are entitled to
say I am afraid--other than in the sense in which every true believer
must be afraid when he finds himself standing on the threshold of the
Presence.'

The 'General' was more candid.

'I fear, I fear! He knows me altogether! He knows I fear!'

Mr. Treadman endeavoured to return to his old assurance.

'Come, my friends, let us fear nothing. Whether we live we are the
Lord's; or whether we die we are the Lord's, blessed be the name of
the Lord! Let us rejoice and make glad, and enter into His presence
with a song.'

Without knocking, turning the handle of the door in front of which
they stood, he went into the room. Mr. Jebb went with him. After
momentary hesitation, the Rev. Martin Philipps followed after. But
'General' Robins stayed without. It was as if he made an effort to
force his feet across the threshold, and as if they refused him their
obedience. The tall, rugged figure, clad in its bizarre uniform,
trembled as with ague.

On a sudden one of the bands for whose existence he was responsible
burst into blatant sound in the street beyond. As its inharmonious
notes reached his ears, he leant forward and hid his face against the
wall.



                             CHAPTER XVII

                        THE MIRACLE OF HEALING


The Stranger was seated, conversing with His two disciples. When the
trio entered He was still. From the street came the noise of the
Salvation Army band and the voices of the people. There was in the
air the hum of a great multitude.

Something of his assurance had gone from Mr. Treadman. His tongue was
not so ready, his bearing more uncertain. When he spoke, it was with
emotion which was almost tearful, at first, in gentler tones than he
was wont to use.

'Lord, we Thy servants, sinners though we are, and conscious of our
infirmities, come to Thee to offer up our supplications. We come in
the name of Thy people. For though, like children, they have erred
and strayed, and lacked the wisdom of the Father, yet they are Thy
children, Lord, and hold Thy name in reverence. And they are many. In
all the far places of the world they are to be found. And in this
great city they are for numbers as the sands of the sea. Not all of
one pattern--not all wise or strong. Associated with the various
branches of the universal Church, differing in little things, they
are all of one mind upon one point, their love for Thee. We pray Thee
to make Thyself known to the great host which is Thy family, assuring
Thee that Thou hast only to do so to find that it fills all the
world. The exigencies of modern civilisation render it difficult for
a mortal monarch to meet his subjects as he would desire; nor, with
all respect be it urged, is the difficulty made less in the case of
the King of Kings. Therefore we have ventured, subject to Thy
approval, to make arrangements for the hire of a large building,
called the Albert Hall, which is capable of holding several thousand
persons. And we pray that Thou wilt deign to there meet detachments
of Thy people in such numbers as the structure will accommodate, as a
preliminary to the commencement of Thy reign over all the earth.
Since the people are so anxious to see Thy face that already the
police find it difficult to keep their eagerness within due bounds,
we would entreat Thee to delay as little as possible, and to hold Thy
first reception in the Albert Hall this afternoon. This prayer we lay
at Thy feet in the hope and trust that Thou wilt not be unwilling to
avail Thyself of the experience and organising powers of such of Thy
servants as have spent their lives in the highways and byways of this
great city, working for Thy Holy Name.'

When Mr. Treadman had finished, the Stranger asked of Mr. Jebb:

'What is it that you would say to Me?'

Mr. Jebb replied:

'I have not Mr. Treadman's command of a particular sort of language,
but in a general way I would endorse all that he has said, adding a
postscript for which I am alone responsible. I do not know what is
the purpose of your presence here, and--with all respect to certain
of my friends--I do not think that anyone else knows either. I trust
that you are here for the good of the world at large, and not as the
representative of this or that system of theology. Should that be the
case, I would observe that sound religion is synonymous with a sound
body, and that no soldier is at his best as a fighting man who is
under-fed. I ask your attention to the poor of London--the materially
poor. You have, I am told, demonstrated your capacity to perform
miracles. If ever there was a place in which a miracle was required,
it is the city of London. Cleanse the streets, purify the dwellings,
clothe the poor, put food into their bellies, make it possible for
them to live like decent men and women, and you will raise an
enduring monument to the honour and glory of God. The human family
has shown itself incapable of providing adequately for its various
members. Make good that incapacity, and you will at once establish
the kingdom of heaven here on earth. I ask to be allowed to place
before you certain details which will illustrate some of the worst of
the evils which require attention, in the belief that they have only
to be brought home to you with sufficient force to be at once swept
out of existence.'

The Stranger turned to the Rev. Martin Philipps.

'What is it that you would say?'

Mr. Philipps began to stammer.

'I--I had put together the heads of a few remarks which I had
intended to make on this occasion, but they have all gone from me.'
He stretched out his arms with a sudden cry: 'Forgive me, Lord, if in
Thy presence I am dumb.'

'You have done better than these others. Is there not one who waits
outside? Let him come in.'

The 'General' entered, and fell on the floor at His feet, crying,
'Lord, Lord!'

He said: 'What would you have of Me?'

'Nothing, Lord, nothing, except that You would hide from me the anger
which is on Your face!'

'You also are of the company of those who would administer the
kingdom of heaven as if it were their own. So that God must learn of
men, not men of God! You call yourselves His children, yet seek not
to know what is in the Father's heart, but exclaim of the great
things which are in yours, forgetting that the wisdom of God is not
as the wisdom of men. So came sin and death into the world, and still
prevail. Rise. Call not so often on My Name, nor proclaim it so
loudly in the market-place. Seek yourself to know Me. Take no heed to
speak of Me foolishly to others, for God is sufficient unto each man
for his own salvation.'

He arose, and the 'General' also. He said to Mr. Treadman and to Mr.
Jebb:

'You foolish fellows! To think that God needs to be advised of men!
Consider what God is; then consider what is man.' He turned to the
lame man and to the charcoal-burner. 'Come! For there is that to do
which must be done.'

When He had left the room the 'General' stole after Him. Mr. Jebb
spoke to Mr. Treadman.

'You and I are a pair of fools!'

'Why do you say that?'

'To suppose that anything that we could say would have the slightest
weight with Him. It's clearly a case of His will, not ours, be done.
If tradition is to be trusted, His will was not the popular will in
the days of old. He'll find that it is still less so now. Millions of
men, conscious of crying grievances, are not to be treated as
automata. There's trouble brooding.'

'Oh, if He only would be guided, so easily He might avoid a
repetition of the former tragedy, and hold undisputed sway in the
hearts of all men and women which the world contains.'

'I doubt the very easily; and anyhow, He won't be guided. I for one
shall make no further attempt. I don't know what it is He proposes to
Himself (I never could clearly understand what was the intention of
the Christ of tradition), but I'm sure that it was something very
different to what is in your mind. I am equally certain that the
world has never seen, and will never suffer, such an autocrat as He
suggests.'

'Jebb, I know you mean well, I know how you have devoted your whole
life to the good of others, but I wish I could make you understand
how every word you utter is a shock to my whole sense of decency and
reverence.'

'Your sense of decency and reverence! You haven't any. You and
Philipps and Robins, and all men of your kidney, have less of that
sort of thing than I have. You are too familiar ever to be reverent.'

'Jebb, what noise is that?'

'He has gone out into the street. At sight of Him the people have
started shouting. The police will have their hands full if they don't
look out. Something very like the spirit of riot is abroad.'

'I must follow Him; I must try to keep close to Him, wherever He may
go. Perhaps my assiduity may at last prevail. As it is, it all
threatens to turn out so differently to what I had hoped.'

'Yes, you had hoped to be a prominent figure in the proceedings, but
you are going to take no part in them at all; that's where the shoe
pinches with you, Treadman.'

Mr. Treadman had not stayed to listen. He was already down the stairs
and at the street door, to find that the Stranger had just passed
through it, to be greeted by a chorus of exclamations from those who
saw Him come.

The spacious roadway was filled with people from end to end--an
eager, curious, excitable crowd. There were men, women, and children;
but though it contained a sprinkling of persons of higher social
rank, it was recruited mostly from that class which sees nothing
objectionable in a crowd as such. Vehicular traffic was stopped. The
police kept sufficient open space upon the pavement to permit of
pedestrians passing to and fro. In front of the house was a
surprising spectacle. Invalids of all sorts and kinds were there
gathered together in heterogeneous assemblage. The officials, finding
it impossible without using violence to prevent their appearance on
the scene, had cleared a portion of the roadway for their
accommodation, so that when He appeared, He found Himself confronted
by all manner of sick. There were blind, lame, and dumb; idiots and
misshapen folk; sufferers from all sorts of disease, in all stages of
their maladies. Some were on the bed from which they were unable to
raise themselves, some were on chairs, some on the bare ground. They
had been brought from all parts of the city--young and old, male and
female. There were those among them who had been there throughout the
night.

When they saw Him come out of the door, those who could move at all
began to press forward so that they might be able to reach Him,
crying:

'Heal us! heal us!'

In their eagerness they bade fair to tread each other under foot;
seeing which the officer who stood at the gate turned to Him, saying:

'Is it you these poor wretches have come to see? If you have
encouraged them in their madness you have incurred a frightful
responsibility; the deaths of many of them will be upon your head.'

He replied:

'Speak of that of which you have some understanding.' To the
struggling, stricken crowd in front of Him He said: 'Go in peace and
sin no more.'

Straightway they all were healed of their diseases. The sick sprang
out of their beds and from off the ground, cripples threw away their
crutches, the crooked were made straight, the blind could see, the
dumb could talk. When they found that it was so they were beside
themselves with joy. They laughed and sang, ran this way and that,
giving vent to their feelings in divers strange fashions.

And all they that saw it were amazed, and presently they raised a
great shout:

'It is Christ the King!'

They pressed forward to where He stood upon the step. Stretching out
His hand, He held them back.

'Why do you call me king? Of what am I the king? Of your hearts and
lives? Of your thoughts at your rising up and lying down? No. You
know Me not. But because of this which you have seen you exclaim with
your voice; your hearts are still. Who among you doeth My
commandments? Is there one who has lived for Me? My name is on your
tongues; your bodies you defile with all manner of evil. You esteem
yourselves as gods. There are devils in hell who are nearer heaven
than some of you. As was said to those of old, Except you be born
again you know Me not. I know not you; call not upon My name. For
service which is of the lips only is a thing hateful unto God.'

When He ceased to speak the people drew farther from Him and closer
to each other, murmuring among themselves:

'Who is he? What are these things which he says? What have we done to
him that he should speak to us like this?'

A great stillness came over the crowd; for, although they knew not
why, they were ashamed.

When He came down into the street they made way for Him to pass, no
one speaking as He went.



                            CHAPTER XVIII

                            THE YOUNG MAN


The fame of these things passed from the frequenters of the streets
and the hunters of notoriety to those in high places. The matter was
discussed at a dinner which was given that night by a Secretary of
State to certain dignitaries, both spiritual and temporal. There was
no Mr. Treadman there. The atmosphere was sacrosanct. There was an
absence of enthusiasm on any subject beneath the sun which, to minds
of a certain order, is proper to sanctity. The conversation wandered
from Shakespeare to the musical glasses; until at last something was
said of the subject of the day.

It was the host who began. He was a person who had risen to his high
position by a skilful manipulation of those methods which have made
of politics a thing apart. A clever man, shrewd, versatile, desirous
of being in the van of any movement which promised to achieve
success.

'The evening papers are full of strange stories of what took place
this morning at Maida Vale. They make one think.'

'I understand,' said Sir Robert Farquharson, known in the House of
Commons as 'the Member for India,' 'that the people are quite
excited. Indeed, one can see for oneself that there are an unusual
number of people in the streets, and that they all seem talking of
the same thing. It reminds one of the waves of religious frenzy which
in India temporarily drive a whole city mad.'

'We don't go quite so far as that in London, fortunately. Still, the
affair is odd. Either these things have been done, or they haven't.
In either case, I confess myself puzzled.'

The Archbishop looked up from his plate.

'There seems to be nothing known about the person of any sort or
kind--neither who he is, nor what he is, nor whence he comes. The
most favourable supposition seems to be that he is mentally
deranged.'

'Suppose he were the Christ?' The Archbishop looked down; his face
wore a shocked expression. The Secretary smiled; he has not hesitated
to let it be known that he is in bondage to no creed. 'That would
indeed be to bring religion into the sphere of practical politics.'

'Not necessarily. It was a Roman blunder which placed it there
before.'

This was the Earl of Hailsham, whose fame as a diplomatist is
politically great.

'You think that Christ might come and go without any official notice
being taken of the matter?'

'Certainly. Why not? That might, and would, have been the case before
had Pontius Pilate been a wiser and a stronger man.'

'That point of view deserves consideration. Aren't you ignoring the
fact that this is a Christian country?'

'In a social sense, Carruthers, most decidedly. I hope that we are
all Christians in England--I know I am--because to be anything else
would be the height of impropriety.'

The Secretary laughed outright.

'Your frankness shocks the Archbishop.'

Again the Archbishop looked up.

'I am not easily shocked at the difference of opinion on questions of
taste. It is so easy to jeer at what others hold sacred.'

'My dear Archbishop, I do implore your pardon a thousand times;
nothing was farther from my intention. I merely enunciated what I
supposed to be a truism.'

'I am unfortunately aware, my lord, that Christianity is to some but
a social form. But I believe, from my heart, that, relatively, they
are few. I believe that to the great body of Englishmen and
Englishwomen Christianity is still a vital force, probably more so
to-day than it was some years ago. To the clergy I know it is; by
their lives they prove it every hour of every day.'

'In a social or a spiritual sense? Because, as a vital force, it may
act in either direction. Let me explain to you exactly what I mean.
That it is nothing offensive you will see. My own Rector is a most
estimable man; he, his curates, and his family are untiring in their
efforts to increase the influence of the Church among the people.
There is not a cottager in the parish who does not turn towards the
Rectory in time of trouble--he would rather turn there than towards
heaven. In that sense I say that the Rector's is a social, rather
than a spiritual, influence; he himself would be the first to admit
it. The work which the Church is doing in the East of London is
social. The idea seems to be that if you improve the social
conditions, spiritual improvement will follow. Does it? I wonder.
Christianity is a vital force in a social sense, thank goodness! But
my impression is that its followers await the Second Coming of their
Founder with the same dilettante interest with which the Jews
anticipate the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Both parties would be
uncomfortably surprised if their anticipations were fulfilled. They
would be confronted with a condition for which they were not in any
way prepared. Candidly, wouldn't they? What would you yourself do if
this person who is turning London topsy-turvy were actually the
Christ?'

'I am unable to answer so very serious a question at a moment's
notice.'

'In other words, you don't believe that he is the Christ; and nothing
would make you believe. You know such things don't happen--if they
ever did.'

'You would not believe even though one rose from the dead--eh,
Archbishop?'

The question came from Sir William Braidwood, the surgeon. The Earl
of Hailsham looked towards him down the table.

'By the way, what is the truth about that woman at the hospital?'

'The woman was dead; living, she was cancerous. He restored her to
life; healed of her cancer. No greater miracle is recorded of the
Christ of tradition. This afternoon a woman came to me who has been
paralysed for nearly five years, unable to move hand or foot, to
raise herself on her bed, or to do anything for herself whatever. She
came on her own feet, ran up the stairs, radiant with life, health,
and good spirits, in the full enjoyment of all her limbs. She was one
of those who were at Maida Vale, whither she had been borne upon her
bed. You should hear her account of what took place. The wonder to me
is that the crowd was not driven stark, staring mad!'

'These things cause one to think furiously.' The Secretary sipped his
wine. He addressed the Archbishop. 'Have you received any official
intimation of what is taking place?'

'I have had letters, couched in the most extraordinary language, and
even telegrams. Also verbal reports, full of the wildest and most
contradictory statements. I occupy a position of extreme
responsibility, in which my slightest word or action is liable to
misconstruction.'

'Has it been clearly proved,' asked Farquharson, 'that he himself
claims to be the Christ?' No one seemed to know; no one answered. 'Do
I understand, Braidwood, that you are personally convinced that this
person is possessed of supernatural powers?'

'I am; though it does not necessarily follow on that account that he
is the Christ, any more than that he is Gautama Siddartha or Mahomet.
I believe that we are all close to what is called the supernatural,
that we are divided from it by something of no more definite texture
than a membrane. We have only to break through that something to find
such powers are. Possibly this person has performed that feat. My own
impression is that he's a public danger.'

'A public danger? How?'

'Augustus Jebb called to see me before I came away--the social
science man, I mean. He followed close on the heels of the woman of
whom I told you. He was himself in Mrs. Powell's house at the time,
and from a window saw all that occurred. He corroborates her story,
with additions of his own. A few moments before he, with others, had
an interview with the miracle-worker. He says that he was afraid of
him, mentally, physically, morally, because of the possibilities
which he saw in the man. He justifies his fear by two facts. As you
are aware, this person stopped last night at the house of Mrs. Miriam
Powell, the misguided creature who preaches what she calls social
purity. She was a hale, hearty woman, in the prime of life, as late
as yesterday afternoon. She was, however, a terrible bore. The
probability is that, during the night, for some purpose of her own,
she forced herself into her guest's presence; with the result that
this morning she was a thing of horror.'

'In what sense?'

'Age had prematurely overtaken her--unnatural age. She looked and
moved like a hag of ninety. She was mentally affected also, seeming
haunted by an unceasing causeless terror. She kept repeating: "I have
seen Him face to face!"--significant words. Jebb's other fact
referred to Robins, the Salvation Army man. When Robins came into
this person's presence he was attacked as with paralysis, and
transformed into a nerveless coward. Jebb says that he is a pitiable
object. His inference--which I am disposed to endorse--is, that if
that person can do good he can also do evil, and that it is dependent
upon his mood which he does. A man who can perform wholesale cures
with a word may, for all we know, also strike down whole battalions
with a word. His powers may be new to him, or the probability is that
we should have heard of him before. As they become more familiar, to
gratify a whim he may strike down a whole cityful. And there is
another danger.'

'You pile up the agony, Braidwood.'

'Wait till I have finished. There are a number of wrong-headed
persons who think that he may be used as a tool for their own
purposes. For instance, Jebb actually endeavoured to induce him to
transform London, as it were, with a touch of his wand.'

'What do you mean?'

'You know Jebb's panacea--better houses for the poor, and that sort
of thing. He tried to persuade this person to provide the London poor
with better houses, money in their pockets, clothes on their backs,
and food in their stomachs, in the same instantaneous fashion in
which he performed his miracle of healing.'

'Is Mr. Jebb mad?'

'I should say certainly not. He has been brought into contact with
this person, and should be better able to judge of his powers than we
are. He believes them to be limitless. Jebb himself was badly
snubbed. But that is only the beginning. He tells me that the man
Walters, the socialistic agitator, and his friends are determined to
make a dead set at the wonder-worker, and to leave no stone unturned
to induce him to bring about a revolution in London. The possibility
of even such an attempt is not agreeable to contemplate.'

'If these things come to pass, religion--at least, so far as this
gentleman is concerned--will at once be brought within the sphere of
practical politics. Don't you think so, Hailsham?'

'It might bring something novel into the political arena. I should
like to see how parties would divide upon such a question, and the
shape which it would take. Would the question as to whether he was or
was not the Christ be made the subject of a full-dress debate, and
would the result of the ensuing division be accepted as final by
everyone concerned?'

'I should say no. If the "ayes" had it in the House, the "noes" would
have it in the country, and _vice versâ_.'

'Farquharson, you suggest some knowledge of English human nature. In
our fortunate country obstinacy and contrariness are the dominant
public notes. A Briton resents authority in matters of conscience,
especially when it emanates from the ill-conditioned persons who
occupy the benches in the Lords and Commons; which is why religious
legislation is such a frightful failure.'

This with a sly glance at the Archbishop, who had been associated
with a Bill for the Better Ordering of Public Worship.

The Duke of Trent joined in the conversation. He was a young man who
had recently succeeded to the Dukedom. Coming from a cadet branch of
the family, he had hitherto lived a life of comparative retirement.
His present peers had not yet made up their minds as to the kind of
character he was. He spoke with that little air of awkwardness
peculiar to a certain sort of Englishman who approaches a serious
subject. His first remark was addressed to Sir William Braidwood:

'But if this is the Christ, would you not expect Him to mete out
justice as well as mercy? He may have come to condemn as well as to
bless. In that case a sinner could hardly expect to force himself
into His presence and escape unscathed.'

'On points of theology I refer you to the Archbishop. My point is,
that an autocrat possessed of supernatural powers is a public
danger.'

'Does that include God the Father? He is omnipotent. Whom He will He
raises up, and whom He will He puts down. So we Christians believe.'

The Archbishop turned towards him.

'You are quite right, Duke; we know it. To suppose that Christ could
be in any sense a public danger is not only blasphemous but absurd.
Such a notion could only spring from something worse than ignorance.
I take it that Sir William discredits the idea that about this person
there is anything divine.'

'I believe He is the Christ!'

'You do?'

'I do.'

'But why?'

All eyes had turned towards the young man; who had gone white to the
lips.

'I do not know that I am able to furnish you with what you would
esteem a logical reason. Could the Apostles have given a mathematical
demonstration of the causes of their belief? I only know that I feel
Him in the air.'

'Of this room?'

'Yes, thank God! of this room.'

'You use strange words. Do you base your belief on his reported
miracles?'

'Not entirely, though I entirely dissent from Sir William Braidwood's
theory that we are near to what he calls the supernatural; except in
the sense that we are near heaven, and that God is everywhere. Such
works are only of Him. Man never wrought them; or never will. My
mother loved Christ. She taught me to do so. Perhaps that is why I
know that He is in London now.'

'What do you propose to do?'

'That is what troubles me. I don't know. I feel that I ought to do
something, but--it is so stupid of me!--I don't know what.'

'Does your trouble resemble the rich young man's of whom some of us
have read?'

This was the Earl of Hailsham. The Duke shook his head.

'No; it's not that. He knows that I will do anything I can do; but I
don't think He wants me to do anything at all. He is content with the
knowledge that I know He is here, that His presence makes me happy. I
think that's it.'

Such sentiments from a young man were unusual. His hearers stared the
more. The Archbishop said, gravely, sententiously:

'My dear Duke, I beg that you will give this matter your most serious
consideration; that you will seek advice from those qualified to give
it; and that only after the most careful deliberation you will say or
do anything which you may afterwards regret. I confess I don't
understand how you arrive at your conclusions. And I would point out
to you very earnestly how much easier it is to do harm than good.'

The young man, leaning over on to the table, looked his senior
curiously in the face.

'Don't you know that He is Christ--not in your heart of hearts?'

The question, and the tone of complete conviction with which it was
put, seemed to cause the Archbishop some disturbance.

'My dear young friend, the hot blood of youth is in your veins; it
makes you move faster than we old men. You are moved, I think, easily
in this direction and in that, and are perhaps temperamentally
disposed to take a good deal for granted.'

'I'm sorry you don't know. You yourself will be sorry afterwards.'

'After what?'

This again was Hailsham.

'After He has gone. He may not stay for long.'

'Trent, I find you a most interesting study. I won't do you the
injustice to wonder if your attitude can be by any possibility a
pose, but it takes a great deal for granted. For instance, it
presumes that the legends found in what are called the four gospels
are historical documents, which no man has believed yet.'

This roused the Archbishop.

'My lord, this is a monstrous assertion. It is to brand a great
multitude of the world's best and greatest as liars--the whole host
of the confessors!'

'They were the victims of self-delusion. There are degrees of belief.
I have endeavoured to realise Christ as He is pictured in the
gospels. I am sure no real believer of that Christ ever was a member
of any church with which I am acquainted. That Christ is in ludicrous
contrast with all that has been or is called Christianity.'

The Secretary interposed.

'Gently, Hailsham! How have we managed to wander into this
discussion? If you are ready, gentlemen, we will go into the
drawing-room. One or two ladies have promised to join us after
dinner; I think we may find that some of them are already there.
Archbishop, Hailsham will stultify himself by dragging religion into
the sphere of practical politics yet.'

'I won't rest,' declared the Archbishop, as he rose from his chair,
'until I have seen this man.'

'Be careful how you commit yourself, and be sure that you are in good
bodily health, and free from any sort of nervous trouble, before you
go. Because, otherwise, it is quite within the range of possibility
that you won't rest afterwards. And in any case you run a risk. My
impression is that my suspicions will be verified before long, and
that it will be seen only too plainly that this person is a grave
public danger.'

This was Sir William Braidwood. Lord Hailsham exclaimed:

'That suggests something. What do you say, Trent, to our going
to-morrow to pay our respects together?'

The Duke smiled.

'We should be odd associates. But I don't think that would matter. He
knows that your opportunities have perhaps been small, and that your
capacity is narrow. You might find a friend in Him after all. What a
good thing it would be for you if you did!'

Hailsham laughed outright.

'Will you come?'

'I think not, until He calls me. I shall meet Him face to face in His
own good time.'

Hailsham laid his hand upon the young man's shoulder.

'Do you know, I'm inclined to ask myself if I haven't chanced upon a
Christian after all. I didn't know there was such a thing. But I'm
beginning to wonder. If you really are a Christian after His pattern,
you've the best of it. If I'm right, I gain nothing. But if you're
right, what don't I lose?'

The young man said:

'He knows.'



                                 III

                      The Passion of the People



                             CHAPTER XIX

                        THE HUNT AND THE HOME


Wherever that day the Stranger went, He was observed of the people.
It had been stated in a newspaper that a lame man seemed to be His
invariable companion. The fact that such an one did limp at His side
served as a mark of recognition; also the charcoal-burner, still in
the attire in which he plied his forest trade, was an unusual figure
in a London street. Mr. Treadman, issuing from the house at Maida
Vale, had been unable to penetrate the crowd which closed behind
them, so that his vociferous proclamations of identity were absent.
Still, such a trio moving together through the London streets were
hardly likely to escape observation.

Not that, for the most part, the Stranger's proceedings were marked
by the unusual. He passed from street to street, looking at what
was about Him, standing before the shops examining their contents,
showing that sort of interest in His surroundings which denotes
the visitor to town. Again and again He stopped to consider the
passers-by, how they were as a continual stream.

'They are so many, and among them are so few!'

When He reached the top of Ludgate Hill, He looked up at St. Paul's
Cathedral.

'This is a great house which men have builded. Let us go in.'

When they were in, He said:

'The Lord is not absent from this house. It is sweet to enter the
place where they call upon His Name. If He were in their hearts, and
not only on their tongues!'

A service was commencing. He joined the worshippers. There were many
there that day who rejoiced exceedingly, although they knew not why.

When the service was over, and they were out in the street again, He
said:

'It is good that the work of men's hands should be for the glory of
God; yet if to build a house in His Name availed much, how full would
the courts of heaven be. This He desires: a clean heart in a clean
body; for where there is no sin He is. How does it profit a man to
build unto God if he lives unto the world?'

When they came into Cheapside people were flocking into the
restaurants for their mid-day meal. He said:

'Come, let us go with them; let us also eat.'

Entering, food was brought to them. The place was full. There was one
man who, as he went out, spoke to the proprietor:

'That is the man of whom they are all talking. I know it. He
frightens me.'

'He frightens you! What has he done?'

'It is not that he has done anything; it is that I dare not sit by
him--I dare not. Let me go.'

'Are you sure that it is he?'

'I am very sure. Here is the money for what I have had--take it.
Don't trouble about the change; only let me go.'

The speaker rushed into the street like one flying from the wrath to
come.

There were those who had heard what he had said. Immediately it was
whispered among them that He of whom such strange tales were told was
in their very midst. Presently one said to the other:

'My daughter is dying of consumption; I wonder if he could do
anything to cure her.'

A second said:

'My wife's sick of a fever. It might be worth my while to see if he
could save further additions to my doctor's bill.'

A third:

'I've a cousin who's deformed--can't do anything for himself--a
burden on all his friends. Now, if he could be made like the rest of
us, what a good thing it would be for everyone concerned!'

A fourth:

'My father's suffering from some sort of brain disease. It's not
enough to enable us to declare him legally insane, but it's more than
sufficient to cause him to let his business go to rack and ruin. We
don't know where it will end if the thing goes on. If this worker of
wonders could do anything to make the dad the man he used to be!'

There were others who told similar tales. Soon they came to where He
sat, each with his own petition. When he had heard them to an end, He
said:

'You ask always; what is it you give?'

They were silent, for among them were not many givers. He said
further:

'He among you who loves God, his prayer shall be answered.' Yet they
were still. 'Is there not one who loves Him?'

One replied:

'Among those whom you healed this morning, how many were there who,
as you call it, love God? Yet you healed them.

'Though I heal your bodies, your souls I cannot heal. As I said to
them, I say to you: Go in peace, and sin no more.'

They went out guiltily, as men whose consciences troubled them. It
was told up and down the street that He was there. So that when He
came out a crowd was gathered at the door. Some of those who had
petitioned Him had proclaimed that He had refused their requests; for
so they had interpreted His words. When He appeared one cried in the
crowd:

'Why didn't you heal them, like you did the others?'

And another:

'It seems easy enough, considering that you've only got to say a
word.'

A third:

'Shame! Only a word, and he wouldn't say it.'

As if under the inspiration of some malign influence, the crowd,
showing sudden temper, pressed upon Him. Someone shook his fist in
His face, mocking Him:

'Go on! Go on back where you come from! We don't want you here!'

A big man forced his way through the people. When he had reached the
Stranger's side he turned upon them in a rage.

'You blackguards, and worse than blackguards--you fools! What is it
you think you are doing? This morning he healed a great crowd of
things like you; you know it--you can't deny it. What does it matter
who he is, or what he is? He has done you nothing but good, and in
return what would you do to him? Shame upon you, shame!'

They fell back before the speaker's fiery words and the menace which
was in his bearing. The Stranger said:

'Sir, your vehemence is great. You are not far from those that know
Me.'

The big man replied:

'Whether I know you or whether I don't, I don't care to stand idly by
when there are a hundred setting upon one. Besides, from all I hear,
you've been doing great things for the sick and suffering, and the
man who does that can always count upon me to lend him a hand.
Though, mark my words, he who lays a crowd under an obligation is in
danger. There is nothing to be feared so much as the gratitude of the
many.'

Police appearing, the crowd in part dispersed. The Stranger began to
make His way along the pavement, the big man at His side. Still, many
of the people went with them, who being joined by others, frequently
blocked the way. Locomotion becoming difficult, a police sergeant
approached the Stranger.

'If you take my advice, sir, you'll get into a cab and drive off. We
don't want to have any trouble with a lot like this, and I don't
think we shall be able to stop them from following you without
trouble.'

The big man said:

'Better do as the sergeant advises. Now that you have the reputation
of working miracles, if you don't want to keep on reeling them off
all day and all night too, you'd better take up your abode on the top
of some inaccessible mountain, and conceal the fact that you are
there. They'll make a raree-show of you if they can; and if they
can't they'll perhaps turn ugly. Better let the sergeant call a cab--
here are these idiots on to us again!'

He turned into the crowd.

'Let me go about My Father's business.'

They remained where they were, and let Him go.

But He had not gone far before He was perceived of others. It was
told how He had performed another miracle by holding back the people
at the Mansion House. Among the common sort there was at once a
desire to see a further illustration of His powers. Throughout the
afternoon they pressed upon Him more or less, sometimes fading away
at the bidding of the police, sometimes swelling to an unwieldy
throng. For the most part they pursued Him with shouts and cries.

'Do something--go on! Show us a miracle! Stop us from coming any
further! Let's see how you do it!'

As the evening came He found Himself in a certain street in Islington
where were private houses. The people pressed still closer; their
cries grew louder, their importunity increasing because He gave them
no heed. The police continually urged Him to call a cab and so
escape. But He asked:

'Where shall I go? In what place shall I hide? How shall I do My
Father's business if I seek a burrow beneath the ground?'

The constable replied:

'That's no affair of ours. You can see for yourself that this sort of
thing can't be allowed to go on. If it does, I shouldn't be surprised
if we had to look you up for your own protection. They'll do you a
mischief if you don't look out.'

'What have I done to them, save healing those that were sick?'

'I'm not here to answer such questions. All I know is some queer
ideas are getting about the town. If you knew anything about a London
mob, you'd understand that the less you had to do with it the
better.'

Someone called to the Stranger out of one of the little gardens which
were in front of the houses.

'Come in here, sir, come in here! don't stand on ceremony; give those
rascals the slip.' The speaker came down to the gate, shouting at the
people. 'A lot of cowards I call you--yes, a lot of dirty cowards!
What has he done to you that you hound him about like this? Nothing,
I'll be bound. If the police did their duty, they'd mow you down like
grass.' He held the gate open. 'Come in, sir, come in! I can see by
the look of you that you're an honest man; and it shan't be said that
an honest man was chivied past George Kinloch's door by such scum as
this without being offered shelter.'

The Stranger said:

'I thank you. I have here with Me two friends.'

'Bring them along with you; I can find room for three.'

The Stranger and His two disciples entered the gate. As they passed
into the house the people groaned; there were cat-calls and cries of
scorn. Mr. Kinloch, standing on his doorstep, shouted back at them:

'You clamouring curs! It is such creatures as you that disgrace
humanity, and make one ashamed of being a man. Back to your kennels!
herd with your kind! gloat on the offal that you love!' To the
Stranger he exclaimed: 'I must apologise to you, sir, for the
behaviour of these vagabonds. As a fellow-citizen of theirs, I feel I
owe you an apology. I've no notion what you've done to offend them,
but I'm pretty sure that the right is on your side.'

'I have done nothing, except heal some that were sick.'

'Heal some that were sick? Why, you don't mean to say---- Are you he
of whom all the world is talking? Ada! Nella! Lily!' The three whom
he called came hastening. 'Here is he of whom we were speaking. It is
he whom that swarm of riff-raff has been chivying. Bid him welcome!
Sir, I am glad to have you for a guest, though only for a little.'

When He had washed and made ready He found them assembled in the best
room of the house. The lamps were lit, the curtains drawn; within was
peace. But through the window came the voices of the people in the
street. Mr. Kinloch did his utmost to entertain his guest with
conversation.

'These are my three daughters, as you have probably supposed. Their
mother is dead.'

'I know their mother.'

'You knew her? Indeed! When and where? It must have been before she
was married, because I don't seem to recognise your face.'

'I knew her before she was married, and after, and I know her now.'

'Now? My dear sir, she's dead!'

'Such as she do not die.'

Mr. Kinloch stared. The girl Ada touched him on the arm:

'Mother is in heaven; do you not understand?' She went with her
sisters and stood before Him. 'It is so good to look upon Your face.'

'You have seen it from of old.'

'Then darkly, not as now, in the light.'

'Would that all the world saw Me in the light as you do! Then would
My Father's brightness shine out upon all men, as does the sun. But
yet they love the darkness rather than the light.'

Mr. Kinloch inquired, being puzzled:

'What is this? Have you met this gentleman before? Is he a friend of
yours as well as of your mother's? I thought I knew something of all
your acquaintance. I've always tried to make a rule of doing so. How
comes it that you womenfolk have had a friend of whom I've been told
nothing?'

Ada replied to his question with another.

'Father, do you not know Christ?'

'My dear girl, don't speak to me as if you were one of those women
who go about with tracts in their hands! Haven't I always observed
your mother's wishes, and seen that you went regularly to church?
What do you mean by addressing your father as if he were a heathen?'

'This is Christ.'

'This? Girl, this is a man!'

'Father, have you forgotten that Christ was made man?'

'Yes, but that--that's some time ago.'

'He is made man again. Don't you understand?'

'No, I don't. Sir, I'm not what you might call very intellectual, and
it's taken me all my time to find the means to bring these girls up
as young women ought to be brought up. I suppose it's because I'm
stupid, but, while I'll write myself down a Christian with any man,
there's a lot of mystery about religion which is beyond my
comprehension. There's a deal about you in the papers. I'm told
you've been doing a wonderful amount of good to many who were beyond
the reach of human help. For that I say, God bless you!'

The Stranger said: 'Amen.'

'At the same time there's much that is being said which I don't
understand. I don't know who you are, or what you are, except that
it's pretty clear to me that a man who has been doing what you have
can't be very far from heaven; and if I ought to know, I'm sorry. God
gave me a good wife, and she gave me three daughters who are like
her. She's in heaven--I don't need anyone to tell me that; and if
they'll only let her know, when they meet her among the angels, that
I loved her while I'd breath, so long as she and they have all they
want for ever and for ever, I don't care what God thinks it right to
do with me. The end and aim of my life has been to make my wife and
her children happy. If they're happy in heaven I'll be happy, too.
That's a kind of happiness of which it will not be easy to deprive
me, no matter where I am.'

'You are nearer to Me than you think.'

'Am I? We'll hope so. I like you; I like your looks; I like your
voice; I like your ways; I like what you have brought into the house
with you--it's a sort of a kind of peace. As Ada says--she knows; God
tells that girl things which perhaps I'm too stupid to be told--it's
good to look upon your face. Whatever happens in the time to come, I
never shall be sorry that I've had a chance to see it.'

'You never shall.'

A voice louder than the rest was heard shouting in the street:

'Show us another miracle!'

Ada said:

'You hear that? Why, father, I do believe that a miracle is beginning
to be worked in you!'

She smiled at him. He took her in his arms and kissed her.



                              CHAPTER XX

                  THEY THAT WOULD ASK WITH A THREAT


There was a meeting of Universalists. This was a society whose
meeting-place was in Soho. It called itself a club, using the word in
a sense of its own, for anyone was admitted to its membership who
chose to join; and, as a rule, all comers, whether members or not,
were free to attend its meetings. It was a focus for discontent. To
it came from all parts of the world the discontented, examples of
that huge concourse which has a grudge against what is called
Society--not of the silent part, which is in the majority, but of
that militant section whose constant endeavour it is to goad the dumb
into speech, in the hope and trust that the distance between speech
and action will not be great.

The place was packed. There were women there as well as
men--young and old--representatives of most of the nations which
describe themselves as civilised; their common bond a common misery.
The talk was old. But in the atmosphere that night was something new.
Bellows had given vitality to the embers which smouldered in their
hearts.

Henry Walters was speaking. They listened to him with a passionate
eagerness which suggested how alluring was the dream which he
proposed to wrest out of the arena of visions.

'I said to a policeman as I was coming in that I believed we were
going to have our turn. He laughed. The police have had all the
laughing. We'll laugh soon. We've been looking for a miracle,
recognising that a miracle was the only thing that could help us. The
arrival of a worker of miracles is a new factor in the situation with
which the police, and all they represent, will have to reckon. It's
just possible that they mayn't find him an easy reckoning. He who can
raise a woman from the dead with a word can just as easily turn
London upside down, and the police with it.

'We've heard of taking the kingdom of heaven by violence. I believe
that it has been recommended by high authorities as a desirable
method of procedure. I propose to try it. I propose we go to-morrow
morning to this worker of miracles, saying: "You see how our wrongs
ascend as a dense smoke unto Heaven. Put an end to them, so that they
may cease to be an offence unto God." He has shown that he has bowels
of compassion. I believe, if we put this plainly to him, with all the
force that is in us, that the greatest of his miracles will be worked
for us. If he will heal the sick, he will heal us; for we are sick
unto more than death, since our pains have dragged us unto the gates
of hell.

'The fashion of the healing we had better leave to him. Let us but
point out that we come into the court of his justice asking for our
rights; if he will give us what is ours we need not trouble about the
manner of the giving. Let us but remind him that in the sight of God
all men are equal; if he restores to us our equality, what does it
matter how he does it? For the substance let the shadow go. But on so
much we must insist; we must have the substance. We must be healed of
our diseases, cured of our sores, relieved of our infirmities. If our
just prayer is quickly heard, good. If not, the kingdom of heaven
must be taken by violence, and shall be, if we are men and women. How
are we profited, though miracles are worked for others, if none are
worked for us? We stand most in need of the miraculous--none could
come into this room, and see us, and deny it!--and we'll have it, or
we'll know the reason why. He can scarcely smite us more heavily than
we are already smitten. I wish to use no threats. I trust no one else
will use them. I'm hopeful, since he has shown that he has sympathy
for suffering, that he'll show sympathy for our sufferings. But--I
say it not as a threat, but as a plain statement of a plain fact--if
he won't do his best for us, we'll do our worst to him. God grant,
however, that at last a Saviour has come to us in very deed!'

When Walters stopped a score of persons sprang to their feet. The
chairman called upon a German, one Hans Küntz, wild, lean, unkempt,
with something of frenzy in his air. He spoke English with a
volubility which was only mastered by an occasional idiom; in a thin
falsetto voice which was like a continuous shriek.

'I am hungry; that is not new. In the two small rooms where I live I
have a wife and children who are also hungry; that also is not new. I
run the risk of becoming more hungry by coming out to-night, and
leaving work that must be finished by the morning. But when I hear
that there is come to London one who can raise people from the dead,
I say to my wife: "Then He can raise us too." My wife says: "Go and
see." So to see I am come. With Mr. Walters I say, Let us all go and
see--all, all that great London which when it works starves slowly,
and when it does not work starves fast. We need not speak. We need
but show Him our faces, how the skin but covers our bones. If he is
not a devil, he will do to us what he has done to others: he will
heal us and make us free. What I fear is that it is exaggerated what
he has done--I have got beyond the region of hope. But if it is true,
if but the half of it is true--if this morning he healed that crowd
of people with a word, why should he not do the same to us? Why? Why?
Did they deserve more than we? Are our needs not greater? We are the
victims of others' sins. We are the slaves who sow, and reap, and
garner, and yet are only suffered to eat the husks of the great
stores of grain for which we give our lives. Surely this healer of
the sick will give us a chance to live as men should live, and to
die, when our time comes, as men should die! Oh, my brothers, if God
has come among us He'll know! He'll know! And if He is a God of
mercy, a God of love, and not a Siva, a destroyer, who delights in
the groans and cries of bruised and broken hearts and lives, we have
but to make to Him our petition, and He'll wipe the tears out of our
eyes. To-night it is late, but in the morning, early, let us all go
to Him--all! all!--all go!'

Out of the throng who were eager to speak next a woman was chosen--
middle-aged, decently dressed, with fair hair and quiet eyes. Her
voice was low, yet distinct, her manner calm, her language
restrained, her bearing judicial rather than argumentative.

'Brothers Küntz and Walters seem to take it for granted that the God
of the Christians is a God of love. I thought so when I was a child;
I know better now. The idea seems to be supported in the present case
by the fact that the person of whom we have heard so much has done
works of healing, of mercy. It is not clear that, in all cases, to
heal is to be merciful. Apart from that consideration, I would point
out that the works in question have been spasmodic rather than
continuous, the fruits, apparently, of momentary whims rather than of
a settled policy. This afternoon his assistance was invited in
similar cases. He declined. The crowd continually entreated him to do
unto them as he had done unto others. Their requests were
persistently ignored. It is plain, therefore, that one has not only
to ask to receive. Nor is any attempt made to differentiate between
the justice of contending claims. If this person is Divine, which I,
personally, take leave to more than doubt, he is irresponsible. His
actions are dependent on the mood of the moment.

'I am not saying this with any desire to throw cold water on the
proposition which has been made to us. On the contrary, I think the
suggestion that we should go to him in a body--as large a body as
possible--and request his good offices on our behalf, an excellent
one. At the same time, I cannot lose sight of one fact: that it is
one thing to pray; to receive a satisfactory answer--or, indeed, an
answer of any sort to one's prayer--is quite another. In our childish
days we have prayed, believing, in vain. In the acuter agonies of our
later years prayers have been wrung from us--always, still, in vain.
There seems no adequate reason why, in the present case, we should
pin our faith to the efficacy of prayer alone. The disease has always
existed. Why should we suppose that the remedy has become accessible
to whoever chooses to ask for it? If this person is Divine, he knows
what we suffer; has always known, yet has done nothing. We are told
that God is unchangeable, the same for ever and ever. The history of
the world sustains this theory, inasmuch as it has always been
replete with human suffering. That, therefore, disposes of any notion
that it is at all likely that he has suddenly become sensitive to
mere cries of pain.

'I would lay stress on one word which Brother Walters used more than
once: violence. We are confronted with an opportunity which may never
recur, and may vanish if not used quickly. Here is a person who has
done remarkable things. The presumption is that he can do other
remarkable things for us, if he chooses. He must be made to choose.
That is the position.

'Let us clear our minds of cant. We are going to him with a good
case. The reality of our grievances, the justice of our claims, he
scarcely will be prepared to deny. Still, you will find him unwilling
to do anything for us. Probably, assuming an air of Divine
irresponsibility, he will decline to listen, or to discuss our case
at all. Such is my own conviction. There will be a general rush for
him to-morrow. All sorts and conditions of people will have an axe of
their own to grind. In the confusion, ours will be easily and
conveniently ignored. Therefore, I say, we must go in as large a body
as possible, force him to give us an interview, compel him to accede
to our request--that is, speak for us the same kind of word which he
spoke for those sick people this morning. If he strikes us dead,
he'll do himself no good and us no harm, for many of us would sooner
be dead than as we are. Unless he does strike us dead we ought to
stick to him until we have wrung from him our desire. It is possible
that this is a case in which resolution may succeed. At the worst, in
our plight, with everything to gain, and nothing--nothing--to lose,
the attempt is one which is worth making, on the understanding that
we will not take no for an answer, but will use all possible means to
win a yes. We must make it as plain as it can be made that, if he
will do nothing for us, he shall do nothing for others, at least on
earth. What does it matter to us who enters heaven if the door is
slammed in our faces?'

The next speaker was a man in corduroy trousers and a jacket and
waistcoat which had once been whity-gray. He wore a cloth cap, and
round his throat an old red handkerchief. His eyes moved uneasily
in his head; when they were at rest they threatened. His face was
clean-shaven, his voice husky. While he spoke, he kept his hands in
his trousers pockets and his cap on his head. He plunged at once into
the heart of what he had to say.

'I was one of them as shouted out this afternoon, "Show us a
miracle!" And I was down at Maida Vale this morning, almost
on top of them poor creatures as was more dead than alive. He just
came out of the house, said two or three words, though what they was
I couldn't catch, and there they was as right as if there'd never
been nothing the matter with 'em, running about like you and me. And
yet when I asked him to do something for me, though it'd have only
cost him a word to do it--not he! He just walked on. I'm broke to the
wide. Tuppence I've had since yesterday--not two bob this week. What
I wanted was something to eat--just enough to keep me going till I'd
a chance of a job. But though he done that this morning--and some
queer ones there was among the crowd, I tell you!--he wouldn't pay
attention to me, wouldn't even listen. What I want to know is, Why
not? And that's what I mean to know before I've done.'

The sentiment met with approval. There were sympathetic murmurs. He
was not the only hungry man in that audience.

'I'm in trouble--had the influenza, or whatever they call it, and
lost my job. Never had one since. Jobs ain't easy found by blokes
what seems dotty on their pins. My wife's in gaol--as honest a woman
as ever lived; she'd have wore herself to the bone for me. Landlord
wanted his rent; we hadn't a brown; I was down on my back; she didn't
want me turned out into the street while I was like that, so she went
and pawned some shirts what she'd got to iron. They gave her three
months for it. She'd done two of 'em last Monday. Kid died last week
and was buried by the parish. Gawd knows what she'll say when she
hears of it when she comes out. Altogether I seem fairly off my
level. So I say what the lady afore me says: Let's all go to him in
the morning, and get him to understand how it is with us, and get him
to say a word as'll do us good. And if he won't, why, as she says,
we'll make him! That's all.'

There was no chance of choosing a successor from among the numerous
volunteers. A man who seemed just insane enough to be dangerous chose
himself. He broke into a vehement flood of objurgation, writhing and
gesticulating as if desirous of working himself into a greater frenzy
than he was in already. He had not been on his feet a minute before
he had brought a large portion of his audience into a similar
condition to himself.

'Make him, make him! That's the keynote. Share and share alike,
that's our motto. No favouritism! The world stinks of favouritism;
we'll have no more of it from him. We'll let him know it. What he
does for one he must do for all. If he were to come into this room
this minute, and were to help half of us, it would be the duty of all
of us to go for him because he'd left the other half unhelped. He's
been healing, has he? Who? Somebody. Not us. Why not us as well as
them? He's got to give us what we want just as he gave them what they
want, if we have to take him by the throat to take it out of him!'

'We will that!'

'Only got to say a word, has he, and the trick's done? Then he shall
say that word for us, as he has for others, if we have to drag his
tongue out by the roots to get at it!'

'That's it--that's the way to talk!'

'Work a miracle, can he, every time he opens his mouth? Then he shall
work the miracles we want, or, by the living God, he shall never work
another!'

The words were greeted with a chorus of approving shouts. The fellow
screamed on. As his ravings grew worse, the excitement of his
auditors waxed greater. Buffeted all their lives, as it seemed to
them, by adverse winds, they were incapable of realising that they
were in any way the victims of their own bad seamanship. For that
incapacity, perhaps, they were not entirely to blame. They did not
make themselves. That they should have been fashioned out of such
poor materials was not the least of their misfortunes.

And their pains and griefs, humiliations and defeats, had been so
various and so many that it was not strange that their wit had been
abraded to the snapping-point; the more especially since it had been
of such poor quality at first.



                             CHAPTER XXI

                              THE ASKING


In the morning the thoughts of England were turned towards that house
in Islington: and no small number of its people were on their way to
it. The newspapers besieged it with their representatives--on a
useless quest, though their columns did not lack news on that
account. Throughout the night the crowd increased in the street. The
authorities began to be concerned. They acted as if the occasion of
public interest was a fire. Placing a strong cordon of police at
either end of the road, they made of it a private thoroughfare; only
persons with what were empirically regarded as credentials were
permitted to pass. Only after considerable hesitation was sickness
allowed to be a passport. When it was officially decided to admit the
physically suffering an extraordinary scene began to be enacted. It
almost seemed as if all the hospitals and sick-rooms of London had
been emptied of their occupants. They came in an unceasing stream.
The police displayed their wonted skill in the management of the
amazing crowd. Those who had been brought on beds were placed in the
front ranks; those on chairs next; those who could stand, though only
with the aid of crutches, at the back. The people had to be forced
farther and farther away to make room for the sick that came; and yet
before it was full day admission had to be refused to any more--every
foot of available ground was occupied.

There were doctors present, some of whom were dissatisfied with the
turn matters were taking. Perceiving, perhaps, that if it continued
their occupation would be gone, they represented to the police that
if certain of the sufferers did not receive immediate attention they
might die. So that at an early hour their chief, Colonel Hardinge,
who had just arrived, knocked at Mr. Kinloch's door. Ada opened.

'I understand that he whom these unfortunate people have come to see
is at present in this house.'

'The Lord is in this house.'

'Quite so. We won't quarrel about description. The fact is, I'm told
that if something isn't done for these poor creatures at once,
they'll die. So, with your permission, I'll see the--er--person.'

'It is not with my permission, but with His. He is the Lord. When He
wishes to see you, well. He does not wish to see you now.'

She shut the door in the Colonel's face.

'That's an abrupt young lady!'

This he said to the doctors and other persons who were standing at
the gate. Among them was Sir William Braidwood, who replied:

'I don't know that she isn't right.'

'It's all very well for you to talk like that, but what am I to do?
You tell me with one breath that if something isn't done people will
die, and with another that because I try to get something done I
merit a snubbing.'

'Exactly. This isn't a public institution; the girl has a right to
resent your treating it as if it were. These people oughtn't to be
here at all. Those who are responsible for some of them ought to be
made to stand their trial for murder. This person, whoever he is, has
promised nothing. They have not the slightest claim upon him. They
are here as a pure speculation. Your men are to blame for allowing
them to assemble in such a fashion, not the girl who endeavours to
protect her guest from intrusion.'

Someone called out from the crowd:

'Ain't he coming, sir? I'm fair finished, I am--been here six hours.
I'm clean done up.'

'What right have you to be there at all? You ought to be at home in
bed.'

'I've come to be healed.'

'Come to be healed! I suppose if you want a hatful of money, you
think you've only got to ask for it. You've no right to be here.'

Murmurs arose--cries, prayers, stifled execrations. An inspector said
to his chief:

'If something isn't done, sir, I fancy there'll be trouble. Our men
have difficulty in keeping order as it is. Half London must be here,
and they're coming faster than ever. There's an ugly spirit about,
and some ugly customers. If it becomes known that nothing is going to
be done for these poor wretches, I don't know what will happen. How
we are going to get them safely away is more than I can guess.'

'You hear what Sir William Braidwood says.'

'Begging Sir William's pardon, it's a choice of evils, and if I were
you, sir, I should try again. They can't refuse to let you see this
person. Not that I suppose he can do what they think he can, but
still there you are.'

'He can do it.'

'With a word?'

'With a word.'

'Then he ought to.'

'Why? I can give you a thousand pounds with a word. But why ought I
to?'

'That's different.'

'You'll find that a large number of people don't think it's
different. These people want the gift of health; others in the crowd
there want the gift of wealth. I dare wager there's no form of want
which is not represented in that eager, greedy, lustful multitude.
The excuse is common to them all: he can give it with a word. I am of
your opinion, there will be trouble; because so many persons
misunderstand the situation.'

Colonel Hardinge arrived at a decision:

'I think I will have another try. We can't have these people here all
day, so if he won't have anything to do with them, the sooner they
are cleared out of this, the better. What I have to do is to find out
how it's going to be.'

He knocked again. This time the door was opened by Mr. Kinloch, who
at once broke into voluble speech.

'It was you who came just now; what do you mean by coming again?
What's the meaning of these outrageous proceedings? Can't I have a
guest in my house without being subjected to this abominable
nuisance?'

'I grant the nuisance, but would point out to you, sir, that we are
the victims of it as well as you. If you will permit me to see your
guest I will explain to him the position in a very few words. On his
answer will depend our action.'

'My guest desires to be private; I must insist upon his privacy being
respected. My daughter has been speaking to him. She tells me that he
says that he has nothing to do with these people, and that they have
nothing to do with him.'

'If that is the case, and that is really what he says, and I am to
take it for an answer, then the matter is at an end.'

Ada's voice was heard at the back.

'Father, the Lord is coming.'

The Stranger came to the door. In a moment the Colonel's hat was in
his hand.

'I beg a thousand pardons, sir, for what I cannot but feel is an
intrusion; but the fact is, these foolish people have got it into
their heads that they have only to ask you, and you will restore them
to health. Am I to understand, and to give them to understand, that
in so thinking they are under an entire delusion?'

'I will speak to them.'

The Stranger stood upon the doorstep. When they saw Him they began to
press against each other, crying:

'Heal us! Heal us!'

'Why should I heal you?'

There was a momentary silence. Then someone said:

'Because you healed those others.'

'What they have you desire. It is so with you always. You cry to Me
continually, Give! give! What is it you have given Me?'

The same voice replied:

'We have nothing to give.'

'You come to Me with a lie upon your lips.'

The fellow threw up his arms, crying:

'Lord! Lord! have mercy on me, Lord!'

He answered:

'Those among you that have given Me aught, though it is never so
little, they shall be healed.' No one spoke or moved. 'Behold how
many are the cheerful givers! I come not to give, but to receive. I
seek My own, and find it not. All men desire something, offering
nothing. This great city, knowing Me not, asks Me continually for
what I have to give. Though I gave all it craves, it would be still
farther off from heaven. It prizes not that which it has, but covets
that which is another's, hating it because it is his. Return whence
you came; cleanse your bodies; purify your hearts; think not always
of yourselves; lift up your eyes; seek continually the knowledge of
God. When you know Him but a thousandth part as He knows you, you
need ask Him nothing, for He will give you all that you desire.'

With that He returned into the house.

When they saw Him go an outcry at once arose.

'Is that all? Only talk? Why, any parson could pitch a better yarn
than that! Isn't He going to do anything? Isn't He going to heal us?
What, not after healing those people yesterday at Maida Vale, and
after our coming all this way and waiting all this time?'

The rougher sort who could use their limbs began to press forward
towards the house, forcing down those who were weaker, many of whom
filled the air with their cries and groans and curses. The police did
their best to stem the confusion.

There came along the avenue on the pavement which the police had kept
open Henry Walters and certain of his friends. They were escorted by
a sergeant, who saluted Colonel Hardinge.

'This man Walters wants to see the person all the talk's about. There
are a lot of his friends in the crowd, and rather than have any fuss
I thought I'd let them come.'

'Right, sergeant. Mr. Walters is at liberty to see this person if
this person is disposed to see him, which I'm rather inclined to
doubt.'

'We'll see about that,' muttered Walters to his companions, as with
them he hurried up the steps.

At the top he paused, regarding the poor wretches struggling
fatuously in the street.

'That looks promising for us. So he won't heal them. Why? No reason
given, I suppose. I dare say he won't heal us; for the same reason.
Well, we'll see. Mind you shut the front door when we go in. I rather
fancy we shall want some persuasion before we see the logic of such a
reason as that.'

The door was closed as he suggested. In the hall he was met by Ada.

'What is it that you want?'

'You know very well what it is. We want a few words with the stranger
who is in this house.'

'It is the Lord!'

'Very well. We want a few words with the Lord.'

'You cannot enter His presence uninvited.'

'Can't we? I think you are mistaken. Is He in that room? Stand aside
and let me see.'

'You may not pass.'

'Don't be silly. We're in no mood for manners. Will you move, or must
I make you? Do you hear? Come away.'

He laid his hand upon the girl's shoulder. As he did so the Stranger
stood in the open door. When they saw Him, and perceived how in
silence He regarded them, they drew a little back, as if perplexed.
Then Walters spoke:

'I'm told that you are Christ.'

'What has Christ to do with you, or you with Christ?'

'That's not an answer to my question. However, without entering into
the question of who you are, it seems that you can work wonders when
you choose.'

There was a pause as if for a reply. The Stranger was still, so
Walters went on.

'We represent a number of persons who are as the sands of the sea for
multitude, the victims of man's injustice and of God's.'

'With God there is no injustice.'

'That is your opinion. We won't argue the point; it's not ours. We
come to plead the cause of myriads of people who have never known
happiness from the day they were born. Some of them toil early and
late for a beggarly wage; many of them are denied the opportunity of
even doing that. They have tried every legitimate means of bettering
their condition. They have hoped long, striven often, always to be
baffled. Their brother men press them back into the mire, and tread
them down in it. We suggest that their case is worthy your
consideration. Their plight is worse to-day than it ever was; they
lack everything. Health some of them never had; they came into the
world under conditions which rendered it impossible. Most of them who
had it have lost it long ago. Society compels them to live lives in
which health is a thing unknown. Their courage has been sapped by
continuous failure. Hope is dead. Joy they never knew. Misery is
their one possession. Under these circumstances you will perceive
that if you desire to do something for them it will not be difficult
to find something which should be done.'

Another pause; still no reply.

'We do not wish to cumber you with suggestions; we only ask you to do
something. It will be plain to your sense of justice that there could
be no fitter subjects for benevolence. Yet all that we request of you
is to be just. You are showering gifts broadcast. Be just; give also
something to them to whom nothing ever has been given. I have the
pleasure to await your answer.'

He answered nothing.

'What are we to understand by your silence?--that you lack the power,
or the will? We ask you, with all possible courtesy, for an answer.
Courtesy useless? Still nothing? There is a limit even to our
civility. Understand, also, that we mean to have an answer--somehow.'

Ada touched him on the arm, whispering:

'It is the Lord!'

'Is he a friend of yours?'

'He is a Friend of all the world.'

'It doesn't look like it at present, though we hope to find it the
case before we've finished. Come, sir! You hear what this young lady
says of you. We're waiting to hear how you propose to show that
you're a friend of that great host of suffering souls on whose behalf
we've come to plead to you.'

Yet He was still. Walters turned to his associates.

'You see how it is? It's as I expected, as was foreseen last night.
If we want anything, we've got to take the kingdom of heaven by
violence. Are we going to take it, or are we going to sneak away with
our tails between our legs?'

The woman answered who had spoken at the meeting the night before--
the fair-haired woman, with the soft voice and quiet eyes:

'We are going to take it.' She went close to the Stranger. 'Answer
the question which has been put to you.' When He continued silent,
she struck Him on the cheek with her open palm, saying: 'Coward!'

Ada came rushing forward with her father and her sisters. With a
movement of His hand He kept them back. Walters applauded the woman's
action.

'That's right--for a beginning; but he'll want more than that. Let me
talk to him.' He occupied the woman's place. 'We've nothing to lose.
You may strike us dead; we may as well be dead as living the sort of
life with which we are familiar; it is a living death. I defy you to
cast us into a worse hell than that in which we move all day and
every day. If you are Christ, you have a chance of winning more
adherents than were ever won for you by all the preaching through all
the ages, and with a few words. If you are man, we will make you king
over all the earth, and all the world will cry with one heart and one
voice: "God save the King!" And whether you are Christ or man, every
heart will be filled with your praises, and night and morning old and
young will call with blessings on your name. Is not that a prospect
pleasing even unto God? And all this for the utterance of perhaps a
dozen words. That is one side of the shield. Does it not commend
itself to you? I ask you for an answer.

'None? Still dumb? I'll show you something of the other side. If you
are resolute to shut your ears to our cries, and your eyes to our
misery, we'll crucify you again. Don't think that those police
outside will help you, or anything of that sort, because you'll be
nursing a delusion. You'll be crucified by a world in arms. When it
is known that with a word you can dry the tears that are in men's
eyes, and yet refuse to utter it--when that is generally known, it
will be sufficient. For it will have been clearly demonstrated that
you must be a monster of whom the world must be rid at all and any
cost. Given such a capacity, none but a monster would refuse to
exercise it. And the fact that, according to some narrow code of
scholastic reasoning, you may be a faultless monster will make the
fact worse, not better. For faultlessness of that sort is in
continual, cruel, crushing opposition to poor, weak, human nature.
Now will you give me an answer?'

When none came, and His glance continued fixed upon the other's face
with a strange, unfaltering intensity, Walters went still closer.

'Shall I shake the answer out of you?' Putting up his hand, he took
the Stranger by the throat; and when He offered no resistance, began
to shake Him to and fro. Ada, running forward, struck at Walters with
so much force that, taken by surprise, he let the Stranger go. She
cried:

'It is the Lord! It is the Lord!'

'What is that to us? Why doesn't he speak when he's spoken to? Is he
a wooden block? You take care what you do, my girl. You'd be better
employed in inducing your friend to answer us. Lord or no Lord.
There'd be no trouble if he'd treat us like creatures of flesh and
blood. If he'd a spark of feeling in his breast, he'd recognise that
the very pitifulness of our condition--our misery, our despair!--
entitles us to something more than the brand of his scornful silence;
he'd at least answer yes or no unto our prayers.'

Ada wept as if her heart would break, sobbing out from amidst her
grief:

'It is the Christ! It is the Lord Christ!'

Her father, forcing his way to the front door, had summoned
assistance. A burly sergeant came marching in.

'What's the matter here? Oh, Mr. Walters, it's you! You're not wanted
in here. Out you go--all of you. If you take my advice you'll go
home, and you'll get your friends to go home too. There'll be some
trouble if you don't take care!'

'Go home? Sergeant, you see that Man? Have you anywhere a tender
place? Is there any little thing which, if you had it, would make
your life brighter and more worth the living? That Man, by the
utterance of a word, can make of your life one long, glad song; give
you everything you are righteously entitled to deserve; so they tell
me. Go home to the kennels in which we herd when the Christ who has
come to release us from our bondage will not move a finger, or do
aught to loose our bonds, but, seeing how we writhe in them, stands
mutely by? No, sergeant. We'll not go home till we've had a reckoning
with Him.'

He stretched out his arm, pointing at the Stranger.

'I'll meet you at another Calvary. You've crucified me and mine
through the ages, and would crucify us still, finding it a royal
sport at which it were blasphemy to cavil. Beware lest, in return,
you yourself are not crucified again.'

When Walters and his associates had gone, the sergeant said,
addressing the Stranger:

'I'm only doing my duty in telling you that the sooner you clear out
of this, the better it'll be for everyone concerned. You're getting
yourself disliked in a way which may turn out nasty for you, in spite
of anything we can do. There's half a dozen people dead out in the
street because of you, and there's worse to come, so take my tip and
get out the back way somewhere. Find a new address, and when you have
found it keep it to yourself. We don't want to have London turned
upside down for anyone, no matter who it is.'

The sergeant went. And then words came from the Stranger's lips, as
if they had been wrung from His heart; for the sweat stood on His
brow:

'Father, is it, then, for this that I am come to the children that
call upon My Name in this great city, where on every hand are
churches built for men to worship Christ? What is this idol which
they have fashioned, calling it after My Name, so that wherever I go
I find a Christ which is not Me? Lord! Lord! they cry; and when the
Lord comes they say, It is not you we called, but another. They deny
Me to My face. The things I would they know not. In their blindness,
knowing nothing, they would be gods unto themselves, making of You a
plaything, the servant of their wills. As of old, they know not what
they do. Aforetime, by God's chosen people was I nailed unto a tree.
Am I again to suffer shame at the hands of those that call themselves
My children? Yet, Father, let it be so if it is Your will.'



                             CHAPTER XXII

                          A SEMINARY PRIEST


In the street was riot; confusion which momentarily threatened to
become worse confounded. In the press were dignitaries of the Church;
that Archbishop whom we met at dinner; Cardinal De Vere, whose grace
of bearing ornaments the Roman establishment in England; with him a
young seminary priest, one Father Nevill. The two high clerics were
on a common errand. Their carriages encountering each other on the
outskirts of the crowd, they had accepted the services of a friendly
constable, who offered to pilot them through the excited people. At
his heels they came, scarcely in the ecclesiastical state which their
dignity desired.

As they neared the house they were met by the departing Mr. Walters
and his friends. Recognising who they were, Walters stopped to shout
at them in his stentorian tones:

'So the High Priests have come! To do reverence to their Master? To
prostrate themselves at His feet in the dust, or to play the patron?
To you, perhaps, He'll condescend; with these who, in their misery,
trample each other under foot He'll have no commerce; has not even a
word with which to answer them. But you, Archbishop and Cardinal,
Princes of His Most Holy Church, perhaps He'll have a hand for each
of you. For to those that have shall be given, and from those that
have not shall be taken away. He'll hardly do violence to that most
excellent Christian doctrine. Tell Him how much you have that should
be other men's; maybe He'll strip them of their skins to give you
more.'

The constable thrust him aside.

'Move on, there! move on! That's enough of that nonsense!'

'Oh yes,' said Walters, as they forced him back into the seething
throng; 'oh yes, one soon has enough of nonsense of that kind. Christ
has come! God help us all!'

On the steps that led up to the door a woman fought with the police.
She was as a mad thing, screaming in her agony:

'Let me see Christ! Let me see Him! My daughter's dead! I brought her
to be healed; she's been killed in the crowd; I want Him to bring her
back to life. Let me see Christ! Let me see Him!'

They would not. Lifting her off her feet, they bore her back among
the people.

'What a terrible scene!' murmured the Archbishop. 'What lamentable
and dangerous excitement!'

'You represent a Church, my dear Archbishop,' replied the Cardinal,
'which advocates the freedom of private judgment. These proceedings
suggest that your advocacy may have met with even undesired success.'

The Archbishop, looking about him with dubious glances, said to the
policeman who had constituted himself their guide:

'This sort of thing almost makes one physically anxious. The people
seem to be half beside themselves.'

'You may well say that, my lord. I never saw a crowd in such a mood
before; and I've seen a few. I hear they've sent for the soldiers.'

'The soldiers? Dear, dear! how infinitely sad!'

When they were seen on the steps, guarded by the police, waiting for
the door to open, the crowd yelled at them. The Archbishop observed
to his companion:

'I'm not sure, after all, that it was wise of me to come. Sometimes
it is not easy to know what to do for the best. I certainly did not
expect to find myself in the midst of such a scene of popular
frenzy.'

Said the Cardinal:

'It at least enables us to see one phase of Protestant England.'

They were admitted by Ada, to whom the Archbishop introduced himself.

'I am the Archbishop, and this is Cardinal De Vere. We have come to
see the person who is the cause of all this turmoil.'

Ada stopped before the open door of a room.

'This is the Lord!'

Within stood the Stranger, as one who listens to that which he
desires, yet fears he will not hear: who looks for that for which he
yearns, yet knows he will not see. The Archbishop fitted his glasses
on his nose.

'Is this the person? Really! How very interesting! You don't say so!'

Since the Stranger had paid no heed to their advent, the Archbishop
addressed himself to Him courteously:

'Pardon me if this seems an intrusion, or if I have come at an
inconvenient moment, but I have received such extraordinary accounts
of your proceedings that, as head of the English Church, I felt bound
to take them, to some extent, under my official cognisance.'

The Stranger, looking at him, inquired:

'In your churches whom do you worship?'

'My dear sir! What an extraordinary question!'

'What idol have you fashioned which you call after My Name?'

'Idol! Really, really!'

'Why do you cry continually: "Come quickly!" when you would not I
should come?'

'What very peculiar questions, betraying a complete ignorance of the
merest rudiments of common knowledge! Is it possible that you are
unaware that I am the head of the Christian hierarchy?'

Said the Cardinal:

'Of the English branch of the Protestant hierarchy, I think,
Archbishop, you should rather put it. You are hardly the undisputed
head of even that. Do your Nonconformist friends admit your primacy?
They form a not inconsiderable section of English Protestantism. When
informing ignorance let us endeavour to be accurate.'

'The differences are not essential. We are all branches of one tree,
whose stem is Christ. To return to the point. This is hardly a
moment, Cardinal, for theological niceties.'

'You were tendering information; I merely wished it to be correct,
for which I must ask you to forgive me.'

'Your Eminence is ironical. However, as I said, to return to the
point. The public mind appears to be in a state of most lamentable
excitement. The exact cause I do not pretend to understand. But if
your intentions are what I hope they are, you can scarcely fail to
perceive that you owe it to yourself to remedy a condition of affairs
which already promises to be serious. I am told that there is a
notion abroad that you have advanced pretensions which I am almost
convinced you have not done. I wish you to inform me, and to give me
authority to inform the public, who and what you are, and what is the
purport of your presence here.'

'I am He that you know not of.'

'That, my dear sir, is the very point. I am advised that you are
possessed of some singular powers. I wish to know who the person is
who has these powers, and how he comes to have them.'

'There is one of you that knows.'

The young priest advanced, saying:

'I know You, Lord!'

The Stranger held out to him His hand.

'Welcome, friend!'

'My Lord and my Master!'

While they still stood hand in hand, the Stranger said:

'There are those that know Me, nor are they few. Yet what are they
among so many? In all the far places of the world men call upon My
Name, yet know so little of what is in their hearts that they would
destroy Me for being He to whom they call.'

'But shall the day never come when they shall know You?'

'Of themselves they must find Me out. Not by a miracle shall a man be
brought unto the knowledge of God.'

Cardinal De Vere said to the young priest:

'Your stock of information appears to be greater than that of your
spiritual superiors, Father. At Louvain do they teach such
forwardness, or is this an acquaintance of your seminary days?'

'Yes, Eminence, indeed, and of before them too. For this is our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ, who died for us, yet lives again, to whose
service I have dedicated my life, and your Eminence your life also.'

'My son, let not your tongue betray you into speaking folly. For
shame, my son, for shame!'

'But does not your Eminence know this is the Lord? Can you look upon
His face and not see that it is He, or enter into His presence and
not know that He is here?'

'Put a bridle upon that insolent tongue of yours. Come from that
dangerous fellow.'

'Fellow? Eminence, it is the Lord! It is the Lord!' He turned to the
Stranger. 'Lord Jesus, open the eyes of his Eminence, that he may see
You, and his heart, that he may know that You are here!'

'Did I not say that no miracle shall bring a man to the knowledge of
Me? If of himself he knows Me not, he will not know Me though I raise
him out of hell to heaven.'

The young priest turned again to the Cardinal.

'But, Eminence, it is so strange! so wonderful! Your vocation is for
Christ; you point always to His cross; you keep your eyes upon His
face; and yet--and yet you do not know Him now that He is here! Oh,
it is past believing! and you, sir, you are also a religious. Surely
you know this is the Lord?'

This was to the Archbishop, who began to stammer:

'I--I know, my dear young friend, that you--you are saying some
very extraordinary things--things which you--you ought to carefully
consider before you--you utter them. Especially when I consider
your--your almost tender years.'

'Extraordinary things! It is the Lord! it is the Lord! How shall you
wonder at those who denied Him at the first if you, who preach Him,
deny Him now? Oh, Eminence! oh, sir! look and see. It is the Lord!'

'Silence, sir! Another word of the sort and you are excommunicated.'

'For knowing it is the Lord?'

'For one thing, sir--for not knowing that on such matters Holy Church
pronounces. Did they teach you so badly at Louvain that you have
still to learn that in the presence of authority it is the business
of a little seminary priest to preserve a reverent silence? It is not
for you to oppose your variations of the creed upon your spiritual
superiors, but to receive, with a discreet meekness, and in silence,
your articles of faith from them.'

'If the Lord proclaims Himself, are His children to refuse Him
recognition until the Church commands?'

'You had better return to your seminary, my son--and shall--to
receive instruction in the rudiments of the Catholic faith.'

'If for any cause the Church withholds its command, is the Lord to
depart unrecognised?'

'Say nothing further, sir, till you have been with your confessor. I
command you to be silent until then.'

'Is, then, the Church against the Lord? It cannot be--it cannot be!'
The young priest turned to the Stranger with on his face surprise,
fear, wonder. 'Lord, of those that are here are You known to me
alone?'

Ada came forward with her sisters.

'We also know the Lord.'

The Stranger said:

'Is it not written that many are called, but few chosen? As it was,
is now, and ever will be. It is well that you know Me, and these that
are the daughters of one who knows Me as I would be known; and there
are those that know Me nearly.' With that He looked at Mr. Kinloch.
'Also here and there among the multitudes whom God has fashioned in
His own image am I known, and in the hidden places of the world.
Where quiet is, there am I often. Men that strive with their fellows
in the midst of the tumult for the seats of the mighty call much upon
My Name, but have Me little in their hearts; there is not room. Those
that make but little noise, but are content with the lower seats,
waiting upon My Father's will, they have Me much in their hearts, for
there is room. Wherefore I beseech you to continue a little priest in
a seminary, great in the knowledge of My Father, rather than a pillar
of the Church, holding up heaven on your hands: for he that seeks to
bear up heaven is of a surety cast down into hell. Would, then, that
all men might be little men, since in My Father's presence they might
have a better chance of standing high.'

The Cardinal, holding himself very straight, went closer to the young
priest. His voice was stern.

'Father Nevill, your parents were my friends; because of that I have
attached you to my person; because, also, of that I am unwilling to
see you put yourself outside the pale of Holy Church as becomes a
fool rather than a man of sense. What hallucination blinds you I
cannot say. Your condition is probably one which calls for a medical
diagnosis rather than for mine. How you can be the even momentary
victim of so poor an impostor is beyond my understanding. But it ill
becomes such as I am to seek for explanations from such as you. Your
part is to obey, and only to obey. Therefore I bid you instantly to
leave this--fellow; bow your head, and seek with shame absolution for
your grievous sin. Do this at once, or it will be too late.'

When the young priest was about to reply, the Stranger, going to the
Cardinal, looking him in the face, asked: 'Am I an impostor?'

The Cardinal did his best to meet His look, and return Him glance for
glance. Presently his eyes faltered; he looked down. His lips
twitched as if to speak. His gaze returned to the Stranger's
countenance. But only for a moment. Suddenly he put up his hands
before his face as if to shield it from the impact of the pain and
sorrow which were in His eyes. He muttered:

'What have I to do with you?'

'Nothing; verily, and alas!'

'Why have you come to judge me before my time?'

'Your time comes soon.'

The Cardinal, dropping his hands, straightened himself again, as if
endeavouring to get another grip upon his courage.

'I lean on Holy Church. She will sustain me.'

'Against Me?'

The Cardinal staggered against the wall, trembling so that he could
hardly stand. The Archbishop cried, also trembling:

'What ails your Eminence? Cardinal, what is wrong?'

His Eminence replied, as if he all at once were short of breath:

'The rock--on which--the Church is founded--slips beneath my feet!'

The Archbishop surveyed him with frightened eyes.



                            CHAPTER XXIII

                            AND THE CHILD


The noise in the street had continued without ceasing. It grew
louder. A sound arose as of many voices shrieking. While it still
filled the air the lame man and the charcoal-burner descended from an
upper room. They spoke of the tumult.

'The people are fighting with the police as if they have gone mad.'

'They seek Me,' said the Stranger.

The lame man looked at him anxiously.

'You!'

'Even Me. Fear not. All will be well.'

'Who are these persons?' inquired the Archbishop.

'They are of those that know Me.'

'Ay,' said the charcoal-burner, 'I know You--know You very well, I
do. So did my old woman; she knowed You, too. I be that glad to have
seen You. It's done me real good, that it have.'

'You have been with me so long; then this little while, and soon for
ever.'

'Ay, very soon.'

'Father, these are of those that know Thy Son.'

He touched with His hand the six persons that were about Him.

The Archbishop plucked the Cardinal by the sleeve.

'I--I really think we'd better go. I--I'm not feeling very well.'

There came a succession of crashes. The Cardinal stood up.

'What's that? It's stones against the windows. Unless I err, they
have shivered every pane.'

Someone knocked loudly at the door. The Cardinal moved as if to open.
The Archbishop sought to restrain him.

'What are you doing? It isn't safe to open. The people may come in.'

The Cardinal smiled.

'Let them. The sooner the thing is done the better. To you and me
what does it matter what comes?'

On the doorstep stood that Secretary of State who had given the
dinner at which the Archbishop had been present. Behind him was the
yelling mob.

'Your Eminence! This is an unexpected pleasure. The Archbishop, too!
How delightful! The people seem in a curious frame of mind; our
friend Braidwood is justified--already. It's a wonder I'm here alive.
I am told that several persons have been killed in the crowd--
terrible! terrible! My own opinion is that we're threatened with the
most serious riot which London has known in my time. Ah, dear sir!'
He bowed to the Stranger. 'I need not ask if you are he to whom I
desire to tender my sincerest salutations. There is that about you
which tells me that I stand in the presence of no mean person.
Unfortunately, I am so constituted as to be incapable of those more
ardent feelings which are to the enthusiast his indispensable
equipment. Therefore I am not of that material out of which they
fashion devotees. Yet, since I cannot doubt that my trifling personal
peculiarities are known to him who, as I am informed, knows all, I
venture to trust that they will be regarded as extenuating
circumstances should I ever stand in instant need of palliation.'

The Stranger was still.

The stones still rattled against the windows, smashed against the
door. Again there came a knocking. The tumult had grown so great, the
cries so threatening, that those within were trembling, hesitating
what to do. When the Stranger moved towards the door, the Secretary
of State prevented Him.

'Sir, I beg of you! I fear it is you they wish to see, with what
purpose you may imagine from the noise which they are making. Permit
me to answer the knocking. At the present moment I am of less public
interest than you.'

He opened. There was an excited sergeant of police.

'The person who's in here must get away by the back somewhere at
once; those are my orders. The people have found out that they can
get to this house from the street behind; they're starting off to do
it. We don't want murder done, and there will be murder if he doesn't
take himself off pretty quick.'

'Is it so bad as that?'

'So bad as that? Look at them yourself. I never saw them in such a
state. They're stark, staring mad. All the streets about are full of
them; they're all the same. That man Walters and his friends have
been working a lot of them into a frenzy; murder is what they mean.
Then there's over a hundred been killed in front here, so I'm told--
poor wretches who came to be healed. The crowd will tear him to
pieces if they get him. He must get away somehow over the walls at
the back.'

'Over the walls at the back?'

'He can't get away by the front. We couldn't save him--nobody could.
I tell you they'll tear him to pieces.'

As the sergeant spoke the Stranger came and stood at the door by the
Secretary of State. A policeman rushed up the steps bearing something
in his arms. He addressed the sergeant.

'This child's dead. Sir William Braidwood says most of the bones in
its body are broken; it's crushed nearly to a jelly. It doesn't seem
to have had any friends or anything. Could you see it taken into the
house?'

The sergeant received the child. The Stranger said to him: 'Give it
to Me.'

'You? Why you? Let it be taken into the house and put decent.'

'Give Me the child.'

He took the child and pressed it to His bosom, and the child, opening
its eyes, looked up at Him. He kissed it on the brow.

'You have been asleep,' He said.

The child sat up in His arms and laughed.

The Archbishop whispered to the Cardinal:

'The child lives!'

The Stranger cried to those that were within the house:

'I return whence I came. Come there to Me.'

And a great hush fell on all the people, so that on a sudden they
were still. And they fell back, so that a lane was formed in their
midst, along which He went, with the child, laughing, in His arms.

It was as if the people had been carved out of stone. They moved
neither limb nor feature, nor seemed to breathe, but stayed in the
uncouth attitudes in which they had been flung by passion, with their
faces as rage had distorted them, their mouths open as they had
vomited blasphemies, their eyes glaring, their fists clenched.

Through the stricken people in the silent streets the Stranger went,
the child laughing in His arms--on and on, on and on. Whither He
went, no man knew. Nor has He been seen of any since, nor the child
either.

And when He had gone, a great sigh went over all the people. Behold,
they wept!



                            THE END.





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