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Title: A Lost Cause
Author: Thorne, Guy, 1876-1923
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Lost Cause" ***

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                          A LOST CAUSE

                          BY GUY THORNE

                AUTHOR OF "WHEN IT WAS DARK," ETC.


    G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
    NEW YORK AND LONDON
    The Knickerbocker Press
    1905

    The Knickerbocker Press, New York



PREFACE


A few words are necessary in preface to this story. After _When It Was
Dark_ made its appearance, the writer received a great number of letters
from his readers, and up to the present moment he still continues to
receive them.

Out of nearly two hundred communications, a large proportion are
concerned not so much with the main issue of the tale, as with
controversial matters in the Church of England arising from it.

The definitely Catholic[1] tone of the first book aroused, as might be
expected, vigorous protest, and no less vigorous commendation. The five
or six Bishops--and many other dignitaries--who preached or lectured
about the story avoided the controversial sides of it. But the writer
has received innumerable letters from the clergy and others to the
following effect.

[Footnote 1: The term "Catholic" is here, and throughout the book, used
in the sense in which it is employed by a certain division of the Church
of England and of the Episcopal Church of America.--The PUBLISHERS.]

It was pointed out to him that while the extreme "Protestant" party was
constantly employing fiction as a method of propaganda, churchmen were
almost unrepresented in this way. The Catholic Faith has been bitterly
assailed over and over again in books which are well enough written, and
have sufficient general interest to appeal to the man of the world, who
is often indifferent to the points debated.

After considerable discussion, the writing of _A Lost Cause_ was
resolved upon. The author desires to thank those priests who have
assisted him with their counsel and experience, and begs leave to
explain here something of his aims in publishing the tale.

At no period in modern Church history has the Church been assailed with
such malignance, slander, and untruth as at the present. "Protestantism"
within the Church is a lost cause, it is dying, and for just this reason
the clamour is loudest, the misrepresentation more furious and
envenomed. Shrewd opportunists are taking their last chance of emerging
from obscurity by an appeal to the ignorance of the general public on
Church matters. Looking round us, we see dozens of uneducated and noisy
nobodies who have elected themselves into a sort of irregular prelacy
and dubbed themselves "Defenders of the Faith," with about as much right
as Napoleon crowned himself emperor.

Church people do not take them very seriously. Their voices are like the
cries of hedge-birds by the road, on which the stately procession of the
Church is passing. But the man in the street is more attentive and he
enjoys the colour and movement of iconoclasm. He believes also that the
brawlers have right on their side.

But there is an inherent fairness in the man in the street, and, if this
story reaches him, he will have his opportunity to hear the Catholic
side of the argument.

The author begs to state that no single character in this tale is a
"portrait" of any living person, or of any real person whatever. The
imaginary folk are designed to be merely typical, their methods are
analogous to much that is going on to-day under the pretences of
patriotism and love for religious liberty, but that is all.

There will probably be the usual nonsense written, and the braves of
"Protestantism" will give the usual war-whoops. Whether this is to be
so or not, the author is profoundly indifferent.

He attacks those of the extreme "Protestants" whom he believes to be
insincere and who rebel against the Truth for their own ends. He does
not say or think that all "Protestants"--even the extremists--are
insincere. He has endeavoured to point out that there is as much
difference between the street-corner "Protestants" and the pious
Evangelical Party within the Church as there is between Trinitarians and
Unitarians.

The incident in the tale where the Archbishop of Canterbury compels a
"Protestant" publicist to give up the Blessed Sacrament, which he has
stolen from a church for purposes of propaganda, is founded on fact. It
has not before been made public, except in a short letter to the _Church
Times_ a few months ago, which was written with the design of preparing
Church readers for the detailed publication of such a painful incident.
The facts, however, have been supplied to the writer to make such use of
in the story as he thinks fit. The authors of this disgraceful
profanation have, naturally, been silent on the matter. It is not an
isolated instance. But it is not to be thought that the imaginary
characters concerned in the affair in the story, are intended to
represent, or do in any way, the real heroes of this great blow struck
for "Protestant" truth.

Finally, the noisiest "Protestants" are hitting the Church as hard as
they can. The author has endeavoured to hit back as hard as _he_ can--of
course, in that spirit of Christian love in which the "Protestants"
themselves tell us these controversies are always conducted.

The brawlers have enjoyed an astonishing immunity hitherto, and it is
only fair that battle should be joined now. And, however inadequate his
forces and generalship, that is the writer's aim. He is, of course, a
_franc-tireur_, but he fires his musket on the right side, and with a
perfect assurance of the justice of his Cause.


G. T.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER PAGE

I.--THE INTERRUPTED EUCHARIST 1

II.--MR. HAMLYN AND SON AT HOME 19

III.--LORD HUDDERSFIELD AND THE GUESTS AT SCARNING COURT 38

IV.--LUCY BLANTYRE AT THE CLERGY-HOUSE 69

V.--WEALTHY MISS PRITCHETT AND POOR GUSSIE DAVIES ENTER THE VICARAGE
GARDEN 108

VI.--BOADICEA, JOAN OF ARC, CHARLOTTE CORDAY, JAEL, AND MISS PRITCHETT
OF HORNHAM 127

VII.--THE OFFICES OF THE "LUTHER LEAGUE"--AN INTERIOR 146

VIII.--A PRIVATE CONFERENCE AT MIDNIGHT A YEAR LATER 166

IX.--A UNION OF FORCES 182

X.--LOW WATER AND GREAT EXPECTATIONS 214

XI.--THE NEWS THAT CARR BROUGHT 241

XII.--THE REPARATION OF JANE PRITCHETT EX-PROTESTANT 281

XIII.--THE ARCHBISHOP AND THE HAMLYNS 302



A LOST CAUSE



CHAPTER I

THE INTERRUPTED EUCHARIST


The Church of St. Elwyn was a building of brick that went up to a great
height.

In the crowded district between Hornsey and Wood Green, it was one of
the largest buildings, and, though not externally beautiful, acquired
dignity and impressiveness from its setting of small villa houses, which
made an interminable brick wilderness all round it.

It was nearing the time of the High Celebration on a Sunday morning in
summer. Matins had been said in a side chapel, to a scanty congregation,
at half-past nine, and now the central act of the day was to take place.

The interior of St. Elwyn's was severe but beautiful, save for one or
two minor blemishes here and there.

The eye was caught and carried away down the aisles till it found its
focus on the high altar which was set like a throne, above many marble
steps, in the curve of the distant apse. The sanctuary was lighted from
the sides and so the eye was not disturbed and distracted by hideous
windows of stained glass with their clamorous coal-tar colours, but
could rest quietly upon the altar with its green and gold, its flowers
and central cross.

The organ was hidden away in a side gallery and the pulpit was a stone
bracket high in the sweep of the chancel arch, to which it clung like
the nest of a bird on a cliff side.

All this was as it should be. In so many English churches the object of
the builders appears to have been to destroy all the dignity and beauty
possible in a service. The organ and the pulpit are elevated to the
importance of shrines, and dominate everything like Gog and Magog in the
Guildhall. Everything is done to minimise the place and office of the
altar, to exalt the less important functions of worship, and to prevent
comfortable consciences from being uneasy in the realisation of the
presence of God.

Only one tawdry note could be detected in this beautiful church. The
pictures which hung on the walls round the aisles, and represented the
stations of the cross, were ill-drawn, and stiff in colour and design.
These pictures, which were said by the ignorant and unimaginative to be
idolatrous, or at least "Roman"--a little understood but very
efficacious term of reproach in the parish--were sufficiently like the
hideous stained-glass figures in the Evangelical Church of St. Luke hard
by to have satisfied the most pious lover of ugliness. But those folk,
who so vehemently preferred the medallion portraits of their respectable
ancestors on the walls of a church to any other form of symbol or
decoration, did not see this. They spoke bitterly of the pictures as
being "high," suggesting to outsiders unfamiliar with the parrot cry of
the partisan that they had been kept too long in a warm place.

Since Father Blantyre had been appointed vicar of St. Elwyn's, the
congregation had increased until few of the rush-bottomed chairs were
empty, and on days of great festivals, people would be found kneeling in
the aisles. The opposition party in the parish frequently commented on
this custom, which was thought to savour of heathenism or worse. One or
two people who had spent holidays in continental towns, and had made
excursions into foreign cathedrals in much the same spirit as they went
into the chamber of horrors in the wax-work exhibition, had brought back
news that this habit was in vogue among "the Catholics." It was felt
that real salvation could only be found in a pew, with one's name
legibly written on an ivory tablet at the end and the vestry-clerk
calling for the rent once a quarter in the decent old-fashioned way. Any
one who knelt on the uncushioned stone showed an anxiety to worship and
a superstitious abasement quite unworthy of a bluff, honest, British
Christian; and his doings must be displeasing to a Deity who, the
objectors were persuaded, was--though they did not say so in actual
words--a great _English_ God.

The single bell that summoned the people to Mass--that word which
church-people are becoming less afraid to use in this century--had
ceased. The server was lighting the Eucharistic candles with a long
taper.

As the people came in, it was noticeable that they proceeded to their
places without side-looks at each other, or muttered social greetings.
They went to their seats, young and old, men and women, and began to
kneel and pray.

No one, apparently, had come there to be seen by his fellows.

Since the Catholic Revival in the English Church, no fact has been more
obvious and easily determined than this. It is one which the bitterest
opponent of churchmanship has never been able to deny and has never
attempted to deny. The most prejudiced observer paying an alternate
visit to a church where the Faith is taught and to another which is
confessedly "Protestant" cannot fail to observe the difference. At the
celebration of the Eucharist in a church of the former type, there is an
absolute stillness and reverence. The congregation kneels, it worships.

In the latter, there is an unrest. People do not show marked
consciousness of being in the presence of mysteries. Whatever they may
think, they do not give the observer the impression that they think God
is there. They sit rather than kneel, they notice the clothes of other
people, there is a certain sense that they are doing the right thing in
"patronising" the church, and the Sunday dinner looms large over all.

The man lit the candles. A moment afterwards Father Blantyre entered
with the servers and the service began.

The singing was simple but harmonious. There was nothing especially
noticeable in the hymn or the chanting of the Kyries after the
commandments.

The priest went into the pulpit, kissed the white stole, and placed it,
as a yoke, upon his shoulders. Over his head was a crucifix. He was a
small man, dark of hair, and swarthy of complexion. The nose was
prominent and aquiline, the eyes bright, with a net-work of fine
wrinkles round them, the mouth large and mobile. There was almost a
suggestion of the comedian in his face, that is, in its extreme mobility
and good-humour. One could imagine him as a merry man in his private
life. But mingled with this, one saw at once the lines of an unalterable
purpose, and of conviction. Any strong belief stamps itself upon a man's
face in an unmistakable way. When that belief is purely holy and good,
then we say that the man has the face of a saint.

For a moment or two, Mr. Blantyre looked round the church. The eyes, so
puckered at the corners, very much resembled the eyes of a sailor, who
is ever gazing out towards a vast horizon and through furious winds. Men
who are much occupied with the Unseen and Invisible sometimes have this
look, which is the look of a man who is striving to see God.

The subject-matter of the sermon itself was not very remarkable. It was
a sermon dealing with the aids to worship that symbol gives, showing how
a proper use of material objects may focus the brain upon the reality
behind them. During the last week or two, the local paper had been
printing some violent attacks upon the services at St. Elwyn's, for
there was a by-election in progress and one of the candidates was
seizing the opportunity afforded by a "No Popery" cry.

The local writer, the vicar pointed out, was obviously alarmed lest
people should worship too much. He spoke of the attacks with sincere
good humour and more than once his words provoked a smile. The
journalist, with the sublime ignorance of lesser local scribes, had
spoken of Queen Elizabeth and expressed a fervent desire that the times
of "good Queen Bess" would come again and that the Royal Spinster could
descend on the purlieus of Hornsey and sternly order all Romish toys to
be removed. Father Blantyre quoted Elizabeth's letter to Sandys:

     The queen's majesty considered it not contrary to the Word of
     God--nay, rather for the advantage of the church--that the image
     of Christ crucified,--together with Mary and John, should be placed
     as heretofore in some conspicuous part of the church, where they
     may the more readily be seen by all the people.

The last few words of the sermon were preparatory for the mystery that
was about to begin, an earnest exhortation to all there to make
themselves ready to receive the Lord, who was presently coming among
them.

There was nothing in the short discourse that was remarkable, but its
delivery was extraordinary. The words were uttered with a great
tenderness and solemnity, but quite without any formal note. There was
almost a gaiety in them now and then, a spiritual gaiety that was very
impressive. Father Blantyre leaned over the rail and talked to his
people. The voice, which sank into a whisper at times, and at others
rang out with a sharpness that echoed up in the lofty roof, never once
lost its suggestion of confidential intimacy with those to whom it
spoke. In the entire absence of the usual "preaching" note, the sermon
gained immensely in value with this particular audience. Anything
academic would have been endured, but it would not have gone home.

While the offertory sentences were being sung, the congregation saw
that a small group of people had entered the church, presumably to hear
Mass.

One of the churchwardens was able to find seats for the party about
half-way down the central aisle. The new-comers were four in number. All
of them were men.

It is perhaps strange to speak of one of their number as being the
"leader" of the party, but that was the impression he gave to those
members of the congregation immediately around him. At the close of the
service, moreover, several worshippers agreed with each other that this
person had suggested that to them.

He was a shortish, thick-set man of some five and forty years of age.
His large, intelligent face was clean-shaved. The eyes were small and
very bright, shifting hither and thither in a constant flicker of
observation. The mouth was large, and though the lips were thick and
loose, there was nevertheless a certain resolution in them. They were
frequently curved into a half-smile which had something indescribably
sinister and impudent about it. One saw that, in whatever situation he
might find himself, this person would not easily be abashed or unready.

He wore a frock-coat of shining broadcloth. The waistcoat was cut low,
not as well-dressed people would wear it, showing a large expanse of
imitation shirt-front through which a black stud was thrust. A small bow
of black ribbon served as necktie. In some nameless way, he suggested a
peculiarly unpleasing type of irregular dissenting minister in his
appearance, and this was enhanced by the fact that under one arm he
carried a large Bible of limp leather, secured by an india-rubber band.

Yet, with all this, the new-comer had a remarkable and even arresting
personality. Wherever he went, he would not easily escape notice.

By his side sat a tallish youth with sufficient likeness to him to
proclaim a near relationship.

The young fellow's complexion was somewhat muddy, his hair was smooth
and mouse-coloured, his mouth resembled his father's, except that it had
not the impudent good-humour of the elder man's, and was altogether more
furtive and sly.

The two remaining members of the party were men apparently of the
prosperous small-tradesman type, pursy, flabby with good living, who
had added mutton-chop whiskers to their obvious self-esteem.

To one or two members of the congregation there, the father and son were
not unknown. The thick-set, clean-shaved man was Mr. Samuel Hamlyn, the
editor and proprietor of a small local journal,--the _Hornham
Observer_,--and the youth was his son, who acted as reporter to the
paper and signed himself S. Hamlyn, Junior.

Both were well known in local affairs; Hamlyn was a member of the
school-board and held one or two kindred positions. His religious
sympathies had hitherto been supposed to lie with the numerous
dissenting sects in the parish, all of whom had their bills and other
announcements printed at his office.

The momentary interest and stir created by the entrance of the party
died away almost immediately and Mass continued. Certainly no one in the
church realised that in a few short weeks the fat man with the smile
would be notorious all over England, and that they were to be present at
the very first step in the career of one of the shrewdest of vulgar
opportunists the country had ever known.

The seats reserved for the churchwardens were on the opposite side of
the aisle, but almost upon a level with those in which the new-comers
were seated--perhaps some two rows of chairs behind.

Accordingly Doctor Hibbert, the vicar's warden, had a clear view of the
four men just in front.

Hibbert was an upright, soldierly-looking man, who had, in fact, been an
army surgeon, and had now bought a practice in the parish. He was a
skilful doctor, and a man of considerable mental strength, who had made
himself indispensable in the district and was in the way of becoming a
wealthy man. His earnest churchmanship had not militated against his
success, even among the most extreme Protestants and Dissenters of
Hornham. He was known to be a first-class doctor, and he was too strong
a man for any one to take a liberty with, and of such superior power and
mould to the mass of lower-class people whom he attended that his
opinions were respected.

But going about as he did, among every one in the parish, the Doctor
knew far more of its internal state than any one else. Nothing is
concealed from a medical man in general practice. Confession is
compulsory to him; he sees the secrets of men's lives, knows the
tarnished story of the "respectable" person, as sometimes the heroism of
the outcast. Hibbert had his finger on the public pulse of Hornham in a
measure that Father Blantyre himself could hardly achieve.

It was therefore with some little uneasiness and a good deal of
conjecture that the doctor had noticed the advent of Hamlyn and his
party.

The disturbances to public worship which are so familiar to-day were
quite unknown at that time. Hibbert anticipated nothing of what actually
occurred, but his eye was watchful nevertheless.

The Mass went on.

The servers knelt on the altar steps in cotta and cassock, the priest
moved above them in his stiff, flowered chasuble, robed in the garments
of the Passion of our Lord.

The Comfortable Words were said, and the Sursum Corda began.

A deep throbbing sound came from the organ, and, in one great outburst
of solemn avowal, the congregation lifted up their hearts to God.

    SURSUM CORDA!
    HABEMUS AD DOMINUM
    GRATIAS AGAMUS DOMINO DEO NOSTRO!

Ever since the days of the Apostles, the Mass had been said thus, the
most solemn part of the service had begun with these profound words of
adoration. The doctor forgot all else as he worshipped.

Let it be remembered, in the light of what follows, that the vast
majority of the people there believed this, were waiting for
_this_--they believed that when the priest said the Prayer of
Consecration, our Lord Himself had come suddenly among them.

Throughout the rite there was a growing sense and assurance of One
coming. Most of them were quite sure of it.

Human hearts, worn with the troubles of the week, sick to death, it may
be, of a hard material lot, now bowed in contrition and repentance, or
were filled with a certain Hope. Everything in this world was as
nothing, because, upon the altar before which the priest was bending so
low, they believed that God had come.

In what way, or how, they did not know and could not have explained. Did
they _imagine_ it week after week as they knelt in church? Most of them
_knew_ that it was no imagination or delusion that caught at their
hearts, that changed the air of the building in a swift moment, that
caught up heart and soul and spirit in one great outpouring of love and
faith and adoration.

Was _this_ a fable, as folks sometimes told them? This which dissolved
and broke the chains of bodily sense, banished the world, and enfolded
them with its awful sweetness, its immeasurable joy? What else in life
had power to do this, power to hurry away clogging, material things as
in a mighty spiritual wind, to show them once more the stupendous
sacrifice of the Saviour--what else but the indubitable presence of our
Lord?

The priest held up the Host.

At that supreme moment, Doctor Hibbert, whose state of mind may be taken
as typical of many others there, bent in humble adoration and
contrition.

An absolute silence lay over the church; there was not the slightest
sound or movement in it.

A chair was pushed harshly over the tiles, there was a heavy shuffling
of feet. Such sounds in that holy moment affected some of the
worshippers as a physical blow might have done.

But few people looked up. Many of them did not hear the sound, their
ears being tuned to harmonies that were not of this world.

The doctor heard the noise with his ears, but for a merciful moment it
did not penetrate to his brain. And then with a horrid clangour the
visible things of the world came rushing back to him.

He looked up.

The four men just in front of him had risen in their places. The two
tradesmen were red in the face and manifestly uneasy. They breathed
hard, a breath of ostentatious defiance.

Young Hamlyn was glancing round the church with swift, malevolent
movements of his head. His eyes flickered hither and thither until they
finally settled on the motionless figure at the altar, the figure with
the upstretched arm.

The elder Hamlyn held a paper in his hand, from which he began to read
in a loud, unsteady voice:

"_I, Samuel Hamlyn, a lawful parishioner of St. Elwyn's parish, Hornham,
do hereby rise and protest against the illegal and blasphemous fable of
the Mass as performed in this church. And as a member of the Protestant
Church of England I give notice----_"

Every one had risen to his feet. In a distant corner of the church, a
woman began to shriek. A murmur broke into shouts, there was a crash of
some heavy body falling.

A horrid tumult seemed broken loose, as if it had been confined till now
and had broken its bars with one great effort.

In a second, the four men were surrounded by a pushing crowd of men,
beside themselves with horror and anger. Sticks began to quiver in the
air, the crash of the chairs as they were overturned was like the
dropping rattle of musketry fire.

The hard voice of the brawler had gone up a full tone. In its
excitement, it dominated an abominable chorus of shouting.

In half a minute, the doctor and other members of the congregation had
Hamlyn and his son gripped by the arms and were hurrying them towards
the west door without any answer to their frantic threats and menaces.
The other two men followed stolidly.

Nearly every face was turned away from the altar.

The one or two people who had fallen trembling upon their knees when the
riot was at its height saw that the vicar was also kneeling in adoration
of the Blessed Sacrament.

A loud metallic _clang_ resounded through the church. The door was
barred, the brawlers were shut out.

When the maimed, polluted rite was at last concluded, amid deep sobs
from men and women alike, Father Blantyre gave the blessing. They saw
with deep sympathy that the tears were rolling down his cheeks also.

But the doctor saw, with a sudden quickening of the pulses, that the
first finger and the thumb were joined still. It is the custom of the
priest, after he has broken the bread, that the finger and thumb are
never parted till Mass is said.

They were not parted now.

The fact comforted and cheered the doctor. He had been on battle-fields
and had not known the fear and horror he had known to-day.



CHAPTER II

MR. HAMLYN AND SON AT HOME


Mr. Hamlyn lived in Alexandra Road, Hornham. The actual name of his
house was "Balmoral," and it was one of seven or eight other residences
gathered together under the generic title of "Beatrice Villas."

The father and son turned into the little path which led up to the
imitation satin-wood door some twenty minutes after the gate of St.
Elwyn's had been barred to them. Their companions, Mr. Burgoyne and Mr.
Moffatt, had left them at the corner of the street, very flustered at
what they had done, and with a dull remorse flitting about their thick
skulls, that they had joined in "Hamlyn's little game." Nor did the
repeated assurances of the journalist, that Mr. Herbert--the Liberal
candidate--would "see them through it," help them to recover their peace
of mind. Visions of police-court proceedings and an unenviable notoriety
in the daily papers were very vivid, and they parted with their chief
in mingled sorrow and anger.

Mr. Hamlyn let himself and his son into the little hall of his villa. A
smell of roast meat gave evidence that dinner would soon be ready. Both
men turned into the parlour on the left of the passage. It was a room
which showed signs of fugitive rather than regular use. Two or three
long boxes bearing the name of a local draper stood upon the round table
in the centre. The contents showed that Miss Hamlyn, the agitator's only
daughter, had been occupied in the choice of corsets.

The walls of the parlour were covered with a rich mauve and gold paper,
which gave a dignity to the cut-glass lustres of the chandelier. The
pictures, heavily framed in gold, were spirited representations of
scenes from the Old Testament. On the rack of the rosewood piano--which
stood open--was a song called "Roses that Bloomed in my Heart."

The chairs, arranged around the wall with commendable regularity, were
upholstered in plum-coloured plush. On one of them was a card-box of a
vivid green, containing several clean collars of the particular sort
Hamlyn Junior wore; on another stood the wooden box where his father's
silk hat was kept when not in use on Sundays and other important days.

Mr. Hamlyn took off his frock coat and removed the reversible cuffs that
were attached to the sleeves of his flannel shirt by means of an
ingeniously contrived clip. He then put on a loose coat of black alpaca.
His son, having gone through something of the same process, followed his
father to the sitting-room next the little kitchen.

As the parlour was not often used for ceremonial occasions, the Hamlyns
not being very hospitable people, it served as an occasional
dressing-room also, and saved running up-stairs.

The sitting-room window looked out into the backyard, immediately by the
kitchen door, which led into it. As the Hamlyns came in, they were able
to see their servant throwing some hot liquid--the water in which the
cabbage had been boiled, as a matter of fact--into the grid in the
centre of the yard.

The table was already laid for the meal. As, however, it was rather a
long table and the Hamlyns were only three in family,--Hamlyn being a
widower,--the white cloth was laid only on half of it. One or two
volumes of the Heartsease Novelettes and some artificial flowers, with
which a hat was to be trimmed by Miss Hamlyn, were thus left
undisturbed.

"Dinner didn't ought to be long," Mr. Hamlyn remarked.

"'Ope not," said his son shortly. "I'll holler to Maud."

Miss Hamlyn came in soon afterwards, followed by the maid with a joint
of roast beef. The editor's daughter was a tall girl with sulky lips,
bold eyes, and a profusion of dark hair. This last was now screwed round
her forehead in curling-pins.

The two men attacked their dinner in silence. Both of them had tucked a
handkerchief round their necks, in order to preserve the Sunday
waistcoat from droppings of food, a somewhat wise precaution, as both of
them ate very rapidly.

"Maud," said Hamlyn at length, "can you do a bit of typing for me this
afternoon?"

"No, then, I can't, Pa," she replied resentfully, "and it's like you to
ask it. On the Sabbath, too! I'm going out with Gussie Davies for a
walk."

"Touch the 'arp lightly, my dear," he replied, "no need to get your
feathers up."

"Well, Pa," she answered, "I'm sure I'm ready to spank the beastly
machine for you all the week, you know I am. But Sundays is different."

Hamlyn made no reply. Both he and his son were thinking deeply, and as
yet no reference had escaped them as to the doings of the morning.
Although the girl knew there was something special afoot, she was not
much interested in the details, being at all times a person much
occupied with her own affairs.

During the pudding, she had a short and slangy conversation with her
brother, and directly the meal was over she went up-stairs to "dress."

The servant removed the plates and dishes, and Hamlyn and his son sat
down at the table. The father drew a large portfolio of papers towards
him. The son lighted a cheap cigarette.

Both of the Hamlyns spoke fairly correctly in public, though with the
usual cockney twang. In the seclusion of Balmoral, neither of them
thought it necessary to be very particular about the aspirates which
they emphasised so carefully elsewhere.

"When will Mr. Herbert pay up?" said Sam.

"To-morrow. I shall see him in the committee room during the afternoon,
and it's five and twenty pound earned as easy as I ever earned anything
in my life. It'll come in very 'andy too. There's the rent on the
linotype machine just due."

"The money's all right," answered the younger man, "and, of course,
we're guaranteed against fines and anything of that sort. But do you
think the game's worth the candle? How will opinion in the parish go?"

"Like a house on fire. Wait till you see my leader in Wednesday's issue.
Mr. Herbert has put me up to the whole thing. We're carrying out a
patriotic Henglish duty. Public sympathy will all be with us. Rome is
creeping in among us!"

Sam grinned. "Well, you know best, Father, of course. And we're bound to
support Mr. Herbert."

"I've been thinking a great deal," Hamlyn answered slowly. "I've always
been an ambitious man and I've always meant to come out on top somehow
or other. But I've never had a big chance yet. I think,--I'm not
sure,--but I _think_ I see that chance waiting now."

His shrewd face was lighted up with a curious excitement. The eyes
glowed and the impudent merriment on the lips became more pronounced
than before.

"What is it then?"

"Listen quietly to me for a few minutes. The idea came gradual to me. I
got on the track six months ago. First of all, it was the ten gross of
religious books I had down in the shop. They were of all sorts. Which
was the one that went best? Why, it was _The Adventures of Susan
Lefever, the Captive Nun_. I sold 'em all out in no time. The next best
seller was _The Revelations of Pastor Coucherrousset, the Converted
Catholic Priest_. Anything against Rome! Mr. Leatherbarrow, of the New
Connection Methodists, preached three times on those books. He had all
the congregation fair shaking with indignation against the Scarlet
Woman. You see it's like this. People want a cock-shy. They don't much
care about what it is, as long as they've got it--see the way they're
down on the Sheenies in France. Now a religious cock-shy is the best of
all. It gives people a feeling that they're in real earnest, and they
can kid themselves and other people that it's more disinterested than
politics, for instance. They've nothing to get by it--except the fun of
doing it--and that flatters 'em because they're always on the grab in
every other way. See?"

Sam nodded. He was not one of those youths who despise the words of
parental wisdom. He was not himself a fool, and so he did not fall into
the mistake of underrating his father's capacity and knowledge of life.
The small and vulgar triumphs of Hamlyn's career were all appreciated
and noted by his son, who had a sincere respect for him.

"Very well, then," Hamlyn continued. "It's a sure draw, all over
England, to raise the anti-popery cry. The wholesale trade tell me that
the business done in Fox's _Book of Martyrs_ is a perfect knock-out year
by year, and there's a sure sale for the smaller books about the priests
larking with the girls in the confessional and so forth. Anything with
'Secret History' or 'Jesuit' on the title-page 'll sell like the
_Evening News_ on Derby Day. Now, I've been reading all the publications
of the regular Protestant societies during the last few weeks. Plenty of
cuts at the Ritualists, lots of little sixpennies bound in cloth to
prove as there isn't no such thing as apostolic succession, that wafers
is illegal, and the Eastern position rather worse than arson. They're
all very well in their way, but they're written by D.D.'s and M.A.'s and
such like, who don't care to go too far. I have a list in my portfolio
here of the regular Protestant writers--nearly all _class_, my boy.
Listen here:

"_Transubstantiation and the Invocation of Saints._ Rev. J. Cummer,
Canon Residentiary of Ironpool.

"_Popery the Work of 'the Adversary,'--the Roman Clergy under Satanic
Influence._ Rev. R. S. Blanken, LL.D., incumbent of Christ Church,
Oxton.

"_Ritualism in the English Church: A Word of Warning._ Rev. Joshua Cafe,
D.D., prebendary of Bath and Wells.

"There's dozens of others like this. They're all very well in their way,
but they don't strike the really _popular_ note. They've broken the
ground and sowed the seed, but they're not going to reap the harvest."

"Who is, then, Father? And what'll it be worth when it is reaped?"

"Us, my boy. As to the worth of it, go on listening to me and you'll see
things gradually getting clearer. I want you to see how I've worked it
all out. If we _do_ strike oil, all I'm telling you now will be
valuable. During my local work for the Protestant cause down here, I've
been brought in touch with members of the old-established societies and
I've taken the length of their foot. They're too dignified altogether.
Real live methods don't appeal to them. Financially they don't do badly,
but nothing like what they _might_ do if they adopted the right methods.
All their subscriptions come from the upper classes, and there's a whole
goldmine lying at their doors which is quite untouched! _abso-lute-ly_
unworked, Sam! The middle classes and the lower classes haven't _begun_
to give to the Protestant cause. Why? Because it hasn't been put
prominently before them in the way they'll understand. Bang the
field-piece! twang the lyre! thump the tub! rattle the tambourine!
That's the way. Look at the Salvation Army! The time is ripe for new
methods and for a new man who isn't a canon residentiary or a D.D. I've
got all the ritualistic statistics. Day by day the Ritualists are trying
it on, getting nearer and nearer to Rome. Everything is ready."

"I see all that, Father. All you say is clear enough. What I _don't_ see
yet is what you mean to do."

"I'm coming to that. For several years now, I've been prominent in
Hornham affairs. I'm known as a platform speaker in all the
denominations. What do you suppose I did this for six months ago?" he
touched the lapel of his coat, looking down on it as he did so.

"Oh!" he said, "I forgot I'd changed into my old jacket. I was alluding
to the temperance non-smoking ribbon. It's in my frock-coat. Well, I
mentioned it just to point out that I'm known as a man associated with
all good causes."

"But only locally, Pa."

"Exactly. That is all I need to start with. Now, to-day I began: 'Mr.
Hamlyn, a prominent resident in Hornham and a staunch supporter of the
Henglish Protestant Church, has at last felt it his duty to protest
against the illegal practices at St. Elwyn's in as public a manner as
possible.' I've struck a new note, see? What I've done to-day has hardly
ever been done before. Now, why shouldn't this inaugurate a big public
movement all over the country? Why shouldn't offices be taken in the
Strand and a new League started, 'Hamlyn's Protestant Crusade' or
something of that sort? To begin with, subscriptions are invited for
the circulation of real fighting Protestant literature, hot stuff,
giving accounts of the illegal and Romish doings all over the country. I
know where to get the pamphlets written for a mere song, and startlers,
too. Of course, we have all the printing done at the works here in
Hornham,--that'll be worth something considerable. Meanwhile, mark what
happens. The 'silly season' comes on and the newspapers haven't got much
to write about. Our little London concern is established and then we
begin touring round to all the Ritualistic churches and protesting
against their aims. If I know what I'm talking about, in a fortnight or
three weeks one of the biggest booms of the century will begin!
Everything we do will be in the papers, rows in the churches,
police-court proceedings--everything. Whenever I write a letter of
protest to the Bishop of London or the Archbishop of Canterbury it will
appear in all the papers. It don't matter what they say as long as they
mention the Crusade! Then'll come the moment when we really launch out
and become a national Institution. We'll get half a dozen parsons and
fifth-rate M.P.'s to form a committee, and some one to be a treasurer:
he's easy found. Then I become secretary and you assistant-secretary:
we are _salaried_ officials, of course, and we start a little magazine
as the Society's official organ--to be printed at the works. I've many
more ideas for the extension of the plan,--brilliant ideas some of them,
too. But I won't go into them now. I've only given you the roughest
outline of the scheme as yet. Meanwhile, as a preliminary, I'm going to
flimsy out a dozen short reports of to-day's proceedings at St. Elwyn's,
and I want you to run up to Fleet Street with them, about five this
evening. All the dailies will print it."

He chuckled. "That's the chief beauty of the scheme," he continued; "you
get the majority of your advertisements free, and in the best papers,
too! It's about the only scheme I ever heard of that could."

He stopped at last and sank back in his chair, exhausted. He had spoken
long and with great animation, with all the tricks and mannerisms of
rough-and-tumble platform oratory, in which he was a master. The
pantomime of his expressive gestures, the indescribable impudence of the
smile as he sought to prove some depth of folly in the public, the quick
inflections of the voice, gave great force to his words. They sounded
convincing to the younger Hamlyn, into whose muddy pallor a deep red
flush had gradually come.

"It's a big thing, Pa," he said at length, "a very big thing. I see
that, and you're the one to make it go. But there's a lot to be done
first. 'Ave we the ready money to start it? Even in a small way, to get
it once before the public will cost four or five hundred pounds."

"That's the difficulty, Sam, I admit it. We are pretty low down at
present. The business just keeps its head above water, that's all. The
money from Mr. Herbert is a help, but it's all gone as soon as we get
it. I was thinking that if to-day's little protest makes a stir and we
can do ditto round-abouts during the next week or two, we could get
Moffatt and Burgoyne to advance a hundred each, p'r'aps. As a personal
loan. Mr. Herbert would be good for fifty now, but as soon as he's
elected you'll see he won't bother any more. When we've made the whole
thing hum, he'll come to us and offer to be our Parliamentary
representative. I'm reserving him for that. He'll be useful to ask
questions and help the fizz-up generally. It'll suit him because he'll
have a chance of getting his name in the papers, and it's about the
only chance he will have of getting prominent in the House. But, as far
as the preliminary stages are concerned, my opinion is that he's N.G.
The worst of it is that with a scheme of this sort one can't very well
put it on the market. That's the one drawback of a religious scheme.
There's lots of men who'd see the money in it, but who'd see that if
they joined they couldn't touch a cent. There can't be more than one or
two salaried officials. No, we must depend upon ourselves entirely. I'm
not afraid. It's what Napoleon did, and I'm going to be the Protestant
Napoleon! There's a lot in catchwords--speaking on a side issue--'The
Luther League!' 'Smithfield Soldiers!' or Bunyan's 'Holy War' might be
revived."

"No, Pa, that wouldn't do now. 'Holy' is a regular Ritualistic word."

"Well, so it is, Sam. I hadn't thought of it. I'm glad to see that
you've got a good grip of the thing."

There was a silence in the mean little room. In the adjacent kitchen,
the servant could be heard singing, "Ower lod geris anoice yeng men, ow
dear, ow dear naow!" A big green-bellied fly sung and drummed on the
window-pane in the afternoon sunlight. Hamlyn, replete with enthusiasm
and beef, had taken off his alpaca coat and unloosed his collar. The air
was heavy with the odour of food and the acrid smell of Sam's
"ten-for-threepence" cigarettes, while a penetrating smell of new
calico, proceeding from some of Maud's dressmaking operations, dominated
it all.

A church bell, ringing for afternoon service, was heard not far away.

Suddenly Hamlyn struck the table a sounding blow with his fist.

"It _is_ a good thing," he shouted in a wild burst of enthusiasm.

The voice was so full, and confident, that it rang out in the place like
a trumpet.

It had the true accent of an enthusiast, of a leader. There was
mesmerism in it. Hearing it, one would have said that this man would
succeed.

He could influence others, he had energy, resource, and temperamental
force. It was true. The man was gifted. He had power, and to whatever
end that might be directed it would not lose its efficacy. The
conviction of success, its trumpet note, was to become familiar in vast
hysterical assemblies. It was to be mistaken for a deep and earnest
wish to purify the Church, to scatter the wolves from the environs of
the fold. Greed can be sonorous. Tartuffe can always find his Orgon, and
to hawk a battle-cry among the ignorant and dull has ever been a
profitable game.

"I've a word to say, Pa," the son echoed; "I've an idea where the first
cash is to come from."

"Good, my boy. Let's have it."

"What about Miss Pritchett?"

Hamlyn looked reproachfully at his son. "What about the monument!" he
answered with a sneer. "She's got the cash, she's got tons of it. But
she's a red-hot Ritualist and Romaniser. Ask me another, Sam."

Samuel smiled slyly. "Wait a mo, Pa," he said. "I know a good deal more
about Miss Pritchett than you do. I've been walkin' out with Augusta
Davis lately. She's a friend of Maud's."

"The companion, you mean? Miss Pritchett's companion? Oh, you've been
smelling round in that quarter, have you?"

"And I've learnt a bit. I know all that goes on. Gussie tells me and
Maud everything. Miss Pritchett's getting tired of St. Elwyn's. She
can't boss the new vicar like she used the old one. As for the Roman
business, she doesn't really care for it. She's nothing to amuse herself
with except that and her ailments. It's the old cat's vanity, that's
all. She likes to be a patroness."

"That's the sort of woman we want," answered Mr. Hamlyn, obviously
struck by the the word. "There are a lot of rich, single old judies only
fit to be patronesses. They're cut out for it. Do you really think
anything could be done."

"I do most certainly, Pa. I 'appen to know that Miss Pritchett is
getting on very bad terms with Blantyre. He won't stand her meddling.
I've one or two ideas in my head to help it along. Gussie'll do anything
I tell her."

"Well, Sam, you do all you can. We won't talk about the matter any more
now. I've got a lot of strings to pull, and I've got a lot of matters in
my mind. We shall get a summons for brawling to-morrow, I expect. I'm
done up now, and I'm going to have a nap. Wake me up in an hour if I'm
asleep, and I'll get out the flimsies for to-morrow's papers."

Hamlyn possessed that faculty of sleeping at any moment, and of waking
when it suited him, that so often goes with any marked executive
capacity.

He stretched himself upon the little horsehair sofa and covered his face
with his handkerchief.

Samuel picked up one of the "Heartsease" novelettes and tried to read in
it. But his brain was alight with the splendour of the new project, and
he could not concentrate his thought upon _Joyce Heathcote's Lover_.

It was thus that the seeds of the new movement were sown, in the back
parlour at Balmoral, Beatrice Villas, Alexandra Road. Historians tell us
that even greater and more epoch-making movements than Mr. Hamlyn's was
destined to be, have originated in even less pretentious dwellings.

Many of us have seen the little house in the Brede Kirk Street of the
old Dutch town, on which is written, _Haec est parva domus natus qua
magnus Erasmus_.

Mr. Hamlyn, Junior, had never heard of Erasmus, but he saw visions of
greatness on that afternoon.



CHAPTER III

LORD HUDDERSFIELD AND THE GUESTS AT SCARNING COURT


From April until the beginning of August, Lord Huddersfield generally
lived at his house at Scarning, the famous old Tudor mansion on the
river, below Pangbourne.

Peers who are something more than merely "in society" are generally
known to the public at large by reason of some cause which they benefit,
defend, or are associated with. When it is not a cause, it is a business
that gives such an one his label for the man in the street.

Lord _So-and-so_ is, of course, the great banker or brewer; Lord _This_
is the famous picture collector, who has all the Holbeins; Lord _That_
is known to be the best amateur actor, billiard player, or breeder of
bloodhounds in England. In an age when all celebrities are easily
distinguished thus, Lord Huddersfield, was perfectly familiar to
everyone as the great organising churchman. The ordinary person would
say, "Lord Huddersfield? Oh, yes, the great Ritualistic Johnny,"
imagining that he had summed up his man with completeness. Yet, saving
only to churchmen and their antagonists--a very small proportion of the
public to-day--Lord Huddersfield was personally quite unknown. He was
hardly ever caricatured in the comic papers or pictured in the more
serious illustrated journals. His face was wholly unfamiliar; the
details of his private life formed no portion of the gossip papers. To
the vast army of English folk, who are utterly indifferent to religious
questions, he was nothing more than a name.

He had only once excited a really general flicker of interest. On the
occasion of a visit to Italy, like many other distinguished visitors to
the capital, he had been received in audience by the Bishop of Rome. As
usual, the evening papers had published "rumours."

    "LORD HUDDERSFIELD AND THE POPE.
      WILL HE BECOME A CATHOLIC?"

had appeared as a scare head-line in one enterprising sheet, and the
peer's telegram, stating that he had been one for many years had been
hastily printed as a startling revelation--until some charitable person
had stepped round to the office and explained the joke to a bewildered
Scotch editor, and the paragraph was excised from later editions.

This much for the figure he cut to the outside world. In the English
Church, he was looked upon as one of the leading laymen, if not the
chief of all of them. He was the proprietor of the great weekly paper
known as the _Church Standard_. He was the chairman of many church
societies, the friend and patron of all Anglican movements and
institutions, and a man whose word carried enormous weight and power.

In private life, his two children and his intimate friends found him
true, devout, diligent, winning all hearts by opening his own, where one
found a singular freshness and simplicity. He went as little into
general society as he could, for all his thoughts and aims were occupied
in one endeavour.

On the Monday after the events in Hornham, Agatha Poyntz and her brother
James were in the lovely private backwater of Scarning. Their punt was
moored to the side of a tiny island, set like a gem in the clear brown
water, the red silk cushions of the boat making a vivid splash of colour
on the bank. With these two was Miss Poyntz's great friend and
confidante, Lucy Blantyre, the only sister of the vicar of St. Elwyn's.

Lucy was a girl of medium height, not at all the willowy modern heroine
of pictures and romance. Her hair was of a deep, dead black, coiled on a
small Greek head. Her complexion was dark, like that of her brother, the
priest, but quite without a certain sallowness that was noticeable in
him. It had the dusky paleness, the pearl-like _morbidezza_ of some
southern types, and, despite the lack of colour, showed a perfect and
happy health. The mouth was rather large. Mockery lurked there, and in
the dark eyes a lambent and somewhat scornful humour was wont to play.

Agatha Poyntz was a tall and merry girl--"a nut-brown maid" her father
called her. Her round, plump face showed a sheer light-heartedness and
joy in life that was always refreshing to people who found this life
rather a drab and ordinary affair. The care-worn priests and churchmen
who were her father's friends, men who were always too painfully aware
of the great stream of human tears which is for ever falling through the
shadows of the world, were all fond of her freshness and sparkle. And,
so the wisest of them thought that since she took nothing seriously, and
was quite untouched by the vexing problems in which they were
submerged, it was perhaps a good thing that so gay and bright a creature
should come into their lives for a space, realising that, after all, God
made the butterflies which hovered so daintily over the Scarning
water-flowers upon their painted fans.

James Poyntz, Lord Huddersfield's only son, was a very different type.
He resembled his dead mother, a daughter of the Duke of St. Just. He was
tall, slender, and muscular. His face was clean-shaved, lean, and with a
heavy jaw, not the heaviness that signals sensuality and dulness, but
purpose and resolution. His eyes were grey, and glittered when he became
animated, and his clear, cold voice grew emphatic.

Not long before, he had come down from Oxford, where he had
distinguished himself in the history schools, and also by availing
himself of the little-used permission to absent himself from chapel and
the examination known as "Divinity Moderations," granted to men who have
come of age, and who sign a declaration of their absolute and sincere
disbelief in the supernatural. It had been a piquant spectacle to the
sceptic undergraduates and younger dons, to see the son and heir of
Lord Huddersfield openly scornful and protesting against all that his
father held so dear, and quietly taking the much severer tests that the
University statutes impose upon those who would dispense with the
puerile divinity examination.

James Poyntz was on rather bad terms with his father. There was no
confidence between them, and perhaps but little love--though that had
never been tested. The young man had a sufficient fortune from his
mother, and his father was prepared to supplement his income in any way
he might wish, being far too sensible and just a man to endeavour to
make his son suffer financially for his opinions. But James Poyntz
refused money which, as he said, would have been purely superfluous to
him, and was occupied in carving a career for himself at the common-law
bar, where he was already a not inconspicuous figure among the junior
men.

His knowledge of ecclesiastical law was good, and in the wrangles
between diocesan chancellors and recalcitrant clergy which were becoming
more and more frequent, he was frequently retained. He was a very
familiar figure in Dr. Tristram's Consistory Court, and his familiarity
with ecclesiastical litigation only increased a contempt for those who
professed and called themselves Christians, which was as profound as it
was sincere, and as fundamentally the result of ignorance as it was
both.

For, brilliant as he was, the young man had not the slightest
acquaintance with modern religious thought. He saw everything through
the spectacles of temperamental distaste, and still believed that
Professor Huxley had dealt the final blow to Christianity in 1876! Lord
Huddersfield had often pressed his son to read the question as it at
present stood, to see what Gore and the philosophic apologists were
saying, or even to note the cautious but inevitable conclusions that
prominent scientists like Lord Kelvin and Sir Oliver Lodge were arriving
at. But the young man always refused. The ancient indictment of the
Gadarene swine represented the last word in the controversy for him, and
a brain keen and finely furnished with facts on all other questions, on
this was not only content to be forty years behind the conclusions of
theological science, but imagined that it was in the van of contemporary
thought.

Of late, Lord Huddersfield had given up the attempt to influence his
son's opinions. "It is impossible," he had said, "to explain that the
sky is blue to a man who has blindfolded himself all his life, and one
cannot build a basis in a vacuum." So, while both men respected each
other's attainments on all subjects but religious ones, on these James
thought his father a fool, and Lord Huddersfield knew that his son was.

Despite all this difference, the younger man was a frequent and welcome
visitor at his father's various houses, and between him and his sister
Agatha there was a real and deep affection. Agatha was conventionally
indifferent to religious things, James was profoundly antagonistic to
them, and thus, if they did not meet quite on common ground, they were
never likely to disagree.

And Lucy Blantyre, the third member of that gay young trio on the summer
morning, was a combination of both of them. She was very well off in the
affairs of this world, as indeed was her brother, Bernard Blantyre of
St. Elwyn's. But, while he had early devoted his life and money to the
service of God, Lucy had refused to identify herself with his interests.
She lived with her aunt, Lady Linquest, a gay old dame of Mayfair, and
it was only at rare intervals that she paid a duty visit to her
brother. Yet, though she was, from a surface point of view, purely a
society girl, popular, and happy in a bright and vivid life, there were
temperamental depths in her, unsounded as yet, which showed her
sometimes--to her own wonder and discomfort--that she was a true
blood-sister to the priest in north-east London. At times, a wave of
scorn for the Church possessed her. She saw the worst side of religious
externals and poured bitter fun upon their anomalies. This is, of
course, a very easy thing to do. Any one can ridicule the unseen and its
ministers: it requires no special talent to be rude to God! At other
times, the girl saw this very clearly and was ashamed. She had a good
brain and despised all that was cheap and vulgar at the bottom; and when
her moods of wilfulness had passed, she stood upon the brink of devotion
and belief.

Nothing serious animated any of the three. The day was wonderful. In a
sky like a hard, hollow sapphire the sun burned like a white-hot disc of
platinum. The island was deliciously cool; the murmur of a near river
mingled with the bourdon of the bees. The smooth turf on which they lay
was starred with chaste and simple flowers.

"Isn't it _perfect_ to-day!" Agatha said. "Bee, go away from my face!
'Pleasant it is when the woods are green and the winds are soft and low,
to lie amid some sylvan scene'--Lucy, dear, what are you thinking
about?"

"I was wondering if we were really reclining in what the poets of last
century called 'bosky shade.' Is this bosky, Mr. Poyntz?"

"Decidedly bosky, I should say. But surely both of you can put the
island to a better use than merely to illustrate quotations from the
poets? It's far too fine for that."

"Oh, do let me have 'bosky'," Lucy replied. "It's such a dear, comic
word. I've always loved it. It always seems a fat word to me. I'm sure
it's fat and it waddles--in the word world!"

"Then what does Agatha's 'sylvan' do?"

"Oh, sylvan?--well, I should think it was a slim, graceful, and very
young-ladyish kind of word. It wears a neat grey tailor-made coat and
skirt, and says, 'Papa is of opinion that,' or, 'Mamma has frequently
told me.'"

They all laughed, pleased with themselves, the hour, and the charm that
perfectly absurd talk has for young and happy people.

"Oh, don't talk of words, Miss Blantyre," Poyntz said, "I'm tired of
them. The long vacation draws near, when I want to forget all about
them. My words, the words I live by, or for, are beasts."

"Quote, dearest," Agatha said.

"Well, this is the sort of thing I see more often than anything else at
present," he replied: "'The humble petition of the vicar and
churchwardens of St. Somebody sheweth that, it being considered
desirable to make certain alterations and improvements in the church of
the said Parish, a meeting in Vestry duly convened for considering the
same, was held on the first of June, at which it was resolved that the
alterations shown in the plan annexed hereto and there produced, should
be carried out, a copy of which resolution is also hereto annexed.'"

Both the girls cried out to him to stop.

"What musty words, dry and rusty words!" Lucy said. "And, please, what
are they all about, and what do they mean?"

"They mean this--some worthy parson has badgered his congregation for
money. It is the desire of his soul to have a rood-screen in his
chancel, with a gilt and splendid crucifix upon the top. So, armed with
a mouthful of words like that, he gets him to a sort of cellar near St.
Paul's, where a dear old gentleman, named the Right Worshipful T. H.
Tristram, K. C., D.C.L., sits, in a big wig and a red robe. The parson
eloquently explains his wishes, and the Right Worshipful tells him to go
and be hanged--or polite words to that effect. Then I and other young
legal 'gents' get up and talk and argue, and the Right Worshipful
listens until he's tired, and then says no again. The parson goes back
to his roodless temple and preaches against Erastianism, and I and the
other young legal 'gents' pouch a few guineas, and go and play pool at
the Oxford and Cambridge Club."

"And then," Agatha went on,--"then father makes a speech and writes a
letter to the _Times_ and gets fearfully excited and worried for about a
week, neglects his meals, passes sleepless nights, and behaves in a
perfectly foolish manner generally. Then he goes down to the parish and
has a convivial meat tea with the poor parson, and before he goes gives
him a cheque for fifty pounds to go and have a holiday with after all
the strain!"

"Exactly," said Lucy, "I will take up the parable. I have seen our
friend, the parson, in the unutterable north London slum, where my poor
dear brother Bernard spends all his time and money. He goes, as you
say, for a holiday, to recover from the scene in the cellar near St.
Paul's. He goes to Dieppe or Boulogne, where he attends the cathedral
three times a day, and tries to fraternise with the priests, who regard
him as a layman masquerading in borrowed plumes. In revenge, he goes and
makes things uncomfortable for the local English chaplain, who, in most
continental towns, is an undersized person with a red nose and an
enormous red moustache and a strong flavour of Chadband at home. So
'all's well that ends well.' But, really, what fearful nonsense it all
is! Isn't it wonderful that people should waste their energies so!"

"If it amuses them it doesn't matter in the least," Agatha said. "Look
how happy it makes poor dear father. And I daresay he does good in his
way, don't you know. It's far better than racing or anything like that.
Poor dear Hermione Blackbourne was staying here not long ago, and she
was telling me what a wretched time they have at home. Lord Saltire
hardly ever pays the girls' allowances unless he's won a race, and the
poor dears have to study the sporting papers to know if they'll be able
to afford new frocks for Goodwood. Father's fads are at least harmless,
or, at any rate, no one has to suffer for what he gives away."

"The old type of clergyman seems to have quite died out," Lucy said.
"When I was a little girl, the rector at home was a dear old man, who
dressed just like an ordinary person, and went otter-hunting three days
a week. Yet I'm sure he was just as earnest as any of these new faddy
people. We had a delightful old pew, with a fireplace and chairs, and
poor dear father used to get his nap. And as for altar lights and copes
and incense, I don't suppose dear old Mr. Jenkyns had ever heard of such
things. The amount of money that Bernard spends on his church in that
way is ridiculous."

"The only good I can see in it," James Poyntz said, "is that it brings a
certain colour element into drab and dull lives. The people in your
brother's parish, who never see any thing artistic, must gain in that
way, I suppose. After all, Miss Blantyre, 'it's an ill wind that blows
nobody any good.' All this Church nonsense gives pleasure, however much
we may laugh at it. Take myself, for example. I'm intensely amused at
all the squabbles that go on between Christians. More evil passions are
stirred up and let loose over half a yard of green silk or the precise
manner in which half an ounce of flour and water is baked than the
politics of a century excite! It's perfectly true. There's a spirit of
bitter hatred in it all that is intensely interesting to the student of
character. There are hundreds of thousands of people in England who
would burn my poor father in front of St. Paul's to-morrow if they
could--good, respectable, honest British folk!"

"Well," Lucy said, with affected gloom, "all this only reminds me of my
coming penance. In a day or so now, I must dive into Hornham for my
yearly stay with Bernard. I shall emerge quite thin and crushed. I
always do. The 'clergy-house,' as they call the vicarage, is a
lugubrious place that suggests a rather superior workhouse. When I go,
the drawing-room is solemnly opened by the housekeeper. Bernard gives a
couple of dinner parties and a garden party to a set of the most
extraordinary people you ever saw in your life. I have to be hostess and
chatter to weird people, with whom I haven't a single idea in common.
Lady Linquest drove down from Park Lane to the garden party last year. I
shall never forget it. She gave Bernard such a talking to, told him to
'dress like a gentleman,' and exchange to a nice country parish with
some county people close by, and marry. I wish he would, too! He's
wasting his life, his money, and his health in that awful place. I don't
wonder at aunt's being angry. Why can't he do as she says? He could have
high jinks in a nice little country church in one of the home counties
just as well as where he is now."

"Beastly life, I should think," James Poyntz said. "Does he live all
alone?"

"Oh, the two curates live with him, Father Stephens and Father
King--they're all 'fathers,' it seems. These are two intense youths, who
dress in cassocks and tippets all day long, and wear their berrettas
everywhere. I think it's positively indecent to sit down to a meal
dressed like that. But the worst of it is, that there's always some fast
day or other, and I feel an awful pig to be having chicken and claret
while the other three have oatmeal and apples. But I insisted on proper
meals last year, much to the disgust of a gaunt old cat of a
housekeeper, whom Bernard thinks the whole world of."

She stopped, laughing at her own volubility, and lay back upon the
cushions, staring up at the green-leaf canopy above her head. All these
questions seemed very trivial and unreal at that moment, in that
pleasant place of sunshine, soft breezes, and the murmur of falling
water. She thought of the long, mean, suburban streets of Hornham with
humorous dismay. Thank goodness that she was only going to spend a
fortnight there, and then would be away in a gay continental
watering-place with Lady Linquest. But the few days were imperative. She
was fond of her brother and knew how bitterly disappointed he would be
if she were to withdraw from her promise to stay at St. Elwyn's. It was
a duty which must be done, and it was an unkind fate indeed that had
placed her brother in surroundings which were so uncongenial to her, and
endowed him with opinions so alien to her own.

James Poyntz had lighted a cigarette. The smoke curled upwards in
delicate grey spirals, and he could see his sister's friend through
them, surrounded by a shifting frame which cut off the striking and
clever face from its immediate surroundings, giving it a vivid and
independent individuality. He could survey it more completely so. There
was something in Lucy Blantyre that had begun to appeal to the young
man with great and greater strength as the days went on. She was close
upon beauty, and she had all the charm of a high-spirited and well-bred
girl in perfect health, and knowing no trouble in life. But in the life
to which he had been born, girls like her were not uncommon. Despite the
fiction-mongers who fulminate against the vices of "society," and would
have their readers believe that the flower of English girlhood is to be
found in the middle class alone, Poyntz knew many gracious girls who
were worthy to stand by any man's side throughout life. But in Lucy
Blantyre he was beginning to discern something deeper and stronger. He
thought that he saw in her a wonderful capacity for companionship, a
real talent for wifehood. He could imagine that she would be more to her
husband than an ordinary wife, identified with his hopes and career with
all her soul's power, one for whom Milton's epithalamium itself would
not be unworthy, with its splendid "Hail, wedded love!"

But, though such thoughts had been in and out of his mind for some time,
he was hardly in love with her as yet. His temperament was honest and
sincere, but cool and judicial also. He was the last man to take any
definite step without a full weighing of the chances and results.

But the two had become great friends. Agatha Poyntz had her own thoughts
about the matter, and they were very pleasant ones. Nothing would have
pleased her more than the marriage of her brother and her friend, and
she had made _tête-à-têtes_ for them in the adroit, unobtrusive manner
that girls know.

In all his conversations with Lucy, Poyntz had found a keen, resilient
brain that answered to his thoughts in precisely the way he wished. The
tinge of cynicism in her corresponded to the flavour of it in him, and
there was sometimes real wit and understanding in her mockery.

She "suited" him--that is how he would have put it--and he was now
beginning to ask and examine himself if love were not being born, a love
which might make their union a perfect and lasting thing upon his way
through life. Of her sentiments towards him he knew no more than that
she sincerely liked him and that they were friends.

The regular throbbing pant of a steam launch on the silver Thames
outside was heard, and Lucy turned suddenly in Poyntz's direction. She
saw that he was looking at her gravely and steadily. A very faint flush
came into her cheeks, almost imperceptible indeed, and then she smiled
frankly at him.

He smiled also, pleased with himself and her, and with a sense that a
new intimacy was suddenly established between them, an odd sense of
which he was quite certain.

Agatha looked at the little watch in a leather bracelet on her wrist.
"It's nearly lunch time!" she said; "I don't know how you people feel,
but the word has a very welcome sound to me. Jim, get up and punt us
home. You'll be able to argue with Father Saltus; I've asked him to
lunch with us to-day. I didn't know you were coming down."

She spoke of Lord Huddersfield's domestic chaplain, a wise and courtly
elderly man, whom they all liked, without in the least realising the
part he played in Church affairs, regarding him, indeed, as a harmless
student and a pleasant companion, but no more.

In fact, as the light and careless conversation of all of them showed,
not one of the three young people had the remotest idea of what they
were discussing. And though each one of them had a sense of humour, they
were not able to see the humorous side of their airy patronage of the
Catholic Church! This Mr. Saltus was known as one of the most profound
metaphysicians of the day. The greatest modern brains were influenced by
his writings in Christian apologetics; bishops, statesmen, great
scientists knew of him as one to whom it was given to show how all
thought and all philosophy were daily proving the truth of the
Incarnation. His work in the life of the Church was this, and he was
Lord Huddersfield's chaplain because that position gave him leisure and
freedom for his work, and kept him in touch with the very centre of
things.

James Poyntz had arrived from London by an early train, and had joined
the girls at once.

In a moment or two, the young man was propelling the long mahogany punt
with easy strokes towards the artificial cutting which led to the
Seaming boathouse. Then, laughing and talking together, the three
strolled over the wonderful lawns, pneumatic to the tread, brilliant as
emerald to the eye, towards the old house with its encircling oaks and
elms.

The tall red chimneys rose up between the leaves, that triumph of the
Tudor style, which alone of all architectural systems has shown how
chimneys may aid and complete the beauty of a building. The house rested
upon the lawns as if it might float away at any moment, as they passed
round an ancient grey dove-cot and some formal box-trees, and came in
sight of the beautiful place. James Poyntz gave a quick breath of
pleasure as he saw it, the old riverside palace of his ancestors. There
were other houses which would one day be his--a great, grim Yorkshire
fortress, the gay villa at Nice by the old citadel of Mont-Albano, where
the Paglion sings its song of the mountain torrent, the decorous London
mansion in Berkeley Square. But of all, he loved the old Tudor house by
the river best.

How well Lucy walked! her carriage was a pleasure to watch. Yes! she
harmonised with her background, she was in correspondence with her
environment, she would be a fit mistress of Scarning in some dim future
day.

They sat down to lunch in an ancient, mellow room, panelled in oak, with
Tudor roses everywhere. It was beautifully cool and fresh after the
glare outside. Father Saltus was a tall and very portly elderly man. His
head was large, formed on a grand scale, and his mouth powerful but
good-humoured. His eyebrows were very bushy and extremely white, and
they overhung eyes which were of a dark grey, deep but not sombre, with
much that was latent there.

The meal was progressing merrily when the butler entered and spoke to
the footman who had been waiting on them. Then he went up to Agatha.
"His Lordship has returned, Miss," he said, "and will be down to lunch
in a moment."

Lord Huddersfield had been away for several days. The family house in
London was let, as the Baron did not entertain largely since his wife's
death. Agatha's season was spent under the wing of the St. Justs, her
mother's people. But Lord Huddersfield had chambers in Piccadilly, and
no one ever quite knew whether or not he would be at Scarning at any
given time.

He entered in a moment, a slim, spectacled man, with a short beard, very
quietly dressed, a man who did not, at first glance, in any way suggest
the power he wielded or the strenuous personality he was.

He kissed his daughter, shook hands with his son, Lucy, and the
chaplain, and sat down. They noticed that he was pale and worried.

"Have any of you seen the papers?" he said in a strong, resonant voice,
which came oddly from a man so ordinary and undistinguished in
appearance.

"I saw the _Times_ this morning, Father," Poyntz said, "but that is
all." The girls confessed that they had not touched the pile of journals
in the library, and Mr. Saltus said he had been writing letters all the
morning and so had not yet been able to see the news.

"I am sorry," said Lord Huddersfield sadly. "I had hoped that you would
have seen the thing that has happened. I had hoped that I should not
have had to tell you, Miss Blantyre."

His voice was so charged with meaning that Lucy shivered. Her eyes
became full of apprehension. "Why me, Lord Huddersfield?" she said,
"what has happened?"

Agatha, who was thoroughly frightened, laid a sympathetic hand upon her
friend's arm. James, who was gazing anxiously at the girl, suddenly
turned to his father.

"I think you had better tell your news right out," he said quietly.
"Don't keep Miss Blantyre in suspense, Father; it is mistaken kindness.
I am sure that she will be brave."

Every one looked at Lord Huddersfield; the air was tense with
expectation. "Your good brother, Miss Blantyre," the peer began--Lucy
gave a quick gasp and the colour faded from her lips--"your good
brother, yesterday in church, was saying Mass when suddenly some local
residents rose in their places and made an open protest, shouting and
brawling at the very moment of the Prayer of Consecration!"

Lucy gazed steadfastly at him, waiting. He said nothing more. "Go on,
please," she managed to whisper at last.

"They were at once ejected, of course," Lord Huddersfield said.

"And Bernard?"

"Although his state of mind must have been terrible, despite his pain, I
learn from a private telegram that he continued the service to the end."

The three young people stared incredulously; only Father Saltus suddenly
looked very grave.

"But--why--is that all, Lord Huddersfield?" Lucy said with a gasp of
half-relief. "I thought you meant that something dreadful had happened
to Bernard."

"Yes," he said, very surprised, "I have told you."

James picked up his knife and fork, and continued his lunch without a
word. He was very angry with his father.

Agatha shrugged her shoulders slightly.

"Oh, that wasn't quite fair, Lord Huddersfield," Lucy said tremulously.
"You really made me think some awful thing had happened. Only a brawl in
church?"

"I am very sorry, my dear," he answered quickly; "I fear I have shown a
great want of tact. I did not know. I forgot, that is, that you don't
quite see these things as we do. You don't realise what it means."

"Shall I give you some chicken, Father?" Agatha said, looking at a dish
of mayonnaise before her. She thought that there had been quite a fuss
made about nothing.

Lord Huddersfield sighed. He felt that he was in a thoroughly
uncongenial atmosphere, though he was sorry for the alarm he had caused.
Once his eye fell in mild wonder upon his guest. How unlike her brother
she was, he thought.

There was an awkward silence, which James broke at length.

"I always thought," he said, "that there would be trouble soon. The days
for locking clergymen up have passed by, but Protestant feeling is bound
to have its outlet."

His quick brain had seized upon the main point at once.

"Well, there will be more work for the lawyers," he continued.

Lord Huddersfield frowned a little. "Of course, I can't expect you to
see the thing as I do, James," he said. "To me such a public insult to
our Lord is terrible. It almost frightens one. What poor Blantyre must
have felt, what every Catholic there must have felt, is most painful to
imagine."

"I'm sure Mr. Poyntz has sympathy with any body of people whose most
sacred moment has been roughly disturbed," the chaplain said. "Whatever
a man's convictions may be, he must feel that. But the thing is over and
nothing can put it right. What I fear is, that this is only the
beginning of a series of sacrilegious acts which may do the Church
incalculable harm."

"The newspaper report, which appeared everywhere but in the _Times_,"
Lord Huddersfield replied, "stated that it was only the beginning of a
campaign. All the reports were identical and apparently supplied to the
papers by the same person, probably the brawlers themselves--who appear
to be people of no consequence whatever."

"There will be a service of reparation?" asked the chaplain.

"Yes, to-morrow," answered Lord Huddersfield. "I am going down to
Hornham and shall be present. We must discuss everything with Blantyre
and settle exactly what lines the _Church Standard_ will take up."

"Of course, Mr. Blantyre will prosecute?" James said.

"Oh, yes. My telegram told me that the summons had already been issued.
The law is quite clear, I suppose, on the point, James?"

"Quite. Brawling in church is a grave offence. But these people will, of
course, pose as martyrs. Public opinion will be with them, a nominal
fine will be inflicted, and they'll find themselves heroes. I'm afraid
the Ritualists are going to have a bad time. In '68, the Martin _v._
Mackonochie judgment was very plain, and in '71 the judicial committee
of the Privy Council was plainer still in the case of Herbert _v._
Punchas. Then, after the Public Worship Regulation Act, the Risdale
judgment clinched the whole thing. That was at the beginning of it all.
Now, though prosecutions have been almost discontinued, the few cases
that have been heard before the ecclesiastical courts are all the same.
So far as I can see, if this pleasant little habit of getting up and
brawling protests in church becomes popular, a big fire will be lighted
and the advanced men will have to draw in their horns."

Lord Huddersfield smiled. He attempted no argument or explanation. He
had thrashed out these questions with his son long ago. Father Saltus
spoke instead.

"If this really spreads into a movement, as it may," he said, "ignorant
public opinion will be with the protestors for a month or two. But that
is all. The man in the street will say that every one has a right to
hold whatever religious opinions he pleases, and to convert others to
his views--if he can--by the ordinary methods of propagandism. But he
will also say that no one has a right to air his opinions by disturbing
the devotions of those who don't happen to agree with him. And what is
more, no religious cause was ever advanced by these means. I have no
doubt that these people will boast and brag that they are vindicating
the cause of law in the Church of England. But if they knew anything of
the history of that Protestantism they champion--which, of course, they
_don't_, for they know nothing whatever--they would know that the law is
the most impotent of all weapons to crush a religious movement."

James nodded. "It is a truism of history," he agreed.

"Exactly. To call in the aid of the law to counteract the spread of any
religious doctrine or ceremonial is to adopt the precise means that sent
the Oxford martyrs to the stake and lighted the Smithfield fires. From
the days when the High Priests called in the law's aid to nip
Christianity in the bud, the appeal to the law has never been anything
but an appeal to the spirit of intolerance and persecution against the
freedom of religious belief and worship."

Agatha rose from the table. "Come along, Lucy dear," she said; "'all's
well that ends well,' and your brother's not going to have a bomb thrown
at him just yet. You will be in the thick of the disturbance in a few
days; meanwhile, make the most of the river and the sunshine! Jim, come
and punt us to the Eyot."

She kissed her father and fluttered away singing happily a snatch of an
old song, _Green Grow the Rushes O!_

The others followed her. The two elder men were left alone, and for a
minute or two neither spoke.

Then Saltus said: "They are all young, they have made no contact with
real life yet. God does not always call in early life. To some people,
the cross that is set so high over the world is like a great star,--it
is not seen until the surrounding sky is darkened and the sun grows
dim."

"I am going into the chapel," Lord Huddersfield said, "to be alone for
an hour. There must be many prayers going up to-day to God for the wrong
these poor ignorant men have done."

"Pray that they may be forgiven. And then, my dear Lord," he continued,
"suppose we have a talk over the situation that has been created--if any
situation beyond the purely local one _has_ been created." A fighting
look came into his face. "We shall be wise to be prepared, to have our
guns loaded."

"Yes, Father," Lord Huddersfield said rather grimly, "we are not without
power and influence, I am happy to think."



CHAPTER IV

LUCY BLANTYRE AT THE CLERGY-HOUSE


Lucy Blantyre left Scarning Court on Thursday morning. James Poyntz
travelled up to town with her. She was to go home to Park Lane for an
hour or two, make one of the guests at a lunch party with Lady Linquest,
and then, in the afternoon, drive down to Hornham.

She was alone in a first-class carriage with James during the whole of
the journey to London. The last three days had marked a stage in their
intercourse. Both of them were perfectly aware of that. Intimacy between
a young man and a girl is very rarely a stationary thing. It progresses
in one direction or another. James began to talk much of his ambitions.
He told her how he meant to carve his way in the world, the place he
meant to take. The Poyntz family was a long-lived one; Lord Huddersfield
himself was only middle-aged, and might live another thirty years. James
hoped that it would be so.

"I want to win my own way by myself," he said. "I hope the title will
not come for many years. It would mean extinction if it came now. You
sympathise with that, don't you?"

She was very kind to him. Her answers showed a real interest in his
confidences, but more than that. There was acumen and shrewdness in
them.

"You know," he said, "I do hate and detest the way the ordinary young
man in my position lives. It is so futile and silly. I recognised it
even at Oxford. Because of one's father, one was expected to be a silly
fool and do no work. Of course, there were some decent fellows,--Dover,
the Duke of Dover, was quiet and thought about things. But all my
friends were drawn from the social class which people suppose to be just
below our own, the upper middle class. It's the backbone of England. Men
in it take life seriously."

He stopped after a time, and gazed out of the window at the flying
landscape. Suddenly he turned to her. "I'm so glad you are my sister's
great friend, Lucy," he said.

It was the first time that he had spoken her first name to her. His tone
was charged with meaning.

She looked up quickly, and saw that his eyes were fixed upon her.

"You are all very kind to me," she said.

"Every one would be kind to you. I have been very happy since you have
let me be your friend. Do you know that my work and my hopes seem dearer
than ever to me now that I have told you so much of them. We have got to
know each other very well, haven't we?"

"Very well."

"We shall know each other better. It is my hope. I wonder if I might
write to you now and then, and tell you some of my thoughts and how
things are with me? Would such letters bore you?"

"I should value them, and think them a privilege. A woman is always
gratified when a man confides his thoughts to her. So many men never
allow a woman friend to see below the surface, and so many men--at any
rate, men that I am in the way of meeting--have no thoughts to tell one
even if they would."

The train began to go more slowly as it rumbled through the dingy
environs, and shook over the myriad points of Waterloo Station. Neither
of them spoke again. There was no doubt in the mind of either as to the
meaning of the situation.

The girl had gathered all his thoughts from his tone. It was very
pleasant to be with him, this sane and brilliant young man with a great
name and such powers. It made her happy to know how he regarded
her--that out of all the girls he knew he had chosen her for a friend.
He would some day ask her to be something more; that also she knew, and
knew that he was conveying it to her. She did not love him, love was a
word not very real to her as yet. Her mental eyes had never visualised
it, it was an abstraction. But she liked and admired him more than any
other man of her set: he was a _man_. Well, there was time enough yet to
think of all that. Meanwhile his deference was sweet; her heart warmed
to him as his, she knew, was warm to her at that moment.

He saw her to the door of the waiting victoria, and stood chatting for a
moment in the hurry of the station, making the footman mount his box
again.

Then he gave the signal to start, and stood upon the platform by his
hansom as she was driven rapidly away. Once she turned and waved a hand
to him.

Lucy lay back in the carriage, pleased with herself and all the world.
She had come on to Victoria, instead of getting out at Vauxhall,
specially to enjoy the longer drive. It was a brilliant day, and as the
carriage came upon Waterloo Bridge, the wonderful panorama of riverside
London was uplifting. Away to her right, the purple dome of St. Paul's
shone white-grey in the sun. The great river glittered in the morning
air, and busy craft moved up and down the tide. The mammoth buildings of
the embankment, Somerset House with its noble façade, the Savoy, the
monster Cecil, the tiled roofs of Scotland Yard all came to the eye in
one majestic sweep of form and colour. And far away to the left, dim in
a haze of light, the towers of Westminster rose like a fairy palace,
tipped with flame as the sun caught the gold upon the vanes and spires.

London! yes! it was, after all, the most beautiful city in the world,
seen thus, at this hour, from this place. How the heart quickened and
warmed to it.

Suddenly the thought of Hornham came to her. She made a little
involuntary movement of disgust. For a whole fortnight she would be
there. It would be intolerable. Why could not Bernard come to Park Lane
for a fortnight? How much more sensible that would be.

Well, it was no good thinking of it. The thing must be done. Yet, from
one point of view how curious it was. How strange that a drive of two
hours would plunge her into a world entirely foreign and alien in every
way to her world.

She was driving up Grosvenor Place now, by the long walls of the King's
Palace Garden, over which the trees showed fresh and green. The stately
street, with the Park gates at the end of its vista, only accentuated
the contrast. She utterly failed to understand how any one could do what
her brother did. There was not the slightest reason for the endurance of
these horrors. His personal income was large, his family connections
were influential. He could obtain a fashionable West End living without
any trouble. She was still scornfully wondering as the carriage stopped
at Lady Linquest's house in Park Lane.

Lucy found her aunt in a little room of china-blue and canary-yellow
which looked out over the Park.

She was a tall woman, of full figure. The face was bright and animated,
though somewhat sensual, inasmuch as it showed that its owner
appreciated the good material things that life has to offer. At
sixty-two, when dames of the middle classes have silver hair and are
beginning to assume the gentle manners of age, Lady Linquest wore the
high curled fringe of the fashion, a mass of dark red hair that had
started life upon the head of a Bréton peasant girl. Art had been at
work upon her face and she was pleasant to look on, an artificial
product indeed, but with all the charm that a perfect work of art has.

She made no secret of it to her intimate friends, and no one thought any
the worse of her in a society where nearly every one who has need of
aids to good looks buys them in Bond Street. Indeed, she was quite
unable to understand what she called "the middle class horror of paint."
"Why on earth," she would say, "any one can possibly object to an old
woman making herself look as pleasant as possible for the last few years
of her life, I can't make out. It's a duty one owes to one's friends. It
sweetens life. At any rate, _I_ don't intend to go about like old Mother
Hubbard or the witch in whatshername."

"Lucy, my dear," said this vivacious dame as her niece entered, "you're
looking your best this morning. And when you look your best my
experience generally tells me that you've been up to some wickedness or
other! How's Agatha, and has James Poyntz been at Scarning, and how's
that poor dear man, Huddersfield, who always reminds me of a
churchwarden? He is the king of all the churchwardens in England, I
think."

Lucy sat down and endeavoured to answer the flood of questions as
satisfactorily as might be, while Lady Linquest took her mid-morning
pick-me-up of Liebig and cognac.

The good lady gave her niece a rapid _précis_ of the news of their set
during the few days she had been away. "So that you'll know," she said,
"what to talk about at General Pompe's lunch--your last decent meal, by
the way, for a fortnight! I shall give orders to the cook to put a
hamper in the carriage for you to take with you to Bernard's. All those
poor young men starve themselves."

She rattled away thus while Lucy went to her own room to dress. For some
reason or other, why she could not exactly divine, she was dissatisfied
and ill at ease. The exhilaration of the railway journey, of the
wonderful drive through sunlit London, had gone. Her aunt, kind
creature as she was, jarred upon her this morning. How terribly shallow
the good lady seemed, after all! She was like some gaudy fly dancing
over a sunlit brook--or even circling round malodorous farmyard
stuff--brilliant, useless, and with nothing inside but the mere muscles
of its activity. James Poyntz's words recurred to her, his deep scorn of
a purely frivolous, pleasure-loving life was present in her brain.

Lucy was genuinely fond of Lady Linquest, but somehow on this bright
morning to hear a woman with one foot in the grave talking nothing but
scandal and empty catchwords of Vanity Fair, struck with a certain chill
to her heart.

To see her sitting there, curled, painted, scented, sipping her tonic
drink, ready for a smart party of people as empty and useless as
herself, was to see a thing that hurt, after the experiences of the
morning.

Lucy had not taken her maid to Scarning. She had wanted to live as
simply as possible there, to live the outdoors riverside life. And she
was not going to take Angelique to Hornham either--where the girl would
be miserable and a nuisance to the grave little community there. She
felt very glad, as the chattering little French woman helped her to
dress, that she was not coming with her. The maid's voluble boulevard
French got on her nerves; the powder on her face, which showed violet in
the sunlight, the strong scent of verbena she wore, the expression of
being abnormally "aware"--all these were foreign to Lucy's mood, and she
noticed them with an almost physical sense of disapproval that she had
never before felt so strongly.

The drive to the smart hotel near Piccadilly only took five or six
minutes, and the two ladies were soon shaking hands with old General
Pompe, their host. General the Hon. Reginald Pompe was an old creature
who was only kept from senile decay by his stays. He was unmarried,
extremely wealthy, and the fashion. In his younger days, his life had
been abominable; now, his age allowed him to do nothing but lick the
chops of vicious memories and prick his ears for scandals in which he
could not share. People said, "Old General Pompe is really _too_ bad,
but where one sees the Duke of ---- and the Prince of ---- we may be
sure that people like ourselves cannot be far wrong."

The other guests comprised Lord Rollington, of whom there was nothing to
be said save that he was twenty-four and a fool; Gerald Duveen, who was
a fat man of good family, and more or less of a success upon the stage;
and his beautiful, bold-looking wife, a judge's daughter, who played
under the name of Miss Mary Horne, and of whom much scandal was
whispered.

After a moment or two in the palm room, waiting for the Duveens, who
were a minute or two late, the six people went in to lunch. The special
table General Pompe always used was reserved for them, decorated with a
triumphant scheme of orchids and violets. Lumps of ice were hidden among
the masses of flowers, diffusing an admirable coolness round the table.

The host drew attention to the menu, which he had composed. He mumbled
over it, and as he bent his head Lucy saw that his ears were quite
pointed, and that the skin upon his neck lay in pachydermatous folds,
dry and yellowish.

"Baked red snapper, red wine sauce," said Mr. Duveen, with the purring
and very distinct voice of high comedy. "Hm--turtle steaks
_miroton_--sweetbreads--_Tadema_, quite the best way to do sweetbreads."

Mrs. Duveen was talking in a low, rapid voice to Lady Linquest. Her
eyes were very bright, and malice lurked in the curves of a lovely mouth
as she retailed some story of iniquity in high places, one of these
private and intimate scandals in which the half-life of the stage is so
rich--actors and actresses more than most people being able to see
humanity with the mask off. How greedy the three men looked, Lucy
thought, as they devoured the lunch in prospect. "Pigs!" she said to
herself with a little inward shudder.

Why was this? She had been at dozens of these functions before now and
had thought none of these thoughts. To-day a veil seemed removed from
her eyes: she saw things as they really were. And as they really were,
these people were abominable.

Any of them would

    "Buy a minute's mirth to wail a week,
    And sell eternity to gain a toy."

They had the manners of organ-grinders and the morals of monkeys. She
caught some words of what Mrs. Duveen was saying now and again. Lord
Rollington began to tell her, with affected disgust, how he had been at
a burlesque theatre the night before, and the musical-comedy heroine of
the hour had been so intoxicated that she could hardly sing her song.

"Too bad, you know, Miss Blantyre. I spotted it at once. It's always
disgustin' to see a girl take too much to drink, but when she's caperin'
about the stage like that one really has a right to complain. Don't you
think so? Now, if it had been a poor little chorus girl, she'd have been
fired out of the theatre in a second. For my part, I--" and so on for an
interminable five minutes.

General Pompe began to flirt with Lucy in that elderly
"you-are-only-a-little-girl" sort of manner, that is so difficult to
repel and which is so offensive. She saw his horny eyes roving over her
person with appreciation.

A great many of Lady Linquest's particular set were like this. Not all
of them, thank goodness, but so very many! And the worst of it was that
society mingled and overlapped so strangely. The sheep and the goats
were not separated in any way. People like the Huddersfields stood
almost alone, and even Agatha, when she was with the St. Justs--her
mother's family--constantly met this sort of people. But, then, Agatha
didn't seem to care, she didn't realise. She laughed at everything and
thought it "awfully good fun." In fact, Lucy realised Agatha was
exactly the same as she herself had always been--with the very slightest
intervals--until this moment. It was startling to think that the words
of Lord Huddersfield's son had worked this revolution in her point of
view. For she was quite persuaded that they were the reason of it. She
could find no other reason.

She did not realise then, as she was to realise with humble thankfulness
and awe in the future, the august influence that was at work within her.

She was not gay at lunch. Usually she was a most welcome member of any
such gathering as this. Her sayings were pointed, she entered fully into
the spirit of the hour, her wit adorned the charm of her personality,
and she was universally popular and voted "good fun" in the
comprehensive epitome of her associates. This was the highest praise
they knew, and they gave it her without stint.

To-day the party fell flat--there was no doubt about it. The radiance of
the early morning had given place to a heat which became terribly
oppressive, and the sky was overclouded. Thunder was in the air, and
London awaited a storm.

The electric lights began to glow in the restaurant.

Lady Linquest did her best to rouse her niece to gaiety, but her efforts
were futile. The old man who was entertaining them grew sulky, and Lord
Rollington drank glass after glass of champagne. The beautiful actress
was frankly bored, and became more cynical and bitter with every
scandalous story she told.

Only Mr. Duveen preserved his equanimity. He ate and drank and purred
with secure complaisance. It was his rôle in life. Ever since he had
been a little lick-trencher fag at Eton he had been thus. It was said by
his friends in society--after his back was turned--that on one occasion,
having discovered the Earl of ---- kissing his wife, he had murmured an
apology, saying that he had come to find his cigarette case, and
hurriedly retired from the room. This, no doubt, was scandal and untrue,
but it showed the estimation in which he was generally held.

Lucy knew this unpleasant story--Lady Linquest had told her. She thought
of it as she watched the man pouring _mandarin_ into his coffee. Once
more she felt the shrinking and repulsion that had come over her more
than three hours ago.

She knew, or once had known, her Dante. She had had but little time for
anything but frothy reading during the last year or two, but once she
had kept up her Italian. A passage from the _Inferno_ came into her
brain now,--a long-forgotten passage:

    "Quest i non hanno speranza di morte,
      E la lor cicca vita è tanto bassa
    Che invidiosi son d'ogni altra sorte."

She saw the people of whom the Florentine spoke before her now, the
people for whom the bitterest fate of all had been reserved,--these who
"have no hope of death, and whose blind life so meanly drags that they
are envious of every other fate."

Before she left Park Lane, it had been arranged that the small brougham
should call for her at the restaurant, and take her on to Hornham. Her
luggage was small. This smart society girl was going to take her plunge
into the great London _Hinterland_ with a single trunk, like any little
governess driving to her new situation, where she would learn how bitter
the bread of another may taste, and how steep are the stairs in the
house of a stranger.

The carriage arrived just as lunch was over, and she left all of them
with immeasurable relief.

Driving up Shaftesbury Avenue to find her northward route was like
driving into a black curtain. It was terribly hot and dark, the horses
were uneasy, and the people moving on the pavements seemed like phantoms
in some city of dreadful night.

London began to grip and hold her then as it had never done before. Seen
under this pall, its immensity and the dignity it gained by that was
revealed in a new aspect. _Her_ London, her corner of the town, the mere
pleasure-city, became of no consequence, its luxury, its parks and
palaces, shrank and dwindled to nothing in her consciousness.

She was attuned to thoughts more solemn than were wont to have their way
with her. Her eyes and ears were opened to the reality of life.

She had lost her dislike for the visit she was going to pay. Below her
frequent irritation at her brother's way of life there had always been a
strong affection for him. And more than that, she had always respected
him, though often enough she would not admit it even to herself. As the
brougham turned into the surging arcana at Islington her curiosity
about the next few days was quickened: the thought of personal
discomfort--discomfort of a physical kind--had quite gone. She felt that
she was about to have experience of something new, her pulses quickened
to it.

The vicarage of St. Elwyn's was one of those stately old red-brick
houses, enclosed in a walled garden of not inconsiderable extent, that
are still to be found here and there in north London. They date from the
florid Georgian times, when that part was a spacious countryside where
wealthy merchants withdrew from commerce in the evening of their days
and lived a decorous life among the fields and trees. Here and there, in
the vast overgrown and congested districts, one or another of these old
freeholds has been preserved inviolate--as may be seen in the ride from
Hackney to Edmonton--and becomes an alien in a wilderness of mean little
houses and vulgar streets.

Father Blantyre had bought one of these few remaining mansions in
Hornham, at a high price, and had presented it to the parish of St.
Elwyn's as its vicarage. Here he lived with his two curates and a staff
of four servants,--a housekeeper, two maids, and a man-of-all-work. The
personal wants of the three clergymen were very simple, but the servants
were useful in many parochial affairs. In times when work was scarce,
the vicarage staff boiled soup, like any cheap restaurant-keeper. The
house was open at all times of the day or night to people who wanted to
be quiet and alone for a time; social clubs and guilds had their
headquarters there.

Indeed, the place was the centre of a diversified and complex life--how
complex, neither Lucy, nor any outsider, had the least conception.

The carriage stopped at the heavy square porch with its flight of steps,
and the footman ran up them and rang the bell.

Lucy noticed with amusement that the man's face expressed a mild wonder
at the neighbourhood in which he found himself, and that he winked
solemnly at the coachman on his box.

Lucy stood on the steps for a moment. The sky was quite dark, and the
little side street in which she was, showed in a dim and sulphurous
half-light--like the light round the House of Usher. A piano-organ close
by was beating out its vibrant mechanical music with an incongruous and
almost vulgar disregard of the menace of the heavens.

The housekeeper opened the front door, and Lucy entered a big panelled
hall, now in a gloom that was almost profound, and with a tiled floor
that clicked and echoed as the high heels of her shoes struck upon it.

"The vicar is in his study, Miss," the housekeeper said. She was a tall,
gaunt, elderly woman, with a face that always reminded Lucy of a horse,
and her voice was dry and hesitating.

Lucy crossed the hall, opened a door of oak and another of green baize,
and entered her brother's room.

It was a large, lofty place. The walls were covered with books in sober
bindings,--there must have been several thousands there. A soft carpet
covered the floor, in the centre of which stood an enormous
writing-table crowded with books and papers.

Hardly any light came into the place through the long window, and two
candles in massive silver holders stood upon the writing-table, throwing
a soft radiance around.

The light fell upon a tall crucifix of silver that stood upon the table,
a beautiful specimen of English Pre-Reformation work. A small couch had
been drawn up close to the table, and on it the priest lay asleep. The
face was lined and drawn with worry and with work, and all its secrets
were told as the man slept. One hand lay hanging from the side of the
sofa--a lean, strong hand, with a coil of muscle upon the back. Seen
thus in an abandonment of repose, Lucy's brother showed as a man worn
and weary with battle, scarred and battered, bruised, but how
irrevocably rich!

A rush of tenderness came over the girl as she looked at him. Here was
the man who had not winced or cried aloud, whose spirit was unbowed
beneath the bludgeonings of life.

A high serenity lay over the pain upon the face. It was a face vowed, a
saint's face, and even as he slept the great soul which shone like a
monstrance within him, irradiated the mask that hid it.

Lucy saw all this, received some such impressions as those in two or
three moments. Some attraction drew her eyes from the sleeper to the
shining symbol of God's pain upon the table. Then they went back to
Bernard Blantyre. To her excited fancy there seemed some subtle sympathy
between them, an invisible shuttle that was flying to and fro.

Then Blantyre awoke and saw her. He did not come from the kingdom of
sleep gradually, as most people do, loath to leave those silent halls.
He sprang suddenly into full consciousness, as soldiers upon fields of
battle, as old veterans used to sudden drums and tramplings are known to
do.

His eyes lighted up with merriment and triumph, his mobile face was one
great smile. He caught her by the arms and kissed her repeatedly. "It's
splendid to have you again, me darling," he said, with a slight Irish
accent that came to both of them when they were excited. "Ye little
wretch, staying away so long! Why, ye're prettier than ever! Ye'll have
all the Hornham boys waiting for ye outside the church door after Mass,
for we don't see your sort down our humble way--the rale West End
product!"

Laughing and chattering, putting on the most exaggerated brogue, the
brother and sister moved out into the hall. Father Blantyre called
loudly, "King! Stephens! where are ye? she's come!--I don't know where
my boys are at all, mavourneen--We'll dress um down for not being in to
welcome the new clergywoman. Now, come up to your room, sweetheart, and
Bob'll bring your box up. Bob! bring me sister's trunk up-stairs."

The little man ran up the wide stairway, an odd, active figure in his
black cassock, laughing and shouting in an ecstasy of pleasure and
excitement. No schoolboy could have been more merry, more full of simple
joy.

Lucy followed him, half laughing, half inclined to sob at this happy
welcome. She was carried off her feet by it all, by this strange arrival
under lurid skies at the dingy old house which suddenly seemed so
home-like.

Reproach filled her heart at her long neglect as she heard her brother's
joy. Simplicity!--yes, that was it. He was utterly simple. The thought
of the people she had left so short a time ago was more odious than
ever.

She found herself alone in her bedroom, a big, gloomy place with solid
mahogany furniture in the old style. There was nothing modern there save
a little _prie-dieu_ of oak by the bedside. But the sober colours and
outmoded massiveness of it all no longer troubled her. She did not give
a single thought to her own luxurious nest in Park Lane--as she had done
so often during her first visit to St. Elwyn's a year ago.

When she went down-stairs once more, both the assistant priests had come
in and were waiting with the vicar in the study, where some tea was
presently brought.

Stephens was a tall, youthful-looking man, rather slangy perhaps, with a
good deal of the undergraduate about him still, but obviously in
earnest. King was square-faced; the clean-shaved jaw showed powerful and
had a flavour of the prize-fighter about it, while his general
expression was grim and somewhat forbidding. He was much the elder of
the two. His expression, the outward shell, was no index to the man
within. A tenderer heart never beat in a man; a person more
temperamentally kind never lived. But he had more capacity for anger,
righteous anger, than either the vicar or Stephens. There were moments
when he could be terrible, and some savage strain in him leaped to the
surface and was only curbed by a will which had long been sanctified to
good.

The two men seemed glad to see Lucy again. She had seen little of them
on her first visit; neither of them had made any impression on her. Now
they interested her at once.

"Now, then, Bernard," Lucy said as she began to pour out the tea, "what
is all this I hear about a scene in church? Lord Huddersfield was full
of it. He was most distressed."

"He has been awfully good about it," Blantyre said. "He was down here on
Tuesday morning going into the matter. A man named Hamlyn, the editor of
a little local paper, threw the church into a miserable state of
confusion during Mass last Sunday, just after I had said the Prayer of
Consecration. He read a document protesting against the Blessed
Sacrament. We had him ejected, and yesterday he was fined ten shillings
in the local police court. The magistrate, who is a pronounced
Protestant in his sympathies, said that though the defendant had
doubtless acted with the best intentions, one must not combat one
illegality with another, and that the law provided methods for the
regulation of worship other than protests during its process!"

"Pompous old ass!" said Stephens.

"Well, I'm glad they fined him," Lucy said.

"'All's well that ends well!' You won't have the services disturbed
again."

"On the contrary, dear, we are all very much afraid that this is the
first spark of a big fire. We hear rumours of an organised movement
which may be widely taken up by the enemies of the Church. All through
the ranks there's a feeling of uneasiness. Lord Huddersfield is working
night and day to warn the clergy and prepare them. We cannot say how it
will end."

He spoke with gravity and seriousness. Lucy, who privately thought the
whole thing a ridiculous storm in a teacup, and was utterly ignorant of
the points at issue, looked sympathetic, but said nothing. She was not
in a flippant mood; she realised she was quite an outsider in the
matter, which seemed so momentous to the three intelligent men she was
with, and, unwilling to betray her lack of comprehension or to say
anything that would jar, she kept a discreet silence.

"We all get shouted after already, when we go into the worst parts of
the parish," said Stephens cheerfully. "They've been rousing the
hooligan element. It's an old trick. Lazy bounders, who don't know a
Christian from a Jew and have never been in a church in their lives,
shout 'papist' after us as we go into the houses. Just before I came in,
I was walking up the street when a small and very filthy urchin put his
head round the corner of a house and squeaked out, 'Oo kissed ve Pope's
toe?' Then he turned and ran for dear life. As yet, I haven't been
assaulted, but King has! Haven't you, King?"

Mr. King looked rather like a bashful bulldog, and endeavoured to change
the subject.

"Do you mean any one actually struck you, Mr. King?" Lucy said,
absolutely bewildered. "How awful! But why should any one want to do
that?"

The vicar broke in with a broad grin that made his likeness to a
comedian more apparent than ever.

"Oh, King was splendid!" he said with a chuckle. "That ended very well.
A big navvy chap was coming out of a public-house just as King was
passing. He looked round at his friends and called out something to the
effect that here was another monkey in petticoats--we wear our cassocks
in the streets--and see how he'd do for um! So he gave poor King a clout
on the side of the head."

"Oh, I _am_ sorry," Lucy said, looking with interest upon the priest,
and realising dimly that to be a clergyman in Hornham apparently ranked
as one of the dangerous trades. "What did you do, Mr. King?"

King flushed a little and looked singularly foolish. He was a bashful
man with ladies,--they did not come much into his pastoral way.

Lucy thought that the poor fellow had probably run away and wished that
she had not asked such an awkward question.

"Oh, he won't tell ye, my dear!" Blantyre said, "but I will. When the
gentleman smacked um on the cheek, he turned the other to him and kept's
hands behind's back. Then the hero smacked that cheek too. 'Hurroo!'
says King, or words to that effect, 'now I've fulfilled me duty to me
religion and kept to the words of Scripture. And now, me friend, I'm
going to do me duty to me neighbour and thrash ye till ye can't see out
of your eyes.' With that he stepped up to um and knocked um down, and
when he got up, he knocked um down again!"

Mr. King fidgeted uneasily in his seat. "I thought it was the wisest
thing to do," he said, apologetically. "You see, it would stop anything
of the sort for the future!"

"And the fun of the whole thing, Miss Blantyre," Stephens broke in, "was
that I came along soon after and found the poor wretch senseless--King's
got a fist like a hammer. So we got him up and refused to charge him to
the policeman who turned up after it was all over, and we brought him
here. We sponged him and mended him and fed him, and he turned out no
end of a good sort when the drink was out of him. Poor chap gets work
when he can, hasn't a friend in the world; hadn't any clothes or
possessions but what he stood up in, and was utterly a waster and
uncared for. We asked him if he knew what a papist was, and found he
hadn't an idea, only he thought that they made love to workingmen's
wives when their husbands were at work! He'd been listening to our
friend, Mr. Hamlyn, who called a mass-meeting after the police-court
proceedings and lectured on the three men of sin at the vicarage!"

A flood of strange and startling ideas poured into the girl's brain. A
new side of life, a fourth dimension, was beginning to be revealed to
her. She looked wonderingly at the three men in their long cassocks; she
felt she was in the presence of power. She had felt that when James
Poyntz was talking to her in the train, in the fresh, sunlit morning,
which seemed a thing of the remotest past now. Yet this afternoon she
felt it more poignantly than before. Things were going on down here, in
this odd corner of London, that were startling in their newness.

"And what happened to the poor man?" she said at length.

"Oh," answered the vicar, "very fortunately we are without a man of all
work just now, so we took him on. He carried your trunk up-stairs. He's
wearing Stephen's trousers, which are much too tight for um! and an old
flannel tennis coat of King's--till we can get his new clothes made. He
was in rags!"

"But surely that's rather risky," Lucy said in some alarm. "And what
about the other servants? I shouldn't think Miss Cass liked it much!"

Miss Cass was the housekeeper, the woman with the face like a horse. She
always repelled Lucy, who, for no reason than the old, stupid "Dr. Fell"
reason, disliked her heartily.

To her great surprise, she saw three faces turned towards her suddenly.
On each was an expression of blank surprise, exactly the same
expression. Lucy wanted to laugh; the three men were as alike as
children are when a conjuror has just made the pudding in the hat or
triumphantly demonstrated the disappearing egg.

The taciturn King spoke first. "I forgot," he said; "of course you don't
know anything about Miss Cass. How should you, indeed! Miss Cass is a
saint."

He said it quite simply, with a little pride, possibly, that the
vicarage which housed him housed a saint, too, but that was all.

"Yes," the vicar said, his brogue dropping away from him, as it always
did when he was serious, "Miss Cass is a saint. I'll tell you her story
some time while you're here, dear. It is a noble story. But don't you be
alarmed about our new importation. Bob will be all right. We know what
we are doing here."

"It's wonderful, Miss Blantyre," Stephens broke out, his boyish face all
lighted up with enthusiasm. "You know, Bob'd actually never been in
church before yesterday morning, when he came to Mass."

He stopped for a moment, out of breath in his eagerness. Lucy saw that
he--indeed, all of them--took it quite for granted that these things
they spoke of had supreme interest for her as for them. There was such
absolute _conviction_ that these things were the only important things,
that no excuse or apology was necessary in speaking of them. She found
she liked that, she liked it already. There was a magnetism in these
men that drew her within their circle. She saw that, whatever else they
were, they were absolutely consistent. They did not have one eye on
convention and the world, like the West End clergymen she knew,--some of
them at least. These men lived for one aim, one end, with tremendous
force and purpose. They simply disregarded everything else. Nothing else
occurred! Yes, this was a fourth dimension indeed. She bent herself to
listen to the boy's story, marking, with a pleasure that had something
maternal in it, the vividness and reality of his interest and hopes.

"Before he went," the young man said, "I explained the Church's teaching
exactly to him. Don't forget that the poor chap hadn't the slightest
idea of anything of the sort. He was astounded. A mystery that I could
not explain to him, a mystery for which there were no _material_
evidences at all, came home to him at once. _I saw faith born._ And they
say this is not an age of miracles! Think of the tremendous revolution
in the man's mind. He talked to me after the service. It was all
wonderfully real to him. He was absolutely convinced of the coming of
our Lord. There isn't a rationalist in London that could shake the
man's belief. I asked him why he was so sure--was it merely because I
had told him, because I believed in it? His answer was singularly
touching. 'Nah,' he said, scratching his head,--they all do when they
try to think,--'It wasn't wot you said, guvnor, it was wot I _felt_. I
_knowed_ as 'E wos there. Why, I ses to myself, _It's true!_'"

"It is very wonderful," Lucy said. "It's more wonderful by far than a
man at a Salvation Army meeting or a revival. One can understand that
the sudden shouts and the trumpets and banners and things would
influence any one. But that a service which is inexplicable even to the
people who conduct it should influence this poor uneducated man is
strange."

"Now, I don't think it strange, Lucy, dear," the vicar said; "it's far
more natural to me than the other. The wonderful power of the Church
lies in this, _that her mysteries appeal to quite simple people whose
minds are a blank on religious questions. They appeal to the simple
instantly and triumphantly._ They feel the power of the Blessed
Sacrament. And _only_ Catholicism can do this in full and satisfying
measure. We find that over and over again. The jam-and-glory teas, the
kiss-in-the-ring revivals, have a momentary and hysterical influence
with the irreligious. But it doesn't last, there is no system or
discipline, and above all, _there is no dignity_. Only priests realise
thoroughly how the poorer and less-educated classes crave for the proper
dignity and beauty of worship. It has always been so. It is the secret
of the power that the Roman Church has over the minds of men."

"Then why are there so many Salvationists and Dissenters?" Lucy asked.

"For a multitude of reasons. A dislike to discipline chiefly. People
don't go to church because the novelties of thirty or forty years ago
have filtered down into the omnibuses and people who are naturally
irreligious prefer to make a comfortable little code for themselves. The
Church says you _must not_ do this or that; its rules are thoroughly
well defined. Folk are afraid to come as near to God as the Church
brings them. Their cry is always that the Church comes between them and
God. Often that is a malevolent cry, and more often still it's pure
ignorance. The silly people haven't an idea what they're talking about.
It would be just as reasonable for me to say, 'I hate and abominate
Nicaragua, which is a pernicious and soul-destroying place,' when I've
never been nearer to Nicaragua than Penzance."

"There is one thing that we do see," King continued in his slow,
powerful way. "Whenever we have open-minded men or women come to church
to pray and find help, they find it. Dozens and dozens of people have
come to me after they have become members of the Church and said that
they could not understand the anti-Church nonsense they themselves had
joined in before. '_We never knew_,' that is the cry always."

"The thunder's beginning!" Father Blantyre said suddenly, realising
apparently that the talk was straying into channels somewhat alien to a
young society lady presiding at afternoon tea.

"Lucy, me dear, it's tired you'll be of sitting with three blathering
old priests talking shop in a thunderstorm--there's a flash for ye!"

A sheet of brilliant steel-blue had flashed into the room as he spoke,
showing every detail of it clear and distinct as in some lurid day of
the underworld. The books, the writing table, the faces of the three
clergymen, and the tall silver crucifix between the candles, which had
momentarily faded to a dull and muddy yellow, all made a sudden tableau
which burned itself upon the retina. Then came darkness once more and
the giant stammer of the thunder far overhead.

The thunder ceased and they waited, expectant of the next explosion,
when the penetrating and regular beating of an adjacent bell was heard.

"There's the bell for evensong!" Blantyre said; "I did not know it was
so late." He put on his berretta and left the room, the other men
following him. Lucy rose also. She felt that she would make one of them,
and going up-stairs to get a hat, she presently found herself in the
long, covered passage that connected the vicarage with the church.

The idea of a house which was but an appanage of the church was new to
her. The passage had been built since her last visit. And as she entered
the huge, dim building, she saw clearly how powerful in the minds of her
brother and his friends its nearness must be. All their life, their
whole life, centred in this church. Its services were as frequent and
natural as their daily food. How strangely different it all was to the
life of the outside world! She herself had not been to church for six
weeks or more. Even people who "called themselves Christians" only
entered a pew and enjoyed a hebdomadal siesta in church. But these men
could not get on without it. Every thought and action was in communion
with the Unseen. And she was forced to acknowledge it to herself,--if
one actually did believe in a future life, in eternity, then this was
the only logical way in which to prepare for it. If life was really like
a sojourn of one night in an inn, then the traveller who made no
preparation for the journey, and spent the night in careless disregard
of the day, was an utter fool. But no one called worldly people
fools!--it was all very puzzling and worrying, and common-sense did not
seem like common-sense in Hornham.

And was James Poyntz a fool?

It was the last question she asked herself as she turned into the side
chapel where evensong was to be said. Some twenty kneeling figures were
there. The place was dimly lighted save for the tall gas standards by
the priests' seats in front of the altar.

High up before the painted reredos hung a single lamp that burned with a
dull red glow. There were many sick folk in the parish of St. Elwyn's:
at all hours of the day and night, the clergy were sent for to help a
departing soul upon its way hence, and the Blessed Sacrament was
reserved upon this altar in the side chapel.

       *       *       *       *       *

The simple and stately service was nearly over. The girl had listened to
the sonorous words as if she heard them now for the first time. As she
knelt, her heart seemed empty of the hopes, fears, and interests of
daily life. It seemed as a vessel into which something was steadily
flowing. And the fancy came to her that all she experienced was flowing
to her from the dim tabernacle upon the altar. It was almost a
_physical_ sense, it was full of awe and sweetness. She trembled
exceedingly as the service ended and her brother prayed for the
fellowship of the Holy Ghost.

For a time after the echoing footsteps of the clergy had died away, she
remained upon her knees. She was praying, but without words; all her
thoughts were caught up into one voiceless, wordless, passionate
ejaculation.

When at length she bowed low,--it was the first time she had ever done
such a thing,--before the altar, and left the church, it was by the west
door.

She had a fancy for the street, and she found that the thunder had all
passed away and that a painted summer's evening sky hung over the garish
town.

As she finally turned into the vicarage, she cast one look back at the
church. It rose among the houses high into the air. The sunset fired the
wet tiles of the roof and gilded the cross upon the lantern. She thought
of That which was within.



CHAPTER V

WEALTHY MISS PRITCHETT AND POOR GUSSIE DAVIES ENTER THE VICARAGE GARDEN


"Todgers," Mr. Stephens remarked to Lucy, as they went down into the
garden after lunch on Saturday, "could do it when it chose."

The last preparations for the garden party were being made. The big
marquee was erected, the tennis lawns were newly marked, there was a
small stand for the string band.

Waiters, looking oddly out of their element in the brilliant sunshine,
which showed dress-coats, serviceable enough at night, tinged with a
metallic green like a magpie's wing, were moving about with baskets of
strawberries and zinc boxes of ice.

The old-fashioned garden, an oasis in the wilderness of brick all
around, was brilliant with sunflowers, stocks, and geraniums; the lawns
were fresh and green. The curate was in tennis flannels and an Oxford
blazer, and Lucy meditated upon the influence of clothes, as her
betters had done before her. Stephens seemed to have put off his
priesthood with his tippet and cassock, and the jaunty cap covered a
head which seemed as if it had never worn a berretta. Lucy found, to her
own surprise, that she liked the man less so. It was a total inversion
of her ordinary ideas. She began to think that a priest should be robed
always.

Miss Cass, the housekeeper, in a new cap, came up to them. Lucy had
talked to the woman for more than an hour on Friday afternoon, and the
prejudice caused by her appearance was removed.

"I hope everything is satisfactory, Miss," she said. "It all seems to be
going on well. The men from Whiteley's know their business."

"It all seems splendid, Miss Cass," Lucy said. "I'm sure it couldn't be
better. Have the band people come?"

"Yes, Miss, and the piano-entertainer too. They're having some
refreshment in the library. His Reverence is telling them funny stories,
Miss."

She hurried away to superintend further arrangements.

"The vicar is always so fine," the young man said, with a delighted
enthusiasm in his chief that was always pleasant for Lucy to hear. "He
gets on with men so well; such a lot of parsons don't. There's nothing
effeminate about the vicar. He's a man's man. I'll bet every one of
those fellows in there will go away feeling they've made a friend, and
that parsons aren't such scalawags after all."

A burst of laughter came from the door leading into the garden, as if to
confirm his words, and Father Blantyre descended the steps with a little
knot of men dressed in something between livery and uniform, carrying
oddly shaped cases of black waterproof in their hands.

Laughing and joking, the men made their way towards the music stands.

The vicar came up to Lucy. "How will it do?" he said. "It seems all
right. Just walk round with me, my dear, and I'll give ye a few tips how
to play hostess in Hornham."

They strolled away together. "Now, ye'll be careful, won't ye,
mavourneen?" he said rather anxiously. "The folk coming this afternoon
require more management and tact than any I've ever met. They'll all
have what they think is the high society manner--and ye mustn't laugh at
um, poor dears. I love 'em all, and I won't have you making fun of
them. I like them better in church than in society, I'm quite free to
admit to you, and their souls are more interesting than their bodies!
Perhaps half a dozen people here this afternoon will be what you'd call
gentlefolk--the doctor, Dr. Hibbert, and a few others. The rest of them
will be fearfully genteel. The young gentlemen will be back early from
the city, and they'll come in flannels and wear public-school ribbons
round their hats, roses in their button-holes and crimson silk
cummerbunds!"

"Good heavens!" Lucy said.

"Yes, and they'll all want to flirt with ye, in a very superfine, polite
sort of way, and mind ye let um! They'll ask if they might 'assist you
to a little claret cup,' and say all sorts of strange things. But
they're good enough at heart, only they will be so polite!"

"And the women?"

Father Blantyre shrugged his shoulders. "You'll find them rather
difficult," he said. "You bet they see your name in the papers--they all
read the 'Fashionable Intelligence'--confound um!--and the attitude will
be a little hostile. But be civil for my sake, dear. I hate all this
just as much as you do. I can get in touch with them spiritually, but
socially I find it hard. But I think it's the right thing to do, to
entertain them all once or twice a year, and they do enjoy themselves!
And I owe them a deep, deep debt of gratitude for their loyalty during
this trying week. I have had dozens and dozens of letters and calls.
Every one has rallied to the church in a wonderful and touching way
since the Sunday affair. God bless them all!"

Lucy squeezed his arm with sympathy. In an hour, the guests began to
arrive.

Lucy and her brother met them by the garden door of the house. It was a
gay scene enough. A brilliant flood of afternoon sunshine irradiated
everything; the women were well and fashionably dressed, the band
played, and every one seemed happy.

Lucy found it much easier than she expected. The guests were suburban,
of course, and not of the "classic suburbs" at that. But, she reflected,
there was hardly a man there who had not better manners than Lord
Rollington or General Pompe. And if they wore Carthusian or Zingari
ribbons, that meant no more than that they were blessed with a
colour-sense; while a slight admixture of "i" in the pronunciation of
the first vowel was certainly preferable to the admixture of looseness
and innuendo that she was sometimes forced to hear in much more exalted
circles. So she received tea and strawberries at the hands of gallant
and debonair young gentlemen engaged in the minor walks of commerce; she
chatted merrily with fluffy young ladies who, when they had gotten over
their first distrust of a girl who went to the drawing-room and stayed
with lords, finding that she wasn't the "nasty, stuck-up thing" they
expected, were somewhat effusively affectionate. She talked gravely
about the "dear vicar and those dreadful men" to ample matrons who for a
moment had forgotten the cares of a small suburban villa and a smaller
income, in the luxury of fashion, the latest waltz tunes, the champagne
cup, and a real social event. Indeed, everything went "with a snap," as
one young gentleman remarked to Lucy. She became popular almost at once,
and was surrounded by assiduous young bloods of the city "meccas."

Father Blantyre, as he went about from group to group, was in a state of
extreme happiness, despite his somewhat gloomy anticipations. It was an
hour of triumph for him. His people, for whom he prayed and laboured and
gave his life and fortune, were one and all engaged to show him how
they would stand by him in the anticipated trouble. Everywhere he was
greeted with real warmth and affection, and before long the quick Celtic
temperament was bringing a mist before the merry grey eyes and a riot
and tumult of thankfulness within.

On all sides, he heard praises of his sister. "The pretty dear," one
good lady, the wife of a cashier in a small Mincing Lane firm, said to
him. "I had quite a long talk with her, Father Blantyre. And a sweet
girl she is. We're not in the way of meeting with society folk, though
we read of all the gay goings-on in the _Mail_; but I said to Pa, 'Pa,'
I said, 'if all the society girls are like that, then there's nothing
much the matter with the aristocracy, and _Modern Society_ is a
catchpenny rag.' And Pa quite agreed. He was as much struck by her as I
was."

And so on. Every one seemed pleased with Lucy. The guests began to
arrive less and less frequently, until at length the gardens were
crowded and no one else appeared to be coming. All the various games and
entertainments were in full swing, and Lucy was about to accept the
invitation of a tall boy in a frock coat and a silk hat to sit down and
watch a set of tennis with him, when there was a slight stir and
commotion at the garden door of the house.

Miss Cass came hurriedly down the steps, as a sort of advance guard for
two ladies who were ushered into the garden by a waiter. The housekeeper
dived into the crowd and found the vicar, who turned and went with her
at once to meet the late-comers.

"There's Miss Pritchett and Gussie Davies," said the young man to Lucy
in rather an awed voice, and then, as if to banish some unwelcome
impression, relieved his feelings by the enigmatic remark of "Pip, pip,"
which made Lucy stare at him, wondering what on earth he meant.

She noticed that nearly every one at this end of the garden was
watching, more or less openly, the meeting between the vicar and his
guests. She did not quite understand why, but guessed that some local
magnate had arrived, and looked with the rest.

The elder of the two women was expensively dressed in mauve silk, and
wore a small bonnet with a white aigrette over a coffee-coloured fringe
of hair that suggested art. Her face was plump and pompous, a
parrot-like nose curved over pursy lips that wore an expression of
arrogant ill-temper, and the small eyes glanced rapidly hither and
thither. In one white-gloved hand, the lady held a long-handled
lorgnette of tortoise-shell and gold. Every now and then she raised
these glasses and surveyed the scene before her, in exactly the manner
in which countesses and duchesses do upon the stage.

Her companion was young, a large, blonde girl, not ill-looking, but
without character or decision in her face or walk. She was dressed very
simply.

Lucy turned to her companion. "Do you know them, then?" she said.

"Rather," he replied. "I should think I did. That's Miss Pritchett, old
Joseph Pritchett's daughter, old Joseph, the brewer. He left her all his
money, she's tons of stuff--awfully wealthy, I mean, Miss Blantyre."

"Does she live here, then?"

"Oh, yes. In spite of all her money she's always been an unappropriated
blessing. She's part of Hornham, drives a pair in a landau. The girl is
Gussie Davies, her companion. She's not half a bad sort. All the Hornham
boys know Gussie. Nothing the matter with Gussie Davis! The old cat sits
on her fearfully, though. She can't call her soul her own. It's bally
awful, sometimes, Gussie says."

Lucy gasped. These revelations were startling indeed. She was moving in
the queerest possible set of people. She hadn't realised that such folk
existed. It took her breath away, like the first plunge into a bath of
cold water.

The artless youth prattled on, and Lucy gathered that the lady with
the false front was a sort of female _arbiter elegantarium_
to Hornham, indubitably the richest person there, a leading light.
She saw her brother talking to the woman in an eager way. He seemed
afraid of her,--as, indeed, the poor man was, under the present
circumstances,--and Lucy resented it. With a quick feminine eye, she saw
that Miss Pritchett was assuming an air of tolerance, of patronage even,
to the vicar.

At last, Bernard caught sight of her. His face became relieved at once
and he led the spinster to the place where she was sitting.

Every instinct of the girl rose up in dislike and rebellion as the woman
drew near. She had felt nothing of the sort with the other people. In
this case, it was quite different. She prepared to repel cavalry, to use
the language of the military text-books.

On the surface, the incident was simple and commonplace enough. A
well-bred girl felt a repulsion for an obviously unpleasant and
patronising woman of inferior social rank. That was all. It is a trite
and well-worn aphorism that no event is trivial, yet it is
extraordinarily true. Who could have said that this casual meeting was
to be fraught with storm and danger for the Church in England; that out
of a hostile handshake between two women a mighty scandal and tumult was
to rise?

Miss Pritchett came up to Lucy, and Father Blantyre introduced her.
Then, with an apologetic murmur, he hurried away to another part of the
garden.

"Won't you sit down?" Lucy said, looking at the chair that had been left
vacant by her late companion.

"Thank you, Miss Blantyre, but I've been sitting in my carriage. I
should prefer to stand, if it's the same to you," said Miss Pritchett.

Lucy rose. "Perhaps you would like to walk round the grounds?" she
asked.

"Probably I know the grounds better than you," the elder woman answered
with a patronage which was bordering on the purely ludicrous. "This
residence was one of my dear father's houses, as were many of the
Hornham houses. When the vicar acquired the property, the brewery
trustees sold it to him, though I think it far from suitable for a
parish clergyman."

"Well, yes," Lucy answered. "It certainly is a dingy, gloomy old place,
but what else can you expect down here?"

Miss Pritchett flushed and tossed her head till the aigrette in her
smart little bonnet shook like a leaf.

"One is liable to be misunderstood," she said. "Your brother's small
private means enable him to live in a house which the next vicar or any
ordinary clergyman could hardly hope for."

"It _is_ very good of Bernard to come down here and spend his life in
such an impossible place," Lucy said. She was thoroughly angry now and
quite determined to give the woman a lesson. Her impertinence was
insufferable. To hear this creature speak of Bernard's income of three
thousand a year--every penny of which he gave away or spent for good--in
this way was unendurable.

Miss Pritchett grew redder than ever. She was utterly incapable of
bearing rebuff or contradiction. Her local eminence was unquestioned.
She had never moved from Hornham, where her wealth and large interests
secured for her that slavish subserviency that a vain and petty spirit
loves. For months past, she had been gradually gathering up cause for
quarrel and bitterness with the clergy of St. Elwyn's. She had found
that once within the portals of the church she was just as anyone else.
She could not lord it over the priests as she wished to do. For once,
she was beginning to find that her money was powerless, there was no
"high seat in the synagogue" that it could buy.

"The place has been good enough for _me_," she said angrily, never
doubting that this was final.

"Ah, yes," Lucy answered. "That, Miss Pritchett, I can quite
understand." The Hornham celebrity was a stupid woman. Her brain was as
empty as a hen's, and she was not adroit enough to seize upon the real
meaning of this remark. She had an uneasy suspicion that it was
offensive, and that was all.

"What you may mean by 'impossible' I am not aware," she continued. "I
speak plain English myself. But those that don't know of a place didn't
ought to speak unfavourable of it. As for your brother, I've always said
that he was a worthy person and acted as well as he might, until late
months, when I've felt it my duty to say a word or two in season as to
some of the church matters."

"I hope he profited, Miss Pritchett."

"I fear that he did not receive my words as he should, coming from a
lady of standing in the place--and him only here three years. I'm
beginning to think that there's something in the popular agitation. Upon
my word! Priests do take a good deal on themselves nowadays. It wouldn't
have been allowed when I was a girl."

"Things have altered very much for the better during the last fifty
years," Lucy said pointedly.

This the lady did immediately apprehend. She lifted the lorgnette and
stared at her companion in speechless anger. The movement was meant to
be crushing. It was thus, Miss Pritchett knew from her reading, that
women of the aristocracy crushed inferiors.

It was too much for Lucy. She endeavoured to control her feelings, but
they were irresistible. She had not seen anything so funny as this
vulgar and pompous old thing for years. A smile broadened out upon her
face, and then, without further ado, she burst out into peal after peal
of laughter.

The flush on Miss Pritchett's face died away. It grew perfectly white
with passion.

She turned round. Her companion had been walking some three yards behind
them in a listless and dejected fashion, looking with greedy eyes at the
allurements on every side, and answering the furtive greetings of
various male friends with a pantomime, expressive of contempt,
irritation, and hopeless bondage in equal parts.

Miss Pritchett stepped up to her, and caught hold of her arm. Her
fingers went so deep into the flesh that the girl gasped and gave a
half-smothered cry.

"Take me to the carriage," Miss Pritchett said. "Let me leave this place
of Popery and light women!"

The obedient Gussie Davies turned and, in a moment or two, both women
had disappeared.

Lucy sought her brother. She found him eating a large pink ice in
company with a florid, good-humoured matron in maroon, with an avalanche
of lace falling from the edges of her parasol. "Hallo, dear!" he said.
"Let me introduce you to Mrs. Stiffe, Dr. Hibbert's sister. And where's
Miss Pritchett?"

"She's gone," Lucy answered. "And, I'm very much afraid, in a towering
rage. But really she was so insolent that I could _not_ stand it. I
would do most things for you, Ber, but, really, that woman!"

"Well, it can't be helped, I suppose," the vicar said with humorous
resignation. "It was bound to come sooner or later, and I'm selfish
enough to be glad it's you've given me lady the _congé_ and not me. Mrs.
Stiffe here knows her, don't you, Mrs. Stiffe?"

"I do, Mr. Blantyre," the stout lady said. "I've met the woman several
times when I've been staying down here with my brother. A fearful old
cat _I_ call her! I wonder that you put up with her so long!"

"Policy, Mrs. Stiffe--ye know we're all Jesuits here, the local paper
says so in yesterday's issue--policy! You see, when I first came here
Miss Pritchett came to church. She's a leading person here and I made no
doubt others would follow her. Indeed, they did, too! and when they saw
what the Catholic Church really was they stayed with us. And then,
again, Miss Pritchett was always ready to give us a cheque for any good
work, and we want all the money we can get! Oh, there's a lot of good in
Miss Pritchett!"

"I fail to see it on a short acquaintance," Lucy remarked; "if she gave
generously, it was only to flatter her vanity. I'm sure of that."

"It's a great mistake to attribute unworthy motives to worthy deeds,"
the vicar said. "We've no right to do it, and it's only giving ourselves
away when we do, after all!"

"Oh, it's all very well, Vicar," said good Mrs. Stiffe; "we know you
never say anything against any one. But if Miss Pritchett is such an
angel, what's the reason of her behaviour now? My brother told me that
things were getting very strained."

"Ah, that's a different matter entirely," Blantyre said. "She began to
interfere in important things. And, of course, we couldn't have that.
I'd have let her manage the soup-kitchens and boss the ladies' guilds
till the sky fell. But she wanted to do more than that. Poor dear King
offended her in some way--he's not what ye'd call a ladies' man--and she
wrote to me to send him away at once! And there were other incidents.
I've been doing my best to meet her views and to keep in with her, but
it's been very difficult and I felt the storm would burst soon. I wanted
to keep her in the Faith for her own silly sake! She's not a very
strong-minded person beneath her manner, and she's just the sort of
woman some spiritualistic quack or Christian Science gentleman would get
hold of and ruin her health and happiness. I did hope she'd find peace
in the Church. Well, it can't be helped," he ended with a rather sad
smile, for his heart was tender for all his flock and he saw far down
into the human soul and loved it. Then he changed suddenly. "What am I
doing!" he cried, "talking parochial politics at a garden party! Shame
on me! Come on, Mrs. Stiffe, come on, Lucy, Mr. Chaff, the
piano-entertainer, is going to give his happy half-hour at Earl's
Court."

They went merrily away with him. As they approached the rows of chairs
in front of the piano, he turned suddenly to his sister.

"Why didn't ye knock her down?" he said suddenly, with an exaggerated
brogue and real comic force. Both ladies burst out laughing.

"You ought to have been on the music-hall stage, Vicar," Mrs. Stiffe
said, "you're wasted in Hornham."

"So I've been told," he said. "I shall think seriously of it. It's a
pity to waste a talent."



CHAPTER VI

BOADICEA, JOAN OF ARC, CHARLOTTE CORDAY, JAEL, AND MISS PRITCHETT OF
HORNHAM


People of taste are never without wonder at the extraordinary lack of it
that many well-to-do folk display. It was but rarely that a person of
taste entered Malakoff Lodge, where Miss Pritchett dwelt, but when such
an event did happen, the impression was simply that of enormous
surprise. The drawing-room into which visitors were shown was an immense
place and full of furniture. In each of the corners stood a life-sized
piece of statuary painted in "natural colours." Here one saw an immense
negro, some six feet high, with coffee-coloured skin, gleaming red lips,
and a gaudy robe of blue and yellow. This monster supported a large
earthenware basket on his back, painted, of course, in correct
straw-colour, from which sprang a tall palm that reached to the ceiling.
In other corners of the room were an Egyptian dancing-girl, a Turk, and
an Indian fakir, all of which supported ferns, which it was part of
Miss Gussie Davies' duty to water every morning.

The many tables, chiefly of circular or octagonal form, which stood
about the room, bore a multitude of costly and hideous articles which
should have been relegated to a museum, to illustrate the deplorable
taste of the middle classes during the early and mid-Victorian era.
Here, for example, was a model of the leaning tower of Pisa done in
white alabaster, some two feet in height, and shielded from harm by a
thick glass case. There, the eye fell upon a bunch of very purple grapes
and a nectarine or two, made of wax, with a waxen bee settling upon
them, all covered with glass also. Literary tastes were not forgotten.
Immense volumes of Moore's poems, the works of Southey or Robert
Montgomery lay about on the tables. These were bound in heavy leather
boards, elaborately tooled in gold representations of Greek lyres and
golden laurel crowns. The shining gilt edges were preserved from the
profanation of a casual opening by two or three immense brass clasps
which imprisoned the poet's thoughts within.

The time in which these things were made was a sentimental age, and it
was well reflected in its _bijouterie_. Innumerable nymphs and
shepherdesses stood about offering each other hearts, madrigals, and
other dainties. But they had none of the piquant grace that Watteau
would have given them, or the charm the white-hot fires of Dresden might
have burnt into them. They were solid, very British nymphs, whose
drapery was most decorously arranged that one thick ankle might be
visible, but no more;--nymphs and shepherdesses who, one might imagine,
sat happily by the bank of some canal, singing the pious ditties of Dr.
Watts as the sun went down,--nymphs, in short, with a moral purpose. The
hangings of Miss Pritchett's room, the heavy window curtains that
descended from baldachinos of gleaming gold, were all of a rich crimson,
an extraordinary colour that is not made now, and the wall-paper was a
heavy pattern in dark ultramarine and gold. Indeed, there was enough
gold in this mausoleum to have satisfied Miss Killmansegg herself.

One merit the place had in summer, it was cool, and when the barouche
that was the envy of Hornham drove up at Malakoff gates, Miss Pritchett
rushed into the drawing-room, and, sinking into an arm-chair of purple
plush, fanned a red and angry face with her handkerchief.

The companion followed her meekly.

"Wait there, Miss Davies," said the spinster sharply; "stand there for a
moment, please, till I can get my breath."

Miss Davies remained standing before her patroness in meek obedience.
After a minute or two, Miss Pritchett motioned with her hand towards an
adjacent chair. Gussie Davies sat down.

It was part of the spinster's life to subject her companion to a kind of
drill in this way. The unfortunate girl's movements were regulated
mathematically, and in her more genial and expansive moments Miss
Pritchett would explain that her "nerves" required that this should be
so--that she should have absolute control over the movements of any one
who was in the room with her.

There had been spirited contests between Miss Pritchett and a long
succession of girls who had refused to play the part of automaton, but
in Gussie Davies, the lady had found a willing slave. She paid her well,
and in return was served with diligence and thorough obsequiousness.
Gussie was adroit, more adroit than her somewhat lymphatic appearance
would have led the casual observer to suppose. Properly trained, she
might almost have made a psychologist, but her opportunities had been
limited. However, for several years, she had directed a sharp brain to
the study of one person, and she knew Miss Pritchett as Mr. Sponge knew
his Mogg. Her influence with that lady was enormous, the more so in that
it was not at all suspected by the object, who imagined that the girl
was hers, body and soul. But, nevertheless, Miss Davies, who hailed from
Wales and had a large share of the true Cymric cunning, could play upon
her mistress with sure fingers, and, while submitting to every form of
petty tyranny, and occasionally open insult, she ruled the foolish woman
she was with.

Gussie sat down. Miss Pritchett did not speak at once, and the girl
judged, correctly enough, that she was meant to open the ball.

"O Miss Pritchett!" she said with a little shudder, "what a relief it
must be to you to be back in your own mansion!"

Nothing pleased the spinster more than the word mansion as applied to
her house. Gussie used the term with discretion, employing it only on
special occasions, unwilling to be prodigal of so sure a card.

"You may well say that, child," Miss Pritchett answered faintly.

"Now you must let me ring for a glass of port for you," the young lady
continued. "You need it, indeed you do. I'll take the responsibility on
myself."

She rose and rang the bell. "Two glasses," said Miss Pritchett when the
answering maid had received her order. "You shall have a glass, Gussie,
for I feel I am to blame in taking you to such a place. I have seen the
world, and I have met women of that class before, I am sorry to say. But
hitherto I have managed to shield you from such contamination."

Gussie sighed the sigh of innocence, a sigh which the young men with
whom she larked about in Alexandra Gardens never heard.

"I wish I had your knowledge of the world," she said. "But, of course,
I've never mixed in society, not like you."

The port arrived and in a minute or two the experienced damsel saw that
her patroness was settling down for a long and confidential chat. The
moment promised a golden opportunity, of which she meant to take
advantage if she possibly could. She had a big scheme in hand; she was
primed with it by minds more subtle than her own. The image of Sam
Hamlyn was before her and she burned to deserve that gentleman's
commendation.

"Yes," said Miss Pritchett, "as a girl, when I used to go to the Lord
Mayor's balls at the Mansion House with papa and mamma, I saw what
society really was. And it's worse now! That abandoned hussy at the
vicarage is an example of what I mean. I must not go into details before
you, child, but I know what I know!"

"How _awful_, Miss Pritchett! I saw her making eyes at all the gentlemen
before you went up to her."

"All's fish that comes to the net of such," replied Miss Pritchett. "An
earl's toy, the giddy bubble floating on the open sewer of a London
season, or the sly allurer of an honest young city gentleman. Anything
in trousers, child, is like herrings to a cat!"

"How _awful_! Miss Pritchett," repeated Gussie, wondering what it would
be like to be an earl's toy, and rather thinking she would enjoy it. "I
suppose you'll go to the vicarage just as usual, though,--on parish
business, I mean."

This, as the girl expected, provoked a storm, which she patiently
endured, certain that she was in a way to gain her ends. At length, the
flow of voluble and angry words grew less. Miss Pritchett was enjoying
herself too much to risk the girl's non-compliance with her mood.

"There, there," she said eventually, "it's only your ignorance I know,
Gussie, but you do aggravate me. You don't understand society. Never
shall I set foot in that man's house again!"

Gussie gasped. Her face expressed fervent admiration at such a daring
resolve, but slight incredulity as well.

The bait took again. "Never, as I'm a living lady!" said Miss Pritchett,
"and I don't know as I shall ever drive up to the church doors in my
carriage on a Sunday morning more! Opinions may change. I _may_ have
been--I don't say I _have_ been, yet, mind you--I _may_ have been led
away by the false glitter of Roman doctrine and goings on."

The idea seemed to please the lady. She saw herself picturesque in such
a situation.

Gussie started suddenly.

"What's the matter, child?" she was asked tartly; "do you think no
one's got any nerves? Keep still, do!"

"I'm very sorry, Miss Pritchett, but when you said that, I remembered
something I was reading last night in the _Hornham Observer_."

"I was keeping it for Sunday afternoon," said Miss Pritchett. "I did
mean to go to morning service and then read Mr. Hamlyn's side of last
Sunday's proceedings at home, comfortable like. But what's in the
paper?"

"A great deal that will interest you, dear Miss Pritchett, though I do
not know if you will be pleased."

"Pleased? What do you mean?"

"Your name is mentioned several times."

"Is it, indeed! We'll soon see about that! Fetch the paper at once and
read what it says. If Mr. Hamlyn's been foolish enough to talk about his
betters, I'll very soon have him turned neck and crop out of the place.
He's a man I've never spoken to more than twice, and he must be taught
his place in Hornham."

Gussie went out to fetch the paper. She smiled triumphantly as she came
into the hall. All was going well and, moreover, her quick ear had
caught the slight trace of wavering and alarm in the concluding words
of her mistress. Miss Pritchett, like many other people, was never able
to rid herself of a superstitious reverence for print. She devoutly
believed the cheap romances that formed her literary food, and even a
small local newspaper was not without a strong influence on one whose
whole sympathies and interests were local.

Gussie came back with the paper. "There's two whole pages about the St.
Elwyn's business," she said, "column after column, with great big
letters at the top. Shall I begin at the beginning?"

"No, no; read the bits about me, of course. Read what it was that made
you jump like a cat in an oven just now."

"That particular bit did not mention your name, Miss Pritchett, but it
chimed in so with what you said just now. I wonder if I can find
it?--ah, here it is--

"'And so I think I have accounted for the reason of the popularity of
such services as go on at St. Elwyn's among the poorer classes. A
wealthy clergyman can buy attendance at any idolatry, and who would
blame a starving brother, desperate for food, perhaps, for attendance at
a mummery which is nothing to him but the price of a much-needed meal?
Not I. Tolerance has ever been the watch-word of the _Observer_, and,
however much I may regret that even the poorest man may be forced to
witness the blasphemous and hideous mockery of Truth that takes place at
St. Elwyn's, I blame not the man, but the cunning of a priesthood that
buys his attendance and then points to him as a convert to thinly veiled
Romanism.'"

Gussie stopped for a moment to take breath. Miss Pritchett's face was
composed to pleasure. This was hot and strong indeed! She wondered how
Father Blantyre liked this!

Worthy Mr. Hamlyn, indeed, had heard of the little incident of the navvy
and Father King, and knew that the erstwhile antagonist was now housed
in the vicarage. Hence the preceding paragraph. Gussie went on:

"'But what shall we say when we find rank and fashion, acute
intelligence and honoured names bowing down in the House of Rimmon? How
shall we in Hornham regard such a strange and--so it seems to
us--unnatural state of affairs?

"'The Scarlet Woman is powerful indeed! It would be idle to attempt to
deny it. The drowsy magic of Rome has permeated with its subtle
influence homes where we should have hoped it would never enter. And why
is this? I think we can understand the reason in some measure. Let us
take an imaginary case. Let us suppose that there is among us a woman of
high station, of intellect, wealth, and charm. She sees a struggling
priesthood establish itself in a Protestant neighbourhood. The sympathy
that woman will ever have for the weak is enlisted; she visits a church,
not realising what its sham and ceremony leads to, under what Malign
Influence it is carried on. And then a gracious nature is attracted by
the cunning amenities of worship. The music, the lights, the flowers,
the gorgeous robes, appeal to a high and delicate nature. For a time, it
passes under the sway of an arrogant priesthood, and, with that sweet
submission which is one of the most alluring of feminine charms, bows
before a Baal which it does not realise, a golden calf that it would
abhor and repudiate were it not blinded by its own charity and
unsuspicious trust! Have I drawn a picture that is too strong? I think
not. It is only by analogy that we can best present the Truth.

"'Nevertheless we do not hesitate to assert, and assert with absolute
conviction, that, if such a clouding of a fine nature were temporarily
possible, it would be but transient. Truth will prevail. In the end, we
shall see all those who are now the puppets and subjects of a Romanising
attempt come back to the clear sunlight of Protestantism, away from the
stink-pots and candles, the toys of ritual, the poison of a painted
lie.'"

Gussie read the paragraphs with unction. She read them rather well. As
she made an end, her guilty conscience gave her a fear that the unusual
emphasis might have awakened some suspicion in Miss Pritchett's mind.
But with great relief she saw that it was not so. That lady was
manifestly excited. Her eyes were bright and there was a high flush on
the cheek-bones. Truth to tell, Miss Pritchett had always suspected that
there were depths of hidden gold in her nature. But they had never been
so vividly revealed to her before.

"Give me the paper," she said in a tremulous voice; "let me read it for
myself!"

Her unguarded words showed Miss Davies how completely the fortress was
undermined. The spinster read the words through her glasses and then
handed the paper back to her companion.

"The man that wrote that," she said, "is a good and sincere man. He
knows how the kind heart can be imposed upon and deceived! I shall take
an early opportunity of meeting Mr. Hamlyn. He will be a great man some
day, if I am any judge."

"He must have had his eye on the Malakoff," Gussie said. "Why, dear Miss
Pritchett, he has described you to a T. There is no one else in Hornham
to whom it could apply."

"Hush, child! It may be as you say. This worthy man may have been
casting his eye over the parish and thought that he saw in me something
of which he writes. It is not for me to deny it. I can only say that in
his zeal he has much exaggerated the humble merits of one who, whatever
her faults, has merely tried to do her duty in the station to which she
has been called. And if Providence has placed that station high, it is
Providence's will, and we must not complain!"

"How beautifully you put it, Miss Pritchett!"

The chatelaine of Malakoff wiped a tear from her eye. The excitement of
the afternoon, the glass of port, the periods of Mr. Hamlyn's prose,
had all acted upon nerves pampered by indulgence and tightened with
self-irritation.

"I believe you care for me, child," said Miss Pritchett with a sob.

"How it rejoices me to hear you say so, Miss Pritchett," Gussie replied,
seeing that her opportunity had now come. "But your generous nature
gives way too easily. You are unstrung by the wanton insults of that
woman! Let me read you the concluding portion of Mr. Hamlyn's article.
It may soothe you."

"Read it," murmured the spinster, now lost in an ecstasy of luxurious
grief, though she would have been puzzled to give a reason for it.

Gussie took up the paper once more. Now that her battle was so nearly
won, she allowed herself more freedom in the reading. The Celtic love of
drama stirred within her and she gave the pompous balderdash _ore
rotundo_.

"'And in conclusion, what is our crying need in England to-day? It is
this: It is the establishment of a great crusade for the crushing of the
disguised Popery in our midst. One protest has been made in Hornham,
protests should be made all over England. A mighty organisation should
be called into existence which should make every "priest" tremble in his
cope and cassock, tremble for the avalanche of public reprobation which
will descend upon him and his.

"'I may be a visionary and no such idea as I have in my mind may be
possible. But I think not. Who can say that our borough of Hornham may
not become famous in history as the spot in which the second Reformation
was born!

"'Much needs to be done before such a glorious movement can be
inaugurated; that it will be inaugurated a band of earnest and
determined men and women live in the liveliest hope.

"'I am confident that a movement having its seed in the borough, if
widely published and made known to patriotic English people, would be
supported with swift and overwhelming generosity by the country at
large. The public response would appal the Ritualists and even astonish
loyal sons of the Church of England. But, in order to start this
crusade, help is required. Some noble soul must come forward to start
the machine, to raise the Protestant Flag.

"'Where shall we find him or her? Is there no one in our midst willing
to become the patron of Truth and to earn the praise of thousands and a
place in history?

"'Once Joan of Arc led the forces of her country to victory. A Charlotte
Corday slew the monster Marat, a Boadicea hurled herself against the
legions of Rome! Who will be our Boadicea to-day, who will come forward
to crush the tyranny of Rome in our own England? For such a noble lady,
who will revive in her own person the undying deeds of antiquity, I can
promise a fame worth more than all the laurels of the old British queen,
the heartfelt thanks and love of her countrymen, and above all of her
country-women--over whose more kindly and unsuspicious natures the
deadly Upas-tree of Romanism has cast its poisonous shade. Where is the
Jael who will destroy this Sisera?'"

Miss Davies ceased. Her voice sank. No sound was heard but the snuffle
that came from the plush arm-chair opposite, where Miss Pritchett was
audibly weeping. Mr. Hamlyn's purple prose had been skilfully introduced
at the psychological moment. The woman's ill-balanced temperament was
awry and smarting. Her egregious vanity was wounded as it had rarely
been wounded before. She had been treated as of no account, and she was
burning with spite and the longing for revenge.

Gussie said nothing more. She let the words of the newspaper do their
work without assistance.

Presently Miss Pritchett looked up. She wiped her eyes and a grim
expression of determination came out upon her face.

"I see it all!" she said suddenly. "My trusting nature has been terribly
deceived; I have been led into error by evil counsellors; the power of
the Jesuits has been secretly brought to bear upon one who, whatever her
failings, has scorned suspicion!"

"Oh, Miss Pritchett, how _awful_!" said Gussie.

"Yes," continued the lady with a delighted shudder, "the net has been
thrown over me and I was nigh to perish. But Providence intervenes! I
see how I am to be the 'umble instrument of crushing error in the
Church. I shall step into the breach!"

"Oh, Miss Pritchett, how _noble_!"

"Miss Davies, you will kindly put on your jacket and walk round to Mr.
Hamlyn's house. See Mr. Hamlyn and tell him that Miss Pritchett is too
agitated by recent events to write personally, but she begs he will
favour her with his company at supper to discuss matters of great public
importance. Tell Jones to send up some sweetbreads at once, and inform
cook as a gentleman will be here to supper, and to serve the cold
salmon."

Gussie rose quickly. "Oh, Miss Pritchett," she cried, "what a great day
for England this will be!"



CHAPTER VII

THE OFFICES OF THE "LUTHER LEAGUE"--AN INTERIOR


On the first floor of a building in the Strand, wedged in between a
little theatre and a famous restaurant, the offices of the "Luther
League" were established, and by late autumn were in the full swing of
their activity.

Visitors to this stronghold of Protestantism mounted a short flight of
stairs and arrived in a wide passage. Four or five doors opening into it
all bore the name of the association in large letters of white enamel.
The first door bore the legend:

     "PUBLISHING AND GENERAL OFFICE INQUIRIES"

This room, the one by which the general public were admitted to the
inner sanctuaries, was a large place fitted up with desks and glass
compartments in much the same way as the ordinary clerks' office of a
business house. A long counter divided the room, and upon it were
stacked piles of the newly published pamphlet literature of the League.
Here could be seen that stirring narrative, _Cowed by the Confessional;
or, The Story of an English Girl in the Power of the "Priests."_ This
publication, probably the cheapest piece of pornography in print at the
moment, was published, with an illustration, at three pence. Upon the
cover a priest--for some unexplained reason in full eucharistic
vestments--was pointing sternly to the armour-plated door of a grim
confessional, while a trembling lady in a large picture hat shrunk
within.

This little book was flanked by what appeared to be a semi-jocular work
called _Who Said Reredos?_ and bore upon its cover the already
distinguished name of Samuel Hamlyn, Jr. The eye fell upon that popular
pamphlet in a wrapper of vivid scarlet--now in its sixtieth
thousand--known as _Bow to the "Altar" and Light Bloody Mary's Torture
Fires Again_.

_As Soon Pay the Devil as the Priest_ lay by the side of a more
elaborately bound volume on which was the portrait of a lady. Beneath
the picture appeared the words of the title, _My Escape; or, How I
Became a Protestant_, by Jane Pritchett.

Two clerks wrote in the ledgers on the desks, attended to visitors, and
looked after what was known in the office as the "counter trade"--to
distinguish it from the sale of Protestant literature in bulk, which was
managed direct from the "Luther League Printing Works, Hornham, N."

A second room opening into the general office was tenanted by the
assistant secretary of the League, Mr. Samuel Hamlyn, Junior. Here the
walls were decorated with scourges, horribly knotted and thonged;
"Disciplines," which were belts and armlets of sharp iron prickles,
designed to wear the skin of the toughest Ritualist into an open sore
after three days' wear. There were also two hair shirts, apparently the
worse for wear, and a locked bookcase of Ritualistic literature with a
little _index expurgatorius_ in the neat, clerkly writing of Sam Hamlyn,
and compiled by that gentleman himself.

In this chamber of horrors, the assistant secretary delighted to move
and have his being, and three or four times a day it was his pleasing
duty to show friends of the League and its yearly subscribers, the
penitential machinery by which the priest-ridden public was secretly
invited to hoist itself to heaven.

The innermost room of all was where Mr. Hamlyn, Senior, himself
transacted the multifarious and growing business of his organisation.
The secretary sat at a large roll-top desk, and a substantial safe stood
at his right hand. An air of brisk business pervaded this sanctum. The
directories, almanacs, and account-books all contributed to it, and the
end of a speaking-tube, which led to the outer office, was clipped to
the arm of the revolving chair.

Three portraits adorned the wall. From a massive gold frame the features
of that fiery Protestant virgin, Miss Pritchett, stared blandly down
into the room. Opposite it was a large photograph of Mr. Hamlyn himself,
with upraised hand and parted lips--in the very act and attitude of
making one of his now familiar protests. The third in this trio of
Protestant champions was a drawing of Martin Luther himself,
"representing the Reformer," as Mr. Hamlyn was wont to say, "singing for
joy at the waning power of Rome." The artist of this picture, however,
being a young gentleman of convivial tastes, had portrayed the
"Nightingale of Wittemberg" in a merry mood, remembering, perhaps,
Carlyle's remark, "there is laughter in this Luther," or perhaps--as is
indeed most probable--remembering little of the great man but his
authorship of the ditty that concludes:

    Who loves not women, wine, and song
    Will be a fool his whole life long.

Fortunately, Mr. Hamlyn, whose historical studies had been extremely
restricted, did not know of this effort--just as he did not know that to
the end of his life the student of Erfurt steadily proclaimed his belief
in the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

About ten o'clock on a grey, cold November morning, the two Hamlyns
arrived at the offices of the Luther League together, walked briskly up
the stairs, and, with a curt "good morning" to the clerks, entered the
innermost room together.

People who had known the father and son six months ago, seeing them now,
would have found a marked, though subtle, difference in both of them.

They were much better dressed, for one thing. The frock-coats were not
made in Hornham, the silk hats were glossy and with the curly brims of
the fashion. Both still suggested a more than nodding acquaintance with
religious affairs in their costume, some forms of Christianity always
preferring to evince themselves by the style of a cravat or the texture
of a cloth.

Confidence had never been lacking in either of the two, but now the
sense of power and success had increased it, and had also imposed a
certain quietness and gravity which impressed people. Here, at any rate,
were two men of affairs, men whose names were beginning to be known
throughout the land, and Mr. Hamlyn's manner of preoccupation and
thought was only natural after all in one who (as his son would remark
to Protestant visitors) "practically held the fortunes of the Church in
his hands, and was destroying the Catholic wolves with the sword of
Protestant Truth."

The two men took off their overcoats and hung them up. Then Mr. Hamlyn,
from mere force of old habit, pulled at his cuffs--in order to lay them
aside during business hours. Finding that he could not withdraw them,
for increasing position and emolument had seemed to necessitate the
wearing of a white shirt, he sat down with a half sigh for the freedom
and comfort of an earlier day and began to open the large pile of
correspondence on the table before him.

"We'll take the cash first, Sam," he said, pulling a small paper-knife
from a drawer.

Sam opened a note-book in which the first rough draughts of matter
relating to this most important subject were entered, preparatory to
being copied out into one of the ledgers in the outer office.

Hamlyn began to slit up the letters with a practised hand. Those that
contained the sinews of war he read with a running comment, others were
placed in a basket for further consideration.

"'Well-wisher,' five shillings; 'Well-wisher,' £2 0 0, by cheque, Sam.
'Ethel and her sisters,' ten and six--small family that, I should think!
'Protestant,' five pounds--a note, Sam, take the number. It's curious
that 'Protestant' always gives most. Yesterday seven 'Protestants'
totalled up to fourteen, twelve, six, while five 'Well-wishers' worked
out at slightly under three shillings a head. What's this? Ah! cheque
for a guinea and a letter on crested paper! Enter up the address and
make a note to send half a dozen _Bloody Marys_, one Miss Pritchett's
_Escape_, and a few _Pay the Devils_. During the last week or two, the
upper classes have been rallying to the flag. They're the people. I'll
send this woman the ten-guinea subscription form and ask her to be one
of the vice-presidents. Listen here:


     MARGRAVINE HOUSE,
     LEICESTER

     Lady Johnson begs to enclose a cheque for one guinea to aid Mr.
     Hamlyn in his splendid Crusade against the Ritualists. She would be
     glad to hear full details of the "Luther League" and its objects.
     She wonders why Mr. Hamlyn has confined his protests against
     _Romanism_ in the guise of _English Churchmanship_ to the London
     district, and would point out that in her own neighbourhood there
     is a hot-bed of Ritualism which should be exposed."

Sam went to the book shelf and took down a Peerage. "She's the wife of a
knight," he said, "one of the city knights."

"Probably very well off," said Mr. Hamlyn. "We'll nail her for the
Cause! See that the books go off at once, and I'll write her a personal
letter during the day."

He rubbed his hands together with a movement of inexpressible
satisfaction. His keen face was lighted up with the pleasures of power
and success.

"She's got her own axe to grind," remarked Sam. "Had a flare-up with the
local parson, I expect."

"Shouldn't wonder," replied his father indifferently. "Here's two
p.o.'s, one for seven bob and one for three. From a Wesleyan minister at
Camborne in Cornwall. I'll put him down to be written to under the local
helpers' scheme. His prayers'll be with us, he says!" Mr. Sam sniffed
impatiently as he wrote down the sum in his book.

In a few more minutes, the contributions were all booked up and the
Church of England--as represented by these two eminent laymen--was
bulwarked against the enemies to the extent of some seventeen pounds.

"Now," said Mr. Hamlyn, "let's take the press-cuttings next." He opened
a large envelope.

A day or two before Mr. Hamlyn had varied his pleasant little habit of
turning up during the most solemn moments of a church service and
brawling until he was ejected with more or less force, being brought up
at a police-court a day or two afterwards and paying the fine imposed
upon him with a cheque from Miss Pritchett. During the blessing of a new
peal of bells in a provincial cathedral, he had risen and read a paper
of protest. He had read the paper in a low, hurried voice, and the
disturbance had been purely local and attracted but little attention in
the huge building. In a moment, almost, the secretary of the Luther
League had been conducted to the door of the building by vigilant
vergers.

But the commotion in the press next morning had been enormous. Lurid
reports of this great protest appeared in leaded type, comment of every
kind filled the papers, and their editors were inundated with letters on
the subject. As an editor himself, Mr. Hamlyn well understood the
interior machinery of a newspaper office, and was perfectly well
acquainted with the various methods by which things get into print. He
began to examine the cuttings from the weekly papers that Durrant's had
sent him.

"All goes on well," he said at length. "It really is astonishing the
space they give us! Who'd have thought it six months ago! Don't they go
for the League in some of them! Just listen to this, it's the finish of
a column in _Vigilance_:

"'... and I shall therefore await the publication of the promised
balance-sheet of this precious "League" with more than usual interest.
Such an indecent and futile campaign as this deserves to be thoroughly
scrutinised.'"

"That's nasty, Pa," said Sam.

"It don't matter in the least. Our League is perfectly honest and
above-board, thank goodness! We shall publish the balance-sheet, of
course. We are doing a great and glorious work for Hengland, and the
labourer is worthy of his hire. We are perfectly justified in taking our
salaries. What does a parson do? And, besides no one reads _Vigilance_
that's likely to give Protestant campaigns a penny. It's a society
paper. Religious people don't see it."

"Quite so. And all the Protestant papers are with us; that's the great
thing."

"Exactly, even the old established evangelical papers like the _Church
Recorder_ daren't say anything against us. You see our advertisements
are worth such a lot to 'em! Half the Low Church papers can't pay their
way, the big advertisers won't look at them. All the money goes to the
_Church Standard_ and the other Ritualistic rags. The _Standard's_ one
of the best paying properties in London. So the Low Church papers
_can't_ do without us. Wait a year, Sam, and we'll have our own paper,
put in some Fleet Street hack as editor, publish at a separate office,
and charge the account what we like for our own articles."

"Our position is practically unassailable, as far as I can see."

"It's just that, my boy--as long as people send in the money. But
gradually we shall find London getting dry. It's all right now that the
boom's on, but the novelty of the thing will wear off after a bit. And
what we want is to get ourselves so strong that the League will go on
_for ever_! Now, I look on it in this way: Much as I 'ate the Ritualists
and love true Henglish Protestantism"--Mr. Hamlyn's face grew full of
fervour as he said this--"much as I 'ate Romanising tricks and such, I'm
jolly well certain that neither we nor any one else is going to make
much difference to them! They're too strong, Sam. You'll find a red-hot
Ritualist would give up his arms and legs for his carryings-on.
Ritualism's getting stronger and stronger. _They've got the best men for
parsons_, and you see those chaps aren't in it for their own game, as a
rule. They live like paupers and give all they've got away. Well, that
gives 'em grip."

"Silly fools," said Sam contemptuously.

"Poor deluded tools of Rome," said Mr. Hamlyn, who, now that his great
mission was an accomplished fact, was really beginning to believe in it
himself. "Well, my point is this: Ritualism will never stop. It's too
well organised, and the clergy are too well educated. And most of 'em
are 'class' too. It all tells."

"Well, then, if our efforts aren't going to do any good, in a year or so
the public will notice that, and the public will stop subscribing."

"Not a bit of it, Sam, you don't see as deep as I do. As long as we keep
the question prominent, it will be all right. First of all, we shall
always get the Nonconformist contribution. In every town, the
Nonconformist minister can be trusted to stir up people against a
Ritualistic 'priest,' especially if he's vowed to celibacy. Married ones
get on better. But what I'm coming to is this: All over Hengland there
are parishes where the vicar is more or less of a Romaniser. But he's
personally liked, perhaps, or no one makes the protest. But in every
parish, experience shows there's two or three prominent folk who hate
the vicar. Now, where there's a spark a flame can be got. It's all very
well to go and protest in a parish where there's a strong feeling
against Ritualism--like St. Elwyn's, for example. But think of the
hundreds of parishes where people jog along quite content, not knowing
the darkness in which they're groping! Now, we'll stir these places up,
we'll raise the flag of the League in places which have been going along
quiet and peaceable for years. There won't be a church from which we
can't get some people away. The Luther League shall become a household
word from John o' Groat's to Land's End."

"Good scheme, Father, if you can do it. But think of the work, and think
of the risks of letting any one else into the League. We might find
ourselves in the second place some day."

"Not at all, Sam. Not as I've worked it out. You ought to know that I
never start anything without going careful into the details."

"Sorry, Father. Let's have the plan."

"I'm going to start a band of 'Luther Lecturers' to carry Protestant
Truth into the 'idden places. I'm beginning with six young fellows I've
got. They'll travel all over the country, holding open-air meetings of
agitation, with a collection for the League--making public protests in
such churches as I give the order to be gone for, and lecturing on what
Ritualism really is. Now, these chaps will have two lectures. I've had
'em written already. One's on the Mass, another's on the
confessional,--hot Protestant stuff. They'll go like wild fire. The
young men'll learn these lectures off by heart and deliver 'em with
local allusions to the vicars of the parishes as they come to. I've got
a supply of the illegal wafers as the Ritualists use for the Lord's
Supper. Each lecture'll have one or two to show in the meetings. He'll
pull it out and show the poor deluded people the god of flour and water
their priests tell 'em to worship. There's lots of real humour in the
lectures. They'll fire the popular imagination. Every crowd likes to
hear a parson abused. I got the idea of humour and fun in the lectures
from the Salvation Army. You see, we want to reach the class of folk as
don't mind standing round a street-corner meeting and listening. The
Army makes it pay wonderfully! But they only attack sin. They don't
bother what a man does as long as he's good. We're attacking Rome in the
Henglish Church, and it's remarkable what a lot of ridiculous things and
points I've got into these lectures. There's one thing, for instance,
that'll keep all a crowd on the grin--I mean the directions to a
'priest' if an insect gets into the 'consecrated' wine. It has to be
burnt. Can't you see the lecturer with his 'Now, my friends, I ask you
what a poor little spider's done to be used like that?' It's all an
unworked mine! And you see there's no answer to it! A Ritualist 'priest'
who comes to argue--of course, discussion will be invited--is bound to
get left. He'll be so solemn and that, that the ordinary man in the
street won't understand a word he's driving at. My men'll win every
time. You'll see."

"As usual, Pa," said Sam, "you've hit on a good thing. It'll extend the
League wonderful. But what about your men--where'll you get 'em? and
what guarantee will you have that they won't rob the League?"

"Oh, that's all thought out. I shall have quite young chaps and pay them
about eighteen shillings a week and travelling expenses. Each two or
three days they'll have to send in reports as to the work, and each week
forward the collection. I shall try, eventually, to get real earnest
young men who believe in our glorious Henglish Protestant 'eritage.
_They_ won't rob us. I shall get smart young chaps with plenty of bounce
and go, but not much education. It's not _wanted_ for popular
street-corner work. You get a Ritualist parson coming to try and answer
one of my chaps--take the crucifix question, now. My man will talk about
Popish idols and that--it's all in the lecture--and all the parson will
say is that a crucifix is legal in the Church of Hengland--I believe, as
a strict matter of fact, it _is_. Then my man turns round and tells the
crowd that a crucifix is nothing but a dolly on a stick--he gets the
laugh, see? The 'priest' can't explain all his humbugging reverence and
that in an open-air meeting, with one of my chaps ready with a joke
every time he speaks. I've got four out of my six men already, and if
the thing hums as I expect, I'll put twenty or thirty in the field at
once. They're easy found! There's lots of young chaps connected with
chapels that would far rather tour the country attracting attention
wherever they go, and do nothing but agitate, than work hard! There's
young Moffatt, Peter Moffatt's son. He's a plumber, but he 'ates work.
He's got cheek for twenty, and he'll do no end of good. As for the cost,
why, the men will pay for themselves over and over again. They'll be
well supplied from the central office--extracts from the papers and so
on--they'll take local halls and advertise in local papers. I shall
expect that each man, if he's any good _at all_, will pay all his own
expenses each week and forward a clear two pounds to me! A man that
can't do that, at least, with such backing as we can give him and such a
splendid war-cry--well, I wouldn't give twopence for him."

"I see it all clear now," answered Sam, a flush of excitement coming
into his face. "And besides the money and extension of the League there
will be splendid opportunities for you and me to run down now and then
to support our men and get an 'oliday--take Brighton, for instance! It's
full of Ritualists. A couple of men could spend a month there."

"And take from two to three hundred pounds, I should think," said the
secretary, thoughtfully, "besides dealing an 'orrid blow to the wolves
in the fold of the Protestant Henglish Church. We'll have some good
protests in Brighton! Then, when our lecturers are fined for brawling,
we'll instruct them _not to pay the fine_, but to go to prison for a
fortnight instead! Of course, it'll be considered 'andsomely in their
salaries. Then we'll send them round the country with a magic lantern
and a rousing lecture. 'Imprisoned by the Romanisers,' 'In Gaol for the
Protestant Faith!' or something like that."

"That's _fine_," said Sam, in an ecstasy of enjoyment. "Why, Father, the
whole thing grows like a snowball! It _must_ grow."

"Didn't I tell you, six months ago?" said Mr. Hamlyn. "Look at us then
and now! What were we then? Nothing, 'ardly. What are we now? Directors
of a big concern, becoming known all over Hengland, drawing good
salaries, and with all the pleasure of bossing a big show. Look at the
printing account the works have against the League, look at our expenses
when we've got thirty or more Luther lecturers all over the country! And
yet there's nothing risky in it. Nothing at all. No bogus-company
promoting, no snide article to sell. We've no limited-liability company
act to fear, no treasury investigations. We stand upon solid rock and
nobody can't touch us! And why? Because we are championing the freedom
of the people's religion, we are fighting for glorious Protestantism!"

"Fancy no one thinking of it before!" said Sam.

Mr. Hamlyn's shrewd, able face beamed with merriment. "Providence," he
said, "chooses its own instruments. Now, then, send me in the shorthand
clerk; I shall be at work all day. To-night I address a public meeting
in the 'Olborn Town Hall, and before ten I'm due to sup with Miss
Pritchett. She wants something definite done in St. Elwyn's, and I must
think out a slap in the face for Blantyre."

"I'll run round to the bank," said Sam, "and pay this morning's little
lot into the general fund, and post the statement to the treasurer."

"Right, my son. What was it?"

"Seventeen pounds odd, Pa."

"Protestants are waking up," said Mr. Hamlyn, "our work for the Cause
has a blessing upon it."



CHAPTER VIII

A PRIVATE CONFERENCE AT MIDNIGHT A YEAR LATER


It was late at night in Father Blantyre's study at Hornham. King and
Stephens had gone to bed, but the vicar sat with Dr. Hibbert, his
churchwarden.

Both men were smoking. By the side of the doctor stood a modest peg of
whiskey; the priest contented himself with a glass of soda-water. The
candles by which the room was lighted showed that Mr. Blantyre's face
was very worn and weary. He seemed a man who was passing through a time
of stress and storm. The bronzed countenance of the doctor wore its
usual aspect of serenity and strength. Both men had been talking
together earnestly for a great part of the night. A true and intimate
friendship obtained between them, and it was a plan that fortnightly
they should meet thus and make confidences to each other about that
which they held so dear.

"It is just a year," Blantyre said, "since Hamlyn committed his first
sacrilege in our own church."

"The time goes very fast," Hibbert answered, "yet look at the changes!
The man has become almost a power in the land, or at least he seems to
be. It is his talent for organisation. It's supreme. Look how this
wretched 'League' has grown. It has its spies and agents everywhere, its
committee has names of importance among its members, the amount of money
that rolls into Hamlyn's coffers must be very large."

"I'm afraid so. But think of the turmoil and unrest one man can
create--the misery and pain churchmen feel every day now as they see the
jocose blasphemies of these people and see the holiest things held up to
an utterly vulgar and soulless ridicule. It's a wrong thought, Hibbert,
perhaps, but I do sometimes long to be out of it all, to start afresh on
such new work as God may give one in another life!"

"Such a thought comes to all of us at times, of course. But it's
physical mainly. It's merely a languor of overstrain and a weak nervous
state. You know yourself how such thoughts come chiefly at night, and
how after your tub, in the morning light and air they all go."

"Materialist! But you're right, Hibbert, quite right."

"You go on taking the physic I've sent you and you'll pick up soon. But,
of course, this _is_ a very trying time. The parish is in a constant
turmoil. These Sunday evening Protestant meetings when folk are coming
out of church are a bad nuisance. That's a new move, too."

"Yes. They found that the hooligan riot-provoking business was very
simply dealt with, and so they are trying this. It is that poor, silly
old creature, Miss Pritchett. The Hamlyns are hand and glove with her. I
suppose she is sincere, poor old lady! I hope so. She was an ardent
Catholic, and I hope she does honestly believe in the new substitute for
the Faith. I am very sorry for her."

"I'm less charitable, Blantyre; she's a spiteful old cat. I am not
violating any professional confidence in telling _you_ that she won't
live long if she goes on living in the thick of this noisy Protestant
agitation. I do my best for her, of course, but she won't do as she's
told."

"She's a nuisance," the vicar said, "but I hope she won't go yet. I
should like to make friends with her before she dies. And I should like
her to die in the Faith."

"She won't do that, I'm afraid, Blantyre. She has gone too far away from
the Church. But, now, what do you honestly think the effect of this
Luther crusading business has been on the Church."

"Well, I think there can be no doubt of that. I was talking it over with
Lord Huddersfield last week and we both agreed. The _Church_ has gained
enormously. People who were simply attracted by ceremonial and what was
novel to them have gone out, in a restless endeavour to find some new
thing. But that is all. Our congregations here, our communicants, have
grown very much. There is a deeper spiritual fervour among us, I am sure
of it. No churchman has taken Hamlyn seriously for a moment. He has
failed in every attempt he has made to interfere with our teaching or
our ceremonial, failed absolutely. All his legal cases have fallen
through, or proved abortive, or are dragging on towards extinction. The
days of ritual prosecutions are utterly dead. All the harm Hamlyn has
done the Church itself is to weary our ears and hearts with a great
noise and tumult, with floods of empty talk. He has stung our nerves,
he hasn't penetrated to any vital part."

"Yes, that is so. It needs more than the bellowings of such a man, more
than the hostility of people who are not members of the Church, to hurt
her in any serious degree. The man and his friends have a large rabble
behind them, but they can only parade through the streets of England
beating their drums and rattling their collecting boxes. The Church is
safe."

"It is. And yet in another way, all this business is doing fearful harm
to the _morale_ of the country, limited though it may be. The mass of
non-Christian people who might be gathered into the Church are looking
down upon these unseemly contests with a sneer. They feel that there can
be little good or truth in a system of philosophy which seems to them to
be nothing but an arena of brawling fools. Therein comes the harm.
Hamlyn isn't injuring church people, he is giving contraband of war to
infidelity. And just at this particular moment in the world's history
this is extremely dangerous. In thirty years, the danger will have
passed away; to-day, it is great."

"And why particularly at this moment?"

"Why, because the world is utterly changing with extraordinary rapidity.
That world which once adjusted itself so sweetly to our faith is
vanishing, is gone. The new world which is arriving is unassimilated,
unsorted, unexplained. The light hasn't entered it yet, it doesn't know
how to correspond. The trouble lies in that. The new politics, science,
philosophy, art, are only social habits. And these will not talk our
language yet, or confess Christ. And this squabble and turmoil will
retard the new adjustment for years, because outsiders won't even
trouble to examine our claims or make experience of our system. _And
people are glad of any excuse to ignore or at least avoid Christianity._
You see, a new religion has sprung up."

"Yes--go on."

"It is the religion of pleasure, excitement, nervous thrill bought at
any cost. Renan, who had eyes and used them, saw that. He has given us
the hint in his _Abbess of Jouarre_. 'Were the human race quite
certain,' he says, 'that in two or three days the world would come to an
end, the instinct of pleasure'--_l'amour_ is his word--'would break out
into a sort of frenzy; in the presence of death, sure and sudden,
nature alone would speak, and very strange scenes would follow. The
social order is preserved by restraint; but restraint depends upon a
belief in a hereafter.' And already, 'If a man dies, shall he live
again?' is the burden of a new soliloquy on the lips of a new Hamlet.
Faith is becoming more and more an act, a habit, of heroism. So you see
the harm Hamlyn and his gang are indirectly doing. But do you know where
it seems to me the great counteracting influence to his work lies at the
moment?"

"Where?"

"You will wonder to hear me say so, but I firmly think for the moment it
lies in the ranks, and true love of our Lord, of the pious Evangelical
Party in the Church! They are Catholic without knowing it. They think,
and think sincerely, that the forms the Church has appointed, some of
her Sacraments even, obscure the soul's direct communion with God. They
are not in line with us yet. But there is a sterling and vivid
Christianity among them. There is a personal adoration of Jesus which is
strong and sweet, a living, wonderful thing. And, you see, all this
section of the Church is exempt from the attacks of the _extreme_
Protestants--who seem themselves to have hardly any Christianity at all.
Nor do the really pious Evangelicals approve of this civil war. They
won't be mixed up in it. They are far too busy doing good works and
preparing themselves for the next world to join in these rowdy
processions of the shallow, the ill-informed, or the malevolent. They
don't approve of _us_, of course, but they have no public quarrel with
what they see is substantially powerful for good. Since Hamlyn's brigade
has been throwing mud at us, and we, of course, have defended ourselves
to the best of our ability, the minds of those who are eager to justify
their adhesion to the religion of pleasure cannot, at least if they have
any logic or sincerity, avoid a consideration of the quiet
Evangelicals."

"It is a new idea to me," said the doctor, refilling his pipe, "but I
suppose you are right. They despise the whole business of agitation, and
yet don't make it a pretext as the rationalists are glad to do. The
whole thing is a miserable business! What annoys _me_, Vicar, is the
facility with which a rowdy, ignorant man of the lower classes has been
able to make himself a force."

"It is hard. But one must remember that however sincere he is--and I
know nothing against his personal character--he only appeals to the
ignorant and rowdy. Have you seen his new leaflet?"

"No, I think not. What is it?"

"It came by post last night; apparently the whole district is being
circularised. Really, the thing is quite a curiosity. I will read you a
few paragraphs."

He opened a drawer and took a small pamphlet from it, which was headed
"THE HORNHAM SCANDAL." "Listen to this:

"'At St. Elwyn's, Hornham,' writes a lady member of the Luther League,
'I recently attended the so-called "High Mass." There were three priests
in vestments; there were eight candles burning at eleven o'clock on the
altar; there was incense and all the appurtenances of a Roman Mass; the
men bore that ignorant and unwashed appearance which is commonly to be
seen at any time in an Italian church. At times they crossed themselves,
but often they seemed to forget, and then suddenly to remember. I stayed
as long as I could, but it was not long, for I was sick at heart at the
thought of what our country is being mercilessly dragged into, and that
it is for services of this description that we hear from time to time
our foolish girls exclaim, "How I hate the name of Protestant."'"

"Elegant style," said the doctor dryly, "but to call our congregation
'unwashed' is not only perfectly untrue, but a little touch of feminine
spite that shows the spirit in which these crusades are carried on. I
wonder how many of the five thousand were unwashed when our Lord fed
them!"

"That is a quotation," said the vicar, "now hear the robuster prose of
the great Hamlyn himself:

"'It appears that there are literally no lengths of lawlessness,
ecclesiastical insubordination, blasphemous poperies, or unscriptural
profanation of places of worship to which Ritualistic innovators will
not proceed. Among other Romanising acts of the vicar of St. Elwyn's,
the notorious "Father" Blantyre, is a direction to some of his
congregation who attend the Lord's Supper. These members have taken the
bread from him--or rather the superstitious wafer which is substituted
for bread--with the thumb and finger. "Oh, no," says our priest, "you
must hold out your hand for it." These are the "instructions" of
"Father" Blantyre to those about to attend the Lord's Supper for the
first time after confirmation:

"'_As soon as the priest comes up to you, hold up your hands as high as
the chin, so that he may place the Blessed Sacrament in your hand while
he says the words, The Body of our Lord._

"'But we ask our Protestant brethren how, if the minister--falsely
called "priest"--places the bread in the hand of the communicant, how
the latter can comply with the direction "take this"? Let England awake
to this "priestly" and insidious Popish plan.'"

"Well!" said the doctor, "of all the--" Words failed him.

"Isn't it vulgar and childish!" said the vicar, "but how admirably
adapted to suit the ignorant folk who will read it. The adroit
substitution of a colloquial use of the word 'take' for its real meaning
of 'receive'! And then the continual effort to degrade the Mass, to rob
it of its mystery and holy character--it's clever, it's subtle. Hamlyn
is a man of parts!"

"Is there any more?"

"Oh, yes, plenty. So far I have only read the mildest parts. Here is a
distorted simile which I should hardly have thought even Hamlyn would
have printed. It is painful to read:

"'One of our Luther Lecturers recently asked a poor, deluded young
female who is in the habit of attending the pantomime at St. Elwyn's why
she went there. The poor, deluded creature replied--doubtless with words
put into her mouth by her "Father Confessor"--that its "spirituality"
and "devotion" attracted her. Ah! Rome and Ritualism have ever known how
to appear as a pure and modest virgin, even when rotting (to use the
image of the Holy Spirit in the Word) with fornication. O foolish young
woman! How have you been bewitched with these sorceries? A clean thing
is to be got of an unclean thing!'"

The doctor ground his teeth. "I wish we'd had the man in the regiment!"
he said. "Unclean! I'd have cleaned the brute!"

The vicar sighed. "Of course it doesn't really matter," he said. "This
sort of stuff carries its own condemnation with it. Still it is most
distressing. It does wound one deeply to hear the highest and holiest
things spoken of in this way. All my people feel it. Some of them--poor
things--have come to me weeping to hear such words--weeping for shame
and sorrow. Here is the last paragraph. The pamphlet concludes with a
fine flow of rhetoric, and an invitation to me:

"'The late Dr. Parker said: "Popery is the vilest blasphemy out of hell.
It is the enemy of liberty; it is the enemy of intelligence; it is the
enemy of individuality, of conscience, and responsibility; it is the
supreme wickedness of the world, the master effort of the devil."

"'And so say we. Therefore, honest, English, Protestant people of
Hornham, look to it that these doings in your midst are put down with a
stern hand. A great meeting of ratepayers will shortly be held in the
Victoria Hall under the auspices of the Luther League. A lecture, with
lime-light views, will be delivered on the cloaked and hooded Popery
that stalks in our midst. An invitation will be extended to "Fathers"
Blantyre, King, and Stephens, the "Priests" of St. Elwyn's church, who
will be accommodated with seats upon the platform if they care to come.
We of the Luther League invite them to public controversy, to an open
debate upon the great questions at issue. Will they be present? Time
will show.'"

Hibbert rose. "Well, it's time we were in bed," he said. "Good-night. I
should think over that sporting offer of Hamlyn's if I were you. A
public appearance might do good. I like a fight."

"I doubt it," the vicar answered; "still, it may be worth considering.
One never knows. One doesn't want people to say that one is afraid."

"Good-night, Vicar."

"Good-night, Hibbert. Forget all about these surface worries and sleep
well."

The vicar was left alone.

He took a letter from his pocket. It was from Lucy, who wrote from Park
Lane. In the letter, she said that she purposed--if he would care to
have her--to come down to Hornham at once and spend some months at the
clergy-house.

"If you can put up with a girl for a time in your bachelor stronghold!
I'm sick to death of this life; it has lost all its attractions for me.
I want to _live_, not play, and you, my dear old boy, will show me the
way. A letter is no way--for me--to tell you of my thoughts. But higher
things than of old are working in me. St. Elwyn's calls me, it seems
home; I so often think of the big quiet church and the ceaseless
activity that centres round it. I long for the peace there! I have much
to tell you, much to consult you about, and I am beginning to wonder why
I have left you alone so long. Good-night, dear."

Putting down the letter, he looked at the clock. It was now far after
midnight, and he stayed the hand that was about to raise the glass that
stood on the table beside him.

In a few hours it would be dawn, the dawn when in the dim hour he daily
went to meet the Lord in the Eucharist. How wonderful that was! What
unending joy the break of day had for this good man, as he began the
ancient and mysterious rite of the Church! There, there, beside the
altar, there was peace! In this desert world, that was so far from Home,
there was always that daily glimpse into the Unseen, that Communion in
which dead friends and great angels joined, when the Paraclete came to
the weary, sinful hearts of men like fire, when our Lord in his risen
majesty came to the world to hearten his soldiers, to fill his toiling
saints with power to continue to the end.

If only the whole world _knew_ and realised this! Sometimes the priest
thought with simple wonder, that if only men knew, all trouble and
sorrow would be over. To him the material world was the unreal place,
the dream, the fable. Daily he _knew_ that the Unseen was ever near,
close, close!--how blind and sorrowful the world was, that did not know
or care for Jesus.

He knelt down now to say his prayers. He prayed for the Church, his
congregation, for his sister, and his friends. Then he prayed that he
might be worthy to receive the Blessed Sacrament at dawn.

And then, happy, comforted, and at peace, with the certainty of an
unseen glory all round him, with august watchers to shield him through
the night, he sought his couch and slept a deep, dreamless sleep with
crossed hands.

"_From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks
of the Lord Jesus._"



CHAPTER IX

A UNION OF FORCES


In Hornham, the vast majority of a poor and teeming population was quite
without interest in any religious matter. The chapels of the various
sects were attended by the residuum, the congregations at St. Elwyn's
were large--to the full holding capacity of the mother church and the
smaller mission building--and a fair proportion of people worshipped at
St. Luke's, the only other church in the neighbourhood.

Mr. Carr, the vicar of St. Luke's, was a man of about thirty-five. He
had taken a good degree at Cambridge, spent a few years in various
curacies, and had been appointed vicar of St. Luke's, Hornham, which was
in the gift of an Evangelical body known as Simon's Trustees, about four
years before Mr. Hamlyn had thrown Hornham into its present state of
religious war.

The vicar of St. Luke's was a man of considerable mental power. He was
unmarried, had no private means, and lived a lonely, though active,
life in his small and ill-built vicarage. In appearance, he was tall,
somewhat thin, and he wore a pointed, close-cropped beard and moustache.
His face was somewhat melancholy, but when he was moved or interested,
the smile that came upon it was singularly sweet. In the ordinary
business of life, he was reserved and shy. He had none of the genial
Irish _bonhomie_ of Blantyre, the wholesome breezy boyishness of
Stephens, or the grim force of King. He had a "personality"--to the
eye--but he failed to sustain the impression his appearance made in
talk. He was of no use in a drawing-room and very nearly a failure in
any social gathering. Those few members of his flock with whom, now and
again, he had to enter into purely social relations, said of him: "Mr.
Carr is a thorough gentleman, but the poor fellow is dreadfully shy. He
wants a wife; perhaps she'd liven him up a bit."

Such was the man in private life. In his clerical duties, as a
priest--or, as he would have put it, a pastor--his personal character
was sunk and merged in his office as completely as that of Father
Blantyre himself. His sermons were full of earnest exhortation, his
private ministrations were fervent and helpful, and there was a power in
his ministry that was felt by all with whom he came in contact.

He was distinctly and entirely what is known as an "Evangelical," using
that fine word in the best and noblest sense. He belonged to a school of
thought which is rapidly becoming merged in and overlapped by others,
sometimes to its betterment, but more frequently to its destruction, but
which standing by itself is a powerful force.

He did not realise the state of transition in which he and other men of
his school must necessarily stand to-day. Their position, admirable as
it often is, is but a compromise. He did not as yet realise this.

Of Blantyre and the people at St. Elwyn's he knew little or nothing. He
had met the clergy there once or twice upon official occasions, but that
was all. He was too busy with his own work to have much time to attend
to that of other people, but he had the natural distaste of his school
and bringing-up for ceremonial and teaching of which he had no
experience, and merely regarded as foreign, anti-English, and on the
whole dangerous.

He was not a bigot, and the leading feature in his religion was this: He
assigned an absolute supremacy to Holy Scripture as the only rule of
faith and practice, the only test of truth, the only judge of
controversy. He did not think that there was any guide for man's soul
co-equal or co-ordinate with the Bible. He did not care to accept such
statements as "the Church says so," "primitive antiquity says so," or
"the Councils and the Fathers also say so,"--unless it could be shown to
his satisfaction that what is said is in harmony with Scripture.

Disregarding as superfluous all external and "vicarious" form in
religion, he attached paramount importance to the work and office of our
Lord, and the highest place to the inward work of the Holy Spirit in the
heart of man. And he attached tremendous importance to the outward and
visible work of the Holy Ghost in the heart of man. His supreme belief
was that the true grace of God is a thing that will always make itself
manifest in the behaviour, tastes, ways, and choices, of him who has it.
He thought, therefore, that it was illogical to tell men that they are
"children of God, and members of Christ, and heirs of the kingdom of
Heaven" unless they had really overcome the world, the flesh, and the
devil. But he could not be stern or menacing in his dealings with
souls. The mercy of God was more in his thoughts, always and at all
times, than the wrath and judgment of God.

His attitude toward the pressing questions that were agitating the
Church of England, all over England, was in logical correspondence with
his beliefs. There was much within the Church that he had not understood
or realised as yet, but he was no Hamlyn, to break down and destroy all
that has made the Church of England what it is.

He neither undervalued the Church nor thought lightly of her privileges.
In sincere and loyal attachment to her, he would give place to none. His
apprehension of churchmanship was limited, that was all.

Nor did he--as far as he knew--under-value the Christian ministry. He
looked upon it as a high and honourable office instituted by Christ
Himself, and on priests as God's ambassadors, God's messengers, God's
stewards and overseers. Nevertheless he looked upon what he knew as
"sacerdotalism" and "priestcraft" with unfeigned dislike and uneasiness.

He believed in baptism as the appointed means of regeneration and that
it conveyed grace _ex opere operato_; a position in which he was a
little in advance of some of his school. His views on the Eucharist were
hardly so sound, though there was nothing in them absolutely
antagonistic to the truths which he had not yet realised. He certainly
did not regard Holy Communion as the chief service in the Church, its
central point.

On outward things, he was sane enough. He liked handsome churches, good
ecclesiastical architecture, a well-ordered ceremonial, and a
well-conducted service. If any one had told Mr. Carr that he was as
nearly as possible "Catholic" in his views, that if they were logically
pushed forward to their proper development he would be practically one
with the St. Elwyn's people, he would first have been startled somewhat
unpleasantly, and then he would have laughed incredulously.

And if some one had gone to Blantyre and told him that Carr was thus, he
would have smiled rather sadly to think that his informant had realised
the truths taught by the Anglican Church in a very limited way.

This mutual misunderstanding between the only two schools of thought in
the Church of England that have enduring value is very common. The
_extreme_ Protestants are not church-people at all in any right sense
of the word. The "Broad" party are confused with their own shifting
surmises from day to day, and make too many "discoveries" to have real
and lasting influence. But the "High Church" people and the pious
"Evangelicals" are extraordinarily close to one another, and neither
party realises the fact, while both would repudiate it. Yet both schools
of opinion are, after all, occupied with one end and aim to the
exclusion of all others--the attaining of personal holiness.

It was on a bright morning that Mr. Carr came down-stairs and
breakfasted, after he had read prayers with his two servants. There was
no daily service in St. Luke's, though evensong was said on Wednesdays
and Saturdays. He read his morning paper for a few moments, then put it
down and pushed his plate away. He was unable to eat, this morning.

He got up and walked uneasily about the room. His face was troubled and
sad. Then he pulled a letter from his pocket and read it with a doubtful
sigh. This was the letter:

     "LUTHER LODGE,
     "HORNHAM, N.

     "DEAR SIR:

     "Your letter duly to hand. I note that you are desirous of having a
     private conversation with me, and shall be pleased to grant
     facilities for same. I shall not be leaving for the Strand till
     mid-day, and can therefore see you at eleven.

     "Faithfully yours,
     "SAMUEL HAMLYN.

     "_Secretary of the Luther League,_
     "_Chairman of The New Reformation Association._"

The clergyman read and reread the letter, hardly knowing what to make of
it. He had done so many times. The infinite condescension of it annoyed
him; the recapitulation of the writer's position seemed a piece of
impudent bravado, and reminded the vicar of St. Luke's of the unhappy
state that religious life was in at Hornham.

Some days before, shocked and distressed beyond measure at the growing
turmoil in Hornham, startled by the continued evidences of it that he
met with in his pastoral life, he had written to Mr. Hamlyn asking for a
private interview. He had shrunk from doing anything of the sort for
weeks. His whole nature revolted against it. But he had dimly recognised
that in some measure he might be said to be in a middle position between
the two conflicting parties, and thought that his mediation might be of
some avail. Repugnant as it was to him, he resolved that he must do
what he thought to be his duty, and after he had made it the subject of
anxious and fervent prayer he had made up his mind to see if he could
not prevail with the leader of the "New Reformation" to cease his
agitation, in Hornham at any rate. He imagined that Hamlyn could hardly
realise the harm he was doing to the true religious life in the place.
It was not his business to argue with the reformer about his work
elsewhere. He knew nothing of that. But in Hornham, at any rate, he did
see that the civil war provoked nothing but the evil passions of hatred
and malice, had no effect upon either party, and prevented the steady
preparation for heaven which he thought was the supreme business of
Christians.

Hamlyn's letter certainly didn't seem at all conciliatory. It disturbed
him. He had hardly ever spoken to the man in the past, but he had known
of him, as he necessarily knew of every tradesman in the borough. Social
considerations hardly ever entered his mind, but he had not thought of
Hamlyn as a potentate in any way when he had written to him. He knew him
for a plump, shrewd, vulgar man, who dropped his aspirates and said
"paiper" for "paper," and, indeed, had thought none the worse of him
for that. But the letter surprised him. It was almost offensive, and he
was as near anger as a gentle-minded man may be.

At half-past ten o'clock, he sighed, realising that a most distasteful
duty had to be done, and prepared to leave the house. Before he left his
study, he knelt down and prayed for a blessing in his mission. He always
prayed before any event of any importance in life. An enormous number of
people still do, and it is a very great pity that some people do not
believe or realise the fact. Prayer is not the anachronism many
publicists would have us believe. If among all classes, Christians by
open profession, and people who make no profession at all, save only
contempt for Christianity, a census of prayers prayed during one day
could be taken, the result would be very remarkable indeed. It would
certainly startle the rationalists. Statistics show that every second a
child is born and a person dies. It is during the approach of such
occasions that even people who call themselves "atheists" generally
pray. Ask hospital nurses, doctors, or parish priests! There is no
greater humbug than the pretence that prayer as a general necessity and
practice is dead. There is more irreligion visible to-day than at any
other time in English history, perhaps. But that does not mean that
people do not pray. The majority live a jolly, godless life till they
are frightened. Then they pray. The minority pray always.

Mr. Carr left his house with a more vigorous step after his petition. As
so many folk know, the help that comes from prayer is only
self-hypnotism--of course. But it is certainly odd what power some of
the least gifted and most ordinary people have of this self-hypnotism.
One had always thought it rather a cryptic science, the literature of
India, for example, regarding it as a supreme achievement. But it must
be very simple after all! And if the help that comes to the human heart
after prayer _is_ a result of this magnetic power, all we can say is
that in the depths of a Whitechapel slum, the outcast, forgotten, and
oppressed have each and all the most remarkable, delicate, and cultured
temperaments, not in the least seared or spoilt by privation and want.
The only point that one quite fails to understand is, why are the
leading reviews and scientific publications still discussing this art,
or talent, as something rare, abnormal, and as yet little understood?

Mr. Carr drew near to "Luther Lodge." "Balmoral" had been deserted for
some time by the Hamlyn family, who very properly felt that it was
beneath the dignity of its celebrated head, and would also be harmful to
the glorious Protestant cause, if they remained among the
undistinguished inhabitants of Beatrice Villas.

About the time that this decision had been arrived at, a substantial
square house, unornamental but sound--like Protestantism itself--was
vacated by its former inhabitant, the Mayor of Hornham, a
leather-dresser in a large way, who had sold his business to a company
and was retiring to the country. Mr. Hamlyn looked over the place--then
known as Hide-side House--and saw that it would exactly suit him and his
altered fortunes. He changed the name to "Luther Lodge," made some
extensive purchases of furniture, and established himself there with his
son and daughter.

Carr drew near to the iron gates before the circular sweep of gravel
known to the past and present inhabitants of the house as the "drive."
The gates were hung from two stone pilasters, each surmounted by a small
but extremely rampant lion, fiercely Protestant of aspect and painted a
dull purple. The whole aspect of the place was chilling, as the
clergyman walked up to the door. The formal lace curtains in the
windows, the brilliant black-leaded boot-scraper which reflected the
sunlight in a dozen facets of vicious leaden fire, the great apple of
shining brass which was the bell-pull--all these affected him in an
unpleasant manner. He was supremely unconscious of any artistic likings
or knowledge, but the seeds of them were latent in him nevertheless, and
the place hurt his senses in a strange way.

A trim maid came to the door, the extreme antithesis of the
filibustering "general" of a year ago, and showed him into the hall.

"I'll see if master's disengaged," she said; "are you the gentleman as
has an appointment with master for eleven?"

Mr. Carr confessed to being that gentleman and the girl left him
standing there. From some room in the upper part of the house, so it
seemed, the tinkling notes of a piano came down to him. Some one--it was
Miss Hamlyn herself--was singing fervently of "violets, violets, I will
wear for thee."

After a considerable interval, the maid came back. "Master will see you
now, sir," she said, and ushered the visitor into Mr. Hamlyn's study.

It was a fair-sized room with a long French window opening upon a lawn
in the centre of a small, walled garden. Many book-shelves filled with
grave and portly tomes lined the walls, a large writing-table stood in
the middle of the carpet. Some months before, a struggling firm of
"religious publishers" had failed, and their stock of theology was
thrown upon a flooded market as "Remainders." Mr. Hamlyn, as being in
the trade himself, was enabled to acquire a library suited to his
position at remarkably cheap rates.

Mr. Hamlyn rose from his chair.

"Glad to see you," he said hastily, and with great condescension and
good humour. "Fortunate I happened to have a morning free. Now, what can
I do for you? No spiritual trouble, I hope? Ritualists been prowling
round St. Luke's? If so, say the word, give me the facts, and I'll see
you are protected!"

"It is on a question connected with the state of affairs in the district
that I called to see you, Mr. Hamlyn."

"Quite so, Mr. Carr, just what I expected. Well, I've always heard good
accounts of you as a loyal Protestant minister--though I can't approve
of your using that pestilential book, _Hymns Ancient and Modern_, in
your church--and I will do what I can for you. Providence has placed a
scourge in my hand to drive the idolaters from the Temple, so tell me
your trouble."

Carr had listened to this, which was delivered in a loud, confident
voice, with growing amazement. He hardly knew how to take the man.

"I deplore very much," he said, making a great effort, "the state into
which Hornham has been thrown. I cannot, of course, approve of much that
I understand takes place at St. Elwyn's. Yet I am beginning to fear that
the remedy is worse than the disease. I am sure, Mr. Hamlyn, that your
great desire must be to see the people led to love the Lord Jesus and to
live godly, sober lives. Well, I find that the crusade of the Luther
League is unsettling the minds of weaker brethren. They are becoming
excited, forgetful of duty, carried away by the flood of a popular
movement. All this is hurtful to souls. Men should have peace to make
themselves right with God. Strife and anger hurt the soul and wound it.
Now I have no concern with any other place but this, in which my
ministry is set. But in Hornham, at least, I have come to ask you to
moderate your attacks upon the High Church party, to extend to them the
same tolerance they extend to us."

Hamlyn stared at the speaker.

"To moderate MY methods?" he shouted in a coarse voice. "Do you know
what you're asking? Do you realise who I am?"

"Perfectly, Mr. Hamlyn," the clergyman answered with considerable
dignity. "I am speaking, I hope, to a brother Christian, and as such, in
the name of our dear Lord, I ask you to cease this strife and discord
among us. God will show his desires in his own way; prayer is a more
powerful weapon than public invective. And it is idle to deny that the
vicar of St. Elwyn's and his curates are doing good. I believe their
teaching on fundamental truths is wrong, I deprecate the ceremonial with
which they veil and cover the simple beauties of the Christian faith.
But Mr. Blantyre is a good and noble-hearted man. He gives his life and
his large income--it is a matter of common knowledge--to the service of
the poor and needy. He is utterly unselfish, he loves Jesus. Let him
work in his own way in peace."

Mr. Hamlyn's face grew very red. The man was mentally bloated by
prosperity and success. Daily he was hailed by fools as the saviour of
his country, his name was on many lips, and his sense of proportion was
utterly gone.

"Really!" he said, "of all the mad requests as was ever made me this is
the maddest! Are you in your senses, Mr. Carr--you a Protestant minister
of the Word? You can't be. You come to me, me, who Providence has set at
the head of Henglish Protestantism, and ask me to join a base conspiracy
to silence the clarion of Truth! to leave my 'igh ground of Principle
and grovel before a petticoated 'priest'! Why, you're asking me to let
the Pope and the devil into Hornham. Have you ever cast your eye upon
the works of the immortal John Bunyan? What about Mr. Facing-both-ways?"

Mr. Carr kept his temper. He was there upon an important issue. What did
it matter if the man was rude? "But don't you think, as a Christian," he
said mildly, "that it is hard enough to fight the devil, the world, and
the flesh without private differences in the Christian camp?"

"Who's speaking of Christians?" Hamlyn cried; "not I. Blantyre is no
Christian; he is doing the devil's work, which is the work of Rome. He
gives away his money because the devil showed him that it was a good
move, to win souls to Rome. As for his goodness, how do we know what
goes on in the confessional? I've heard----"

Carr stood up. "Let me tell you at once, sir," he said in a hard voice
and with flashing eyes, "that any scandal and slander you make before me
about a man I know to be pure and good I will at once repeat to him, and
you will have to take the consequences."

"Ah!" said the agitator sharply and suddenly and with his impudent smile
flashing over his face, mingled with a sneer, "I see now! I ought to
have seen it before. You are a wolf in sheep's clothing! While we all
thought you a faithful Protestant, you have secretly joined causes with
the enemy. The cloven 'oof 'as peeped out! You come as a sneaking
ambassador of Rome in the garb of a Protestant. The Jesuits have been
having a go at you, Mr. Carr, and they've got you! I shouldn't wonder if
you've got your 'air-shirt on now! Go back to them as sent you and say
that I've scourged 'em with whips in the past and I'll give 'em
scorpions now. This will make a fine story at our next meeting in the
public 'all!"

Carr turned on his heel without a word and left the room. He crossed the
hall in a couple of strides, opened the door, and walked quickly over
the gravel sweep. As his hand was on the latch of the gate, the
reformer's voice hailed him. Mr. Hamlyn was looking round the corner of
the door; a genial grin--a clown's grin--lay upon his face. "Mr. Carr!"
he bawled with unabashed and merry impudence, "been to Mass yet?"

Then, with a final chuckle, he closed the door.

The peacemaker walked sadly away. He saw at once the sort of man he had
been dealing with, and recognised how futile any protest would be in the
case. He saw clearly how unassailable Hamlyn's position was, while the
country was full of people who would pay him to keep them in a state of
pleasurable excitement. It was better than the theatre to which Hamlyn's
subscribers loudly protested that their consciences would not allow them
to go! It was a sort of bull-baiting revived; the lust of the public at
seeing some one hunted was satisfied.

How infinitely better the sober methods of the old-established
Protestant societies were! Legitimate propaganda, a dignified and
scholarly controversy, these were right and sane. But this clown's
business, this noise and venom, was utterly disgusting. He had caught a
glimpse into the machinery of the whole movement that sickened him.

He went home to his lonely house and made a frugal lunch. Something
ought to be done, but what? He was not a man to fail in any efforts he
made in a good cause. He did not propose to cease his attempts to
restore Hornham to decent calm, even now. But he could not see, at the
moment, what was the next move he should make.

During the afternoon he set out on a round of parochial visiting. He sat
by the bedsides of the sick, the querulous, the ungrateful, and told his
message of comfort. He heard much of Hamlyn's campaign. The new leaflet
with its violent language was thrust into his hand. Every one wondered
what would happen next. Would Mr. Blantyre face the Luther Lecturers in
the public hall? One old bedridden dame Carr found all agog with
excitement and spite. "It'd come to a fight," she expected, and "wot an
awful thing it was to have them wicked monsters the Papists so close.
She could 'ardly sleep o' nights thinking of it all." Carr found that
the poor old creature had not the remotest idea of what "Papist" meant,
of what anything meant, indeed; but she would hardly listen to his
prayers and Bible-reading nevertheless, so eager was she to discuss the
"goings on."

About four, as he left the last house he purposed to visit just then, a
strange thought came to him suddenly. He was at the extreme end of his
parish, not far from St. Elwyn's. Would it not be a good thing to go and
visit Blantyre, to express his sympathy and to discuss whether some way
out of the present trouble could not be found?

The idea strengthened and grew. He knew Blantyre was a decent
fellow--every one said so. But, nevertheless, he had the sense of
venturing into the lion's den! He should feel strange among these
priests with their foreign ways, their cassocks and berrettas; there
would be discomfort in the visit.

It is curious how, in the minds of the least prejudiced, the dislike to
the definite and outward symbols that a priest wears still lingers. In
another generation, it will have been swept away, but it still survives
as a relic of the dark, secularising influences of the eighteenth
century. And, again, the man in the street does not like to be reminded
that there is a God and a class of men vowed to His service, and the
complete distinction of a priest's costume is too explicit a reminder.

Carr thought the matter out for a minute or two and then made up his
mind. He would go and talk over the situation with Blantyre. With a
vivid sense of how his host of the morning would call his action "bowing
down in the house of Rimmon," a sense that only quickened his steps and
sent a contemptuous curl to his lip, he turned and walked towards the
clergy-house.

He rang the bell, and a tall and rather hulking man in livery showed him
into a large drawing-room. This was the navvy, Mr. King's former
assailant, who had been promoted, at his own request, to a distinctive
costume, which he wore with pride and diligence. His only grief was that
he was not allowed to "wipe the floor with that there Hamlyn," but he
lived in hope that some fresh outrage would provide him with the
necessary permission.

Carr looked round the room. There was nothing ecclesiastical about it,
no flavour of the monk at home. It had been newly papered; the walls
were covered with pictures so fresh and new in treatment that they might
have come from the Academy of that year. The vicar of St. Luke's
suddenly awoke to the fact that he was in a very charming room indeed.
There was a Steinway grand piano there, a beautiful instrument; he saw
that the Twelfth Nocturne of Chopin stood open upon it. Everywhere he
saw a multitude of photographs in frames of silver, copper, ivory,
peacock leather--every imaginable sort of frame. A great many of these
photographs were signed in the corner, and looking at some of them he
was surprised to see that they were of very well-known people. Here was
a well-known general, there a judge, again the conscious features of a
society actor beamed out at him. His eye, unobservant at first, began to
take in the details of the room more rapidly. There were a hundred
luxurious little trifles scattered about, numerous contrivances for
comfort. He was wondering to whom this room could belong, when the door
opened and his doubts were resolved.

A girl came in, a girl with a beautifully modelled face, healthy and yet
without crimson in it. A pair of frank, dark eyes looked at him from
beneath an overshadowing mass of dead black hair.

"How do you do, Mr. Carr," she said,--he had given the man his card,--"I
am Mr. Blantyre's sister; I've only just pitched my tent in Hornham.
Bernard will be in for tea in half an hour."

Rather nervously, Carr explained that he had called on a matter of
parochial business. He remained standing, a little at a loss. This girl
was not like the young ladies of Hornham.

"Well, you must have some tea," Lucy said with decision as she rang the
bell. Carr sat down. He anticipated a somewhat trying half hour until
the vicar should arrive. He was a gentleman, well bred in every way, but
his life, from the time of his school days, had been lonely and without
much feminine companionship.

In five minutes he found, to his own great surprise, that he was talking
vividly and well, that he was quite pleased to be where he was. And the
girl seemed to be interested and pleased with him. It was a very new
sensation, this feeling of mutual liking, to the lonely man. The
conversation turned naturally to the unrest around them. Carr said
nothing as yet of his morning's experience.

"Well, I must confess, frankly, Mr. Carr," Lucy said, "that until lately
I never took any interest at all in these things. They seemed humbug to
me. Now, of course, I know better. It's a _shame_! a black shame, that
Bernard and the others should be treated so by this disgusting man. If
he only knew what their life was! how self-denying, how full of
unceasing labour and worry, how devoted. Take Mr. Stephens, for
instance: he's only a boy, yet he's killing himself with work and
enthusiasm. He was up all last night with a man that has delirium
tremens, yet he said Mass at half-past seven, came to breakfast as merry
as a sand-boy, and was teaching in the national schools at nine. And
he'll be on his feet to-day until nearly midnight without a word of
complaint. He'll spend nearly the whole evening in the boys' club,
boxing and playing billiards with them--oh, you can't think how the
three of them work!"

She went on with a series of anecdotes and explanations, told with great
vividness and power, in her new enthusiasm for the men among whom she
had come. And throughout all her talk, the clergyman heard frequent
references to the services that went on almost unceasingly in the great
church hard by. He heard names, strange and yet familiar, startling to
his ear, and yet which seemed quite natural and fitting in the place
where he was. One thing he began to see clearly, and with interest:
whatever these men were in opinion, a life of real and active holiness
went on among them. And he noticed also, with wonder, how everything
seemed to draw its inspiration from the church, how constantly the
clergy were there, hearing confessions, saying services, praying, and
preaching. The whole thing was new to him.

They were the best of friends, talking brightly together, when the door
burst open and the impetuous priest rushed in. "Well, I'm glad to see
you!" he said with a broad grin of welcome. "Had tea?--that's right. I
see you've made friends with my clergywoman! I've been in church hearing
confessions, or I'd have been in sooner."

His manner was extremely genial. He seemed genuinely glad to see his
brother vicar and not in the least surprised or puzzled.

Carr looked attentively at him. So this merry Irishman, with the lined,
powerful face, the grey hair, and eyes which sometimes blazed out like
lamps--this was the great Ritualist, the Jesuit, the thief of English
liberty!

He had a wonderful magnetic power, that was evident at once. His
sympathy for everything and everybody poured from him; he was "big," big
in every way.

He chatted merrily away on a variety of topics while taking his tea.
Asking his sister for another cup, he suddenly turned to Carr. "That
reminds me," he said, "of a good story I heard yesterday. Father
Cartwright was here to lunch, he is one of the St. Clement Fathers at
the Oxford monastery. Not long ago a young nobleman--rather a _bon
vivant_, by the way--went down to spend a few days with the Fathers. He
made his arrival, very unfortunately for him, poor fellow! on a Friday,
when the fare's very frugal indeed. He had very little to eat, poor
chap, and went to bed as hungry as a hunter, quite unable to sleep he
was. Now, it's the custom for one of the Fathers to go round in the
night with a benediction, 'The Lord be with you.' They always say it in
Latin, _Dominus tecum_. The young man heard some one rapping at the
door. 'Who's there?' says he. '_Dominus tecum_,' was the answer.
'Thanks, very much,' said the nobleman, 'please put it down outside'!"

While they were laughing at the story, Lucy rose and, shaking hands
with Carr, went away.

The two clergymen were left alone. "You'll not mind talking in here?"
Father Blantyre said. "I've got a poor chap in me study I don't want to
disturb. I found um after lunch making a row in the street with a crowd
round him, a poor half-clothed scarecrow, beastly drunk--never saw a man
in such a state. I asked one of the crowd who he was and he said he was
a stranger, a ship's fireman, who'd been about the place for a day or
two, spending all his money in drinks, and he hadn't a friend in the
world. A policeman came along and wanted to lock um up, but I managed to
get him in here and he's sleeping it off. I shall give um egg in milk
when he comes round: his poor stomach's half poisoned with bad liquor
and no food. I always find egg and milk the best thing in these cases. I
wish he wasn't so dirty! We shall have to give 'm a hot tub before he
can go to bed."

"What will you do with him?"

"Oh, keep him here for a day or two to pull round, give um some clothes,
and pack 'm off to sea again where he can't get any drink."

"Don't such men ever rob you?"

"Hardly ever. It's not your real outcast who steals much. They're
generally so astonished to find a parson isn't as black as he's painted
that they don't think of anything else. They go away feeling they've got
a _pal_, made a friend! That's the awful want in their lives. A lot of
them come back, and write to me while they're away, too, queer letters
full of gratitude and bad language! But ye came to see me, my friend.
I'm so glad you've found your way here. Now, what can I do for you, or
are ye going to do anything for me?"

His manner had changed. His tone was indescribably sympathetic and
gentle. If ever the wisdom of charity and the light of holiness shone
out on a man's face, Carr thought that he saw it now.

He was entirely dominated by the man. In a burst of nervous words, he
poured out his thoughts. He told of his futile visit to Hamlyn, his keen
distress at the result, the misery the agitation gave him, and the harm
he believed it to be doing.

Blantyre listened with few words. Now and then he made a warm and
penetrating remark.

"It will pass," he said at length; "God will give us peace again. He is
trying the faith of the poor and ignorant among us. Our prayers will
avail. But we will concert together that we may take such measures to
stop the local evil as we properly can. I have been loath to move in the
matter, but now that you have come to me we will join forces and take
action. There are ways and means. I hate pulling wires and using
influence, but one must sometimes. I had hoped it wouldn't be necessary.
But something must be done. Lord Huddersfield will take action for us.
The street meetings can be stopped at once. Then we can inaugurate a
real press campaign and let the leader-writers loose. Hitherto it's been
our policy to say nothing much, except in the religious papers, of
course. But the time has come when we must fight, too. I was talking to
Sir Michael Manicho about it the other day. A word or two from him and
the country will be ringing with warnings. We can rob this Luther League
of its powers in a week. It will _go on_, of course, but with its fangs
drawn. The people who support it will, many of them, cease their
subscriptions. And there is the law also. The magistrates of London are
quite ready to take a strong stand. That is settled. And a word from
the Archbishop, perhaps, would be a help. Public opinion is very easily
turned."

He spoke calmly, but with conviction and a quiet sense of power. Carr
began to see dimly what great forces were behind this man and others of
his kind. The tremendous organising machinery of the Catholic Church was
laid bare for a moment.

A most confidential talk followed. Blantyre gave the other details and
names. He made it plain to Carr's astonished ears that those in high
places were waiting to act, waiting to see if the Church needed them.
The depth and force of it all astonished him.

A bell began to ring. "There's evensong," said Blantyre, "I must be off.
It's my turn to say it to-night."

"I will come, too," Carr answered.

"Do, do! and take some food with us all afterwards, and we'll have a
longer talk. You can't think how happy I am that we have come together.
What? You've never seen our church? Why, then, you've a treat in front
of ye! Every one says it's beautiful. We all love it, we're all proud of
it!"

He took him by the arm and led him away.

Not a word of the differences that separated them, no suspicion, or
distrust, nothing but welcome and brotherhood!

The tall, bearded man and the quick, shaven Celt in his cassock went
into the church together to pray--

"Give peace in our time, O Lord."



CHAPTER X

LOW WATER AND GREAT EXPECTATIONS


In a couple of months after the meeting between Carr and Blantyre,
public opinion had spoken in no uncertain way about the "Luther League."
Public opinion in these days is very easily led in this or that
direction--but only for a time. There is a vast stratum of common-sense,
of love of justice, of wholesome sanity, in England, and it can always
be reached by a little boring. In the end, especially upon any question
which is in its essence sociological, a proper balance is found and the
truth of a matter firmly established.

And Hamlyn's agitation was treated as a social question rather than a
religious one, at any rate by a secular press. Whether the doings of the
High Church party were legal or illegal according to the prayer-book
(such was the line the papers took) was a question to be decided by
experts in history and the authorities of the Church; a question, in
fact, that ought to be decided in a legitimate way. What was, however,
quite certain, was that the proceedings of Hamlyn and his party were
improper, vulgar, and indecent. It was simply misleading nonsense to
cover the Ritualistic party, a body of high-minded and earnest men, with
the noisy and venomous vituperation of the streets. Freedom of thought
was the heritage of every Englishman, and Hamlyn had simply elected
himself a grand inquisitor of matters that did not concern him and which
he was unable to understand. No dishonesty on the man's part was
alleged. But his history was unearthed by one or two enterprising
journalists, following the popular lead. It was shown that while nothing
had ever been said against his personal character--and nothing was said
now--he had risen from the position of a struggling local newspaper man
to comparative affluence and the control of a large and costly
organisation. The cash accounts of the League were scrutinised, and
unkind remarks were made upon the constant advertisements of the League,
with their cry for increased income and fresh subscribers. It was
pointed out that people who supported a crusade made without authority
by a self-constituted Peter the Hermit, over whom no proper control
could be exercised and whose methods of prosecuting it were a mixture of
buffoonery, uncharitable malice, and untruth, were incurring a serious
responsibility.

In short, public opinion was told in plain language exactly how it ought
to regard the campaign. Great newspapers spoke out during one fortnight
with singular unanimity. Street meetings were promptly broken up by the
police, and after some of the Luther Lecturers had been to prison,
finding that public interest in their "martyrdom" was languishing, they
subsided into quiet, devotional meetings on the sands at popular
watering-places. Whenever Mr. Hamlyn hired a hall and lectured on the
iniquities of the local clergy, he was confronted by the spectacle of a
sharp-faced man who took down every word of his utterances with
scrupulous fidelity. It was always the same machine-like man, in
Liverpool or in Plymouth, in Bath or Dundee--there he was. The
agitator's eloquence was considerably checked. He was in no condition to
sustain an action for slander or libel in which, he well knew, some poor
clergyman would somehow be able to brief all the great hawk-faced
leaders of the bar, gentlemen with whom Mr. Hamlyn wished to have as
little as possible to do.

At such open-air meetings as were permitted, some unobtrusive stranger
was generally to be found distributing leaflets among the crowd, which
resembled nothing so much as the literature of the Luther League itself
in its general "get-up" and appearance. On perusal, however, it proved
to be of quite a different tenor, being nothing else than extracts from
the best-known English newspapers on Mr. Hamlyn and his mission. This
was very trying and disturbed the harmony of many meetings.

In the assemblies convened at halls hired for the occasion,--admission
by ticket only,--it frequently happened that some well-known local
resident, who could not be denied, made his appearance, and with a few
weighty words entirely changed the character of the meeting. The reports
from his myrmidons all over the country, which reached Mr. Hamlyn in the
Strand, showed a series of counter-moves which alarmed him in their
neatness and ingenuity.

It had been for months a pleasing habit of the peripatetic Protestants
under the Hamlyn banner to visit churches and make notes of the
ornaments therein, afterwards lecturing on them in their own inimitable
and humorous manner to crowds in back streets.

Mr. Moffatt, indeed--the young gentleman who had forsaken the plumbing
and gas-fitting industry to become incandescent and watery on the
Protestant war-path--had more than once broken a small crucifix with an
umbrella. The lecturers found, however, that, as if by some concerted
action, church doors were locked wherever they might go. The poor
fellows' hunger for the sight of candlesticks and sanctuary lamps was
hardly ever gratified now, and they were compelled to the somewhat
ignominious expedient of nailing the bulls of Mr. Hamlyn to the doors of
sacred buildings and going gloomily away.

On one occasion, Mr. Moffatt, who was a young fellow of considerable
hardihood, arrived at a well-known sink of ritual during the week, where
the incense used in church cost, it was reported, as much as _eight
shillings a pound_! Failing in every effort to penetrate the building,
one Sunday morning he mingled with a group of worshippers and made an
attempt to enter the church. Being a somewhat tubby youth of no great
height, he followed closely on the footsteps of a ponderous gentleman
quite six feet high, and congratulated himself he was escaping
observation, just as one has seen a small dog slink nearer and nearer to
the tempting joint upon the dinner-table. His hopes were doomed to
failure. He was almost inside the porch when two stalwart church wardens
barred the way and read him a paper, which stated that, as he was a
known brawler who had been convicted of other illegal disturbances in
God's house, entry was refused him.

At the moment, in his chagrin and surprise, Mr. Moffatt could think of
no better retort than an injunction to the reader of the document to
"keep his hair on." Then, gathering his faculties together, he commenced
a vigorous protest as to his rights as a "baptized, confirmed
communicant member of the Church of England" to make one of the
congregation. No answer whatever was vouchsafed him, and he was
compelled to stand meekly by while the usual members of the congregation
were admitted.

He bethought himself of an appeal to the majesty of the law! "Very well,
then," he said, "I shall go and fetch a policeman. That's all."

One of the church wardens opened the inner door of the church and
beckoned to some one. A sergeant of police, in his uniform, emerged
quietly. Mr. Moffatt started, muttered something about "writing to the
Bishop," and left the vicinity of the church without further ado.

And it was thus all over the country. Hamlyn and his son realised that a
strong and powerful organisation was arrayed against them. Their tactics
were counter-checked at every turn.

As a natural consequence of all this, the subscriptions to the League
fell away at a most alarming rate. The street and public hall
collections of the lecturers dwindled until they could hardly pay
themselves their own modest emoluments. The general subscriptions and
special donations to the head office were in a no less unsatisfactory
condition.

A very great number of people, with an honest dislike and distrust of
practices which seemed to them against the law of the Church of England
(as they understood it), had hitherto sent Hamlyn considerable sums of
money. His campaign seemed to them a real and efficacious method of
dealing with the question, and his methods had not been very clear to
them in their actual detail.

But when the most influential part of the press began to speak with no
uncertain voice, these people began to hurriedly repudiate any
connection with the Luther League and to tie their purse-strings in a
very tight knot indeed. Then, again, there was a second not
inconsiderable class of people whose support was withdrawn. These were
more or less of the Miss Pritchett order. They had some real or fancied
grievance against the vicar of the parish in which they lived, and the
machinery of Hamlyn's League was found to be at their service for the
purposes of revenge. Under the cover of religious truth they were able
to gratify a private spite--a method of campaign as old as history
itself. The aims of these people had been achieved. That is to say, Mr.
Hamlyn or his friends had made themselves more or less a thorn in the
sides of the local clergy, had "banged the field-piece, twanged the
lyre," and departed with as much money as they were able to collect in
the cause of Protestant Truth.

And those people who had first moved in the matter saw that, after all,
the _status ante quo_ had not been altered in the least, that nothing
had happened at all! One or two people of no importance whatever might
have left the Church, but the general result was, as a rule, an
increase of the attacked congregation and, inevitably, an enormous
increase of personal popularity of the priest and of loyalty to him and
his teachings.

So this second class of worthies also became hard-hearted to the
perfervid advertisements of the League, buttoned up their pockets, and
tried to behave as though the names of those twin greatnesses, Martin
Luther and Samuel Hamlyn, had never crossed their lips.

In the offices in the Strand, all these causes were thoroughly
appreciated and understood. The prosperity, or rather the consciousness
of it, which had seemed to ooze from Mr. Hamlyn's features, was no more
to be seen. The countenance of the Protestant Pope wore an anxious and
harassed expression when he was alone with his son, and their talks
together were frequent and of long duration.

One disastrous morning the post brought nothing in the way of fuel for
the Protestant fire except a single miserable little post-office order
for seven shillings and sixpence, a donation from "A Baptist Friend."

Protestant Truth was in a bad way. Both the Hamlyns thought so as they
sat down gloomily for a private conference in the inner room.

"There's a good balance in the bank, of course," Hamlyn said. "We've got
staying power for some time yet, and the salaries are safe. But it's the
future we've got to look to. The righteous cause can't go on nothing."

"Don't you worry, Father," said Sam, "that Exeter Hall speaking has
pulled you down a bit. You're not your real self. I haven't a doubt that
you'll think of something to wake things up in a day or two."

"Hope so, I'm sure, though I can't think of anything at present. But
seven and six! It's the first day Protestantism's dropped below a matter
of two pound odd."

"There's plenty of other posts during the day, Pa."

"That's true. One day or three days don't matter. But it shows how
things are going. The Romans have been too cunning for us, Sam. The
wiles of the Scarlet Woman are prevailing; honest, straightforward
Protestants are being undermined."

"But think of the letters of sympathy we've 'ad since the great
Ritualistic conspiracy has come up. The real hearty Protestants are as
faithful as they ever were."

"Yes, they are," said Mr. Hamlyn reflectively; "we can always fall back
on them, and we've got some thousands of names and addresses on the
books. The League'll _go on_ safe enough, there'll always be labourers
in the vineyard and them as will pay the overseer his just dues. But
it's 'ard, after the splendid success we've had, to sink down into a
small commonplace affair with just a bare living. The real red-hot
Protestants, who are really _afraid_ of Rome and that, are so few! These
disgusting newspapers been showing up everything and the lukewarm people
have been falling away. All the real money is flowing back into Roman
channels. If there were more really earnest Protestants we might keep on
as good as ever. But there's not. We haven't sold a gross of _Bloody
Marys_ during the month. It's a pity we had to suppress the
_Confessional_; that was a real seller--and did a lot of good," Mr.
Hamlyn added as an afterthought.

"We couldn't well do no other after the 'int we got from the _Vigilance_
people," said Sam.

"I suppose not. But it was a great pity."

"You're due at Malakoff House to-night, aren't you, Pa?"

"Yes, at seven. I'm very uneasy in my mind about Miss P., Sam."

"Gussie says she's worse than she knows herself. She hasn't been out of
bed for a fortnight now."

"She's not long for this world, I'm afraid," Hamlyn answered. "While
she's alive we are fairly safe. But when she's in Glory where shall we
be?"

"That's the question, Father. Gussie knows nothing and can't find out
anything, neither. A really handsome legacy invested in some good stock
would put us right again whatever might happen."

"It would. But just at present the old lady's awful to deal with. You
see, I'm in an awkward position, Sam. I'm not such a fool as to tell her
how we've been bested lately--that's to say, I can't bring myself to
wound a faithful Protestant heart by stories of persecution of them as
is doing the Lord's work against Rome. Miss P. don't know anything about
the checks we've received of late. Well, then, she's always bothering me
to know why we aren't keeping it up in Hornham, why we aren't going for
Blantyre and that lot. She hears everything that goes on in the parish,
though Gussie Davies does her best to stop it. But she don't seem to
trust Gussie as she did, which is a pity. Miss P. quite sees that, for
some reason or other, things have gone quiet in the parish, and she's
getting restive. Something must be done soon, that's quite evident. Some
big thing to wake her up--and everyone else, too."

"It doesn't matter much how far we go now."

"Not a bit. The further the better, as a matter of fact. The lecturers'
hands are so tied now, what with all these cunning moves of the
Romanists, that _they_ can't do anything. It seems we've alienated all
the moderate people and we've only the extreme ones to rely on. Well,
then, we must wake _them_ up, that's all. The papers can't well say
worse of us than they do already, so it really is the best policy to
give the whole country a regular startler. I can't think of anything new
at present, but I shall. I expect a bit of inspiration'll come before
long. Anyway, I shall tell Miss Pritchett to-night to wait and have
patience a little longer, as there's something in the wind that will do
all she wants. It's her illness. She _must_ have continual bits of
excitement to keep her going, it's a regular disease with her now. If I
can think of a good scheme to liven up things generally, in the first
flush of it she'll be so pleased that we might venture a word or two
upon her testamentary dispositions. I should feel so much happier about
the Cause if I knew the League was down in her will for a thumping sum.
Of course, anything of the sort would have to be said most careful.
She'd get up and be healthy again in a week if she thought we thought
she was going to peg out!"

Mr. Hamlyn concluded his remarks with a somewhat resentful sigh, and,
whistling down the speaking-tube for the correspondence clerk, began to
dictate his morning's letters.

It was about seven o'clock when the secretary arrived at Malakoff House,
tired and dispirited. The whole day had gone unsatisfactorily. An
evening paper had come out with a leaded column about the League which
was far from complimentary. The various callers at the office were all
more or less disagreeable, and even the volatile Samuel had been plunged
into a state of furtive gloom that radiated mis-ease upon all who came
near him.

Mr. Hamlyn was shown into the drawing-room and in a minute or two,
Gussie Davies came to him. The girl was white and tired of feature.
Dark semicircles were under her eyes, but her manner had a nervous
excitement that was infectious.

Both of them spoke in that agitated whisper that some people affect in
the neighbourhood of those who are seriously ill and whom they think
like to die. It is a whisper in which there is a not unpleasurable note,
a self-congratulation at being near to the Great Mystery, as spectators
merely.

"How is she?" whispered Hamlyn.

"Bad," answered Gussie. "Dr. Hibbert's been and I had a chat with him
afterwards. He daren't speak as plain as he'd like, for fear of
frightening her. But he says she must _not_ keep on exciting herself. It
will be fatal if she does. Another two months of this St. Elwyn's
excitement will kill her, Mr. Hamlyn. I'm sure of that."

"What's she been saying?"

"Oh, the same old thing: Why doesn't Mr. Hamlyn do something decisive?
Why doesn't he strike these proud priests some crushing blow? You know
she's heard that Miss Blantyre has come to live at the vicarage, and
that makes her keener than ever."

"Well, I must think of something, that's all," said the secretary in a
decisive whisper. "I'll promise her a new move almost at once. I
suppose you've had no chance to get in a word about the will?"

"Not a chance. I can't find out anything either. All I know is that her
solicitor hasn't been here since she joined the League. So that looks as
if there isn't anything done _yet_."

"I don't suppose there is, my dear. But if I can keep her quiet _now_,
and do something big in the parish in a few days, then I suppose we
might broach it?"

"Certainly, Mr. Hamlyn, I should say so."

"Good. One more question, Gussie, before I go up. Do you think it wise
to mention a contribution to the working fund just now? One can never be
too zealous in the cause of Protestant Truth, but I want to deal wisely
with her."

"Oh, I think you'll be safe enough for a hundred or two," Gussie said,
"as long as you promise her a good rumpus soon! She ain't mean, I will
say that for her."

Mr. Hamlyn nodded in a brisk, business-like way, rang for the maid, and
was shown up to the sick-room.

Gussie remained in the drawing-room. She wondered how successful her
friend and lover's father would be. She had immense faith in his
abilities and already looked forward to the time when, released for ever
from her duties at Malakoff House, she would, as Mrs. Hamlyn, Junior,
become a leading lady of True Protestantism. Not that the girl hated her
employer. She had no affection for Miss Pritchett--and it would have
been wonderful if she had--but her feeling was not stronger than that.
As for the money question, the money that the rich old lady was giving
to the Luther League, Gussie saw no harm in that. The money was for a
good cause, so she believed, and the Hamlyns, _père et fils_, had much
better have the handling of it than any one else!

Mr. Hamlyn was a considerable time. The girl wandered about the room,
agog to hear his news, thinking with a certain terror of the grim old
woman up-stairs. For what had been tartness and acerbity had become
grimness now, in the pompous old-fashioned bed-chamber, where she lay
waiting the beating of those great black wings which all, save she, knew
were drawing near.

Although Gussie Davis knew all the foibles of her mistress and could
play upon them with adroitness and success, she felt, nevertheless, a
fear of the old woman. Miss Pritchett, with all her absurdities, her
petty jealousies, her greed for flattery, was a woman with a
personality. She was very rich, and she had chosen to remain among the
surroundings of her youth and be great among the small. Yet even a petty
supremacy awes the petty, and the sly Welsh girl was indubitably awed.
She was not wholly bad, not unfeeling in her way, but she was weak. In
the hands of the Hamlyns, she had been as putty from the very first.
They were strong men. There was no doubt about that. With all the
temperamental vulgarity and greed of both father and son, there was
indubitable strength--and, in the case of the elder, considerable
magnetic power.

They had been kind to her also. She was genuinely fond of Sam, and he
was fond of her. The accident of her position, that she was able to help
and forward their plans, made no difference as to that. Hamlyn, Senior,
liked her. He would, she knew, be kind and fatherly to her when she was
married to Sam. He was that now.

For, if Hamlyn had been able to employ his cleverness to good advantage
in the exploitation of any other thing save of religion, he would have
been counted as a shrewd business man and nothing more. Nothing worse
than that at any rate. He had no personal vices. He did not in the least
realise that he was living a life that was shameful. Religion meant no
more to him than any other way of making money would have meant. That
was all. And, oddly enough, Blantyre himself shrewdly suspected this,
while Carr looked upon the agitator as infamous.

Hamlyn was perfectly aware that he was a humbug, but he thought that his
humbug was perfectly legitimate in the war of life.

The priest at St. Elwyn's whom he had so bitterly attacked and wounded
was a psychologist. Most priests are. Men who sit in churches and hear
the true story of men's lives learn an infinite tenderness. Men come to
them for comfort, to hear the comfortable words that our Lord has spoken
for the sinful who are penitent, to receive from them that absolution
which is nothing more than the confirmation, in a concrete and certain
way, of the promise of God. It is only the people who have never
confessed their sins, not to a priest, but to God through a priest, who
speak against the Sacrament of Penance.

They do not know they are tilting at windmills. And the bitter shame
that sometimes comes to a man as he tells another man the true story of
his life is in itself the truest evidence that he means to amend it. No
one would do that without penitence. There is a motive for every action;
the motive would be wanting if confession were made without a resolve to
lead a new life. If those who fulminate against the Church's method, and
sneer at the members of the Church who follow it, as dupes and fools,
could understand that it is discipline that purifies and exalts, they
would sneer no longer. It is all very well to be a _franc-tireur_, no
doubt. But it is better to be a member of the regular forces. It is not
so jolly for a time, perhaps, but in event of capture, the former is
shot at sight, the latter becomes a prisoner of war with all the rights
and traditions of his lot.

Simile was one of Mr. Hamlyn's pet weapons, but in his noisy syllogisms,
he left out the first two premises and confined himself to the
conclusion--generally an emphatic epithet.

Mr. Hamlyn came down-stairs at last. His face was grave, but peaceful.
Perspiration showed upon it. He had been having a hard time.

"I say, my dear," he whispered, "I wonder if you've got a cup of tea
handy. I've had a thick time!"

It is better to take the stimulant of tea than the more usual brandy and
soda. Hamlyn was a strong teetotaller, and that counted to his credit at
a moment like this. For the man had obviously been through an unnerving
experience. He was not his ready and impudent self.

The tea was brought. It revived him.

"Well!" he said in a low voice, "I don't want to go through many scenes
like that again, Gussie! She's getting worse and worse. Her brain can't
last much longer if she goes on like this! However, I managed to calm
her down. She's going off to sleep now. I told her I'd wake Hornham up
in a few days--and I'll _have_ to do it, what's more!"

"Did you get a cheque?" said the practical Gussie.

"Yes," said Mr. Hamlyn in a slightly more relieved voice. "She gave me a
couple of hundred in the end. At heart, she's devoted to the cause of
Protestant Truth. But she's getting horribly restive, my dear. I'm sorry
for her. She's a wreck of what she used to be--but she's a wreck that
wants a lot of salvage!"

The colour came back into the plump, clean-shaven face as the tea did
its work.

"I forgot, my dear," he said; "I brought you a box of chocolates. It
clean went out of my 'ead," he waved an exhausted hand towards his small
brown leather bag, which stood on the table between a plaster model of
the leaning tower of Pisa and a massive volume entitled _Every Young
Lady's Vade Mecum_.

Gussie smiled her thanks and opened the bag, while Mr. Hamlyn poured out
another cup of tea.

Gussie felt in the bag. It was full of papers, but there were two
parcels there. She took them out. They were of much the same size. Each
was neatly tied up in white paper.

She pulled the string from one of them. A number of thin
semi-transparent white wafers fell out upon the table.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" she cried, "I thought this was the box of chocolates."

Hamlyn looked up wearily. To his immeasurable surprise, he saw that the
girl's face had grown very pale. She shrunk away from the table.

"What's the matter, my dear?" he said, thoroughly alarmed.

She suddenly flushed a deep scarlet.

"What are these?" she said, pointing with a shaking finger to the things
on the table.

"Them?" said Mr. Hamlyn in cheerful surprise. "Mass wafers, my dear. I
buy them in a shop in Covent Garden. We distribute them among the Luther
Lecturers, for object lessons to the poor deluded Ritualists."

The girl had crouched to the wall of the room. Hamlyn was seriously
alarmed. Her face was almost purple, her eyes started out of her head.

"They're not con--_consecrated_?" she gasped.

Hamlyn could not understand her emotion. "No," he said; "why, Gussie,
what a superstitious little thing you are. And if they were, what then?"
Frank amazement showed on his face.

"Oh, nothing, Mr. Hamlyn," the girl said at length, becoming more normal
in her manner.

In a few minutes, Hamlyn left the house, leaving the girl in her
ordinary manner, eating the chocolates that he had brought her.

His able mind was busily at work. He knew that during Miss Pritchett's
adhesion to St. Elwyn's Gussie had, perforce, been one of the
congregation there and had been taught and trained by the clergy.

"No wonder," he thought bitterly to himself; "no wonder that they can
win along the line, when they can sow seeds like that in a girl's mind.
Why, she's a thorough little Protestant at heart. To think that those
things should have startled her so! It's a lingering prejudice, I
suppose. They _are_ a queer lot--the Romanists!"

As he communed thus with himself, a swift thought came to him. At the
moment of its arrival in his brain, he almost staggered. Then, pulling
himself together, he walked rapidly to his own house.

He thought he saw his way to a _coup_ that would make all his previous
efforts as nothing. How wonderfully simple it was! Why had he never
thought of it before--_what_ a fool he had been! Here was the solution
of all the difficulties he was in. The answer seemed to have come to his
conversation with Samuel in the morning.

He went to his study and fortunately found that Sam was already there.
Miss Maud Hamlyn sat in the room also, but when she saw her father's
face, she left the room at once. It wore the "business look" she knew
well, and, though she but dimly understood what her brother and father
were engaged in, she knew it had brought great prosperity and honour to
all of them, and was loath to intrude upon any profitable confabulation.

"Have you got it, Pa?" said Samuel, eagerly.

"Yes, I _'ave_," answered the secretary, "and very fine it is too!"

"How much?" asked Sam.

"What do you mean?"

"The cheque, Miss Pritchett's latest."

"Oh, _that_," said Hamlyn. "Two hundred, what we expected. I meant
something else. I've got the new scheme to wake things up! The best
thing we've done yet, my boy!"

Sam rubbed his hands. "What did I say this morning? I knew you'd do it,
Pa. Well, let's have it."

Mr. Hamlyn sat back in his chair, willing to dally a moment with his
triumph and enjoy the full savour of it.

"Why we never thought of it before," he said, "beats me entirely!
Something suggested it to me to-night, and I've been wondering at our
neglecting such a move."

"What _is_ it then?"

"What about one of us going to the Mass and bringing away the
consecrated wafer? Then a big public meeting's called and I _show_ the
people what we've got! The 'flour-and-water god' of the Romanists! Not
the usual plan of producing a wafer we've bought from a shop, but the
_real thing_, Sam! Then they'll all be able to see that there's no
difference between before and after! It'll explode the whole thing and
give the League an advertisement better than anything that's gone
before!"

Sam looked very grave indeed. "It's a little bit _too_ much, I'm afraid,
Father," he said.

"What do you mean, my son?" answered the secretary in extreme and real
surprise.

"Well, I don't know," Sam said doubtfully, "but I shouldn't like to
meddle with it myself."

Mr. Hamlyn leaned forward. "Sam," he said, "you're a fool. You're as bad
as Gussie Davies! Leave the matter to me. Who's awakened Protestantism
in Hengland? ME! Who knows how to work a popular cause? ME! Who's going
to boom the Luther League up to the top again? ME!"

"Have it your own way, Father," Sam said, "you generally do come out on
top."

"Ring the bell for some tea," said Mr. Hamlyn, "and let's talk out the
details. We'll 'ave to get it where we aren't known by sight."



CHAPTER XI

THE NEWS THAT CARR BROUGHT


As the days wore on, and Lucy Blantyre became accustomed to her
surroundings, she found that she was in thorough tune with them. During
the year she had been away from St. Elwyn's, she had spent most of the
time abroad, at first with Lady Linquest, afterwards with friends. The
old life of fashionable people and "smart" doings palled horribly.
Travelling was a diversion from that, and, in some sense, a preparation
for the more useful life that she determined to live in the future.

She had quite made up her mind to that. Nothing would induce her to go
back to live in Park Lane once more. Life offered far more than the West
End of London could offer; so much was plain. She kept up a regular
correspondence with her brother and was fully informed of all that took
place in Hornham. Her thoughts turned more and more affectionately
towards the dingy old house, centre of such ceaseless activities, the
old house with the great church watching over it.

Down there it seemed as if provision was made for all one's needs of the
mind. Stress and storm beat upon it in vain, and it combined the joys of
both the cloister and the hearth.

In her limited experience, there had been nothing like it. A year or two
ago, she would have smiled incredulously if any one had told her that
she would like going to church twice or three times on a week-day. But
during her stay at St. Elwyn's how natural and helpful it had seemed,
how much a part of the proper order of things. The morning Eucharist
while day in the outside world was beginning, the stately and beautiful
evensong as men ceased their toil, these coloured all the day, were
woven into its warp and woof. She knew that the _abnormal_ life was the
life of the majority, the life of those who lived in a purely secular
way, who never worshipped or prayed.

When any mind, in its settling of its attitude towards the Unseen, gets
as far as this; when it realises that, despite the laughter of fools and
the indifference of most people, the _logical_ use of life is to make
it in constant touch with God, then, as a rule, the personal religious
conviction will come in due time. It had not come to Lucy yet in full
and satisfying measure, it had not come even when she determined to make
her home with her brother for a time and help in any way she could.

During the year of travel, she was also in regular communication with
James Poyntz. Insensibly his letters to her had become the letters of a
lover. He told her all his thoughts and the details of his work and
hopes, and, mingling with what were in fact a series of brilliant
personal confessions, there began to be a high note of personal devotion
to her. One does not need the simple alphabet of lover's words to write
love letters. Poyntz used no terms of endearment, and as yet had made
her no definite proposal of marriage. But the girl knew, quite
certainly, exactly how he felt towards her. There was no disguise in his
letters, and the time was drawing near when he would definitely ask her
to share his life.

She had not yet definitely summed up her attitude towards him. She was
at the crossing of the roads; new influences, new ideas were pouring
into her brain from every side. It was necessary to readjust herself to
life completely before she could settle upon any course.

She knew that to be Lady Huddersfield was to take a high seat in Vanity
Fair. The Huddersfields belonged to the old order of society, to that
inner circle of the great who never open their door indiscriminately to
the Jew and the mining millionaire. People laughed at them and called
them pompous and dull, but there was a high serenity among them
nevertheless. She might have married half a dozen times had she so
chosen. Her income was large enough to make her a small heiress, at any
rate to be an appreciable factor in the case, besides which her birth
was unexceptionable. It was known that when Lady Linquest fluttered away
to another world, the old lady's money would come to her niece. But
position merely, rank rather, did not attract a girl who already went
wherever she chose. And among the men in society who had offered her
marriage, or were prepared to do so, she found no one capable of
satisfying her brain. Poyntz did this. She found power in him, strength,
purpose. She knew that, in whatever station of life he was, the man was
finely tempered, high in that aristocracy of intellect which some people
say is the only aristocracy there is.

She was conscious of all this, but, especially since she had been
settled in the vicarage as a home, she was becoming conscious of many
other influences at work upon her. Religion, the personal giving of
one's self to God, was tinging all her life and actions now. Hour by
hour, she found herself drawing nearer to the Cross. Her progress had
become a matter of practical experience. It was impossible to live with
the people she was among, to watch every detail of their lives, to find
_exactly where the motive power and the sustaining power came from_,
without casting in her lot with them in greater or less degree. Every
day she found some hold upon the outside world was loosened, something
she had imagined had great value in her eyes suddenly seemed quite
worthless! Looked at in the light that was beginning to shine upon her,
she was frequently surprised beyond measure to find how worthless most
things were! Her brain was keen, cool, and logical. Hitherto she had
refused to draw an inference--no proof, by the way, of any want of
logical skill;--now she was drawing it.

She was great and intimate friends with the two assistant priests,
Stephens and King. Stephens was engaged to a girl in the country, King
belonged to some confraternity of celibates. Both were high-minded men,
who appreciated to the full the charm of cultured feminine society and
found her drawing-room a most pleasant oasis now and then. And every one
at the clergy-house began to see a great deal of Mr. Carr. The lonely
man found companionship and sympathy there. He found intellectual men,
university men like himself, with whom he could talk. He had been
intellectually starving in Hornham, and good brains rust unless they
have some measure of intercourse with their kind.

He was constantly with his new friends. One Sunday Father Blantyre
preached at St. Luke's. The church was crowded, to hear a man whom a
great many there believed capable of almost any form of casuistry and
sly dealing. But when the little Irishman got into the pulpit he gave
them a simple, forcible discourse on some points of conduct, delivered
with all his personal charm, his native raciness and wit; many wagging
tongues were silenced in the parish. Carr's experiment was a bold one,
but it succeeded. An ounce of fact is worth a pound of hearsay.
Blantyre was so transparently honest, so obviously incapable of any of
the things imputed to him by the Luther Leaguers, that the most
prejudiced folk at St. Luke's said no more than that it was a pity such
a decent fellow, who could preach such a good sermon, wasted so much of
his time over unnecessary fads!

For some reason or other,--she could not quite explain it to
herself,--Lucy looked on Carr with different eyes from those with which
she viewed Stephens or King. He seemed less set apart from the ordinary
lot of men than they were. His ordinary clerical costume may have had
something to do with it, the contrast between his clothes and those of
the laymen not being so marked as in the case of the High Church clergy.
And his manner also was different in a subtle way. Lucy liked the manner
of King and she liked the manner of Carr, but they were markedly unlike
each other. The former spoke of everything from the Church's point of
view, the latter more from the point of view of an ordinary layman who
loves and serves our Lord.

Lucy had no fault to find with the ecclesiastical attitude. She had long
before realised what were the spiritual results of rebellion and
schism; they were too patent in Hornham. She was definitely Catholic.
Therefore she approved of King as a priest and liked him as a man. But
Carr seemed to be more upon her own level, not set apart in any way. She
knew he was just as much a priest as the other, but he came into her
consciousness from a purely human standpoint, while the other did not.

Viewing him thus, she had come to find she liked him very much indeed.
He was a very "manly" man, she found, with a virile intellect which had
had too little play of late years. She came to know of his life and
found it as full of good works as her brother's. The methods differed,
the Church and its services took an altogether secondary place in these
ministrations; the charities of a poor man were necessarily more
circumscribed than those of his rich neighbour, but the spiritual
fervour was as great.

Lucy could not help wondering why a man who had such abundant means to
his hand of holding and influencing his people used so few of them. Why
was his church not beautiful? How did he exist spiritually without the
sacramental grace so abundantly vouchsafed at St. Elwyn's?

She had a glimpse deep down into the man once. One evening at St.
Elwyn's, when Carr had come to supper, the conversation turned upon a
rather serious epidemic of typhoid fever that had only just been
overcome in Hornham and which had caused a widespread distress among the
poorer classes.

"I'm getting up a fund," Father Blantyre said, "to relieve some of the
worst cases and to send as many as possible of the convalescents off to
the seaside. Now, Lucy, my dear, what will you stump up? This girl's
rolling in money, Carr! She's more than she knows what to do with!"

Lucy noticed--no one else did--that Mr. Carr flushed a little and
started as Blantyre finished speaking.

She turned to her brother. "I'll give you a hundred pounds, dear," she
said.

"Good girl!" he shouted in high good humour.

Lucy turned to Carr. "I suppose you've a great many destitute cases in
St. Luke's?" she asked.

"Very many, I'm sorry to say," he answered sadly. "I've done what I
could, but I've hardly any money myself until next quarter-day, and our
people are nearly all of them poor." He thought with gentle envy of
these wealthy folk who were able to do so much, while he, alas! could do
so little.

"I'll subscribe something to St. Luke's, too," Lucy said. "I'll give you
the same, Mr. Carr. I'll write you a cheque after supper."

"That's a sportswoman!" said Father Blantyre; "good for you, Lucy!"

Carr flushed up. The destitution in his parish had been a constant grief
to him during the last few weeks. He had not known where to turn to
relieve it. He had prayed constantly that help might be forthcoming. He
broke out into a nervous torrent of thanks which came from his very
heart, becoming eloquent as he went on and revealing, unconsciously
enough, much of his inward self to them. They were all touched and
charmed by the man's simplicity and earnestness. He showed a great love
for the poor as he talked. Sympathy for suffering and kindness towards
it are not rare things in England. We are a charitable folk, take us in
the mass. But this quality of personal love for the outcast and
down-trodden is not so often met with. It is a talent, and Carr
possessed it in a high degree.

A step in their intimacy was marked that night; all felt drawn more
closely to the Evangelical vicar. He stood alone; his life seemed
cheerless to them all and their sympathy was his--though he had never
made the least parade of his troubles. Moreover, the three clergy of St.
Elwyn's were beginning to find out, with pleased surprise, how near he
was to them in the great essentials, how Catholic his views were.
Already much of Carr's dislike to the ceremonial of St. Elwyn's was
fading away. He had witnessed it, found that there was absolutely no
harm in it, that it did _not_ stand between the soul and God, but even
sometimes assisted in the journey upwards. He did not endorse it as yet,
he did not contemplate anything of the sort for himself or his people,
but he saw the good there and found nothing to disgust or harm.

Later on that evening, Dr. Hibbert came in, and there was music. Lucy
played and sang to them, and Carr, who had a fine baritone, sang an old
favourite or two, college songs, _Gaudeamus Igitur_, _John Peel_, and
the like.

Then, while the four other men took a hand at whist--if only Mr. Hamlyn
could have seen the "devil's picture books" upon the table!--Carr had a
long, quiet talk with Lucy Blantyre. He found himself telling her much
of his work and hopes, of his early life in a bleak Northumberland
vicarage, of Cambridge, and the joyous days when he rowed three in the
King's boat and all the skies were fair.

Now and then, when he would have withdrawn into himself again, fearing
that he was boring her, she encouraged him to go on. With her cheque in
his pocket, he went home in a glow that night. He thought constantly of
her, and when he went to bed, he looked curiously in the mirror, turning
away from it with a sigh, a shake of the head, and the chilling memory
that the girl was rich, allied to great families, a personage in London
society, and that a poor gentleman toiling in Hornham could never be a
mate for such as she was.

Three or four days after the incident of the subscription, Lucy received
a letter from Agatha Poyntz, who was staying with the St. Justs in
Berkeley Square. The letter begged Lucy to "come up to town" for an
afternoon. A theatre party had been formed, which was to consist of
Agatha herself, Lady Lelant, a young married cousin of hers, and James
Poyntz. Lucy was begged to come and complete the party. They were to go
to tea afterwards at the Savoy or somewhere, and Lucy could drive home
in the evening. The letter was quite imperative in its demand for Lucy's
presence, and the girl had a shrewd suspicion who it was that had
inspired it. Her last few letters from Poyntz had been almost, so she
fancied, leading up to just some such occasion as this which was now
proposed.

She thought it all over during the morning of that day. Her mind
wavered. A few weeks ago she knew that she would not have hesitated for
a moment. Whatever her answer might eventually be to what James Poyntz
had to say, she would have gone to the tryst and listened to him. To
hear him pleading, to see this scion of an ancient and honourable house,
this big-brained man, pleading for her, would be sweet. Every woman
would feel that. But now she hesitated very much. She hardly owned it to
herself, but a very different figure was coming to have a continual
place in her thoughts. A graver figure, a less complex figure, and one
invested with a dignity that was not of this world, a dignity that the
peer's son had not.

For now, most indubitably, a new element was coming into her life, one
that had not been there before.

And there was yet another cause for her hesitation. She had come to see
that the supremely important thing in life was religion; she knew that
it was going to be so for her. She wasn't bigoted, she realised the
blameless life that many people who did not believe in our Lord appeared
to live. But that was not the point. Works were good, they were a
necessary concomitant of any life that was to be bound up with hers. But
faith was a paramount necessity also. She had no illusions about James
Poyntz. She did not think, as less keen-sighted girls have thought of
atheist lovers, that she could ever bring him to the Faith. She knew
quite well that it would be impossible, that he was one of those folk to
whom the "talent" of faith does not seem to have been given, and who
will have to begin all over again in the next world, learning the truths
of Christianity like children.

While she was thinking out the question of acceptance or refusal, her
eye caught a date on her tablets. It was the date of the theatre party
and also of a meeting to be held during the afternoon in the public
hall at Hornham, at which Father Blantyre had consented to hold public
argument upon the legalities of ritual and the truth of Catholic dogma
with some of the Luther Lecturers.

Hamlyn had intended that this meeting should take place in the evening,
for two reasons. In the first place, during the afternoon he was himself
to address a great meeting in London, to which all the "red-hot
Protestants" on the lists of the League had been specially invited by
ticket, and at which a great sensation was hinted at, in much the same
way as music-hall managers announce the forthcoming appearance of some
entirely new spectacle, trick, or performer.

Mr. Hamlyn had hoped to arrive in Hornham from the Strand flushed with a
great victory, the news of which would have preceded him during the
afternoon.

Moreover, in the evening an audience would assemble with which the
Luther Lecturers would be thoroughly at home--Mr. Sam Hamlyn would have
seen to that--and the place would be packed by rowdy non-churchgoers who
would come with the intention of witnessing a row, even if they
themselves had to create it. Thus a "great Protestant demonstration of
North London" would be absolutely assured.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hamlyn received the plainest of plain hints from the
local chief of police that he would get himself into particularly hot
water if he proceeded with his little scheme, and that the words of one
of his men--the ingenuous Mr. Moffatt indeed, who, locked out of every
church in England, had lately returned to his parental roof for a
holiday--to a certain rough section of the community, in connection with
this very meeting, would be brought up against him.

The police had no objection to a meeting during the afternoon. The
dangerous element would still be pushing their barrows of plums and
pears through the city streets, and though the meeting would, no doubt,
be skilfully packed with partisans, many women would be present and
nothing more than a wordy war would be likely to result.

Lucy saw the date and considered that the question of the matinée was
decided for her. She mentioned the invitation at lunch, and was very
much surprised to find that her brother strongly deprecated her
intention of being present at the discussion and welcomed this
invitation.

"I don't want you to go, dear," he said; "I beg of you not. It will be
rough and bitter. I know it. I shrink from it myself, but I must show
them that we are not afraid to meet them openly. But it would do nothing
but distress you. Write to Miss Poyntz this afternoon and say you'll go.
Then you can hear all about the meeting in the evening when you get
back." He was so obviously in earnest that Lucy could not but agree.

It seemed fate sent her to meet James. Well, it must be, that was all.
Circumstances must be faced, and if she did not know her own mind now,
it was possible that the event itself would decide it for her.

But she addressed the letter with marked nervous excitement, and the
"Hon. Agatha Poyntz" was more tremulous than her writing was wont to be.

There were two days more to wait, a Sunday intervened, and she hardly
left the church during the whole day, seeking counsel and help where
only they are to be found.

On Monday, she arrived at the theatre at about two. She had refused to
lunch with her friends and drove from Hornham in a hansom cab, meeting
them at the door of the building.

They went at once to their box and found that there were some five
minutes to wait before the rise of the curtain.

The theatre was curious after the glare of the sun outside, fantastic
and unreal. Hardly anybody talked, though there was a good house, and
the strange quiet of a matinée audience seemed to pervade the four
people in the box also.

Lucy leaned back in her chair with the sensation of dreaming. This
morning she had knelt in the side chapel at St. Elwyn's! A moment before
she had been alone in the cab, among the roar and bustle of Trafalgar
Square. Now she was in a dream. Agatha and Adelaide Lelant smiled at her
without speaking--just like odd dream people. James Poyntz sat just
behind her. She was acutely conscious of his presence. Now and then he
bent forward and made some remark or other in a low voice. That also
seemed to come from a distance. She seemed to have left all the real
things behind in Hornham.

The scents, the dresses of the fashionable people in the stalls, the
dim, apricot light, seemed alien to her life now, a reminder of
experiences and days long since put away and forgotten.

The little band below had been playing a waltz of Weber's, a regret
which was strangled into a sob as the curtain rose suddenly upon the
first act of the play.

How acutely conscious one was at first of the artificial light! The big
frame of the proscenium enclosed a rich garden scene, beautifully
painted. But it was full of hot yellow light, until the eye forgot the
outside day it had lately quitted. Lucy thought that for the sake of
illusion it was a mistake to come to the play in the afternoon. She said
so to James.

"Well," he whispered, "for my part, there is never any illusion in the
stage for me. It is a way of passing an idle hour now and then. That is
all. I came here not to see the play, but to see you."

She turned towards the stage again with a slight flush.

Behind the footlights the perfectly dressed men and women went through
their parts. All appeared as if they had put on for the first time the
clothes they wore; both men and women had the complexion of young
children--peaches and cream--unless the light fell on the face at an
awkward angle. Then it glistened.

And all the people on the stage talked alike, too. They did not speak
quite like ladies or gentlemen, but imitated the speech of ladies and
gentlemen wonderfully! The play did not interest Lucy. It was a
successful play, it was played by people who were celebrated actors, but
she was out of tune with the whole thing. It wasn't amusing. Between the
acts, Lady Lelant chatted merrily, of such news as there was to be
gleaned during a passage through town. She spoke of the movements of
this or that acquaintance, whom this girl was engaged to, why Lord
Dawlish had quarrelled with the Duke of Dover. Lucy had no interest in
these matters any more. She realised that with astonished certainty. She
didn't care a bit. After all, these smart people and their doings were
not, as she had thought in the past, any more interesting than the group
of church people at St. Elwyn's. Indeed they were less so. Dr. Hibbert,
one or two of the nursing sisters, some of the choir men, King,
Stephens, Carr--all these people had more individuality, _lived,
thought, felt, prayed_ more intensely than Lady Lelant's set, Lady
Linquest's set, any purely fashionable set. There was not a doubt that
in the mere worldly economy of things, in the state politic, every one
of these Hornham people _mattered more_ than those others. And, where
hearts and wills are weighed, to the critical Unseen eyes, their value
was greater still. Lucy was glad when the play began again, and she was
relieved of the necessity for a simulated interest in things she had
long since put away from her.

The last act of the mimic story dragged on. Agatha and Lady Lelant were
absorbed in it. Lucy withdrew a little from the front of the box. She
cared nothing for the play, nor did her companion. Both of them knew of
things imminent in their twin lives greater than any mimic business
could suggest to them.

He began to tell her in a low voice of his joy in seeing her again. It
thrilled her to hear the lover-like tones creeping into a voice so
clear, cold, and self-contained in all the ordinary affairs of life. It
was an experience that disturbed and swayed all the instincts of her
sex. For she knew that this was no ordinary conquest that she had made,
no ordinary tribute to her mind and person. She might have received the
highest compliment that he was about to pay her from many a man as
highly placed and socially fortunate as he. There was no exhilaration,
no subtle flattery of her pride and the consciousness of her womanhood
in that. But she knew him for what he was. She had learned of the
intellect and power of the man--herein lay an exquisite pleasure in his
surrender. And she liked him immensely. Physically, he pleased her eye,
and her sense of what was fitting in a man. Mentally he compelled her.
And now and again in their intimacy, an intimacy that had grown
enormously during the last year, fostered on their mutual epistolary
confidences, she had found a sudden surrender, a boyish leaning on her,
a waiting for her approving or helpful word, that was sweet to her.

At last the curtain fell.

"Now, then," Poyntz said, "we'll go and have tea on the terrace at the
Sardinia. There will be a band, a really good band, and the embankment
will look beautiful just now. Come along, young ladies; we'll walk,
shall we? It won't take us five minutes." They left the theatre.

"Ah!" Lucy said with a sudden gasp of relief, "how good the air is after
that dark place and the stage. My eyes feel as if they had been actually
burnt."

The long lights of the summer afternoon irradiated everything. There
are moments in summer when the busiest London street seems like a street
in fairy-land. It was so now as they walked to the great riverside
hotel; a tender haze of gold lay over all the vast buildings, the sky
began to be as if it were hung with banners.

They passed from the roar of the street to the great courtyard, with its
gay awnings of white and red, its palms and tree-ferns in green tubs,
its little tables like the tables of a continental café. Little groups
of people of all nationalities sat about there. The party heard the
twanging accent of the United States, the guttural German, the purring,
spitting Russian.

They entered the hotel, walked down a corridor, descended some steps,
and came out upon the terrace.

Lucy had a finely developed social instinct. She knew what was going on
instinctively, and it was plain to her at once that the moment had come.
Agatha Poyntz and her cousin had disappeared as she sat down at a small
table with James, hidden by shrubs from the rest of the terrace.

Below and beyond were gardens in which children were playing, the wide
embankment, and the silver Thames itself, all glowing under the
lengthening sun rays.

What did she feel at that moment? She found that she was calm, her
pulses were quiet, her breathing untroubled and slow.

He leaned forward and took her hands strongly in both of his. At first,
his words came haltingly to him, but then, gathering courage, he made
her a passionate declaration.

Her heart cried out vaguely to some outside power for guidance; her
inarticulate appeal was hardly a prayer, it was the supreme expression
of perplexity and doubt.

"For months, all my work and life have been coloured by thoughts of you,
have had reference to you. I can conceive, since I have been writing to
you, and you to me, I have had hopes and dreams that have become part of
my life! If you could accept this, this devotion, this strong feeling of
love which has grown up in me, I feel that our companionship would be a
beautiful thing. Lucy, I am not eloquent in love as some men are said to
be, I can only tell you that I love and admire you dearly and have no
greater hope than to share everything with you, my lady, my love!"

The strong, self-contained young man was deeply moved. He continued, in
a monologue of singular delicacy and high feeling, to pour out the
repressed feelings of the past year, to offer her a life that was more
stainless--she knew it well--than that of most young men.

She was deeply touched, interested, and rather overawed. But there was
no thrill of passion in her that could answer to the notes of it that
were coming into his voice and shaking it from its firmness, sending
tremulous waves quivering through it.

Her hand shook in his hold, but it was passive. Emotion rushed over her,
but it was a cool emotion, so to say; she was touched, but her blood did
not race and leap at his touch, she felt no wish to rest in his arms, to
find her home there!

At last she was able to speak. There was a pause in his pleading, his
eyes remained fixed upon her face in anxious scrutiny.

She withdrew her hand gently.

"You have touched me very deeply," she said. "But I can't, oh, I _can't_
answer you now. This is such a great thing. There is so much to think
over, so much self-examination. It might all look quite different to
one to-morrow! Let me wait, give me time. I will write to you."

His ear found the lack of what he sought in her voice. Even to herself
her tones sounded cold and conventional after his impassioned pleading.
But she found herself mistress neither of reason nor of feeling as she
spoke. She was bewildered, though not taken by surprise.

He seemed to understand something of her state of mind. If his
disappointment was keen, he showed nothing of it, realising with the
pertinacity of a strong, vigorous nature that nothing really worth
having was won easily, thankful, perhaps, that he had won as much as he
had--her consideration.

"You know how great a thing this is to me," he said. "You would never be
unkind or hard to me and it would be an unkindness to prolong my
suspense. When will you give me my answer?"

"Oh, soon, soon! But I must have time. I will write to you soon, in a
fortnight I will write."

"That is so long a time!"

"It will pass very swiftly."

"Then I accept your decree. But I shall write to you, even if you don't
answer me until I get the letter, oh, happy day! on which you tell me
what my whole heart longs to hear. You will read my letters during the
time of waiting? Promise me that, Lucy."

"Yes, yes, I promise," she said hastily, seeing that Agatha and Adelaide
Lelant were coming towards them.

Her brain was whirling; James himself was agitated and unstrung by the
vehemence of feeling, the nerve storm, that he had just passed through.
And in the minds of Miss Poyntz and Lady Lelant the liveliest curiosity
and interest reigned, as it naturally would reign, under such
circumstances, in the minds of any normal young women, gentle or simple,
with blue blood or crimson.

But the four people had learned the lessons their life-long environment
had taught. Their faces were masks, their talk was trivial.

When at length Lucy rose to go, declining to drive home with Lady
Lelant, they all came into the big, quiet courtyard of the hotel, "to
help her choose her hansom." Every unit of the little party felt her
departure would be a relief, she felt it herself. The two girls did not
know what had happened and were eager to know. James wanted to be
alone, to go through the interview step by step in his brain,
reconstructing it for the better surveyal of his chances, and to plan an
epistolary campaign, or bombardment rather.

Lucy felt the desire, a great and pressing desire, for home and rest.
She arrived at the vicarage an hour or so after. As the cab had turned
into the familiar, sordid streets she had felt glad! She smiled at her
own sensations, but they were very real. This place, this "unutterable
North London slum," as she used to call it, was more like home than Park
Lane had ever been.

How tired she felt as she went up-stairs to her room! Her face was pale,
dark circles had come out under her eyes, she bore every evidence of
having passed through some mental strain.

After a bath she felt better, more herself, after these experiences of
the afternoon. And to change every article of clothing was in itself a
restorative and a tonic. It was an old trick of hers, and she had always
found it answer. When she went down-stairs again she was still pale, but
had that freshness and dainty completeness that have such enormous
charm, that she always had, and that her poorer sisters are so unable
to achieve in the _va et vient_ of a hard, work-a-day life.

She wanted to see Bernard, she hungered for her brother. With a pang of
self-reproach, she remembered, as she came down-stairs, that this had
been the afternoon of the public debate with Hamlyn's people. It was an
important event in the parish. And from her start from the clergy-house
to her arrival back at its doors, she had quite forgotten the whole
thing! In the absorption with her own affairs, it had passed completely
from her brain and she was sorry. Of late, she had identified herself so
greatly with the affairs and hopes of the little St. Elwyn's community,
that she felt selfish and ashamed as she knocked at the door of the
study. She waited for a moment to hear the invitation to enter. It was
never safe to go into Bernard's room without that precaution. Some
tragic history might be in the very article of relation, some weary soul
might be there seeking ghostly guidance in its abyss of sorrow and
despair.

Some one bade her enter. She did so. The room was dark, filled with the
evening shadows. For a moment or two, she could distinguish nothing.

"Are you here, Ber?" she said.

"The vicar is up-stairs, Miss Blantyre," came the answer in King's
voice, as he rose from his seat. "I'm here with Stephens."

"Well, let me sit down for a little while and talk," Lucy said. "May
I?--please go on smoking. I can stand Bob's pipe, so I can certainly
stand _yours_. I want to hear all about the meeting in the Victoria
Hall."

They found a chair for her; she refused to have lights brought, saying
that she preferred this soft gloom that enveloped them.

Her question about the meeting was not immediately responded to. The men
seemed collecting their thoughts. By this time, she was really upon
something that resembled a true sisterly footing with these two. Both
were well-bred men, incapable of any slackening of the cords of
courtesy, but there was a mutual understanding between them and her
which allowed deliberation in talk, which, in fact, dispensed with the
necessity of conventional chatter.

King spoke at length. "Go on, young 'un," he said to Stephens, waving
his pipe at him, as Lucy could see by the red glow in the bowl. "You
tell her."

"No, _you_ tell her, old chap."

Lucy wanted to laugh at the odd pair with whom she was in such sympathy.
They were just like two boys.

King sighed. Conversation of any sort, unless it was actually in the
course of his priestly ministrations, was always painful to him. He was
a man who _thought_. But he could be eloquent and incisive enough when
he chose.

"Well, look here, Miss Blantyre," he said, "to begin with, the whole
thing has been an unqualified success for the other side! That is to say
that the people in the hall--and it was crammed--have gone away in the
firm conviction and belief that the Luther Lecturers have got the best
of the priests, that, in short, the Protestants have won all along the
line."

"Good gracious! Mr. King, do you really mean to say that one of these
vulgar, half-educated men was able to beat Bernard in argument, to
enlist the sympathies of the audience against _Bernard_?"

"That's exactly what has happened," King answered. "The vicar is
up-stairs now, utterly dejected and worn out, trying to get some sleep."

"But I don't understand how it could be so."

"It is difficult to understand for a moment, Miss Blantyre. But it's
easily explained. One good thing has happened: Every priest in the
kingdom will have his warning now----"

"Of what?"

"Never to engage in public controversy with any man of the type sent out
to advertise the Luther League. I'll try and explain. You'll know what I
mean. The controversy upon any sacred and religious subjects, subjects
that are very dear to and deeply felt by their defender, is only
possible if their attacker pursues legitimate methods. What happened to
day is this:

"The audience was mostly Protestant, with a strong sprinkling of people
who cared nothing one way or the other, but had come to be amused, or in
the expectation of a row. And even if the meeting wasn't 'packed,'--and
I've my doubts of that,--you see Catholics don't like to come much to
anything of the sort. It is so terribly painful to a man or woman whose
whole life is bound up in the Sacraments, who draws his or her 'grace of
going on' and hope of heaven from them, to sit and hear them mocked and
derided by the coarse, the vulgar, the irreligious. It's an ordeal one
can hardly expect any one to go through without a burning indignation
and a holy wrath, which may, in its turn, give place to action and words
that our Lord has expressly forbidden. One remembers Peter, who cut off
the ear of the High Priest's servant, and how he was rebuked. That's why
there were not many Catholics present, and besides, the chief had asked
many of the congregation to stay away. He wouldn't let Dr. Hibbert go;
he knew that he'd lose his temper and that there would be a row."

Lucy listened eagerly. "And what did happen?" she cried.

"Tell Miss Blantyre, Stephens," King answered. "I'm not lazy, but
Stephens has got colour in his descriptions! It's like his sermons, all
poetry and fervour and no sound discipline! And besides, he's got the
'varsity slang of the day. It's nasty, but it's expressive. When I was
up, we talked English--go on, young 'un."

His voice sank, his pipe glowed in the gloom. Stephens took up the
parable. "Well, I can't go into all the details," he said. "But the
first thing that happened was that the lecturer stood upon the platform,
shut his eyes, and prayed that Hornham might be delivered from the
curse of priesthood and the blasphemy of the Mass!--this while the vicar
was on the platform. The man was going to begin right away, after this,
when Mr. Carr stopped him and said that he wished to offer up a prayer
also. The fellow frowned, but he dare not stop him. So Carr prayed for a
quiet and temperate conduct of the meeting! Then the man began. It was
the usual thing, mocking blasphemy delivered in the voice of a
cheap-jack, with a flavour of the clown.

"The man had two sacramental wafers and he kept producing them out of a
Bible, like a conjuring trick! They were of different sizes, and he
said: 'Now, here you see what the Ritualists worship, a biscuit god! And
you'll notice there's a little one for the people and a big one for the
priest--priests always want the biggest share!' Roars of laughter from
every one, of course. Then the fellow went on to speak of the fasting
communion. 'For my part,' he said, with a great grin, 'I like to have my
breakfast comfortable in the morning before I go to church, and I
honestly pity the poor priests who have to starve themselves till
mid-day. I shouldn't wonder if the Reverend Blantyre'--with a wink
towards the vicar--'often has visions of a nice bit of fried bacon or an
'addock, say, about eleven o'clock in the morning.'"

Lucy gasped. "How utterly revolting," she said, "and people really take
that sort of thing seriously?"

"Oh, yes, the sort of people to whom these Luther Leaguers appeal. You
see it's their only weapon. They can't argue properly, because they are
utterly without education, and they only supplement the parrot lectures
they've been taught with their own native low comedy. Our friend this
afternoon wound up his oration by inviting the vicar to ask
questions--he didn't want him to speak at length, of course. 'Now,' he
said, 'I call upon the Reverend Blantyre to ask me any questions he
chooses. And I'll just ask him one myself--if God had meant him to wear
petticoats, wouldn't He have made him a woman?' This was rather too
much, and there were some hisses. The vicar was in his cassock. But the
vicar laughed himself, and so every one else did. It seemed to restore
the good humour of the meeting, which was just what the lecturer didn't
want.

"Well, to cut a long story short, every question the vicar put was the
question of a cultured man, that is to say, it assumed _some_ knowledge
of the point at issue. Each time he was answered with buffooneries and a
blatant ignorance that gave the whole thing away at once to any one that
_knew_. But there was hardly any one there that did, that was the point.
The whole audience imagined that we were being scored off tremendously.
They got noisy, cheered every apish witticism of the lecturer--oh! it
was a disgusting scene. I'll give you an instance of what was said
towards the end. The vicar was appealing to the actual words of the
Gospel in one instance. 'The Greek text says,' he was beginning, when
the man jumps up--'Greek!' he shouted, 'will Greek save a man's soul?
_Do you suppose Jesus of Nazareth understood foreign tongues?_'

"There was a tremendous roar of applause from the people at this. They
thought the lecturer had made a great point! They actually _did_! Well,
of course, there was hardly any answer to that. In the face of such
black depths of ignorance, what _could_ any one do? It would be as easy
to explain the theory of gravity to a hog as to explain the Faith to a
grinning, hostile mob like that. The vicar sat down. The clown always
has the last word in argument before an audience of fools or children.
It must be so."

"How did it all end up?"

"Oh, the lecturer got upon his hind legs again and made a speech in
which he claimed to have triumphantly refuted the sophistry of the vicar
and to have shown what Ritualism really was. Then, encouraged by the
general applause, he was beginning to be very personal and rude, when
there was a startling interruption. Bob got up from the back of the
hall--we didn't know he was there--and began to push his way towards the
platform, with a loudly expressed intention of wringing the lecturer's
neck there and then. I got hold of him, but he shook me off like a fly.
'Let me be, sir!' he said, 'let me get at the varmin, I'll give him a
thick ear, I will!' Then King saw what was going on and rushed up. Bob
remembered what King gave him last year and he tried to dodge. By this
time, the whole place was in an uproar, sticks were flying about, people
were struggling, shouting, swearing, and it looked like being as nasty a
little riot as one could wish to see."

"How _horrible_!" Lucy said with a shudder. "I wish Bernard had never
been near the place."

"Well, then, all of a sudden," the curate continued, "a mighty voice was
heard from the platform. It was Carr! I never heard a man with such a
big, arresting voice. He was in a white rage, his eyes flashed, he
looked most impressive. He frightened every one, he really did, and in a
minute or two he got every one to leave the hall quietly and in order."

"How splendid!" Lucy said. She thought that she could see the whole
scene, the squalid struggle, the strong man dominating it all. Her hands
were clenched in sympathy. Her teeth were locked.

"He's a big man," the young fellow replied, "a bigger man than any one
knows. He'll be round here this evening, I expect. You must get him to
tell you all about it, Miss Blantyre."

A few minutes afterwards every one went to church. It was a choral
evensong that night, and sung somewhat later than the usual service was.
Blantyre did not appear. Lucy would not have him wakened. She knew that
sleep was the best thing for over-tired nerves, that he would view the
futile occurrences of the afternoon less unhappily after sleep.

It was after nine o'clock when the vicar eventually made his appearance.
He was worn and sad in face, his smile had lost its merriment. Lucy had
made them all come into her room for music. They wanted playing out of
their depression, and in ministering to them she forgot her own quandary
and perplexities. At last the light, melodious numbers of _Faust_ and
_Carmen_ had some influence with them, and about ten the three men were
visibly brighter. They were in the habit of taking a cup of tea before
going to bed; to-night Lucy made them have soup instead.

It was a few minutes after the hour, when the bell rang; in a moment or
two, Bob--extremely anxious to efface himself as much as possible after
the event of the afternoon--showed Mr. Carr into the drawing-room.

His face was very white and set. "I am extremely sorry," he said, "to
call on you so late, but have you seen the evening papers, any of you?"
No one had seen them.

"I'm afraid there is something that will give you great pain, a great
shock. It has grieved me deeply, it must be worse for you, my
friend--thinking as you do of the Eucharist."

"What is it?" Father Blantyre said.

Carr held out an evening paper. "Briefly," he said, "while we were at
the meeting down here, Hamlyn, Senior, had a special gathering of
extreme Protestants in Exeter Hall. He produced a _consecrated wafer_
and exhibited it, stating that he had purloined it from the Holy
Communion service the day before. This was corroborated by two men who
went with him and were witnesses of the act."

Every vestige of colour left the faces of the three priests of St.
Elwyn's. Suddenly Blantyre gave a little moan and fainted, sinking on to
a couch behind him.

They brought him round without much trouble, and King helped him
up-stairs to bed, refusing to let him go into the church as he wished.
Lucy saw that tears were falling silently over the grim, heavy face of
King.

When the vicar was safely bestowed in his room, Stephens and King,
saying nothing to each other, but acting with a common impulse, went
into the church. In the side chapel, where the dim red glow of the
sanctuary-lamp was the only light, they remained on their knees all
night, praying before the Blessed Sacrament.



CHAPTER XII

THE REPARATION OF JANE PRITCHETT, EX-PROTESTANT


On the following morning, Blantyre went away. He was absent from Hornham
for two days, and it was understood that he had gone to visit Lord
Huddersfield. Hamlyn and his doings were not in any way mentioned by the
two other clergy.

The days of his absence were a time of great unrest and mental debate
for Lucy.

She was at a crisis in her life. She had definitely come to a moment
when she must choose between one thing or another. It is a commonplace
of some preachers to say that this moment of definite choice comes to
every one at least once in their lives. But the truth of the assertion
is at least doubtful. Many people are spared the pain of what is more or
less an instantaneous decision. They merge themselves gradually, in this
or that direction, the right or the wrong. And they are the more
fortunate.

For Lucy, however, the tide was at the flood. She must push out upon it
and hoist her sail, but whether she should go east or west, run before
the wind or beat up into the heart of it--that she must now decide.

She had no illusions about her position. To marry James Poyntz meant one
thing, to refuse him meant another. In the first place, she wanted to be
married. Physically, socially, mentally, she was perfectly aware that
she would be happier. Her nature needed the complement of a husband. She
was pure, but not virginal, in temperament. She put it to herself
that--as she believed--she had a talent for wifehood.

Here was a young man who satisfied all her instincts of what was fitting
in a man she could marry. She did not love him, but she admired, liked,
and respected him. Something of the not unhealthy cynicism--the sane
cynicism--of a woman of the world had entered into her. She wasn't a
sentimentalist, she didn't think that the "love" of the poet and
story-teller was the only thing in the relation of a wife to a husband.
She had seen many marriages, she had watched the firm, strong affection
that came after marriage, and she saw that it was a good, worthy, and
constant thing.

She had been much in France. Lady Linquest had friends and relatives
among the stately families of the Faubourg St. Germain. Those weddings
in France that were decorously arranged by papa and mamma, how did they
turn out? On the whole well enough, happily enough. It was only the
ignorant lower middle-class of England that thought France was a mighty
_lupanar_ and adultery a joke.

And in marrying Poyntz she would marry a man whom she was worthy of
intellectually. He would satisfy every instinct she possessed--_every
instinct but one_.

And here, she knew, here lay the root of the whole question.

The very strongest influence that can direct and urge any soul towards a
holy life is the society and companionship, even the distant
contemplation, of a saintly man or woman.

The force of example acts as a lens. It focuses all the impulses towards
good and concentrates them. In making clear the beauty of holiness, it
shows that it is not a vague beauty, but an ideal which may be realised
by the observer.

Lucy had been living with saintly folk. Bernard was saintly--if ever a
man was; the bulldog, King, was a saint and walked with God. Stephens
was a schoolboy, full of slang and enthusiasm, blunders and love of
humanity, but he was saintly too. Miss Cass, the housekeeper with the
face of a horse, who called "day" "dy" and the Mass "Mess," she was a
holy woman. Before the ugly, unlettered spinster, the society girl, with
all her power and charm, had learned to bow in her mind.

That was Lucy's great virtue. She was frank with herself. She glossed
over nothing, she pretended nothing. It is the person who postures and
poses before himself who is in the chiefest danger. And Carr, well, Carr
was a saintly man also. He hadn't got the more picturesque trimmings
that the others had. His spiritual life was not so vividly expressed in,
and witnessed to, by his clothes and daily habit of life. But he was a
saintly man. As she thought of him Lucy thought of him as man _and_
saint.

All these people lived for one thing, had one aim, believed one thing.

They lived to serve our Lord, to do His work, to adore Him.

Why, even Bob, the navvy, whom Father King had knocked down as a beery
blackguard and set up again as a butler, even Bob was feeling a slow
and ponderous way towards sainthood! He could not boast a first-rate
intelligence, but, he _loved_ our Lord.

Yes!--ah, that was the most beautiful thing of all. To _love_ Him.

"Do I _love_ Him?" Lucy asked herself during those two days.

And the answer that came to her was a very strange one. It was this. She
loved our Lord, but she could not make up her mind to give up everything
earthly and material for Him. She wanted a compromise.

In fact, she was near the gates of the spiritual life, but she had not
entered them.

She did not disguise one fact from herself. If she married Poyntz she
would immediately be withdrawn, and withdrawn for ever, from the new
influences which were beginning to permeate her, to draw her towards the
state of a Christian who is vowed and militant.

She knew the influence that as her husband James would have. His ideals
were noble and high, his life was pure and worthy. But it was not the
life that Christ had made so plain and clear. The path the Church showed
was not the path James would follow, or one which as his wife she could
well follow.

She believed sincerely, as her brother himself would have told her, that
a man like Poyntz was only uneducated in spiritual things, not lost to
them for ever.

But she was also sure that he would make no spiritual discoveries in
this world.

Marriage with him meant going back. It meant turning away from the
Light.

The struggle with the training of years, the earthly ideals of nearly
all her life, was acute. But hour by hour, she began to draw nearer and
nearer to the inevitable solution.

Now and again, she went into the silent church. Then, kneeling before
the Blessed Sacrament, she saw the path quite clear.

Afterwards, back in her room again, the voices of the material world
were heard. But they became weaker and more weak as the hours went on.

On the day that Bernard was to return, she received a long and
passionate letter from her lover.

He had the wonderful gift of prose. He understood, as hardly any of us
understand, how to treat words (on certain occasions of using them) as
if they were almost notes in some musical composition. His letter was
beautiful.

She read it page by page, with a heart that had begun to beat with
quickened interest, until she came to a passage which jarred and hurt.
James had made an end of his most impassioned and intimate passages, and
was making his keen satiric comment upon general affairs--quite as he
had done in his letters before his actual avowal.

"I saw my father to-day in St. James, and we went to his club and
lunched together. I respect him more and more, for his consistency,
every time I meet him. And I wonder more and more at his childishness at
the same time. It seems he had just left your brother. As you are in the
thick of all the mumbo-jumbo, perhaps you will have heard of the
business that seems to be agitating my poor dear sire into a fever. It
seems that, a day or two ago, an opposition hero who has consecrated his
life to the Protestant cause--none other than the notorious Hamlyn
himself--purloined a consecrated wafer from some church and has been
exhibiting it at public meetings to show that it is just as it ever
was--a pinch of flour and no more. My father has made himself utterly
miserable over the proceedings of this merry-andrew. As you know, I take
but little interest in the squabbles of the creeds, but the spectacle
of a sane and able man caught up in the centre of these phantasies makes
me pause and makes my contempt sweeten into pity."

As Lucy read the letter, she thought of the scene on the night when Carr
had brought the news. She thought of her own quick pain as she heard it,
of how her brother was struck down as with a sword. And especially there
came to her the vision of the two priests, King and Stephens, praying
all night long before the Host.

She pushed the letter away from her, nor did she read it again. It
seemed alien, out of tune with her life.

She went into the church to pray.

When she came away, her resolution was nearly taken.

Bernard came home about three in the afternoon. His manner was quiet. He
was sad, but he seemed relieved also.

Lucy was walking in the garden with him, soon after his return, when
Stephens and Dr. Hibbert came down from the house and walked quickly up
to them.

"Vicar," the doctor said, "Miss Pritchett is dying."

Blantyre started. "Oh, I didn't know it was as bad as that," he said.
"Is it imminent?"

"A matter of twenty hours I should say," the doctor replied; "I bring
you a message from her."

Blantyre's face lighted up. Great tenderness came over it as he heard
that the woman who had injured him and sought to harm the Church had
sent him a message.

"Poor woman," he said; "what is it--God bless her!"

"She has asked for you and the other clergy to come to her. She wishes
me to bring you and such other members of the congregation as will come.
She wishes to make a profession of Faith."

"But when, how--" the vicar asked, bewildered.

The doctor explained. "The Hamlyns are with her; she is frightened by
them, but not only that, she bitterly repents what she has done. Poor
soul! Blantyre, she is very penitent, she remembers the Faith. She
asks--" He drew the vicar aside. Lucy could hear no more. But she saw
deep sympathy come out upon her brother's face.

The three men--Stephens had remained with the doctor--came near her
again.

"My motor is outside," the doctor said hurriedly.

"How long would it take?" asked the vicar.

"----if the Bishop is in--back in an hour and a half----"

The vicar took Stephens aside and spoke earnestly with him for a few
moments. The young man listened gravely and then hurried away. Before
the vicar and the doctor joined Lucy again--they stood in private talk a
moment--she heard the "toot" of the motor-car hum on the other side of
the garden wall.

Wondering what all this might mean, she was about to cross the lawn
towards the two men, when she saw Father King and Mr. Carr coming out of
the house. These two joined the vicar and Dr. Hibbert. The four men
stood in a ring. Blantyre seemed to be explaining something to the
new-comers. Now and then the doctor broke in with a burst of rapid
explanation.

Lucy began to be full of wonder. She felt ignored, she tried not to feel
that. Something was afoot that she did not quite understand.

In the middle of her wonder the men came towards her.

Bernard took her arm. "Mavourneen," he said, "will you come with us to
poor Miss Pritchett? She's been asking if you'll come and forgive her
and part good friends. She may die to-night, the doctor says. You'll
come?"

"Of course I'll come, dear."

"She has repented of her hostility to the Church, and desires to make a
public statement of her faith before she dies. And she has asked for the
Sacrament of Unction.... Stephens has gone to the Bishop of Stepney on
the doctor's motor-car. In an hour we will go to Malakoff."

The doctor took King by the arm and led him away. They talked earnestly
together.

Blantyre turned to Carr.

"Will ye come with us all to the poor soul's bedside?" he asked.

"Yes," Carr answered. "I don't know what you purpose exactly--and I
don't care! I trust you as a brother now, Blantyre, I am learning every
day. I'm a conservative, you know, new things are distasteful to me. But
I am learning that there are medicines, _pro salute animæ_."

"New things!" Blantyre said; "ye're an old Protestant at heart still.
Did they teach ye _no_ history at Cambridge except that the Church of
England began at the Reformation? Now, listen while I tell you what the
service is. You remember St. James v. 14, 15?"

Carr nodded. He began to quote from memory, for his knowledge of the
Scriptures was profound, a knowledge even more accurate and full than
perhaps any of the three priests of St. Elwyn's could claim, though they
were scholars and students one and all.

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and
let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of our Lord;
and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise
him up, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

"Well, I suppose that is fairly explicit?" Blantyre said. "Mr. Hamlyn
would tell us that Unction is a conjuring trick invented by the Jesuits.
And you have always thought it Popish and superstitious. Now, haven't
you, Carr, be honest!"

"Yes."

"Well, you will see the service to-day. We follow the ancient order of
the Church of England. Why did you object, Carr? I'd like to get at
your mental attitude. What is there unscriptural, bad, or unseemly about
Unction? Here's a poor woman who has strayed from the fold. She wishes
to die at peace with every one, she wishes that the inward unction of
the Holy Spirit may be poured into the wounds of her soul, she wants to
be forgiven for the sake of our Lord's most meritorious Cross and
Passion! If it is God's will, she may be cured."

He spoke with great fervour and earnestness.

Carr bowed his head and thought. "Yes," he said, "I have been very
prejudiced and hard, sometimes. It is so easy to condemn what one does
not know about, so hard to have sympathy with what one has not
appreciated."

Blantyre caught him by the arm and they walked the lawn for a long time
in fraternal intercourse.

Lucy sat down with the doctor, but her eyes often turned to the tall,
grave figure, whose lengthening shadow sometimes reached to her feet and
touched them.

At last they heard the panting of the returning motor-car. Stephens had
arrived with the oil that the Bishop had blessed.

The whole party got into the car, which was a large one, and they set
off rapidly through the streets towards Malakoff House.

How strange it was, Lucy thought, this swift career of moderns in the
wonderful machine of their age, this rush to the bedside of a dying
woman with the last consolation of the Church! It was full of awe, but
full of sweetness also. It seemed to show--and how plainly--the divine
continuity of the Faith, the harmonic welding of the order and
traditions of our Lord's own time with the full vivid life of the
nineteenth century.

They were shown into the grim house. Truly the shadow of death seemed to
lie there, was exhaled from the massive funereal furniture of a bygone
generation, with all its faded pomp and circumstance.

The mistress of it all was going away from it for ever, would never hold
her tawdry court in that grim drawing-room any more.

Dr. Coxe, Hibbert's assistant, came down-stairs and met them.

"I have got the two Hamlyns out of the house at last," he whispered.
"They were distressing the patient greatly. I insisted, however. We had
a row on the stairs--fortunately, I don't think the patient could hear
it. I'm sorry, doctor, but I had to use a little physical persuasion to
the young one."

"Never mind, Coxe," Hibbert answered. "I'll see that nothing comes of
it. They won't dare to do anything. I will see to that. Is Miss
Pritchett ready? Can we go up?"

"Yes," the young man answered, looking curiously at the four priests and
the grave girl who was with them in her gay summer frock. "Miss Davies
is there."

He was a big, young Scotsman, with a profound contempt for religion, but
skilled and tender in his work, nevertheless.

"Will you come up?" Hibbert whispered, taking him a little apart from
the others.

"I'd rather be excused, old man," he answered. "Call me if I'm wanted. I
can't stand this mumbo-jumbo, you know!"

Hibbert nodded curtly. He understood the lad very well. "Will you follow
me, Father?" he said to Blantyre.

Blantyre put on his surplice and stole. Then they all went silently up
the wide stairs, with their soft carpet and carved balusters, into the
darkened chamber of death.

The dying woman was propped up by pillows. Her face was the colour of
grey linen, the fringes of hair she wore in health were gone.

A faint smile came to her lips. Then, as she saw Lucy, she called to her
in a clear, thin voice that seemed as if it came from very far away.

"Kiss me, my dear," she said; "forgive me."

Lucy kissed the old, wrinkled face tenderly. Her tears fell upon it in a
sacrament of forgiveness and holy amity.

"I want just to say to all of you," Miss Pritchett said, "that I have
been untrue to what I really believed, and I have helped the enemies of
the Faith. I never forgot your teaching, Father, I knew all the time I
was doing wrong. I ask all of you to forgive me as I believe Jesus has
forgiven me."

A murmur of kindliness came from them all.

"Then I can go in peace," she gasped. Then with a faint and pathetic
shadow of her old manner she turned to Gussie. "Hush!" she said. "Stop
sniffling, Miss Davies! I am very happy. Now, Father----"

Her eyes closed and her hands remained still. They saw all earthly
thoughts die out of the wrinkled old face, now turned wholly to God.

They all knelt save the vicar, who had placed the oil in an ampulla upon
a table.

Then he began the 71st Psalm. "In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust, let
me never be put to confusion: but rid me, and deliver me, in Thy
righteousness, incline Thine ear unto me, and save me."

There was no sound in the chamber save that of the ancient Hebrew song.

"Forsake me not, O God, in mine old age, when I am grey-headed: until I
have showed Thy strength unto this generation, and Thy power to all them
that are yet for to come.

"Thy righteousness, O God, is very high: and great things are they that
Thou hast done; O God, who is like unto Thee?"

Then, all together, they said the antiphon: "_O Saviour of the world,
who by Thy Cross and precious Blood hast redeemed us, save us and help
us, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord._"

The central figure in the huge four-post bed lay still and waxen. But
when the priest came up to it with the oil, the eyes opened and looked
steadfastly into his face.

He dipped his thumb into the silver vessel and made the sign of the
Cross on the eyes, the ears, the lips, the nostrils, and the hands,
saying each time as he did so:

"_Through this unction, and of His most tender mercy, may the Lord
pardon thee whatever sins thou hast committed._"

The whispering words that brought renewal of lost innocence to the dying
woman sank into Lucy's heart, never to leave it. In the presence of
these wondrous mysteries, death, and death vanquished by Christ, sin
purged and forgiven in the Sacrament, her resolution was made. She knew
that she would fix her eyes upon the Cross, never to take them from it
more.

She saw her brother bending over the still figure, his white surplice
ghostlike in the gloom of the hangings, as he wiped the anointed parts
with wool.

Then Stephens brought him a basin of clear water and he washed his
hands.

Raising his arm, he said:

"_In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, may
this anointing with oil be to thee for the purification of thy mind and
body, and may it fortify and defend thee against the darts of evil
spirits._ Amen."

Two more prayers were said and then came the Blessing.

All rose from their knees. As Lucy slipped from the room, she saw the
doctor was bending over the waxen figure in the bed.

She heard her brother and his two assistant priests beginning other
prayers, in a louder voice, a sort of litany, it seemed.

She found Carr was beside her descending the stairs.

"What is that?" she whispered.

"The prayers for the commendation of a departing soul; she is going. God
rest her and give her peace."

"Amen," said Lucy.

They came down into the hall, where they stood for a moment quite alone.
Both were greatly agitated, both felt drawn together by some great
power.

"How beautiful it is!" Carr said at length. "Our Lord is with her. May
we all die so."

"Poor, dear woman!"

"In a few moments she will be in the supreme and ineffable glory of
Paradise. I want to see trees and flowers, to think happily of the
wonderful mercy and goodness of God among the things He has made. I
should like to walk in the park for an hour, to hear the birds and see
the children play. Will you come with me?"

"Yes, I will come."

He took her hand and bowed low over it.

"I have a great thing to ask of you," he said.

They walked soberly together until they came to the railed-in open
space. To each the air seemed thick with unspoken thoughts.

The park was a poor place enough. But flowers grew there, the grass was
green, it was not quite Hornham. They sat upon a bench and for a minute
or two both were silent. Lucy knew a serenity at this moment such as she
had hardly ever known. She was as some mariner who, at the close of a
long and tempestuous voyage, comes at even-tide towards harbour over a
still sea. The coastwise lights begin to glimmer, the haven is near.

In her mind and heart, at that moment, she was reconciled to and in tune
with all that is beautiful in human and Divine.

She sat there, this well-known society girl, who, all her life, had
lived with the great and wealthy of the world, in great content. In the
"park" of Hornham, with the poor clergyman, she knew supreme content.

In a low voice that shook with the intensity of his feeling and yet was
resolute and informed with strength, Carr asked Lucy to be his wife.

She gave him her hand very simply and happily. A river that had long
been weary had at last wound safe to sea. That she should be the wife of
this man was, she knew, one of the gladdest and most merciful ordinances
of God.



CHAPTER XIII

THE ARCHBISHOP AND THE HAMLYNS


"Gussie Davies says that she's sure that Miss Pritchett hasn't added a
codicil," said Mr. Sam Hamlyn, coming into the inner room at the offices
of the Luther League.

Mr. Hamlyn, Senior, had been at work for some hours, but his son had
only just arrived in the Strand. It was the day after Miss Pritchett's
death, and Sam had remained in North London to make a few inquiries.

"What a blessing of Providence," said the secretary. "There's something
to be said for a ritualistic way of dying, after all! If it 'adn't been
for her messing about with the oil and that, she'd have sent for her
solicitor and cut the League out of her will! The priests have been
'oist with their own petard this time."

"I wonder how much it'll be," Sam said reflectively.

"I don't anticipate a penny less than two thousand pound," said Mr.
Hamlyn, triumphantly. "P'raps a good bit over. You see, we got 'er just
at the last moment. It was me taking the consecrated wafer did it. She
woke up as pleased as Punch, it gave her strength for the afternoon, and
had the lawyer round at once. I never thought she'd go off so sudden,
though."

"Nor did I, Pa. Well, it's a blessing that she was able to contribute
her mite towards Protestant Truth before she went."

"What?" said Mr. Hamlyn sharply; "mite?--has Gussie Davies any idea of
'ow much the legacy is, then?"

"I only spoke figuratively like, Father."

"How you startled me, Sam!" said the secretary, his face resuming its
wonted expression of impudent good humour.

"How's the cash list to-day?" Sam asked.

"Pretty fair," answered his father, "matter of five pound odd. It's me
getting hold of that wafer, it's sent the subscriptions up wonderful. I
wouldn't part----"

Sam, who was sitting with his back to the door of the room, saw his
father's jaw drop suddenly. His voice died away with a murmur, his face
went pale, his eyes protruded.

The younger man wheeled round his chair. Then he started up, with an
exclamation of surprise and fear.

Both the Protestant champions, indeed, behaved as if they had been
discovered in some fraud by an agent of the law.

Two people had come suddenly into the room, without knocking or being
announced. The secretaries saw the blanched face of a clerk behind them.

During its existence, the Luther League had welcomed some fairly
well-known folk within its doors.

This afternoon, however, a most unexpected honour had been paid to
it--probably the reason of Hamlyn's extreme uneasiness.

A broad, square man of considerable height, with a stern, furrowed face,
wearing an apron and gaiters, stood there, with a thunder-cloud of anger
on his face.

It was His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lord Huddersfield was with him.

The Archbishop looked steadfastly at Hamlyn for a few seconds. His face
was terrible.

In the presence of the great spiritual lord who is next to the royal
family in the precedence of the realm, the famous scholar, the caustic
wit, the utter force and _power_ of intellect, the two champions were
dumb. Hamlyn had never known anything like it before. The fellow's
bounce and impudence utterly deserted him.

The Archbishop spoke. His naturally rather harsh and strident voice was
rendered tenfold more penetrating and terrifying by his wrath.

"Sir," he said, in a torrent of menacing sound, "you have profaned the
Eucharist, you have mocked the holy things of God, you have made the
most sacred ordinance of our Lord a mountebank show. You boast that you
have purloined the Consecrated Bread from church, you have exhibited it.
Restore it to me, wretched man that you are. By the authority of God, I
demand you to restore it; by my authority as head of the English Church,
I order you."

Hamlyn shrank from the terrible old man clothed in the power of his
great office and the majesty of his holy anger, shrank as a man shrinks
from a flame.

With shaking hands he took a bunch of keys from his pocket. He dropped
them upon the floor, unable to open the lock of the safe.

Young Hamlyn picked them up. He turned the key in the wards with a loud
click and pulled at the massive door until it slowly swung open.

Lord Huddersfield knelt down.

Hamlyn took from a shelf a little box that had held elastic bands.

The Archbishop started and flushed a deep crimson.

He took a pyx from his pocket and reverently took out the desecrated
Host from the box, placing it in the pyx.

Then, with a face that was suffused to a deep purple, he touched the
kneeling peer upon the shoulder. Lord Huddersfield rose with a deep sob
of relief.

The Archbishop looked _once_ at Hamlyn, a look the man never forgot.

Then the two visitors turned and went away as swiftly and silently as
they had come.

It was a long time before either father or son spoke a word.

At last Hamlyn cleared his throat and mouthed a sentence. It would not
come. All that Sam could catch were the words

     "PROTESTANT TRUTH!"

       *       *       *       *       *

_A Selection from the Catalogue of_

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

Complete Catalogues sent on application

       *       *       *       *       *

When It Was Dark

The Story of a Great Conspiracy

By GUY THORNE

Author of "A Lost Cause"

"The most enthralling and interest-compelling work of fiction this
reviewer has ever encountered."--_The American, Nashville._

"It is in its wonderful tonic effect upon Christianity in England that
the book is showing its most remarkable effects. It has become the theme
of hundreds of sermons, and long extracts are being printed in the
secular press as well as in the religious publications. It is known to
have been the cause of a number of revivals throughout England, and its
strange effect is increasing daily."--_N. Y. American._

THE BISHOP OF LONDON preaching at Westminster Abbey said: "I wonder if
any of my hearers have read that remarkable work of fiction 'When It Was
Dark.' The author paints in wonderful colors what would be the condition
of the world if (as in the story is supposed to be the case) a
conviction had come upon the people that the resurrection had never
occurred."

"A critical handling of current journalism, ecclesiasticalism, and
liberalism. A novel written from the inside as well as from observation;
and from the heart as well as from the head."--_Congregationalist._

       *       *       *       *       *

The Scarlet Pimpernel

By Baroness Orczy

_Author of "The Emperor's Candlesticks," etc._

A dramatic romance of the French Revolution and the Émigré Nobles. The
"Scarlet Pimpernel" was the chief of a daring band of young Englishmen
leagued together to rescue members of the French nobility from the
Terrorists of France. The identity of the brilliant and resourceful
leader is sacredly guarded by his followers and eagerly sought by the
agents of the French Revolutionary Government. Scenes of intrigue,
danger, and devotion, follow close one upon another. The heroine is a
charming, fearless woman who in the end shares the honors with the
"Scarlet Pimpernel." In a stage version prepared by the author _The
Scarlet Pimpernel_ was one of the dramatic successes of the last London
season, Mr. Fred Terry and Miss Julia Neilson acting the leading rôles.

"Something distinctly out of the common, well conceived, vividly told,
and stirring from start to finish."--_London Telegraph._

       *       *       *       *       *

At the Sign of The Jack o' Lantern

_By_ MYRTLE REED

Author of "Lavender and Old Lace," "The Master's Violin," etc.

A genial story of the adventures of a New York newspaper man and his
young wife, who, at the end of their honeymoon, go to an unexplored
heirloom in the shape of a peculiar old house, where many strange and
amusing things happen. There is a mystery in the house, as well as a
significant portrait of an uncanny cat. A vein of delicate humor, and a
homely philosophy runs through the story.

"Miss Reed is delightfully witty, delightfully humorous, delightfully
cynical, delightfully sane, and above all, delightfully
spontaneous."--_Philadelphia Telegraph._

       *       *       *       *       *

Love Alone is Lord

_By_ F. Frankfort Moore

_Author of "The Jessamy Bride," etc._

This latest story by the author of _The Jessamy Bride_ has for its theme
the only really ideal love affair in the romantic life of Lord Byron.
The story opens during the poet's boyhood and tells of his early
devotion to his cousin, Mary Chaworth. Mr. Moore has followed history
very closely, and his descriptions of London society when Byron was the
rage are as accurate as they are dramatic. Lady Caroline Lamb figures
prominently in the story, but the heroine continues to be Byron's early
love, Mary Chaworth. His attachment for his cousin was the strongest and
most enduring of his life, and it failed of realization only by the
narrowest of chances.

_A Fascinating Romance_





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