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Title: The Angel
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.

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                         THE ANGEL

                       BY GUY THORNE

    Author of "When It Was Dark," "Made in His Image,"
              "First It Was Ordained," Etc.


    G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY
    PUBLISHERS      NEW YORK

    Copyright, 1908, by
    G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY



PREFACE


I do not think a book of this sort requires a very lengthy foreword, but
one or two things I feel it necessary to say concerning it. In the first
place, I have to thank Mr. Hamilton Edwards for many valuable
suggestions concerning it, suggestions which, undoubtedly, helped me
very much in the writing.

The story is an attempt to impress upon readers the fact that we are,
without doubt, surrounded on our way through life by unseen presences,
unseen intelligences, which guard or attack that real portion of us
which is ourselves--the soul.

Superficially, but only superficially, this is a very material age. We
are surrounded by so many material wonders that the unthinking person is
inclined to believe, at any rate to state, that the material is
everything. Yet there is nothing more unsatisfying than the purely
material aspect of life, after all.

How can any one be surprised if the ordinary man is perplexed when he is
called upon to decide questions of economy and morality, when the
material point of view is all that he can see? For all questions of
morality must necessarily depend--as long ago Plato pointed out--upon a
belief in something which we cannot touch or see. Otherwise, morality
has no significance and no meaning, except that of expediency.

If, when our body dies, our personality stops, then I can see no
logical reason whatever for trying to be good. To get all this life in
itself has to offer by means of any sort--provided they do not entail
personal discomfort--is the logical philosophy of the materialist. Yet
the materialist, at the same time, is very frequently an honest and
good-living man. This is not _because_ he is a materialist, for there is
no reason for being honest, unless one is found out in one's dishonesty,
but because there is implanted within that soul which he denies a spark
of the Divine Fire.

Of course, amongst thinking and really educated men and women,
materialism is as out-moded as the bow and arrow in modern warfare, yet
the majority of people do not think very much, nor are they well
educated.

This story is an endeavour to point out that people who assert nowadays
that Matthew Arnold's dogma, "miracles do not happen," are hopelessly
out of the run of modern thought.

Men like Sir Oliver Lodge are laboriously discovering some of the laws
of the Universe which give us portents and signs. No one who knows
to-day dares to sneer at parthenogenesis, or to repeat the slander of
Celsus about the Mother of God. It is only men who do not know, and men
who have grown rusty in reposing on their past reputations, who cannot
see that Materialism as a philosophy is dead.

Day by day fresh evidence of the power of the Spirit over Matter bursts
upon us. A plea for "philosophic doubt," for Professor Huxley's
infallibility, is no longer necessary. The very distinction between
Matter and Spirit grows more and more difficult as Science develops
analytical power. The minds of men are being again prepared to receive
that supreme revelation which told of the wedding of the earth and
Heaven, the taking of the Manhood into God.

The processes by which the hero of this story--Joseph--became what he
was have been carefully thought out, in order to provide an opportunity
for those who read the story, to get near to the explanation of some of
those psychical truths which need not necessarily be supernatural, but
only supernormal. It seems to me the wildest of folly to say that
because a thing is not capable of being explained by the laws of Nature
as we know them, that it is _above_ the laws of Nature. Every week is a
witness to the fact that the laws of Nature are only imperfectly known
by us, and therefore, to say that anything is _outside_ Nature is, to
put it plainly, simply nonsense.

For Nature does not exist, nor is there any possibility that it has ever
existed, without a Controlling Power which created it.

At the very end of his famous and wonderful life, Lord Kelvin himself
stated it as his unalterable opinion, after all the investigations he
had made into the primary causes of phenomena as we know them, that the
only possible explanation was that a Controlling Intelligence animated
and produced them all.

I was reading a few days ago one of a series of weekly articles which an
eminent modern scientist, Sir Ray Lankester, is writing in a famous
newspaper. He was speaking of Darwin and "The Origin of Species," and
he seemed to imagine that the great discovery of Darwin finally disposed
of the truth of the first chapter of Genesis, as we have it in the pages
of the Holy Bible. Surely nothing was ever more limited than such a view
as this! God manifests Himself in His own way, at His own time, and in a
fashion which is modified and adjusted to the intelligences and
opportunities of those who live at the time of this or that Revelation
in the progressive scheme of Revelation itself. To say that because
modern science has proved that God did not, as a human potter or
modeller of clay would do, make the whole of living things in full
being, and at a definite time, that therefore the Bible is untrue, is
simply the blindness of those who do not realize that Truth must often
wear a robe to hide its glory from the eyes of those who are unable to
appreciate its full splendour and magnificence.

If we are descended or evolved from primeval protoplasm, as I for one am
quite prepared to believe, one simply goes back to the simple
question--"Who made the protoplasm?"

It is no use. We cannot get away, try as we will, from the fact of God,
and we cannot also get away from the fact of the Incarnation, when God
revealed Himself more fully than ever before, and when God Himself
became Man.

My idea in this story is to show that, by means of processes of which we
have at present but little idea, a man may be drained and emptied, under
special circumstances, of himself and the influences of his past life,
and be made as a vessel for the special in-pouring of the Holy Spirit.

The death of Lluellyn Lys for Joseph, the mysterious interplay of a soul
going, and meeting on its way, another soul about to go into the
Unknown, aided by the special dispensation of God, might, I think, well
produce some such supernormal being as the Joseph of this tale. Perhaps
an angel, one of those mysterious beings--whom Christians believe to be
the forces and the messengers of God--may have animated Joseph in his
mission, without entirely destroying or obscuring his personality. Be
this as it may, I offer this story as an effort to attract my readers'
minds towards a consideration of the Unseen which is all around us, and
which--more probably than not--is the real world, after all, and one in
which we, as we are now, walk as phantoms and simulacrums of what we
shall one day be in the glorious hereafter.


GUY THORNE.



The Angel



CHAPTER I

AND GOD SPAKE----


Two men stood outside a bird-fancier's shop in the East End of London.
The shop was not far from the docks, and had a great traffic with
sailors. Tiny emerald and gamboge love-birds squawked in their cages,
there was a glass box of lizards with eyes like live rubies set in the
shop window, while a hideous little ape--chained to a hook--clattered in
an impish frenzy.

Outside the shop door hung a cage containing a huge parrot, and it was
this at which the two men were looking.

Hampson, a little wrinkled man in very shabby clothes, but of a brave
and confident aspect, pointed to the parrot.

"I wonder if it talks?" he said.

Immediately upon his words the grey bird, its watchful eye gleaming with
mischievous fire, began a stream of disconnected words and sentences,
very voluble, very rapid, and very clear.

Hampson shuddered.

"Do you know, Joseph," he said, "I am always afraid when I hear that
sound--that noise of a bird talking human words. To me, there is no more
dreadful sound in the world."

Hampson's companion, a taller and much more considerable man, looked at
the little fellow with surprise.

"Afraid?" he said. "Why should you be afraid? The sound is grotesque,
and nothing more. Has hunger completed her work, and privation conquered
at last? Are your nerves going?"

"Never better, my dear Joseph," the little man replied cheerfully. "It
will take a long time to knock me out. It's you I'm afraid about. But to
return to the parrot. Has it ever struck you that in all nature the
voice of a bird that has been taught to speak is unique? There is no
other sound even remotely resembling it. We hear a voice using human
words, and, in this instance, and this alone, we hear the spoken words
of a thing that has no soul!"

The other man started.

"How fantastic you are," he said impatiently. "The thing has a brain,
hasn't it? You have in a larger and far more developed measure exactly
what that bird has; so have I. But that is all. Soul! There is no such
thing!"

The bird in the cage had caught the word, which excited its mechanical
and oral memory to the repetition of one of its stock phrases.

"Soul! Soul! 'Pon my soul, that's too good. Ha, ha, ha!" said the
parrot.

"Polly differs, apparently," Hampson said drily, as they moved on down
the Commercial Road; "but what a hopeless materialist you are, Joseph.
You go back to the dogmatism of the pre-Socratic philosophers or voice
the drab materialism of the modern animal man who thinks with his skin.
Yet you've read your Plato!--you observe that I carefully refrain from
bringing in Christian philosophy even! You believe in nothing that you
have not touched or handled. Because you can't find the soul at a
post-mortem examination of the body you at once go and say there is no
such thing. Scholars and men of science like you seem astonishingly
blind to the value of evidence when it comes to religious matters. You,
my dear Joseph, have never seen India. Yet you know a place called India
exists. How do you know it? Simply through the evidence of other people
who have been there. You have just as much right to tell the captain of
a P. & O. steamer that what he thought was Calcutta was merely a
delusion as to tell me or any other professing Christian that there is
no such thing as the Kingdom of Heaven! Well, I must be off; I have a
bit of work to do that may bring in a few shillings. There may be dinner
to-night, Joseph!"

With a quick smile, Hampson turned down a side street and was gone. The
man called Joseph continued his way, walking slowly and listlessly, his
head sunk upon his breast in thought.

The teeming life of the great artery of East London went on all round
him; but he saw nothing of it. A Chinaman, with a yellow, wrinkled face,
jostled up against him, and he did not know it; a bloated girl, in a
stained plush blouse, wine-coloured like her face, and with an immense
necklace of false pearls, coughed out some witticism as he passed; a
hooligan surveyed him at leisure, decided that there could be nothing
worth stealing upon him, and strolled away whistling a popular tune--one
and all were no more to the wanderer than a dream, some dream
dim-panelled upon the painted scenes of sleep.

Shabbily dressed as he was, there was yet something about the man which
attracted attention. He drew the eye. He was quite unlike any one else.
One could not say of him, "Here is an Englishman," or "There is a
German." He would have looked like a foreigner--something alien from the
crowd--in any country to which he went.

Joseph's age was probably about thirty-three, but time and sorrow had
etched and graven upon his face a record of harsh experience which made
him seem much older.

The cheeks were gashed and furrowed with thought. Looking carefully at
him, one would have discovered that he was a distinctly handsome man.
The mouth was strong and manly in its curves, though there was something
gentle and compassionate in it also. The nose was Greek, straight and
clearly cut; the hair thick, and of a dark reddish-brown. But the wonder
of the man's face lay in his eyes. These were large and lustrous; full
of changing light in their dark and almost Eastern depth. They were
those rare eyes which seem to be lit up from within as if illuminated by
the lamp of the soul.

Soul! Yes, it was that of which those eyes told in an extraordinary and
almost overwhelming measure.

The soul is not a sort of fixed essence, as people are apt to forget. It
is a fluid thing, and expands or contracts according to the life of its
owner. We do not, for example, see any soul in the eyes of a gross,
over-fed, and sensual man. Yet this very man in the Commercial Road, who
denied the very existence of the soul with convinced and impatient
mockery, was himself, in appearance, at any rate, one of those rare
beings of whom we say, "That man is all soul."

The man's full name was Joseph Bethune. To the tiny circle of his
friends and acquaintances he was simply Joseph. If they had ever known
his surname, they had forgotten it. He was one of those men who are
always called by their Christian names because, whatever their
circumstances may be, they are real, accepted, and unquestioned facts in
the lives of their friends.

Joseph Bethune's history, to which he never referred, had been, up to
the present, drab, monotonous, and dismal. When an event had occurred it
was another failure, and he could point to no red-letter days in his
career. Joseph had never known either father or mother. Both had died
during his infancy, leaving him in the care of guardians.

His father had been a pastor of the Methodist sect--a man of singular
holiness of life and deep spiritual fervour. Possessed of some private
means, he had been able to leave a sufficient sum for his son's
education upon a generous and liberal scale.

The boy's guardians were distant relatives in each case. One was a
clergyman, the other a prosperous London solicitor. The strange,
studious child, quiet, dreamy, and devoted to his books, found himself
out of touch with both.

The clergyman was a Low Churchman, but of the worst type. There was
nothing of the tolerant outlook and strong evangelical piety of a
Robertson in Mr. St. John. He was as narrow as his creed, condemning all
that he had not experienced, or could not understand, hating the devil
more than he loved God. If he had been sent to the rack he could not
have truthfully confessed to an original thought.

Joseph Bethune was sent to an English public school of good, though not
of first, rank. Here he was unpopular, and made no friends. His nature
was too strong, and, even as a boy, his personality too striking, for
him to experience any actual physical discomfort from his unpopularity.
He was never bullied, and no one interfered with him; but he remained
utterly lonely.

In contradiction of the usual custom in the English public school of his
day, Hamilton possessed splendid laboratories, and great attention was
paid to modern science and mathematics.

Of these advantages Joseph Bethune availed himself to the full. His
temper of mind was accurate and inquiring, and though his manner was
dreamy and abstracted, it was the romance of science over which he
pored; the cold, glacial heights of the higher mathematics among which
his imagination roamed.

He gained a scholarship at Cambridge, lived a retired and monotonous
life of work, shunning the natural and innocent amusements of youth
while at the university, and was bracketed Third Wrangler as a result of
his degree examination.

By this time his moderate patrimony was nearly exhausted, though, of
course, his success in the schools had placed many lucrative posts
within his reach. He had actually been offered a fellowship and a
tutorial post at his own college, when he wrecked his university career
by an extraordinary and quite unexpected proceeding.

At a great meeting in the Corn Exchange, convened by the Bishop of
London for a discussion of certain vexed questions of the Christian
faith, Joseph Bethune rose, and, in a speech of some fifteen minutes'
duration, delivered an impassioned condemnation of Christianity,
concluding with a fierce avowal of his disbelief in God, and in anything
but the purely material.

We are tolerant enough nowadays. The red horror of the Inquisition has
departed, and men are no longer "clothed in a shirt of living fire" for
a chance word. A "Protestant" ruler no longer hangs the priests of the
Italian Mission for saying the Mass. Any one is at liberty to believe
what he pleases. But men about to occupy official positions must not
bawl unadulterated atheism from the housetops.

The offence was too flagrant, the offer of the fellowship was withdrawn,
and Joseph, so far as Cambridge was concerned, was ruined.

It is perfectly true that there were many people who believed exactly as
he did. They sympathized with him, but in secret, and no word or hint of
their sympathy ever reached him. He had done the unpardonable thing: he
had dared to speak out his thoughts, and men of the world do not care to
champion openly one who is publicly disgraced.

The news got about in many quarters. The man was not an
"agnostic"--polite and windy word! But he was an atheist! Terrible word,
recalling shuddering memories of Tom Paine and Bradlaugh even in the
minds of men and women who themselves believed in nothing at all. Some
men would have only been locally harmed by such an episode as this. But
Bethune's case was peculiar, and it ruined him.

He had nothing to sell in any market but the academic. He was a born
lecturer; demonstrator of scientific truth. But he had just overstepped
the limit allowed in even these liberal times. Moreover, he was too
young. Such a speech as he had made, had it been delivered at sixty,
with a long and distinguished record behind the speaker, would have been
regarded as a valuable and interesting contribution to modern thought.
It might even have been taken as a sort of fifth Gospel--the Gospel
according to St. Thomas the Doubter!

Joseph, however, was done for.

He disappeared from the university. His name was no more heard, and
after the traditional nine days was utterly forgotten.

It is true that three or four men who saw further than their fellows
realized that a force, a potential but very real force, had departed.
Some one who, as they believed, was to have done extraordinary things
was now crushed and robbed of his power. They perceived that virtue had
departed from the intellectual garment that shelters the men who _can_!

Joseph tried, and tried in vain, to make such a living as his vast
mental acquirements and achievements entitled him to. Obscure
tutorships, ill-paid lecturing to coteries of cock-cure Socialists, who
believed in nothing but their chances of getting a slice of the wealth
of men who had worked, and not merely talked--these were his dismal and
pitiful endeavours.

He came at last to the very lowest pitch of all. He, the high wrangler,
the eminent young mathematician, earned a squalid and horribly
precarious living by teaching elementary science to the sons of
struggling East End shopkeepers who were ambitious of County Council
scholarships for their progeny.

His health was impaired, but his spirit was as a reed bruised and shaken
by the winds of adversity, yet not broken. He had known sorrow, was
acquainted with grief.

He had plumbed the depths of poverty, and his body was a wreck. Want of
food--the mean and squalid resting-places he had perforce to seek--the
degradation and vileness of his surroundings, had sapped the life blood.
He did not know the defiant trumpet words of a poet of our time, but had
he done so, they would have well expressed his attitude--

    Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
    In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud;
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody but unbowed.

He turned off into a by-street, and walked on till he came to the docks.
His progress was quite aimless. Once he stopped and wearily asked
himself whither he was going; but the next moment he was lost in
thought, and moved on again.

Once he stumbled over a steel hawser. He nearly lost his balance, and
had his arm not shot out with an involuntary movement to clutch the
bollard on his left, he would have fallen over the granite-bound edge of
the wharf into the foul, black, slimy depths below.

Hardly giving a thought to the danger he had just escaped, he moved on
and on.

Through open sheds--where freight was heaped up waiting the onslaught of
stevedores and labourers--across jutting portions of cobbled space and
shunting grounds, he came to a remote corner, far removed from the
rattle of cranes and the shouts of the workmen.

Something drew him out of himself, and fixed his attention. It was a
shadow. It caught his gaze, and his eyes became fixed on it. He knew
that a shadow was only the phenomenon produced when streams of radiant
energy are intercepted by an object which is unable to transmit them.
His scientific training had taught him that even _sound_ shadows may be
produced, though to recognize the existence of them the ear must pass
from the unshadowed to the shadowed part. Perhaps it was a symbol! He
himself was in darkness and shadow. Would his ear ever catch those
mysterious harmonies that come to those who suffer?--Hampson heard
them....

A woman crept stealthily behind the wall, and the shadow disappeared.

The woman bore a burden; what it was he could not see. But she held it
close to her breast with the tense clasp of some fierce emotion.

She had not noticed the dreamer. She stopped by some steps leading down
to the waters of a small section of the dock.

Joseph sat down on a capstan and looked steadily at her.

The woman unclasped the burden she bore, drew aside a part of the
covering, and kissed--a baby face. He knew at once what she was doing.
She was bidding it good-bye. She was going to drown it.

"And they say that there is a God," Joseph thought. "A conscious
Intelligence that directs human affairs. Even Lord Kelvin himself
thought so! Yet God does nothing to save this woman from her sin--or
rather crime!"

He gazed fiercely. Those eyes, through which his rebellious
unconquerable soul shone out, caught the startled stare of the woman as
she saw the strange man who watched her.

The man said nothing. The woman thought: "If he prevents me now, I
shall--I must do it later. He can't change me. If he gives me in charge
he can't prove it. I've done nothing yet."

Yet she looked again, and this time did not turn away.

A strange magnetism which seemed to run through her, projected from
those eyes, was making even her finger-tips tingle as with a new
sensation, and one she had never known before. Her purpose melted and
dissolved in that flow of more than electric influence; it changed as
fire changes a material thing. It melted like snow before the radiant
energy of the sun.

Slowly she unwrapped the bundle. The paper, the cloth wrappings she
threw into the black and oily water, but the child she clasped to her
breast.

"My baby," she murmured, very quietly, but in tones that pierced the
tense atmosphere and reached Joseph's ear. "I bore you in shame, and was
about to kill you to save you from shame like mine; but I will bear my
cross and love you for the sake of Jesus. Amen."

She stole away, trembling. There was a great fear and wonder at her
heart, and the watcher saw no more.

Joseph smiled bitterly. His brain seemed some detached thing, a theatre
upon the stage of which wild thoughts were the conflicting actors and
his sub-conscious intelligence the spectator.

The simile of the shadow returned to him, and was it not all a
shadow--this dark, unhappy life of his? The words "radiant energy," the
words "God" "conscious force" danced before him. The whole sentient
world was reeling--the blood that fed the grey matter of his brain was
poor and thin--this was the reason.

Yet, was it the reason, after all? What had happened to him in the last
few minutes? He felt as he had never in his whole life felt before.
There was a sense of extraordinary impotence. Something had come into
him; something had gone out of him.

No!--something had gone _through_ him--that was the way to describe it
to himself....

Oh for food, rich nourishing food, quiet and fresh air--then all this
sickness would go....

       *       *       *       *       *

Joseph left the docks, and was soon back in the teeming Commercial Road.
He walked, lost in thought, unconscious of all his surroundings.

"Nah, then, Monkey Brand, 'oo y'r shovin'? I can see y'r gettin' a thick
ear, young feller-my-lad. Owns the bloomin' pyvement--"

A string of obscene oaths and the above words brought Joseph the dreamer
down to earth again--the world of the Commercial Road.

He had stumbled against a typical bullet-headed, wicked-eyed East End
rough.

The man stepped close up to Joseph, lifting an impudent and dirty face,
holding the right arm ready to strike the short, jabbing blow so dear to
the hooligan.

Then a strange thing happened.

Joseph, roused so suddenly and rudely from his bitter reverie, became
aware of what was toward. He was about to apologize to the man when his
words were checked in his mouth by the fellow's filthy profanity. Joseph
suddenly, instead of speaking, turned his full face to him. The great,
blazing eyes, their brilliancy accentuated a hundred times by hunger and
scorn, seemed to cleave their way through the thick skull of the
aggressor, to pierce the muddy and besotted brain within, to strike fear
into the small leathern heart.

The man lifted his arm and covered his face, just like a street child
who expects a blow; and then with a curious sound, half whimper, half
snarl, turned and made off in a moment.

It was an extraordinary instance of magnetic power inherent in this
starving scholar who roamed the streets in a sad dream.

On his own part, Joseph's action had been quite unconscious. He had no
thought of the force stored up in him as in an electric accumulator.
Some experiments in animal magnetism he had certainly made, when he had
taken a passing interest in the subject at Cambridge. He had cured his
"gyp" of a bad attack of neuralgia once, or at least the man said he
had, but that was as far as it had gone.

He turned his steps towards the stifling attic he called "home." After
all, he was better there than in the streets. Besides, he was using up
what little strength remained to him in this aimless wandering.

He had eaten nothing that day, but at nine in the evening he had a
lesson to give. This would mean a shilling, and there were two more
owing from his pupil, so that even if Hampson, who lived in the next
garret, failed to get any money, both might eat ere they slept.

As he turned into the court and began to mount the stairs, Joseph
thought with an involuntary sigh of "hall" at Cambridge, the groaning
tables, the generous fare, the comely and gracious life of it all.

And he had thrown it all away--for what? Just for the privilege of
speaking out his thoughts, thoughts which nobody particularly wanted to
hear.

With a sigh of exhaustion he sat down on the miserable little bed under
the rafters, and stared out of the dirty window over the roofs of
Whitechapel.

Had he been right, after all? Was it worth while to do as he had done,
to give up all for the truth that was in him. The old spirit of revolt
awoke. Yes, he had been right a thousand times! No man must act or live
a lie.

But supposing it _was_ all true? Supposing there was a God after all.
Supposing that the Christ upon whom that woman had called so glibly
really was the Saviour of mankind? Then--The thought fell upon his
consciousness like a blow from a whip.

He leapt to his feet in something like fear.

"It's this physical exhaustion," he said to himself aloud, trying to
find an anodyne to thought in the sound of his own voice. "My brain is
starved for want of blood. No one can live as I have been living and
retain a sane judgment. It was because the hermits of old starved
themselves in the desert that they saw visions. Yet it is odd that I, of
all men, should weaken thus. I must go out into the streets again, come
what may. The mind feeds upon itself and conjures up wild and foolish
thoughts in a horrible little box like this."

With a heavy sigh he went slowly out of the room and down the steep
stairs. Never in all his life had he felt so lost and hopeless; so alone
and deserted.

Another man in his position would have called out upon God, either with
mad and puny revilings in that He had forsaken him, or with a last
piteous cry for help.

Joseph did not believe in God.

All his life he had lived without God. He had ignored the love of the
Father and the necessity of faith in His Son Jesus Christ. The temple of
his body was all empty of the Paraclete. Now he felt sure that there was
no God; never had been any God; never would be any God.

He was at the darkest hour of all, and yet, with a strange nervous
force, he clenched one lean hand until the shrunken muscle sprang up in
coils upon the back of it, resolving that come what might he would not
give in. There was no God, only a blind giant, Circumstance--well, he
would fight that!

His mental attitude was a curious one, curiously illogical. Keen and
well-balanced as the scientific side of him was, the man--like all those
who openly profess disbelief--was unable to see what might almost be
called the grim humor of his attitude.

"I do not believe in God!" the atheist cries, and then immediately
afterwards shakes his fist at the Almighty and bids Him to do His worst!

Man challenging God! There is no more grotesque and terrible thing in
human life than this.

But, as the world knows now, God had a special purpose in his dealings
with this man.

All unconscious of what was to befall him, of his high destiny to come,
Joseph walked aimlessly in Whitechapel, cursing in his heart the God in
whom he did not believe, and yet who had already chosen him to be the
centre and head of mighty issues.... A channel as we may think now....

We may well believe that each single step that Joseph took was known and
regulated by unseen hands, voices which were unheard by ear or brain,
but which the unconscious and sleeping soul nevertheless obeyed.

At last the Almighty spoke, and the first link in the chain of His
mysterious operations was forged.

Joseph was walking slowly past a great building which was in course of
erection or alteration. A network of scaffolding rose up into the smoky,
dun-colored sky.

The clipping of steel chisels upon stone, the echoing noise of falling
planks, the hoarse voices of the workmen as they called to each other
high up on their insecure perches, all rose above the deep diapason note
of the traffic in a welter of sharply-defined sound.

Joseph stepped upon the pavement beneath the busy works. He was, he
noticed, just opposite the office of the small East End newspaper for
which Hampson, the poor, half-starved, but cheery little journalist did
occasional jobs.

Hampson--good, kind, little Hampson! It was pleasant to think of him,
and as he did so Joseph's thoughts lost their bitterness for a moment.
Only the utterly vile can contemplate real unassuming goodness and
unselfishness without a certain warming of the heart.

Hampson was only half educated--he had the very greatest difficulty in
making a living, yet he was always bright and happy, ever illuminated by
some inward joy.

Even as he thought of Hampson--almost his only friend--Joseph saw the
man himself coming out of the narrow doorway. Hampson saw the scholar at
once in his quick, bird-like way, and waved his hand with a significant
and triumphant gesture.

There was to be dinner, then!

It was not so. The two poor friends were not to share a humble meal
together on that night, at any rate.

High above Joseph's head, two planks were being slowly hauled upwards to
the topmost part of the scaffolding. They were secured by the usual
halter knot round the centre. The noose, however, had slipped, as the
rope was a new one, and the two heavy pieces of timber hung downwards
with the securing tie perilously near the upper end.

There was a sudden shout of alarm which sent a hundred startled faces
peering upwards and then the planks fell right upon the man who stood
beneath, crushing him to the ground, face downwards, like a broken blade
of grass.

With the magic celerity which is part of the psychology of crowds, a
ring of excited people sprang round the crushed, motionless figure, as
if at the bidding of a magician's wand.

Willing hands began to lift the great beams from it. Hampson had been
one of the first to see and realize the accident.

He was by the side of his friend in three or four seconds after the
planks had struck him down. And he saw something that, even in his
horror and excitement, sent a strange inexplicable throb through his
blood and made all his pulses drum with a sense of quickening, of
nearness to the Unseen, such as he had never experienced in all his life
before.

It is given to those who are very near to God to see visions, sometimes
to draw very close to the Great Veil.

The two planks of timber had fallen over Joseph's back in the exact form
of the Cross. To the little journalist, if to no one else in the
rapidly-gathering crowd, the wood and the bowed figure below it brought
back the memory of a great picture he had seen, a picture of the Via
Dolorosa, when Jesus fainted and fell under the weight He bore.



CHAPTER II

"SOMETHING MARVELLOUS IS GOING TO HAPPEN"


In the drawing-room of a house in Berkeley Square, Lady Kirwan--the wife
of Sir Augustus Kirwan, the great banker--was arguing with her niece,
Mary Lys.

The elder lady was tall and stately, and although not aggressive in any
way, her manner was distinctly that of one accustomed to rule. Her
steady grey eyes and curved, rather beak-like nose gave her an aspect of
sternness which was genially relieved by a large, good-humored mouth. At
fifty, Lady Kirwan's hair was still dark and glossy, and time had dealt
very gently with her.

Of the old Welsh family of Lys, now bereft of all its great heritage of
the past, but with a serene and lofty pride in its great name still, she
had married Sir Augustus, then Mr. Kirwan, in early girlhood. As the
years went on, and her husband's vast wealth grew vaster still, and he
rose to be one of the financial princes of the world, Lady Kirwan became
a very prominent figure in society, and at fifty she had made herself
one of the hundred people who really rule it.

One daughter, Marjorie, was born to Sir Augustus and his wife, a beauty,
and one of the most popular girls in society.

"You may say what you like, but I have no patience at all with either
you or your crack-brained brother, Mary!" Lady Kirwan exclaimed, with an
irritable rapping of her fingers upon a little lapis lazuli table at her
side.

Mary Lys was a tall girl, dressed in the blue uniform of a hospital
nurse. The cloak was thrown back over her shoulders, and its scarlet
lining threw up the perfect oval contour of her face and the glorious
masses of black hair that crowned it. If Marjorie Kirwan was generally
said to be one of the prettiest girls in London--and the couple of
millions she would inherit by no means detracted from her good
looks--certainly Mary Lys might have been called one of the most
beautiful.

The perfect lips, graver than the lips of most girls, almost maternal in
their gentleness, formed, as it were, the just complement to the great
grey eyes, with their long dark lashes and delicately-curved black
brows. The chin was broad and firm, but very womanly, and over all that
lovely face brooded a holy peace, a high serenity, and a watchful
tenderness that one sees in the pictures of the old masters when they
drew the pious maids and matrons who followed the footsteps of Our Lord
on earth.

Her beauty was not the sort of beauty which would attract every one. It
was, indeed, physical beauty in perfection, but irradiated also by
loveliness of soul. The common-minded man who prefers the conscious and
vulgar prettiness of some theatre girl, posed for the lens of the camera
or the admiring glances of the crowd, would have said:--

"Oh, yes, she's beautiful, of course! One can't help admitting that. But
she's not my style a bit. Give me something with a little more life in
it."

But there were not wanting many men and women who said that they had
thought that the mother of the Saviour must have looked like Mary Lys.

"No! I've really no patience with either of you!" Lady Kirwan repeated.

"But, Aunt Ethel, surely we ought to live our own lives. I am quite
happy with my nursing in the East End. One can't do more good than by
trying to nurse and cure the sick, can one? And Lluellyn is happy also
in his Welsh mountains. He lives a very saintly life, auntie--a life of
prayer and preaching and good works, even if it is unconventional and
seems strange to you. I would not have it otherwise. Lluellyn is not
suited for the modern world."

"Fiddlesticks, Mary!" Lady Kirwan answered. "'Modern world,' indeed! You
speak as if you said 'Modern pestilence'! Who made the world, I should
like to know? And what right have you and your brother to despise it?
I'm sick of all this nonsense. How a girl with your looks and of your
blood, for there is hardly a peer in England with such a pedigree as
that of our family, can go on grubbing away nursing horrible people with
horrible diseases in that dreadful East End I can't possibly imagine.
You've no money, of course, for your two hundred a year is a mere
nothing. But what does that matter? Haven't your uncle and I more than
we know what to do with? Marjorie has already an enormous fortune
settled upon her. She is almost certain to marry the Duke of Dover next
season. Well, what do we offer you--you and Lluellyn? You are to be as
our second daughter. We will give you everything that a girl can have in
this world. You shall share in our wealth as if you were my own
daughter. With your looks and the money which is available for you, you
may marry any one. We stand well at Court. His Majesty is pleased when
one of the great old families of the realm restores its fallen fortunes.
Every chance and opportunity is yours. As for your brother, as I have so
often written and told him, he will be a son to us. We have not been
given a son; he shall become one. There is enough and to spare for all.
Give up this nonsense of yours. Make Lluellyn come to his senses and
leave his absurd hermit life, and this mad preaching about in the
mountain villages. Come to us at once, both of you. What more could any
one offer you, child? Am I not pleading with you out of my love for you
and my nephew, out of a sincere desire to see you both take your proper
place in the world?"

Lady Kirwan stopped, a little out of breath after her long speech, every
word of which had been uttered with the sincerest conviction and
prompted by real affection.

There was probably no more worldly woman in London than the kindly wife
of the great financier. The world was all in all to her, and she was as
destitute of religion or any knowledge of spiritual things as the parish
pump. She would not have divided her last shilling with any one, but
she was generous with her superfluity.

And certainly one of the great wishes of her life was to see the ancient
family from which she had sprung once more take a great place in life.
She felt within her veins the blood of those old wild princes of the
"stormy hills of Wales"--those Arthurs and Uthers, Caradocs and
Lluellyns innumerable, who had kept their warlike courts in the dear
mountains of her home.

It was monstrous, it was incredible to Lady Kirwan that the last two
survivors of the Lys family in the direct line should live obscure,
strange lives away from the world. Mary Lys a hospital nurse in the East
End! Lluellyn Lys a sort of anchorite and itinerant preacher! It was
inconceivable; it must be stopped.

"I will write to Lluellyn again, auntie," Mary said, rising from her
chair. "But, honestly, I fear it will be of little use. And as for
myself--"

As she spoke the door opened, and a footman entered the room.

"Miss Marjorie has returned, my lady," he said. "She is waiting below in
the motor-brougham. I was to say that if Miss Lys was ready Miss
Marjorie has a free hour, and will drive Miss Lys back to the hospital."

"There, there!" Lady Kirwan said to her niece, "Marjorie will take you
back to that place. It will be more comfortable than a horrid, stuffy
omnibus. Now don't give me any answer at present, but just think over
what I have said very seriously. Come again in a week, and we will have
another talk. Don't be in a hurry to decide. And remember, dear, that
with all your exaggerated ideas of duty, you may owe a duty to your
relations and to society quite as much as to indigent aliens in
Whitechapel. Run along, and be a dear good girl, and be sure you don't
catch some dreadful infectious disease."

A couple of footmen in knee-breeches, silk stockings, and powdered hair
stood on each side of the door. A ponderous butler opened it, another
footman in motor livery jumped down from his seat beside the driver and
held open the door of the brougham.

"All this pomp and circumstance," Mary thought sadly, "to get a poor
hospital nurse out of a house and into a carriage. Four great men are
employed to do so simple a thing as that, and whole families of my dear
people are starving while the breadwinner lies sick in the hospital!"

She sighed heavily, and her face was sad as she kissed the brilliant,
vivacious cousin who was waiting in the brougham.

"Well, you poor dear," Marjorie Kirwan said. "And how are you? I suppose
the usual thing has happened? Mother has been imploring you to take a
proper place in the world--you and my delightfully mysterious cousin
Lluellyn, who is quite like an old Hebrew prophet--and you have said
that you prefer your grubby scarlet-fever friends in Whitechapel!"

Mary nodded.

"Dear auntie," she said. "She is wonderfully kind and good, but she
doesn't quite understand. But don't let us talk about it."

"Very well, then, we won't," Marjorie answered affectionately. "Every
one must gang their own gait! You don't like what I like; I don't like
what you like. The great thing is to be happy, and we're both that. Tell
me something of your work. It always interests me. Have you had any new
adventures in Whitechapel?"

"Everything has been much the same," she said, "except that a very
wonderful personality has come into the hospital."

"Oh, how delightful! A man, of course! Do tell me all about him!"

"His name is Joseph. It sounds odd, but he doesn't seem to use his
surname at all. I did hear it, but I have forgotten. He is simply
Joseph. He was hurt, though not nearly as badly as he might have been,
by some falling planks from a house they were building. But he was in a
dreadfully exhausted and rundown condition--nearly starved indeed. He is
a great scholar and scientist, but he was ruined some years ago because
he made a speech against God and religion at Cambridge, before all the
dignitaries."

"And are you converting him?"

"No. That is no woman's work, with this man. He is in a strange state.
We have nursed him back to something like health, but his mind seems
quite empty. At first, when we had some talks together, he railed
against God--always with the proviso that there wasn't any God! Now he
is changed, with returning health. He is like an empty vessel, waiting
for something to be poured into it. He neither disbelieves nor believes.
Something has washed his mind clear."

"How extraordinary!"

"Extraordinary you say; but listen! Three days ago--it was in the early
evening--he called me to his bedside. He drew his hand from the
bedclothes and laid it on my arm. How I thrilled at the touch, I cannot
explain...."

"But, my dear, think of Tom--This is extraordinary!"

"I've thought of Thomas; but, Marjorie, you cannot know--it was not that
kind of love. It was nothing like love. Perhaps I put it badly, but you
jumped to quite a wrong conclusion. It was something quite different.
His eyes seemed to transfix me. The touch--the eyes--the thrill they
sent through me will remain as long as I live! But listen. He spoke to
me as he hadn't spoken before. 'Mary,' he said--"

"Did he call you _Mary_?"

"He had never done so before--he did then. Before I had always been
'Nurse' to him."

"Well, go on, dear--I am quite interested."

"He said, 'Mary, you are going off duty in a few minutes. Go to the
upper chamber of 24, Grey Street, Hoxton, and walk straight in. There is
one that has need of you.' I was about to expostulate, but he fell back
in exhaustion, and I called the house surgeon."

"You surely didn't go?"

"Yes, I went," Mary went on rapidly. "Something made me go. The low door
of Number 24 was open. I climbed till I got to the top. There was no
light anywhere. It was a miserable foggy evening. I felt for a door and
found one at last. It yielded to my hand and I entered an attic which
was immediately under the roof.

"Nothing could be seen. I had come unprepared for such darkness. But
taking courage I asked aloud if there was any one there.

"There was no answer. Yet I felt--I had a curious certainty--that I was
not alone. I waited--and waited. Then I moved slowly about the room. I
was afraid to move with any freedom for fear of stumbling
over--something or other.

"Suddenly a costermonger's barrow came into the court below. The naphtha
lamps lit up the whole place and the room was suddenly illuminated with
a flickering red light. I could see quite well now.

"I am accustomed to rather dreadful things, as you know, Marjorie--or at
least things which you would think rather dreadful. But I will confess I
was frightened out of my life now. I gave a shriek of terror, and then
stood trembling, utterly unable to move!"

"What was it?"

"I saw a man hanging by a rope to the rafters. His jaw had fallen down,
and his tongue was protruding. I shall never forget how the red light
from the court below glistened on his tongue--His eyes were starting out
of his head.... It was horrible."

"Oh, how frightful! I should have been frightened to death," said
Marjorie, and a cold shiver ran through her whole body, which Mary could
feel as her cousin nestled closer to her in the brougham.

"Yes, it was awful! I had never seen anything so awful before--except
once, perhaps, at an operation for cancer. But do you know, Marjorie, I
was quite unlike my usual self. I was acting under some strange
influence. The eyes of that poor man, Joseph, seemed to be following me.
I acted as I never should have been able to act unless something very
curious and inexplicable was urging me. I knew exactly what I had to do.

"I am experienced in these things, as you know, and I saw at once that
the man who was hanging from the roof was not dead. He was only just
beginning the last agony. There was a big box by the window, and upon a
little table I saw an ordinary table-knife. I dragged the box to the
man's feet, put them upon it, caught hold of the knife, and cut him
down.

"He was a small man, and fell limply back into my arms, nearly knocking
me over the box, but I managed to support him, and staggered down on to
the floor.

"Then I got the rope from round his neck, and tried to restore breathing
by Hall's method--you know, one can use this method by oneself. It is
really the basis of all methods, and is used very successfully in cases
of drowning."

"What did you do then?" Marjorie asked.

"As soon as he began to breathe again I rushed downstairs. In a room at
the bottom of the stairs, which was lit by a little cheap paraffin lamp
there was a horrid old woman, an evil-looking young man, and several
children. The old woman was frying some dreadful sort of fish for
supper, and I was nearly stifled.

"To cut a long story short, I sent the children out for a cab, made the
young fellow come upstairs, and together we brought down the man, who
was in a semi-conscious state. No questions were asked because, as you
know, or at least, as is a fact, a nurse's uniform commands respect
everywhere. I took the man straight to the hospital and managed to hush
the matter up, and to arrange with the house surgeon. Of course I could
not tell the doctors everything, but they trusted me and nothing was
said at all. The man was discharged as cured a few days ago. The poor
fellow had attempted his life in a fit of temporary madness. He was very
nearly starving. There is no doubt at all about it. He proved it to the
satisfaction of the hospital authorities."

"And have you found out who he is?"

"He is a friend of Joseph's--a comrade in his poverty, a journalist
called Hampson, and the garret was where Joseph and he had lived
together."

"Extraordinary is not the word for all this," Marjorie interrupted. "It
almost frightens me to hear about it."

"But even that is not all. When I got back to the hospital after seeing
the would-be suicide in safe keeping, I went straight to my own ward.

"Joseph was awake. He turned to me as I entered, smiled, and said in a
sort of whisper, 'Inasmuch.' I could hear no more.

"From that time his mind seemed to lapse into the same state--a state of
complete blank. He is waiting."

"For what?"

"Ah, here comes the most strange part of it all. I have received an
extraordinary letter from Lluellyn. My brother has strange psychic
powers, Marjorie--powers that have often been manifested in a way which
the world knows nothing of, in a way which you would find it impossible
to believe. In some way my brother has known of this man's presence in
the hospital. Our minds have acted one upon the other over all the vast
material distance which separates us. He wrote to me: 'As soon as the
man Joseph is recovered, send him to me. He will question, but he will
come. The Lord has need of him, for he shall be as a great sword in the
hand of the Most High.'"

Marjorie Kirwan shivered.

"You speak of mystical things," she said. "They are too deep for me.
They frighten me. Mary, you speak as if something was going to happen!
What do you mean?"

"I speak as I feel, dear," Mary answered, with a deep-ringing certainty
in her voice. "How or why, I do not know, but a marvellous thing is
going to happen! I feel the sense of it. It quickens all my life. I
wait for that which is to come. A new force is to be born into the
world, a new light is to be kindled in the present darkness. The lonely
mystic of the mountain and the strange-eyed man who has come into my
life are, even now, in mysterious spiritual communion. This very
afternoon Joseph goes to Lluellyn. I said good-bye to him before I left
the East End. What will be the issue my poor vision cannot tell me yet."

Through the hum the maiden of the world heard Mary's deep, steadfast
voice.

"Something great is going to happen. Now is the acceptable hour!"

It was utterly outside her experience. It was a voice which chilled and
frightened her. She didn't want to hear voices like this.

Even as Mary spoke, Marjorie Kirwan heard a change in her voice. The
brougham was quite still, and the long string of vehicles which were
passing in the other direction were motionless also.

Mary was staring out of the window at a hansom cab that was its
immediate _vis-à-vis_.

Two men were in the cab.

One of them, a small, eager-faced man flushed with excitement, was
bowing to Mary.

The other, taller, and very pale of face, was looking at the hospital
nurse with the wildest and most burning gaze the society girl had ever
seen.

"Who are they?" Marjorie whispered, though even as she asked she knew.

"The man I saved from death," Mary answered, in a low, quivering voice,
"and the man Joseph--Joseph!"

She sank back against the cushions of the carriage in a dead faint.



CHAPTER III

NEARER


Joseph turned to his companion.

His face was white and worn by his long illness, but now it was suddenly
overspread with a ghastly and livid greyness.

He murmured something far down in his throat, and at the inarticulate
sound, Hampson, who had been bowing with a flush of gratitude to Mary,
turned in alarm.

He saw a strange sight, and though he--in common with many others--was
to become accustomed to it in the future, he never forgot his first
impression.

Joseph's head had sunk back against the cushions of the cab. His mouth
was open, the jaw having fallen a little, as though he had no control of
it.

In a flash the terrible thought came to the journalist that his friend
was in the actual throes of death.

Then, in another second or two, just as the block in the traffic ceased,
and the cab moved on again, he knew that Joseph lived. The eyes which at
first were dark and lustreless--had seemed to be turned inward, as it
were--suddenly blazed out into life. Their expression was extraordinary.
It appeared to Hampson as if Joseph saw far away into an illimitable
distance. So some breathless watcher upon a mountain-top, who searched a
far horizon for the coming of a great army might have looked. A huge
eagle circling round the lonely summit of an Alp might have such a
strange light in its far-seeing eyes.

At what was the man looking? Surely it was no narrow vision bounded by
the bricks and mortar, the busy vista of the London Strand!

Then, in a flash, the journalist knew.

Those eyes saw no mortal vision, were not bounded by the material
circumstance of place and time. They looked into the future.

It was thus that Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah looked when the word of
the Lord came to him.

Unconsciously Hampson spoke a verse from Holy Writ:--

"Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord
said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth."

Then Joseph began to speak, and never had his friend heard a man speak
in this fashion.

The lips moved very little. The fixed far-off light remained in the
eyes, the face did not change with the word's as the face of an ordinary
man does.

"I hear a voice; and the voice says to me, 'Thou therefore gird up thy
loins and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not
dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.' The words,
which seemed to come from a vast distance, though they were very keen,
vibrant and clear, dropped in tone, and ceased for a moment. Then once
more they began--

"And I see the woman Mary and the one that was with her. They are with
me upon an hill-top. And they are as maids that have forgotten their
ornaments, and as brides that have not remembered their attire. And
below us I see great cities and busy markets, the movements of
multitudes, and the coming and going of ships. And I see that the maid
and I and those others who are with us upon the mountain pray to God.
And God touches my mouth, and I go down from the hill and those that are
with me, to root out, to pull down and destroy, and to throw down, to
build and to plant."

Trembling with eagerness and excitement, Hampson listened to these
extraordinary words.

Ever since the black hour when he had been rescued from the consequences
of his sudden madness, the journalist had known that there was something
very wonderful about his friend. Hampson could not in justice to himself
blame himself for his attempt at suicide. He knew that he had not been
responsible for what he did. The long privations of his life, the sudden
accident to Joseph in the Whitechapel Road, had been too much for a
sensitive and highly-strung nature. Gradually but surely reason had been
temporarily undermined, and Hampson had only a very slight remembrance
of the events in the fortnight which had preceded his attempt. It was in
the hospital, after the careful nursing and the generous food, that his
brain was restored to its balance. And it was in the hospital also that
Mary Lys had told him of the strange and supernatural occurrence that
had saved his life.

"Nurse," he had said to her, "I know nothing of what you tell me. I was
mad--quite unconscious of what I did. But I have always known that there
was something about my dear friend that tells me that he is not as other
men are. He is a man set apart, though for what end I do not know, and
cannot foresee. But one thing I plainly know and recognize--the Almighty
Father chose Joseph to be the medium by which I was saved. God moves in
a mysterious way, but he has destined my friend for wonderful things."

Mary Lys had agreed with her patient.

"I also have a prescience," she had said, "that Joseph has a work to do
for God. He does not know it. He cannot realize it. He has made no
submission to the Divine Will, but nevertheless he will be an instrument
of It. I know with a strange certainty that this is his high destiny."

The rapid and vivid remembrance of all this went through Hampson's brain
as a bullet goes through a board, when he heard Joseph's last words.

He caught him by the hand, holding the long, wasted fingers in his own,
chafing them to bring back some living warmth into their icy coldness.

The strange voice ceased finally, and Joseph closed his eyes. The rigid
tension of his face relaxed and a little color came back into it.

Then he gave a long sigh, shuddered and once more opened his eyes.

"I feel unwell," he said, in faint and hesitating tones. "I saw our
dear, kind nurse in a carriage with another lady. We were all stopped by
a block in the traffic, weren't we? I saw Nurse Mary, and then I can
remember nothing more. I have been in a faint. I did not know I was
still so weak."

"Don't you remember anything then, Joseph?"

"Nothing at all. But I feel exactly as I felt when I was lying in
hospital, and suddenly fainted there. It was the time when I said those
extraordinary words to nurse and she went and found you, poor old chap,
just in the nick of time."

Hampson quivered with excitement.

"Then you felt just the same sensation a few minutes ago as you did when
you were inspired to save my life by some mysterious influence?"

"Exactly the same. It is a weird feeling. It is as though suddenly my
whole mind and body are filled with a great wind. I seem to lose my
personality entirely, and to be under the dominion of an enormous
overwhelming power and force. Then everything goes away like a stone
falling through water, and I remember nothing until I regain
consciousness."

Hampson took his friend's hand.

"Joseph," he said in tones that were strangely moved and stirred, "have
you yourself no explanation? How do you account for the fact that you
told Nurse Mary to go and save my life?"

"I suppose it was owing to some sort of telepathy. The mind, so I
believe, gives off waves of electricity exactly like the instrument
which sends the wireless telegraphy messages. You know that if a
receiver in Marconi's system is tuned exactly to the pitch of a
transmitter it picks up the messages automatically, even if they are
not intended for it in the first instance. Some thought wave from your
sub-conscious brain must have reached mine when you were preparing to
hang yourself. That is the only explanation possible."

"No, Joseph," Hampson answered. "It is not the only explanation. There
is another, and if you could know the words that you spoke in your
trance but a few moments ago, you would think as I do."

"Did I speak? What did I say?"

"I think I will not tell you yet. Some day I will tell you. But I am
certain that every act of yours, every word you say, and every step you
take, are under special and marvellous guidance. The Holy Spirit is
guiding and leading you."

Joseph made a slight movement with his hand. There was something almost
petulant in the gesture.

"Let us not talk of that," he said. "I think we are agreed not to speak
of it. Certainly I will own that some curious things have happened. That
there is a destiny that shapes our ends may possibly be true. But that
any man does know anything of the nature and qualities of that destiny I
am unable to believe. You and that dear, sweet Nurse Mary have put your
own interpretation on the strange events of the last few weeks.
Certainly I seem to be the sport of some dominating influence. I admit
it, my friend. But it is coincidence, and nothing more. In my weaker
moments I have something of this sense; in my stronger ones I know that
it cannot be so."

"Well, Joseph, we shall see what the future has in store. For my part I
am certain it is big with events for you."

"I shall owe everything to Nurse Mary," Joseph answered, changing the
conversation. "It was extraordinarily kind of her to write to her
brother, and ask him to have me as his guest until I recover! Such
charity is rare in life. I have not often met with it, at any rate, on
my way through the world."

"She is a saint," Hampson answered, with deep reverence in his voice.

"She is something very like it," Joseph answered. "Some day I hope to
repay her. This long stay in the beautiful Welsh hills will give me the
necessary strength and quietness of nerve to get to work again. The
brother, I understand, is a sort of mystic. He lives a hermit's life,
and is a sort of mountain prophet. It is a strange thing, Hampson, that
I should be going as a pauper to stay with the brother of a dear girl
who took pity on my misfortunes! They have given me the money for my
journey. When I am well again I shall be given the money to return to
London, I, who am a graduate of Cambridge, and I may say it without
ostentation, a mathematician of repute, depend for my present sustenance
upon the charity of strangers. Yet I don't feel in the least
embarrassed. That is more curious than anything else. I have a sense
that my troubles are over now, that I shall come into my own again. We
are nearly at the station, are we not?"

Hampson made some ordinary remark of assent. He knew the history of the
almost incredible circumstances which had led to this journey of Joseph
to Wales. He had seen the letter from Lluellyn Lys which bade Mary to
send the man Joseph to him.

But Joseph did not know.

The patient had been told nothing of the mysterious circumstances that
had brought about this plan of his journey. Joseph simply thought that
he was invited to stay with Mary's brother, so that he might get well
and strong and recover power to enter the battle of life once more. But
Hampson was quite certain that before many days had passed his friend
would realize not only the truth about his mysterious summons, but also
the eternal truths of the Divine forces which were animating his
unconscious will and bringing him nearer and nearer to the consummation
of a Will which was not of this world, and of which he was the
instrument.

The cab was rolling through the wide squares and streets of Bloomsbury.
In three or four minutes it would arrive at Euston.

"You will soon be in splendid health, old fellow," Hampson said, anxious
to turn the conversation into an ordinary and conventional channel.
"Meanwhile, I'll have a cigarette. You mustn't smoke, of course, but you
won't grudge me the single comfort that my poor health allows me?"

He felt in his pocket for the packet of cigarettes that he had bought
that morning. Then, quite suddenly, he paused.

A sense of the tremendous incongruity of the present situation came to
him.

He was riding in a London cab to a London station. He was going to see a
sick friend start in a modern train for healing airs and a quiet sojourn
among the hills.

And yet--and yet he firmly believed--almost knew, indeed--that this
friend, this man who was called Joseph, was, so to speak, under the
especial convoy of the Holy Ghost!

It was incredible! Were there indeed miracles going on each day in the
heart of modern London? Was the world the same, even now, as it was in
the old, dim days when Jesus the Lord walked among the valleys and the
hills of Palestine?

Euston and cabs, and yet the modern world was full of mystery, of
wonder. Yes, indeed, God ruled now as He had always ruled.

Joseph was going towards some divinely-appointed goal! He had been told
nothing of the vision which had made Lluellyn Lys, the recluse of Wales,
write to Mary, commanding her to send him to his mountains. He was
moving blindly to meet his destiny.

Yet soon Joseph also would know what his friends knew. And with that
knowledge--

Hampson's thoughts had passed through his brain in a single instant,
while he was feeling for the cigarettes. He withdrew his hand
mechanically from his pocket and found that it grasped a letter--a
letter which had not been opened.

"Hullo," he said, "I have quite forgotten about my letter! It came by
the afternoon post just as I was leaving my room to go to the hospital
and meet you. I put it in my pocket and then thought no more about it."

He began to open the type-written envelope.

Joseph said nothing, but gazed out upon the panorama of the London
streets with dreamy eyes. He was thinking deeply.

Suddenly he was startled by an exclamation from Hampson.

Turning, he saw that the little man's face was alive with excitement and
flushed with pleasure.

"What is it, my dear fellow?" he asked.

"The most wonderful thing, Joseph! Fortune and prosperity at last! The
big newspaper firm of Rees--Sir David Rees is the head of it--have
offered me the editorship of their religious weekly, _The Sunday
Friend_. I have written a dozen articles or so for them from time to
time, and I suppose this is the result! I am to go and see Mr. Marston,
the managing editor, to-morrow."

The words tumbled breathlessly from his lips--he could hardly articulate
them in his enthusiasm and excitement. Joseph pressed his friend's hand.
He knew well what this opportunity meant to the conscientious and
hard-working little journalist, who had never had a chance before.

It meant freedom from the terrible and nerve-destroying hunt for
food--the horrible living from meal to meal--the life of an animal in
this regard, at least, but without the animal's faculties for satisfying
its hunger. It meant that Hampson's real talent would now be expressed
in its fullest power.

"I cannot congratulate you enough, dear friend," he said in a voice
which trembled with emotion. "Of all men, you deserve it. I cannot say
how happy this makes me, my friend, my brother--for it is as brothers
that you and I have lived this long while. I always knew your chance
would come. In the long run it always comes to those who are worthy of
it. To some it comes early, to others late, but it always comes."

"It means everything to me, Joseph," Hampson answered. "And think what
it will mean to you also! When you return cured and robust from Wales I
shall be able to give you regular employment. You will be able to write
any amount of articles for me. It means safety and a new start for us
both."

For some curious reason Joseph did not immediately reply.

Then he spoke slowly, just as the cab rolled under the massive archway
which guards the station courtyard.

"Thank you, indeed!" he answered. "But when you spoke, I had a sort of
presentiment that I should never need your aid. I can't account for it,
but it was strong and sudden."

"Oh, don't say that, old fellow! You must not be morbid, you know. You
will outlive most of us, without a doubt."

"I did not mean that I felt that I should die, Hampson. Rather a
sensation came to me that I was about to enter some new and strange life
which--"

The cab stopped.

"You and the porter must help me down," Joseph said, with a faint,
musing smile of singular sweetness and--so Hampson thought--of inward
anticipation and hope.

There was yet half an hour before the train was to start. It had been
thought better that Joseph should make a night journey to Wales. The
weather was very hot, and he would have more chance of rest.

"I'll take you to the waiting-room," Hampson said, "and then I will go
and get your ticket and some papers. I have told the porter who has your
bag what train you are going by. And the guard will come and see if you
want anything."

Joseph waited in the dingy, empty room while Hampson went away.

It was the ordinary bare, uncomfortable place with the hard leather
seats, the colored advertisements of seaside resorts, and the long,
heavy table shining with hideous yellow varnish.

Hampson seemed a long time, Joseph thought, though when he looked up at
the clock over the mantel-shelf he saw that the journalist had only been
gone about four minutes.

The waiting-room was absolutely silent save for the droning of a huge
blue fly that was circling round and round in the long beam of dusty
sunlight which poured in from one window.

The noise of the station outside seemed far away--a drowsy diapason.

Joseph, soothed by the distant murmur, leaned back in his chair and
emptied his mind of thought.

Then his eye fell idly and carelessly upon an open book that lay upon
the table.

The book was a copy of the Holy Bible, one of those large print books
which a pious society presents to places of temporary sojourn, if
perchance some passing may fall upon the Word of God and find comfort
therein.

From where he sat, however, Joseph could not see what the book was.

Nevertheless, for some strange reason or other, it began to fascinate
him. He stared at it fixedly, as a patient stares at a disc of metal
given him by the trained hypnotist of a French hospital when a trance is
to be induced.

Something within began to urge him to rise from his seat, cross the
room, and see exactly what it was that lay there. The prompting grew
stronger and stronger, until it filled his brain with an intensity of
compulsion such as he had never known before.

He resented the extraordinary influence bitterly. A mad, unreasoning
anger welled up within him.

"I will not go!" he said aloud. "Nothing in the world shall make me go!"

All that an ordinary spectator--had there been one in the
waiting-room--would have seen was a pale-faced man staring at the table.

Yet, nevertheless, a wild battle was going on, almost frightful in its
strength and power, though the end of it came simply enough.

The man could bear the fierce striving against this unknown and
mysterious compulsion no longer. His will suddenly dissolved, melted
away, fell to pieces like a child's house of cards, and with a deep sigh
that was almost a groan he rose and moved unsteadily towards the table.

He looked down at the book.

At first there was a mist before his eyes; then it rolled up like a
curtain and these words sprang out clear and vividly distinct from the
printed page: "But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy."



CHAPTER IV

ON THE MOUNTAIN


The long journey was over. A company of grave-faced men had met Joseph
at a little wayside station. On one side stretched the sea, on the other
great mountains towered up into the still, morning air.

It was early dawn. The sun in its first glory sent floods of joyous
light over the placid waters. How splendid the air was--this ozone-laden
breeze of the ocean--how cool, invigorating, and sweet!

Joseph turned to a tall, white-haired old man who seemed to be the
leader of the band of people who stood upon the platform.

"I have come to a new world," he said simply.

"Blessed be the name of the Lord who has sent you to Wales," came the
answer in deep and fervent tones.

Joseph looked at the man and his companions with astonishment. Why had
Lluellyn Lys, the mysterious recluse and hermit of the mountains, sent
these people to meet him? Why was there such a look of respect, almost
of awe, upon the face of each man there, such eagerness and
anticipation? It was all incomprehensible, utterly strange. He felt at a
loss what to do or say.

He bowed, and then, as if in a dream, mingled with the group and passed
out of the station. A carriage with two horses was waiting. By the side
of it stood the station-master; the man's peaked cap was in his hand,
and his face was lit up with welcome.

"The Teacher is waiting for you, sir," he said.

In a state of mind which was almost hypnotic Joseph was helped into the
carriage. Three of the people who had come to meet him entered also, and
they started up along the white mountain-road. Joseph felt that this
progress was all too slow. He was going to a definite goal; he had come
this vast distance to meet some one, and he was impatient of delay.

He looked up. High above his head the great slate mountain towered into
the sky, a white cap of cloud hid the summit.

The prospect was august, and it thrilled him strangely. In that great
cloud--like the cloud upon Sinai--what might lie hid? He was conscious
of strange unseen forces, whose depths, measures, or intensity he could
not understand, round him and controlling him. His life was utterly
changed. The hard wall of materialism against which he had leant his
sick life for support was melting and dissolving.

He gazed upwards once more at the great mountain.

Lluellyn Lys, the mysterious Teacher, was there! Who and what was this
man of the mountains, this teacher who was so revered? Mary's brother,
the brother of the beautiful girl who had saved him and sent him to
these wild solitudes of Wales.

Mary's brother, yes; but what besides? And what was Lluellyn Lys to be
to him?

       *       *       *       *       *

They came to a point at which the road ended and died away into a mere
grass track.

The old man who sat by Joseph's side rose from his seat and left the
carriage.

"Master," he said, and, as he said it, Joseph bowed his head and could
not look at him. "Master, here the road ends, and we must take you up
the mountain-side to the Teacher by a steep path."

Another deep Celtic voice broke in upon the old man's speech.

"Ay, it is a steep path to the Teacher, Lluellyn is ever near to
Heaven!"

Joseph had never heard Welsh before. He did not know a single word of
that old tongue which all our ancestors of Britain used before ever St.
Augustine came to England's shores with the news and message of Christ's
death and passion.

Yet, at that moment Joseph _understood exactly what the man said_. The
extraordinary fact did not strike him at the time, it was long
afterwards that he remembered it as one of the least of the wondrous
things that had befallen him.

He answered at once without a moment's pause.

"Lead on," he said; "I am with you. Take me to Lluellyn, the Teacher!"

Joseph turned. He saw that by the wayside there was a rough arm-chair
hung between two long poles. Still moving as a man in a dream, he sat
down on it. In a moment he was lifted up on the shoulders of four men,
and began to ascend a narrow, winding path among the heather.

On and up! On and up!

Now they have passed out of ordinary ways, and are high upon the
trackless hills. A dead silence surrounds them; the air is keen and
life-giving; the workaday world seems very far away.

On and up! Joseph is carried to his fate. Suddenly the old man who
walked in front stopped.

"Blessed be him who cometh in the name of the Lord!" he cried, in a
deep, musical voice that woke thunderous echoes in the lonely way.

For near upon an hour the strange procession continued among the heather
and bracken, through wild defiles and passes. At last, with singular and
startling suddenness, the party entered the huge mass of fleecy cloud
that veiled the mountain-top. All around was thick, impenetrable mist.
Everything was blotted out by the thick curtain, the footsteps of the
chair-bearers sounded like footsteps upon wool.

Then, without any other intimation than a few low words from the leader
of the party, the journey came to an end, the chair was carefully
lowered to the ground, and Joseph alighted.

A huge granite boulder stood close by. He sat down upon it, wondering
with eager curiosity what was to happen next, looking round him with
keen, searching eyes in a vain endeavor to pierce the ghostly, swaying
walls of mist which hemmed him in on every side.

The old man stepped up to him.

"Master," he said again, "our business is at an end. We have brought you
to the place where we have been told to bring you, and must say
farewell until we meet again."

Joseph started.

"I do not understand," he said, in a voice into which something almost
like fear had come....

"I do not understand. Do you mean to leave me here alone? I am a sick
man. I know nothing of where I am. Where is Lluellyn Lys?"

His voice sounded strained and almost shrill in its discomfort and
surprise.

If the old man appreciated the intonation in the voice of his questioner
he did not show it.

"Have no fear, master," he said. "What I do, I do by command of the
Teacher. No harm will come to you."

Joseph suddenly seemed to wake from his dream. A great sense of
irritation, almost of anger, began to animate him. He was once more the
old Joseph--the man who had walked with Hampson in the Commercial Road
before the accident had struck him down.

"That's all very well," he said sharply. "Perhaps no harm will happen to
me, but will Mr. Lluellyn Lys come to me? That is the question in which
I am particularly interested at this moment. I don't know in the least
where I am! I am too feeble to walk more than a few yards. I can't stay
here alone until--"

He found that he was speaking to the air, the white and lonely mist.
Suddenly, without a word of answer, his strange conductors had melted
away--withdrawn and vanished.

He was alone on a mountain-top in Wales, surrounded by an impenetrable
curtain of mist, unable to move in any direction. What was all this?

Was he the victim of some colossal trick, some cruel hoax, some immense
and indefensible practical joke?

It was difficult to believe it, and yet he cursed his folly in accepting
this strange invitation to Wales. What a foolish and unconsidered
business it all seemed--now that he sat alone in the white stillness,
the terrible solitude.

Still, mad as the action seemed to him now, he remembered that it was
the result of a long chain of coincidences. Certainly--yes, of that
there could be no doubt--he seemed to have been led to this place.
Something stronger than himself had influenced him. No, he was not here
by chance--

Had he fallen asleep?

Still he sat upon the lichen-covered boulder, still the grey curtain of
the mist hid all the mountain world.

Yet what was that sound--that deep, ringing voice which sounded in his
ears, falling from some distant height, falling through the air like an
arrow?

A voice! A voice! And these were the words it chanted--

"Rise up, Joseph, and come to me! Fear not, for God is with you! Come to
me, that the things that are appointed may be done!"

The great voice rolled through the mist like a cathedral bell.

Cold and trembling, Joseph rose to his feet. One hand rested against
the granite rock to support him as he answered, in a loud cry of
terror--

"Who are you? What is this? Are you the man Lluellyn? I cannot come. I
know not where to come. I am too weak to move. I am frightened."

Again the organ voice came pealing through the gloom.

"Joseph, Joseph, rise up and come! Come and fear not, for the power of
the Holy Ghost broods upon the mountains."

Joseph stood for a moment trembling, and swaying from side to side. Then
he was conscious of the most extraordinary sensation of his life.

Through the mist, invisible, impalpable, a great current of FORCE seemed
flowing to him and around him.

It poured into every fibre of his being, body, mind, and soul alike. It
was not a delusion. It was wonderfully, marvellously real. Each second
he grew stronger, power returned to his tired limbs, the weariness left
his brain. He called out aloud--

"Teacher, I am coming to you!" And, with the swinging, easy step of a
man in perfect health, together with the ease and certainty of a
practised mountaineer, he began to climb upward through the mist.

It was as though he was floating on air, buoyant as a bird is. On and on
he went, and all the while the invisible electric force poured into him
and gave him strength and power.

Suddenly thin yellow beams of sunshine began to penetrate and irradiate
the thick white blanket of mist. Stronger and stronger they grew,
throwing a thousand prismatic colors on the thinning vapor, until at
last Joseph emerged into full and glorious day.

This is what he saw.

The actual top of the mountain was only two or three yards above him,
and formed a little rock-strewn plateau some twenty or thirty yards
square--now bathed in vivid sunshine.

Against a cairn of boulders in the exact centre of the space a tall man
was standing.

Both his arms were stretched out rigidly towards Joseph, the _fingers of
each hand outspread and pointing to him_, as he emerged from the
fog-belt with the sunshine. The man, who wore a long black cloak, was
well over six feet high, and very thin. His face was pale, but the
strong, rugged features gave it an impression of immense vitality and
force.

Joseph stopped in sudden amazement at the sight of this strange figure
up in the clouds. He suddenly remembered a picture he had seen showing
Dante standing upon a great crag, and looking down into the abyss of the
Inferno.

Lluellyn Lys looks like that--exactly like that, Joseph thought.

He went straight up to the Teacher. As he did so, Lluellyn's arms
suddenly collapsed and fell loosely to his sides. His eyes, which had
been fixed steadily upon Joseph, closed with a simultaneous movement,
and he leant back against the cairn as if utterly exhausted.

But this was only for a moment. As Joseph came up to him he roused
himself, and his face lit up with welcome. The Teacher's smile was
singularly winning and sweet--it was just like Mary's smile, Joseph
thought--but it was also a very sad smile.

"Brother," Lluellyn said, "the peace of God be with you. May you be full
of the Holy Ghost, that you may better accomplish those high things for
which the Father has destined you, and for which He has brought you
here."

Joseph took Lluellyn's hand, and was about to answer him when the former
sank back once more against the boulders. His face grew white as linen,
and he seemed about to swoon.

"You are ill!" Joseph cried in alarm. "What can I do to help you?"

"It is nothing," Lluellyn answered in a moment or two. "I have been
giving you of my strength, Joseph, that you might mount the last stage
of your journey. The voice of the Lord came to me as I communed here
with Him, and the Holy Spirit sent the power to you through this
unworthy body of mine."

Joseph bowed.

"I am moving in deep waters," he said. "Many strange and wonderful
things have happened to me of late. My mind is shaken, and my old life
with its old point of view already seems very far away. But let me say,
first, how much I appreciate your extreme kindness in asking me here,
through Miss Lys. As Miss Mary will have told you, I am a poor, battered
scholar with few friends, and often hard put to live at all. Your
kindness will enable me to recover after my accident."

Lluellyn took Joseph by the arm.

He led him to the edge of the plateau.

"Look!" he said.

The mist had gone. From that great height they looked down the steep,
pine-clothed sides of the mountain to the little white village, far, far
below. Beyond was the shining, illimitable ocean.

"The world is very fair," Joseph said.

"The world is very fair because God is immanent in all things. God is in
the sea, and on the sides of the hills. The Holy Ghost broods over those
distant waters, and is with us here in this high place. Joseph, from the
moment when the cross-wise timbers struck you down in Whitechapel, until
this very moment now, you have been led here under the direct guidance
of the Holy Ghost. There is a certain work for you to do."

Joseph looked at the tall man with the grave, sweet smile in startled
astonishment.

"What do I bring?" he said. "I, the poor, battered wreck, the unknown,
the downtrodden? What do I bring _you_?"

Lluellyn looked Joseph in the face, and placed one long, lean hand upon
his shoulder.

"Ask rather what you bring God," he said. "It were a more profitable
question. For me, in the power and guidance of the Lord, it is ordained
that you bring one thing only."

"And what is that?"

"Death!" said Lluellyn Lys.



CHAPTER V

THE POURING


Lluellyn Lys lived in a cottage on the side of the mountain where Joseph
had first been taken to meet him. His small income was enough for his
almost incredibly simple wants, and an ancient widow woman who loved and
reverenced him more than anything else in the world kept the cottage for
him, milked the cow, and did such frugal cooking as was necessary.

Lluellyn was known far and wide in that part of Wales. The miners, the
small crofting farmers, and the scattered shepherds revered and honored
the mysterious "Teacher" as men of God, were revered in the old times.

His influence was very great in the surrounding mining villages; he had
been able to do what sometimes even the parish priests had tried in
vain. The drunkard, the man of a foul and blasphemous tongue,
loose-livers and gamblers, had become sober and God-fearing folk, with
their hearts set upon the Eternal Light.

No one knew when the tall ascetic figure would appear among them with a
strange appropriateness. It was said that he possessed the gift of
second sight, and many extraordinary stories were told of him.

His sermons were wonderful in their directness and force, their strange
magnetic power. He had a mysterious knowledge of men's hearts, and would
often make a personal appeal to some sinner who had stayed to hear
him--an appeal full of such accurate and intimate knowledge of his
listener's inner life and secret actions that it appeared miraculous.

And in addition to this power of divination, it was whispered that the
Teacher possessed the power of healing, that his touch had raised the
sick from couches of pain. It was certain that several people who had
been regarded as at death's door had recovered with singular rapidity
after Lluellyn had paid them one or two visits. But in every case the
folk who had got well refused to speak of their experiences, though it
was remarked that their devotion to the recluse became almost
passionate.

A continual mystery enveloped him. Sometimes no one saw him for weeks.
He would spend day after day locked up in the room he used in the
cottage, and people who had climbed the mountain to seek him, were told
by the housekeeper that it was impossible, and that she herself had not
looked upon his face for many days.

Occasionally some late returning shepherd or miner would see the tall,
dark figure kneeling, lost in prayer, on the summit of some cloudy peak,
or the edge of some terrible abyss--stark and sharply outlined in the
moonlight.

And then again would come those sudden periods of mighty activity, of
great gatherings on the hillside, fiery words of warning and
exhortation in the villages.

       *       *       *       *       *

Joseph had been with Lluellyn Lys for ten days. After the first strange
meeting on the mountain, when the Teacher had uttered the enigmatic word
"Death!" he had refused to give his newly arrived guest any explanation
of his saying.

"Brother," he said, "ask me not anything of the meaning of these things.
The time when they shall be revealed is not yet come, neither do I
myself see clearly in what manner they shall be accomplished."

Lluellyn had prayed.

"You are faint with the long journey, Joseph," he said, "but my house is
not far away, where you will find food and rest. But first let us pray
for a blessing upon your arrival, and that all things may befall as Our
Lord would have them."

And there, in the glorious noontide sunshine, on the highest point of
that great mountain from which they could survey the distant, shining
sea, and range beyond range of mighty hills, the two men knelt down and
prayed.

Joseph knelt with folded hands by the side of the Teacher.

It did not seem strange to him that he should do this. He no longer knew
the fierce revolt of the intellect against the promptings of the
conscience and the soul.

Rebellion had ceased. He bowed his head in prayer.

"Oh, Holy Ghost, descend upon us now, upon two sinful men, and fill us
with Thyself. Fill and permeate us with Thy divine power. Send down Thy
blessing upon us, and especially guard and influence Joseph that those
things which Thou hast designed for him be not too heavy for him.

"In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Three in One,
and One in Three--Amen."

Then had come a ten minutes' descent, by an easier path on the other
side of the principal cone, till the house of the Teacher was reached.

Joseph, after a simple meal, had fallen asleep. He was wearied to death,
and when the housekeeper told him that he had slept for a whole
revolution of the clock hands his surprise was great.

For the first two or three days of his stay Joseph saw but little of his
host. They met at the frugal midday and evening repasts, but that was
all. Even then Lluellyn talked but little, though his manner was always
kind and almost deferential.

The Teacher, so his guest could not avoid thinking, regarded him from
some standpoint which he could not enter into. Lluellyn spoke to, and
regarded Joseph as if he were a man set apart, for some reason or other.

It was very mysterious and piqued the convalescent's curiosity,
sometimes to an almost unbearable degree. There were constant veiled
references to the future, hints of a time to come--of some imminent
happening of tremendous importance.

What was to happen? How was he concerned in these matters? This was the
question that Joseph constantly asked himself with growing impatience
and nervous anticipation.

After the first three days Joseph saw more of his host. They went for
walks together over the hills, and once or twice the guest was present
at a great gathering on the mountain-side, when Lluellyn preached to the
people, and swayed them as the wind sways a field of corn.

More and more Joseph began to realize the holiness of this man with whom
he lived. His love for God and for men glowed within him like a white
flame. Joseph no longer said or believed that there was no God. His
experiences had been too wonderful for that. It was impossible for any
sane mind to be with Lluellyn Lys daily and not to recognize that some
influence which was supernormal both in essence and fact made him what
he was.

But Christ? Ah, that was a different matter! As yet the Man of Sorrows
had touched no responsive chord in Joseph's heart.

It was, then, under these conditions, and while his mental development
was just at this point, that the finger of God moved at last, and the
stupendous drama of Joseph's life began.

He had been alone all day, and as evening fell went out to see if he
could find Lluellyn. There was a sense of loneliness upon him. For some
reason or other he felt forsaken and forlorn. After all, life was
empty, and held very little for him.

Such were his thoughts as he walked along a familiar path towards an
ancient Druid circle, some half a mile from the cottage, where he
thought he might find his host.

A faint watery moonlight illuminated the path among the heather, a wan
and spectral radiance, which gave the mountain-pass a strange, unearthly
aspect.

And as Joseph walked there, with a heavy heart, he became aware that
some one was coming towards him. It was not Lluellyn Lys. Of that he was
certain, an instinct told him so.

The figure came rapidly and noiselessly over the heath, and as it came
Joseph began to tremble. His knees knocked together, his tongue clave to
the roof of his mouth, the palms of his hands were wet.

Yet, as far as we may judge, it was not unmixed fear that Joseph felt.
Never, at any time, did he describe his sensations at that supreme
moment.

When questioned afterwards he was always silent.

But it was not all fear.

The figure drew nearer until at last it stood in the centre of the path,
closing the way to the wanderer.

The dark moors, the faint and spectral sky, the whole visible world
flashed away. There was a noise in Joseph's ears as of many waters, and
through the great rush that was overwhelming him, body, mind, and soul,
he seemed to hear a voice speaking--

Then a thick darkness blotted out all sensation, and he knew no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

Joseph tried to lift his arm. He was conscious of the desire to do so,
but for some reason or other he was unable to move it for a moment.

The arm felt like lead.

Slowly--and this also was with an effort--he opened his eyes.

He was in bed, lying in the familiar room at Lluellyn's cottage, though
how he had come there he had no idea whatever.

His eyes wandered vaguely round the place, and as they grew accustomed
to conscious use he saw that some changes had been made in the aspect of
the room. A table had been removed, and a larger one substituted for it.
The new table was covered with bottles--square bottles with white labels
pasted on them. And there was a faint medicinal smell in the air also.
Then, a sofa-couch had made its appearance which had not been there
before. What did it all mean?

Suddenly the memory of the figure that had walked towards him upon the
moor when all was late and dark came back to him in a rush of sensation.
Why had everything flashed away as that silent figure approached? Who or
what was it that had come noiselessly upon him through the gloom? Why
had he been struck down?

Struck down? Yes; that was what had happened. He began to think a little
more clearly. He had been struck down, and now, of course, he was ill.
They had found him on the moor probably, and brought him back to the
cottage.

He began to realize more and more that he was ill--very ill. He tried to
turn in bed, and could hardly do so. Once more he endeavored to lift the
arm that felt like a limb of lead, and, partially succeeding, he saw
that it was thin and wasted.

There was a chair standing not far away from the bed, and on it a copy
of a religious journal. He started. His eye had fallen upon the date of
the paper.

Slowly and painfully he recalled the date of his first arrival in
Wales--the expiration of time since his sojourn with the Teacher began
until the date indicated upon the front page of the journal.

There could be no doubt about it, he had been lying unconscious of the
outside world, and heedless of the passage of time, for at least eight
days--possibly even more.

He gave a little gasp of astonishment--a gasp which was almost a
moan--and as he did so the door of the bedroom opened, and Mrs. Price,
the old housekeeper, entered.

She came straight up to the bedside and looked down upon Joseph. There
was something very strange in the expression of the old, wrinkled face.
It was changed from its usual expression of resigned and quiet joy.
There were red circles round the eyes, as if she had been weeping; the
kind old mouth was drawn with pain.

"Ah, my dear," she said to Joseph, "you've come to yourself at last! It
was what the doctor said--that it would be about this time that you
would come to. The Lord be praised!"

Joseph tried to answer her. The words came slowly from his lips. He
articulated with difficulty, and his voice was strange to his own ears.

"Have I been ill long?"

"For near ten days, sir, you have lain at death's door. The doctor from
Penmaenbach said that you would surely die. But the Teacher knew that
you would not. And oh, and oh, woe's the day when you came here!"

With a sudden convulsive movement, the old lady threw her hands up into
the air, and then burst into a passion of weeping.

Joseph had heard her with a languid interest. His question was answered;
he knew now exactly what had happened, but he was still too weak and
weary for anything to have much effect upon him. Yet the sudden tears
and the curious words of the kindly old dame troubled him.

"I am sorry," he said faintly. "I know that I must have been a great
trouble to you. But I had no idea I should fall ill again."

For answer she stooped over and kissed him upon the forehead.

"Trouble!" she cried, through her tears. "That's no word to say to me. I
spoke hastily, and what I said I said wrongly. It was the Teacher that
was in my mind. But it is all the will of the Lord to Whom all must
bow--you'll take your medicine now, if you please."

So she ended, with a sudden descent from high matters to the practical
occupations of the ministering angel.

Joseph drank the potion which the old lady held to his lips. Her arm was
round his head as she raised it, her brown, tear-stained face was close
to his.

He felt a sudden rush of affection for her. In the past he had ever been
a little cold in his relations with all men and women. Save, perhaps,
for Hampson, the journalist, he had not experienced anything like love
for his kind. Yet now he felt his heart going out to this dear old
nurse, and, more than that even, something cold and hard within him
seemed to have melted. He realized in his mind, as a man may realize a
whole vast landscape in a sudden flash of lightning, how much love there
was in the world after all.

Even as his whole weak frame was animated by this new and gracious
discovery, the door of the bedroom opened once more and Lluellyn Lys
came in.

Mrs. Price turned from the bed upon which Joseph was lying, and went up
to the Teacher.

She caught him by the arm--Joseph was witness of it all--and bowed her
head upon it. Then once more she began to sob.

"Oh, man, man," she said, "I've loved ye and tended ye for many years
now. And my father, and my mother, and my people for a hundred years
before, have served the house of Lys. But you have led me from the
bondage of darkness and sin into peace and light. Ye brought me to the
Lord Jesus, Lluellyn Lys. Aye and the Holy Ghost came down upon me when
I gave my heart to the Lord! And now, 'tis near over, 'tis all near
done, and my heart is bitter heavy, Lys. Master, my heart is bowed down
with woe and grief!"

Lluellyn gently took the poor old thing by the arm. He led her to the
bedside where Joseph lay.

"Old friend," he said--"dear old faithful friend and servant, it is not
me whom you must call Master any more. My work is nearly done, the time
of my departure draws near. Here is your Master."

The old dame, clinging to Lluellyn's arm, looked down at Joseph. Then
she started violently, and began to tremble like an autumn leaf in the
wind.

The old face, browned by a thousand days of mountain sun and storm, grew
pale under its tan. She looked up into Lluellyn's eyes with an
interrogation that was almost fierce in its intensity.

"I see something, Lys!" she said. "I see something! What does it
mean--what is it, Master? I never saw it before!"

Lluellyn answered her gravely and slowly.

"I know not," he said, "save only that it is God's will. All has not yet
been revealed to me. But I shall know soon, very soon, Anna, old friend.
And, as you are a godly woman of the Lord, I charge you that you go with
this man when he departs from this place. Leave us now, Anna. I have
somewhat to do with Joseph."

As his voice fell and ceased, the old lady went weeping from the room.

For some little time there was a dead silence in the place.

Joseph's brain was in a whirl, but his eyes were fixed upon the tall
figure of the Teacher.

Lluellyn Lys was strangely altered. His thin form was thinner still.
Always fragile in appearance, he now seemed as if a breath would blow
him away. His face and hands were deathly white, and his whole
appearance suggested a man almost bloodless, from whom all vitality had
been literally drained away.

"You are ill, Lluellyn," Joseph said at length.

The Teacher shook his head.

"No, dear friend," he answered. "I do what I have to do, that is all."

As he spoke, he drew a chair up to the bedside, and, stretching out his
long, thin hands, placed the finger-tips of one upon Joseph's forehead,
and those of the other upon his pulse.

A dim memory, faint and misty, came to Joseph of his recent illness.
Lluellyn had sat in this position before, the touch of his fingers was
familiar somehow or other, the stooping form awoke a chord of memory.

"Why," he said, "since I have been ill you have been doing this many
times. It is all coming back to me. What are you doing?"

Lluellyn smiled faintly.

"I am giving you strength for the work God intends you to do," he said.
"Do not talk, Joseph. Lie very still, and fix your thoughts on God."

Already the Teacher's voice seemed thin and far away to Joseph. It was
as though he was moving rapidly away from Lluellyn, carried by a strange
force, a vital fluid which was pouring into his veins.

He experienced exactly the same sensation as when he had first climbed
the mountain-top to meet Lluellyn--that of receiving power, of being a
vessel into which life itself was flowing.

At some time or another most people have been under the influence of an
anæsthetic, if only for the extraction of a tooth. Joseph now began to
lose consciousness in exactly the same way, rapidly, with a sense of
falling and a roaring noise in the ears.

The falling motion seemed to stop, the noise ceased, everything was
dark.

Then the black swayed like a curtain. Light came swiftly and silently,
and in one single moment Joseph saw stretched before him and below him a
vast panorama.

It was London that he saw, but in a way that no human eye has ever
beheld the modern Babylon. Nor does the word "saw" accurately express
the nature of the vision.

He apprehended rather than saw. The inner spiritual eye conveyed its
message to the brain far more clearly and swiftly than even the delicate
lenses and tissues of the flesh can ever do. Color, form, movement, all
these were not seen physically, but felt in the soul.

He had passed out of the dimensions of mortal things into another state.

London lay below him, and in the spirit he heard the noise of its
abominations, and saw the reek of its sin hanging over it like a vast,
lurid cloud.

They say, and the fact is well authenticated, that a drowning man sees
the whole of his past life, clear, distinct, minutely detailed, in a
second of time.

It was with some such flash as this that Joseph saw London. He did not
see a picture or a landscape of it. He did not receive an impression of
it. He saw it _whole_. He seemed to know the thoughts of every human
heart, nothing was secret from him.

His heart was filled with a terrible anguish, a sorrow so profound and
deep, so piercing and poignant, that it was even as death--as bitter as
death. He cried out aloud, "Lord Jesus, purge this city, and save the
people. Forgive them, O Lord, out of Thy bountiful goodness and mercy! I
that am as dust and ashes have taken it upon me to speak to the Lord. O
Lord, purge this city of its abominations, and save this Thy servant.
Teach me to love Thee and to labor for Thee!"

The vision changed. Into Joseph's heart there came an ineffable glow of
reverence and love. In its mighty power it was supersensual, an ecstasy
for which there are no words, a love in which self passed trembling away
like a chord of music, a supreme awe and adoration.

For he thought that a face was looking upon him, a face full of the
Divine love, the face of Our Lord.

A voice spoke in his heart--or was it an actual physical voice?--

"Lo, this has touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and
thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I
send, and who will go for us?' Then said I, 'Here am I; send me.'"

A silence, a darkness of soul and mind, the rushing of many waters,
falling, falling, falling....

Joseph awoke, the voice rang in his ears still.

He saw the walls of the cottage room; he had come back to the world and
to life, a terrible, overmastering fear and awe shook him like a reed.

He cried out with a loud voice, calling for his friend, calling for the
Teacher.

"Lluellyn! Lluellyn Lys, come to me!"

He was lying upon his back still, in exactly the same position as that
in which he had lost consciousness while Lluellyn's hands were upon him
giving him life and strength.

Now he sat up suddenly, without an effort, as a strong and healthy man
moves.

"Lluellyn! Lluellyn!"

His loud call for help was suddenly strangled into silence. Lying upon
the floor, close to the bedside, was the body of Lluellyn Lys, a long
white shell, from which the holy soul had fled to meet its Lord.

The Teacher had given his life for his friend. In obedience to some
mysterious revelation he had received of the Divine Will, Lluellyn Lys
had poured his life into the body of another.

Joseph stared for a moment at the corpse, and then glanced wildly round
the room. He could call no more, speech had left him, his lips were
shrivelled, his tongue paralysed.

As he did so, his whole body suddenly stiffened and remained motionless.

Exactly opposite to him, looking at him, he saw once more the face of
his vision, the countenance of the Man of Sorrows.

In mute appeal, powerless to speak, he stretched out his arms in
supplication.

But what was this?

Even as he moved, the figure moved also. Hands were stretched out
towards him, even as his were extended.

He leapt from the bed, passed by the still, white body upon the
floor--and learned the truth.

A large mirror hung upon the opposite wall.

What he had thought to be the face of Christ--the veritable face of his
vision--was his own face!

His own face, bearded, changed, and moulded by his illness, altered
entirely.

His own face had become as an image and simulacrum of the traditional
pictures and representations of Our Lord's.



CHAPTER VI

THE CROSS AT ST. PAUL'S


Hampson had been in the editorial chair of the religious weekly for
nearly a month, and the change in the little journalist's circumstances
was enormous; from the most grinding poverty, the most precarious
existence, he had arrived at what to him was wealth.

He felt himself a rich man, and, indeed, the big firm of newspaper
proprietors which had singled him out to occupy his present position was
not niggardly in the matter of salary. With careful discrimination they
sought out the best man for this or that post, and when they found him
paid him sufficiently well to secure his continued adherence to their
interests.

Hampson generally arrived at his office about eleven, and opened his
letters. On the day of which this chapter treats he came earlier as he
had to "pass the paper for press."

A large amount of correspondence awaited him, and he waded steadily
through it for about an hour, giving directions to his secretary as each
letter was opened. When the man had gone to his own room Hampson leant
back in his comfortable chair with a sigh. His usually cheerful face
wore an expression of perplexity and annoyance.

More than a fortnight had elapsed since he had received any
communication from his friend Joseph.

When Joseph had first left London he had written every two or three days
to Hampson--brilliant, if slightly caustic letters, describing his new
environment and the life he was leading on the mountain with Lluellyn
Lys. These letters had concealed nothing, and had told the journalist
exactly what had occurred. Yet every time that the writer recorded some
strange happening, or wrote of some unusual experience and sensation, he
had given a _material_ explanation of it at considerable length.

The astonishing climb up the final peak of the mountain, for example,
was recorded with great accuracy. The voice of the Teacher as it pealed
down through the mist, the sudden access of strength that made it
possible for Joseph to join his host--all this, and much more, was set
down with orderly and scientific precision. But the explanation had been
that the tonic power of the mountain air had provided the muscular
impetus necessary for the climb, and that its heady influence upon a
mind unaccustomed to so much oxygen had engendered the delusion of a
supernatural force.

Hampson had his own opinion about these strange things. He saw further
into them than Joseph appeared to be able to see. Yet his friend's
letters were a constant source of pleasure and inspiration to him--even
while he deplored Joseph's evident resolve to admit nothing into his
life that did not allow of a purely material explanation.

And now the letters had stopped.

He had heard no single word for days and days. His own communications
had remained unanswered, nor had he received any reply to an anxious
inquiry after Joseph's health, addressed to Lluellyn Lys himself.

This morning, again, there was nothing at all, and the faithful little
man was gravely disturbed. Something serious had indubitably happened,
and how to find out what it was he did not know.

It was a day of thick and lurid fog. London lay under a pall--the whole
world around was sombre and depressing.

The well-furnished editorial sanctum, with it's electric lights,
leather-covered armchairs, gleaming telephones, and huge writing-table
was comfortable enough, but the leaden light outside, upon the Thames
Embankment, made London seem a city of dreadful night.

Hampson rose from his chair, and stood at the window for a moment, lost
in thought.

Yes, London was indeed a terrible city. More terrible than Babylon of
old, more awful when one remembered that Christ had come to the world
with His Message of Salvation.

The ancient city of palaces, in its eternal sunlit majesty, had never
known the advent of the Redeemer. Yet, were those forgotten people who
worshipped the God Merodach really worse than the Londoners of to-day?

Only on the day before, a West End clergyman had come to Hampson with
detailed statistics of the vice in his own parish in the neighborhood of
Piccadilly. The vicar's statements were horrible. To some people they
would have sounded incredible. Yet they were absolutely true, as Hampson
was very well aware--naked, shameful horrors in Christian London.

"Ah," the clergyman said, "if only Our Lord came to London now how awful
would His condemnation be!"

As the editor looked out upon the gloom he felt that the material
darkness was symbolic of a spiritual darkness which sometimes appalled
him when he realized it.

The door opened, and the sub-editor came in with "pulls" of the final
sheets of the paper. Hampson had to read these carefully, initial them,
and send them to the composing-room marked as ready for the
printing-machines. Then his work was done for the day.

At lunch time, the fog still continuing, he left the office. An idea had
come to him which might be of service in obtaining news of Joseph.

He would take a cab down to the East End Hospital, and ask Mary Lys if
she knew anything about his friend. Probably she would know something,
her brother, Lluellyn Lys, would almost certainly have written to her.

Hampson had met Mary two or three times during the last weeks. He
reverenced the beautiful girl who had saved him from the consequences of
his sudden madness, with all the force of his nature.

In her he saw a simple and serene holiness, an absolute abnegation of
self which was unique in his experience. She represented to him all that
was finest, noblest, and best in Christian womanhood.

Since his appointment to the editorial chair he had gloried in the fact
that he had been able to send her various sums of money for distribution
among the most destitute of the patients under her charge.

At four o'clock he had an appointment with the clerk of the works at St.
Paul's Cathedral, but until then he was free. The _Sunday Friend_
covered a very wide field, and hardly any question of interest to
religious people was left untouched. At the moment grave fears were
entertained as to the safety of the huge building upon Ludgate Hill. The
continual burrowing for various purposes beneath the fabric had caused a
slight subsidence of one of the great central piers. A minute crack had
made its appearance in the dome itself.

Hampson had obtained permission from the dean to inspect the work of
repair that was proceeding, knowing that his readers would be interested
in the subject.

Until four, however, he was perfectly free, and he drove straight
towards Whitechapel.

His cab drove slowly through the congested arteries of the City, where
the black-coated business men scurried about like rats in the gloom. But
in half an hour Hampson arrived at the door of the hospital, and was
making inquiries if Nurse Lys was off duty or no, and that if she were
would she see him.

He had not come at this time entirely on speculation. He knew that, as a
general rule, Mary was free at this hour.

She proved to be so to-day, and in a moment or two came into the
reception-room where he was waiting.

She was like a star in the gloom, he thought.

How beautiful her pure and noble face was, how gracious her walk and
bearing! All that spiritual beauty which comes from a life lived with
utter unselfishness for others, the holy tranquillity that goodness
paints upon the face, the light God lends the eyes when His light burns
within--all these, added to Mary's remarkable physical beauty, marked
her out as rare among women.

The little journalist worshipped her. She seemed to him a being so
wonderful that there was a sort of desecration even in touching her
hand.

"Ah, my friend," she said to him, with a flashing smile of welcome, "I
am glad to see you. To tell you the truth, I have a melancholy mood
to-day, a thing so very rare with me that it makes me all the more glad
to see a friend's face. How are you, and how is your work?"

"I am very well, Nurse Mary, thank you, but I am troubled in mind about
Joseph. I cannot get an answer to any of my letters, though at first he
wrote constantly. I even wrote to Mr. Lluellyn Lys, hoping to hear from
him that all was well. But I have received no answer to that letter
either. I came to ask you if you had any news."

Mary looked at him strangely, and with perplexity in her eyes.

"No," she said. "I have had no news at all from either of them for some
time. I have been disturbed in mind about it for some days. Of course I
have written, too, but there has been no response. That is why I have
been feeling rather downhearted to-day. It is curious that you, Mr.
Hampson, should have come to me with this question, and at this moment."

They looked at each other apprehensively, and for this reason: they were
not talking of two ordinary men and their doings.

Both felt this strongly.

There had been too many unusual and inexplicable occurrences in
connection with Joseph's accident and arrival at the hospital for either
Mary or Hampson to disregard any seeming coincidence. Both knew, both
had always felt, that they were spectators of--or, rather, actors in--a
drama upon which the curtain had but lately risen.

"When did you last hear from Joseph?" Mary asked.

Hampson mentioned the date. It was, though, of course, he did not know
it, the date of Joseph's strange experience upon the midnight moor, the
date on which he had been struck down, and on which his second illness
began.

"It was at that time that I received my last letter from my brother,"
the girl answered--"the exact day, in fact. The letter troubled me when
it came; it has troubled me ever since. It spoke of the end of his work
here, hinted that he felt he had almost done what he was sent into the
world to do, though at the same time he bade me prepare myself for great
events immediately imminent."

There was a silence in the big, bare reception-room. Mary broke it.

"What a dreadful day it is, Mr. Hampson," she said, with an effort to
give the conversation a less gloomy turn. "I have rarely seen the fog
lie so low over town. Oh, for a breath of fresh air--just five short
minutes of fresh, unclouded air! I think I would give almost anything
for that at this moment."

A sudden thought came to the journalist.

"Do you know, nurse," he said, "I think I am one of the few men in
London who can give you just what you ask at this moment; that is, if
you don't mind doing something slightly unconventional?"

"Oh, convention!" she answered, with the serene smile of the
high-natured woman for whom the world has no terrors.

Hampson explained where he was bound when he left the hospital, and for
what purpose. There would be no difficulty in the matter at all, if Mary
cared to accompany him to the roof of the cathedral. It was certain,
also, that the dome would rise high above the low belt of fog which was
stifling London.

Mary had three hours at her own disposal. In ten minutes they were
driving to the great church.

When they had ascended to the roof of St. Paul's they found the fog was
not so dense. The sun was setting over the modern Babylon.

Hampson pointed down at the nether gloom.

"Vanity Fair!" he said. "Vanity Fair! What would Jesus Christ say to
London if He came to it now?"

As he spoke the breeze suddenly freshened, the fog clouds took new
shapes, the light of the western sun grew in the dark.

And then a thing happened that set their hearts beating furiously.

Right ahead in the gloom, flashing, flame-like, clear-cut, and distinct,
a mighty cross hung over London.

It was at precisely this moment that Joseph was staring, trembling, into
the mirror, at the foot of which lay the long white body of Lluellyn
Lys, and realizing his own exact resemblance to the Man of Sorrows,
Jesus Who came to save us all.



CHAPTER VII

THE FINANCIER


Sir Augustus Kirwan, the great financier, was much disturbed by the news
that his nephew Lluellyn Lys was dead. Both Sir Augustus and his wife
had hoped that the recluse of the mountains might be induced to leave
his solitudes and take an ordinary place in the world. The baronet was
sonless. His wealth was enormous, and he could leave his daughter
Marjorie enough money to make her one of the richest heiresses in
England, and still endow a male heir with a huge fortune. This he would
have done for his wife's nephew--his own nephew by marriage, for though
not a well-born man himself, he had an immense reverence for ancient
blood.

He reverenced it in his wife, and was as well informed in the history of
the House of Lys as she was herself. Now, however, there was no longer
any chance of reclaiming Lluellyn from what Sir Augustus and Lady Kirwan
had always regarded as the most incredible folly and semi-madness.

The last male Lys in the direct line was gathered to his fathers. There
still remained Mary Lys.

"My dear," the baronet said to his wife, "Lluellyn's death has been a
great blow to you, and, indeed, it has to me also, for you know that I
share your enthusiasm for your family and your hopes for it. But Mary
is still with us. She is young and beautiful. We can give her a dowry
that will attract a duke. As soon as I am well again I shall put my foot
down in no uncertain way. This time, whatever Mary may say, I shall
compel her to leave this ridiculous slum-hospital work and take her
proper place in society."

Sir Augustus spoke of his illness. He was a man by no means indifferent
to the pleasures of the table. As he himself would have expressed it, he
"did himself well" in every particular.

But people who like white truffles from Piedmont, caviare from the
Volga, comet year port, and liqueurs of brandy at seven pounds a bottle,
must expect a Nemesis.

Two days before the news of Lluellyn's death arrived Sir Augustus was
seized with a bad attack of gout.

When Mary Lys, in uncontrollable grief, had hastened to her aunt's house
in Berkeley Square, carrying the sad message from Joseph Bethune which
told her of her beloved brother's death, the banker had been quite
unable to move.

Had it been in any way possible, the worthy man would have hastened to
Wales to be present at the funeral of his nephew by marriage. But the
physicians had absolutely forbidden him the journey. He would not,
however, allow Mary to travel to the principality by herself. In the
first place he had the not uncommon dislike of men to their womenkind
attending funerals. Mary would not hear of this.

"Uncle," she said, "shall I not go to see my dear and saintly brother's
body put into the earth from which he will rise again when the trumpet
of the Resurrection Day sounds?"

This was rather above Sir Augustus.

"Tut, tut, my dear," he said; "the--er--Resurrection trumpet is not very
near to the nineteenth century. But still, if you must go, I shall
insist on your having a proper escort."

Accordingly Mary had been sent to Wales in the charge of the Kirwans'
family solicitor, who was instructed to see that everything was done
decently and in order, as befitted the obsequies of the last male member
of the House of Lys.

For her part, Mary did not in the least want the company of Mr. Owen,
the solicitor. She would have infinitely preferred to be left alone with
her grief. Nevertheless she recognized the kindly feeling and family
instinct that prompted Sir Augustus' action, and submitted with the best
grace possible.

Lluellyn Lys had been dead for seven days, and it was now two days after
the funeral.

Sir Augustus was not yet able to leave the house, but his gout was
better. After the simple dinner--which was all that the doctor allowed
him--he sat in his library reading the newspaper of that morning.

The first thing that caught his eye was a review of a new play which had
just been produced under the title of "The Golden Maiden." Sir Augustus
was an occasional patron of the burlesque stage. The sort of
entertainments provided by the theatres that produce "musical comedy"
were quite to his taste. Kindly and generous as he was, he was a man
without any religious belief whatever and with no ideals. To such a
mind, the indelicacy and lubricity of these plays appealed intensely,
and afforded him great amusement. Nor had he the slightest idea that any
blame whatever could attach to him. These places were crowded night
after night by all sections of society--who was he to stay away?

Sir Augustus chuckled over the criticism. The writer first gave a
detailed synopsis of the plot--such as it was--and recorded his general
impressions of the performance. The critic was obviously a man of taste
and decent feeling, for he spoke in no measured terms of the gross
indecency of the play, which was, to put it plainly, little more nor
less than a glorification of adultery.

"And the pity of it is," the writer concluded, "that all London will
flock to see this immoral nonsense. If the drama is to be thus
degraded--and no other form of entertainment has an equal popularity
with the one under discussion--then decent English men and women will
begin to long for the return of the Commonwealth, with its stern and
self-sacrificing simplicity."

Sir Augustus put the paper down.

"Silly fool," he muttered. "I wonder he is allowed to write such
hypocritical twaddle. Certainly, from what he says, they do seem to have
gone a little too far this time."

Nevertheless, Sir Augustus made a mental resolve to look in at the
Frivolity for an hour or two as soon as ever his leg would let him.

He put down the paper and lit a cigar. All round him were the evidences
of enormous wealth. The library was a large and beautiful room. A fire
of cedar logs glowed in the open hearth, and threw flickering
lights--rose-pink and amethyst--upon the gold and crimson books standing
in their carved-oak shelves.

The parquet floor was almost hidden by priceless rugs from
Teheran--white, brick-dust color, and peacock-blue. There was a
marvellous _console_ which had belonged to Marie Antoinette, a buhl
clock which had stood in the palace of Sans Souci, and was a gift to
Frederick The Great from Voltaire. As Sir Augustus looked round he
forgot "The Golden Maiden," and sighed. He was thinking of his dead
nephew, Lluellyn Lys, and wishing that he had a son to succeed to all
these splendors.

The door opened, and Lady Kirwan entered, tall, stately, and beautiful
still, in her flowing black dinner-gown and the heavy ropes of pearls
around the white column of her neck.

She sat down on the opposite side of the fire to her husband.

"My dear," she said, and there was distress in her voice, "I am so
worried about Mary."

"About Mary?" Sir Augustus replied, with some little surprise. "Oh, you
need not worry about Mary, Julia. Of course, this has been a great blow
to her. But she is young and level-headed in many ways. Time will heal
her wounds."

"Oh, it is not that, Augustus. Of course, the poor dear girl will get
over her grief. Besides, she is religious, you know, and that certainly
does seem to help certain natures. I have often observed it. But I am
anxious about her now. Lluellyn was buried two days ago, and except Mr.
Owen's telegram announcing the bare fact, we have not heard a word from
either of them. Mary ought to be back here now."

"Well, my dear," the baronet replied, "I really don't think there is the
slightest reason for anxiety. Mary is in perfectly safe hands. Indeed, I
am particularly grateful to Owen for accompanying her himself. It is a
thing I should hardly have ventured to ask him. I quite imagined he
would send one of the elderly confidential clerks--Mr. Simpson, for
instance--a most respectable and trustworthy person."

"I hope it's all right, I'm sure," the dame replied. "But I can't see
what is keeping the girl for two days after the funeral, all the same.
And why is there no letter? Mary has a fortnight's leave of absence from
that stupid hospital, and she had arranged to come here and stay with
us."

There was a silence. Then Lady Kirwan pressed a button in the panelled
wall.

"I will take my coffee in here," she said. Sir Augustus nodded, and
picked up the newspaper once more.

A footman with powdered hair and large shoulder-knots brought in a
little nacre-encrusted table, with a tiny silver cup, a bowl of
dark-brown sugar-candy from Jamaica, and the long-handled brass pan from
Turkey, which held the coffee.

He had hardly left the room when Lady Kirwan was startled by a sudden
loud exclamation from Sir Augustus.

She rose from her seat in alarm, thinking that he was attacked by a
sudden spasm of pain.

In a moment she was undeceived.

"Good Heavens," he said, "here are extraordinary goings on! I never read
such a thing in my life! No wonder Mary has not come back."

Trembling with anxiety, Lady Kirwan ran to the back of her husband's
chair, and, leaning over it, read the article, headed in large type, to
which Sir Augustus pointed with a shaking finger.

     STRANGE RELIGIOUS REVIVAL

     A MOUNTAIN PREACHER EXCITES A WHOLE COUNTRYSIDE

     Our North Wales correspondents telegraph accounts of some
     extraordinary scenes in Wales, which are occurring on the mountains
     of the Cader Idris district.

     It seems that for some years past a mysterious recluse has been
     living in a small cottage high up on the great slate-mountain of
     Llan-y-Van. This man was a Mr. Lluellyn Lys, a member of a very
     ancient Welsh family, and possessed of small private means. His
     method of life was peculiar. Imbued with a deeply mystical
     religious spirit, he lived very much as the preaching hermits of
     the early days of the Christian faith. Sometimes he would remain
     secluded for many days, or be found upon the summit of some lonely
     mountain praying aloud to God. At others he would go preaching
     through the villages, exhorting every one to repentance and a holy
     life, with marvellous eloquence and fervour.

     In addition to this, the "Teacher," as this strange personality
     appears to have been known among the peasants and local miners,
     would sometimes hold vast meetings upon Sundays, high up in the
     hills. Thousands of people from far and near would gather together,
     and, standing upon a rock in their midst, Lluellyn Lys would speak
     with fiery exhortation, and lead those great musical choruses and
     hymns of praise for which the Celtic people are so famous.

     A few weeks ago all those--and there seem to have been many
     thousands--who regarded the Teacher as their spiritual adviser and
     leader, became aware that he was entertaining a guest at his lonely
     mountain home, for the first time within public remembrance. A
     strange man had appeared at the little railway station in the
     valley, and by Mr. Lys' orders he was carried up the mountain by
     various of the Teacher's adherents and disciples. The man, who was
     known only by the name of Joseph, was evidently recovering from a
     severe illness. He remained in Lluellyn's lonely cottage for some
     time, and the two men were attended by an old widow lady whose name
     is Mrs. Price.

     During the stranger's sojourn strange rumors were spread round the
     countryside. The Teacher had more than once referred to him in
     public as the "Master," and had hinted that he was about to conduct
     some great religious campaign, the precise nature of which was
     never clearly specified. It was also said, and said very generally,
     that some most extraordinary things were happening at the top of
     Moel Llan-y-Van.

     Incredible as it may seem to-day, there are at the present moment
     hundreds of people in this part of Wales who confidently assert,
     and offer to prove, that Mr. Lluellyn Lys possessed the gift of
     healing. Dozens of cures are attributed to his agency. Be this as
     it may, the consensus of opinion not only credits the Teacher with
     something like miraculous power, but said that his strange visitor
     was possessed of even more wonderful attributes than he was.

     A week ago Lluellyn Lys died.

     It seems that, in mystical language, he had already foretold his
     decease. And now we come to the strange part of this excessively
     strange story.

     Two days ago Lluellyn Lys was buried. But his was no ordinary
     burial; and, moreover, it is quite within the bounds of possibility
     that it may yet become the subject of an official inquiry.

     When the news of the Teacher's decease spread over the surrounding
     country, from valley and mountain an enormous concourse of people
     assembled. The body--it is described as being like a statue of
     white marble--was taken from the cottage without a coffin and
     buried on the very highest point of the mountain Llan-y-Van--a spot
     where the dead preacher had been wont to pray.

     It is understood that this was done by the dead man's wish and
     stipulation, though, probably quite contrary to law. No one,
     however, interfered--and interference would, of course, have been
     useless against several thousand people, who appeared to be in an
     ecstasy of grief, and who were obviously determined to carry out
     the wishes of their dead friend to the letter.

     If at this point readers of the _Daily Wire_ express incredulity at
     what follows we can only say that we guarantee the substantial
     accuracy of our report in the completest way.

     After the actual interment of the corpse, and amid the wailing
     cries of the vast multitude of mourners, a man mounted the cairn of
     boulders which forms the highest part of the mountain--the exact
     summit, so to speak.

     Immediately the sounds of mourning were hushed, as if at the beat
     of a conductor's bâton.

     Our correspondents describe the scene as wonderfully impressive and
     without parallel in their very varied experience.

     It was a cloudy morning, and somewhat chill in those high places.
     Yet a beam of sunlight, white and sudden, fell upon the tall figure
     upon the cairn. Every one could see the man quite distinctly; every
     one knew that this was the stranger known as Joseph, who had been
     the companion of Lluellyn Lys during the last weeks of his life.

     The sudden silence was perhaps due to the fact of this universal
     knowledge, but equally, perhaps, to another and extraordinary
     fact.

     Joseph in appearance resembles the traditional pictures of the
     Christ in an astounding manner. It seems almost irreverent to write
     these words. But they are written with no such intention. This man,
     whoever he may be--charlatan and impostor, or sincere saint and
     reformer of our own day--is the living, walking image of that idea
     which all the world has of Him who died upon the Cross!

     The words came; not very many, neither mystical nor obscure, but
     plain statements of intention. Yet the voice hushed that vast
     multitude of people as if with a magician's wand. Deep and clear,
     full of a music that our correspondents say no orator of our day
     can compass, a voice that goes straight to the heart--so, we are
     informed, was the voice of this man Joseph.

     The substance of his speech was startling--an actual shorthand
     report of the words will be found upon another page:

     This man, call him what you will, believes that he has a Divine
     mission to come to London, that he may warn it of its sins and
     bring its inhabitants to the foot of the Cross.

     With a band of disciples--we must use the word--he is even now
     speeding towards the metropolis. A dozen or more people are with
     him, and it is also said that the sister of the late Teacher, a
     very beautiful girl, who was formerly a hospital nurse, has joined
     the little band of fanatics. One thing is quite certain. London is
     on the eve of a new and most extraordinary sensation.

Thus the article concluded.

Lady Kirwan gave a gasp of dismay.

"Augustus!" she cried, "what a terrible scandal! What does it all mean?
I was right! I knew something had happened to Mary. Why hasn't Mr. Owen
looked after her properly? The poor girl has lost her senses, of course.
She is under the influence of some unscrupulous impostor. Oh, this is
awful, awful! To think that a member of the House of Lys should come to
this! What shall we do? What can we do? Something must be done at once!"

She had but hardly finished speaking, and both husband and wife were
looking into each other's eyes with faces of perplexity and alarm, when
the door opened and the butler entered.

"Mr. Owen has returned, Sir Augustus," he said, "and asks to see you
immediately."

In a moment or two a tall, elderly gentleman, with grey side-whiskers
and a keen, though benevolent face, was ushered into the room. He was in
morning dress, carried a plaid travelling-coat upon his arm, and a hard
felt hat in his hand.

He seemed anxious and distressed.

"I can't get up, Owen," Sir Augustus said at once. "I'm still a victim
to this confounded gout. What's all this preposterous stuff I see in the
_Daily Wire_? And where is my niece?"

The lawyer choked and swallowed. His face grew red and embarrassed. For
a moment or two he did not speak.

Mr. Owen was a considerable man. He was one of the best known family
solicitors in London. His reputation was unspotted; he was the confidant
of many great folk, and he may or may not have been worth three hundred
thousand pounds. But he was, at this moment, obviously embarrassed, and
perhaps angry also.

"Kirwan," he said, at length, "we are old friends, and we have been in
business relations for many years. You know, I think, that I am no fool.
You have entrusted vast interests to my care. I have never failed you
that I know of--until to-day."

"What has happened, dear Mr. Owen?" Lady Kirwan asked, terrified by the
solemnity of the lawyer's manner. "Where is Mary?"

"I've only just arrived," Mr. Owen answered. "I came straight here from
the station, Lady Kirwan. Your niece, Miss Mary Lys, has gone with that
fellow they call Joseph, and his company of crack-brained fools. Short
of force, I did everything a man could do to restrain her; but she beat
me. It was impossible to move her from her decision. For my part, I
believe the girl's mad!"

He paused, and both Sir Augustus and his wife realized that this eminent
man was considerably affected.

In the radiance of the electric light they could see the beads of
perspiration starting out upon his forehead like little pearls. The
baronet's face had gone quite pale.

With difficulty he rose from his seat, and an oath escaped him as he did
so.

"The little fool," he cried--"the fool! It's not your fault, Owen. Of
course, I know that. But where is she now? Where is this precious
company of tomfools and madmen?"

"I have every reason to believe," Mr. Owen answered with quiet emphasis,
"that the whole crew--and Miss Lys with them--are in London at the
present moment!"



CHAPTER VIII

"THE GOLDEN MAIDEN"


The theatrical criticism of the _Daily Wire_ was always printed on page
4; the more important news on page 6, over the leaf.

It was for this reason that Hampson, the editor of the _Christian
Friend_, never saw the news from Wales, and realized nothing of the
stupendous happenings there until the extraordinary events of the same
night in London.

He had arrived at his office for a long day's work. Among his letters
was one from a young man who, it appeared, had but lately arrived in the
metropolis to fill a situation as clerk in a big mercantile house.

Hampson had inaugurated a special feature in the paper. It was a sort of
"advice bureau," and already he knew that he had been able to help
hundreds of people in this way.

The letter from the clerk, obviously a Christian man who desired to live
a godly life, but was puzzled by the newness and strangeness of the
modern Babylon, in especial asked one question. He had been invited by
one of his fellows to attend a theatrical performance at one of the
"musical comedy" houses. Although he knew nothing of theatres, save that
there was a strong prejudice against them among his own people in the
country, he had declined the invitation. The result had been that he had
endured a good deal of ridicule, and when asked to state his reasons for
refusal, had been unable to do so. Now he asked the editor's opinion
upon the whole matter.

The question was one that Hampson had never thoroughly gone into. He had
certainly a low opinion of the calling of an actor or actress. He
believed the body to be the temple of the Holy Ghost, and therefore
thought it wrong to nightly paint that body and expose its grace and
beauty to the gaze of every one. It was years, however, since he himself
had entered the doors of a theatre. While he was thinking the matter
out, and wondering what answer he should make to the inquirer, his eye
happened to fall upon the _Daily Wire_, which lay open on the desk
beside him.

He took up the paper and read the criticism of the new play at the
Frivolity--read it with very different feelings to those which animated
Sir Augustus Kirwan on the evening of the same day.

If this was what the theatre was coming to, then let all decent men and
women keep out of such places!

Yet he was a cautious man, and one who was averse to hasty judgments. He
had, moreover, a strict love of truth, and an intense dislike for
hearsay evidence. An idea struck him. He would himself go and see this
play at the Frivolity! If it were really licentious and improper, he
knew that it could not harm him personally. It would disgust him, but
that was all. On the other hand, the critic might have exaggerated, or
he might even have had some personal spite against the management of the
theatre. Dramatic critics sometimes wrote plays themselves, and these
plays were rejected! Such things had been. And it would be a good thing
that his readers should have the impression of a cool and unbiassed mind
upon a subject which was not without importance in the life of the
modern Christian in London.

Accordingly he wrote a brief note to the business manager of the
theatre, explaining exactly why he wished to see the play, and asking if
a seat was to be had. This he sent round by a boy, with instructions
that if there was a vacant seat he should purchase it for him.

In an hour the lad returned. He brought a courteous note from the
manager, enclosing the coupon for a seat, marked "complimentary," and
returning Hampson's ten-and-sixpence.

During the rest of the day the editor was very hard at work, and had no
time to read any more news. The story of the strange doings upon the
mountains in Wales, therefore, escaped him entirely.

He had heard nothing from Joseph, even yet, nor had he seen Mary Lys
since they had climbed to the roof of St. Paul's Cathedral together. At
that time, when both of them were filled with doubt and anxiety about
Lluellyn and Joseph, they had seen the august symbol of the world's
salvation painted on the sky. Through the terrible fog that hung over
the Babylon of our times the crimson Cross had shone.

The curious circumstance had brought comfort and relief to both of
them. It might be that they were sentimental, superstitious.

Yet God moves in a mysterious way, and who were they to say that the
Father had not sent them a message from on high?

Miracle is not dead yet, whatever the materialists may say. Ask a
captain of the Salvation Army if Mary Magdalene does not still come to
the foot of the Cross! Ask the head of the Church Army if a thief is
never converted at almost the last moment in his evil career! Ask an
Anglican priest, a Congregationalist minister--a Roman Catholic
priest,--for their experiences of death-beds!

One and all will tell you that God rules the world still, the Holy
Spirit yet broods upon the waters.

Hampson returned to his rooms in Bloomsbury. After a simple dinner,
during which Butler's _Analogy_ was propped up against the water-bottle,
he changed into evening clothes and walked down to the Frivolity Theatre
in Shaftesbury Avenue.

The long curve of that street of theatres was thronged with carriages,
motor broughams, and cabs. Beautifully-dressed women with filmy lace
mantillas over their shining hair, attended by well-groomed men in opera
hats and white cashmere scarves, descended from the vehicles and entered
this or that theatre. The whole place blazed with light.

The great arc-lamps shone on the posters and the marble façades crowned
with their huge electric advertisements. The smart restaurants of
Piccadilly, Regent Street, and the Haymarket were pouring out their
guests at this hour when all the plays were beginning.

The London world of pleasure was awake in all its material splendor,
luxury and sin. The candle was alight, the gaudy moths fluttering around
it.

A man and woman descended from a hansom just as Hampson arrived under
the portico of the theatre, the woman so covered with jewels that these
alone, to say nothing of her general manner and appearance, sufficiently
indicated her class.

Hampson shuddered as he gave his hat and coat to an attendant, and
walked down the softly carpeted corridor through the warm, perfumed air
to the stalls.

The theatre was very full. On all sides wealth and luxury displayed
themselves in unbounded profusion. But this was an audience nearly every
member of which was devoted to folly, idle amusement, and worse. Hampson
saw vice stamped upon the faces all round him, vice or stupidity, and
carelessness.

Immediately upon his left, however, there was a young man, sleek and
immaculately dressed, who had a somewhat stronger face than many of the
young fellows there. There was a certain strength about the jaw and
poise of the head, an honesty in the blue eyes which the journalist
noticed at once.

Hampson sighed. Doubtless this young man was only just entering in upon
the life of pleasure and sin. He was not quite a slave yet--his soul not
irrevocably stained. But some day he would become like the curious
old-young men who sat all round, men with pointed ears, heavy eyes that
only brightened when they saw a pretty girl, mouths curved into
listless and weary boredom.

What a brigade they were, these rich and vicious young fools who
supported the Frivolity! Night after night they sat in their accustomed
stall while the actresses danced, and postured upon the other side of
the footlights--solemn, vacuous, and pitiable.

Two men bent over from their seats, and one of them touched the
fresh-looking young man by Hampson's side upon the shoulder.

The journalist heard names being exchanged--the first speaker was
introducing a friend. From this he discovered who his companion was--Sir
Thomas Ducaine. The name was quite familiar. The young baronet owned an
enormous property in Whitechapel. Some of the foulest and most fetid
dens in Europe belonged to him. Filth and misery, gaunt hunger, and
black crime crawled through hideous alleys, and slunk in and out of
horrible places which were his.

Probably there was not a property owner in England who was responsible
for the degradation of his fellow-creatures as this well-groomed young
man in the stalls of the Frivolity Theatre. Hampson knew--none better.
Had not he and Joseph starved in one of this man's attics? Yet, he
reflected, probably Sir Thomas knew nothing whatever of the dreadful
places from which he drew his vast revenues, had never visited them,
never would visit them.

The passing thoughts of those dark days in Whitechapel sent the editor's
mind with painful wonder to his absent friend and his mysterious
silence, and a deep depression was beginning to steal over him when the
orchestra concluded the overture and the curtain rose.

Always methodical, and with a great power of concentration, Hampson
banished all other thoughts, and gave his undivided attention to the
play he had come to criticise.

The scene showed the interior of a great London bar, a smart West End
establishment. It was crowded with young men in shining silk hats,
dove-colored trousers, and fashionably-cut grey frock-coats. They were
leaning over the counter, which ran down one side of the stage, and
flirting with half a dozen girls dressed as barmaids. The scene was
brilliant with light and color, accurate in every detail, and, indeed, a
triumph of the scene-painter's art.

After a moment or two the barmaids burst into a chorus. The music was
bright and tuneful, composed with real skill and sense of melody.
Hampson, who had a good ear, and was himself an amateur musician,
recognized the fact at once. But the words were incredibly vulgar and
stupid, a glorification of drink, by the aid of which all troubles--and
doubtless decency and duty also--might be easily forgotten.

The whole thing was nauseating, utterly disgusting, to Hampson. He
blushed even, and looked round him to see how the people took it. With a
sad wonder he saw smiles and appreciative gestures on every side. "The
grins of the lost," he thought bitterly, and then remembered that far
greater sinners than any of these fools had power to be, had yet been
redeemed by the saving power of the red wounds of Christ.

He noticed, however, and with some degree of relief, that this ode to
drunkenness did not apparently interest or amuse the young man on his
left. Sir Thomas Ducaine neither smiled nor showed any sign of
appreciation.

Sordid dialogue, prefatory to the thin story of the plot, began. The
topical slang that fast and foolish people use was introduced with
sickening reiteration.

This, and much more which it is not necessary to detail, formed the
first scene--a short one--and preparatory to the real action of the
play.

The thing went on. Hampson lay back in his softly-padded chair with a
set, impassive face. He was well dressed; his evening suit had been
built by a good tailor, and outwardly there was nothing to distinguish
him from any other of these "lovers of the drama." But as he listened to
this or that doubtful joke and _double entendre_, marked this or that
dance or pose, realized the skill of each cold and calculated appeal to
the baser senses and passions, his heart was sick to death within him.

He saw how nearly every one of the young men who surrounded him was
known to this or that girl in the chorus. Swift glances or smiles
flashed backwards and forwards from stalls to stage. The whole thing was
an enormous, smoothly-running mechanism of evil! A great house of
ill-fame! It was just that, no more nor less than that!

The curtain fell on a peculiarly suggestive scene at the end of Act II,
fell amid a roar of applause and laughter. It was so arranged that the
curtain descended hurriedly, as if to hide something that could not be
witnessed.

For five or six minutes this dirty wickedness was over. Nearly every one
got up and left his seat to go to the bar and take refreshment.

Hampson did not move, nor did Sir Thomas Ducaine, though the two men
behind asked him to accompany them to the _buffet_.

He happened to turn, and saw Hampson's face.

"Excuse me, sir," he said, with an entire disregard of the usual
convention which binds his class. "Excuse me, but you seem rather sick
of this."

"It's abominable!" Hampson answered, in a sudden burst of anger. "I
never go to the theatre, so I suppose I'm behind the times. But I really
shouldn't have thought that several hundreds of apparently decent people
would have come to see this sort of thing."

"I'm very much of your opinion," the young man replied, "and I don't
think I like it any better than you do. I never was fond of filth. But I
just strolled in because I'd nothing much better to do."

He sighed, and, turning from Hampson, stood up and began to survey the
house.

"Nothing better to do!" The words stung the journalist, and made him
shudder when he thought of Whitechapel. This young, kindly, and
obviously nice-minded man, had nothing better to do than to "drop in" at
the Frivolity!

Dear God! Nothing better to do!

The electric bell whirred. Men began to make their way back to their
seats, expectation was alight in most of the faces--faces somewhat
flushed now with brandy-and-soda; eyes brighter now in anticipation of
the opening scene of Act III!

This was the second night of the play, yet already the opening of Act
III was being talked of all over London.

Mimi Addington was surpassing herself.

Mimi was the heroine, _par excellence_, of all the picture-postcards.
Errand-boys whistled her songs, and told each other stories about her in
whispers. The front pages of the foul "sporting" papers which depended
upon their obscenity for their circulation were never without constant
mention of the girl's name.

Young, lovely, talented--with the terrible cleverness that one must
suppose the evil angels of Satan have--she stood almost alone in her
success and evil. She was a popular idol, though there were some who
knew the woman as she was--a high-priestess of degradation, a public
preacher of all that is debased and low!

Hampson knew. He did not watch the life in which she shone like a red
star. It was far alien from his own, utterly separate from the lives of
all Christian people. But he was a man in the world, and he could not
escape the popular knowledge.

As the curtain went up once more he set his teeth and sent up a wordless
prayer to God that his mind might not be influenced or soiled, that the
Almighty would bring the woman to repentance and cause the scourge to
cease.

She came upon the scene. There was a thunder of hands--even a few loud
cries of welcome pierced the mad applause. Yes, she was beautiful--very
beautiful indeed. And there was charm also. It was not a mere soulless
loveliness of face and form.

After the first verse of the song, there was a momentary pause while the
orchestra played the symphony on muted strings.

Then she began again, beautiful and seductive as a siren, with a voice
like a mellow flute. The lights were lowered in the auditorium. It was
well, for many folk, even amid that gay and worldly audience, grew hot
and flushed.

As the last triumphant notes of the song trilled through the theatre an
extraordinary thing happened.

A deep trumpet voice rang through the house. The voice of a man, deep,
musical and terrible--a voice that cleft the brain like a sword.

The lights leapt up once more, and all the vast audience, with a shudder
of fear, turned to look at the face and form of him who had spoken.

Standing in the stage-box, surrounded by a group of sombre figures, a
man was visible in the view of all.

Something went through the theatre like a chill wind. The music of the
band died away in a mournful wail.

There were a few frightened shouts, and then came a deep, breathless
silence.

Standing in the midst of them was one who, in face and form, seemed to
be none else but Our Lord Himself!

Hampson knew that voice. Even as it pealed out he rose, staggered, and
sank back into the arms of the man next to him. He did not know that Sir
Thomas was pointing with outstretched arm to the figure of a woman who
stood among the surrounding group in the box. He hardly heard the young
baronet's agonized cry of "Mary! Mary!"

He heard only that awful accusing thunder--

"WOE UNTO YOU, SAMARIA!"

There was an extraordinary silence in the theatre, such a silence as the
Frivolity had probably never known before in the whole of its
disreputable career.

The members of the orchestra dropped their instruments, and the gay
music died away with a frightened wail. Mimi Addington stopped suddenly
in her abominable song. No member of the vast audience made a single
sound. The silence of fear, swift, astonished fear, lay over all the
theatre.

Who was this man?

Joseph was, of course, in modern dress. But the long, dark cloak he
wore, Lluellyn's cloak, which Mary had given him, a veritable mantle of
Elijah, robbed the fact of any modern significance.

The frightened people in the theatre only saw come suddenly and
mysteriously among them one who was the image and similitude of Christ
Himself. It was as though He stood there.

The voice thrilled them through and through. In all their lives no
single one of them had ever heard a voice like this.

There were those who had, at one time or another, listened to great and
popular preachers, famous political orators. But none of these had
spoken with such a voice. All were thrilled by it, stirred and moved to
the depths of their being. And there were some among the crowd in whose
hearts the knowledge and love of God were only dormant, and not yet
dead.

These few trembled exceedingly, for they recognized the voice with their
spiritual, if not with their material ears.

Whoever this man might be--and the marvellous resemblance blazed out as
it were into the theatre--whoever he might be, the Holy Ghost was
speaking through his mouth!

The whole audience seemed turned to stone. Such a thing had never been
known before. The big, uniformed attendants who would have hustled out
an ordinary intruder or brawler almost before the audience had had time
to realize what was taking place, now stood motionless and silent.

"Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous
whirlwind. It shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked."

In the terrible music and menace of its warning, the voice cleft the air
like a great sword. The people in the theatre cowered like a field of
corn when the wind blows over it. Every face grew pale, and in the
slight pause and breathless silence which followed Joseph's words, quick
ears could distinguish a curious sound--or, rather, the intimation of a
sound. It was as though muffled drums were sounding an enormous
distance away, so far and faint that the listener feels that, after all,
he may be mistaken, and there is nothing.

It was the beating of many human hearts.

Joseph came forward into the full view of every one. His arm was
outstretched, the marvellous eyes were full of a mystical fire and
inspiration.

"This is a home of abominations," he cried, "the lust of the flesh, the
pride of the eye. There!"--he went on with unutterable scorn, pointing
to Mimi Addington, with a sudden movement--"there is the priestess of
evil whom you have assembled to worship. Her body is fair. It was the
gift of God. Her voice is beautiful, she is subtle and skilled--these
are also the gifts of the Most High. But she has abused and degraded
these gifts. With her voice she has sung the songs of damnation, and
chanted the music of hell. She has led many astray. There are homes in
England desolate because of her. She has destroyed the peace of many
homes. She has poured poison into the minds of the innocent and young,
calling them to evil pleasure, and by her words leading them to think of
the flowery paths of sin. She has caused many to stumble and offend, and
unless she cast herself upon the infinite mercy of God, it were better
that a millstone were put about her neck and she were cast into the
sea."

The voice of the man with the message ceased for a moment.

There was a low sigh, though every one in the theatre heard it, and the
wretched girl sank in a tumbled heap of senseless glitter and finery
upon the floor.

A universal shudder of fear swept through the huge, brilliant building,
a cumulative gasp of dismay--the material voice of many consciences
awaking from sleep!

But no one moved to help the fallen actress, her companions on the stage
stood absolutely still, not a man in the orchestra or the auditorium
moved.

Then, with a swift movement, the accuser bent forward and pointed to the
rows of sleek, well-groomed young men in the stalls.

"And you!" he cried, his voice more stern and menacing than
before,--"you who sit nightly at the feast of sin, what of you? Young
and strong, your youth and strength are given you to serve the Lord. But
you have made your lives an abomination, you bow down to foul idols,
your doings stink in the nostrils of the just. I am come here to say to
you that surely the Lord will smite you and humble you. You shall be as
an oak that fadeth. Repent before it is too late. Seek God, and turn to
Him. Do this and be saved. For you young men of London are even as the
rulers in Sodom, and those who were set over Gomorrah. You have come in
vanity, and you will depart in darkness, and your names shall be covered
with darkness, and you shall be utterly consumed."

And then an almost incredible thing occurred. The terrible voice began a
series of _personal_ accusations, as if indeed the hidden secrets of the
hearts of those who heard him were indeed laid bare, some supernatural
instinct had raised the curtain that hung before many evil lives.

"There sits one among you"--so in each case Joseph began, though no name
was ever mentioned. But one by one those faultlessly dressed men of
London's wealthy pleasure brigade were stricken down as by spears. So
terrible a scene was without parallel in experience. Terrible stories
were revealed, black deeds sprang suddenly to light, and gradually a low
moaning sound began to fill the theatre, a deep and dreadful
accompaniment to the pealing voice of one who seemed to be the Man of
Sorrows Himself.

Suddenly a woman, somewhere in the back of the pit, began to shriek
horribly. In a second more the whole theatre was in a turmoil. Agonized
groans and cries of heartrending shame and sorrow grew into a piercing
cacophony of sound, drowning the preacher's voice, and seeming to rend
the very walls with its unutterable mournfulness and despair.

Then, it was never discovered how or why, though the point was ever
afterwards debated, every single light in the theatre went out.

Through the darkness, and the sudden calm which this added fear induced
for a moment, the mighty voice was heard, tolling like a great bell,
with its burden of "Repent! Repent! Repent!"

There was, however, no physical panic. No one was bodily injured. When
light was at length restored, it was seen that the strange figure, with
its little accompanying band of followers, had utterly disappeared. The
curtain had fallen and hidden the stage, the place where Joseph had
stood was dark and empty; every one was standing and shaking with fear,
and white faces were turned to faces whiter still, asking each other
what this thing might mean.

With hardly a sound, the huge audience poured silently out of the
Frivolity. People who, a few short hours before, had passed within the
doors light-hearted, smiling, and eagerly expectant of the mischievous
nonsense they had come to see, now moved with drawn faces and hanging
heads. Lips were clenched with resolve, or still trembled and muttered
in fear. Cheeks were red with terrible shame or blanched with agony. Out
they came like a procession of ghosts, and--London was just the same!

It was obvious that no inkling of what was going on in the Frivolity
Theatre had penetrated to the outside world.

Shaftesbury Avenue blazed with light as usual. Crowds--but how different
to this one!--poured from the other playhouses. The street was full of
cabs and carriages, the roar of late traffic, the hoarse shouts of
newsboys selling the last edition of the evening papers. The great
restaurants--Trocadero, Criterion, Monico--were hung with huge
arc-lamps, turning the night into wan and feverish day. Round about
Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street everything was precisely the same as
it had been. Was it all a dream? the late audience of the Frivolity were
asking each other.

The question was not answered in words. Suffering eyes and stricken
faces told their own tale.

Hampson, the journalist, was full of a wonder and awe for which there
was no name. He had recognized Joseph at once, a changed--marvellously
changed--Joseph, but his old friend still.

The whole thing had come upon him like a thunderclap, for it must be
remembered that he had not seen the report in the _Daily Wire_, and knew
nothing of the occurrences in Wales.

The extraordinary transformation of his friend, the supernatural power
of his words, the enormous hypnotic power of them--what did all these
things betoken?

He stood motionless, just opposite to the door of the Eccentric Club,
careless of the crowd that passed and jostled him, lost in a startled
dream.

Then he felt some one touch his arm, and, looking up quickly, saw that
the young man who had sat by him in the theatre, and whom he had heard
addressed as Sir Thomas Ducaine, was accosting him.

The baronet's face was white and frightened, and he seemed oblivious of
all ordinary conventions.

"I say," he began, in a curiously high-pitched and nervous voice, "what
does it all mean? You were sitting next to me, you know. And there was a
girl I know well--very well indeed--with that man; but I thought she was
in Wales--"

He broke off short, realizing that he was speaking to a total stranger.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said, "but I am unstrung, as I fancy most
of us are to-night who have been to the Frivolity."

He lifted his hat mechanically, and was about to move away.

Hampson recollected a fact which he had hitherto forgotten. Sir Thomas
had called out "Mary!" when the mysterious party of strangers had first
appeared in the box.

"You mean Miss Lys?" he said.

The young man with great possessions stopped dead.

"You know her?" he said, in accents of extreme surprise. "Then you know
who the--the man was, too? At first I thought--oh, a mad
thought!--because of the extraordinary resemblance!"

He was still a little incoherent, and unable to speak the thoughts that
were rushing through his startled brain. With shaking hand, he took out
a gold cigarette-case and tried to light one of the little white tubes.

A tall policeman came up to them.

"You must move on, if you please, gentlemen," he said. "The pavements
must be kept clear at this time of night."

"Look here," Sir Thomas said to Hampson, "my name is Ducaine--Sir Thomas
Ducaine. You know something of all this--you know Miss Lys. I want to
talk to you. I must talk to you, sir! Now, I live only a few yards from
here, my house is in Piccadilly. Won't you come and spend an hour or two
with me? It would be a great kindness. I'm sure you want some supper,
too, after all this terrible excitement."

Hampson made up his mind immediately. He was attracted to the
fresh-looking, strong-faced young man. He liked what he had said about
the leprous play, before Joseph's appearance. And he also was terribly
bewildered, and needed human companionship and talk. Moreover, he was
faint with hunger--the emotions he had endured had robbed his blood of
all his strength, and his brain had burnt up the vital force within him.
He would go with Sir Thomas.

"I thank you!" he said, noting with surprise how thin and tired his own
voice was. "I shall be glad to come. My name is Hampson, and I am the
editor of a weekly newspaper."

"We will go at once," Sir Thomas answered, and crossing the Circus, the
strangely assorted pair walked rapidly down Piccadilly.

They had traversed about a third of that street of clubs and mansions
when the baronet stopped at the massive door of a large bow-windowed
house, opened it with a tiny Bramah key, and Hampson found himself, for
the first time in his life, in the house of a wealthy and fashionable
young gentleman of London.

A silent manservant took their coats, and the host led the way to a
small room, which opened into the hall at the further end of it. Here
another and older man was waiting--the butler, evidently. A small round
table was laid for supper with dainty richness. A mass of hothouse
violets stood in a silver bowl in the centre; there were tall
hock-glasses of Venetian ware, purple also; and the table-cloth and
serviettes were fringed with purple.

"Bring some supper at once, please!" Sir Thomas said. "Something light,
Mr. Hampson? Oh, very well! Some _consommé_, _Bryce_, some devilled
oysters--yes, and an omelette afterwards. That will do."

"And the wine, Sir Thomas?"

"Oh, bring some hock and seltzer!"

The man withdrew.

"Excuse me one moment, Mr. Hampson," the baronet said. "I am expecting a
rather important telegram. If it has arrived, they will have put it in
the library. I will go and see."

He hurried out of the room. Hampson looked round him. The walls were
panelled in white, and priceless old sporting prints, full of vivid
color and movement, had been let into the panels. A great couch, covered
in blue linen, with broad white stripes, was drawn up to the cosy fire,
and on the tiger skin which served as a hearthrug a little Japanese
spaniel was lying asleep. In a moment or two Sir Thomas returned. He had
changed his evening coat for a smoking-jacket of quilted satin, and wore
a pair of straw-woven Italian slippers upon his feet.

"Supper won't be a moment," he said, sinking down upon the couch. "I
have trained all my people to be quick. But if you are not too tired,
will you tell me, or begin to tell me, what you know? This means more to
me than you can possibly imagine."

"How shall I begin?"

"Who is that man who appeared in the theatre, and swayed and held it
with the force of his words?"

"He is named Joseph Bethune," Hampson answered, "and he is a great
personal friend of my own."

"And why was Miss Lys with him? And what do you know of her?"

With perfect frankness Hampson explained how Mary had saved his life. He
told of the strange occurrences in connection with Joseph's accident,
recovery, and journey to Wales.

"Miss Lys, I know," Hampson said, "was greatly impressed by Joseph and
the occurrences connected with him. Only three days ago I met her, and
we talked about him. She had not heard from her brother, with whom
Joseph was staying. I had not heard from Joseph, either, for several
weeks. We were both distressed."

Suddenly, as he said this, Hampson started. He remembered the great
fiery cross that he and Mary had seen hanging over London from the top
of St Paul's Cathedral.

Why should he keep back anything? he thought; and in short, graphic
sentences he described this marvel also.

Sir Thomas was intensely interested. His face was grave and set, his
eyes wide with wonder.

"Of course, I knew Miss Lys had a brother in Wales," he said. "I know
her very well. But she has never said anything to me of this man Joseph,
whom she sent to stay with him. What you have told me is extraordinary.
Frankly, I could not have believed in all of it had I not been present
at the theatre to-night. But I still fail to establish any connection
between Joseph in Wales with Lluellyn Lys and Miss Lys with Joseph at
the theatre."

"And I am as much in the dark as you are," Hampson answered.

While they had been speaking, the butler had been superintending the
movements of a footman who was bringing in the soup and the chafing-dish
with the oysters. Now he came up to his master, carrying a silver tray,
upon which was a folded newspaper.

"I am sorry, Sir Thomas," he said, "but I could not help overhearing
part of what you and this gentleman were saying. You were mentioning
some names which made me think that you could not have seen the paper
to-day, sir."

"Why, what d'you mean, Bryce?" Sir Thomas asked, in amazement.

The butler took the paper, opened it, pointed to a column, and said:

"The name 'Joseph' and Mr. Lys, sir. Mr. Lys is dead, sir. It's all
here, in a special telegram to the _Daily Wire_."

Sir Thomas jumped up from his seat, seized the paper, and spread it out
upon the supper-table.

Hampson rose also, and together the two men read the account of the
doings in Wales with eyes that were nearly starting out of their heads.

The butler and the footman had meanwhile discreetly withdrawn.

Sir Thomas was the first to break the silence. He read less quickly than
the practised journalist, but he was not long in supplying the
connecting links of the strange story.

He raised his hand to his head, with a weary and dejected movement.

"It is beyond me," he said. "Since chance has thrown us together, and
you have been so frank with me, I will be equally so with you. I, Mr.
Hampson, have long had hopes that Mary Lys would be my wife."

As they sat down to supper, probably even in London, that city of
marvels, no couple more unlike could have been found anywhere together
at that midnight hour. The one was a millionaire, rich even in this age
of huge fortunes. He was young, goodly to look upon, in perfect health,
and a universal favorite in society.

The man who confronted him was unknown, of humble origin, frail body,
and regarded himself as abnormally lucky to be earning four hundred
pounds a year by constant, highly specialized toil, and the exercise of
a keen and nimble intelligence.

Yet on this night, at any rate, chance--or may we not say rather the
exercise of the Supreme Will?--had brought them together in the
strangest circumstances and under the strangest conditions. Moreover,
unlike as they were in temperament, position and way of thought, both
were drawn to each other. They had become friends at once, and they were
aware of the fact.

For the first few minutes of the meal there was silence. Hampson was
physically sick and faint. His whole body cried out for food and
nourishment. He did not know that the _consommé_ he was enjoying was a
_consommé_ of clear turtle, but almost immediately strength began to
return to him. He was not an absolute teetotaller, though it was only on
the rarest occasions that he touched intoxicants. So to-night, though he
partook sparingly of a simple glass of golden hock, he was unaware that
it was the cuvée of '94, from the famous vineyard of Wauloh Landskrona.

Sir Thomas broke the silence.

"We have been strangely brought together," he said, "and by forces which
I do not pretend to analyse or understand. But I can trust you, I know,
and I am going to tell you something of my life."

He paused and frowned, as if thinking deeply. Then he began again--

"I have known Mary Lys for a long time," he said slowly and with some
difficulty, "and I have loved her deeply almost from the first. To me
she is the most precious thing on earth. She is far, far above me--that
I know; but, nevertheless, a great love gives courage, and I dared to
tell her of mine. I think--indeed, I am sure--that she cares for me. But
there has always been a great barrier between us, and one which has
seemed insurmountable. It seems more so than ever now, after what I have
learnt to-night. I have always been unable to believe in Christianity.
It means nothing to me. It is a beautiful fable, that is all. And I
cannot pretend, Mr. Hampson--I would not if I could. To gain the woman I
love for my wife I would do anything except live a lie. No union
founded on a fundamental deceit can be a happy one. If I pretended to
believe I should never know a moment's peace. Mary would soon find it
out by that marvellous sixth sense of hers, and both our lives would be
ruined beyond recall."

"I fear," Hampson answered sadly, "that there are many people who
profess and call themselves Christians who would have no such scruples,
Sir Thomas. They do you honor."

"Oh, no," the baronet answered. "It's temperament with me, that's all.
Well, again and again I have returned to the attack, but it has been
useless. Nothing will move her. However much she loved me, so she
stated, she would never marry me unless I gave up everything and
followed Christ. Those were her very words. And that I cannot do, for
Christ is nothing to me, and does not touch my heart at all. I can't
believe in Him. It is an impossibility. And I am rich, very rich. I love
my life; I am fond of beautiful things; I shrink from pain and sorrow
and poverty. And yet I don't think I am a bad man, as men go. I have no
particular vices. When you saw me at that filthy play to-night it was
quite an accident. I hate that sort of thing; the life that the
Frivolity type of man leads is absolutely disgusting to me. I felt
unhappy and bored; it happened that I had no engagement to-night, and I
turned into the first place I came to, without a thought. But Mary wants
me to give up everything and work among the poor--as a very poor man
myself. How can I give it up--my houses, estates, my yacht, and
pictures, all the things that make life pleasant? I can't do it! And
now, after to-night, Mary will be further away from me than ever."

He spoke with grief and despair in his fresh, young voice. Obviously he
was deeply stirred and moved. But there was doubt in his voice also. He
seemed to be talking in order to convince himself. There was a struggle
going on within his mind.

"What a wonderful man your friend Joseph must be," he said suddenly.
"There cannot be any one else like him in the world. There seems
something almost supernatural about him--only, of course, the
supernatural does not exist."

Then Hampson spoke.

"I know that you will believe what I am going to tell you," he said
quietly. "First, I must say a few words about myself. All my thinking
life--since I was a very young man--I have been a convinced Christian.
Even in the darkest hours my faith has not wavered, whatever my sins and
errors may have been. Joseph, on the contrary, has been as convinced an
atheist as you say that you yourself are. A hundred times in my hearing
he has derided Jesus Christ and mocked at God. He threw up a great
career at Cambridge because he felt it his duty to express his
convictions in public. Only a few weeks ago he was exactly of the same
way of thinking. To-night you heard him sway and move hundreds of sinful
men and women directly inspired by God. Like a prophet of old--even as
Jesus Himself--he preached the truth in the places of the ungodly. You,
yourself, were profoundly stirred. Now, I ask you, what does this
mean?"

Sir Thomas had been gazing at his guest with deep interest and wonder.

"You startle me, sir," he said. "You overwhelm me with what you tell me.
I must believe you. I do indeed! But what had changed him? Tell me
that!"

"The power of the Holy Ghost," said the journalist.

There was a silence.

Sir Thomas leant back in his chair with an abstracted gaze. He had eaten
nothing, though his guest, wiser than he, had made a sufficient and
recuperative meal.

The little Japanese spaniel rose from his sleep before the glowing fire,
and put his nose into his master's hand. Sir Thomas stroked the tiny
creature absently.

"The Holy Ghost?" he said, fixing his eyes upon Hampson. "What is that?
Who can say?"

"The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one
substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and
eternal God."

"I would," the young man said, with great sadness--"would that the Holy
Ghost would come to me also."

He had hardly finished the sentence--probably the first prayer he had
ever made since he lisped "Our Father" at his mother's knee--when the
door opened, and the butler entered the room.

"A note, Sir Thomas," the man said. "A note from Miss Lys. The bearer
awaits an answer."

The young man took the note with trembling fingers and tore it open.
This was what he read:--

     "I saw you in the theatre to-night, and I knew that you were
     disturbed about me. Have no fear. I am writing this from my aunt's
     house, where I went immediately when we left the theatre. But I
     want you to come and see me here to-morrow, quite early. Would ten
     o'clock be too soon? I have something of the highest importance to
     say to you. Send back an answer to say that you can come. I have
     been here for an hour, and I have been thinking of you the whole
     time. I have a premonition about you--a happy one!

     "MARY."



CHAPTER IX

A LINK CHAPTER


Joseph, his followers, and Mary Lys, had passed out of the theatre
without hindrance in the dark. They encountered no one in their passage,
and found themselves in Shaftesbury Avenue as people pass from one dream
into another. The faces of all of them were pale and set, but no one
spoke.

It is a well-known fact that hardly any one attracts attention in the
streets of London unless because of noise or eccentric behavior. This is
quite true of the daytime, and especially true at night. So cosmopolitan
is the modern Babylon, so intent upon their own business or pleasure are
the inhabitants, that a Chinaman in full native costume or an admiral in
full-dress would do no more than excite the merest passing regard.

When, therefore, Joseph and his companions walked up the busy
pleasure-street, they were almost unnoticed. A man with a soft felt hat
pressed down upon his forehead, a bearded man wearing a black cloak of a
somewhat peculiar cut--what was there in that? A hospital nurse and a
few grave-faced men in country-clothes and obviously from the
country--who was to give them any notice?

It happened, therefore, that the little party were well on their way
towards Oxford Street before the first member of the audience had left
the Frivolity. As far as any knowledge of their whereabouts was
concerned, they might have vanished into thin air.

They walked on in silence, Joseph leading the way with Mary, the
half-dozen men following behind.

When Oxford Street was reached, Joseph hailed a cab.

"You have been with us long enough for to-night, sister," he said; "your
aunt and uncle must be anxious about you, and you owe them a duty after
you have fulfilled your duty to the Lord. Truly, the Holy Spirit has
been with us on this night, during the first few hours we have been
here. May He always be with us and bless and prosper our great
undertaking! Good-night, and God bless you, my dear sister. If it be
God's will we shall all meet again on the morrow. It may be that even
before then some one of us will receive a sign or a revelation."

His eyes shone with mystical fire as he said this, and watched the cab
drive away into the roar of lighted traffic.

Then he turned to his companions.

"Brethren," he said, "I feel, I know not why or how, that my work
to-night is not yet ended. But go you to your lodgings. I will be with
you for prayer and to break the fast not long after dawn. You trust me
still? You believe in our great work? You are not terrified by the noise
and the glitter of this wicked, mighty city? If there is one among you
who would even now draw back, and once more seek the quiet hills of
Wales, then he may yet do so on this very night."

"We have no home, Master," one of the men said, Owen Rees by name, and
obviously speaking in the name of his companions. "We have no home but
the Kingdom of God. We have set our hand to the plough, and will not
turn back. The Lord is with us," he concluded simply--"whatever and why
should we fear?"

"Then, brethren," Joseph answered, "God be with you. That omnibus there
will take you to the door of the place by the station where we have
taken our lodging. David Foulkes knows the number, and has the money.
Pray for us all."

With these words he turned and strode away westward. They gazed after
him until the tall, black figure was swallowed up by the crowd.

On and on went Joseph, regardless of all around him. His mind was full
of doubt and fear, despite the calm words he had spoken to his
disciples. All the saints of God have known dark and empty moments,
wherein all seems hopeless and sad, and the great world seems closing
round, shutting them off from the Almighty. It is always thus. We are
tried and tempted to the last. We also must know faintly some of those
hours of agony which the Man of Sorrows Himself knew and suffered.

It was thus with Joseph now. During the tremendous effort in the theatre
he had been conscious that God was with him, and speaking through the
mouth of His servant. He was the vessel of the Unseen and Awful Power.
In a flash of Divine inspiration he had known of the lives of the men
who sat below him.

But when it was all over, a reaction set in. He was filled with gloomy
and troubled thoughts. Had his words been right words after all? Was the
impulse which had drawn him to the theatre with irresistible strength an
impulse from on high? And who was he, after all, that he should lead
others in a new crusade against the sin and wickedness of this great
city?

He felt exactly as if some actual personality which had been animating
him was now withdrawn.

To his left, Park Lane stretched away towards Piccadilly, the palaces
there all blazing with light. It was typical of what he had come to
denounce, to warn, and to save.

And how was it possible that he, a weak man, could do this thing?

He walked on. Half-way down Park Lane he saw that a coffee-stall stood
in the shadow of the Park railings, drawn up close to the curb. The
sight reminded him that he had not eaten for many hours, and he crossed
the road towards it.

There were no customers but himself, and in a moment or two a steaming
cup of coffee and two great wedges of bread-and-butter stood before him.

He had never enjoyed a meal so much, he thought idly--no, not even in
the recent days of starvation in Whitechapel, when an unexpected
windfall had provided him and Hampson with food.

Whitechapel! What a lifetime of experience had been his since those
days! Wales, the mystical life with Lluellyn Lys--

A flush of shame and sorrow came over him. Why had he doubted even for a
single moment the power and guidance of God! Had not the Holy Ghost been
always with him--always, from the very first?

"O Lord," he cried, in his heart, "forgive Thine unworthy servant his
weak doubts and fears! I know that Thou art with me, now, and forever
more!"

He had concluded the short and unspoken prayer when he was startled by a
voice.

He had not noticed that when the coffee-stall proprietor--an old man
with snow-white hair, and large, horn-rimmed spectacles--had given him
the coffee, he had returned to a large book he was reading.

Now Joseph looked round suddenly, and realized that the old fellow was
saying the sentences aloud to himself.

"He shall call upon Me, and I will hear him; yea, I was with him in
trouble. I will deliver him, and bring him to honour."

Joseph put down his pennies upon the counter. The answer to his prayer
had come, once more God had spoken.

"Thank ye!" said the old man, in a strong Scotch accent. "I doot but I
startled ye with me reading. I read aloud to my wife, who can nae mair
see to read for hersel', and sae I've got in the way o't. But they're
gran' words, lad."

"Thank you for them, and God bless you!" Joseph answered; and with the
old fellow's kindly "Good nicht!" ringing in his ears, resumed his walk.

He was immeasurably comforted and helped, and his whole soul went up in
a burst of praise and adoration.

No thought of sleep came to him. He no longer felt physically weary. He
was impelled to walk and pray for sleeping London.

"Lord, grant that they will hear me! Lord, send down Thy Holy Spirit
upon me, and give me Thy grace! Raise up great and powerful helpers for
the work, for I am weak and poor."

He was in Piccadilly now, and as he prayed he walked more slowly.

Oh, that those great people who lived in this wonderful street--now so
dark and silent--would open the doors of their hearts that Christ might
enter in!

The dark was suddenly illuminated.

A great door swung slowly open, and two men in evening dress stood
together upon the threshold.

He turned instinctively and looked them full in the face.

There was a startled cry of "Joseph!" And as if in a dream he mounted
the steps and passed under the lintel.

The door closed quietly behind him.



CHAPTER X

THE COUSINS


It was midnight when Mary Lys arrived at her aunt's house in Berkeley
Square. Lady Kirwan had gone to bed; but it happened, so the butler told
her, that Miss Kirwan was sitting up in her boudoir, in the hopes that
her cousin might yet arrive that night.

The greeting between the two girls was warmly affectionate. Marjorie had
always loved Mary as a sister, loved her and reverenced her deeply. The
pretty society girl was certainly of a butterfly nature, loving the
bright and merry side of life, and unwilling to look upon its darker
aspects. Yet she was unspoiled at heart, and the constant spectacle of
Mary's devotion to the suffering and poor of the world, her steadfast
pursuit of a hard and difficult path, always touched the younger girl.

"Oh, you poor dear," she said, "I am so glad you have arrived at last!
We have all been so anxious about you. Mother has been actually crying,
and father is in a great way. Mr. Owen, the solicitor who went with you
to poor Lluellyn's funeral, has been here, and there has been something
in the paper, too! We have all been so upset!"

While Marjorie was speaking, her maid had entered and taken Mary's
nurse's cloak from her. Mary sank into a chair.

"Dear Marjorie," she said, "I'm so sorry! I blame myself very much. I
ought, of course, to have sent auntie a telegram. But such wonderful
things have happened and are happening that my mind has been taken from
everything else. It was very wrong of me."

"Never mind now, dear! But how pale you are! You have gone through so
much, poor dear, of course! You must have something to eat at once, and
afterwards you shall tell me everything. Antoinette shall get you
something--would some soup or some chicken-jelly do?"

Mary asked for a bowl of bread-and-milk, and while she was waiting gazed
round her cousin's pretty sanctum with a sense of rest and ease which
was most grateful to her overstrung nerves, her utterly exhausted body
and mind. Marjorie went into her bedroom, which opened into the boudoir,
unwilling to tire Mary by questions until she was refreshed by food.

It was a beautiful place, this nest of the wealthy, happy maiden of
society, though it had individuality and character also. It was thought
out, the expression of a personality, and no mere haphazard collection
of costly and beautiful things flung together anyhow, without regard to
fitness or arrangements.

How peaceful and cultured it all was!

For some moments the tired girl abandoned herself to the gracious
influence of the place, enjoying a moment of intense physical ease.
Then, swiftly, her thoughts sprang over London from West to East. She
saw the huge, gaunt hospital, its dim wards full of groaning sufferers,
lying there in night-long agony that the rich and fortunate might build
themselves just such "lordly pleasure-houses" as this. She thought of
the flaring gin-palaces of Whitechapel, at this hour full of the
wretched and the lost. The noise, the hideous oaths, the battered, evil
faces of vile men and women--men and women made in God's image, men and
women whom Jesus came to save, but who had never had a chance. It all
came to her with sudden vividness: the sounds, the smells, the crude raw
coloring.

A passionate fervor of love welled up in her pure heart, a passionate
rejection of the soft and pleasant things of life. Oh, that she could do
something, something, however small, to help all this sorrow and pain,
to purge London of its sores, to tell those who lived in high places and
wore soft raiment of the terrible Nemesis they were laying up for
themselves in another world!

Marjorie Kirwan only saw a pale-faced and beautiful girl, whom she
loved, sitting at a little octagonal table sipping a bowl of milk. But
if there were any of God's angels in that room--and may we not suppose
that the Almighty Father had given so high and pure a spirit into
especial charge?--if there were, indeed, august and unseen presences
there, they saw a saint praying to God for the conversion of London and
for success in the great battle which she had come to wage with Joseph
and his companions.

"That's better, dear!" Marjorie said, her pretty face all alight with
sympathy, and, it must be said, with curiosity also. "Now, do please
tell me what all these mysterious things mean? What is all this in the
newspaper? And your Joseph, the man with the wonderful eyes, the man we
saw in the cab some weeks ago, before poor dear Lluellyn's death, what
is he doing? Why were you with him?"

"I don't know how I can tell you, dear," Mary said, suddenly alive to
the extreme difficulty of the task which lay before her, for how could
she hope to explain the deep solemnness and import of the coming
mission?

"Oh, but I am sure I shall understand!" Marjorie answered. "And I am
certain it is awfully interesting!"

Mary winced. The light words jarred upon her mood of deep fervor and
resolve; but, gathering her powers together, she did her best.

"I believe," she said, in grave, quiet tones, "that a special revelation
is to come to London in the person of Joseph. Strange and, indeed,
miraculous things have happened. God has spoken in no uncertain way, and
the Holy Spirit has manifested Himself as He has never done before in
our time. I cannot now go into all the circumstances attending my dear
brother's death. That they were supernatural and God-sent no one who
witnessed them can have any manner of doubt. But, briefly, I can tell
you just this. The Holy Ghost has descended upon this man Joseph in full
and abundant measure, even as He descended upon the Apostles of old.
Joseph and a few devoted companions have come to London. I have come
with them. We are about to wage a holy war against the wickedness of
London, and the Spirit is with us.

"I cannot measure or define Joseph's new nature. It is all beyond me.
But I have thought deeply about it, and this is what I think. Joseph
seems to be two persons, at different times. It almost appears to be a
case of what the French doctors who are experimenting with hypnotism
call "dual control." Yet both these natures are quite distinct from his
old one. He was an atheist, you know, until he went to Wales, but now he
is the most sincere, and convinced believer that I have ever met. So far
he is no more than a brilliant and high-minded man who is trying to live
a holy life, a man such as one has met before, now and then. But the
other side of him is quite different again. At times he seems to one
almost supernatural--or perhaps _supernormal_ is the better word.
Something comes into him. He is filled with the Holy Ghost. And there
were such strange circumstances about his change of character and dear
Lluellyn's death.... Do you know, dear, I sometimes wonder if it
mightn't be that an angel of God inhabits him at times! People can be
possessed by evil spirits, why couldn't they be controlled by good
ones?"

Marjorie listened earnestly, the light fading out of her bright face as
she did so.

"I don't think I quite understand," she said, with a little shudder.
"Anyhow, it all seems very strange and--What can Joseph do--what can you
do? Surely there will be a great deal of trouble and scandal! And, Mary
darling, you mustn't be mixed up in anything of this sort. Oh, it would
never do! What would father and mother say? Why, it's like"--she
hesitated for a simile. "Why, it's like being a member of the Salvation
Army! You can't go about dressed like that, dear--and in the streets,
too, with a trombone. You are not your dear sweet self to-night, dear,
so we won't talk about it any more now. You have been through so much,
no wonder you are tired. Go to bed now, and you will be better in the
morning. They will have taken your boxes to your room, and I will send
Antoinette to you at once."

Mary rose.

"I do need sleep," she said, with a faint smile. "I do need it
dreadfully badly. But about my boxes, Marjorie dear. I only had one, and
I have forgotten all about it, I'm afraid. I suppose it's at the station
or somewhere. Joseph led us straight from the station to the theatre."

"The theatre! You've been to the theatre to-night! Before coming here!
Are you mad, Mary?"

Marjorie's face had grown quite white, her voice was shrill in its
horror and incredulity. What could her cousin mean? Did she actually
assert that two days after her brother's funeral she had gone to a
theatre with a strange man, and kept the whole household in Berkeley
Square in a state of suspense, while she did this dreadful thing?

"I can't explain, dear," Mary answered, in a tired voice. "But you will
know all about it to-morrow. It is not as you think. And now I will
really go to bed."

She kissed her astonished cousin, and, with a faint smile, left the
boudoir under convoy of the French maid.

After her last prayer--for her whole life was one long prayer--she fell
into a deep and dreamless sleep, but not before she had sent a certain
note....

There was but little sleep for Marjorie that night. The hour was not
late for her, it was not yet one o'clock, and night after night in the
season she would dance till dawn.

But the girl was stirred and frightened to the depths of her rather
shallow nature by the things which she had heard from Mary. The deep
solemnity and utter reality of Mary's words were full of a sort of
terror to Marjorie. They came into her gay, thoughtless and sheltered
life with unwelcome force and power. She wanted to hear no such things.
Life was happy and splendid for her always. It was one continual round
of pleasure, and no day of it had palled as yet. There was nothing in
the world that she might wish for that she could not have. Her enormous
wealth, her beauty, social position, and personal fascination brought
all men to her feet.

And incense was sweet in her nostrils! Heart-whole, she loved to be
adored. Religion was all very well, of course. All nice people went to
church on Sunday morning. It was _comme il faut_, and then one walked in
the Park afterwards for church parade, and met all one's friends.

Every Sunday Marjorie and Lady Kirwan attended the fashionable
ritualistic church of St. Elwyn's, Mayfair. The vicar, the Honorable
and Reverend Mr. Persse, was a great friend of Marjorie's, and she and
her mother had given him three hundred pounds only a few weeks ago for
the wonderful new altar frontals worked by the Sisters of Bruges.

But Mary's religion! Ah, that was a very different thing. It was harsh,
uncomely, unladylike even.

And what did this preposterous business about "Joseph" mean? Marjorie
had seen the paper, and could make nothing of it. And then the theatre!
Mary was making fun of her. She could not really have meant--

With these thoughts whirling in her brain and troubling it, the girl
fell asleep at last. Although she did not know it nor suspect it, she
was never again to wake exactly the same person as she had been. She did
not realize that her unconscious antagonism to Mary's words sprang from
one cause alone, that a process had begun in her which was to lead her
into other paths and new experiences.

She did not know that, at last, for the first time in her bright,
careless life, conscience was awake.

It was not till nearly nine o'clock that she awoke. Antoinette had
peeped into the bedroom several times. When at length the maid brought
the dainty porcelain cup of chocolate, a bright sun was pouring into the
room through the apricot-colored silk curtains.

Marjorie did not immediately remember the events and her sensations of
the night before. When she did so, they all came back in a sudden flash
of memory.

"Antoinette," she said quickly, "find Mrs. Summers"--Lady Kirwan's
maid--"and ask if I can come to mamma's room at once."

In a minute the maid returned.

"M'lady is nearly dressed, mademoiselle," she said. "Elle sera bien
contente de voir mademoiselle toute de suite."

Slipping on a dressing-gown and fur slippers, Marjorie went to her
mother's room immediately. She was bursting with eagerness and anxiety
to tell her the news. She was not in the least ill-natured or
small-minded. She had not the least wish to "tell tales." But she was
genuinely and seriously alarmed about her beloved cousin's future.

She found Lady Kirwan already dressed and sitting in her boudoir. The
elder lady wore a face of utter consternation, and her daughter saw at
once that there was little she could tell her.

Mrs. Summers, an elderly, confidential maid, was in the room, and there
was a pile of morning papers upon the writing-table.

Nothing that went on in Berkeley Square ever escaped the discreet
Summers. She was perfectly aware of Mary's late arrival, and that she
had come without any luggage. When Mary had been put to bed, she had
found out from Antoinette all that the French girl could tell her.

And the morning journals, which Mrs. Summers generally looked over
before taking them to her mistress, supplied the rest.

All London was at this moment ringing with the news of what had happened
at the Frivolity Theatre the night before. There had been several daily
journalists among the audience, and plenty of other people either
directly connected with, or, at any rate, in touch with, the Press.

The news eclipsed everything else. There were columns of description,
rumor and report.

Those who had actually been present had gone straight to the offices of
their papers while still under the influence of the tremendous scene
they had witnessed.

Joseph was in nearly every case identified with the hero of the strange
episodes on the Welsh Hills as exclusively reported in the _Daily Wire_
special of the day before. But the wildest rumors and conjectures filled
the papers.

Some said that the stranger and his disciples had appeared miraculously
in a sudden flash of light, and disappeared equally mysteriously. The
extraordinary and heart-piercing likeness of the stranger to the
generally accepted pictures of Our Lord was spoken of with amazement,
incredulity, dismay, or contempt, as the case might be.

And nearly all of the papers spoke of a beautiful woman's face beside
the preacher, a face like the face of a Madonna--Raphael's picture in
the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican--alive and glowing.

Here was something for an elderly and fashionable woman of the world to
digest ere she was but hardly from her bed!

Lady Kirwan pushed the paper towards Marjorie with trembling fingers.

"Read that," she said, in a voice quite unlike her usual tones of smooth
and gracious self-possession.

Marjorie hurriedly scanned the columns of the paper.

"Oh, mother!" she said tearfully. "Isn't it too utterly dreadful for
words! How can Mary do such things? Lluellyn's death must have turned
her brain."

"Indeed, it is the only possible explanation, Marjorie," Lady Kirwan
answered. "Poor Lluellyn's death and the strain of that dreadful
hospital work. Fortunately, no one seems to have recognized her at the
theatre. This preaching person attracted all the attention. But Mary
must see a doctor at once. I shall send a little note to Sir William
this morning, asking him to come round. Now you saw the poor girl last
night, dear. Tell me exactly what occurred. Omit nothing."

Marjorie launched into a full and breathless account of Mary's words and
behavior the night before. The girl was quite incapable of anything like
a coherent and unprejudiced narrative, and her story only increased Lady
Kirwan's wonder and distress.

"I tremble to think of the effect on your poor father's health," she
said, when Marjorie had finished. "I have already been to his room this
morning. He has seen the papers and is of course very upset. This man
Joseph will of course have to be locked up. He is a dangerous lunatic.
We have sent a message to Mary, and she is to meet us both in the
library at ten o'clock. We mean to speak very seriously to her indeed.
Perhaps you had better be there too. You have such influence with her,
darling, and she is so fond of you."

At ten o'clock Mary went down into the library. She found her aunt,
uncle, and cousin already there. Lady Kirwan kissed her with warm
affection, and Mary saw that there were tears in her aunt's kind eyes.
Sir Augustus could not rise from his chair, but as she kissed him she
saw nothing but the most genuine and almost fatherly feeling was
animating him.

A pang shot through the girl's sensitive heart. How kind and good they
were to her--how she hated to wound and hurt them! Ah, if only she could
make them see with her eyes!

"Now sit down, dear," Lady Kirwan said, "and let us talk over this
business quietly and sensibly, _en famille_, in short."

Mary was greatly agitated. She sat down as she was told. All other
thoughts but those induced by the ordeal which she was about to face
left her mind.

Now, in the early morning, the upper servants of the Berkeley Square
mansion were employed on various matters, and only a young footman was
on duty in the hall.

It chanced that on this morning a raw lad from the country, who was
being trained to London service, was the person who answered the front
door.

Sir Augustus had cleared his throat and had just begun, "Now, in regard
to this man Joseph, my dear Mary," when the door of the library swung
open, and the young footman, in a somewhat puzzled and frightened voice,
announced--

"Sir Thomas Ducaine and Mr. Joseph, to see Miss Lys!"



CHAPTER XI

JOSEPH IN MAYFAIR


There was a dead silence in the great library. The morning sunshine
poured into it, touching and refining the rich decorations with a glory
which was greater than they. But no one spoke a word. It was a dramatic
moment.

Then Mary spoke, and there was a rose-pink flush upon her cheeks.

"Oh, auntie," she said, "I am so very sorry! But I asked Sir Thomas
Ducaine to come here and see me this morning. I meant to have told you.
But when you and uncle sent for me here I forgot all about it."

"What does it matter if you did forget, dear?" she said to Mary. "Sir
Thomas, how do you do? So glad to see you!"

"How do, Ducaine?" said Sir Augustus. "Sorry I can't get up; but this
confounded gout still hangs round me. Can't quite get rid of it."

Mary saw, with a strange throb at her heart, that Ducaine's face had
changed in some subtle way. She had not seen him for a fortnight or
more, and she noticed the difference immediately, though she could
hardly have defined it. But what was Joseph doing here? How came the
Teacher to be with the man who loved her? Even as she asked herself the
question she knew the answer. What did _details_ matter, after all? The
Holy Ghost was leading and guiding....

"I want you to know my friend Joseph, Lady Kirwan," Sir Thomas said.
"Allow me to introduce him to you. Joseph--Lady Kirwan."

"How do you do, Mr. Joseph?" she answered. "This is quite an unexpected
pleasure. Of course, we have all been hearing so much about you in the
papers lately; and, of course, you were with my poor dear nephew when he
died."

She gave him her hand with great graciousness, marvelling at the tall,
erect figure, the serene power and beauty of the face, the wonderful
magnetic eyes.

Joseph bowed.

"Thank you very much, Lady Kirwan," he said in the deep, musical voice
which could rise to such heights of passion and pleading, or remain as
now, so perfectly modulated and strong. "I did not know Lluellyn for
very long, but we were like brothers for a time, and he allowed me to
see deep into his heart. I have never known a better man. I shall never
meet with anyone so good again, or so specially gifted and favored by
God."

Lady Kirwan was unable to repress a slight start of surprise. The man
before her spoke and moved like an easy and polished gentleman. There
was no possible doubt about it. And she had expected something so very
different.

"Present me to your friend, Ducaine," Sir Augustus said from his
arm-chair; and the Teacher shook hands with the great banker, and then
at his invitation sat down beside him.

"Well, sir," the baronet said, "you have been making a pretty big stir
in London, it seems. The most talked-of person in England at this
moment, I suppose."

Joseph smiled.

"Oh, that was inevitable!" he said. "I am sorry in a way, because I
intensely dislike publicity that is merely curiosity. But I expect our
backs are broad enough to bear it. And if only I can get people to
listen, that is the great thing, after all."

"But about last night," Sir Augustus said. "Aren't you afraid of being
arrested for making a disturbance? I've no doubt the play went a little
too far, even for the Frivolity. But such very drastic methods, you
know--well really, sir, if this sort of thing is allowed to continue--I
mean no unkindness, believe me--society would be quite upset."

"I hope to upset it, Sir Augustus," Joseph answered with an absolute
simplicity that robbed his words of either ostentation or offence. "No;
they will take no action against me for what I did--of that I am quite
certain."

"I by no means share your certainty," Sir Augustus answered. "Though I
am sure, for your sake, and for the sake of my niece, who, I gather,
somewhat foolishly accompanied you, I hope you're right. But I am a man
of the world, you know, while you--if you will pardon me for saying
so--hardly seem to be that."

"I was at the theatre last night," Sir Thomas Ducaine broke in, "and I'm
quite certain they will do nothing, Sir Augustus. They wouldn't dare. I
saw everything that went on. You may take it from me that it will be all
right."

"Well, you ought to know, my dear fellow," the banker said, obviously
relieved at the words of the younger man. "And I do hope,
Mr.--er--Joseph, that you don't mean to visit any more theatres, except
in a purely private capacity."

"I don't think we are likely to visit any more theatres," Ducaine said
quietly.

Everyone looked up quickly at the word "we". There was a mute
interrogation upon every face.

Then there was a silence. Sir Augustus Kirwan was thinking rapidly and
arriving at a decision. He had made his vast fortune, had gained his
reputation and influence, by just this power of rapid, decisive thought,
mingled with a shrewd intuition which all his life had served him well.

He saw at once that this man Joseph was no ordinary person. He had
pictured him as some noisy, eloquent, and sincere Welsh peasant. He
found him a gentleman in manner, and possessed of a personality so
remarkable, a latent force so unmistakable, that in any assembly,
wherever he went, he would be like a sword among kindling wood.

The newspapers of that morning had exaggerated nothing at all.

And then the man was obviously closely intimate with Sir Thomas Ducaine.
Sir Augustus made up his mind.

"I am going to do a thing very much out of the ordinary," he said. "But
this is not an ordinary occasion, however much some of us here would
like it to be so. I am going to speak out, and I am going to ask some
questions. I think you will admit that I have a right to ask them. My
nephew by marriage, Lluellyn Lys, is dead. Lady Kirwan and I stand _in
loco parentis_ to our dear niece here, Mary Lys. She is, of course, of
age, and legally her own mistress. But there are moral obligations which
are stronger than legal ones. Very well, then. Mary, my dear girl, I
want you to tell me why you asked Sir Thomas Ducaine to come here this
morning. And did you ask Mr. Joseph here to accompany him?"

"I asked Sir Thomas to come, uncle," she said, "because I wanted to
persuade him to meet Joseph. I wanted him to hear the truth as I have
heard it. I wanted him to believe in Christ, and follow Him with us. I
did not ask Joseph to come here. I did not know that he had ever met Sir
Thomas."

Then Ducaine broke in.

"I think, Sir Augustus," he said, "that here I must make an explanation.
Mary and I are old friends. We have known each other for a long time."

He paused, with an evident difficulty in continuing, nor did he see the
swift glance which passed between Lady Kirwan and her husband--a glance
full of surprise, meaning, and satisfaction, which said as plainly as
possible, "this quite alters the position of affairs!"

Ducaine continued:--

"I hate speaking about it," he said, "but you have a right to know. I
love her better than anything else in the world, and over and over
again I have asked her to be my wife. She has always refused me. I have
understood that such a great joy might be possible for me if I could
believe as Mary believes. But I couldn't do so. I could not believe in
Christ, and of course I could not pretend to accept Christianity in its
full sense unless I was really convinced. It was no use trying to trick
myself into a state of mind which my conscience would tell me was
insincere. There the matter has rested until last night. Last night I
was at the theatre, and saw Mary with Joseph. Afterwards, when I came
out, I tried to find them everywhere, but they had vanished. I was in a
terrible state of mind when I met, by chance, a friend of Joseph's--a
Mr. Hampson--who came home to supper with me. Late that same evening I
met, by a coincidence"--Joseph shook his head with a smile, but Ducaine
did not notice him--"by a coincidence, I met Joseph. We have talked all
night long, and I have come to this conclusion."

He paused, and, in the sunlight, Mary could see that little beads of
perspiration stood out upon his brow. There was a dead silence in the
room now, every ear was strained--one heart, at least, was beating
rapidly.

"Yes?" Sir Augustus said.

"That I am going to throw in my lot with Joseph and his campaign," Sir
Thomas replied. "My money, and such influence as I have, will be at his
disposal. Now, I do this without any thought of what I hope to gain by
it--the priceless treasure I hope to gain." He looked at Mary for the
first time since he had begun to speak. "I am not yet convinced of the
truth of Christianity. I do not, even after this momentous decision
which I have taken, believe in Christ. But I want to believe, for the
truth's own sake. One way or another the next few months will settle the
question for me, and so I am going with Joseph."

Sir Augustus had listened to the young man with tightly shut lips.
Nothing in his face showed what he thought.

Suddenly he turned to Joseph.

"Well, sir," he said, not without a kindly irony in his voice, "you may
be quite sure that London will listen to you now. With Sir Thomas
Ducaine's money and influence behind you, the path is smooth."

"It is God's will--blessed be His name!" Joseph answered quietly.

His voice was so humble and sincere, so full of gratitude and fervor,
that even in the mind of the hard-headed man of the world no further
doubt could possibly remain.

"Be that as it may," Sir Augustus said, after a pause. "I suppose you
have some sort of a definite programme, sir?"

The grave answer rang like a bell in the room:--

"To succor, help, and comfort all that are in danger, necessity, and
tribulation. To strengthen such as do stand; to comfort and help the
weak-hearted; to raise up them that fall; to rebuke those that do evil
in the sight of the Lord, and finally to beat down Satan under our
feet."

Once more there was a silence.

"And you, Mary?" Sir Augustus asked suddenly.

"I mean to give my humble aid to this great work," Mary answered slowly.
"Oh, don't oppose me, uncle--don't forbid me! It would make me so
unhappy to do anything that you did not wish. But Jesus calls me--He
calls all of us--His voice is ever in my ears."

"I propose," Sir Augustus said, at length, "that you all go into another
room and leave me here with my wife. I should like to discuss this with
her for a few minutes."

When the two elder people were alone, their conference was brief and to
the point.

"Of course, we shall withdraw all opposition," said Sir Augustus the
worldly. "The thing has quite changed its aspect. This Joseph fellow is,
of course, as mad as a hatter. But he is obviously a gentleman, and, at
the same time, quite sincere--another Lluellyn, in fact, though with a
good deal more in him. Ducaine's accession to the movement makes all the
difference. Joseph will become a fashionable fad, and all sorts of
people will join him in search of a new sensation. I'm quite looking
forward to it. London will be more amusing than it has been for years.
Then it will all die a natural death, this Joseph will disappear, and
Mary will marry Tom Ducaine, the biggest catch in London."

"It does seem as if Providence was in it, after all," said Lady Kirwan
piously.

"No doubt, no doubt!" the banker answered jovially. "Just make the girl
promise to make this house her home--she shall have perfect freedom to
go and come as she pleases, of course--and everything will come right."

They had settled it to their mutual satisfaction, and were about to send
for Mary, when the butler entered the library and announced that the
Reverend Mr. Persse had called and asked for her ladyship.

Lady Kirwan was about to say that she was engaged, and could not see the
clergyman, when Sir Augustus interposed. "I think I should see Mr.
Persse, dear," he said. And then, when the man had gone: "We'll
introduce him to this Joseph. It will be most amusing, and I want a
little amusement, after being tied by the leg like this for nearly a
fortnight. And besides, that humbug Persse will go and tell everyone in
Mayfair, and it will give the whole thing a _cachet_ and a send-off!
Don't say anything--leave it all to me."

Sir Augustus did not like The Hon. Mr. Persse, the fashionable clergyman
of Mayfair, and it was with a somewhat sardonic smile that he welcomed
him a moment afterwards.

The vicar of St. Elwyn's was a tall, clean-shaven priest, who would have
been pompous had he not been so suave. His face was a smooth
cream-color, his eyes ingratiating and perhaps a little furtive, while
the mouth was mobile and clever. He occupied a somewhat peculiar
position among the London clergy. He was an advanced Ritualist,
inclining to many ceremonies that were purely Roman and Continental.
But he had very little of the ascetic about him, and was as far removed
from the patient, self-denying Anglican clergy of the slum districts in
the East End, as four pounds of butter is from four o'clock. St. Elwyn's
was one of the "smartest" congregations in London. The costly splendor
of its ceremony, the perfection with which everything was done,
attracted pleasure-loving people, who would go anywhere for a thrill
that would act as the blow of a whip to jaded and enervated lives.

Mr. Persse "catered"--the word exactly describes his methods--for
precisely that class of people whom he was so successful in attracting.

"How do you do, Lady Kirwan?" he said, in a pleasant and gentlemanly
voice. "Ah, Sir Augustus, I hope you are better. It is a trying time of
the year. I have called this morning on a somewhat singular errand. I
was told, I must not say by whom, that he actually saw your niece, Miss
Lys, in the theatre last night--you have read the papers this
morning--yes?--in company with this extraordinary mountebank of whom
every one is talking. Of course I denied it indignantly. I have met Miss
Lys at your house, and I knew such a thing to be impossible. But my
informant is, I am sorry to say, a little prone to gossip and
tittle-tattle, and I thought, in justice to you that if I were armed
with an authoritative denial, I should be able to nip all such foolish
gossip in the bud, before it has time to spread. You know how people
talk, dear Lady Kirwan."

Lady Kirwan certainly knew--and so did Mr. Persse. He was the hero of
many afternoon tea-tables, and an active disseminator of gossip.

"My dear Mr. Persse," Sir Augustus said somewhat emphatically, "allow me
to tell you that you have been _quite_ mistaken in your view of the new
movement. The man whom the papers call Joseph is not at all what you
think. Sir Thomas Ducaine, for example, is hand and glove with him. I
must really correct your ideas on the point. If irregular, perhaps, the
mission will be most influential."

"Oh, ah! I had no idea," said Mr. Persse, with remarkable mental
agility. "Dear me, is that so, Sir Augustus? Anything that makes for
good, of course, must be welcomed by all of us. I myself--"

"I will introduce you to Joseph," Sir Augustus interrupted, with intense
internal enjoyment. "He happens to be in the house at this moment."

That afternoon all the evening papers contained an announcement that
Joseph, the new evangelist, would preach at St. Elwyn's, Mayfair, after
evening service on the morrow--which was Sunday.

What had happened was this:

Joseph had been duly introduced to Father Persse. The latter, in whom
the instincts of the theatrical _entrepreneur_ were very largely
developed, saw his chance at once. Mayfair would have a sensation such
as it had never enjoyed before.

Joseph had promised to preach without any more words than a simple
assent. That there would probably be trouble with the bishop Mr. Persse
knew very well. But he was already out of favor in Episcopal quarters,
and could hope for nothing in that direction. At the worst, an apology
and a promise not to repeat the offence of asking a layman, who was
unlicensed by the bishop, to preach in St. Elwyn's, would make
everything right. He had made the actual request to Joseph privately,
asking leave to have a few moments' conversation alone with him.

After obtaining the promise he went back to the library, where Mary and
Sir Thomas Ducaine had returned, and announced his success.

But when they went to look for the Teacher he had disappeared. No one
knew where he had gone, and neither Mary nor any of the others saw him
again that day.

The West End of London waited with considerable excitement for what
Sunday would bring forth.



CHAPTER XII

THE SERVICE AT ST. ELWYN'S


At the moment when Joseph had met the Vicar of St. Elwyn's, he knew him
for just what he was. The mysterious power which had enabled the Teacher
to lay bare the sins and secrets of the strangers in the theatre came to
him then, and he saw deep through the envelope of flesh to the man's
naked soul. Nothing was hidden from him. The meanness, the snobbery, the
invincible absorption in a petty self, the hunger for notoriety and
applause--all the layers and deposits of earthly stuff which overlaid
the little undeveloped germ of good--these were plain to the spiritual
vision of the man who was filled with the Holy Ghost.

The man's mind and its workings moved in his sight as a scientist sees
the blood pulsing in the veins of an insect under the microscope. But
directly Mr. Persse asked him to address the congregation of the
fashionable West End church, Joseph knew that, whatever motives dictated
the vicar's offer, the opportunity was from God. It was ordained that he
should mount the pulpit and deliver the message that was within him.

He had slipped out of the mansion in Berkeley Square without bidding any
of its inmates farewell. He had no wish to make mysterious entrances
and exits. Indeed, he never thought about the matter at all, but there
was something within him that led and moved him, a force which he obeyed
without question.

As he went out into the square, Joseph's heart was full of hope and
thankfulness to God. God had led him to the door of Sir Thomas Ducaine's
house in Piccadilly. God had been with him during the still watches of
the night as he pleaded and reasoned with the young man having great
possessions. And God had prevailed! All that had seemed so hopeless and
insuperable during the dark hours after the scene in the theatre was
over, was now lightened and smoothed away. In a few hours money and
influence had come to him, and at a time when the sword of the Lord had
but hardly left its sheath for the battle that was to be fought.

Joseph bent his steps at once towards the Euston Road. His faithful
followers were there in the quiet hotel by the station. Ignorant of
London, knowing nothing of what was going to happen, unaware of their
leader's plans or place, they waited, trusting in God. The thought
quickened his steps. He longed to be with these trusting ones, to pray
with them that God would be with him on the morrow.

Every now and again, as he walked, some one or other glanced curiously
at him. The face of this or that passer-by would wear a look of
curiosity and interrogation, and then, in several instances, the wonder
changed into recognition, and the wayfarers felt almost sure that this
must indeed be the very man with whose name all London was ringing. But
no one followed him. No one could be quite sure of his identity, even
though it was more than once suspected, and walking so swiftly as he
did, he was far out of hail before anyone could make up his mind to
accost or follow him.

For his part Joseph heeded these significant signs and tokens of the
huge interest with which his personality was inspiring London very
little. He had not seen the morning papers, though he knew from what he
had heard in Berkeley Square that they were much occupied with his name
and doings. That was to be expected, he knew. But he did not care to see
what they were saying of him. He walked through the streets of London, a
man walking with God, holding high commune with the Eternal. But ere he
met his brethren, he was to have a very practical illustration of
London's excitement, and London was to have another sensation.

He had turned into the Euston Road, and was nearing the house which
sheltered his disciples, when he saw that a huge crowd stood before it.
The road was almost impassable for traffic, and a dozen stalwart
policemen urged the thick mass of humanity to move in vain.

Every face was turned up to the dingy red-brick front of the hotel.

There may have been nearly a thousand people there, and the crowd was
growing every moment, and every one was gazing up at the windows of the
house.

The strange thing about the crowd was that it was an absolutely silent
one. No one shouted or spoke, the thick clotted mass of humanity was
motionless and orderly, though it refused to obey the orders of the
police to disperse.

What had occurred was simple enough. The landlord of the hotel was
interested from the first in the band of grave, silent men who had
arrived at his house on the evening before. He had had but a few
moments' conversation with Joseph, but the interview had powerfully
affected him. Himself one of the sidesmen of a neighboring church, an
honest and God-fearing man, who ran his temperance hotel with
conspicuous decency in a street renowned for its bad and unsavory
reputation, the landlord had read all about the strange mountain revival
in Wales.

He identified his new guests immediately upon their arrival. It was
impossible to mistake Joseph, that strange and mysterious being whose
outward form resembled the very Christ Himself in such a marvellous and
awe-inspiring fashion. When the band had bestowed their simple luggage
in their rooms, and had left the hotel for the theatre under Joseph's
guidance, the landlord, all agog with his news, went to the local
Conservative club, of which he was a member, and told it. Then had come
the stupendous intelligence in the journals of that morning, and it had
immediately got about--as news does get about, who shall say how or
why?--that the headquarters of the evangelist were at a certain
temperance hotel in that neighborhood.

By half-past eleven, silently, swiftly, as if drawn by some unseen
magnet, the people had collected in front of the house, and, even as
Joseph drew near, journalists from all parts of Fleet Street, summoned
by telephone and telegram, were hastening to the scene as fast as hansom
cabs could bring them.

Joseph walked straight up to the edge of the tightly packed mass of
people. The way to the hotel door was entirely blocked, and he was at a
loss how to approach it.

At length he touched a policeman upon the shoulder. The man's back was
turned to him, and he also was staring at the window of the hotel in
puzzled silence.

"My friend," Joseph said quietly, "do you think you could make a way for
me? I must get to the house. My friends are there."

Something in the deep, quiet voice startled the constable. He turned
round with a rapid movement, involuntarily knocking off the Teacher's
soft felt hat as he did so.

The big man's face grew pale with surprise, and then flushed up with
excitement. He was a huge fellow, a tower of bone and muscle, but he
seemed no taller than the man beside him, no more powerful than Joseph
at the moment of their meeting.

The sun was still shining, and it fell upon the Teacher's face and form,
lighting them up with almost Eastern definiteness and distinctness. But
it was not only the sun which irradiated Joseph's face with an unearthly
serenity and beauty. He had been communing with God. His thoughts were
still on high. His face was not of this world. It was "as the face of an
angel."

The man shouted out in a loud, high-pitched voice, which sent an
immediate responsive quiver through the crowd.

"Make way!" he called. "Make way! He's come! Joseph has come!"

There was a sudden rustling sound, like the first murmur the upspringing
wind makes in a forest. The crowd swayed and strained as every member of
it turned, and Joseph saw a mass of stippled pink framed in black before
him.

There was a deep organ note from many voices, interspersed here and
there with sharp cries, falsetto, high in the palate, ejaculations of
excitement, which could not be controlled.

Then every one saw him.

The deep note swelled into a great shout of welcome, astonishment, and
even fear, while, as the waters rolled back for the passage of Israel,
the living billows of humanity separated and were cleaved asunder.

It was the triumph of a personality which, at this moment, was
superhuman, a personality such as had never visited the modern Babylon
before. Good men and saints have ofttimes trodden, and still tread the
streets of London, but never before had its weary, sin-worn people known
the advent of one such as this man, an "angel" or "messenger" of warning
straight from God!

It was a scene which recalled other scenes in the dim past. Human nature
has not changed, though the conditions under which it manifests itself
have changed. Steam and electricity, all the discoveries of science,
all the increase of knowledge which they have produced, have had no real
influence for change upon the human heart. Science does not limit, nor
does knowledge destroy, the eternal truths of Christianity. This man,
coming as he did, influenced as he was influenced, had the same power
over a modern mob in London as he would have had in those ages which
fools call "dark" or "superstitious"--not realizing that the revelation
of God to man is still going on in perfect beauty and splendor, that day
by day new proofs are added to the great Central Truth of the
Incarnation.

They swept aside to let him pass, calling aloud upon his name, in anger,
in supplication, in fear and in joy--a mighty multiple voice of men and
women stirred to the very depths of being.

His bare head bowed, his face still shining with inward spiritual fire,
Joseph passed among them, and was lost to their sight within the doors
of the house.

He moved swiftly up the stairs, still as if in a dream in which worldly
things had no part, with the rapt face of one who sees a vision still.
Pushing open a door, he found himself by instinct, for no one had
directed him, in the large upper chamber where the brethren were
gathered together.

The room was a large bare place, occasionally let for dinners and other
social occasions, but ordinarily very little used. The dozen or so of
the faithful friends who had come with Joseph from their native hills
were kneeling at the chairs placed round the walls. One of them, David
Owen, was praying aloud, in a deep fervent voice.

"Lord God of Hosts, we know how Thou didst anoint Our Lord with the Holy
Ghost and with power; Who went about doing good, and healing all that
were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. Anoint our Master
Joseph in the same way, that he and we with him may prevail against the
devils of London and their captain, Beelzebub. And oh, most Merciful
Father, preserve our Teacher while he is away from us from the assaults
of Satan and the craft and subtlety of evil men. Send him back to us
with good news, and armed for the battle with Thy grace and protection.
Dear Lord, Amen."

There was a deep groan of assent, and then a momentary silence, broken
by David, who said: "Brethren, I have it in my mind to read a portion of
the Holy Book, this being the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
For it is therein that we shall remind ourselves of how the Apostles
remained at Jerusalem waiting for the promise of the Father that ere
many days passed they should be baptized with the Holy Ghost. And
reading thus, we shall be comforted and of a stout heart."

With these words the old man rose, and, turning, saw Joseph standing
among them. He gave a glad shout of surprise, and in a moment the
Teacher was surrounded by the faces of his friends. They wrung him by
the hand, they pressed on him with words of joy, the sonorous Welsh
ejaculations of praise and thanksgiving rang like a carillon in the
long, bare room.

The tears came into Joseph's eyes.

"My brethren," he said, and all marked the splendor of his countenance
and the music of his voice, "God has richly blessed us, and shown us
signs of His love and favor. Sit you down, and I will tell you my story
and all that has happened to me. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

He told them everything, leaving out no single detail, and beginning his
story from the moment on which he had left them the night before. Many
were the exclamations of sympathy and comprehension as he told of the
black doubts and fears that had haunted him upon this midnight walk.
Like all men who have passed through deep spiritual experiences, they
know such hours well. For all men who love God and try to serve Him must
endure their agony and must be tempted in the desert places, even as
Christ Jesus Who died for us was tempted.

The simple band of brethren heard with rapt attention how the Holy
Spirit had led their chief into the dwellings of the rich and powerful,
and raised up mighty help for the battle that was to come.

In all they saw the hand of God. Miracle had succeeded miracle from the
very moment when they laid the body of their beloved Lluellyn Lys to
rest upon the wild mountain top.

God was with them indeed!

It is not too much to say that during the remainder of the Saturday
London was in an extraordinary ferment.

       *       *       *       *       *

The time was one of great religious stagnation. It was as though, as the
old chronicle of the Middle Ages once put it: "God and all his angels
seemed as asleep." For months past a purely secular spirit had been
abroad. Socialistic teachings had been widely heard, and the man in the
street was told that here, and here only, was the real panacea for the
ills of life to be found.

And now, at the very moment of this universal stagnation, Joseph had
come to London.

There had suddenly arisen, with every circumstance of mystery and awe
calculated to impress the popular mind, a tremendous personality, a
revolutionary from God--as it seemed--a prophet calling man to repent, a
being with strange powers, a lamp in which the fires of Pentecost burned
anew, one who "spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus."

By dinner-time on the Saturday night all Mayfair knew that Joseph was to
preach at St. Elwyn's on the evening of the morrow. The evening papers
had announced the fact, and a series of notes had been sent round to
various houses by the vicar and his assistant clergy.

St. Elwyn's was a large and imposing building, but its seating capacity
was limited.

Mr. Persse was very well aware that the occasion he had provided would
have filled Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's as well. The crowd was sure
to be enormous. He therefore determined that admission to the service
should be by ticket only, a perfectly unjustifiable proceeding, of
course, but one which would secure just the sort of congregation he
wished to be impressed by his own activity and broad-mindedness. The
tickets were hurriedly printed and issued, some of them were sent to the
Press, the remainder to the wealthy and influential society people who
were accustomed to "worship" at this church.

The service was fixed for eight o'clock. As a usual thing the Sunday
evensong was but poorly attended at St. Elwyn's. The fashionable world
didn't mind going to church on Sunday morning, and afterwards for
"church parade" in Hyde Park, but one really couldn't be expected to go
in the evening! The world was dining then--and dinner was dinner!

Mr. Persse knew this, and he announced a "choral evensong" at eight, and
"an address by the Evangelist Joseph" at nine. No one, owing to the fact
of the numbered and reserved tickets, need necessarily attend the
preliminary service. Every one could dine in peace and comfort and
arrive in time for the sensation of the evening. Nothing could have been
more pleasant and satisfactory.

The vicar, busy as he was with the necessary work of preparation, yet
found time for a few moments of acute uneasiness. Nothing had been seen
of Joseph. Would he come after all? Could he be depended upon, or would
the whole thing prove a tremendous fiasco?

Late on the afternoon of the Saturday, Mr. Persse heard of the doings
outside the hotel which had obviously occurred within an hour of
Joseph's acceptance of the offer to preach and his mysterious departure
from Berkeley Square. Immediately on reading this the vicar had
dispatched his senior curate in his motor-brougham to make final
arrangement with the Teacher about Sunday evening.

The young man, however, had returned with the news that Joseph and his
companions had left the house by a back entrance during the afternoon,
and that nothing was known of their whereabouts.

During the day of Sunday Mr. Persse, though he wore an expression of
pious and sanctified expectation, found his uneasiness and alarm
increase. He showed nothing of it at the luncheon party which he
attended after morning service, and answered the excited inquiries of
the other guests with suavity and aplomb. But as the hour of eight drew
near and no word had been received from the Teacher, all the mean fears
and worries that must ever be the portion of the popularity-hunter
assailed him with disconcerting violence.

At eight o'clock that evening there was probably no more nervous and
frightened man in the West End of London than this priest.

       *       *       *       *       *

The stately ritual of evensong was over. The celebrated choir, in their
scarlet cassocks and lace cottas, had filed away into the vestry,
preceded by the great silver-gilt cross which Lady Kirwan had given to
the church, and followed by the clergy in their copes and birettas.

A faint sweet smell of incense lingered about the great arched aisles,
and an acolyte was putting out the candles on the High Altar with a long
brass extinguisher.

It was a quarter before nine, and the church was filling rapidly. The
vergers in their gowns of black velvet were showing the ticket-holders
to their seats; on all sides were the rustle of silk, the gleam of
jewels, breaths of faint, rare perfumes.

Mr. Persse always encouraged people to come to his church in evening
dress. He said, and quite rightly, that there was no possible reason why
people who belonged to a class which changes its costume in the evening
as a matter of course should be prevented from coming together to
worship God by that circumstance.

Nevertheless, the sight was a curious one, in comparison with that seen
at the same hour in most other churches. The women wore black mantillas
over their elaborate coiffures--just as the poorer class do at church in
Italy--but the sparkle of diamonds and the dull sheen of the pearls were
but hardly veiled. Fans moved incessantly, and there was a continuous
sound of whispering, like the wind in the reeds on the bank of a river.

Mr. Persse was in the inner vestry with his two curates. His face was
pale, and little beads of perspiration were beginning to start out upon
it.

"I don't know what we shall do, Nugent," he said to one of the young
men; "this is dreadful. We can't wait very much longer. Nearly every one
has come, the verger tells me. Every seat is occupied, and they are
putting chairs in the aisles. There is an enormous crowd of ordinary
people outside the church, and fifty policemen can hardly keep a way for
the carriages. There has been nothing like it before; it is marvellous.
And the man has never turned up! I don't know what to do."

"It's very awkward," Mr. Nugent answered--he was Sir Arbuthnot Nugent's
second son, and a great pet in Park Lane and its environs--"and if the
man does not come it will do St. Elwyn's a great deal of harm."

"It will indeed," the vicar answered, "and I don't mind telling you,
Nugent, that I have had quite an inspiration concerning him. When I
asked him to come here he assented at once. I felt--you know how one has
these intuitions--that he was a man over whom I should have great
influence. Now, why should I not induce him to take Holy Orders, and
give him a title to St. Elwyn's? He is no mere ignorant peasant, as the
general public seem to imagine. He is a gentleman, and, I am informed by
Sir Thomas Ducaine, took an excellent degree at Cambridge. The bishop
would be glad to obtain him, I feel quite sure of it, and there can be
no manner of doubt that he is a real spiritual force. Nor must we forget
that God in His Providence has ensured a most influential following for
him. I have it on quite unimpeachable authority that Joseph is to be
taken up by all the best people."

There was a knocking at the door which led into the small courtyard at
the back of the church.

The vicar called out "Come in!" in a voice that rang with uncertainty
and hope, and Joseph himself entered.

The Teacher was very pale and worn. His face was marked and lined as if
he had quite recently passed through some rending and tearing
experiences, some deep agony of the soul. So Jacob might have appeared
after he had wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, or Holy Paul when at
last the scales fell from his eyes, and he received sight forthwith and
arose.

"Ah, here you are," Mr. Persse said in tones of immeasurable relief. "We
had almost given you up! There is a very large congregation, and some of
the most important people in London are here. I hope you are prepared!"

"God will give me words," Joseph answered quietly, though he did not
look at the priest as he spoke.

"Oh, ah, yes!" Mr. Persse replied; "though, for my own part, I confess
to anxious preparation of all my sermons. Have you a surplice and a
cassock? No? Oh well then we can fit you out very well from the choir
cupboard."

A surplice was found for him, the vicar knelt and said a prayer, and
then the three men, the two priests and the evangelist, walked into the
church.

There was a stir, a rustle, and then a dead silence.

Mr. Persse and the curate sat in their stalls, and Joseph ascended the
stone steps to the pulpit, which was set high on the left side of the
chancel arch.

He looked down from his high place upon the faces below. Row after row
of faces met his eye. Nearly all the electric lights, save only those
which gleamed on the pulpit ledge and illuminated a crucifix behind his
head, were lowered. He saw a sheen of black and white, the dull glitter
of jewels, and the innumerable faces.

Still standing, he lifted his hands high above his head, and in a loud
voice cried upon God--

"Father, give me a tongue to speak to these Thy children. Lord Jesus,
guide me. Holy Ghost, descend upon this church, and speak through the
mouth of Thy servant."

The voice rang like a bugle through the arches, and echoed in the lofty
roof.

And now the words of the text: "Oh, consider this, ye that forget God;
lest I pluck you away, and there be none to deliver you."

The second terrible warning to London had begun.



CHAPTER XIII

THE CONSPIRATORS OF ST. JOHN'S WOOD


At precisely the same hour on the Sunday evening when Joseph ascended
the pulpit of St. Elwyn's Church a large red Napier motor-car stopped
before the gate of a smart little villa in St. John's Wood.

The villa stood in its own grounds, and was surrounded by a high wall.
It had a general air of seclusion and retirement, though it was
obviously the property or in the tenancy of people of wealth.

The wall was clean and newly pointed, the gate was painted a dark green,
the short drive which led to the front door was made of the finest white
marl.

The motor-car stopped, and two men descended from it, clearly defined in
the radiance from two electric globes that were mounted on each pillar
of the villa gate. Both wore opera hats, white scarves round their
throats and black overcoats.

One was tall, slim, and clean-shaven. His age was about twenty-six, his
hair was a pale golden color, and his face, too young as yet to be
permanently spoilt and damaged, nevertheless bore the unmistakable
imprint of a fast life.

The young man, evil though his countenance was, conveyed a certain
impression of birth and breeding.

His companion, on the other hand, was just as unmistakably destitute of
both. He was short and fat in figure. His face boasted a modicum of
impudent good looks, and was of a strongly Hebraic cast. The fine dark
eyes, the hooked nose, the large lips--red like a ripe plum--all shouted
the prosperous Jew.

The younger man gave an order to the chauffeur. The automobile swung
away towards Hampstead, and the companions walked up the approach to the
villa, the door of which was opened to them by a servant.

They entered a small hall, luxuriously furnished in the Eastern style,
and lit with shaded electric lamps. As they did so, a manservant hurried
up to them from behind some heavy Moorish curtains.

"Where is your mistress?" said the younger of the two men.

"My mistress is in the drawing-room, my lord," the servant answered.

"Oh, all right! Take our coats. We will go and find her at once."

The servant took the coats and hats, and the two men walked down a
wide-carpeted passage, brilliantly lit by globes in the roof, which made
their stiff white shirt-fronts glitter like talc, and opened a heavy
door of oak.

The villa was the home of Miss Mimi Addington, the leading musical
comedy actress of London--the star of the Frivolity.

The young man with the light hair and the dissipated expression was Lord
Bellina, an Irish viscount.

He had succeeded to the title some three years before, and to a very
large fortune, which had come into the impoverished Irish family owing
to a marriage with the daughter of a wealthy Liverpool manufacturer.

The short Jewish-looking man who accompanied him was Mr. Andrew Levison,
the theatrical _entrepreneur_ and leesee of the Frivolity Theatre, in
which Lord Bellina had invested several thousand pounds.

Lord Bellina opened the door of the room and entered, followed by Mr.
Levison.

Upon one of the divans, wearing a long tea-gown of Indian red, Mimi
Addington was lounging. Her face was very pale, and on this occasion
quite destitute of the little artistic touches with which she was wont
to embellish it. The expression was strained and angry, and the
beautiful eyes shone with a hard, fierce glitter.

There had been no performance at the Frivolity Theatre on the night
after Joseph's sudden appearance there.

Mimi Addington had been taken away in a state of wild and terrified
hysteria. It was impossible for her to play upon the Saturday night, and
her understudy, who should have sustained the part in the illness of her
principal, had disappeared, and could not be found. Moreover, several
other members of the cast had sent in their resignations, and many of
the ticket offices of the West End of town had reported that the gilded
gang of young men who were accustomed to take stalls for considerable
portions of the run of a popular piece had withdrawn their
applications.

"Well, Mimi, my dear," said Mr. Levison, with anxious geniality, "and
how are you to-day?"

"Bad," the girl answered in one single bitter word.

Mr. Levison made a commiserating noise.

"Tut, tut!" he said; "you must try and bear up, Mimi, though I must own
this abominable and unprecedented occurrence has been enough to try any
one--this Joseph."

At the word the woman sprang from her couch with a swift feline movement
of rage.

"Him!" she screamed, in a voice from which all the usual melody and
sweetness had entirely departed. "If I had him here I'd murder him! No,
that would be too good for him! I've thought of worse things than that
to do!"

Lord Bellina went up to her and put his arm round her shoulder.

"And serve him right," he said; "but try and be quiet, Mimi, you'll only
make yourself worse."

She pushed the young man roughly away, in a blaze of passion so lurid
and terrible that it frightened the two men.

Lord Bellina looked helplessly at Levison for a moment. The elder man
rose to the occasion.

"Let's get to business," he said; "something must be done."

The woman nodded eagerly and quickly, and with the same unnatural
glitter in her eyes.

"Have you seen any of the papers?" Levison said.

She shook her head.

"Well, Bally and I have been going through them, and, what's more, we
have been seeing a whole lot of people, and getting various extra
opinions. You know that I can say without boasting in the least that
there are very few men in London who know the popular taste as I do.
I've made my success by realizing exactly what London will do and think
just a day or two before it has made up its own mind. I have never made
a mistake. I won't bother you now with an account of how I have arrived
at my present conclusion. It is enough to say that I am certain of it,
and that it is this:

"There is not the slightest doubt that if this man Joseph continues in
his pleasant little games--you see, I speak without heat--theatrical
business in London will be ruined for months. There is going to be a
great wave of religious enthusiasm all over the place. This man--Joseph
he calls himself--is going to lead it. The man is an extraordinary one.
He has a personality and a force greater, probably, than any living
person in Europe to-day. There is no doubt about it. You, my dear Mimi,
will have to forego your nightly triumphs. Public opinion will hound you
off the stage and shut up my theatre, or compel me to let it as a
mission-hall for ten pounds a night! As for you, Bellina, you will have
to retire to your estates in Galway, and superintend the potato crop,
and take an intelligent interest in the brood of the Irish national
animal--the pig in short, Bally!"

Although he spoke jauntily enough, there was a deep vein of bitterness
and sincerity underlying the Jew's words. He watched the faces of his
two listeners with a quick and cunning scrutiny.

Mimi Addington spoke.

"You've hit the mark, Andrew," she said, in a low voice, in which there
was a curious hissing quality--"you've hit the mark, as you always do.
What you've said is perfectly true. I know it and feel it."

Her eyes blazed, and she put one white and shapely hand up to the ivory
column of her throat, wrestling with the agony of hysteria and hate,
which once more threatened to master her. With a great effort of will,
she calmed herself, and went on speaking.

"But all this, Andrew, depends upon one little word, 'if.'"

Lord Bellina looked quickly at Levison, with a glance which seemed to
say that they had already arrived at precisely the same conclusion.

"That's it," he said; "there is always that little word, 'if.'"

There was a dead silence in the little room, and three faces, pale and
full of sinister purpose, sought each other in a horrid trio of hate.

The girl's face was as it had been from the first, unredeemed evil. The
countenance of the young peer had changed from its usual vacuous and
dissipated weakness into something which, bad as it was, had still a
quality of strength. He had sat cowering in the theatre while the
terrible denunciation of the evangelist had laid bare the secrets of his
life. And although he did not outwardly show how hard he had been hit,
his resentment was no less furious though less vulgarly expressed, than
that of Mimi.

The Israelite gave no indication of his inward feelings. In truth, they
were of a quite different nature from those of the other two. He lived
for two purposes. One was to make money, the other was to enjoy himself;
he saw now that his money-making was menaced, and that his enjoyment
would be spoiled--unless--

Mimi Addington became suddenly quite calm and business-like. She
realized that she was in perfect accord with the other two.

"Now let's get to work," she said. "This Joseph must be got rid of at
once. It can be done, I suppose, if we pay enough."

"Quite so," said Mr. Levison. "It now only remains to form ourselves
into a committee of ways and means."



CHAPTER XIV

THE WARNING


Like a bell the preacher's voice rang through the crowded church.

After the delivery of the solemn and menacing text of warning, Joseph
began, suddenly and swiftly, without any of the usual preliminary
platitudes with which so many preachers in all the churches commence
their addresses.

"I look down upon you and see you with an inward and spiritual vision.
And to me, you men and women in your wealth, your temporal power, your
beauty, your curiosity and your sin, seem as a vast Slough of Despond.

"I need no such fantastic images, powerful and skilful as they may be,
by means of which Dante or Milton portrayed the horrors of hell, to show
me a horror more real and terrible than any of which they wrote. This is
the City of Dreadful Night. It is the Modern Babylon, where Christendom,
corrupt both in state and in society, sits by many waters, and speaks in
her heart, and boasts, 'I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no
sorrow.'

"Sin and Satan exercise a terrible dominion, ungodliness and debauchery
accompany them, for Babylon is the abode of all unclean spirits.

"And in this church, you men and women to whom I am speaking now
represent in your very persons no small portion of the army of
wickedness which rules London and fattens upon its corruption."

He paused for a moment, looking down from his high place with a pale
face, burning eyes, and a hand outstretched in condemnation.

There was a soft, universal, and perceptible noise of movement, which
rose and ceased. Then all was silent again. With their eyes fixed
steadfastly on Joseph, no one had seen the vicar half rise from his seat
in the chancel, with a scared look upon his face, and a sudden
deprecatory movement of his arm.

The preacher resumed:--

"In a very short time--for some of you the time is shorter than you
dream of--for to-night God has revealed much to me--you will all be
dead. The feasting, and the folly, and the fun, and the lying and the
drinking and the lust will all be over for you, and you will answer for
what you have done.

"This is what I tell you to have constantly in your minds while I am
speaking to you to-night. You may think in your blindness, in your
folly, that I am exaggerating the evil of the time, the monstrous
wickedness of London, for which you and people like you are largely
responsible. Delude yourself with no such vain imagining, for I speak to
you as the ambassador of the Most High God, and to-night you shall hear
me.

"The signs of the time are unmistakable. London has come to the worship
of the image of the beast, of the human spirit, which has apostatized
from God, and made itself God. You have fallen into strong delusions,
into which the Lord suffers all to fall who have not received the truth
in the love of it, that they might be saved. You worship that which the
inspired words of the Bible call the 'beast' because it denies what is
truly human, and, with all its culture and civilization, is more and
more tending to degrade humanity.

"All who see with the eye of the Spirit know that atheistic and
materialistic systems, denying God and the existence of the Spirit, and
based upon a purely physical view of existence, and atheistic
literature, which by its poetry, fictions, and romances, diffuses the
Gospel of the flesh among the masses, grow daily, and are triumphant.
The words of Revelation have come true, and out of the mouth of the
dragon and out of the false prophet have proceeded the three unclean
spirits, like frogs. These creatures of the swamp, the mire, and the
morass are among you. Their croaking, powerless as it is in itself, yet
produces a sound which penetrates, and is heard all around; repeating
the same thing day after day, deluding men, and bringing them into the
right state of mind for the service of Antichrist.

"You call yourselves Christians. You are here in a church, and the
presence of most of you is the most grim and ghastly mockery that the
finite mind can possibly conceive.

"Day by day in this holy temple of the Blessed Trinity God Incarnate
comes down upon the altar yonder as the priest says the words of
Consecration--those incredibly wonderful five words which put the
Blessed Body of our Lord under the white species of the Host. Only this
morning many of you heard those

    _Jewels five words long
    That on the outstretched forefinger of all time,
    Sparkle for ever._

Next Sunday, it may be, you will hear them again, as you heard them last
Sunday. Yet you live for evil pleasure still.

"When you think at all, you delude yourselves into imagining you are
worshipping God, when you are taking a fitful interest in a ceremony
which means no more to you than a ceremony. You come here for an hour in
the morning of one day of the week, your minds full of worldly pleasures
and the memories of your pleasant sins. You listen to the words of the
Bible in your comfortable seats, and think how quaint, far off, and
unreal they are. With a languid mental smile you hear of the devil and
the evil spirits who walk up and down the City seeking whom they may
devour. You would not smile if you were to take a short journey from
this church into the devil's country, the East End of London--if now,
with one accord, you were to drive in your carriages to those places
where the air is heavy with ceaseless curses, where hideous disease and
uncleanliness that you cannot even imagine, stalk hand in hand with
famine, despair, and unmentionable horrors of vice.

"You would believe then, perhaps, that the devil still goes about the
streets of London doing his work.

"I tell you this without any possibility of mistake, that you are the
servants of Satan, and that in your lives you have enrolled yourselves
under the black banners of hell.

"And more especially than all, you are hypocrites. Outwardly all is fair
and of good report until, as happens now and then, your lives are laid
bare to the world in some hideous scandal. You go to church, your names
are seen upon the lists of those societies which endeavor to ameliorate
the life of the downtrodden and the oppressed. But what personal service
do most of you give to the cause of the God in whom you confess to
believe? You live for pleasure, and you are hypocrites.

"Hypocrisy occurs in all the relations of your life; in the daily
intercourse between man and man, when friendship is feigned; in the
political sphere, when tyrants and self-seekers pretend a deep care for
Fatherland, and thereby lead men according to their design. In art and
science you are hypocrites, pretending a pure unselfish love to the
higher ideal, when self-gratification is all you look for; incense is
offered to the idols of the time, and pleasure is alone the end and aim,
the Alpha and Omega of existence.

"You are as 'trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead,
plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own
shame; wandering stars.'

"And all around you London grows worse and worse, while it is from its
corruption and from its misery that your sordid pleasures are distilled.

"There are men here to-night who have won fortune, rank, and celebrity
from the wholesale poisoning of the poor. The food which the slaves of
the modern Babylon eat, the drink they drink, is full of foulness, that
you may fare sumptuously every day, that your wives may be covered with
jewels. There are men here to-night who keep hundreds and thousands of
their fellow-Christians in hideous and dreadful dens without hope, and
for ever. In order that you may live in palaces, surrounded by all the
beauties and splendors that the choicest art, the most skilled
handicraft can give, hundreds of human beings who lurk in the holes for
which they pay you must spend their lives, where no ordinary man or
woman can remain for more than a moment or two, so terrible are these
nauseous places.

"Whole miles of ground in the modern London are thickly packed with
fellow-Christians who are hourly giving up their lives in one long
torture that you may eat, drink and be merry. At midday you may go into
the East End of London and pass a factory. Men come out of it dripping
with perspiration, and that perspiration is green. The hair of these men
sprouts green from the roots giving them the appearance of some strange
vegetable. These men are changed and dyed like this that your wives may
spend the life-earnings of any one of them in the costly shops of the
perruquiers in Bond Street.

"In order that you may draw twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty per cent.
from your investments, instead of an honest return from the wealth with
which God has entrusted you, there are men who eat like animals. In the
little eating-houses around the works, there are human beings who leave
their knives and forks unused and drop their heads and bury their noses
and mouths into what is set before them. All the bones, nerves, and
muscles below their wrists are useless. These are the slaves of lead,
who are transmuting lead with the sacrifice of their own lives, that it
may change to gold to purchase your banquets. You are the people who
directly or indirectly live in a luxury such as the world has never seen
before, out of the wages of disease and death. Copper colic, hatter's
shakers, diver's paralysis, shoemaker's chest, miller's itch,
hammerman's palsy, potter's rot, shoddy fever, are the prices which
others pay for your yachts and pictures, your horses and motor-cars,
your music, your libraries, your clubs, your travel, and your health.

"And what of the other and more intimate side of your lives? Do you live
with the most ordinary standard of family and personal purity before
you? Do you spend a large portion of your lives in gambling, in the
endeavor to gain money without working for it from people less skilful
or fortunate than yourself? Do you reverence goodness and holiness when
you find them or are told of them, or do you mock and sneer? Do you
destroy your bodily health by over-indulgence in food, in wine, and in
unnatural drugs, which destroy the mind and the moral sense? Do you
ever and systematically seek the good and welfare of others, or do you
live utterly and solely for yourself, even as the beasts that perish?"

The preacher stopped in one long pause; then his voice sank a full
tone--

"Yes, all these things you do, and more, and God is not with you."

Nearly every head in the church was bent low as the flaming, scorching
words of denunciation swept over them.

Wealthy, celebrated, high in the world's good favor as they were, none
of these people had ever heard the terrible, naked truth about their
lives before. Nor was it alone the denunciatory passion of the words and
the bitter realization of the shameful truth which moved and influenced
them so deeply. The personality of the Teacher, some quality in his
voice which they had never yet heard in the voice of living man, the
all-inspiring likeness to the most sacred figure the world has ever
known, the intense vibrating quality of more than human power and
conviction--all these united to light the fires of remorse in every
heart, and to touch the soul with the cold fingers of fear.

Accustomed as most of them were to this or that piquant thrill or
sensation--for were not their lives passed in the endless quest of
stimulating excitement?--there was yet something in this occasion
utterly alien to it, and different from anything they had ever known
before.

Of what this quality consisted, of what it was composed, many of them
there would have given conflicting and contradictory answers. All would
have agreed in its presence.

Only a few, a very few, knew and recognized the truth, either with
gladness and holy awe or with shrinking and guilty dread, the Power
which enveloped them with the sense of the presence of the Holy Ghost.

There was a change in the accusing voice--

"But it is not yet too late. God's mercy is infinite, and through the
merits of His Son you may save yourselves while there is time. Kneel now
and pray silently as you have never prayed before, for I tell you that
God is here among you. An opportunity will be given to each one of you
to make reparation for the evil you have done, for the messengers of the
Lord have come to London, and wondrous things will come to pass! And now
pray, pray, pray! In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Ghost. Amen."

With no further word the Teacher turned and quietly descended the pulpit
steps.

Every head was bowed; hardly a single person heard or saw him move away
into the vestry, and a great silence fell upon the church.

As if in a dream, the tall figure in its white linen ephod passed
through the outer vestry into the large and comfortable room used by the
priests. No one was there, and Joseph sank upon his knees in prayer. He
had been sending up his passionate supplications for the souls of those
without but a few seconds, when he felt a touch--a timid, hesitating
touch--upon his shoulder.

He looked up, and saw a little elderly man, wearing the long
velvet-trimmed gown which signalized a verger in St. Elwyn's, standing
by his side. The old man's face was moving and working with strong
emotion, and a strange blaze of eagerness shone in his eyes.

"Master," he said, "I heard it all, every word you said to them; and it
is true--every word is bitter true. Master, there is one who has need of
you, and in God's name I pray you to go with me."

"In God's name I will come with you, brother," Joseph answered gravely.

"Ay," the old man answered, "I felt my prayer would be answered,
Master." He took Joseph's surplice from him, divested himself of his own
gown, and opened the vestry door. "You found this way when you came,
Master," he said. "The public do not know of it, for it goes through the
big livery-stables. The district is so crowded. No one will see us when
we leave the church, though there are still thousands of people waiting
for you to pass in front. But my poor home is not far away."

As they walked, the old man told his story to Joseph. His son, a young
fellow of eighteen or nineteen, had been employed as basement porter in
the Countess of Morston's Regent Street shop for the selling of
artistic, hand-wrought metal work.

Like many another fashionable woman in London, Lady Morston was making a
large sum of money out of her commercial venture. But the repousse work
which she sold was made by half-starved and sweated work-people in the
East End of town, and all the employees in the shop itself were
miserably underpaid. From early morning, sometimes till late at night,
the old fellow's son had been at work carrying about the heavy crates of
metal. His wages had been cut down to the lowest possible limit, and
when he had asked for a rise he had been told that a hundred other young
fellows would be glad to step into his shoes at any moment.

One day the inevitable collapse had come. He had found himself unable to
continue the arduous labor, and had left the position. Almost
immediately after his departure he had been attacked with a long and
painful nervous complaint. Unable, owing to the fact of his resignation,
to claim any compensation from the countess as a legal right, he had
humbly petitioned for a little pecuniary help to tide him over his
illness. This had been coldly refused, and the young man was now
bedridden and a permanent encumbrance to the old man, who himself was
unable to do anything but the lightest work.

Mr. Persse, on being applied to for assistance, had consulted the
Countess of Morston, who was one of his parishioners, in order, as he
said, to find out if it were "a genuine case." With an absolute
disregard for truth, and in order to shield herself, the woman had told
the clergyman that her late assistant was a dishonest scoundrel who
merited no consideration whatever.

"And so, Master," the old man concluded--"and so I lost all hope, and
tried to make up my mind to see my lad die slowly. And then I see about
you in the paper, and something comes into my mind like. And then the
vicar he tells me about this here service to-night, and that you were
coming yourself, Master. So I prayed and I prayed that I should have a
chance to speak to you. Master, I want you to raise Bill up and make him
well."

The old man clutched Joseph by the arm, his cracked and pathetic voice
full of poignant pleading.

"You will, won't you, Master?" he said once more.

"Take me to the young man," Joseph answered.



CHAPTER XV

JOSEPH AND THE JOURNALIST


Eric Black was thirty-three years of age, and one of the chief and most
trusted writers upon the staff of the _Daily Wire_.

Very few of the younger school of journalists in London had the crisp
touch and vivid sense of color in words possessed by this writer. His
rise to considerable success had been rapid, and his signed articles on
current events were always read with extreme interest by the enormous
public who bought the most popular journal of the day.

Eric Black's intellect was of first class order, but it was one-sided.
He saw all the practical and material affairs of life keenly, truly and
well. But of that side of human existence which men can neither touch
nor see he was profoundly ignorant, and as ignorance generally is,
inclined to be frankly contemptuous.

In religious matters accordingly this brilliant young man might have
been called an absolute "outsider." He never denied religion in any way,
and very rarely thought about it at all. No one had ever heard him say
that he did not believe in God, he simply ignored the whole question.

His personal life was singularly kindly, decent, and upright. He was, in
short, though he had not the slightest suspicion of it himself, a man
waiting and ready for the apprehension of the truth--one of those to
whom the Almighty reveals Himself late.

On a great daily paper, when some important event or series of events
suddenly rises on the horizon of the news-world, a trusted member of the
staff, together with such assistants as may be necessary, is placed in
entire charge of the whole matter. Eric Black, accordingly, was deputed
to "handle" the affair of Joseph and his epoch-making arrival in London.

Mr. Persse, the vicar of St. Elwyn's, had sent two tickets of admission
for Joseph's address to the _Daily Wire_, and Eric Black, accompanied by
a shorthand writer who was to take down the actual words of the sermon,
sat in a front seat below the pulpit during the whole time of Joseph's
terrible denunciation of modern society.

While the reporter close by bent over his note-book and fixed the
Teacher's burning words upon the page, Black, his brain alert and eager,
was busy in recording impressions of the whole strange and unexpected
scene. He was certainly profoundly impressed with the dignity and
importance of the occasion. He realized the emotions that were passing
through the minds of the rich and celebrated people who filled the
church. His eyes drank in the physical appearance of the Teacher, his
ears told him that Joseph's voice was unique in all his experience of
modern life.

Enormously interested and stirred as he was, Black was not, however,
emotionally moved. The journalist must always and for ever be watchful
and serene, never carried away--an acute recorder, but no more.

Towards the end of the sermon, when the young man saw that Joseph would
only say a few more words, a sudden flash of inspiration came to him. No
journalist in London had yet succeeded in obtaining an interview or a
definite statement with the extraordinary being who had appeared like a
thunderbolt in its midst. It was the ambition of Eric Black to talk with
the Teacher, and thus to supply the enterprising journal which employed
him, and for which he worked with a whole-hearted and enthusiastic
loyalty, with an important and exclusive article.

He had noticed that the Teacher could not possibly have entered the
church by the main entrance. The journalist himself, in order to secure
the best possible seat, had arrived at St. Elwyn's at the commencement
of the evening service which preceded the address.

With a keen, detective eye he had noted the little subtle signs of
uneasiness upon the vicar's face, and had deduced accordingly that
Joseph had not yet arrived. When the Teacher actually appeared, it was
obvious that he must have come by the vestry door, in order to elude the
waiting crowd. It was morally certain also that he would leave by the
same route.

The writer saw his chance. By his side was the representative of a rival
paper, a drawback to the realization of his scheme. As his quick brain
solved the difficulty of that, he remembered Mr. Kipling's maxim, that
"all's fair in love, war, and journalism." The shorthand writer from
the _Daily Wire_ sat just beyond the rival journalist.

"Look here, Tillotson," he whispered, in tones which he knew the
_Mercury_ man could hear, "I'm feeling frightfully unwell. I must get
out of this, if I can, for a minute or two. Of course, after the sermon
is over, Joseph will go down into the aisles. I hear that a big
reception is arranged for him at the west entrance. I am going to slip
away for a minute or two. When the preacher comes out of the vestry,
fetch me at once. I mustn't let any of the other fellows get to him
before I do. I shall be in the side-chapel over there, which is quite
empty, and where the air will be cooler."

Satisfied that he had done all that was necessary to mislead his rival,
Black slipped out of his seat, passed behind a massive pillar, and,
unobserved by any one, slipped into the outer vestry, through the inner,
and eventually came out into the narrow passage which led to the livery
stables, where he waited with anxious alertness.

In less than five minutes his patience and clever forestalling of events
were richly rewarded. Joseph himself, accompanied by a little old man,
whom Black recognized as the verger who had shown him to his seat, came
out together, talking earnestly. They passed him, and when they had gone
a few yards the journalist followed cautiously. He was anxious, in the
first place, to discover where the mysterious man, whose appearances and
disappearances were the talk of London, was going, and upon what errand.
He waited his time to speak to him, resolved that nothing should now
prevent him from bringing off a journalistic "scoop" of the first
magnitude.

Joseph and the verger passed through the mews, and turning to the right,
entered one of those tiny but well-defined slums which exist in the
heart of the West End and are inhabited by the lowest in the ranks of
the army that ministers to the pleasures of the great.

The newspaper man followed cautiously some four yards behind his quarry.
In about three minutes Joseph and his companion stopped before the door
of a small house, and the elder man felt in his pocket and produced the
key to open it. Suddenly Joseph put his hand upon the old man's shoulder
for a moment, and then, turning suddenly, walked straight up to Eric
Black.

"Brother," he said, "you are welcome, for God has sent you to see what
is to be done this night."

The confident young journalist was taken aback, and for a moment all his
readiness of manner left him.

"I--er--I--well, I represent the _Daily Wire_, you know, sir. I hoped
that perhaps you would give me the pleasure of an interview. All London
is waiting most anxiously to hear something of your views and plans. I
should take it as a great favor if you could spare me a few minutes."

Joseph smiled kindly, and placed his hand upon the young man's shoulder,
gazing steadily into his eyes with a deep, searching glance.

"Yes," he said, "it is as I knew. God has sent you here to-night, for
you are as an empty vessel into which truth and the grace of the Holy
Spirit shall be poured."

The journalist answered nothing. The extraordinary manner in which the
Teacher had addressed him, the abnormal knowledge which the man with the
beautiful, suffering face and lamp-like eyes seemed to possess, robbed
the other of all power of speech.

And Black was conscious, also, of a strange electric thrill which ran
through him when Joseph had placed a hand upon his shoulder. It was as
though some force, some invisible, intangible essence or fluid, was
being poured into him. Certainly, never before in his life had he
experienced any such sensation. Still without any rejoinder, he followed
the Teacher through the opened door of the house, down a narrow and
dirty passage, and into a small bedroom lit by a single gas-jet.

The place was scantily furnished, and grim poverty showed its traces in
all the poor appointments of the room. Yet it was scrupulously clean and
neat, and the air was faintly perfumed by a bunch of winter violets
which stood upon a chair by the bed.

A young man, tall but terribly emaciated, was lying there. His face,
worn by suffering, was of a simple and homely cast, though to the seeing
eye resignation and patience gave it a certain beauty of its own.

"This is my Bill," said the old man, in a trembling voice--"this is my
poor lad, Master. Bill, my boy, this is the Master of whom we have been
reading in the papers. This is Joseph the Teacher, and, if it is God's
will, he is going to make you well."

The young man looked at Joseph with a white and startled face. Then he
stretched out his thin and trembling hand towards him. His eyes closed
as if in fear, and in a weak, quavering voice he said three words--

"Lord help me!"

Joseph bent over the bed, and placed his hand gently on the young man's
forehead.

"Sleep," he said, in a low deep voice.

The two watchers saw a strange calmness steal over the patient's
features. The convulsive movements of the poor, nerve-twitched body
ceased, and, in a few moments more, quiet and regular breathing showed
that the magnetic touch of the Teacher had indeed induced a tranquil
slumber.

The old man looked on, shaking with anxiety.

"Master," he said, "can you cure him--can you heal him? He is my only
son, all I've got left in the world--my only son!"

Eric Black, who had watched this curious scene with great interest and a
considerable amount of pity, sighed. He was not inexperienced in
illnesses, especially those terrible nervous collapses for which medical
science can do nothing, and to which there is one inevitable end. He
knew that no human skill could do anything for the sleeping and
corpse-like figure upon the bed, and he wondered why Joseph had cared to
accompany the old man and to buoy him up with false hopes.

Joseph did not immediately answer the old man's question about his son.
Instead of that he turned quickly to the journalist.

"Yes," he said; "but with God all things are possible."

Black started violently. His very thoughts had been read instantly, and
answered as swiftly. Then a curious resentment mounted in his brain
against Joseph. Who was this man who sent a suffering invalid to sleep
in a moment by his hypnotic touch; who brought terror, remorse, and
shame into a great lighted theatre; who dared to tell the wealthiest and
most influential people in London that they marched beneath the standard
of Beelzebub; who even now had read his secret thoughts with unerring
intuition?

With a slight sneer, foreign to his usual nature, but he was frightened
and was trying to reassure himself, he said--

"That is all very well, sir, no doubt; but miracles do not happen."

"Oh, yes, sir, they do--they do!" cried the old verger, wringing his
hands. "Oh, don't say that, sir; miracles aren't over yet. I don't like
the way you say it, sir. God will surely never let my poor Bill die!"

Joseph took no notice of the poor old fellow's entreaty. He spoke to
Black.

"My brother," he said, "and what is a miracle?"

Black thought for a moment, and then replied, though he did not know it,
in the words of Hume: "A miracle," he said, "is a violation of the laws
of Nature, and therefore impossible--Huxley showed that long ago."

The journalist was quite unconscious of the progress of modern thought,
and in his ignorance believed that Huxley was the last word in
philosophic criticism.

"Huxley," Joseph answered quietly, "has said that if a miracle, such as
the restoring to life of a dead man, were actually to take place, the
phenomenon would simply become a problem for further scientific
investigation. That is perfectly true as far as it goes, nor does it in
any way discredit the possibility of a miracle. Is it not a fact that
every day new natural laws, previously entirely unsuspected by any one,
are being discovered? Have not the papers of late been full of strange
news of great chemical discoveries, such as radium--electrical wonders,
such as the sending of messages without wires? What are these but
natural laws? But would they not have been miracles three hundred years
ago?

"Supposing we admit the Divine regulation of the world by natural law,
the spiritual nature of man, and his value to God. Let us say that in
the exercise of his free will man has disturbed the poise and balance of
the moral universe by sin, and that God proposes to restore it. If we do
this, there can be no improbability in our mind that God supplements, or
even in a manner reverses, the workings of natural law by a fresh
revelation of His will and character. Have you ever seen or known of a
case in which a man or woman full of bitter hatred of God, and stained
by a life of continuous sin, has been suddenly changed by the power of
the Holy Spirit, and has become from henceforward a righteous and
Christian man? You must have come across such cases--they are common
enough in the experience of every one. Is not this a miracle? Is not
this a revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

"And if Jesus Christ be the bearer of this new revelation, may we not
regard His miracles as the spontaneous, even natural, expressions of His
Personality? Miracles are thus perfectly credible to any one who
believes in two things--the love of God and the existence of sin."

The journalist bowed without replying. His keen and logical mind saw at
once the force of Joseph's quiet argument. He was not prepared to answer
the Teacher. Nevertheless, there was still a certain sense of
stubbornness and revolt within his mind.

This was all very well, but it was, after all, mere abstract
philosophical discussion. It did not affect the matter in hand, which
was that the Teacher was buoying up a poor and unhappy old man with
fruitless hopes.

When he had finished speaking to Black, Joseph turned to the old verger.
"Come, my brother," he said, "and let us kneel by the bedside of the one
who is sick, praying that the Holy Spirit may come down upon us and heal
him."

Then Eric Black, standing against the opposite wall of the little room,
saw the two men kneel down, and saw also the marvel which it was to be
his privilege to give to the knowledge of the whole world, and which
was to utterly change his own life from that moment until its end.

There was a long silence, and then suddenly the journalist began to be
aware that, in some way or other, the whole aspect of the room was
altered.

It was incredibly, wonderfully altered, and yet _materially_ it was just
the same.

The young man had known nothing like it in all his life experience,
though he was to know it again many times, when in the future he should
kneel at the Eucharist.

Neither then, nor at any other time, was Black able to explain his
sensations and impressions at that supreme moment. With all his
brilliant and graphic power, to the end of his days the power of
describing the awe and reverence, the absolute certainty of the Divine
Presence which he experienced at the Mass, was denied him. Celebrated as
he became as a writer, his attempts to give the world his own testimony
to the Truth in a convincing way always failed. It was the great sorrow
of his career. He would have counted it as his highest privilege. But he
bore his cross meekly till the end, knowing that it was sent him for a
wise purpose, and that perhaps it was his punishment for his long days
of hard-heartedness and blindness.

He began to tremble a little, and then he saw that Joseph's hands were
placed lightly upon the temples of the sleeping man, just touching them
with the long, nervous finger-tips.

The Teacher may have remained motionless in this position for five or
ten minutes--the journalist never knew--and all the time the power and
unseen influence grew and grew in the silence, until the very walls of
the little room seemed to melt and dissolve beyond the bounds of sense,
and the brain, mind, and soul of the watcher to grow and dissolve with
them in one overpowering ecstasy of reverence and awe.

And then the next thing that Eric Black knew was that the tall thin
figure which had lain upon the bed was standing in the middle of the
room, robed in its long, grey flannel gown, and that the old man had
leaped at his son with loud cries of joy and wonder, and that the two
men, locked in each other's embrace, were weeping and calling out in
gratitude upon God.

Joseph took the journalist by the arm, and led him, unresisting, from
that awful and sacred scene.

They were out in the quiet back street, and the young man was swaying as
if he would fall. He felt an arm pass through his, and heard the deep,
vibrating voice of the Teacher speaking.

"Come swiftly with me, for we have to meet a great company of people in
another place, and to witness the marvellous ways of God."



CHAPTER XVI

THE BATTLE OF THE LORD


Among the audience, or rather the congregation, which had assembled to
hear Joseph in St. Elwyn's Church, all those people who were intimately
connected with him had been present.

It had been arranged beforehand, although Mr. Persse had known nothing
of it, that Joseph's followers, Sir Augustus and Lady Kirwan, Marjorie,
and Mary, accompanied by Sir Thomas Ducaine and Hampson, the journalist,
should all have seats reserved for them by ticket in the church.

Accordingly they had all been there. After the Teacher's solemn
exhortation to private prayer, the whole congregation had awoke as if
from a dream. The influence, the magnetic influence of Joseph's
presence, was removed. Every one sat up in their places with grave and
tired eyes, wearing the aspect of people who had come back to life after
a sojourn in that strange country of the soul which lies between this
world and the next.

The vicar, very pale and agitated, had descended from the chancel in his
surplice and biretta, and had gone among the people, whispering here and
there, frowning, faintly smiling, and only too obviously upset and
frightened in body, mind, and spirit.

Over all the great congregation of wealthy and fashionable people there
had lain that same manner of uneasiness, that hidden influence of fear.
After a few minutes the majority of them rose and went silently from the
church. As they walked down the broad and lighted aisle it was obvious
enough, both in their walk and in their faces, that they were trying to
call back their self-respect and that mental attitude which ruled their
lives, and was but an insolent defiance of all claims upon conduct, save
only the imperial insistence of their own self-will.

But it was an attempt, and nothing more, upon the part of those who
thronged and hurried to be quit of the sacred building in which, for the
first time in their lives, a man inspired by God had told them the truth
about themselves.

Nevertheless, a considerable residue of people was left. They sat in
their seats, whispering brokenly to each other, glancing at the vicar,
and especially at two pews where a company of countrymen in black were
still kneeling with their heads bowed in prayer.

It had already been bruited about in society that Sir Augustus and Lady
Kirwan, together with Sir Thomas Ducaine, were intimately connected with
the Teacher. The regard and attention of those who still stayed in the
church were, therefore, also directed to the pew which held the baronet,
his wife, and their daughter, Sir Thomas, the beautiful girl in the
costume of a hospital nurse who was recognized by some of them as the
niece of Lady Kirwan, and a little, meagre-looking man whom no one
knew--Hampson, the editor of the _Sunday Friend_, in fact.

Mr. Persse seemed oddly ill at ease. He was unable to answer the queries
which were constantly addressed to him, but his embarrassment was
presently relieved. Sir Thomas Ducaine, followed by Mary Lys, rose from
his seat and went round about among the people.

"If you will come to my house," Sir Thomas whispered to this or that
friend; "if you care to come, of course, Joseph is to be there to meet
us all at eleven o'clock. He will make the first pronouncement as to
what he intends to do, as to why he has come to London, and of the
message which the future holds."

       *       *       *       *       *

On Sunday night, about half-past ten, the squares and the street
thoroughfares of the West End of London are not thronged. The exodus of
the crowds from the East End which takes place earlier every evening, so
that the poor may catch a single holiday glimpse of those more
fortunate, is by that time over and done with.

The rats have gone back to their holes, and the spacious streets of the
wealthy are clear and empty, save only for the swift and silent
carriages of those who have supper parties, to end and alleviate the
dulness of the first day of the week in town.

The walk from Mayfair to Piccadilly is not a long one, and Joseph, with
his companion, met few wayfarers as they walked swiftly among the swept
and lighted streets, wound in and out among the palaces of the West End.

Eric Black strode by the side of the Teacher with never a word. His
heart was beating within him like sudden drums at midnight. His mind
and thoughts were swirling in multitudinous sensations. What he had seen
he had seen, and what to make of it he did not know. Where he was going,
he was going, and what new marvel he was about to experience he was
unable to conceive or guess.

Yet, as he moved swiftly towards the house of Sir Thomas Ducaine, he
knew in a strange, sub-conscious fashion, that all his life was altered,
all his ideas of the future were overthrown.

Something had come into the life of the brilliant young man, something
had fallen upon him like a sword--it would never be the same any more!

Meanwhile, as he walked with Joseph, he walked with a man who warmed his
whole being with awe and reverence. Speculation ceased within him. He
was content to be taken where the other would--dominated, captive, and
glad.

And in his mental vision there still remained the vivid memory of the
miracle which he had seen--the piercing cries of joy and thankfulness,
the picture of the poor old man and his recovered son, drowned all other
thought within him!

He felt, as Moses must have felt on Sinai, the rapture and fear of one
who has been very near to God.

They came to the door of the house in Piccadilly.

A row of carriages lined the pavement, and the butler was standing in
the hall, surrounded by his satellites. The door was half ajar, held by
a footman, and as the two men entered there was a sudden stir and
movement of the people who were expectant there.

Sir Thomas Ducaine, who had been talking earnestly and in a low voice to
Mary Lys, came forward quickly as the two men entered.

His face was charged with a great reverence and affection as he took
Joseph by both hands.

"Master," he said, "welcome! We are all waiting for you."

Then he turned inquiringly to Eric Black. Joseph interpreted the look.

"This is a brother," he said, "who will be very strong in the Lord. He
is a strong and tempered blade which has for long rested in the
scabbard. Our Blessed Lord has come to him this night."

The twenty or thirty people who had been waiting round the great hall
now came forward in a group. With the exception of Joseph's friend
Hampson, there was not a single person there who was not important in
one way or another in English life. Here was a well-known and popular
King's Counsel, his keen, clean-shaven face all alight with interest and
wonder. By his side was a prominent society actress, a great artiste, as
far removed from the Mimi Addington type as light is from darkness.
There were tears in the great grey eyes, and the sensitive mouth was
quivering with emotion. A young peer, an intimate friend of Sir Thomas
Ducaine, a group of well-known society women, a popular Mayfair doctor,
a middle-aged baronet, who was one of the Court officials at Buckingham
Palace--of such materials was the advance band of people composed.

Along the other side of the hall, in strange contrast to these
fashionable and beautifully dressed people, the faithful band of Welsh
miners and quarrymen was standing in their black coats, talking
earnestly and quietly together.

They turned also as the Master entered.

Then David Owen took three or four steps in front of his companions and
raised his gnarled old brown hands high above his head.

"Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord," he cried, "and who
is filled with the Holy Spirit!"

Then he turned suddenly to his companions, and with a wave of his arm
started the "Veni Creator Spiritus"--

    Come, Holy Ghost, eternal God,
      Proceeding from above,
    Both from the Father and the Son;
      The God of peace and love.

    Visit our minds, into our hearts
      Thy heavenly grace inspire;
    That truth and godliness we may
      Pursue with full desire.

    Thou art the Comforter
      In grief and all distress;
    The heavenly gift of God Most High
      No tongue can it express.

    The fountain and the living spring
      Of joy celestial;
    The fire so bright, the love so sweet,
      The Unction spiritual.

A glorious burst of deep and moving harmony filled the great hall, and
thundered away up in the dome above as the Welshmen caught up the old
hymn.

None of the other people there had ever heard anything like this in
their lives. All this melody and wild beauty, which is the heritage of
the country which produces the most perfect chorus singers in the world,
were mingled with a spiritual fervor so intense, and a love and rapture
so ecstatic, a purpose so inviolable and strong, that souls and hearts
were moved as they had never been moved before.

The organ voices ceased suddenly, as a symphony played on some great
orchestra ceases without a single dropping note.

Then every one saw that the Master's hand was raised in blessing. He
seemed suddenly grown taller. His face shone with heavenly radiance, he
was more than human in that moment, his whole body was like some thin,
transparent shell which throbbed and pulsed with Divine fire.

"The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
be with you and remain with you always."

The words of blessing fell upon hearts and souls long dry and arid,
atrophied by the things of this world, like the blessed rain of heaven
upon the thirsting fields. Worldly ambitions, hopes, thoughts and
preoccupations, shrivelled up and disappeared. A deep penitence flowed
over those dry spaces like a river. Sorrow for the past, resolution for
the future, the glory and awe of worship, came upon them all in the
supreme moment.

While they were looking at the Teacher with rapt attention they saw him
suddenly drop his arm, which fell heavily to his side like a dead thing.

The light faded from his face, the thin, blue-veined lids fell over the
shining eyes, the mouth dropped a little, with a long sigh, and Joseph
fell backwards in a deep swoon.

The man who but a moment before realized for them the absolute visual
picture of Christ Himself, as He may have looked on one of those great
moments of tenderness and triumph which star the Holy Gospel with the
radiance of their recital, was now, indeed, a visible picture in his own
body of the "Man of Sorrows Who was acquainted with grief," The Redeemer
Who fell by the way.

Sir Thomas and Hampson were standing by the Teacher as he fell, and it
was their arms which received the swooning form, carried it into an
inner room, and laid it gently upon a couch.

But it was Mary, tall, grave and unutterably lovely in her healing
ministry, who chafed the cold, thin hands, wiped the damp moisture from
the pale and suffering brow, and called back life into the frail and
exhausted vessel of God.

While the Teacher was being tended by his friends Sir Thomas had given
orders to the butler to take his other guests into the large
dining-room, where there was some supper waiting for them.

Every one assembled in the great, rich room, with its Jacobean carvings
and family portraits by Gainsborough and Reynolds.

But nobody ate anything, or sat down at the long, gleaming table. One
and another took a sandwich, but every one was too expectant and highly
strung to think of food in the ordinary way.

Probably for the first time in the lives of the society people there,
they felt a real brotherhood and equality with the rugged sons of toil.
The cultured accents of Park Lane mingled with the rougher voices of the
Master's disciples. Distinguished and famous men walked with their hands
upon the shoulders of the peasants from Wales. Beautiful women in all
the splendor of dress and jewels hung upon the words of some poor
servant of God whose whole worldly possessions were not worth twelve
inches of the lace upon their gowns.

It was an extraordinary scene of absolute, uncalculating love and
brotherhood. As in the very early Christian time, the mighty and the
humble were once more one and equal, loving and beloved in the light
which streamed from the Cross on which the Saviour of them all had died
in agony that they might live in eternity.

There was no single trace of embarrassment among Joseph's followers.
They answered the eager questioning of the others with quiet and simple
dignity. The marvellous story of Lluellyn Lys was told once more with a
far greater fulness of detail than the public Press had ever been able
to give to the world. The miracles which had taken place upon the wild
hills of Wales were recited to the eager ears of those who had only
heard of them through garbled and sensational reports.

During the half-hour all the London folk were put in possession of the
whole facts of Joseph's mission and its origin.

Probably never before in the social history of England had the force and
power of the Christian faith been so wonderfully and practically
manifested as at this moment. Degrees, dignities, rank, wealth, and
power were all swept away, and ceased utterly to exist. The Divine love
had come down upon this company in full and overflowing measure, and a
joy which none of them had known before, and which seemed indeed a very
foretaste of the heavenly joy to come, was with them all.

Sir Thomas Ducaine came into the room.

"My friends," he said, "the Master has recovered and asks you to pray
and talk with him upon this great and happy night. He is waiting for you
all in the ball-room upstairs. Will you come with me?"

The young baronet led the way. They followed him out of the dining-room,
through the hall in which the liveried servants stood about with
awe-struck faces, up the wide marble staircase with its crimson carpet,
and into the vast room, lit by a thousand lights, which gleamed in the
mirrors with which the walls were lined, and were reflected again in the
smooth and shiny parquet floor.

And in the midst of all these splendors, seated upon a chair at one end
of the room, they saw the dark-robed figure of the Master, with a sweet
and gentle smile upon his face.

Without a word they grouped themselves round him, and, still smiling on
them in love and brotherhood, Joseph began to speak.

"My dear brothers and sisters," he said quietly, "you have come here
to-night from the church where I spoke as the Spirit of God compelled me
to speak. The words that I said were there given to me, and to many of
the congregation they must have seemed harsh and cruel. But out of all
that congregation you have chosen to be with me to-night, and I pray and
believe that a new life is to begin for all of you, even as it began for
me no long time ago.

"I am going to ask you now how, and in what measure, each of you is
going to live for Christ Jesus. Think about your past life and think
about your future life in this world! God has given to all of you great
powers and opportunities. In the ranks of this world you are set high. I
and my companions have come from the hills of Wales, led by God, our
band captained by the Holy Ghost, to wake this great and sinful city
from its sloth and evil. By the blessing of the Holy Trinity you are
assembled here to-night under the roof of a young man who is very rich
and powerful in England. By the direct operation of the Paraclete, that
young man is being led to the Truth, and has thrown in his lot with the
servants of God. At the beginning of our battle we are thus provided
with money and influence, and all the weapons with which God in His
Divine wisdom makes it necessary for His servants to use.

"What are you, also, going to do for Jesus?"

There was a silence for a full minute when Joseph had made an end of
speaking.

Then, quite suddenly, a strong, clear, and confident voice rang out in
the great ball-room.

Eric Black, the journalist, was speaking.

"Sir Thomas Ducaine, Ladies and Gentlemen," he said, "I am not one of
you. I am a writer for the Press, and, I may say, a writer who is
successful and whose words are read by very many people. I have never
before to-night thought much about religion, nor have I loved God or
tried to serve Him. But from now, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I
vow and pledge myself to write nothing that is untrue; nothing which
shall not, in intention and effort, redound to the glory of God. With
such power as in me lies, I enlist under the banner of this man, which I
verily, truly and honestly believe to be the banner of Jesus. And there
is one thing more that I must say. I beg you will excuse my presumption,
and listen patiently to me for a moment, for I have a wonderful thing to
tell you."

Then, in crisp, vivid sentences, full of color and movement, he told the
listening company of the miracle of healing he had just witnessed in the
West End slum.

He spoke as he wrote, keenly and directly, with the technical power of
producing an actual picture in the hearer's or the reader's brain.

While he was telling his experience Joseph's eyes were half closed. His
hands were resting upon the arms of his chair, and he was quite
motionless.

When he had finished, the keen-faced King's Counsel began to speak in a
somewhat hard and metallic voice, though with force and determination in
every note of it.

"For my part," he said, "without any further preamble I will say just
this. I will never again defend a cause in the courts in which I do not
believe. I will give up all the methods and intrigues by which I have
hoped to secure a judgeship. I will no longer court a political party in
whose policy I do not really believe, in order that I may gain a prize.
And when I am not exercising my profession and doing the duty to which
God has called me, in an honest and Christian fashion, I will spend a
right proportion of my wealth and time in helping Joseph to alleviate
the sorrows and miseries of the poor, and to bring London back to Jesus
Christ!"

The silence which ensued after the great lawyer, in his brusque and
determined fashion, had made his confession of faith, was broken by a
voice which was like water falling into water.

The great actress was speaking, gently and humbly.

"For my part," she said, "I can do little, oh, so very little. But I
have enough money to live on quietly, and there will still be some to
spare for the poor people. I will act no more. My art, such as it is,
has been well thought of in this world. But I am sure now that I cannot
go on playing. There is so much more to do for God. And, perhaps, I do
not yet know, because I have not thought it out, it may not be good in
the sight of Heaven that I should continue in my profession. That is
what I will do, Master."

Young Lord Ashbury, Sir Thomas Ducaine's friend, began to mumble and
stutter. He was a short, thick-set young fellow, with a clean-shaven,
pleasant, but not particularly intellectual countenance.

"I--er--really, I don't quite know, but I--well, it's difficult to say,
don't you know! At any rate, I'll do what I can. Old Tommy Ducaine is a
good lead, and I haven't done all I ought to do--not by a very long way.
But I will if I can. If I can help the poor Johnnies Joseph talks about,
I jolly well will. That's all!"

Very red in the face, the Earl of Ashbury subsided into silence.

The night wore on, and many hearts were laid bare, many natures opened
themselves before the Teacher.

It was close upon dawn when the last carriage rolled away, and the door
opened to let the latest guest out into Piccadilly.

The battle of the Lord was begun. People were flocking to the
enlistment. The standard of Jesus was raised in the Babylon of our
time.



CHAPTER XVII

THE CONSPIRATORS


Mr. Andrew Levison, the lessee and part proprietor of the Frivolity
Theatre, sat in his private office, which led out of the foyer, one damp
and foggy afternoon, a fortnight after Joseph's now famous sermon at St.
Elwyn's.

Since that momentous occasion, much water had run under the bridge.

Joseph and his companions had become the question of the hour. What, in
the first instance, had been mere excitement and surmise, was now an
accepted and revolutionary fact. Except by hearsay, London in reality
was divided into two camps--those who were for, and those who were
against the Teacher.

And the hostile party was infinitely greater than the friendly one.

In the first instance, the attitudes of the religious bodies were
extremely varied.

Mr. Persse himself, whose church had become suddenly emptied of its
congregation, and whose personal prestige had suffered an irremediable
injury, headed a most virulent and persistent antagonism.

But the really fine brains and spiritual natures in the Anglican
Church--including those noble men who live the lives of paupers among
paupers, and work like galley-slaves--were much more friendly. They
noticed that the Teacher made no personal assumptions. He did not say
that those whose sins he remitted were cleansed. He baptized none; he
called himself an ambassador, but not a priest of God.

That, in His inscrutable providence, the Father had richly endowed this
man with the Holy Spirit, that he did indeed walk under the direct
guidance of God, seemed to these good men impossible to doubt. They
were, despite the certain restrictions of thought to which their
training and temperament inclined them, ready to believe that because
the advent of one directly inspired by the Holy Ghost in the sense with
which the Apostle Paul was inspired was outside their personal
experience, it was not to be rejected upon that account.

As far as in them lay, in the measure of their opportunities and
possibilities, they held out the welcoming hand.

But, as was inevitable, it was the Free Sects who were in the front of
the Teacher's army--as far as definitely Christian people went.

During the last few days of the fortnight which had intervened between
the present moment and the sermon in St. Elwyn's, Dissent, with the
exception of the Unitarians, had spoken in no uncertain way in favor of
Joseph's mission. They saw, with a singular unanimity, that here was a
deeply spiritual revival of religion upon true evangelical lines. Here
was a greater than Wesley even, a force and a personality which could
not be explained away by any accusations of charlatanism or
self-interest, a man with a personal magnetism, a power over the human
soul, a power even over the material things of life which was verily
without precedent or likeness since the times of the holy apostles
themselves!

That much of his teaching was definitely Catholic in tone, that he sent
people to the true channels of grace--the Sacraments of the Church--did
not alienate them as it might have done in another. It was now known
that in his youth Joseph was a baptized and confirmed member of the
Church of England, that he in no way repudiated it nor stood outside it,
that he constantly received the Blessed Sacrament. But Nonconformity was
not hostile.

The word "miracle," so long derided and discredited by the materialists
and scientists who denied the immanence of God in all things, was now
once more in the air.

The whole of England was awaking to the realization of strange new
happenings. Men who had never thought or spoken of such things before
now talked in low voices, one with the other, of the Holy Ghost. "God is
a Spirit"--once more men said this to each other.

The healing of the verger's son was known to all the world. It was a
fact beyond possibility of doubt, more authenticated and certain, more
easily capable of proof than any of the Roman Catholic wonders of
Lourdes or Treves. The colder analysis of the Anglo-Saxon temperament
had been brought to bear upon the event. Evidence was weighed and
sorted as the impulsive, emotional Latin temperament is incapable of
doing.

And, in the event, even the most sceptical were forced to admit that
there was no doubt at all.

The thing had really happened!

Eric Black had put it upon record. His vivid and powerful description
had touched the heart of the nation. Then it was the turn of the
investigators, and they had been unable to discover a single flaw in the
sequence of cause, operation, and effect.

It was said also, and hinted everywhere, that a certain famous family
had brought an afflicted daughter to the Teacher. Nothing was known
definitely, but the generally believed story was this:--

The Lady Hermione ---- was the third daughter of the Duke of ----. The
family, one of the most famous in the historical annals of England, was
still rich in power and wealth. But it was a physical ruin. Sons and
daughters for the last three generations had been born feeble in brain
and stunted in body.

A mysterious taint was on the ancient house, that Nemesis for past
grandeur that Thackeray has drawn for us in the picture of the Marquis
of Steyne in _Vanity Fair_.

The young and lovely lady had been seized with a mysterious and
incurable disease of the mind. She had disappeared from society. It was
said that her condition was terrible; that at times even the doctors and
nurses who watched over her impenetrable seclusion shrunk back from her
in fear.

It was as though she was possessed of an evil spirit--so the tale had
long been whispered.

And now it was abroad and upon the lips of every one that the poor
living body inhabited by some evil thing had been brought to the
Teacher, and that all was once more well with the maid--the soul
returned, health and simplicity her portion once more.

These things had made a most lasting and powerful impression upon the
public mind. Who Joseph was, what were the reality and extent of his
powers, what was to be the outcome of his mission: these were the
questions of the day, and all the world was asking them.

The non-religious world sneered. The majority in "Christian" England was
also divided in unequal portions. Most people said that Joseph was a
marvellous trickster and cheat--a cheat and impostor such as England had
probably never seen before, but still a rogue of rogues.

But among the last and poorest sections of the London community a very
different opinion obtained.

They didn't know anything about religious matters, they cared still
less. "God" was a word which gave point and freedom to an oath. The
churches were places in which one was adjured to give up even the
miserable pleasures which made life possible to be endured. The Bible
was the little black Book you kissed in the police courts.

But Joseph was a friend.

Great things were going to happen in the congested districts of the
lost. A material Saviour seemed to have risen up. A man who rebuked the
rich and powerful, who poured words of fire upon the tyrant and the
oppressor, had come to London. There was help then! A light was to dawn
in the sky, there was a little patch of hope in the sombre environment
of lost and degraded lives.

Joseph and his brethren were coming to help!

So all London was stirred to its depths.

Vested interests were threatened in innumerable ways, a revolution in
public thought and sentiment was imminent, in some way or other, for all
classes of society; things were going to be changed.

Things were going to be changed.

And, whether it knew it or not, the Modern Babylon was in the throes of
a spiritual revolution.

The Holy Ghost brooded over the waters.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Andrew Levison sat in his private office at the Frivolity Theatre.

It was a richly furnished and comfortable place.

The walls were decorated with large photographs of the popular actors
and actresses of the day. A heavy Turkey carpet covered the floor, a
great writing-table of carved oak was littered with papers, electric
lights in little silver shells glowed here and there; it was the luxury
of a business room.

Andrew Levison's theatre had remained closed since the night when Joseph
had first appeared in London and denounced the place. The attendance at
many other theatres of the same class was dwindling enormously. It was
exactly as the shrewd Jew had foreseen--the advent of the evangelist
bade fair to ruin, or, at any rate, terribly embarrass, his unscrupulous
enterprises.

He sat in his big arm-chair of green leather and smiled. A light
yellow-colored cigar was between his firm white teeth. He drummed gently
upon the writing-table with fat white fingers. No more happy-looking and
prosperous person, at peace with the world and with himself, could have
been seen anywhere--upon the surface.

It is a great mistake to imagine that the most evil passions of the
heart show themselves in the face. Criminals, with the exception of
those unhappy people who live _continuously_ by crime, are no monsters
in aspect. Your murderer is, as often as not, a mild and
pleasant-looking man. Mr. Levison looked what he was--a good-natured,
shrewd and money-loving Hebrew, no more. Yet, as he sat there, he was
planning murder, and waiting the arrival of an assassin!

It is always thus, though many people have neither sufficient
imagination nor knowledge of life to realize it. A man may be a panderer
like Levison, or a robber like any successful rascal in the City, and
yet he may still be a kind husband and father and a generous friend.

The Son of God, Who hung upon the shameful tree of Calvary, knew this.

"This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise" was not said idly. Man is
made in God's image, however marred or defaced the Divine imprint may
be.

It is well to remember this sometimes, though it is fatal to allow our
appreciation of its truth to make us kind to sin or tolerant of it. But
may we not hope that no single son or daughter of God is ever entirely
lost?

The theatrical manager's secretary, a pale and tired-looking girl, who
took down his letters in shorthand and typed them upon her machine,
knocked at the door and entered.

"Oh, Miss Campbell, what is it?" Levison said, making a pretence of
looking up from a pile of papers.

"A man has come," the girl said, "who tells me that he is one of the
supers in the last play. There is another man with him, and he says that
he thinks you will see him. His name is Harris, and he states that he is
one of the regular people here."

"Well, that's nothing to do with me," Levison answered. "They ought to
see the stage-manager. He looks after all those things. However, you may
tell them to come in. I suppose they're hard up, and want a shilling or
two? I shan't disappoint them, I dare say."

He smiled, a flashing, good-humored smile of strong white teeth; and the
girl went out, thinking that under a brusque exterior her employer had a
heart of gold, after all.

In a moment or two more the carefully arranged comedy was over, the door
of the office was carefully closed, and two seedy-looking, clean-shaven
men stood in front of Mr. Levison's writing-table.

"This is my pal, Mr. Levison," one of the men said, in a hoarse and
furtive voice.

He spoke softly and in the way of one who shared a confidential secret.

Levison looked the other man up and down with a keen and comprehensive
regard. The fellow was shorter and stouter than his companion. His face
was like a mask. It betrayed nothing whatever, although its obvious
concealment of what lay behind--the real man, in short--was rather
sinister. The light, red-flint eyes kept flickering and shifting from
side to side, and that was the only betrayal of uneasiness apparent.

"What's your name?" Levison said; and then, with a sudden wave of his
hand, he corrected himself. "No, I don't want to know your name, after
all. That matters nothing to me. But what I am going to ask you is just
this: Has Harris explained to you what you are going to be paid to do?"

"'E 'ave, gov'nor," said the man.

"He's told you exactly?"

The fellow nodded, without further waste of words.

"Very well, then," Levison answered--"then there is no need of any
explanations on my part. At the same time, I will say just this: A
certain person has got to be put out of the way. That you already
understand. But there need not necessarily be anything more than that.
An injury that would incapacitate the person we know of, would put him
on the shelf for a long time, would be quite enough."

The man smiled. The whole ghastly immobility of the mask was suddenly
transformed into a hideous and mocking countenance. The tool of the arch
criminal betrayed his superiority to scruple, and in that moment the
hired assassin was contemptuous of the greater scoundrel and the weaker
man.

"As you like, gov'nor," he said, in a low, oily voice. "It's all one to
me and my pals--give you my word. There's lots of ways of putting a cove
through it wivout doin' of 'im entirely like. But the whole thing's just
as easy."

Levison, whose face had suddenly grown very white, made him an impatient
and terrified movement with his hand.

It was one thing to call up one of the foul creeping things of London,
it was quite another to hear hideousness voicing horror in a quiet and
accustomed room.

"I want to hear nothing at all!" he said, in a high-pitched and unsteady
voice. "Don't tell me! Don't tell me! I don't want to know!"

Once more the assassin smiled--dreadfully.

"Very well, gov'nor," he whispered. "That's all O.K. Leave it to me, and
it'll be safe as 'ouses. Day after ter-morrer this 'ere Joseph is going
down into Whitechapel wiv a lot of 'is swell pals. Sort of explanatory
tour, it is. 'E's a-goin' to show them 'ow the pore live. Tike 'em over
the rookeries and preach the Gospel. We'll 'ave lots of chances, and no
one won't know 'oo done it. It's a question of terms, that's all. You're
a gen'leman, you are, sir; and Mr. 'Arris 'ere, an old pal of the boys,
is a gentleman, too. Guv'nor, what are you a-goin' to hoffer?"

Levison's hand trembled as he opened a drawer of the big writing-table.

He withdrew ten sovereigns in gold.

"Take this," he said, "and when the thing is done, I'll give you twenty
more of the same. Harris will give them to you from me. And now, for
God's sake, get out of my sight!"

The last words burst from him in a high, almost feminine note, and as
the two men shuffled away into the fog of the empty foyer, the fat,
white hand of the Jew went up to his throat, clutching at it in sick
hysteria.

"In the name of God, get out of my sight!"

Was there ever a more blasphemous parody and mockery than this? He who
taketh the name of the Lord God in vain--



CHAPTER XVIII

REVEALED IN A VISION


Mary Lys stood in the great hall of the East End Hospital, where she had
worked for three years. She was saying good-bye.

A little group of men and women stood round her--the men mostly young,
clean-shaven, alert, and capable in expression; the women in the uniform
of hospital nurses.

Some of the women were crying quietly, and the great visiting surgeon,
Sir Abraham Jones himself, alternately tugged at his grey, pointed beard
or polished the glasses of his pince-nez.

"Well, nurse," said the great man, "I must go. I am due in the operating
theatre. I am sure that I am only representing the thought of the whole
hospital staff when I say how deeply we all regret that you are leaving
us. You have--ahem!--endeared yourself to every one, and your work has
been splendid. You have been a pattern to your colleagues in every way.
I hope that in the new sphere of life you have chosen you will be happy
and prosperous."

Sir Abraham was not an orator in ordinary life, though he had been known
to rise to real eloquence when lecturing upon some of the obscurer forms
of appendicitis. But the short, jerky sentences came from his heart as
he shook the hand of the beautiful girl who, like himself, was a soldier
in the noble army of those who fight disease and death.

They all crowded round Mary. The nurses kissed her, the young doctors
wrung her by the hand and tried to express something of their feelings.

Men and women, they all loved and valued her, and every one knew that
when she went out through the great doors for the last time they would
all suffer a loss which could never be replaced.

It was over at last. No longer in her nurse's dress, but clothed in the
ordinary tailor-made coat and skirt that young ladies wear in London
during the mornings, Mary got into the waiting hansom cab. The driver
shook the reins, the horse lurched into a trot, there was a vision of
waving hands and kindly faces, and then the long, grimy façade of the
hospital slid past the window and was lost to view.

Mary Lys was no longer a hospital nurse.

As she drove westward--for she was on her way to her aunt's house in
Berkeley Square, where she was about to make her home for a time--she
reviewed her past life, with its many memories, bitter and sweet. It had
been a hard and difficult life--a life of unceasing work among gloomy
and often terrible surroundings. And moreover, she was not a girl who
was insensible to the beauty and softer sides of life. Culture, luxury,
and repose were all hers did she but care to speak one word to Lady
Kirwan. She was constantly implored to leave the work she had set
herself to do.

She had always refused, and now, as she looked back on the past years,
she knew that she had been right, that her character was now fixed and
immovable, that the long effort and self-control of the past had given
her a steadfastness and strength such as are the portion and attributes
of few women.

And as the cab moved slowly up the Strand, Mary Lys thanked God for
this. Humbly and thankfully she realized that she was now a better
instrument than before, a more finely tempered sword with which to fight
the battle of Christ.

For though Mary was to live beneath the roof of Sir Augustus Kirwan, she
was not going to live the social life--the life of pleasure and
excitement as her cousin Marjorie did. Mary had left the hospital for
one definite purpose--that she might join the army of Joseph, and give
her whole time to the great work which the evangelist was inaugurating
in London.

Joseph and his brethren had now definitely taken up their abode in a
large house in Bloomsbury which Sir Thomas Ducaine had given them to be
the headquarters of their mission. Workers of all classes were flocking
there, and Mary knew, without possibility of doubt, that she was called
to the work. Every fibre of her spiritual nature told her the truth.
From the first she had been mysteriously connected with the movement.
The supernormal chain of events, the long succession of occurrences that
were little less than miraculous, told their own tale. In common with
all those people who had anything to do with Joseph, and who were about
to join him, Mary was sure that she was being directly guided by the
Holy Ghost.

She thought of her dead brother, the strange, prophet-like figure of the
mountain and the mist, the real beginner of it all, the man who had
taken the empty brain and soul of Joseph himself, and as it were,
through his own death, by some strange psychical law unknown to us,
poured the Spirit of God into them as into a vessel.

Mary knew that Lluellyn was aware of her determination, and that he
approved it. There were few people who drew more comfort or believed
more heartily in the glorious truth of the Communion of Saints than Mary
Lys.

She felt that Jesus Christ had conquered death, that our loved ones are
with us still, and the time of waiting is short before we shall see them
once again.

She did not know how near she was to another special manifestation of
God's grace and power, for, saint-like and humble as were the pious
maids and matrons who listened to the teachings of Our Lord and
ministered to Him, she did not realize the growth of her own soul and
how near to the great veil her life of purity and sacrifice had brought
her.

The cab passed out of the Strand into Trafalgar Square, and, the traffic
being less congested, began to roll along at a smarter pace than before.

But Mary noticed nothing of her surroundings as the vehicle turned into
Pall Mall. From the sweet and tender memory of her dead brother her
thoughts had now fallen upon one who was becoming increasingly dear to
her, but one for whom she still prayed--and over whom she
mourned--unceasingly.

From the very first Mary had been strongly attracted by Sir Thomas
Ducaine. Even in the past, when she had definitely refused to listen to
his suit, she had known that she was upon the brink of something more
than mere affection for him. He was strong, his life was clean, his
heart kindly and unspoiled.

But she had restrained herself with the admirable self-control which her
life of sacrifice had taught her; she had put the first beginnings and
promptings of love away.

He did not believe, he could not believe. God the Father, God the Son,
God the Holy Ghost were incredible to him. He would not pretend. He
would not seek to win her by a lie, but the Holy Trinity meant nothing
at all to him.

But then Joseph had come. The Teacher had influenced the rich and famous
young man, so that he had given him everything. Without having realized
in its essential essence, the truth of Joseph's mission and the Divine
guidance the Teacher enjoyed, Sir Thomas had nevertheless changed his
whole way of life for him.

"Father, teach him of Thyself. Lord Jesus, reveal Thyself to him. Holy
Spirit, descend upon him." Thus Mary prayed as she was being driven out
of her old life into the new.

It was about one o'clock when the cab stopped at Sir Augustus Kirwan's
house in Berkeley Square.

"My lady and Miss Marjorie told me to tell you, miss," the butler said,
as he greeted Mary, "that they are both very sorry indeed that they
cannot be here to welcome you. They would have done so if they possibly
could. But my lady is lunching at Marlborough House, Miss Mary. Sir
Augustus is in the City."

The man handed her on to a footman, who conducted her up the great
staircase, at the head of which Mrs. Summers, Lady Kirwan's maid, and
confidential factotum, was waiting.

The good woman's face was one broad grin of welcome. Summers was in the
confidence of her mistress, and had long known of the efforts made by
the baronet and his wife to induce Miss Lys to give up her work at the
hospital and take up her residence in Berkeley Square.

Only that morning Lady Kirwan had said, "Everything is really turning
out quite well, after all, Summers, though, of course, one could not see
it at first. The arrival of this eccentric Joseph person has really been
a blessing in disguise. Sir Thomas Ducaine is more devoted to Miss Mary
than ever, since they are both mixed up in this mission affair. We shall
see everything come right before very long."

"Your rooms are prepared, miss," said Summers. "Bryce has told you why
m'lady and Miss Marjorie couldn't be home to welcome you. But I'll send
some lunch up at once to your boudoir. And there's a letter come this
morning. Sir Thomas' valet brought it himself. I've put it on your
writing-table, miss."

There was a world of meaning and kindly innuendo in the woman's voice as
she ushered Mary into the luxurious suite of rooms which had been made
ready for her.

But the girl noticed nothing of it. Her thoughts were in far distant
places.

Nothing could have been more dainty and beautiful than the rooms which
were to be hers.

The most loving care had been lavished on them by her aunt and cousin.
One of the head men from Waring's had been there on that very morning to
put the finishing touches.

Mary's eyes took in all the comfort and elegance, but her brain did not
respond to their message. She was still thinking of and praying for the
man who loved her and whom she loved, but the man who had not
yet--despite all his marvellous generosity--bowed his head and murmured,
"I believe."

Then she saw his letter upon the writing-table--the firm, strong
handwriting, with the up-stroke "d" and the Greek "e," which denote a
public school and University training.

Her heart throbbed as she took up the square envelope and opened it.

This is what she read--

     "Lady Kirwan has told me you are coming to them to-day. I want to
     see you most particularly. I bring you a message from Joseph, and I
     bring you news of myself. At four o'clock I will call, and please
     see me. Dearest and best,

     "THOMAS SHOLTO DUCAINE."

She smiled at the signature. Tom always signed his full name, even in
the most intimate letters. It was a trick, a habit he always had. For
the moment Mary was like any other girl who dwells fondly on some one or
other little peculiarity of the man she loves--making him in some subtle
way more than ever her own.

Mary lunched alone. Her luxurious surroundings seemed to strike an alien
note. She was not as yet at home in them, though when the meal was over
she drew up her chair to the glowing fire with a certain sense of
physical ease and enjoyment.

In truth, she was very tired. The strongly emotional incidents of her
farewell at the hospital, the concentration of nervous force during her
drive to Berkeley Square, had left her exhausted for the moment. She was
glad of the comfortable silence, the red glow from the cedar logs upon
the hearth, and, as the afternoon lengthened into the early dusk of a
London fog, she sighed herself to sleep.

Death has been defined as the cessation from correspondence with
environment--a logical and scientific statement which, while it is
perfectly accurate, still leaves room for every article of the Christian
faith. Sleep, in a sense, is this also: and we have the authority of
Holy Writ itself that many revelations have come to the dreamer of
dreams.

Mary lay back in her arm-chair, and the dewy loveliness of her face
would, in its perfection, have shown no trace of what was passing in her
sub-conscious mind to an onlooker. But all her life was being unfolded
to her in a strange panorama as she slept. From first to last everything
that had ever happened to her was unwound as if from the spool of Fate
itself. She saw all the events of her life as if she were standing apart
from them and they were another's. But, more than all this, she saw
also, in a dread and mysterious revelation, the purpose, the controlling
purpose of God, which had brought these events about.

It was as though she was vouchsafed a glimpse into the workings of the
Divine mind; as if all the operations of God's providence, as they had
been connected with her past, were now suddenly made clear.

On some dark and mysterious fabric, half seen and but little understood,
the real pattern had flashed out--clear, vivid, and unmistakable, while
the golden threads that went through warp and woof were plain at last.

On and on went the strange procession of events, until she found herself
upon the lonely mountain-tops of Wales. Her dead brother was there, and
praying for her. She heard his passionate, appealing voice, she saw with
his very mind itself. Joseph was there also, and Mary began to
understand something of the miracle that had made the Teacher what he
was, that had changed him as Saul was changed.

And at this moment the color of the dream began to be less real and
vivid, while its panoramic movement was greatly accelerated.

She was as though suddenly removed to a great distance, and saw all
things with a blurred vision as the present approached. Then her
sensations entirely changed. She no longer saw pictures of the past
explained for her in the light of a supernatural knowledge. All that was
over. Her whole heart and mind were filled with the sense of some
strange presence which was coming nearer and nearer--nearer and nearer
still.

Then, quite suddenly and plainly, she saw that the figure of Lluellyn
Lys was standing in the centre of the room, clear and luminous. The
figure was that of her dead brother as she had last seen him, and seemed
perfectly substantial and real. It was seen in the darkness by an aurora
of pale light that seemed to emanate from it, as if the flesh--if flesh
indeed it was--exhaled an atmosphere of light.

Mary fell upon her knees. "Brother--brother!" she cried, stretching out
her hands in supplication. "Dear brother, speak to me! Tell me why you
are here from the grave!"

There was no answer in words. The face of the figure grew much brighter
than the rest, and the weeping, imploring girl saw upon it a peace so
perfect, a joy so serene and high, a beatitude so unspeakable, that her
sobs and moans died away into silence as she gazed at the transfigured
countenance in breathless awe and wonder.

For the face was as the face of one who had seen God and walked the
streets of Paradise.

It smiled upon her with ineffable tenderness and greeting, and then she
saw that one arm was raised in blessing. For some seconds the figure
remained there, motionless. Then with a slight movement, though no sound
accompanied it, the luminous outline turned towards the door. The right
arm still remained in its attitude of blessing, the left pointed to the
portal.

There was a sound of footsteps outside in the passage, the figure began
to sway and shake, precisely as a column of vapor shakes in a wind. It
grew fainter and more faint, and as Mary tried to clasp it, calling
aloud on it to stay, it vanished utterly away. She was awake now, and
for some reason she could not explain she rushed to the wall and turned
on the switch of the electric light. In a second the room was
illuminated. It was just the same in its ordered daintiness and comfort.
Nothing was altered, there was nothing whatever to show that any ghostly
visitor had been there.

There was a knock at the door.

Sir Thomas Ducaine entered, and there was something upon his face which
sent the blood leaping through Mary's veins once more in the shock of a
sudden revelation.

She knew now why her brother had come to her in her vision! Sir Thomas
entered the room, and came straight up to Mary.

"My dear," he said, "I asked especially to see you alone because I have
something to tell you. Lady Kirwan knows; she gave me permission to
come. Mary, can you guess what I have to say?"

The light upon his face had told her even before he spoke; the ghostly
visitor had told her; her heart had told her.

"I think I know," she said. "I think that my prayers are answered."

He caught her by both hands, and looked steadily into her eyes.

"My love," he said, in a voice that trembled with emotion, try how he
would to control it, "I have come to tell you just that."

Her face did not change. It bore the traces of the supernatural
experiences through which she had passed; there was a rapt ecstasy in
the eyes, the lovely lips spoke of love, belief, hope. Her face did not
change, but it already wore the look he had longed to see upon it. She
had never seemed more beautiful. "It has been a gradual process, Mary,"
he continued, speaking quickly and nervously. "But it has been quickened
at the last. And I owe it all, absolutely and utterly, to Joseph. The
night that Joseph came into my life, when I saw him at the theatre, and
when I found him standing on the steps of my house late on the same
night, was the beginning of everything for me. All life is changed. I
look upon it in a new way. I see it with fresh eyes. I believe in God, I
know that Jesus died for me, I know that the Holy Ghost is immanent in
this world--I believe!"

"I knew it," she said in a low voice. "I knew it directly you entered
the room. God sent a messenger in a dream to tell me."

"He has us in His care," the young man said reverently. "But I have
much to tell you, Mary. Do not tire yourself."

He led her to a large ottoman, which came out at right angles to the
Dutch fireplace, and sat down by her side. He had released her hands
now, and by an intuition she knew his motive. He would not speak to her
of love until he had told her the whole history of his conversion, the
dawn of his belief, his acceptance of Christ!

He wanted her to be sure, to understand the change in him to the full,
and he would take nothing until it was fairly due!

He was indeed a true and gallant gentleman, Mary thought, as she heard
the grave young voice and saw the firelight playing upon the strong,
clean-cut profile.

She had been attracted to him from the first. No one had ever stirred
her as he had done. Liking and powerful attraction had grown into love,
strong, steadfast, and sure.

But there had always been that great and terrible barrier between them.
She could not give herself to an infidel. For that was what it meant,
ugly and harsh as the word was. He did not really and truly believe
there was a God. He was an atheist and infidel, even as Joseph himself
had been.

And now, and now! It was all over, God had spoken and revealed Himself
to the blind, ignorant heart!

The man was speaking. Thomas was telling her of how this marvel had come
about.

"It was not only Joseph's great magnetic powers, the marvellous way in
which he can stir one, that influenced me. A great orator is not
necessarily a Christian; the personal force which hypnotizes and directs
the thoughts and movements of a crowd is not necessarily derived from
belief. I recognized, of course, that I had come in contact with a
personality that was probably unique in the modern world. I saw it at
once, I was dominated by it; I put my money and influence at Joseph's
disposal because I was perfectly certain of his goodness and his power
for good. I knew that I was doing right. But that, after all, was not
accepting the Christian faith. Even the miraculous things that I have
seen him do, or know of his having done, did not in themselves convince
me. Natural causes might account for them. They might be produced by
powers superior in intensity, but not different in kind, to those latent
in all of us."

Mary listened carefully to the grave and reasoned statement. Every now
and then there was a little break and trembling in the young man's
voice, telling of the hidden fire beneath the veneer of self-control.
The lovely girl who listened half smiled with love and tenderness once
or twice.

"And what was it really, dear, in the end, that brought you to the foot
of the Cross?" she said gently.

At the word "dear" he started violently, and made a quick movement
towards her. His face was flushed with joy, his eyes shone.

Then, with a great effort, he restrained himself. She could see how his
hands were clenched, could hear how his breathing came fast from his
parted lips.

"It was the simplest and yet the most wonderful thing possible," he
said. "I had been thinking about these questions for months. I read
theology. I went to the churches and chapels of every sect, and, as you
know, I couldn't believe. I know the reason now. I wanted to believe in
order that we might be closer together, you and I, love of my heart. I
did not want to believe because my heart was touched, and I loved God!
Then Joseph came into my life, and more and more I tried. But it was
still of no use.

"But I think my heart must have been softened insensibly by being in
daily contact with a nature so saintly and a personality so much in
communion with the Unseen as Joseph is. A little time ago, as I was
reading the Gospel of St. John, one night, just before I went to bed, a
sudden revolution took place in all my feelings and desires. These were
the words--

"'And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas was
with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the
midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

"'Then saith He to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands;
and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be not
faithless, but believing.

"'And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God.' And when
I read those words, Mary, they seemed to come straight to my heart, to
be spoken to me, Thomas Ducaine. I saw, for the first time, the long,
frightful agony upon the Cross. I knew, as I had never known before,
what the Son of God had suffered for me. A great rush of love and
adoration came over me. With streaming eyes I knelt and prayed for
forgiveness, I lost myself in Him and for His sake alone. All thoughts
of what I might gain from surrender to Jesus and from loving Him were
absent from my mind and consciousness. I loved Him for Himself--very God
and very man, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father.

"I said the Lord's Prayer, and then I slept. I would not come to you at
once. I told Joseph, and he blessed me and seemed happier than I had
ever seen him before. 'Go to her at once, Thomas,' he said to me. Tell
her that Jesus has come to you, that your great earthly love is
irradiated and made perfect by your love for Him Who was present at the
marriage feast of Cana.'

"But I wouldn't go at once. I distrusted myself. I wanted to wait and
see if my new belief would stand the test of time, if it was more than a
mere passing emotion of the brain. Yet, every day since then it has
grown stronger and more strong. I have beaten through the waves of
doubt. I have overcome the assaults of the powers and principalities of
the air, who would obscure the light for me. I am a Christian, with all
the splendor which that word confers. I have reached the Rock of Ages,
and the tempest is over, the winds are stilled.

"To-day Joseph said this to me: 'Delay no longer. You are a new man in
Christ Jesus. It has been given to me to know that the hour has come. Go
to my dear sister in Christ, that gentle, lovely lady, and tell her of
your love. She will be ready and waiting for you. This, also, I know,
for it has been told me by the Holy Ghost.'

"That is the message which I said in my letter to you that I was to
bring you from Joseph. And now, and now, dearest, most beautiful and
best, you have heard all my story."

With these words he suddenly rose and stood above her, looking down at a
head which was now bowed, at white hands that were clasped together upon
her knees.

There was a momentary silence, and then a single deep sob of happiness
and realization came from the girl upon the sofa.

The sound dispelled all his hesitation. It brought him back from the
mystical realms of thought and spiritual memory to pure human emotion
and love.

He stooped down quickly and caught her by the arms, raising her up to
him with a strong grasp that would not be denied.

Then two words rang out like a bell in the quiet room--"At last!"

She was in his arms now, close--ah, close! to the heart that beat for
her alone. The freshness of her pure lips was pressed to his.

The moment was of heaven, and from heaven. Two pure and noble natures
were united by God in their love for each other. And now they are
sitting side by side and hand in hand.

The world is changed for them. Never again will it be the same, for they
have tasted of the fruits of Paradise, have heard music which echoes
from the shining pavements of the blest ...

"Darling, there are no words at all in which to tell you how I love you.
I have not a thought in the world which is not bound up in you, not a
wish that is not centred in you."

"And I in you. Oh, Tom, I did not know it was possible to be so happy."

How long they sat thus in the quiet, dainty room neither of them could
have said. Time, so slow moving and leaden-footed in the hours of hope,
flies with swiftest wings when hope has blossomed into fruition.

There was so much to say and tell! All their thoughts and hopes about
each other from the very first must be mutually related, all the hidden
secrets laid bare.

"Did you really think that of me, sweetheart? Oh, if I'd only known!..."

"But I wasn't different to other girls, really, darling. It was only
because you, you loved me!"

Happy, roseate moments! Perhaps they are the best and finest which life
has to give, that God bestows upon his servants here below.

The door opened, and a little group of people entered the room--Lady
Kirwan, Sir Augustus, Marjorie, and with them Joseph himself.

No one spoke for a moment. The new-comers all saw that the lovers were
sitting hand in hand, that a declaration had been made.

Then pretty Marjorie, regardless of form or ceremony or the presence of
the rest, ran to her cousin, put her arms round her neck, and kissed
her.

"Oh, you dear darling!" she said; "I am so glad--oh, so, so happy!"

It was most prettily and spontaneously done. Nothing could have been
more natural, charming or welcome.

There were tears in Sir Augustus' eyes, as that genial, kind-hearted
worldling held out his hand to Sir Thomas Ducaine.

"I congratulate you, my dear boy," he said heartily. "I see how it is
with my dear niece and you. I love Mary like a daughter, and there are
few people to whom I would rather trust her than to you. God bless you
both! Mary, love, come and kiss your uncle."

There was a hum of excited, happy talk, and then Sir Augustus, a man who
had had always a great sense of "celebrating" events by some
time-honored ceremony, suddenly said:

"Now we'll have a drink out of the loving-cup to Mary and Sir Thomas."

Nobody there wanted wine, but no one liked to baulk the genial and
excited old gentleman. But, just as he was about to press the bell and
give the order, Sir Augustus suddenly paused. He looked at Joseph, for
whom, by this time, he had acquired considerable regard, not unmixed
with fear, though quite destitute of any real understanding of him.

"Oh--er--Mr. Joseph," he said, "I hope you won't mind----"

Sir Augustus had an idea that religion and teetotalism were the same
thing and were inseparable. He was quite unable to differentiate between
the two, no doubt because he knew absolutely nothing of either.

"Mind, Sir Augustus!" Joseph said, in surprise. "Why should I mind, and
for what reason?"

The baronet did not quite know what to answer. "Oh, well, you know," he
said at length. "I had an idea that you might object. Never mind."

Joseph laughed. The grave and beautiful face seemed singularly happy.
Care had passed from it for a time; he looked with eyes of love at Mary
and Sir Thomas, with eyes of blessing and of love. The stern denunciator
of evil, the prophet and evangelist of God, who warned the world of its
wickedness, had disappeared. In his stead was the kindly friend
rejoicing in the joy of those who were dear to him.

A servant brought a great two-handled gold cup, which had been filled
with wine.

Sir Augustus handed it to Lady Kirwan. The dame lifted the heavy
chalice, jewelled with great amethysts, which had been presented to her
husband by the Corporation of the City of London.

"My dear, dear niece," she said, while the tears gathered in her eyes;
"I drink to your continual happiness, and to the name I bore, and which
you bear now, the noble name of Lys!"

Then Sir Augustus took the cup. "To my pretty Mary, whom I love as if
she were a child of mine!" said the good man; "and to you, Tom Ducaine,
who will make her a true husband, and are a gallant lover."

He passed the cup to his daughter Marjorie. The girl lifted it, looked
straight at Mary Lys with a curious meaning and intentness in her eyes,
and then said, "With my love of your true love on this happiest of all
happy hours."

She handed back the golden cup to her father, who was about to set it
down upon a side table, when the Teacher spoke.

"Are you going to leave me out of your ceremony?" Joseph said.

"Very sorry, very sorry," the baronet replied, in confusion. "I wasn't
quite sure." He handed the cup to Joseph, but the Teacher only lifted it
on high. "May God bless your union, my dear brother and sister," he said
simply, and placed it on a table nearby.

The deep music of the voice, the love in it, the deep sincerity, came to
them all like a benison.

"You have given me everything in this world and hopes of everything in
the next, Joseph," said Sir Thomas Ducaine.

"You were Lluellyn's friend," Mary whispered.

"And you're a jolly good fellow, Mr. Joseph," said Sir Augustus, "in
spite of all your critics, and I shall be glad to say so always."

At that, for the first time during their knowledge of him, Joseph began
to laugh. His merriment was full-throated and deep, came from real
amusement and pleasure, was mirth unalloyed.

Joseph finished his laughter. "May this hour," he said gravely, "be the
beginning of a long, joyous and God-fearing life for you, Mary and
Thomas. Hand in hand and heart to heart may you do the work of the
Lord."

Then, with a bow to all of the company assembled there, he went away.

When he had left the great house and walked for a few minutes, he came
upon a huge public-house--a glittering structure at the corner of two
streets.

He stopped in front of the great gaudy place, looked at it for a moment,
sighed heavily, and went in.



CHAPTER XIX

"AS A BRAND FROM THE BURNING"


Joseph pushed open the swing-doors of the big public-house and entered
beneath a lamp marked "Saloon Bar."

His face was quite changed.

In the short time which had elapsed since he left Sir Augustus Kirwan's
house he seemed another person. The great eyes which had looked upon the
lovers with such kindly beneficence had now the strange fixity and
inward light that always came to them when he was about his Master's
business. The face was pale, and the whole attitude of the Teacher was
as that of a man who is undergoing a great nervous strain.

He walked down a passage. To his left were the doors of mahogany and
cut-glass which led into those boxes which are known as "private bars"
in the smart drinking-shops of London. To his right was a wall of
brightly glazed tiles, and in front of him, at the passage end, was the
door which led into the saloon bar itself. Pushing this open, he
entered.

He found himself in a largish room, brilliantly lit by the electric
light, and triangular in shape.

Along two of the walls ran padded leather lounges, before the third was
the shining semicircular bar, gleaming with mahogany, highly polished
brass, and huge cut-glass urns of amber spirit.

In one corner of the room, seated at a marble topped table, a man was
talking to an overdressed woman with a rouged face and pencilled
eyebrows.

In front of the counter, seated upon a high cane stool, was a young man.
He wore a long brown over-coat of a semi-fashionable cut and a bowler
hat pushed back on his head. His fair hair was a little ruffled, and his
weak, youthful, though as yet hardly vicious face, was flushed high up
on the cheek-bones. He was smoking a cigarette of the ten-for-threepence
type, and chattering with a somewhat futile arrogation of merriment and
knowingness to the barmaid, who had just set a glass of whisky-and-water
before him.

For a minute or two, hidden from view by an imitation palm in a pot of
terra-cotta which stood upon the counter, Joseph escaped notice. He
could hear part of the conversation from where he was--any one might
have heard it.

It was the usual thing, vapid, meaningless, inane. A narrow intellect,
destitute alike of experience and ideals, with one gift only, youth,
imagined that it was seeing "life."

Two fools! Two weak, silly, unconsidered members of the rank and file,
without knowledge, manners or charm.

Yet for these two Christ had died upon the Cross no less surely than He
had died for prince or pope or potentate. It was thus Joseph thought.

The Teacher's eyes were wet with tears, a beautiful compassion dawned
upon his face. He went up to the young man and touched him upon the
shoulder.

At the touch the young fellow started and turned suddenly with a
convulsive movement. His face was yellow with fear, his jaw dropped, his
hands trembled; he was a repulsive picture of weak, nerveless, and
uncontrollable terror.

The barmaid looked on in amazement. She marked the fear in her admirer's
face, and with swift intuition knew from what cause it proceeded.

It was not the first time in her poor, stunted life, with its evil
surroundings, that she had seen a gay young spark touched upon the
shoulder; seen the acquaintance of a month vanish for ever, never to
come within her ken again save only in a few brief paragraphs in the
newspaper reports of the Central Criminal Court.

"Who's your friend, Charlie?" the girl said, with a sickly and
inadequate attempt at merriment.

Joseph looked at her.

"My friend," he said, in his grave and beautiful voice, "I come to him
with authority."

The girl gasped, then she turned and walked hurriedly to the other end
of the bar, taking a newspaper from a drawer and holding it up with
shaking fingers. She didn't want to be mixed up in the thing, at any
cost she must pretend that she was unconcerned.

The great law of self-preservation--the animal law--had its way with her
now. She was alone in the world; she had her living to get; she could
not afford to be mixed up with any scandal. She acted after her kind,
and fled as far as she could. Who shall blame her?

Joseph took the young man by the arm and led him to the farthest corner
of the room. The man and woman who had been there when Joseph entered
had gone by now; the place was quite empty.

"Charlie" found himself sitting side by side with the stranger who had
led him so easily from the counter. In the shrewd, mean brain of the
young man one emotion had been succeeded by another. He had realized
after the first moment of terror that Joseph was not what he supposed.
The enormous relief of this certainty was succeeded by resentment and
puerile anger. He feared that he had given himself away in "Belle's"
eyes.

"Now, look here," he said suddenly, "you startled me for a moment, and I
won't deny you did. But a gentleman doesn't come and interrupt another
gentleman when he's talking to a lady. Who on earth are you, anyhow?"

The high, piping voice, the silly expression, the uncertain, childish
rage were unspeakably pitiable.

For answer Joseph put his hand into an inside pocket of his coat and
produced a little leather bag.

It was full of sovereigns. While the young clerk stared at him with
wondering, fascinated eyes, the Teacher took fourteen pounds from the
bag and then returned it to his pocket.

He placed the money in the young man's hand.

"God sent me here to give you this," he said quietly. "It is the exact
sum you have stolen from your firm. Replace it, and sin no more. God
sends you this last opportunity."

The young fellow's face grew suddenly wet. He took the money with a hand
that had lost all nervous force. He could hardly hold the coins.

"Who are you?" he said, in a faint whisper. "How did you know that I had
sto--took the money?"

"The Holy Spirit brought me to you," Joseph answered very simply. "A
short time ago I was leaving the house of some friends. A dear sister
and brother of mine--I speak in the Christian, and not in the family
sense--had just plighted their troth. They are to be united in happy and
honorable wedlock. I was coming away with my thoughts full of them, and
feeling very happy in their happiness. For, you must know, that I love
those two people very dearly. Well, as I passed by this place, I was
told that there was some one within it who was very miserable. I knew
that I must come in and comfort you, and take you out of the net which
had enmeshed your young life. Your mother sits at home in Balham, and
longs for you. The small pittance that your father's insurance money has
secured for her is just enough to support her; but it is not enough to
bring any comfort or brightness into her life. But you never go home in
the evenings until very late. She sits waiting for you, yearning over
her only son, and praying to God for his reformation. But you never
come. And when at last you go down home by the last available train,
you are often more or less intoxicated, and your mind is always filled
with debased images and ideals, disordered longings and evil hopes. And
for that reason your mother can never get very near you in spirit. What
you are becoming repels her and wounds her motherhood. And now you have
begun to steal from your employers, and you walk in deadly fear. In the
back of your mind you know that discovery is inevitable before very
long. Yet you put the thought away, and try and persuade yourself that
everything will come right somehow, though you have no idea how. And
during the last fortnight the process of deterioration has been more and
more rapid. You have been drinking heavily to deaden your conscience and
alleviate your alarm. You have known the end is near. Is not all this
the truth?"

The tears were rolling down the weak, young face. The flaccid mouth
quivered; the neck was bowed.

"All this, sir," said the young man--"all this is true."

"A broken and contrite heart," the Teacher answered, "are not despised
of God. By his great mercy I have been sent to you to save you. Restore
the money you have stolen, but do far more. Turn from darkness; seek
light. Come to Jesus Christ. Boy, you have heard of what is known as the
'Great Refusal'; you know how the young man with great possessions could
not, and would not, give them up to follow the Son of God? But you deny
Jesus for a pot of beer! You give up your hope of eternal life to come
and the peace of God in this wicked world for nothing--nothing at all?
Now come with me to my house in Bloomsbury, my house of godly men. There
you shall pray and repent, and from there you shall go home cleansed and
purged of your sin, filled with the Holy Spirit, ready and anxious to
lead a new life, walking from henceforth in Christ Jesus."

They went out of the place together. The boy never cast a backward
glance at his inamorata of a few minutes ago. He followed the Teacher in
blind obedience. He was as one stunned. They came into the big
old-fashioned square where was the house which Sir Thomas Ducaine had
given to Joseph and his brethren. The windows were all lighted up, and
there was a small crowd lingering in front of the door.

"They are all praying within," Joseph said. "To-morrow we are to go down
into the worst places of the East End. A party of great people are
coming with us. We have persuaded them to come, in order that they may
see for themselves what these parts of London really are like."

He spoke quietly, and in a purely conversational tone, as if to an
equal. He knew well what the poor lad who walked so humbly by his side
was suffering. He knew of the remorse and shame, but also of the hope,
which were pouring into the young man's heart. And he knew also that all
this was but a preparation for what was to come--that there must,
indeed, be a final agony of surrender, an absolute and utter "giving-in"
to Jesus.

So, as they walked across the square, he tried to calm his captive's
nerves by a quiet recital of the great and hopeful things that they were
to do on the morrow.

Yet even to Joseph it was not then given to know what things the morrow
would bring forth.



CHAPTER XX

MURDER AND SUDDEN DEATH


The big house was very plainly furnished. What was absolutely necessary
had been put into it, but that was all. Sir Thomas Ducaine had been
astounded at the simplicity of the arrangements. The wealthy young man,
accustomed as he was to every luxury and amenity of life that riches
bring, was most anxious to make the place more comfortable.

"My dear fellow," he said to Joseph, "you can't possibly live like this.
Why, it's barer than a work-house! You must really let me send you some
things in."

But the baronet had not in the least succeeded in altering the Teacher's
determination.

"The Lord's work is to be done," Joseph had answered. "We are here to do
it, and our thoughts are set on other matters. We have no need of these
things."

"But you don't think comfort or luxury, I suppose you would call it,
wrong?"

"Certainly not, if a man has earned it, is robbing nobody in acquiring
it, and finds personal enjoyment in it. Christ sat at the rich man's
feast. He took the gift of the precious ointment. But for us such things
are unnecessary."

So the house, now more famous than perhaps any house in London, was a
veritable hermit's cell in its appointments. There, however, the
resemblance ceased entirely. The place hummed with varied activities. It
was the centre of the many organizations that were springing into being
under Joseph's direction; activities made possible by Sir Thomas
Ducaine's magnificent gifts and the stream of outside donations that had
followed in their wake.

Joseph and his young companion passed through the little crowd of
loiterers and curious people that nearly always stood before the door of
the mysterious house where the Teacher was now known to reside. There
was a stir and movement as he came among them, nudgings of elbows, a
universal pressure forward, whispers and remarks below the voice:
"That's him!" "There's Joseph himself!"

Joseph passed through the crowd without taking any notice of it. On the
doorstep he paused and turned as if to speak. The people--there may have
been thirty or forty of them--pressed forward in a circle of eager
faces. On the outskirts of the group there was a woman, dressed in black
and past the middle-age. She seemed to hang back, as if reluctant, or
too timid, to approach.

Joseph's eye fell upon her. Then he took a latchkey from his pocket and
gave it to the young man.

"Open the door," he said, "and go into the house. Go into the room on
the right-hand side of the hall, and I will meet you there."

The young man did as he was bidden, and disappeared.

Then Joseph spoke.

"Among you all," he said, "there is but one here that needs me. You have
come to see a show, not to seek God and help to lead you to Him. Get you
gone from this place, for there is no health in you!"

The voice rang out in stern command--a command which it seemed
impossible to disobey. Without a word, the people turned and slunk away,
melting like ghosts into the darkness of the square.

Only the woman in black remained, and she now came timidly up to the
Teacher.

"Sir," she said, in a thin but clear and educated voice--"sir, I should
like to speak with you, if I may."

"My friend," he answered. "I was waiting for you. Come within the
house."

He led the woman into a small room on the left-hand side of the hall--an
uncarpeted room, with nothing but a few chairs, a big table covered with
papers, and a purring gas-stove upon the hearth.

At the Teacher's invitation the woman sat down, and revealed a thin,
anxious face and eyes that seemed perpetually trembling upon the brink
of tears.

"It is very kind of you to see me, sir," she said, "I never expected
that I should have such good fortune. But I have read about you in the
papers--that you go about doing good, just as our dear Lord did, and
something within me moved me to seek you out, even if it were only just
to look at you. For I am very unhappy, sir, and I have no one to confide
in, no one whom I can ask about my trouble or obtain advice from."

"Tell me all about it," Joseph said gently. "When I stood at the door
and looked at the people I felt in my heart that they were there out of
idle curiosity. God in His wisdom has given me power to know these
things. But something came straight from you to me that made me aware
that you needed me. Tell me everything."

"It's about my son, sir," the woman said, not noticing the slight start
that Joseph gave and the new light that came into his eyes. "I am a
widow with one son. He is just twenty, and is employed as a clerk in a
City House. But he is going wrong, sir. I can read the signs easily. He
stays out late at night, he seems to be losing his love for me, and is
impatient of anything I say to him. And more than once he has come home
intoxicated lately. And in his room I have found programmes of the
performances at music-halls and such places.

"I do not pry about, sir, nor am I foolishly severe and hard. Young men
must have their amusements, and they must have their secrets, I suppose.
I do not expect Charlie to tell me everything. And he only earns thirty
shillings a week, part of which he gives to me for his board and
lodging. He cannot possibly afford these amusements.

"I have a terrible fear that never leaves me that he has not been
honest, that he must have been taking other people's money, and that he
will be ruined. I have prayed and prayed, sir, but it really seems as if
prayer is of no use, though, of course, I keep on."

"Don't say that," Joseph answered. "Prayer is still the greatest force
in the world, however despondent we may become at times. But your
prayers have been answered. Charlie is saved!"

The weeping mother gave a sudden cry, half of joy, half of incredulity.

"But, sir," she stammered, "how can you know that? Oh, if only it could
be true!"

"It is true, my dear sister," he answered. "The Lord led me to a place
where I found your son, not an hour ago. The Holy Ghost told my mind
that there was a widow's son whom I could save. All you have been
conjecturing is only too true. Charlie has done the things you say. He
has taken money from his employers, but I have given him the sum that he
may return it to them. He is here, in this house now, and I know that
the leaven of repentance is working within him, and that he feels that
he is rescued from both material and spiritual ruin. We are going to
pray together. Come with me, and add your prayers to ours."

But when they crossed the hall and entered the room opposite, they found
that the young man was already on his knees.

Day by day some such episode as this occurred. Joseph's power seemed
more and more sure and wonderful. When he had sent away the widow and
her son, tearful and happy, with something in the face of the young man
that had never been there before, the Teacher went up the wide Georgian
stairs to a large room on the first floor.

No one was there but old David Owen. All the other friends and
companions of Joseph were out upon various efforts of compassion and
salvation; only the old man remained, for he had a cold, and could not
face the night air. A grey, knitted comforter was round his neck, and he
was slowly eating his supper--a bowl of bread-and-milk. Before him, on
the table, was a large Bible, and he was reading eagerly as he ate,
reading with the avidity and concentrated interest that more ordinary
people give to an engrossing romance.

He looked up as Joseph entered, and smiled at him.

"It's wonderful, Master!" he said. "It grows more and more wonderful
every time I opens it. I've spent my life reading in the Holy Book, and
I'm an old man now. But ten lives would be all too short!"

He pointed to the volume with gnarled, wrinkled fingers that trembled
with emotion.

"Ah! 'Twas a bitter nailing!" he went on. "A bitter, bitter torture He
bore for us. And remember, Joseph, He bore the sins of the whole world,
too. I'm no scholar, and I can't see things like you can. All the time
I'm reading an' yet I know I can only see a little bit of it. But even
that's rending and tearing, Master. It's dreadful what He suffered for
us! I can't understand why every one doesn't love Him. It's easy to
understand folk doing wrong things. The flesh is very strong--man is
full of wickedness. Satan, he goes about tempting the heart, with his
dreadful cunning. But, whatever a man does, and is sorry for afterwards,
I can't understand his not loving Jesus. And so few folk love Jesus in
this wicked town!"

"The clouds are very dark, David," Joseph answered. "But they will
break. The dawn of the Lord is at hand, and deliverance is sure. But I,
too, at this moment, am full of gloom and sorrow. You know my bad hours,
old friend. One of them is with me now. I fear some calamity, though I
pray against it. But it is coming. Something tells me it is coming. It
is as if I heard slow footsteps drawing nearer and nearer----"

David looked anxiously at his chief.

"I doubt but you've been doing something that's taken power from you,
Master," he said. "It has ever been thus with you. Have you not told us
of the night when we went to the theatre-house, the home of the ungodly,
when you walked the streets of Babylon, and were full of doubt, though
you had struck a blow for God that rang through England? And what
happened then? Did you not meet the young man who is great in the eyes
of the world--the young man who has given a fortune for our work--the
young man who has come to Jesus at last?"

Joseph bowed his head.

"Yes, David," he replied; "it was even so, blessed be God. But to-night
I feel differently. Then I was trembling upon the verge of doubt. My old
disbelief had appeared again within me. It was as if a serpent slept in
my brain and suddenly raised its head in coiled hate and enmity to the
Light. But now it is not the same. I love and believe. The tortures of
a martyrdom, of which I am not worthy, could not alter that. But I have
a terrible apprehension--a fear of what to-morrow may bring forth. I
cannot explain it; I do not understand it. But nevertheless it is there,
and very real."

There was a silence in the big room.

The gas-jets shone upon the walls covered in faded crimson paper, the
long table of deal where the brethren ate their simple meals, the single
picture which hung over the fireplace--a reproduction of Christ knocking
at the door of the human heart, by Holman Hunt.

There was no sound but that of a falling coal in the glowing fire.

Then old David spoke.

"Master," he said, "I think you've no call to be afraid or to fear the
future. It's in God's hands, and there it is. But as far as a poor man
can look into the matter, I think 'tis this way with you. We all know
how blessed you have been. We all know--every one in Britain knows--that
you are a special channel for the operations of the Holy Ghost in our
land. Out of all men you have been mysteriously chosen to hear the
heavenly voices and carry out their warnings. But all men are soul and
body, too. You can't divide one from t'other while men live. Therefore
it's bound to be that if your soul has been working hard on God's
business, it has drained your body of its strength, and so you have
these fearful thoughts. Eat and drink, and get back courage!"

Joseph smiled.

"You are right, David, I believe. I will have a bowl of milk-and-bread
also. I must be strong for to-morrow. With God's blessing, it will be a
great day for London. There has never been such a chance of doing good
before. Yes, I must save myself for that!"

"Is it all arranged, Master?" the old man asked. "Are all the great
people really coming?"

"Yes, David. And, please God, on the day after to-morrow the kingdom
shall be thrilled. Sir Thomas Ducaine is coming to inspect his own
property in the East End for the first time. Sir Augustus Kirwan is
coming--a powerful and influential man. And the Duke of Dover is coming
also. Then the Bishop of East London, though he knows very well--saint
that he is--will be with us also. Our dear brother Hampson will be of
the party, and also that very valiant soldier of Christ, that new
recruit, Eric Black. Black and Hampson--God bless them!--will give the
result of our pilgrimage to the world. It should wake all London to a
storm of anger and indignation.

"These things have been discovered and published before, but only in
isolated instances and at fugitive times, and the voice has always been
stifled and obscured. The vested interests have been too strong. But now
there is a real spiritual fervor in London. The Holy Spirit has
descended on the city. There is a quickening on all sides, the air is
full of the Redeemer's name. Therefore, I trust and pray that the
results of our visit to-morrow will be far-reaching. Several other
friends and well-wishers will accompany us in addition to the names of
those I have mentioned."

"It is a fine thing to get these great people to go," said the old man
simply. "Then how can you be downcast, Joseph? Surely here is yet
another evidence of the favor and protection of God?"

"I do not know why this assails me," the Teacher answered; "but it does,
and it is there. I cannot help it."

David Owen shut the Bible on the table in front of him, and rose to his
feet.

"Dear Master," he said, "the Son of God was also troubled, in the Desert
and in the Garden. But it is well--all is well. All is part of the
beneficent ordering of the Father. There is but one medicine for your
black thoughts, dear Master, and after you've taken it you'll let come
what may."

"And that is, old friend?"

"The Lord's Prayer," answered the old gentleman, taking off his horn
spectacles and placing them upon the table.

And, kneeling down, they said it together.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the middle of the morning and a dull, leaden day. There was no
fog down in the breathing areas of town, but high above a leaden pall
hung over the City of Dreadful Night, shutting out the clear light of
the sun, livid, sinister and hopeless.

In the big room of the house in Bloomsbury a dozen people were gathered
together. Sir Augustus Kirwan was talking to The Duke, a thick-set,
clean-shaven man with a strong watchful face. Sir Thomas Ducaine and
Eric Black the journalist stood together.

Several other notabilities stood in the big, bare room, and there were
also three unobtrusive men with pointed beards, who stood together a
little apart from the others. Detective-inspectors Alpha, Beta and
Gamma, the real satraps and rulers of the lawless districts of
Whitechapel and its environs.

All the men wore hard felt hats and dark overcoats, peer and policeman
alike. It does not do to venture where these were going in anything but
a very simple and unobtrusive dress.

Joseph and Hampson were talking earnestly together in one corner of the
room. They were mapping out the terrible itinerary that should be taken,
readjusting and remembering their own sad knowledge of the East, when
they had walked starving down the Commercial Road.

"And now, my friends," Joseph said at length, in his deep, organ voice,
"I think that all is prepared, and that we may start. Sir Thomas has
some carriages waiting for us below."

Sir Augustus Kirwan answered the evangelist.

"My dear fellow," he said--"my dear Joseph, we shall all be delighted to
come as soon as may be. But has it occurred to you that while we have
all, doubtless, breakfasted, none of us have as yet lunched? It is lunch
time now, you know; and though a piece of bread and cheese would do
excellently for me, and no doubt for the rest of us, you can hardly
expect the present company to penetrate into Whitechapel fasting!"

The Teacher looked at Sir Augustus with a startled face. Then he flushed
slightly. It had never occurred to him that his guests must necessarily
need refreshment. On his own part he had put away material needs as
things of no moment for himself. He was sustained, even in body, by
spiritual food. But he realized now how remiss he had been, and that all
men were not as he was.

"Sir Augustus," he said, in a voice full of pain and contrition, "I have
been absolutely stupid. It is quite abominable of me not to have thought
of it, but there is, I am dreadfully afraid, no lunch at all!"

Sir Thomas Ducaine joined in the conversation.

"My dear Joseph," he said, "don't make yourself unhappy. There is
plenty. Some of my people have brought lunch. Mary and I foresaw this
little _contretemps_, and we made arrangements accordingly. In your
burning eagerness to get us all down to see what you have to show us you
forgot that we are but mortal, and that the body must be nourished if
the eye is to see and the brain observe."

Joseph's face had cleared, but it wore a somewhat rueful expression.

"I can't thank you enough," he said, "for thinking of this. It is a
fault in me that I did not do so myself. One is too apt to forget that
we are all body and spirit also. Forgive me!"

They all fell to at the sandwiches and so forth which two of Sir Thomas
Ducaine's servants brought into the room.

Only Joseph took nothing at all. He stood by himself, tall, beautiful,
lost in a reverie that no one disturbed.

He was musing and dreaming still as the carriages took the party to the
East End of London.

But when Bishopsgate was passed at last, he threw his thoughts from him
with a great effort, and became once more the keen and eager leader of
those people whom he had brought to see the ultimate horror of the
Modern Babylon.

They sent the carriages away at a certain turning in the Whitechapel
Road. Then they plunged into the dark.

And how dark that darkness is! Fiction can hardly tell--fiction must not
tell, fearing to infringe upon the bitterness and the agony of the
truth. For we who write of things as they are must always consider our
audience. Ask General Booth, G. R. Sims, or Mr. Holmes, the police-court
missionary, what is the measure of this darkness. Ask the modern martyrs
of our day, of all sects and creeds, who labor in these hell-ridden
places.

Ask, and you shall hear nothing but the tolling of a great bell, the
deep and awful sound of immedicable misery, the iron pæan of the
blackness of sin, the deep and ringing wail of the mighty bell--the iron
bell--which tolls of hopelessness, and voices the cry of the
downtrodden, the oppressed, the lost!

The slaves of the Modern Babylon! But with one difference. In the walled
city of wickedness between the two great rivers, hope had not come. They
could not know that our Lord was to be born of a pure Virgin to save
them----

Thoughts akin to these were in the minds of all of them as they went in
and out of the foul slums of the East.

Sir Thomas Ducaine was covered with shame as he saw the horrors all
around--horrors existing upon his own property, long unregarded and
unknown. But the young man was not the only one among them who
registered a mental vow to do all that he could for the wretched beings
they had come amongst.

Sir Augustus Kirwan, though he had taken the chair at many philanthropic
meetings, and though his name often headed important subscription lists,
had never really been brought in contact, in actual personal contact,
with the great open wound of London.

The party had come to the mouth of a particularly evil-looking alley.
There is character in brick and stone, and this place--"Wilson's Rents"
by name--had a sinister cut-throat aspect in every line of it.

"What is in there?" Sir Augustus asked one of the police inspectors.

"It's a particularly bad street, Sir Augustus," the man answered. "A
sort of great human rabbit-warren or rat's run, as you may say. The
houses nearly all communicate through cellars and subterranean
passages."

"Shall we go down here?" Sir Augustus asked Joseph.

"I should not advise it, sir," said the policeman. "The people are so
dirty and degraded and disgusting in their habits that they hardly
resemble human beings at all."

"Never mind that," Sir Augustus answered. "Now we have come I wish to
see everything, however personally distasteful it may be. I am ashamed
gentlemen, to think that I have shirked so obvious a duty as this for so
long! I am sorry and ashamed of myself!"

With eyes that were not quite dry the great financier took Joseph by the
arm and marched down the alley, followed by the others.

They walked cautiously down the place, which seemed strangely deserted.
Sir Augustus was talking eagerly to Joseph, opening his heart in a way
to which he had long been a stranger, when there was a sudden loud
report in the air above them.

Looking upwards with startled eyes, they saw that a little coil of blue
smoke was floating out of an open window high above them.

A second afterwards Sir Augustus Kirwan sighed twice and fell forward
upon his face, dead, shot through the heart.



CHAPTER XXI

WAITING!


Mr. Andrew Levison lived in Jermyn Street. His establishment was
comfortable, but modest. A sitting-room, a small dining-room, a bedroom
for himself, and one for his man--these, together with the bath-room,
completed his suite.

It was a bright morning as he opened his _Daily Wire_ and sat down
before the kedjeree and kidneys that his servant had just brought him
for breakfast. It was rather late; the Jew had been at a theatrical
supper-party the night before until long after midnight. During the
party, at which a great many of the stars of the lighter stage had been
present, the conversation had turned almost entirely upon the marked
slump in theatrical business during Joseph's ministry in London.

One and all of their company were united in their hatred and alarm of
this evangelist who bade fair to ruin them.

The whole situation was, moreover, aggravated because of the immense
public support Joseph was receiving from some of the most wealthy and
influential people in society. There was no getting over this fact. And
yet no one had any remedy to suggest.

Lord Ballina and Mimi Addington had also been of the party, and a keen
observer might possibly have detected a certain furtive look which
passed between the actress, the peer, and the theatrical manager. All
three, however, held their peace, and contributed little or nothing to
the problem of how the situation was to be dealt with.

And now Mr. Levison, as he sat at table, smiled quietly to himself,
reflecting that he could very considerably astonish many of his
colleagues if it had been possible to do so.

The sitting-room--for Levison did not breakfast in the dining-room--was
full of sunshine. A great bowl of sulphur-colored hothouse roses stood
on the writing-table. The white panelled walls, hung with rare old
Japanese color prints, caught and reflected the apricot light of the
sun, which poured in through the windows.

The room was carpeted with a fabric from Persia--the veritable peacock
blue and dark red of Teheran. The armchairs were upholstered in
vermilion leather. Everything harmonized and was in taste, and it was
with complacency that Levison looked round him and picked up the paper.

Almost the first thing that struck his eye was a paragraph headed
"Movements of Joseph."

Mr. Levison started, and read with great attention. The paragraph ran as
follows:--

"We are able to give our readers exclusive information as to the next
move in the vast campaign for the reformation of London which is being
undertaken by the teacher known as Joseph, in company with his
distinguished colleagues and helpers. One of the most crying evils of
the day is undoubtedly the fact that, while one section of the
population lives in a splendor and luxury perhaps unparalleled in the
history of civilization, another section, and this by far the larger,
lives under conditions of squalor so great that it becomes a horror,
conditions that can only be hinted at in polite society or in the public
prints. The state of the East End of London has long engaged the
attention of philanthropists, but very little has been done to
ameliorate it in comparison with its crying needs. Sociologists have
long since recognized that under present conditions very little can be
done until the rich property owners combine and agree to sacrifice a
portion of their emoluments in order to improve the condition of the
poor. The teacher Joseph has recognized this fact, and is beginning a
movement which may be very far-reaching in its consequences. To-day, we
understand, a party of wealthy and distinguished gentlemen will be taken
by the evangelist to some of the worst parts of the East End there to
see for themselves the true condition of affairs. The remarkable
personality which is at present the talk of London will indeed have
accomplished a greater miracle than any of those strange and unexplained
occurrences attributed to him if he can cleanse and purify one half-mile
of Stepney or Whitechapel. For our part, we wish Joseph and his helpers
every possible success in their endeavors."

Mr. Levison laid down the paper, and got up from his seat. He walked up
and down the room twice, looked at his breakfast, shook his head, and
then, going to a sideboard, poured some brandy from a tantalus into a
glass, added a little water with a hand that shook slightly, and drank
the mixture off.

So it was to be to-day, then? Mr. Levison had not realized the imminence
of his plot. It was one thing to reflect complacently that one had
arranged to remove a troublesome intruder from one's path on some
unspecified date; it was, as Levison realized now, quite another thing
to sit down and wait for the event to happen in an hour or two.

Levison looked at his watch. It was eleven o'clock. He supposed, though
he did not know with any certainty, that the party to the East End would
hardly start before midday.

"They can't leave much before twelve, I should think, from wherever they
meet," he muttered to himself. "Give them an hour to get down to the
East End, another hour or more, perhaps, for the people"--another and
far less pleasing word almost escaped Mr. Levison's lips--"for the
people I have employed to do what has to be done. Roughly, I suppose
there ought to be some news in the paper between four and five."

The man's face had grown quite white, and his hands began to tremble
more and more. No one had ever seen the self-possessed, genial-mannered
_entrepreneur_ like this. And when he stopped in front of the glass
which hung over the mantel-shelf, he started at the sight of his own
guilty and terrified countenance.

Supposing that something should go wrong! Supposing the man was caught,
and confessed! A thousand horrid apprehensions began to crowd into his
mind, and the sweat came out cold and damp upon his forehead.

There were hours to wait. How should he employ them? The theatre was
closed; there was no particular business claiming his attention at the
moment. And he felt less and less inclined to sit alone in his chambers
waiting. Exercise, he came to the conclusion, a long, brisk walk, was
the only thing that could restore his mental tone.

He rang for his coat and hat, took a stick from the stand in the hall,
and went out into Jermyn Street. For a moment he was undecided as to his
direction. The thought of the Park crossed his mind, but it was
superseded by another and more welcome one. He would walk up to St.
John's Wood--that was a good distance--and he would call on Mimi
Addington, and tell her the news that he had read in the paper. He
smiled maliciously at the idea. Perhaps Lord Ballina might be there,
too; if so, well and good. His fellow conspirators should share his
uneasiness. They were in the thing as much as he was, and he saw no
reason why he should be the only one to suffer. The idea appealed to his
Oriental imagination, and in picturing to himself the probable fears of
his companions when they knew that this was the actual day on which the
assassination was to be attempted, Levison forgot his own, and it was
quite with a jaunty step that he turned into St. James' Street.

Even at the moment when he had realized that the dark deed which he had
instigated was to be attempted on that very day, Levison had felt not
the slightest remorse or compunction. Fear he had felt, the fear of
discovery, but that was all. A criminal is nothing more or less than a
supreme egotist. Levison saw everything in its relation to himself, and
himself alone; never in relation to other people, or to God. Joseph was
ruining his business, therefore he had plotted Joseph's death. He had no
bitter feeling against Joseph whatever, even though the Teacher's advent
and appearance in the theatre had done him such serious harm. Levison
was a philosophic scoundrel, and took things as they came, and wasted no
brain power or mental force in the exercise of personal dislikes.

He arrived at Mimi Addington's house in St. John's Wood a little before
two, not having hurried at all. The actress was at home, and he was at
once shown into the drawing-room, where she was sitting with Lord
Ballina and a friend of his, who was introduced to Levison as Mr. Errol
Smith. Fortunately for Levison's plans, Lord Ballina's friend was on the
point of departure, and shortly went away, leaving the three
conspirators together.

"Well, Andrew, how goes it?" Ballina said, with his vacuous dissipated
little simper. "When are you going to open the theatre again?"

"Well, that depends," Levison answered, with a meaning look. "You know
very well what that depends on!"

He was watching the effect of his words upon Mimi Addington as he spoke,
and saw the hard, cruel eyes glisten with hate at his reference, and the
beautifully shaped mouth harden into a thin line of crimson.

"It's some time now since we had that little talk, Andrew," the woman
said, in a voice that she strove to keep well under control, though
every now and then the hysteria of her hate crept into it and suggested
that which lay, lava-hot, deep down in her heart.

"Well, d'you know, my dear," Levison said, taking out a cigar and
lighting it with great deliberation--"well, d'you know that it's the
little matter that we discussed that I've come up about this afternoon."

"How much longer is that Joseph to be allowed to cumber London?" she
said, with a hissing intake of the breath.

"Well, that all depends," Levison answered, amused with the skill with
which he could play upon her passion. The Jew loved power and the
exercise of it. He gratified himself now by playing on her as if she
were an instrument and noticing how swiftly she responded to his touch.

"Oh, hang it all, Andrew," Lord Ballina said, "don't tease Mimi. If
you've got any news about this business let's have it."

Levison thought he had gone far enough, and took the _Daily Wire_ which
he had brought with him from his pocket.

"Read that," he said, handing it to the young peer.

Ballina read out the paragraph in a monotonous sing-song, with now and
then such observations as suggested themselves to his limited and
vicious intelligence.

"Well," he said, "for the matter of that, Andrew, the papers are full of
the fellow every day, and his goings on. I don't see what news there is
in that, it's only just another of his games. Was that all you came up
to tell us?"

Levison saw the look of scorn that Mimi Addington flashed at the young
man. Her own intelligence was infinitely keener; and though Levison had
not gone into any details about the arrangements he had made, she saw
the significance of the fact in the newspaper immediately.

"What a duffer you are, Bally," she said contemptuously. "Why, it's
perfectly clear of course. What better place could you have for knocking
a Johnny on the head than an East End slum? That's what Andrew means,
and that's what he's come to tell us, isn't it, Andrew?"

"Your brilliant intellect, assisted by your personal dislike, has at
once divined the truth, Mimi," said Levison, leaning back upon the divan
and blowing a blue cloud of smoke up towards the hanging Moorish lamp.

"Why, then," Lord Ballina broke in suddenly--"why, then, it's this
afternoon!" His voice had grown high and thin with excitement, and
Levison saw once more a face from which all the color had ebbed, and
hands that twitched with sudden realization.

Mimi Addington suddenly rose up from her seat with a curiously sinuous
and panther-like movement.

"This afternoon!" she said. "Then I shall sleep happy this night!"

"Oh, come, Mimi," Lord Ballina said, "you needn't go quite so far as
that. As a matter of fact, I--er--confound it, I wish we'd let the chap
alone!"

The woman had sunk back upon the divan. She stretched out one slender,
white hand, covered with flashing rings, and patted Levison upon the
arm.

He shuddered at her touch, scoundrel as he was, but she did not see it.

Ballina was walking up and down the room, his feet making no sound upon
the thick pile of the carpet. He snapped his fingers in an odd,
convulsive fashion.

"I say, you know," he said at length, "I really don't like it. I wish to
Heaven I'd never been mixed up in the affair. Supposing anything gets
out?"

"Well, that's supposing me to be rather a bigger fool than I am,"
Levison answered, though the fear of the other had in some subtle way
affected him, and all his own tremors of the morning were beginning to
revive.

Then there was silence in the room for a time.

Although the morning had been bright and cheerful, the sun had become
obscured shortly after midday, and a heavy gloom of fog above which
thunder had muttered now and then had spread itself high up in the sky.

The oppression in the air had become much more marked during the last
hour, and now, as the three people sat together, they were all
experiencing it to the full.

For a long time nobody spoke at all, and when at length Mimi Addington
made some casual observation, both the men started involuntarily. The
woman's voice also was changed now. It was like the voices of her
companions, loaded with sinister apprehension.

"When do you suppose," Lord Ballina said, in a shaking voice--"when do
you suppose that we shall know if anything has happened, Andrew? Have
you made arrangements with your--er--er--friends to report to you about
it?"

"I'm not mad!" Levison answered shortly. "Hear! Why, if there's anything
to hear you'll hear soon enough----What's that?"

He had started violently, and the perspiration was beginning to run down
his face. A distant rumble of thunder breaking suddenly in upon the
quiet of the room had startled him and betrayed more than anything else
in what a state his nerves were.

"It's only thunder," Mimi replied. "Good Heavens, Andrew, you are enough
to give one the jumps yourself! But if we're to know, how shall we
know?"

"Why, it's very simple," Levison answered. "Don't you see that if
anything has--er--happened, it'll be in the evening papers and in the
streets within three-quarters of an hour from the time it's occurred.
There will be journalists with this man Joseph, of course, there always
are wherever he goes. Well, the papers will be up here by the motors in
half-an-hour after they're issued, and we shall hear the newsboys
shouting it out all over the place."

"There's an old man who sells papers at the corner of Florence Street,
only a few yards away," Mimi Addington broke in quickly. "The boys on
the bicycles come up and supply him with all the new editions as they
come out. I often hear them shouting."

"Then all we've got to do," said Andrew Levison, "is to wait until we
hear that shouting."

They sat waiting--three murderers--and as they sat there a presence
stole into the room, unseen, but very real. The grisly phantom Fear was
among them. Waiting!



CHAPTER XXII

THE HOUSE DESOLATE


The echo of the shot which had struck down Sir Augustus Kirwan had
hardly died away when two of the police inspectors, accompanied by Eric
Black, rushed into one of the open doorways of the court. Their feet
could be heard thundering up the rickety, wooden stairs of the old
house, as Joseph and Sir Thomas Ducaine knelt, horror-struck, by the
side of the dead man, while the others crowded round in uncontrollable
dismay.

Joseph himself seemed absolutely stunned for a moment. And it was Sir
Thomas's firm and capable hands which were moving rapidly over Sir
Augustus' chest, endeavoring to test the movement of the heart.

The young Duke of Dover was talking rapidly and in an undertone with the
police inspector, and pointing upwards to the black, unglazed
window-hole from which the smoke of the shot was still eddying out.

The whole series of events had occurred in a mere flash of time, with an
astonishing swiftness which seemed to outstrip or to numb the lightning
operations of thought itself.

There they stood in a group, stiffened and frozen into momentary
immobility. The tall figure of Joseph bent over the empty shell which
lay upon the ground; the others clustered round, with wan faces of
horror. The peer had his right hand upon the shoulder of the inspector
and his left extended to the black and silent orifice above. And still
the thunder of the feet of Eric Black and his companions could be heard
as they raced upwards towards the room of the assassin.

Then suddenly, as if the noise of the shot, which now must have been
fired for at least thirty-five or forty seconds, had awakened a sleeping
population, a murmur arose like the murmur of a hive of bees suddenly
disturbed.

It arose, grew louder and louder, resolved itself into tumultuous and
divided voices, and then, from every doorway, the foul, mocking, and
unclean denizens of the worst slum in London came pouring, trotting, and
slouching out of their lairs.

The air was immediately filled with a horrid clamor, and to the keen,
attentive ears of, at any rate, the Duke and the policeman, there seemed
something ungenuine in the sound--that is to say, it was not the
instinctive product of real surprise, but as though the people who had
suddenly appeared out of what had seemed silence and desolation were
well aware that this was going to happen.

Of this Joseph and Sir Thomas Ducaine, who were lifting the portly body
of the great financier, saw and understood nothing at all.

Just as Joseph and Sir Thomas, assisted by the others, were supporting
the limp figure in their arms, the remaining inspector lifted his
whistle to his lips and blew a loud and piercing call.

At the sound, the horrid crowd which surrounded the little group of
death suddenly grew silent. They knew that ominous summons very well; it
was in their blood to know it, for to many of them it had been a note of
doom.

The silence continued for a very short time, and was only broken in one
significant and instinctive way.

A tall, thin man, with a face which was a sheer wedge of sin and bestial
impulse, suddenly pressed to the front of the crowd, where his eyes fell
upon Joseph.

The inspector heard him say, in a quick, vibrating voice to some one at
his side whom the inspector could not see--

"The wrong bloke!"

The whistle had its effect, and in a space of time which would have
suggested to any one who had thought of it that the police arrangements
for guarding the distinguished company which had ventured into these
dark places were more complete than that company itself had any idea of,
several uniformed constables came hurrying into the court.

The crowd of slum-dwellers melted away as a small piece of ice in the
sun, and, save that the doors and low windows of the surrounding houses
were now thronged with interested faces, the group in the middle of the
place was free of interruption.

Three stalwart constables lifted up the body and bore it away. Joseph
and the rest of his friends filed in a horror-struck procession.

The Teacher's head was bowed. His thin, white hands were clasped in
front of him, and the tears were rolling down his cheeks.

Hampson was at his side, and as he looked up at his old comrade once
more he was thrilled to the very marrow, even as he had been thrilled on
that strange eventful afternoon when the two great beams of wood had
fallen from on high and struck down Joseph Bethune in the form of a
cross.

For what Hampson now saw in his quick, imaginative brain, accustomed as
it was to constant artistic images of the past, when Jesus walked in
Jerusalem, was now the tall, bowed figure of the Saviour with wrists
bound in front of Him, moving towards the shameful death which was to
save and regenerate mankind.

Another scene in the Via Dolorosa!

It was now the middle of the afternoon. With magic celerity, even in
that poverty-stricken district, carriages were found, and an ambulance
brought from an adjacent police-station.

Then, through the crowded streets of the East, the long and busy
thoroughfares of Fleet Street and the Strand, into the wide and spacious
district where the rich dwell, the sad procession took its way.

And of all the crowds of busy humans that moved and ran about their
business, no one suspected what these vehicles might mean. They passed
through the busiest centres of the Modern Babylon without an indication
or word of the true import of their passage.

Only Eric Black, who had come back disheartened with the two
police-officers from a hurried yet interminable search among the huge
and fetid warrens of the murder-hole, was speeding towards the office of
the _Evening Wire_--the afternoon edition of the great daily--his heart
full of pity and terror, while yet his keen journalistic brain was
weaving burning words and sentences with which to announce what had
happened to London.

The _cortège_ arrived at last at the great house in Berkeley Square.

The day, which had begun brightly enough, was as if the elements in
London were sympathetic to the tragedy in which one of her foremost
citizens had perished. They were now beginning to throw a heavy and
thunderous gloom over the City.

Swiftly, while the frightened and white-faced servants stood speechless
in the hall, the body of Sir Augustus Kirwan was borne into the library,
and the family physician sent for at once. One of the police inspectors
remained in the house; the other hurried off to Scotland Yard to give
his version of the affair, though by now all the district in which the
murder had occurred was being thoroughly searched, and guarded on all
sides by special police, who had been summoned by telephone from various
parts of the metropolis.

Marjorie Kirwan was away upon a short visit to some friends. Lady Kirwan
was, fortunately, out when the body of her husband was brought into the
house.

In a very few minutes the doctor arrived, and after a brief
examination, announced what all present knew only too well--that the
baronet had been shot through the heart, and that the death had been
painless and instantaneous.

The blinds in front of the house were all pulled down, and the butler
was interrogated as to the whereabouts of Lady Kirwan by The Duke and
Sir Thomas Ducaine.

"I'm sure I have no idea, my lord and Sir Thomas," said the faithful old
fellow, with the tears rolling down his cheeks, "where my lady has gone.
I know that she went out shortly after lunch, on foot. She said that she
did not wish for the motor-brougham or a carriage. Sometimes of an
afternoon my lady likes to go out on foot, for the sake of a little
exercise; and the day being fine, it must have tempted her."

"Her maid will know, perhaps," Sir Thomas replied.

"I'm afraid not, sir," the butler answered, "for I know that Mrs.
Summers has my lady's permission to visit her relatives at Camberwell
this afternoon."

"Then," Sir Thomas replied, "where is Miss Lys?"

"I can answer that," Joseph replied sadly. "She is working up in
Bloomsbury, at the house of the Brotherhood."

"She must be sent for at once," Sir Thomas answered. "Indeed, in a few
minutes, I will go for Mary myself, and break this terrible news to her.
It will be a frightful blow to my poor girl; but she is so strong and
self-reliant that she will be invaluable to receive Lady Kirwan when
she returns, and to break this awful news, as only a woman, and such a
woman as Mary is, could possibly do."

For a moment the young man's face lit up with love and tenderness, even
in the presence of death, as he thought of the sweet and noble lady who
had already given some of the best years of her life to the healing of
sorrow, and who alone, in this great crisis, cost her what it might,
could be depended upon to help the widow through the dark hours that lay
before.

Now it happened that Lady Kirwan had indeed not gone very far. A few
streets away from Berkeley Square there was a quiet little shop which
was kept by a society of ladies who had interested themselves in the
revival of fine lace manufacture in England. Girls were being taught all
over the country to produce gossamer fabrics as beautiful as anything
made in the hamlets around Ghent and Brussels or in the Beguinage at
Bruges. Lady Kirwan was a patroness of the movement, and on this
afternoon she had walked round to discuss the question of profit-sharing
with the lady who was in charge of the establishment.

Lady Kirwan liked to carry her own latchkey when she went out on little
excursions of this sort, when there was no groom to run up the steps and
open the front door. She had taken her key with her on this afternoon,
and after doing the business for which she had set out, returned
homewards in a peculiarly happy state of mind, which even the heavy
atmosphere and lowering approach of thunder failed to disturb.

The lace business was going well, and the poor girls all over the
country would have a substantial bonus added to their earnings. And
other more important things contributed to the kindly woman's sense of
goodwill. Mary's engagement to Sir Thomas Ducaine was in itself a cause
for immense congratulation. Despite all Mary's stupid ways--as Lady
Kirwan was accustomed to call them--in spite of all the wasted years in
the hospital, the girl had, nevertheless, captured one of the most
eligible young men in London, and her wedding would be one of the
greatest events in the modern history of the family of Lys. Marjorie
also seemed to be more than a little attracted by the young Duke of
Dover. He was a peer of very ancient lineage, upright, an honorable
gentleman, and very well liked in society. That he was not rich made no
difference whatever. The Kirwans' own enormous wealth would be lavished
at the disposal of the young couple. And, finally, at a great political
reception a few nights ago, the Prime Minister had taken Lady Kirwan
into supper, and had told her, without any possibility of mistake, that
in a week or two more the great services of Sir Augustus to the
Government, and the financial weight exerted at a critical moment, which
had forced a foreign Power to modify its demands, were to receive high
recognition, and that the baronetcy was to be exchanged for the rank of
viscount.

As Lady Kirwan, smiling and stately, ascended the steps of her house in
Berkeley Square, and took from her reticule the tiny Bramah key which
unlocked the massive portal, she felt she had not a care in the world,
and was a woman blessed indeed.

"We must get rid of this Joseph fellow now," she thought, as she
inserted the key. "He has played his part well enough in bringing Mary
and Thomas together; but I don't think it will be advisable, even though
he is a fashionable pet at present, to have very much to do with him. I
never cared very much for the man, and it is awkward to have him about
the house. One can always send him a cheque now and then for his good
works!"

The door swung open, and she entered the hall. At the moment there was
nobody there--a fact which she noted for a future word of remonstrance,
as a footman was always supposed to sit there at all times. But from the
farther end of the hall, from the library, the door of which was a
little ajar, her quick ear detected a murmur of voices in the silence.

She took a step or two forward, when suddenly Sir Thomas Ducaine came
striding quickly and softly out of the library, the door closing quietly
behind him.

"Ah, Tom, my dear boy!" Lady Kirwan said. "So you are all back, then? I
do hope you're not fatigued by those terrible places that you've all
been to see. Horrible it must have been? Don't forget that you are
dining with us to-night. Mary has promised to leave her nonsense up at
Bloomsbury and be home in time, so we shall have a pleasant family
dinner. Where is Augustus? Is he in the library?"

Then Lady Kirwan noticed something strange in the young man's face. The
color had all ebbed from it; it was white with a horrid, ghastly
whiteness, that absolutely colorless white one sees on the under side of
a turbot or a sole.

"Good gracious!" she said, with slightly faltering voice. "Are you ill,
Tom? Why, what is the matter? Has anything happened?"

The young man's brain was whirling. Lady Kirwan's sudden and unexpected
appearance had driven all his plans and self-control to the winds. He
shook with fear and agitation. He tried to speak twice, but the words
rattled in his mouth with a hollow sound.

The current of fear ran from him to the tall and gracious dame who stood
before him, and flashed backwards and forwards between the two like a
shuttle--in the loom of Fate.

"What is it?" she said, in a high-pitched voice. "Tell me at once!"

As she spoke the hall suddenly became filled with silent
servants--servants whose faces were covered with tears, and who stood
trembling around the vast, luxurious place.

The dame's eyes swept round in one swift survey. Then, suddenly, she
drew herself to her full height.

"Where is Augustus?" she said in a low, vibrating voice that thrilled
the heart of every person there with pain. "Where is my husband?"

"Sir Augustus, my dear Lady Kirwan," Sir Thomas began to gasp, with
tears running down his cheeks--"Sir Augustus is very ill; but----"

He got no further, Lady Kirwan began to move quickly, as if some dread
instinct had told her the truth, towards the library door.

"No, no, dear Lady Kirwan," Sir Thomas said--"don't go!"

She brushed him aside as if he had been a straw in her path, and the
terrified group of people saw her burst upon the great white-painted
door which led to the chamber of death.

There was a silence, an agonized silence of several seconds, and then
what all expected and waited for came.

A terrible cry of anguish pealed out into the house, a cry so wild and
despairing that the very walls seemed to shudder in fearful sympathy.

A cry, repeated thrice, and then a choking gurgle, which in its turn
gave way to a deep contralto voice of menace.

Inside the library Lady Kirwan reeled by the long table upon which the
still form of the man she loved lay hushed for ever in death. One arm
was thrown around the rigid, waxen face, the left was outstretched with
accusing finger, and pointing at Joseph the evangelist.

"It is you!" the terrible voice pealed out. "It is you, false prophet,
liar, murderer, who have brought a good man to his end! It was you who
killed my dear, dear nephew Lluellyn upon the hills of our race! It is
you--who have come into a happy household with lying wiles and sneers
and signs and tokens of your master Satan, whom you serve--who have
murdered my beloved! May the curse of God rest upon you! May you wither
and die and go to your own place and your own master--you, who have
killed my dear one!"

Then there was a momentary silence, once more the high despairing wail
of a mind distraught, a low, shuddering sigh, and a heavy thud, as Lady
Kirwan fell upon the floor in a deep and merciful swoon.

As Sir Thomas, who had hitherto stood motionless in the middle of the
hall, turned and went swiftly back into the library, the Teacher came
out with bowed head, and passed silently to the front door. No one
assisted him as he opened it and disappeared.

How he arrived at the old house in Bloomsbury, Joseph never knew.
Whether on foot, or whether in some vehicle, he was unable to say, on
thinking over the events afterwards. Nor did any one see him enter the
house. The mystery was never solved.

With bowed head, he mounted the stairs towards the long common-room
where his friends and disciples were wont to gather together.

Opening the door, he entered. By a dying fire, with a white, strained
face, stood Hampson, who had only accompanied the funeral carriage up to
a certain point in its progress towards Berkeley Square, and, urged by
some inexplicable impulse, had descended from his carriage during a
block in the traffic, and made straight for the headquarters of the
Brotherhood.

As Joseph entered, the little journalist gave a great sigh of relief.
"At last," he said--"at last!"

"My friend, and my more than brother," the Teacher answered, in a voice
broken with emotion, "where is our dear sister--where is Mary?"

"The Lord came to Mary," Hampson answered in a deep and awe-stricken
voice, "and she has obeyed His command. I came here, knowing that the
brethren were all out upon their business, save only our dear Mary, who
was waiting for two poor women who were to come and be relieved. As I
entered the square I saw the women coming away with glad, bright
faces--they were women I had known in the past, and whom I myself had
recommended to Mary. I entered the house, and I found our sister in the
room upon the right-hand side of the hall. I was about to greet her, and
hoped to be able to break the terrible news to her, when I saw that her
face was raised, her eyes were closed, her hands were clasped before
her, as if in prayer. She seemed to be listening, and I waited. Suddenly
her eyes opened, her hands fell, and she came back to the world, seeing
me standing before her."

"Brother," she said, and her face was like the face of an angel,
"brother, there is one who needs me, needs my help and comfort in the
hour of tribulation and sorrow. God has sent a message to me, and I go
to her."

"With that she left the room and went swiftly away."

"Without doubt," Joseph answered, "God has summoned her to bring
consolation to the widow."

Hampson began a series of eager inquiries as to what had occurred in
Berkeley Square, as to what would happen, and what action would be
taken--a string of excited questions running one into the other, which
showed how terribly the good fellow was unstrung.

The Teacher checked the rapid flow of words with a single gesture.

"Brother," he said, "do you stay here and rest, and say no word to any
man of what has happened. For me, there yet remains something to be
done. I know not what; but this I do know--once more the message of the
Holy Spirit is about to come to me, and I am to receive directions from
on High."

Hampson watched the Teacher as he slowly left the room. At the door
Joseph turned and smiled faintly at his old and valued friend; and as he
did so, the journalist saw, with the old inexpressible thrill that light
upon the countenance which only came at the supreme moments when
Heavenly direction was vouchsafed to Joseph.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon her wrist Mimi Addington wore a little jewelled watch set in a thin
bracelet of aluminium studded with rubies.

She lifted her wrist almost to her eyes to mark the time. It was as
though the power of eyesight was obscured.

Lord Ballina was walking, almost trotting, rapidly up and down the
room--one has seen a captive wolf thus in its cage.

Andrew Levison sat upon the couch, his head supported upon his hands,
one foot stretched a little in front of him, and the boot tapping with
ceaseless, regular movement upon the heavy Persian rug.

"William is waiting at the garden gate to bring in the paper directly it
arrives," Mimi Addington said.

No one answered her. Lord Ballina went up and down the room. Andrew
Levison's foot, in its polished boot, went tap, tap, tap, as if it were
part of a machine.

Then they heard it--the hoarse, raucous cry--"Evenin' Special! Slum
Tragedy! 'Orrid Murder!" The words penetrated with a singular
distinctness into the tent-like Eastern room, with all its warmth and
perfume.

Three sharp cries of relief and excitement were simultaneously uttered
as the three people stood up in a horrid _tableau vivant_ of fear and
expectation.

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty seconds. "Oh, why does he not come?" And then
the door opens quietly, and a discreet manservant brings in a folded
pink paper upon a silver tray.

Mimi tears it open as the man withdraws, with a low and almost animal
snarl of triumph. Her eyes blaze out like emeralds. The beautiful red
lips are parted; hot breath pants out between them. Then she turns
suddenly white as linen. The paper falls from her hands, the life fades
from her face and eyes, the strength of movement from her limbs, and she
giggles feebly, as one bereft of reason.

Lord Ballina snatches up the paper, scans it with rapid eyes, and then
turns to Levison.

"They have killed the wrong man!" he says, with a terrible oath.
"They've murdered Sir Augustus Kirwan, and Joseph has gone free!"

Levison staggered towards him, leant on him, and read the shocking news
for himself.

Lord Ballina began to weep noisily, like a frightened girl.

"It's all up with us," he said; "it's all up with us! This is the end of
all of it, the hand of God is in it; we're done--lost, lost! There is no
forgiveness!"

Even as he said this the hangings which covered the noiseless outside
door were parted suddenly. Joseph himself stood there with one hand
raised above his head, and said unto them--

"Peace be unto you all in this household! Peace be unto you!"

The words, spoken in the Teacher's deep and musical voice, rang out in
the tented room like a trumpet.

The three conspirators were struck by them as if by some terrible
crushing physical force.

With dilated eyes and faces, which were scarcely human in their terror,
they crouched before the terrible apparition.

In that moment all remembrance of what they had just learnt from the
newspaper was blotted from their minds; they only thought that here was
one veritably risen from the dead, or come in spirit to denounce them.

The woman was the first to succumb. With a low, whimpering moan she
fell in a tumbled heap upon the floor. Neither the Jew nor the younger
man moved a finger to help her. They crouched trembling against the
opposite wall, and stared at the tall figure of the man they had tried
to murder.

Joseph stood looking upon them. His face was no index whatever to his
thoughts. In whatever spirit he had come they could define nothing of it
from his face, though the words which he had uttered as he appeared from
behind the hangings rang in their ears with a deep and ironical mockery
as if the bell of doom was tolling for them.

Once more Joseph raised his hands.

"Peace be unto you," he said again, as if blessing them. And then he
asked very gravely and calmly: "Why are you afraid of me?"

Again there was silence, until at last Levison, the Jew, with a
tremendous and heroic effort of self-control, pulled himself a little
together and essayed to speak.

"Do not prolong this scene, sir," he said, in a cracked, dry voice,
which seemed to come from a vast distance. "Have your men in at once and
take us away. It will be better so. You have won the game, and we must
pay the penalty. I suppose you have captured the men who made the
attempt upon your life, and"--here Levison remembered, with an added
throb of horror, how another had suffered in place of his intended
victim--"and who, unfortunately, killed another person in mistake for
you. So be it. We are ready to go."

The sound of the Jew's voice speaking thus, and calm with all the
hideous calmness of defeat and utter despair, had roused Lord Ballina's
sinking consciousness. As Levison concluded, the young man fell upon his
knees and almost crawled to the feet of the Master.

"It's all lies," he gasped--"it's all lies, sir! I don't know what he is
talking about, with his murders and things. I know nothing whatever
about it all. I wasn't in it. I assure you I'd nothing whatever to do
with it. It was he who did it all."

The livid young wretch extended a shaking hand of cowardly accusation,
and pointed it at his whilom friend.

Joseph looked down to the creature at his feet with a blazing scorn in
his eyes, and as he did so the Jew, who was still leaning upon the
opposite wall, as if too physically weak to move, broke in upon the end
of Lord Ballina's quavering exculpation.

"It's quite true, sir," he said to Joseph, though even in the hour of
his own agony the man's bitter contempt for the coward crept into his
voice and chilled it. "It is perfectly true, this young--er--gentleman,
Lord Ballina, knew nothing of the matters of which you speak. Nor can he
be connected with them in any way."

"Friend," said Joseph, very calmly, lifting his eyes from the thing that
crouched upon the floor below him--"friend, of what matters have I
spoken?"

Levison looked steadily at him. A puzzled expression crossed his
terror-stricken face for a moment, and then left it as before.

"Why quibble about words," he said, "at such a time as this? I beg you,
sir, to call in your detectives, and have me taken away at once. I, and
I only, am responsible for the attempt upon your life."

Here there came a sudden and even more dramatic interruption than
before. From the heap of shimmering draperies upon the floor by the
couch, which covered the swooning body of the actress, a head suddenly
protruded. It was like the head of a serpent coming slowly into view,
with flashing eyes of enmity and hate.

Mimi Addington rose with a slow and sinuous movement, a movement which,
if she could have reproduced it in ordinary life, and showed it upon the
stage, would, perhaps, have lifted her to the rank of the greatest
tragedy actress of this or any other era.

The movement was irresistible, like the slow, gliding erection of a
serpent. The head oscillated a little in front of the body, with a
curiously reptilian movement. The eyes were fixed in their steady and
unflinching glare of hate.

Levison stared, trembling, at the sudden and hideous apparition. All the
beauty had faded from the face. It was as the face of one lost and
doomed, the face of some malignant spirit from the very depths of
despair.

Then a hollow, hissing voice filled the place.

"They are both wrong," said the voice; "they are both wrong. It was I
who did this thing. I myself and no other. Whatever you may be, man or
spirit, I care not. It was I who set the men on to kill you, and the
death that you were to die was all too easy for you. I hate you with a
hatred for which there are no words. I would that I could inflict upon
you a death lasting many days of torture, and do it with my hands. And
then I would dance upon your grave. I hate you as woman never hated man
before. Before all the world you spurned me and showed me as I am. You
made me a laughing-stock to London, and a shame in the eyes of all men."

Her lifted hand was extended towards the Teacher.

Spellbound, unable to move or think, Levison saw that the silken feet,
from which the little bronze shoes had fallen, were gradually and
imperceptibly moving with the apparent immobility of the trained dancer
towards the tall figure by the door.

The awful voice went on, and into it, even in that moment of horrid
tragedy which at the beginning had given it some dignity, a note of
indescribable coarseness and vulgarity began to creep.

And all the time the Jew saw the little feet, in their stockings of pale
blue silk, were moving nearer and nearer. Then, suddenly, she leapt at
Joseph with a swift bound, like the bound of a panther, and without a
single sound.

She struck once, twice, thrice; but as the Jew watched he saw with an
awe and wonder more heart-stirring, more terrible than even the first
agony of terror, that she struck at least a foot away from the figure of
the Teacher--that is to say, her blows did not reach within more than a
foot of the grave, bearded man who stood regarding her. It was as though
Joseph was surrounded by some invisible aura, some unseen protection,
which rendered him invulnerable to all material attack. At the third
stroke the woman's arm fell to her side. She looked in a puzzled,
childlike way at the figure before her. The hate seemed to have suddenly
been wiped from her face, as a sponge wipes a chalk mark from a slate.
The light in her eyes was extinguished, they became dull and glassy; and
in a feeble, childlike fashion she brushed past the Teacher, now
unimpeded by any obstacle, and passed through the draperies into the
corridor beyond. They heard her laughing, in a mad and meaningless
merriment--the laughter of one whose brain is finally dissolved and
gone, and who will never more take part in the strife and councils of
men and women.

The laughter grew quieter as the mad woman wandered away down the
corridor.

Joseph stooped down to where Lord Ballina still crouched upon the floor.
He placed both hands beneath the young man's arms and lifted him to his
feet. He held him in front of him for a moment or two, and looked
steadily into his eyes. Then, bending forward, he kissed him on the
forehead.

"Brother," he said, "go, and sin no more."

The Jew heard the uncertain footsteps of the young viscount as he also
left the tented room--heard them tap, tap as they crossed those spaces
of the tiled floor of the hall which were not covered with rugs, and
then a moment afterwards the clang of the hall door.

Joseph and Andrew Levison were left alone.

The Jew exercised his self-control in a still greater measure than
before.

"And now, sir," he said, "since those two others have gone, and you have
before you the real criminal, do with me as you will. I should like to
ask you one thing, however, and that is this: I should like it to be
thoroughly understood at the trial that I, and I only, am responsible
for what has occurred. I am the murderer of Sir Augustus Kirwan, and
should have been your murderer far more really and truly than the
assassin whom I bribed to actually commit the deed. I was the
controlling brain and the instigator of the whole thing. Therefore I
hope that, guilty as my instrument may be, it will be recognized by
everybody concerned that he is not guilty to such an extent as I am
guilty. It would be an additional misery to me, though I don't put it
only on those grounds, if my creature also were to suffer the extreme
penalty of the law. And now I am quite ready."

Joseph turned, as Levison thought, to summon the police officers whom he
supposed had accompanied him.

Instead of doing that, Joseph closed the door and pulled the hangings
over it.

"Why did you seek to murder me?" he asked, in calm and gentle tones.

Levison began to tremble.

"It will seem incredible to you, sir," he said, in a low voice, "but you
stood in my way. You were destroying my business as a theatrical
manager, and you had very greatly angered my leading lady, the woman who
tried to kill you again just now."

Then, suddenly, the whirling brain of the theatrical manager remembered
the significance of what he had seen when Mimi Addington had dashed at
the Teacher with hate and murder in her eye.

"Who are you!" he said, terror mastering him once more. "Who are you
that Mimi could not reach you? Who are you? And how, now I come to think
of it, how could you be here so soon? What can it all mean? Who are
you?"

"Like you," the Teacher answered, "I am a son of God. For me as for you,
Christ Jesus died upon the Cross. You ask me questions, I will answer
them. There is no reason why I should not answer them. When I came to
this house I had no idea whom I should see, save only that here I should
find those who had plotted against my life. I was brought here by a
Power stronger than any human power. I was brought here by the hand of
God Who--blessed be His name!--orders my way and directs my path. And as
for your accomplice, the poor man who would have struck me down, and who
has slain one of the great ones of this earth, and one who might have
been a witness to the truth of God and the love of mankind, I know that
he will not be found. He has not been discovered, nor will he ever be by
human agency. He will pay the penalty for what he has done, as all must
pay the penalty for evil deeds, in sorrow and remorse. It may be that he
will not repent, and will not be forgiven. Of that I cannot speak,
because no knowledge has been vouchsafed to me. It may be, and I pray to
the Holy Trinity that it shall be so--that he will repent and be
forgiven, because he knew not what he did."

"But you know, sir," Levison answered--"you know who has been behind it
all. Take me swiftly, and do what has to be done. I beg and implore you
to delay no longer. I can make no defence, nor shall I try to do so. Who
you are, and what power is given to you, I don't know, nor can I
understand. But this one thing I know--that I am guilty, and am prepared
to pay the penalty for what I have done. I will go with you from this
sin-stricken house!"

"Yes," Joseph answered, "my brother, you will go with me, but not as you
think, to the hands of human law. It is not God's will that you should
suffer for what you have done at the hands of human justice. His will
towards you is very different, and I am come to be the humble instrument
of it. You will come with me, as you say; but you will come with me to
my own house, there to make your repentance before Almighty God, meekly
kneeling upon your knees, and asking for forgiveness for your great sin
and for grace to live a new life in the future, henceforth serving Him
and bearing the weight of the Cross which He bore for you so long ago,
until at last, in His good will and time, you may be gathered up and
join the blessed company of those saved by Christ's precious blood."

The deep, grave words roused the long dormant religious instinct in the
heart of the worldly financier who stood broken and abject before him.
The Jew remembered the days of his youth, when he also had prayed to the
Lord of Hosts and the God of Israel in the synagogue of his parents. In
one swift burst of remembrance the times came back to him when he had
bound the phylacteries upon his forehead, and heard the priests of
Israel reading from the Holy Book of the Law. He saw in a sudden riot of
memory the solemn hours of Passover, tasted the forgotten savor of days
of fasting, performed the holy ablutions of his faith. And now he heard
from the lips of the man whom he had tried to murder, news of that other
religion which he had scorned and derided all his life, and yet which
was but the fulfilment of the prophecies of his own. One had come to him
preaching the Messiah Whom he had spurned--the Jew Who was both God and
Man, and Whose Agony had saved the world.

Levison bowed his head in his hands and wept.

"And you," he said, between his sobs, "if indeed God can forgive me for
the evil that I have done, how can you forgive me? I have never spoken
to you, yet I hated you because you had come into my theatre and
disturbed my life and taken the profits of my business away from me. But
you have not done to me a tithe of the evil I would have done to you.
You came to me, knowing well my evil life and that I pandered to the
passions of the low and the debased. You did what I now see the Lord
commanded you to do. But I----How can you forgive me, Master?"

"Brother," Joseph answered, "it is a very little thing for me to
forgive you. It is nothing, and is no merit in me. I have no anger
towards you in my heart. What you did you did, and it was a sin for
which you must answer to the Almighty. But I am well aware that you
walked in darkness, and had not seen the Light. If our beloved Master
Jesus could forgive the men who nailed Him to the Cross, should not His
humble and unworthy follower forgive what you have done? Brother, I
forgive you with all my heart. Accept my forgiveness and my love, and
come with me, that you may learn more of Him who is above the thrones
and principalities and powers of this earth; of Him who is not only
justice, but mercy and tenderness inexpressible; of Him to Whom all men
are equal, Who loveth all men."

They passed out of the scented room and into the silent hall, where no
servants or others were about. Together they left that house, to which
neither were ever to return; that house in which so many and strange
things had been done, and which now seemed as a house of the dead.

A carriage was waiting at the garden gate. The two men entered it and it
rolled swiftly away down the hill towards London.

It was now quite dark.

The oppression of the thunder seemed to have passed away, and the air
was fresh and cool as they drove through the roaring, lighted streets of
the great Babylon towards the Brothers' house in Bloomsbury. Once or
twice, as the carriage halted in a block of traffic, Levison saw the
newspaper boys holding the startling contents sheets before them, and
the tragic headlines met his eye. At such times he shuddered like a leaf
in the wind, and the tears of remorse and agony rolled down his cheeks
unregarded, splashing upon his ringed hands.

Then Joseph would lean towards him and speak quietly in his ear.
"Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I
will set him up because he hath known My name. He shall call upon Me,
and I will hear him; yea, I am with him in trouble; I will deliver him
and bring him to honor. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him
My salvation."

They came at last to the house of the Brothers, but as the carriage
turned into the square, there was a sudden roar from many hundreds of
voices. An enormous crowd had collected before the house, stirred to the
depths by the news of the terrible tragedy which had occurred in the
afternoon.

Almost immediately that the carriage began to move among the crowd, some
electric wave of feeling seemed to pass over every one, and they all
knew that the Teacher was among them.

Then, from every voice rose up a great chorus of joy and thanksgiving. A
crashing harmony of praise rent the very air, and caused the people in
far distant squares and thoroughfares to turn their heads and listen in
amaze.

The Master had returned, safe and unharmed--the Master whose name and
power were already thrilling the metropolis as it was never thrilled
before; the God-guided Teacher who was bringing new light into the
lives of thousands, building a great dam against the threatening tides
of sin, evil and death.

With great difficulty the carriage made its way to the spacious door,
which was immediately flung open, showing the lighted hall and the
Brothers, with Hampson, the journalist, among them, standing there to
welcome the man that they revered and loved.

Together Levison and the Master entered. But ere the door was closed
Joseph turned and raised his hand. In a moment a dead silence fell over
the crowd.

"Brethren," the deep voice thrilled, "I will be with you in a moment,
for I have somewhat to say to you."

Then the door closed.

Joseph took the trembling creature by his side into a little warm and
lighted room.

"Brother," he said, "the hour of your repentance is at hand. Kneel and
pray to the Man of Sorrows, and if no words come to you, call upon Him
by name, and He will come--Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"

Then, turning, he went out to the crowd.



CHAPTER XXIII

CONSOLIDATION


A month had passed by.

For a fortnight after the death of Sir Augustus Kirwan the Press had
been full of surmise and conjecture. New theories as to the identity of
the murderer were advanced every day. Every now and again some
enterprising journal would appear with a column of exclusive news, which
pointed to the fact that the criminal was discovered through the acumen
of the journal's own private detectives, and was certain to be arrested
in two days at least. He never was arrested, and two days afterwards
some new sensation drew a red herring across the old trail, while the
public read on and were perfectly content, provided that they were
thrilled.

It was generally agreed, however, by Press and public alike, that Sir
Augustus Kirwan had not been the real object of attack, but that the
shot had been aimed at Joseph, the evangelist. This general certainty
had marked a definite effect upon the way in which the Teacher was
regarded. The hostility of the unthinking mob was disarmed by it. It
became known to the great mass of the common people that whatever Joseph
might be, whatever impossible doctrines he might preach, his one idea
was to alleviate the miseries and sorrows of the poor, not only in a
spiritual, but also in a solid, concrete, and material fashion.

Opposition still continued, of course, but the tragedy in the East End
had broken it up into separate camps, and there was no longer a steady
tide of enmity, such as there had been at the commencement of the
evangelist's stupendous mission to London.

On the night of the murder itself an event had occurred which was very
far-reaching in its consequences, though at the moment none of those who
were present quite realized the significance of what they heard. The
Teacher had appeared upon the steps of his house in Bloomsbury, and had
addressed the enormous crowd during the early part of the night. This
crowd had been attracted to the square by the news published in the
evening papers of Sir Augustus' murder and Joseph's escape. They had
congregated there out of curiosity, in the first instance; but when
Joseph had appeared in a carriage, together with a stranger, there had
been a spontaneous outburst of genuine affection from the many-throated
multitude.

It was as though every person there, whether he had seen the evangelist
before or not, was genuinely glad at his escape, felt that sense of
personal brotherhood and love, that ungrudging recognition of a high and
noble nature whose aims were purely unselfish, which now and then is
vouchsafed to an assembly to feel, and which, in the psychology of
crowds, is the very highest manifestation of cumulative feeling.

Then had come a short but enormously powerful and heart-searching
address.

There was a note of great sadness in it, so some of the most sensitive
members of the crowd imagined, a note heralding a farewell, though, on
after reflection, it was supposed that the terrible events of the
afternoon had naturally disturbed and unstrung the Teacher in a very
great degree.

The peculiar note which the address had struck was that which made it a
very special occasion in the history of Joseph's mission to London. It
was not only an exhortation to the people there to repent and seek
forgiveness at the foot of the Cross, it was not only an exhortation to
each member of the crowd to live a holy life and walk in the ways of the
Lord--it was all this, but there was something more, and something new.

Joseph had, as if with the certainty of most absolute confidence, bidden
every person there from that moment to go out into the world as a
definite minister of the Gospel. It was as though addressing a
congregation of known and tried disciples, whom he knew would obey his
behests and carry out his wishes. So some great captain might have
spoken to his officers, delivering them a special mission.

"Go out, my dear brothers, this very night, as ministers of the Word of
God, to spread the knowledge of Him in London. Repent and be baptized,
every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of
sins, and you shall receive the Holy Ghost."

With fiery words he called upon them to deny themselves all things, to
break off all associations with evil and worldly things which warred
against the soul; to do their work, whatever it might be, to the glory
of God, and to spend every moment of their spare time in a definite,
individual campaign against the hosts of evil.

The burning eloquence of his words, short as was the time during which
he spoke to them, made a deep impression upon many hundreds there. The
dark square, with its tall lamp-posts around, and the glow of yellow
light which poured from the door of the great house, the deep organ-note
of London's traffic all around, the whole strangeness and mystery of the
scene, could never be forgotten by any one that witnessed it. And in the
result it had actually happened that in that single evening the power of
the Teacher's words had keyed up lives that were faltering between good
and evil, had sown the seed of righteousness in barren and empty hearts,
had sent out a veritable company far and wide over London, who, each in
his own way, and with the measure of his powers and capacity, became a
minister of Jesus.

"Was it not, indeed, true?" many righteous men and women asked
themselves during the ensuing month, when the leaven was working in
strange and unexpected directions. "Was it not, indeed, true, that down
upon that crowd of Londoners some portion of the Holy Spirit had
descended, some sacred fire which, even as the fires of Pentecost
themselves, had again repeated the miracle which was prophesied by the
prophet Joel?"

All over London, among thinking Christians, there came an added
conviction that it was indeed true that one specially guided and gifted
of God was among them. A man was in their midst to whom the Holy Spirit
was given in abounding and overflowing measure, and who, like Enoch,
walked with God. And many lovers of Jesus felt that perhaps now, indeed,
the time was come when once more the Almighty Father would pour out His
Spirit upon all flesh--the time when their sons and their daughters
should prophesy, the young men see visions, and the old men dream
dreams.

Was it not true now, as it ever had been, that "whosoever shall call
upon the name of the Lord shall be saved?"

And so, during the month which had gone by since the tragedy in
Whitechapel, the fame of the Master had grown and grown, until it had
become less of the breathless sensation which it had appeared at first,
and had settled down into a definite and concrete thing.

It was at this juncture that two articles appeared in two newspapers.
One was an article signed "Eric Black" in the _Daily Wire_, another one
written by Hampson, the editor of the _Sunday Friend_.

The _Daily Wire_ was, of course, the leading popular daily paper of
England. The _Sunday Friend_, under Hampson's editorship, and especially
since the advent of the evangelist, had become an enormous power among
all definitely Christian people.

The article of Eric Black in the _Daily Wire_ was far less enthusiastic
in tone than that written by Hampson, Joseph's old and trusted friend.
It was very judicial in manner, and from this very circumstance it
gained an additional weight, and had, perhaps, even a greater influence
than the other.

Eric Black, the brilliant young journalist, had never faltered in his
resolve to follow the banner of Christ since the night when, with his
own eyes, he saw the man of God raise up the sufferer from his sick bed.
At the same time, Black, far more than Hampson, was a man of the world,
a young, brilliant, modern man of the world. He realized that in order
to make the Kingdom of Heaven intelligible it was most certainly
necessary to understand the kingdom of this world as well. To plant the
good seed in the waiting ground one must not only know all about the
seed itself, but must be acquainted with the properties of the ground in
which it is destined to fructify.

In thoroughly understanding this, the journalist, in his great
summing-up article of the work of Joseph the evangelist, had refrained
from enthusiastic comment, and had merely stated and made a record of
indubitable, incontrovertible fact.

Never before, during the time of the Teacher's ministry, had there been
a concise epitome of its events, its progress, and its results.

London, and all England, indeed, was supplied with such a document now,
and even the most thoughtless were compelled to pause and wonder what
these things might mean.

Every instance of the supernormal happening--Eric Black refused the word
supernatural, and substituted for it the wiser and more comprehensive
word--was tabulated, set forth in detail, and attested by the affidavits
of witnesses whose bona fides could not be doubted.

The enormous charities which had begun to be active under the ægis of
the Teacher were explained and discussed, and in one day London was
amazed to learn of great fortunes which were being deflected from their
old paths and were pouring their benefits to relieve the necessities of
the downtrodden and oppressed. Names and sums were given, and the man in
the street gasped as he realized the tremendous force of a personality
which had already captured millions of money for the work and service of
God.

If some of the wealthiest and most celebrated men in England had gladly
given up a great part of that which they possessed for the benefit of
others, was there not, indeed, something beyond all ordinary explanation
in this stupendous fact?

Perhaps, indeed, such occurrences as these impressed the great mass of
the public more even than the supernormal occurrences to which Black's
famous article bore witness. To the mind of the ordinary self-seeking
man there is something far more wonderful in the fact of a man with a
hundred pounds giving seventy-five of it away to other people, without
hope of earthly reward or wish for earthly praise and recognition, than
even the appearance of an angel in the sky heralding the second coming
of Our Lord would probably be.

The brain of each single unit of the human race is exactly what he has
made it by a long series of habits and thoughts directed to one object.
It is not more wonderful that the sot and low-minded man cannot
appreciate beautiful music or perfect scenery than it is that the
self-centred intellect is unable to accept the evidence for the unseen
or realize that this life is but a phantom that will pass away.

Both the article of Eric Black and that written by the editor of the
_Sunday Friend_ finally summed up the difference that the arrival of
Joseph in the Modern Babylon had made to existing conditions.

The theatres of the bad sort, which pandered to the lower instincts of
those who patronized them, were almost empty. Several of them were
closed, "for the production of a new play." A strong agitation was going
on in Parliament to make it prohibitive for women to be employed in the
drinking saloons and bars of London. In vast areas the preachers of the
Brotherhood had reduced the gambling evil among the poorer classes to a
most appreciable extent.

The working man was being taught by the direct agency of the Holy
Spirit, as manifested in Joseph's followers, and by the inexorable law
of quiet logic and common-sense, to turn his attention from the things
of to-day and the immediate amusement of the moment, to the future of
his soul. The greatest work of all was, perhaps, accomplished in this
direction, and it was found that once the ordinary intelligence was
convinced of the existence of a future state, the ordinary intelligence
saw immediately the necessity for preparing for eternity during this
short and finite life.

London, day by day, hour by hour almost, was growing more serious. The
churches were filling once more, especially and markedly those in which
there was a daily celebration of the Eucharist. A great wave of
religious feeling was sweeping over the metropolis. And on all sides the
cry of the ignorant and the desirous was heard--

"What shall we do to be saved?"

Some two days after the month which had elapsed since the murder of Sir
Augustus, Sir Thomas Ducaine sat in his library, talking earnestly to
Hampson the journalist.

Ever since the first night when the two strangely opposite natures had
met at the Frivolity Theatre the friendship between the millionaire
baronet and the humble journalist had grown and strengthened. Then had
come Sir Thomas' conversion to the truth, his public confession of
Christ, which had welded the bond of friendship between the two men into
something that only death itself could end in this world, but to renew
it in the next.

Lady Kirwan had retired to the great family country-house in
Hertfordshire, a broken and unhappy woman. She had refused to see Joseph
or even Sir Thomas Ducaine again, persisting in her attitude of absolute
hostility to the Teacher and all his friends. Marjorie Kirwan had become
quietly engaged to the Duke of Dover.

Lady Kirwan--and this was the worst of all--had turned against her
niece, Mary Lys. The will of Sir Augustus had come as an enormous
surprise to the world. No one had realized how wealthy the financier
was, and his testamentary dispositions had startled everybody. Trustees
were placed in the possession of a million of money, which was to be
handed over to his daughter upon her marriage. Lady Kirwan had a life
interest in almost an equal sum. When she died this vast property was to
go to her niece, Mary Lys, without any conditions whatever. Two hundred
thousand pounds had been left to the influential committee of trustees
which now administered the great sums of money which had been given or
left to Joseph and his brethren.

The position of Mary was, therefore, a very strange one. She had become
one of the greatest heiresses in England, she was engaged to Sir Thomas
Ducaine, but nothing would induce her aunt to see her or hold any
communication with her. At first the poor girl had thought of returning
to the hospital in the East End for a time, but another way had been
found out of the difficulty.

Lady Susan Wells, an elderly spinster, a daughter of the Earl of
Fakenham, and aunt to Sir Thomas Ducaine, had asked Mary to live with
her at her house in Belgrave Square. The plan had been adopted, and Mary
was still able, owing to this arrangement, to actively assist in
Joseph's work, and carry on her life of sweet self-sacrifice and help.

Sir Thomas and Hampson sat on each side of the library fire.

"Joseph ought to be here now," Hampson remarked.

Sir Thomas nodded and said:

"I feel to-night as if something very important were going to happen.
Neither of us have seen Joseph for four days now. Nobody, in fact, has
seen him, and nobody knows what he has been doing. One of his strange
disappearances and withdrawals from the rush of life has taken place
again. When that occurs we always know something is going to happen."

"He has been communing with God," Hampson answered gravely, and even as
he spoke the butler opened the door, and the tall figure of the Master
entered.

Joseph looked very thin and pale. He seemed a man who had but lately
come through days of deep suffering.

Sir Thomas rose.

"Ah, my friend," he said, "we were speaking of you at this moment, and
wondering what you had to tell us. We got your letter, of course, and we
knew that you had some very important thing to say. Come and tell us
what it is."

"My brothers," Joseph answered, his face beaming with love and sadness
as he looked upon them both, "I come to tell you of the end!"



CHAPTER XXIV

SUPREME MOMENTS


The dawn came.

The sun rose over the still, grey sea, and the first rays which flashed
out over the brim of the world shone in through the open window of the
little bedroom.

It was a simple cottage room. The walls were whitewashed, the
appointments were primitive, and the fresh light of morning fell upon
the little truckle-bed in which a young man lay sleeping.

One arm rested behind his head, another was flung carelessly over the
counterpane. The sun touched a strong, clean-shaven face, a face
clear-cut as a cameo, with resolution in every line, and with a curious
happiness lying upon it, even as the sunlight touched it.

Thomas Ducaine was sleeping in the little cottage room of the Welsh
village, where he had come for the great day of his life.

As the sun touched the young and noble face, the head moved a little,
and the firm mouth parted in a happy smile. As they will in dreams,
towards the end of both sleep and dreaming, the events of the last day
or two were summing themselves up in the sub-conscious brain, just
before consciousness itself was about to return, and the eyes open upon
the happy day.

Over the sea the sun rose, the sea-birds winged above the smooth water
with shrill, joyous voices, the little ozone-laden breeze eddied upon
the fore-shore, and found its way into the room of the sleeping man.

Then, as day began to move and stir, and all the happy world of Wales
prepared to greet it, Sir Thomas Ducaine opened his eyes and awoke.

For a moment or two he lay looking round him with eyes which still held
part of the deep mystery of sleep, and then at last everything came back
to him. He sat up in the bed, the color mounted to his cheeks, and as he
turned his face towards the window and saw the brilliant but still
sleeping glory of the early-rising sun and quiet sea, he buried his face
in his hands and prayed.

For this was the morning of his life, the morning of all mornings; there
would never be another morning like this.

A week ago Joseph had come to him in the night. Pale, wan, and wearied,
yet still with the inextinguishable fires of the Spirit shining through
his eyes, informing all his movements and words, Joseph had come to him
with a solemn message.

The Master had told him that, despite all that had happened, although to
the world of society and convention he and Mary were still in the depths
of mourning, it was necessary that they should put all these material
and social considerations on one side, and that their love should be
sealed and signed by the blessing of the Church--that the time of the
singing of the birds had come, that wedlock awaited them.

And so, without further questioning, Thomas and Mary obeyed the voice of
the man who had had so stupendous an influence upon their lives, and
gave the direction of their actions into his keeping. Both of them were
certain that what their beloved Teacher ordained for them was just and
right. Nay, more than that, they knew that the words of Joseph, which
ordered their doings, were more than the words of a mere man; that, as
always, the Holy Spirit informed them.

The sun poured into the humble room, filling it with amber light and the
fresh breeze of the dawn.

Thomas Ducaine leapt from his bed, and went to the low window. Leaning
his arms upon the sill, he breathed in the gracious, welcoming air, and
looked out over the ocean to the far horizon, with eyes that were dim
with happy gratitude and gracious tears.

Yes, this, indeed, was the day of days. The morning of all mornings had
come!

Leaning out of the window, he saw the curve of little whitewashed houses
which fringed the bay. The fishers' boats rocked at anchor beyond the
granite mole, and far at the end of the village his eyes fell upon
another whitewashed cottage. As he saw it once more, he placed his hands
before his face and sent up a deep and fervent petition to the Almighty
that he might indeed be worthy of the precious and saintly maiden whom
he knew was sleeping there in her sweet innocence.

This was the morning of mornings!

When the sun had risen higher in the heavens, he would walk to the
little granite-walled, slate-roofed church. Mary would meet him there,
and Joseph and the brethren who had accompanied the Teacher from London
back to their old beloved home. And there, without pomp or ceremony,
noise of publicity, or the rout and stir of a great company, he would
place his hand in the hand of the girl he loved, and the old village
priest would make them one for ever in this world and the next, and
afterwards give them the Body and Blood of Our Lord.

Behind the cottages the great mountains towered up into the sky. One
purple peak, still covered at the summit by a white curtain of cloud,
was the mountain where Lluellyn Lys, the brother of Mary, lay in sleep.

Thomas could see the mountain from the cottage, and as his eyes traveled
up the green and purple sides to the mysterious cap which hid the top,
he remembered all that he had heard about it, and looked upward with an
added interest and awe.

For this was the mountain upon which Joseph had first met the mysterious
recluse of the hills who had changed him from what he had been to what
he was. This was the modern Sinai, where the Master had communed with
God. Here he had gathered together his disciples, had preached to them
with the voice which the Holy Spirit had given him, and blessed them,
and led them to the conquest of London, to the Cross.

Yes, it was there, on those seemingly inaccessible heights, that the
great drama of Joseph's life had begun, and it was there that the drama
of his life--the life of Thomas Ducaine--was to receive its seal and
setting.

After the marriage and the simple feast, which was to be held in the
village, they were all to climb the heights, and there, up in the
clouds, Joseph was to bless them and give them, so it was said,
whispered, and understood, a special message.

The bridegroom left the window, knelt down at his bedside, and prayed.
This complex, young, modern gentleman--a product of every influence
which makes for subtlety and decadence of brain and body--knelt down and
said his prayers with the simplicity of a child. Despite his vast
wealth, his upbringing as a young prince of modern England, Thomas
Ducaine had lived a life far more pure and unspotted than almost any of
his contemporaries. It was that fact, so patent in his face and manner,
which had first attracted Hampson to him, when the two had met in the
Frivolity Theatre--how long ago that seemed now!

So the young man with great possessions said the Lord's Prayer in the
fresh morning light, and then prayed most earnestly that he might be
worthy of the gift that God had given him--the love of the sweetest,
purest, and loveliest lady in the land.

He prayed that God would be pleased to bless their union at the supreme
moment which was now so imminent, and for ever afterwards. His whole
heart and soul went up to the throne of the Most High in supplication
for himself and the girl who was to be his wife. That they might live
together in godly and righteous wedlock; that they might spend their
lives, and the wealth which had been given them, for the good of others
and for the welfare of the world; that at the last they might be
gathered up in the company of the elect, might tread the shining
pavements of Heaven, and see the face of God--these were the prayers of
the young man as, like a knight of old, he kept the vigil before the
Sacrament which was to come.

He went down to the little sleeping cove and bathed in the fresh, clear
water of the sea. The right arm rose and fell forcefully, conquering an
element, as rejoicing in his strength, rejoicing in the glory of the
morning, rejoicing in the sense that God was with him, and that His
blessing was upon his doings, he swam out into the sea, laughing aloud
with holy rapture at what was, what was to come, and what would be.

Then, once more, he re-entered the little cottage, and found the old
Welsh woman who was his hostess preparing the simple breakfast meal. She
put the griddle cakes, fresh eggs and milk before him, but he stood,
looking down upon the board, and, turning to her, refused to eat.

"No," he said, "I will go fasting to my wedding. I will eat no earthly
food until I take the Body and Blood of Jesus from the priest's hand.
It will be afterwards that the feast comes."

"Oh, my dear," she answered, in her broken English--"my dear, that's
right of ye, though indeed and indeed I should wish you would take
something. But you are right--my dear, go to your love fasting, and you
will never fast more."

Another door, opening into the little raftered kitchen, was pushed
aside, and Hampson entered.

His face was white and pinched. All night long the little man had been
wrestling with the last remnants of the old Adam which remained within
him. From the moment when the gracious lady who was about to become the
bride of his dear friend had saved him from death, the journalist had
loved Mary with a dog-like fidelity and adoration. He knew, as he had
known at that moment when he had been with her upon the roof of
England's great cathedral, and seen the white cross hanging over London,
that she could never, under any possible circumstances, have been his.

He had known this and realized it always, but upon this last night of
her maidenhood, when she was about to finally and irrevocably join her
life to another's, there had been mad hours of revolt, of natural, human
revolt, in his brain.

Now it was all over. He had passed through the Valley of the Shadow, and
the morning was come.

For Mr. Hampson also the morning of all mornings was come, the morning
when he had finally and utterly laid down his own desires at the foot of
the Cross, had bowed to the will of the Almighty, and found himself
filled with sacred joy in the joy of the two people he loved better than
any one else in the world, save only his dear Master, Joseph.

In his hand the little man held a book bound in crimson leather. It was
the Revised Version of the New Testament, the latest product of the
University Press, and a very beautiful specimen of typography and
binding.

He came up to his friend and shook him warmly by the hand. Then he gave
him the book.

"Thomas," he said, "there is nothing that I can give you that you have
not got. And, of course, it would be silly of me to give you anything of
material value, because all those things you have had from your youth
up. But here is my little offering. It is only the New Testament. I have
written something upon the fly-leaf, and if you will use it constantly
instead of any other copy that you may have, it will be a great joy to
me. Indeed, my dear fellow," he continued with a smile, "I can give you
nothing more valuable than this."

There was a moment of tense emotion, which was broken, and fortunately
broken, by the voice of the old Welsh woman.

"Now then, my dear," she said, "you are not going to be married this
morning, so you will take your breakfast--indeed, you must an' all. The
bells will be ringing soon, but not for you, and so you must keep your
body warm with food."

Hampson sat down to the simple meal.

Thomas Ducaine, carrying the crimson volume in his hand, went out into
the sunlight, which was now becoming brilliant and strong. He walked
down the silent village street, his feet stirring up the white dust as
he went, for it had been long since rain had fallen in the Welsh
village, and strolled to the end of the mole which stretched out into
the blue sea. Standing there, he breathed in the marvellous invigorating
air of the morning, and his whole young, fresh body responded to the
appeal which nature made.

This was the morning of mornings!

In a few short hours--how short, how blissfully short!--Mary would come
to him.... There were no words in which to clothe his thoughts or in
which to voice his thankfulness and joy. He surveyed his past life
rapidly and swiftly. It passed before him in a panoramic vista, full of
color, but blurred and unimportant until the wonderful night when, as he
stood at the door of his house in Piccadilly with Hampson, the tall
figure of the Teacher had suddenly appeared out of the night, and had
entered into his house with blessing and salvation.

From that time onwards, the vista of happenings was more detailed, more
definitely clear. He realized that he owed, not only his present
material felicity--the fact that all his hopes and desires were to be
consummated in the little village church before the sun had reached his
midday height--but also all the new spiritual awakening, the certainty
of another life, the hope of eternal blessedness, to one cause, to one
personality.

It was at this moment to Joseph that his thoughts went, to that strange
force and power--more force and power, indeed, than that of mere human
man--which, or who, had changed his life from a dull and hopeless
routine--how he realized that now!--to this beatitude of morning light,
of love to the world, and thankfulness to God.

Joseph was somewhere in the neighborhood, that he knew. Where exactly
the Teacher was he could not say. Mary was staying at the little cottage
which he could see as he sent his eyes roving round the semicircle of
white houses which fringed the bay, with her aunt, Lady Susan Wells.
Hampson was to be "best man." Bridesmaids there were none. It was to be
the simplest of all ceremonies.

This prince of modern London was to be married to one of the greatest
heiresses in England, and a member of one of the oldest families in the
United Kingdom, as Colin might marry Audrey--happily, quietly, and far
from the view of the world.

Whether Joseph himself would be present at the ceremony even Ducaine
himself was not quite certain. That after the wedding-feast--the simple
wedding-feast--they were all to meet Joseph upon the mountain-top, he
was well aware. It had been arranged, and he thrilled with anticipation
of some further and more wonderful revelation of the designs of the
Almighty than had ever been vouchsafed to him before. But at the
church--he hoped the Teacher would be present in the little village
church when he and Mary were made one.

He turned to walk back to the cottage, when down the granite pier he saw
that a little flaxen-haired girl was walking. In all the sleeping
semicircle of the village Thomas and the little girl seemed alone to be
awake.

The blue wood-smoke was rising from the chimneys of the cottages, but as
yet no one was stirring in the outside air.

The little girl came tripping and laughing along the granite isthmus
between the waters, and in her hand she held a folded piece of paper.

With the confiding innocence of childhood, she came straight up to the
tall young man, and stretching out her tiny arm, looked into his face.

"You are Thomas, aren't you?" she said.

"Yes," he answered, "I am Thomas."

"Then this is for you, Thomas," she replied. "This letter an' all. Dadda
was up in the mountain this morning, and William Rees, whateffer, met
dadda, and gave him this letter, which Mr. Joseph had given him. The
Teacher is staying up in the little house in the mountain-top where
Lluellyn Lys used to live, and he gave this to William Rees, and William
Rees gave it to dadda, and dadda told me to find you and give it to you,
Thomas."

Ducaine opened the letter. These were the words

"I shall not be with you in body when you and Mary are made one. But I
shall be with you in the spirit, my dear friend. When you have made your
communion and kept the feast come up with the Brethren to the
mountain-top. There I will bless you. And now, farewell!"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Therefore, if any man can show any just cause why they may not lawfully
be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold
his peace."

       *       *       *       *       *

"... I pronounce that they be man and wife together, in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.... God the Father,
God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord
mercifully look upon you, and so fill you with all spiritual benediction
and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world
to come ye may have life everlasting."

       *       *       *       *       *

Arm in arm they went out from the little church, joined together, man
and wife, for ever and a day--the goodly young man and the girl with the
face of an angel.

The fiddlers who were waiting set up a merry tune, as, surrounded by
their humble friends, they walked to the tithe-barn in which the
marriage feast was to be.

As they all stood waiting till the signal to fall-to should be given,
Thomas Ducaine took his wife's hand in his, bowed over it, and kissed it
in gracious chivalry.

Then he drew her to him and kissed her on the lips.

The music broke out once more as all the company sat down. It was a
short and merry feast, yet not untainted with the Celtic sadness which
all the Welsh folk feel at happy moments.

One and all, from bride and bridegroom down to the humblest worker
there, knew that there were more stirring and awful things to come; that
a trumpet was sounding on the mountain summit; that they were to climb
as if into the presence of the Almighty.

Old David Owen, Joseph's trusted lieutenant, lifted on high a great
goblet of the pure mountain water, in which he pledged the newly married
pair.

"I pledge you," he said, "Mary and Thomas, brother and sister in the
Lord, followers of our dear Teacher--I pledge you and call upon all that
are present here to join me in the toast. May your life together be one
long song of happiness! May you, with all the opportunities that God has
given you, always remain true to the trust reposed in you, and follow
the banner of Jesus, and once more plunge into the battle for the
winning over of Babylon to the Lord!"

Then the old man paused, and, setting down his glass, placed his hands
upon the table, and leaning forward, spoke very earnestly and quietly,
rather to the assembled company than to the married pair.

"The Master," he said, "is not with us now; but we are going to meet
him, and I doubt not we are all to receive another signal proof of the
Lord's favor. To some of us it has been a grief that Joseph was not in
the church when the marriage was made of the two we love. But Joseph's
ways are not our ways, and he is led as we are not led. But I would say
this to you, dear brethren and sisters. I see around me those who a long
time ago--it seems a very long time ago--accompanied the Master from
these hills to the great Modern Babylon of our time. There is no one
here who does not remember the saint of the mountain, Lluellyn Lys.
There is no one here who has not known the circumstances under which our
dear Teacher first came down to these parts. I mind well that I was one
of those who carried him up to the mountain, ill and crippled as he was.
And it was through that strange fellowship of Joseph and Lluellyn that
the things have come to pass. We all assembled on the mountain-top,
where we are going soon, to bury Lluellyn, and we all heard our Master
as he took on the mantle of Elijah and called us to rally round the
standard of Jesus with him as leader. And now we are all going once more
to that sacred spot on the top of Pendrydos, and God grant that we may
hear inspiring and edifying things there. I have just pledged Thomas and
Mary as our brother and our sister in the fight we are waging, and have
still to wage, against the sins of the great city so far away from here.
I pledge them in the name of you all, and as our brother and our sister.
But it would ill become me not to say a word upon another part of the
question. We must remember that Thomas, our brother, is also Sir Thomas
Ducaine, a man of great fortune and of high lineage. We must also
remember that Mary, our sister, was Miss Mary Lys, the sister of
Lluellyn Lys, and the descendant of the old kings of Wales who ruled
these parts. Just as they are leaders of our band in Christ, so also are
they leaders in the great things of this world, and we owe them a double
loyalty."

He stopped for a moment, and the old face worked as he thought deeply.
Then with a wild, free Celtic gesture, he threw out one hand.

"I can say no more," he said; "but you all know what they are, and who
they are. God bless them for our natural leaders and our friends in the
Lord! And now, what think you, shall we not climb the mountain?"

It is a steep road from the little village through the pine plantations,
until one comes out upon the mountain-side itself. At that point a green
gorge stretches up between two spurs of the hill above, a green gorge
covered with soft, pneumatic turf cropped like a lawn by the innumerable
sheep which range over those high pastures. And then on and up, through
the pleasant, slanting valley, until the heather-covered plateau is
reached.

There one surveys a vast expanse of wild and lonely moor, all purple,
green, and brown. At huge distances great peaks rise up--the peaks of
the Snowdon range--and on clear moments the white and glistening cap of
the emperor mountain of Wales shines in its distant majesty.

So they went out into the sunshine, and wound their way through the
lower slopes of the pines quietly and gravely, without many words, but
with the quickening sense of hope and anticipation strong in each rugged
and faithful heart.

Upon the great green gorge they made their way, a skein of black
figures. Before them all Sir Thomas and Lady Ducaine walked together.
The bridegroom was dressed in a simple suit of tweed, and with a soft
grey hat upon his head. The bride wore an ordinary coat and skirt, like
any mountaineering lady who has essayed the heights upon a brilliant
day.

As they went together, a little in advance of the main company, they
spoke hardly a word to each other. But their faces were eloquent. In the
man's eyes there was a thankfulness so supreme and perfect that the
girl's filled with tears when she looked at that serene and radiant
face. With no word said, they knew that they were now each other's for
ever and ever. All toil, all trouble, all heart-burnings,
heart-searchings and sorrow were over. Nothing could ever alter the
great central fact: they were married, they were one, one spirit, one
body, one for ever in the sight of earth and Heaven, one in the high
endeavor of good which was to be the purpose and completion of their
lives.

"Are you happy, dear?" he said to her once, turning his radiant face
upon her.

She looked at him for a moment without speaking, and he knew that he had
never seen her more beautiful, and perhaps never would see her more
beautiful again, than she was at that moment.

"Oh, my life and my love," she answered, "I did not know that God could
give such happiness in this world!"

And as she finished, fifty yards below them upon the mountain-side they
heard that the Brethren who accompanied them were bursting into sudden
song, into spontaneous chords of music, a wedding anthem for them.

    "O Lord of life and love,
      Come Thou again to-day;
    And bring a blessing from above
      That ne'er shall pass away.

    O bless, as erst of old,
      The bridegroom and the bride;
    Bless with the holier stream that flow'd
      Forth from Thy piercèd side.

    Before Thine altar-throne
      This mercy we implore;
    As Thou dost knit them, Lord, in one,
      So bless them evermore."

As the crashing, rolling chords ceased and echoed far away among the
purple mountains, they found that they had come into the higher lands
and were upon the last mountain moorland, from which before them the
granite peak of their final endeavor rose stark and awful, its head
still hidden by the clouds.

And then, as they moved towards the steep path among the boulders and
the slate terraces, a change came over the spirits of all of them. It
was not a chill of depression, but rather a sense of awe and the
imminence of awful things. The immediate occasion was forgotten. Out of
the minds of all of them, save only those of the man and maid who had
been made one upon that happy morning, the remembrance of the marriage
feast passed and dissolved.

They were going up the last part of their journey to meet the Teacher
who was up there in the clouds by the tomb of Lluellyn Lys, waiting for
them with a message from God.

Silently, and almost without effort, they wound up the huge, steep rock.

The bracken ceased, the heather was no more, and only the vast granite
boulders, painted a thousand fantastic colors--ash-green, crimson,
orange, and vivid grey--by the lichens which covered them, reminded them
that they were still in a world where herbs grew and the kindly nature
of the vales yet held a divided sway with the mysterious and untrodden
places of the sky.

Now the light, which had become fainter and more faint as the first
fleecy heralds of the great cloud-cap into which they were entering
enveloped them, began to fail utterly. They walked and climbed upwards,
upwards and for ever up, in a white world of ghostly vapor, until at
last, without a sound, and with profound expectation and reverence in
every heart, they knew by the change in the contour of the ground that
they were near upon the mountain-top, and close to the cairn of stones
where their old leader, Lluellyn Lys, lay in his long sleep, and where
their living guide and Master, Joseph, was awaiting them.

On the very top of the mountain itself the air was bitter chill, and the
ghostly cloud-wreaths circled round them, while their quiet,
questioning voices sounded muffled and forlorn.

They waited there, not knowing whether to advance or to call to the man
whom they had come to seek. At the head of the little group Thomas and
Mary stood hand in hand, looking at each other with questioning eyes and
waiting.

Then, through the swaying whiteness, they saw a grey shadow advancing
towards them. It grew from a shadow into a blackness, from a blackness
into the form of a tall man, and in a second more the Teacher had come
to them.

None of them there ever forgot, none of all who were there ever will be
able to forget, that sudden, silent advent of the man who led them, and
whom they loved.

He came upon them without noise, came upon them through the gloom. But
as he came he seemed to bring with him a radiance which was not of this
earth. Many of them said that round the noble head which so poignantly
resembled and so wonderfully reminded them of the face of the Man of
Sorrows, a yellow nimbus hung, a bright radiance which illuminated that
grave countenance, and shone in the gloom like a star of hope.

He came up to Thomas and kissed him upon the cheek, and, turning to the
young man's wife, he kissed her also in holy greeting. Then, standing a
little way back from them, his face alight with a supreme joy and
happiness, he raised his hands and blessed them all.

"The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,
be among you and remain with you always.".

The happy voice rang through the mist with an organ harmony. And it
seemed as if it was answered and echoed in its lovely music by a faint
burst of song and melody high up in the air and all around.

It was as though the angels of Heaven were rejoicing in the mating of a
pure man and maiden.

Then Joseph spoke again.

"Come, beloved brother and sister, and my dear brethren," he said, "come
to the tomb of Lluellyn Lys, whose body lies here until the glorious
Resurrection Day, and whose soul is in Paradise, walking with the blest.
Come and stand round that tomb, and pray for London, which you are sworn
to conquer for the Lord. Come and pray for Thomas and Mary, that their
lives may be a song of triumph over evil, and that they may lead you
worthily until your lives end."

With that he turned, and then all followed him until in a few steps the
long pile of granite stones rose up above them, and they stood by the
burial-place of the dead prophet of Wales. They stood round in silence,
and then old David Owen stepped out from among them and put his gnarled
old hand upon the Teacher's arm.

"Master," he said, in a voice which quivered with emotion too deep for
tears--"Master, what words are these?"

Joseph looked upon him with a smile of love.

"Old friend," he answered--"old tried and trusted friend, old captain in
the army of God, you have come here with all of us to listen to my last
message."

There was a stir and movement among them all, and through the dark each
looked at each with apprehension and fear in their hearts.

A chill descended upon all of them, that chill which comes to one who
loves when he fears that the loved one is departing or going upon a long
journey.

Once more Mary's hand stole into her husband's, and the cold hands that
sought each other, and clasped, were trembling.

They heard the Master's voice above them, for he had mounted to the top
of the great cairn of piled stones, and stood spectral up there in the
mist.

"This, beloved, is what I have to say to you," he began. "It is here and
upon this spot, that the Spirit of the Lord came to me and led me to the
work which we have carried out together. It was here that I and you knew
that it was our special mission, ordained of the Almighty and led by the
Holy Spirit, to bring London to a knowledge of God, and to do what we
could, under God's ordinance, to lead it towards the salvation of the
Cross. And it is here that I say what will be my last words to you, for
the hand of the Lord is upon me, and I think that I may not be with you
more. One and all go back to the great, dark city, and fight for its
salvation until you fall in the battle, and are caught up to the joy
which the Redeemer has promised you. One and all devote your lives,
your energies, your strength, your every power of body, mind and spirit,
to that great end. Remember always that to this special war you have
been called and summoned, and that it is your lifework and your
spiritual duty until the end. With you here to-day are our dear brother
and sister, Thomas and Mary. It is to them that I delegate my
leadership. It is to them that the guidance of the Holy Spirit which has
been so vouchsafed to me, will come. They will be your leaders in the
great battle, and it is to them that you must look for help and succor
in the material fight, as ambassadors and regents in the battle of the
Most High.

"And now, farewell! I am going a long way, whither I know not. But it
has come to me that this is the concluding moment of my ministry, and I
bow my head humbly to the Divine Will, and pray that wherever I may be
taken I may yet be permitted to labor for the Lord until the glorious
Resurrection Day, when the supreme spirit of love will rule all things
throughout all eternity.

"Love! That is the last word of one who loves you, and one who lives as
you all do, in the supreme love of the God of Heaven. Feed the
fatherless, comfort and succor the oppressed, give up all that you have
of goods, of energy, of power, to the poor. There is no other word but
love. Farewell!"

The ringing voice ceased, and they stood as figures of stone, like the
great Druid circle of old heathen tombs which still remains upon the
mountain slope.

LOVE!

That was the last word they heard, and then the Master seemed to falter
for a moment, seemed to sway and move. There was a sound of a wind
coming nearer and nearer, as though it was rushing over the
mountain-tops from the summit of distant Snowdon itself.

The sound of a great wind, and then a soft and sudden radiance showed
them the Christ-like figure of their Friend with the arms again upraised
in blessing, with love shining from his eyes. The sound of the wind
growing louder and louder and louder, a rushing, mighty wind, a wind
which enveloped them with wild, tempestuous force, which blew the
ghostly mists away--away and far away, until the sun shone upon the
tall, long tomb of Lluellyn Lys, and there was no more any man there.

THE END





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