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

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

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Transcribed from the 1913 Hodder and Stoughton edition by David


CATHERINE FURZE



CHAPTER I



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"She wur younger than he."

A dead silence of some minutes.

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

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

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

Mr. Chandler was a widower.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER II



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

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

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

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

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

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

"Now, I have a plan."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How about my dinner and tea?"

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

"Ten minutes' walk."

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

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

"I am afraid that the business might suffer."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still there was trembling and indecision.

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

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

"But where is Tom?"

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

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

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



CHAPTER III



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike had never seen it.

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

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

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

"Cold, bitter days?"

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

"I hate the dust."

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

"How much have you earned this morning?"

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

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

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

"Yes."

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

Catharine took no notice.

"Did you ever do anything for him?"

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

"Why cannot you take Tom as an apprentice?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Of course, of course!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I have told you, my dear."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER IV



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Bellamy came in.

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

"Perhaps they don't."

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

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

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

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

"I haven't a watch."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I slipped down."

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

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

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

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

"Carried down by this time ever so far."

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

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

"Very well, then, I will go."

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

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

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

"How DID you manage it?"

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

"They are very well."

There was a pause for a minute or two.

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

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

"What do you mean?"

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

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

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

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

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

"I don't quite understand."

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

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

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

Mrs. Bellamy came to the gate.

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

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



CHAPTER V



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"My husband and daughter, Mrs. Colston."

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

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

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

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

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

"With the greatest pleasure."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Mrs. Bellamy, mum."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catharine stopped eating.

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

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

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



CHAPTER VI



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

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

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

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

"An ironmonger is not a doctor."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I hope so too."

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

"But is he not a gentleman?

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

"No, I don't."

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

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

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

"I still do not quite comprehend."

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

21.  And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



CHAPTER VII



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

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

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

No reply.

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

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

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

"This body of death," said Catharine.

"Quite so."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Have you read much, Miss Furze?"

"No, very little."

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

"Yes, I have read 'Rasselas.'"

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

"Oh!  I cannot tell you all."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I do NOT know what you mean."

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

"But he's married."

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

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

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

"Have they ever told you so?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER VIII



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

"Is it not beautiful, Miss Furze?"

"Beautiful; the spire makes it so lovely."

"I wonder why."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I am just the same."

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

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

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

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

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

"Couldn't you help me?"

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

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

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

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

"You have not said anything, Catharine."

"No; but what have you to say?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What did he say then?"

"Nothing."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I understand."

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

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

Mrs. Cardew lingered a moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Mr. Cardew paused.

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

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

"That is very kind of you."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Mrs. Cardew has no liking for poetry."

Catharine was silent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"Did he Believe?

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

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

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

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

"'You will not betray us?'

"'I?  Certainly not.'

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

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

"'Have you read the letter?'

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

"'May Christ the Lord open your eyes!'

"'Who is this Christ whom you worship?'

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

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

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

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

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

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

"'Tell me how it happened.'

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


"'?? y?? t? ??? ye ?a??e?, a??' ae? p?te
?? ta?ta, ???de?? ??de? e? ?t?? f???.' {1}


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

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

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

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

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

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

"'The light of death,' said Demariste.

"'Who is he?'

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

"'Do you fear death?'

"'I?  Has not Christ died?'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"'True, my friend.'

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

"'I believe.'

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


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


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

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

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

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

"'Take him away!'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER IX



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

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

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

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

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

"Good morning, Miss Furze."

"Mr. Cardew!  What brings you here?"

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

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

"How is Mrs. Cardew?"

"She is well, I believe."

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

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

"I think I must be going."

" I will walk a little way with you."

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

"I will go as far as you go."

Catharine turned towards the bridge.

"Is it the house beyond the meadows?"

"Yes."

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER X



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XI



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Nonsense! you can find somebody easily enough."

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

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

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

"I haven't told him."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What did he want?"

"I do not know, sir."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A pause.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"When did you hear all this?"

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

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

"You have not given Tom notice?"

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

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



CHAPTER XII



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

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

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


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


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

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

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

"Good evening, Mr. Cardew."

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

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

"I thought I should like a stroll too."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Into the town."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"There was what?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Certainly."

Tom stopped and took his leave.

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

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

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

"You really mean it?"

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

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

"Tom, where have you been?"

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

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

"Why, Catharine! you here?"

"I was tempted by the night."

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

"Never!"

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

"No, thank you; it is late."

"I am sure he will see you home."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You did not care for the rest then?"

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

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

"My dear Tom."

Tom shuddered at the tone.

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

"My dear Tom, I may as well say it now, for what I ought to say is
as clear as that moon in the sky.  I can NEVER love you as a wife
ought to love her husband."

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

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

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



CHAPTER XIII



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Rubbish!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, how about Catharine?"

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

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

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

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

"She's there already," he said.

"Then it is as well you came back."

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

"I shall ask her straight what she means."

"How shall we go on then?"

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

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

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

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

Mr. Furze was silent.

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

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

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

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

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

Phoebe tapped again.

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

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

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

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

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

"It was Tom, mother."

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

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

"He overtook me somewhere near the Rectory."

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

Catharine was silent for a moment.

"I have answered exactly the question mother asked."

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

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

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

"I cannot; I had better leave."

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



CHAPTER XIV



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Anything been the matter then, Jim?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Chapel Farm."

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

Phoebe was uncommunicative, and went on with her work.

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

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

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

"Well, then, he hasn't."

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XV



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

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

"S'pose I must wait, then."

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

Joe hesitated.

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

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

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

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

"Yes, sir."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Jim was there."

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

"I wor."

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

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

"Well, what happened then?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That's more nor some things are."

"Why, what has happened?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It ain't very comfortable for ME."

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

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

"But we are not going to prosecute."

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

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

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



CHAPTER XVI



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Who is to take his place?"

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

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

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

"That will be much better."

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

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

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

There was nobody but Jim in the kitchen.

"Well, Jim?"

"Well, marm."

"What have you got to say?"

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

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

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

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

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

"We shall not prosecute."

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

"We shall discharge him at once."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Thankee, marm; good mornin'."

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

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

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

"Well, Mr. Furze, what then?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom left the money and walked out of the room.

"Good-bye, Phoebe."

"Are you going to leave, Tom?"

"Discharged!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XVII



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

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

"I know you are not."

"Thank God for that."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

"Yours truly,
"PHOEBE CROWHURST."


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

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

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

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

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


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

"Your affectionate cousin,

"THEOPHILUS CARDEW.
"TO ROBERT BERDOE, Esq.,
"Clapham Common."


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

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

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

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

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

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

He stopped and seemed to wake up suddenly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom left Eastthorpe the next morning, and on that day Catharine
received the following letter from her mother:


"MY DEAR CATHARINE,--I write to tell you that we have made an awful
discovery.  Catchpole has appropriated money belonging to your
father, and the evidence against him is complete.  (Mrs. Furze then
told the story.)  You will now, my dear Catharine, be able, I hope,
to do justice to your father and mother, and to understand their
anxiety that you should form no connection with a man like this.  It
is true that on the morning when we spoke to you we did not know the
extent of his guilt, but we had suspected him for some time.  It is
quite providential that the disclosure comes--at the present moment,
and I hope it will detach you from him for ever.  Your father and I
send our love, and please assure Mr. and Mrs. Bellamy of our regard.

"Your affectionate mother,
"AMELIA FURZE."



On the same morning Mr. Furze received the following note from Mr.
Cardew:-


"DEAR SIR,--I regret to hear that a false charge has been preferred
against my friend Mr. Catchpole.  By my advice he has left
Eastthorpe without any attempt to defend himself, but I consider it
my duty to tell you he is innocent; that you have lost a faithful
servant, and, what is worse, you have done him harm, not only in
body, but in soul, for there are not many men who can be wrongfully
accused and remain calm and resigned.  You ask me on what evidence I
acquit him.  I know the whole story, but I also know him, and I know
that he cannot lie.  I beg you to consider what you do in branding
as foul that which God has made good.  I offer no apology for thus
addressing you, for I am a minister of God's Word, and I have to do
all that He bids.  I should consider I was but a poor servant of the
Most High if I did not protest against wrong-doing face to face with
the doer of it.

"Faithfully yours,
"THEOPHILUS CARDEW."


Both Mr. and Mrs. Furze Were greatly incensed, and Mr. Cardew
received the following reply, due rather to Mrs. than to Mr. Furze -


"SIR,--I am greatly surprised at the receipt of your letter.  You
have taken up the cause of a servant against his master, and a
dishonest servant, too:  you have taken it up with only an imperfect
acquaintance with the case, and knowing nothing of it except from
his representation.  If you were the clergyman of this parish I
might, perhaps, recognise your right to address me, although I am
inclined to believe that the clergy do far more harm than good by
meddling with matters outside their own sphere.  How can we listen
with respect to a minister who is occupied with worldly affairs
rather than with those matters which befit his calling and concern
our salvation?  Sir, I must decline any discussion with you as to
Mr. Catchpole's innocence or guilt, and respectfully deny your right
to interfere.

"I am, sir,
"Your obedient servant,
"J. FURZE."


Catharine's first impulse was to go home instantly and vindicate
Tom, but she did not move, and the letter remained unanswered.  What
could she say to her own parents which would meet the case or would
be worthy of such a conspiracy?  She would not be believed, and no
good would be done.  A stronger reason for not speaking was a
certain pride and a determination to retaliate by silence, but the
strongest of all reasons was a kind of collapse after she arrived at
Chapel Farm, and the disappearance of all desire to fight.  Her old
cheerfulness began to depart, and a cloud to creep over her like the
shadow of an eclipse.  Young as she was, strange thoughts possessed
her.  The interval between the present moment and death appeared
annihilated; life was a mere span; a day would go by and then a
week, and in a few months, which could easily be counted, would come
the end; nay, it was already out there, visible, approaching, and
when she came to think what death really meant, the difference
between right and wrong was worth nothing.  Terrors, vague and misty
possessed her, all the worse because they were not substantial.  She
could not put into words what ailed her, and she wrestled with
shapeless clinging forms which she could hardly discern, and could
not distangle from her, much less overthrow.  They wound themselves
about her, and although they were but shadows, they made her shriek,
and at times she fainted under their grasp, and thought she could
not survive.  She had no peace.  If soldiers lie dead upon a battle-
field there is an end of them; new armies may be raised, but the
enemy is at any rate weaker by those who are killed.  It is not
quite the same with our ghostly foes, for they rise into life after
we think they are buried, and often with greater strength than ever.
There is something awful in the obstinacy of the assaults upon us.
Day after day, night after night, and perhaps year after year, the
wretched citadel is environed, and the pressure of the attack is
unremitting, while the force which resists has to be summoned by a
direct effort of the will, and the moment that effort relaxes the
force fails, and the besiegers swarm upon the fortifications.  That
which makes for our destruction, everything that is horrible, seems
spontaneously active, and the opposition is an everlasting struggle.

At last the effect upon Catharine's health was so obvious that Mrs.
Bellamy was alarmed, and went over to Eastthorpe to see Mrs. Furze.
Mrs. Furze in her own mind instantly concluded that Tom was the
cause of her daughter's trouble, but she did not mean to admit it to
her.  In a sense Tom was the cause; not that she loved him, but
because her refusal of him brought it vividly before her that her
life would be spent without love, or, at least, without a love which
could be acknowledged.  It was a crisis, for the pattern of her
existence was henceforth settled, and she was to live not only
without that which is sweetest for woman, but with no definite
object before her.  The force in woman is so great that something
with which it can grapple, on which it can expend itself, is a
necessity, and Catharine felt that her strength would have to occupy
itself in twisting straws.  It is really this which is the root of
many a poor girl's suffering.  As the world is arranged at present,
there is too much power for the mills which have to be turned by it.

Mrs. Furze requested Mrs. Bellamy to send back Catharine at once in
order that a doctor might be consulted.  She returned; she did not
really much care where she was; and to the doctor she went.  Dr.
Turnbull was the gentleman selected.



CHAPTER XVIII



Dr. Turnbull was the doctor who, it will be remembered, lived in the
square near the church.  There was another doctor in Eastthorpe, Mr.
Butcher, of whom we have heard, but Dr. Turnbull's reputation as a
doctor was far higher than Mr. Butcher's.  What Eastthorpe thought
of Dr. Turnbull as a man is another matter.  Mr. Butcher was
married, church-going, polite, smiling to everybody, and when he
called he always said, "Well, and how are WE?" in such a nice way,
identifying himself with his patient.  But even Eastthorpe had not
much faith in him, and in very serious cases always preferred Dr.
Turnbull.  Eastthorpe had remarked that Mr. Butcher's medicines had
a curious similarity.  He believed in two classes of diseases--
sthenic and asthenic.  For the former he prescribed bleeding and
purgatives; for the latter he "threw in" bark and iron, and ordered
port wine.  Eastthorpe thought him very fair for colds, measles,
chicken-pox, and for rashes of all sorts, and so did all the country
round.  He generally attended everybody for such complaints, but as
Mr. Gosford said after his recovery from a dangerous attack, "when
it come to a stoppage, I thought I'd better have Turnbull," and Mr.
Gosford sent for him promptly.

Dr. Turnbull was born three or four years before the outbreak of the
French Revolution.  He was consequently a little older than the
great Dr. Elliotson, whose memory some of us still piously cherish,
and Dr. Elliotson and he were devoted friends.  Dr. Turnbull was
tall, thin, upright, with undimmed grey eyes and dark hair, which
had hardly yet begun to turn in colour, but was a little worn off
his forehead.  He had a curiously piercing look in his face, so that
it was impossible if you told him an untruth not to feel that you
were detected.  He never joked or laughed in the sickroom or in his
consulting-room, and his words were few.  But what was most striking
in him was his mute power of command, so that everybody in contact
with him did his bidding without any effort on his part.  He kept
three servants--two women and a man.  They were very good servants,
but all three had been pronounced utterly intractable before they
went to him.  Master and mistress dared not speak to them; but with
Dr. Turnbull they were suppressed as completely as if he had been
Napoleon and they had been privates.  He was kind to them, it is
true, but at times very severe, and they could neither reply to him
nor leave him.  He did not affect the dress nor the manners of the
doctors who preceded him.  He wore a simple, black necktie, a shirt
with no frill, and a black frock-coat.  The poor worshipped him, as
well they might, for his generosity to them was unexampled, and he
took as much pains with them and was as kind to them as if they were
the first people in Eastthorpe.  He was perhaps even gentler with
the poor than with the rich.  He was very apt to be contemptuous,
and to snarl when called to a rich man suffering from some trifling
disorder who thought that his wealth justified a second opinion, but
he watched the whole night through with the tenderness of a woman by
the bedside of poor Phoebe Crowhurst when she had congestion of the
lungs before she lived with Mrs. Furze.  He saved that girl and
would not take a sixpence, and when the mother, overcome with
gratitude, actually fell on her knees before him and clung to him
and sobbed and could not speak, he lifted her up with a "Nonsense,
my good woman!" and quickly departed.  He was a materialist, and
described himself as one:  he disbelieved in what he called the
soap-bubble theory, that somewhere in us there is something like a
bubble, which controls everything, and is everything, and escapes
invisible and gaseous to some other place after death.  Consequently
he never went to church.  He was not openly combative, but
Eastthorpe knew his heresies, and was taught to shudder at them.
His professionally religious neighbours of course put him in hell in
the future, but the common people did not go so far as that,
although they could not believe him saved.  They somehow confounded
his denial of immortality with his own mortality, and imagined he
would be at an end when he was put into the grave.  As time wore on
the attitude, even of the clergy, towards the doctor was gradually
changed.  They hastened to recognise him on week-days as he walked
in his rapid, stately manner through the streets, although if they
saw him on Sundays they considered it more becoming to avoid him.
He was, as we have seen, a materialist, but yet he was the most
spiritual person in the whole district.  He took the keenest
interest in science; he was generous, and a believer in a
spiritualism infinitely beyond that of most of his neighbours, for
they had not a single spiritual interest.  He was spiritual in his
treatment of disease.  He was before his age by half a century, and
instead of "throwing in" drugs after the fashion of Butcher, he
prescribed fresh air, rest, and change, and, above everything,
administered his own powerful individuality.  He did not follow his
friend Elliotson into mesmerism, but he had a mesmerism of his own,
subduing all terror and sanative like light.  Mr. Gosford was not
capable of great expression, but he was always as expressive as he
could be when he told the story of that dreadful illness.

"He come into the room and ordered all the physic away, and then he
sat down beside me, and it was just afore hay-harvest, and I was in
mortal fright, and I said to him, 'Oh, doctor, I shall die.'  Never
shall I forget what I had gone through that night, for I'd done
nothing but see the grave afore me, and I was lying in it a-rotting.
Well, he took my hand, and he said, 'Why, for that matter, my
friend, I must die too; but there's nothing in it; you won't
complain when you find out what death is.  You won't die yet,
though, and you'll get this lot of hay in at any rate; what a heavy
crop it is!' and he opened the winder and looked out.  The way he
spoke was wonderful, and what it was which come into me when he
said, 'I MUST DIE TOO,' I don't know, but all my terrors went away,
and I lay as calm as a child.  'Fore God I did, as calm as a child,
and I felt the wind upon me across the meadow while he stood looking
at it, and I could almost have got up that minute.  I warn't out of
bed for a fortnight, but I did go out into the hayfield, as he
said."

Why did Dr. Turnbull come to Eastthorpe?  Nobody ever knew while he
lived.  The question had been put at least some thousands of times,
and all kinds of inquiries made, but with no result.  The real
reason, discovered afterwards, was simply that he had bad health,
and that he had fled from temptation in the shape of a woman whom he
loved, but whom duty, as he interpreted it, forbade him to marry,
because he considered it wicked to run the risk of bringing diseased
children into the world.

This was the man to whom Catharine went.  Mrs. Furze went with her.
He was perfectly acquainted with Mrs. Furze, and had seen Catharine,
but had never spoken to her.  Mrs. Furze told her story, which was
that Catharine had no appetite, and was wasting from no assignable
cause.  The doctor sounded her carefully, and then sat down without
speaking.  There was undoubtedly a weakness in one lung, but he was
not satisfied.  He knew how difficult it is to get people to tell
the real truth to a physician, and that if a third person is
present, it is impossible.  He therefore asked Mrs. Furze if she
would step into the next room.  "A girl," he said, "will not say all
she has to say even to her mother."  Mrs. Furze did not quite like
it, but obeyed.

"Miss Furze," said the doctor, "I imagine you are a person who would
not like to be deceived:  you have a slight tenderness in the chest;
there is no reasonable cause for alarm, but you will have to be
careful."

Catharine's face lighted up a little when the last sentence was half
finished, and the careful observer noticed it instantly.

"That, however, is not the cause of your troubles:  there is
something on your mind.  I never make any inquiries in such cases,
because I know if I did I should be met with evasions."

Catharine's eyes were on the floor.  After a long pause she said -

"I am wretched:  I have no pleasure in life; that is all I can say."

"If there is no definite cause for it--mind, I say that --I may do
something to relieve your distress.  When people have no pleasure in
living, and there is no concrete reason for it, they are out of
health, and argument is of no avail.  If a man does not find that
food and light and the air are pleasant, it is of no use to debate
with himself.  Have you any friends at a distance?"

"None."

"What occupation have you?"

"None."

"It is not often that people are so miserable that they are unable
to make others less miserable.  If instead of thinking about
yourself you were to think a little about those who are worse, if
you would just consider that you have duties and attempt to do them,
the effort might be a mere dead lift at first, but it would do you
good, and you would find a little comfort in knowing at the end of
the day that, although it had brought no delight to you, it had
through you been made more tolerable to somebody.  Disorders of the
type with which you are afflicted are terribly selfish.  Mind, I
repeat it, I presuppose nothing but general depression.  If it is
more than that I can be of no use."

Catharine was dumb, and Dr. Turnbull's singular power of winning
confidence was of no avail to extract anything more from her.

"I am sorry you cannot leave home.  I shall give you no medicine.
With regard to the chest, the single definite point, you know what
precautions to take; as to the nervous trouble, do not discuss,
ponder, or even directly attack, but turn the position, if I may so
speak, by work and a determination to be of some use.  If you were
tempted by what you call wicked thoughts you would not nurse them.
It is a great pity that people are so narrow in their notions of
what wicked thoughts are.  Every thought which maims you is wicked,
horribly wicked, I call it.  By the way, going to another subject,
that poor girl, Phoebe Crowhurst, who lived at your house, is very
ill again.  She would like to see you.

Catharine left, and Mrs. Furze came in.

"Has anything unsettled your daughter lately?"

"No, nothing particular."

She thought of Tom, but to save Catharine's life she would not have
acknowledged that it was possible for a Catchpole to have power to
disturb a Furze.  Had it been Mr. Colston now, the case would have
been different.

"She needs care, but there is nothing serious the matter with her.
She ought to go away, but I understand she has no friends at a
distance with whom she can stay.  Give her a little wine."

"Any medicine?"

"No, none; I should like to see her again soon; good morning."

Phoebe's home was near Abchurch, and Catharine went over to Abchurch
to see her, not without remonstrance on the part of Mrs. Furze,
Phoebe having been discharged in disgrace.  Her father was an
agricultural labourer, and lived in a little four-roomed,
whitewashed cottage about a mile and a half out of the village.  The
living-room faced the north-east, the door opening direct on the
little patch of garden, so that in winter, when the wind howled
across the level fields, it was scarcely warmer indoors than
outside, and rags and dish-clouts had to be laid on the door-sill to
prevent the entrance of the snow and rain.  At the back was a place,
half outhouse, half kitchen, which had once had a brick floor, but
the bricks had disappeared.  Upstairs, over the living-room, was a
bedroom, with no fireplace, and a very small casement window, where
the mother and three children slept, the oldest a girl of about
fourteen, the second a boy of twelve, and the third a girl of three
or four, for the back bedroom over the outhouse had been given up to
Phoebe since she was ill.  The father slept below on the floor.
Phoebe's room also had no fireplace, and great patches of plaster
had been brought down by the rain on the south-west side.  Just
underneath the window was the pigstye.  Outside nothing had been
done to the house for years.  It was not brick built, and here and
there the laths and timber were bare, and the thatch had almost
gone.  Houses were very scarce on the farms in that part, and
landlords would not build.  The labourers consequently were driven
into Abchurch, and had to walk, many of them, a couple of miles each
way daily.  Miss Diana Eaton, eldest daughter of the Honourable Mr.
Eaton, had made a little sketch in water-colour of the cottage.  It
hung in the great drawing-room, and was considered most picturesque.

"Lovely!  What a dear old place!" said the guests.

"It makes one quite enamoured of the country," exclaimed Lady
Fanshawe, one of the most determined diners-out in Mayfair.  "I
never look at a scene like that without wishing I could give up
London altogether.  I am sure I could be content.  It would be so
charming to get rid of conventionality and be perfectly natural.
You really ought to send that drawing to the Academy, Miss Eaton."

That we should take pleasure in pictures of filthy, ruined hovels,
in which health and even virtue are impossible, is a strange sign of
the times.  It is more than strange; it is an omen and a prophecy
that people will go into sham ecstasies over one of these pigstyes
so long as it is in a gilt frame; that they will give a thousand
guineas for its light and shade--light, forsooth!--or for its Prout-
like quality, or for its quality of this, that, and the other, while
inside the real stye, at the very moment when the auctioneer knocks
down the drawing amidst applause, lies the mother dying from dirt
fever; the mother of six children starving and sleeping there--
starving, save for the parish allowance, for the snow is on the
ground and the father is out of work.

Crowhurst's wages were ten shillings a week, and the boy earned half
a crown, but in the winter there was nothing to do for weeks
together.  All this, however, was accepted as the established order
of things.  It never entered into the heads of the Crowhursts to
revolt.  They did not revolt against the moon because she was
sometimes full and lit everybody comfortably, and at other times was
new and compelled the use of rushlights.  It was so ordained.

Half a mile beyond the cottage was a chapel.  It stood at a cross-
road, and no houses were near it.  It had stood there for 150 years,
gabled, red brick, and why it was put there nobody knew.  Round it
were tombstones, many totally disfigured, and most of them awry.
The grass was always long and rank, full of dandelions, sorrel, and
docks, excepting once a year in June when it was cut, and then it
looked raw and yellow.  Here and there was an unturfed, bare
hillock, marking a new grave, and that was the only mark it would
have, for people who could afford anything more did not attend the
chapel now.  The last "respectable family" was a farmer's hard by,
but he and his wife had died, and his sons and daughters went to
church.  The congregation, such as it was, consisted nominally of
about a dozen labourers and their wives and children, but no more
than half of them came at any one time.  The windows had painted
wooden shutters, which were closed during the week to protect the
glass from stone-throwing, and the rusty iron gate was always
locked, save on Sundays.  The gate, the door, and the shutters were
unfastened just before the preacher came, and the horrible chapel
smell and chapel damp hung about the place during the whole service.
When there was a funeral of any one belonging to the congregation
the Abchurch minister had to conduct it, and it was necessarily on
Sunday, to his great annoyance.  Nobody could be buried on any other
day, because work could not be intermitted; no labourer could stay
at home when wife or child was dying; he would have lost his wages,
and perhaps his occupation.  He thought himself lucky if they died
in the night.

The chapel was "supplied," as it was called, by an Abchurch deacon
or Sunday-school teacher, who came over, prayed, preached, gave out
hymns, and went away.  That was nearly all that Cross Lanes knew of
the "parent cause."  The supplies were constantly being changed, and
if it was very bad weather they stayed at home.  On very rare
occasions the Abchurch minister appeared on Sunday evenings in
summer, but that was only when he wanted rest, and could deliver the
Abchurch sermon of the morning, and could obtain a substitute at
home.

Crowhursts had been buried at Cross Lanes ever since it existed, but
the present Crowhursts knew nothing of their ancestors beyond the
generation immediately preceding.  What was there to remember, or if
there was anything worth remembering, why should they remember it?
Life was blank, blind, dull as the brown clay in the sodden fields
in November; nevertheless, the Light which lighteth every man that
cometh into the world shone into the Crowhurst cottage--that Light
greater than all lights which can be lit by priest or philosopher,
as the sun is greater than all our oil-lamps, gas, and candles.
When Phoebe first had congestion of the lungs, not a single note of
murmuring at the trouble caused escaped a soul in the household.
The mother sat up with her at night, and a poor woman half a mile
off came in during the day and saw that things went all straight.
To be sure, there was Dr. Turnbull.  It was a long way out of his
rounds, but he knew the Crowhursts well, and, as we have said, he
watched over Phoebe as carefully as if she had been the daughter of
a duke.  Now Phoebe was ill again, but Dr. Turnbull was again there,
and although her cough was incessant, the care of father, mother,
brother, and sister was perfect in its tenderness, and their self-
forgetfulness was complete.  It was not with them as with a man
known to the writer of this history.  His wife, whom he professed to
love, was dying of consumption.  "I do not deny she suffers," he
said "but nobody thinks of ME."  The sympathy of the agricultural
poor with one another is hardly credible to fine people who live in
towns.  If we could have a record of the devotion of those women who
lie forgotten under the turf round country churches throughout
England, it would be better worth preserving than nine-tenths of our
literature and histories.  Surely in some sense they still ARE, and
their love cannot have been altogether a thing of no moment to the
Power that made them!

Catharine had never been to Phoebe's home before.  At the Terrace
she was smart, attractive, and as particular as her mistress about
her clothes.  Nobody ever saw Phoebe with untidy shoes or stockings,
and even in the morning, before she was supposed to be dressed, her
little feet were as neat as if she had nothing to do but to sit in a
drawing-room.  She was now lying on a stump bedstead with a
patchwork coverlet over her, and to protect her from the draughts an
old piece of carpet had been nailed on a kind of rough frame and
placed between her and the door.  Catharine's first emotion when she
entered was astonishment and indignation.  Therein she showed her
ignorance and stupidity.  The owner of the cottage did not force the
Crowhursts to live in it.  It was not he who directed that a girl
dying of consumption should lie close to a damp wall in a room eight
feet square with no ventilation.  He had the cottage, the
Crowhursts, presumably, were glad to get it, and he conferred a
favour on them.

"Oh, Miss Catharine," said Phoebe, "this is kind of you!  To think
of your coming over from Eastthorpe to see me, and after what
happened between me and Mrs. Furze!  Miss Catharine, I didn't mean
to be rude, but that Orkid Jim is a liar, and it's my belief that
he's at the bottom of the mischief with Tom.  You haven't heard of
Tom, I suppose, Miss?"

"Yes, he is in London.  He is doing very well."

"Oh, I am very thankful.  I am afraid you will find the room very
close, Miss.  Don't stay if you are uncomfortable."

Catharine replied by taking a chair and sitting by the bedside.
There was somewhat in Phoebe's countenance, Catharine knew not what,
but it went to her heart, and she bent down and kissed her upon the
forehead.  They had always been half-friends when Phoebe was at the
Terrace.  The poor girl's eyes filled with tears, and a smile came
over her face like the sunshine following the shadow of a cloud
sweeping over the hillside.  Mrs. Crowhurst came into the room.

"Why, mother, what are you doing here?  You ought to be abed.  Where
is Mrs. Dunsfold?"

"Mrs. Dunsfold is laid up with the rheumatics, my dear.  But don't
you bother; we can manage very well.  I will stay with you at night,
and just have a bit of sleep in the mornings.  Your sister can
manage after I've seen to father's breakfast and while I'm a-lying
down, and if she wants me, she's only got to call."

The mother looked worn and anxious, as though, even with Mrs.
Dunsfold's assistance, her rest had been insufficient.

"Mrs. Crowhurst," said Catharine, "go to bed again directly.  If you
do not, you will be ill too.  I will stay with Phoebe, at least for
to-night, if anybody can be found to go to Eastthorpe to tell my
mother I shall not be home."

"Miss Catharine! to think of such a thing!  I'm sure you shan't,"
replied Mrs. Crowhurst; but Catharine persisted, and a message was
sent by Phoebe's brother, who, although so young, knew the way
perfectly well, and could be trusted.

The evening and the darkness drew on, and everything gradually
became silent.  Excepting Phoebe's cough, not a sound could be heard
save the distant bark of some farmyard dog.  As the air outside was
soft and warm, Catharine opened the window, after carefully
protecting her patient.  Phoebe was restless.

"Shall I read to you?"

"Oh, please, Miss; but there is nothing here for you to read but the
Bible and a hymn-book."

"Well, I will read the Bible.  What would you like?"

Phoebe chose neither prophecy, psalm, nor epistle, but the last
three chapters of St. Matthew.  She, perhaps, hardly knew the reason
why, but she could not have made a better choice.  When we come near
death, or near something which may be worse, all exhortation,
theory, promise, advice, dogma fail.  The one staff which, perhaps,
may not break under us, is the victory achieved in the like
situation by one who has preceded us; and the most desperate private
experience cannot go beyond the garden of Gethsemane.  The hero is a
young man filled with dreams and an ideal of a heavenly kingdom
which he was to establish on earth.  He is disappointed by the time
he is thirty.  He has not a friend who understands him, save in so
far as the love of two or three poor women is understanding.  One of
his disciples denies him, another betrays him, and in the presence
of the hard Roman tribunal all his visions are nothing, and his life
is a failure.  He is to die a cruel death; but the bitterness of the
cup must have been the thought that in a few days--or at least in a
few months or years--everything would be as if he had never been.
This is the pang of death, even to the meanest.  "He that goeth down
to the grave," says Job, "shall return no more to his house, neither
shall his place know him any more."  A higher philosophy would
doubtless set no store on our poor personality, and would even
rejoice in the thought of its obliteration or absorption, but we
cannot always lift ourselves to that level, and the human sentiment
remains.  Catharine read through the story of the conflict, and when
she came to the resurrection she felt, and Phoebe felt, after her
fashion, as millions have felt before, that this was the truth of
death.  It may be a legend, but the belief in it has carried with it
other beliefs which are vital.

The reading ceased, and Phoebe fell asleep for a little.  She
presently waked and called Catharine.

"Miss Catharine," she whispered, drawing Catharine's hand between
both her own thin hands, "I have something to say to you.  Do you
know I loved Tom a little; but I don't think he loved me.  His mind
was elsewhere; I--saw where it was, and I don't wonder.  I makes no
difference, and never has, in my thoughts,--either of him or of you.
It will be better for him in every way, and I am glad for his sake.
But when I am gone and I shan't feel ashamed at his knowing it--
please give him my Bible; and you may, if you like, put a piece of
my hair in that last chapter you have been reading to-night."

"Phoebe, my Phoebe, listen," said Catharine:  "I shall never be
Tom's wife."

"Are you sure?"

"As sure as that I am here with my head on your pillow."

"I am sorry."

She then became silent, and so continued for two hours.  Catharine
thought she was asleep, but a little after dawn her mother came into
the room.  She knew better, and saw that the silence was not sleep,
but the insensibility of death.  In a few minutes she hurried
Catharine downstairs, and when she was again admitted Phoebe lay
dead, and her pale face, unutterably peaceful and serious, was bound
up with a white neckerchief.  The soul of the poor servant girl had
passed away--only a servant girl--and yet there was something in
that soul equal to the sun whose morning rays were pouring through
the window.  She lies at the back of the meeting-house amongst her
kindred, and a little mound was raised over her.  Her father
borrowed the key of the gate every now and then, and, after his work
was over, cut the grass where his child lay, and prevented the weeds
from encroaching; but when he died, not long after, his wife had to
go into the workhouse, and in one season the sorrel and dandelions
took possession, and Phoebe's grave became like all the others--a
scarcely distinguishable undulation in the tall, rank herbage.



CHAPTER XIX



Catharine left the cottage that afternoon, and began to walk home to
Eastthorpe.  She thought, as she went along, of Phoebe's confession.
She had loved Tom, but had reached the point of perfect acquiescence
in any award of destiny, provided only he could be happy.  She had
faced sickness and death without a murmur; she had no theory of
duty, no philosophy, no religion, as it is usually called, save a
few dim traditional beliefs, and she was the daughter of common
peasants; but she had attained just the one thing essential which
religion and philosophy ought to help us to obtain, and, if they do
not help us to obtain it, they are nothing.  She lived not for
herself, nor in herself, and it was not even justice to herself
which she demanded.  She had not become what she was because death
was before her.  Death and the prospect of death do not work any
change.  Catharine called to mind Phoebe's past life; it was all of
a piece, and countless little incidents unnoticed at the time
obtained a significance and were interpreted.  She knew herself to
be Phoebe's superior intellectually, and that much had been
presented to her which was altogether over Phoebe's horizon.  But in
all her purposes, and in all her activity, she seemed to have had
self for a centre, and she felt that she would gladly give up every
single advantage she possessed if she could but depose that self and
enthrone some other divinity in its place.  Oh the bliss of waking
up in the morning with the thoughts turned outwards instead of
inwards!  Her misery which so weighed upon her might perhaps depart
if she could achieve that conquest.  She remembered one of Mr.
Cardew's first sermons, when she was at Miss Ponsonby's, the sermon
of which we have heard something, and she cried to herself, "Who
shall deliver me from the body of this death!"

Strange, but true, precisely at that moment the passion for Mr.
Cardew revived with more than its old intensity.  Fresh from a
deathbed, pondering over what she had learned or thought she had
learned there--the very lesson which ought to have taught her to
give up Mr. Cardew--she loved him more than ever, and was less than
ever able to banish his image from her.  She turned out of her
direct road and took that which led past his house--swept that way
as irresistibly as a mastless hull is swept by the tide.  She knew
that Mr. Cardew was in the habit of walking out in the afternoon,
and she knew the path he usually took.  She had not gone far before
she met him.  She explained what her errand had been, and added that
she preferred the bypath because she was able to avoid the dusty
Eastthorpe lane.

"I do not know these Crowhursts," said Mr. Cardew; "they are
Dissenters, I believe."

The subject dropped, and Catharine had not another word to say about
Phoebe.

"You look fatigued and as if you were not very well."

"Nothing particular; a little cough at times, but the doctor says it
is of no consequence, if I only take care."

"You have been up all night, and you are now going to walk back to
Eastthorpe?"

"Yes, the walk will refresh me."

He did not ask her to go to his house.  Catharine noticed the
omission; hoped he would not--knew he would not.

"Have you heard anything of your father's assistant, Mr. Catchpole?"

"Yes, he likes that situation which you obtained for him so kindly."

"Is he quite happy?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"I encountered Mr. Colston, junior, a few minutes ago.  He was on
his way to Eastthorpe.  I am afraid I was rather rude to him, for,
to tell you the truth, I did not want his society.  He is not an
interesting young man.  Do you care anything for him?"

"Nothing."

"I should like to see the picture you have formed of the man for
whom you would care.  I do not remember"--speaking slowly and
dreamily--"ever to have seen a woman who would frame a loftier
ideal."

He unconsciously came nearer to her; his arm moved into hers, and
she did not resist.

"What is the use of painting pictures when reality is unattainable?"

"Unattainable!  Yes, just what I imagined:  you paint something
unattainable to ordinary mortality.  It is strange that most men and
women, even those who more or less in all they do strive after
perfection, seem to be satisfied with so little when it comes to
love and marriage.  The same sculptor, who unweariedly refines day
after day to put in marble the image which haunts him, forms no such
image of a woman whom he seeks unceasingly, or, if he does, he
descends on one of the first twenty he meets and thinks he adores
her.  There is some strong thwarting power which prevents his search
after the best, and it is as if nature had said that we should not
pick and choose.  But the consequences are tremendous.  I honour you
for your aspirations."

"You give me credit for a strength I do not possess, Mr. Cardew.  I
said 'unattainable.'  That was all.  I did not say how."

They had come to a gate which led out of the field into the road,
and they paused there.  They leaned against the gate, and Mr.
Cardew, although his arm was withdrawn from Catharine's, had placed
it upon the top rail so that she felt it.  The pressure would not
have moved an ounce weight; there were half a dozen thicknesses of
wool and linen between the arm and her shoulder, but the encircling
touch sent a quiver through every nerve in her and shook her like
electricity.  She stood gazing on the ground, digging up the blades
of grass with her foot.

"Do you mean," said Mr. Cardew, "that you have ever seen him, and
that--"

The pressure behind her was a little more obvious; he bent his head
nearer to hers, looked in her face, and she leaned back on the arm
heavily.  Suddenly, without a word, she put both her hands to her
head, pushed aside her hair, and stood upright as a spear.

"Good-bye," she said, with her eyes straight on his.  Another second
and she had passed through the gate, and was walking fast along the
road homewards alone.  She heard behind her the sound of wheels, and
an open carriage overtook her.  It was Dr. Turnbull's, and of course
he stopped.

"Miss Furze, you are taking a long walk."

She told him she had been to see Phoebe, and of her death.

"You must be very tired:  you must come with me."  She would have
preferred solitude, but he insisted on her accompanying him, and she
consented.

"I believe I saw Mr. Cardew in the meadow:  I have just called on
his wife."

"Is she ill?"

"Yes, not seriously, I hope.  You know Mr. Cardew?"

"Yes, a little.  I have heard him preach, and have been to his house
when I was living at Abchurch."

"A remarkable man in many ways, and yet not a man whom I much
admire.  He thinks a good deal, and when I am in company with him I
am unaccountably stimulated, but his thinking is not directed upon
life.  My notion is that our intellect is intended to solve real
difficulties which confront us, and that all intellectual exercise
upon what does not concern us is worse than foolish.  My brain finds
quite enough to do in contriving how to remove actual hard obstacles
which lie in the way of other people's happiness and my own."

"His difficulties may be different from yours."

"Certainly, but they are to a great extent artificial, and all the
time spent upon them is so much withdrawn from the others which are
real.  He goes out into the fields reading endless books, containing
records of persons in various situations.  He is not like any one of
those persons, and he never will be in any one of those situations.
The situation in which he found himself that morning at home, or
that in which a poor neighbour found himself, is that which to him
is important.  It is a pernicious consequence of the sole study of
extraordinary people that the customary standards of human action
are deposed, and other standards peculiar to peculiar creatures
under peculiar circumstances are set up.  I have known Cardew do
very curious things at times.  I do not believe for one moment he
thought he was doing wrong, but nevertheless, if any other man had
done them, I should have had nothing more to say to him."

"Perhaps he ought to have his own rules.  He may not be constituted
as we are."

"My dear Miss Furze, as a physician, let me give you one word of
solemn counsel.  Nothing is more dangerous, physically and mentally,
than to imagine we are not as other people.  Strive to consider
yourself, not as Catharine Furze, a young woman apart, but as a
piece of common humanity and bound by its laws.  It is infinitely
healthier for you.  Never, under any pretext whatever, allow
yourself to do what is exceptional.  If you have any originality, it
will better come out in an improved performance of what everybody
ought to do, than in the indulgence in singularity.  For one person
who, being a person of genius, has been injured by what is called
conventionality--I do not, of course, mean foolish conformity to
what is absurd--thousands have been saved by it, and self-separation
means mischief.  It has been the beginning even of insanity in many
cases which have come under my notice."  The doctor paused a little.

"I am glad Mrs. Cardew is better," said Catharine.  "I did not know
she had been ill."

"There is a woman for you--a really wonderful woman, unobtrusive,
devoted to her husband, almost annihilating herself for him, and,
what is very noteworthy, she denies herself in studies to which she
is much attached, and for which she has a remarkable capacity,
merely in order that she may the better sympathise with him.  Then
her care of the poor in his parish makes her almost a divinity to
them.  While he is luxuriating amongst the cowslips, in what he
calls thinking, she is teaching the sick people patience and nursing
them.  She is a saint, and he does not know half her worth.  It
would do you a world of good now, Miss Furze, to live with her for
six months if she were alone, but I am not quite sure that his
influence on you would be wholesome.  I was alarmed about her, but
she will not die yet if I can help it.  I want her to recover for
her own sake, but also for her husband's and for her friends' sake.
Perhaps I was a little too severe upon the husband, for I believe he
does really love her very much; at least, if he does not, he ought."

"Ought?  Do you think, Dr. Turnbull, a man ought to love what he
cannot love?"

"Yes, but I must explain myself.  I have no patience with people who
seem to consider that they may yield themselves to something they
know not what, and allow themselves to be swayed by it.  A man
marries a woman whom he loves.  Is it possible that she, of all
women in the world, is the one he would love best if he were to know
all of them?  Is it likely that he would have selected this one
woman if he had seen, say, fifty more before he had married her?
Certainly not; and when he sees other women afterwards, better than
the one he has chosen, he naturally admires them.  If he does not--
he is a fool, but he is bound to check himself.  He puts them aside
and is obliged to be satisfied with his wife.  If it were
permissible in him in such a case to abandon her, a pretty chaos we
should be in.  It is clearly his duty, and quite as clearly in his
power, to be thus contented--at least, in nine cases out of ten.  He
MAY--and this is my point--he MAY wilfully turn away from what is
admirable in his own house, or he may turn towards it.  He is as
responsible for turning away from it, or turning towards it, as he
is for any of his actions.  If he says he cannot love a wife who is
virtuous and good, I call him not only stupid, but wicked--yes,
wicked:  people in Eastthorpe will tell you I do not know what that
word means, because I do not go to church, and do not believe in
what they do not believe themselves, but still I say wicked--wicked
because he CAN love his wife, just as he can refrain from robbing
his neighbour, and wicked because there is a bit of excellence stuck
down before him for HIM to value.  It is not intended for others,
but for HIM, and he deserts the place appointed him by Nature if he
neglects it."

"You have wonderful self-control, Dr. Turnbull.  I can understand
that a man might refrain from open expression of his love for a
woman, whatever his passion for her might be, for, if he did not so
restrain himself, he might mar the peace of some other person who
was better than himself, and better deserved that his happiness
should not be wrecked; but as for love, it may be beyond him to
suppress it."

"Well, Miss Furze," replied the doctor, smiling, "we are going
beyond our own experience, I hope.  However, what I have said is
true.  I suppose it is because it is my business to cure disease
that I always strive to extend the realm of what is SUBJECT to us.
You seem to be fond of an argument.  Some day we will debate the
point how far the proper appreciation even of a picture or a melody
is within our own power.  But I am a queer kind of doctor.  I have
never asked you how you are, and you are one of my patients."

"Better."

"That is good, but you must be careful, especially in the evening.
It was not quite prudent to sit up last night at the Crowhursts',
but yet, on the whole, it was right.  No, you shall not get down
here; I will drive you up to the Terrace."

He drove her home, and she went upstairs to lie down.

"Commonplace rubbish!" she said to herself; "what I used to hear at
Miss Ponsonby's, but dressed up a little better, the moral prosing
of an old man of sixty who never knew what it was to have his pulse
stirred; utterly incapable of understanding Mr. Cardew, one of whose
ideas moves me more than volumes of Turnbull copybook."

Pulse stirred!  The young are often unjust to the old in the matter
of pulsation, and the world in general is unjust to those who prefer
to be silent, or to whom silence is a duty.  Dr. Turnbull's pulse
was unmistakably stirred on a certain morning thirty years ago, when
he crept past a certain door in Bloomsbury Square very early.  The
blinds were still all drawn down, but he lingered and walked past
the house two or three times.  He had come there to take a last look
at the bricks and mortar of that house before he went to Eastthorpe,
under vow till death to permit no word of love to pass his lips, to
be betrayed into no emotion warmer than that of man to man.  His
pulse was stirred, too, when he read the announcement of her
marriage in the Times five years afterwards, and then in a
twelvemonth the birth of her first child.  How he watched for that
birth!  Ten days afterwards she died.  He went to the funeral, and
after the sorrowing husband and parents had departed he remained,
and the most scalding tears shed by the grave were his.  It was not
exactly moral prosing, but rather inextinguishable fire just covered
with a sprinkling of grey ash.

With that dreadful capacity which some people possess, for the
realisation of that which is not present, the parting with Mr.
Cardew came before Catharine as she shut her eyes on her pillow:
the arm was behind her--she actually felt it; his eyes were on hers;
she was on fire, and once more, as she had done before, she cursed
herself for what she almost called her cowardice in leaving him.
She wrestled with her fancies, turned this way and that way; at
times they sent the blood hot into her face, and she rose and
plunged it into cold water.  She was weary, but sleep was
impossible.  "Commonplace rubbish!" she repeated:  "of what use is
it to me?"  She was young.  When we grow old we find that what is
commonplace is true.  WE MUST LEARN TO BEAR OUR TROUBLES PATIENTLY,
says the copper-plate line for small text, and the revolving years
bring nothing more.  She heard outside a long-drawn breath,
apparently just under the door.  She opened it, and found Alice, her
retriever.  Alice came in, sat down by the chair, and put her head
on her mistress's lap, looking up to her with large, brown,
affectionate eyes which spoke almost.  There is something very
touching in the love of a dog.  It is independent of all our
misfortunes, mistakes, and sins.  It may not be of much account, but
it is constant, and it is a love for ME, and does not desert me for
anything accidental, not even if I am a criminal.  That is because a
dog is a dog, it may be said; if it had a proper sense of sin it
would instantly leave the house.  Perhaps so, perhaps not:  it may
be that with a proper sense of sin it would still continue to love
me.  Anyhow, it loves me now, and I take its fidelity to be
significant of something beyond sin.  Alice had a way of putting her
feet on her mistress's lap, as if she asked to be noticed.  When no
notice was taken she generally advanced her nose to Catharine's
face--a very disagreeable habit, Mrs. Furze thought, but Catharine
never would check it.  The poor beast was more than usually
affectionate to-day, and just turned Catharine's gloom into tears.
She was disturbed by a note from Dr. Turnbull.  He thought that what
she needed was rest, and she was to go to bed and take his medicine.
This she did, and she fell into a deep slumber from which she did
not wake till morning.

Mr. Cardew, when Catharine left him, walked homewards, but he went a
long distance out of his way, much musing.  As he went along
something came to him--the same Something which had so often
restrained Catharine.  It smote him as the light from heaven smote
Saul of Tarsus journeying to Damascus.  His eyes were opened; he
crept into an outhouse in the fields, and there alone in an agony he
prayed.  It was almost dark when he reached his own gate, and he
went up to his wife's bedroom, where she lay ill.  He sat down by
the bed:  some of her flowers were on a little table at her side.

"I am so ignorant of flowers, Doss (the name he called her before
they were married); you really MUST teach me."

"You know enough about them."

He took her hand in his, put his head on the pillow's beside her,
and she heard a gasp which sounded a little hysterical.

"What is the matter, my dear?  You are tired.  You have walked a
long way."

She turned round, and then without another word he rose a little,
leaned over her, and kissed her passionately.  She never knew what
his real history during the last year or two had been.  He outlived
her, and one of his sorrows when she was lying in the grave was that
he had told her nothing.  He was wrong to be silent.  A man with any
self-respect will not be anxious to confess his sins, save when
reparation is due to others.  If he be completely ashamed of them he
will hold his tongue about them.  But the perfect wife may know
them.  She will not love him the less:  he will love her the more as
the possessor of his secrets, and the consciousness of her knowledge
of him and of them will strengthen and often, perhaps, save him.



CHAPTER XX



Mrs. Cardew recovered, but Dr. Turnbull recommended that as soon as
she could be moved she should have an entire change, and at the end
of the autumn she and her husband went abroad.

That winter was a bad winter for Mr. Furze.  The harvest had been
the worst known for years:  farmers had no money; his expenses had
increased; many of his customers had left him, and Catharine's cough
had become so much worse that, except on fine days, she was not
allowed to go out of doors.  For the first time in his life he was
obliged to overdraw his account at the bank, and when his wife
questioned him about his troubles he became angry and vicious.  One
afternoon he had a visit from one of the partners in the bank, who
politely informed him that no further advances could be made.  It
was near Christmas, and it was Mr. Furze's practice at Christmas to
take stock.  He set to work, and his balance-sheet showed that he
was a poorer man by three hundred pounds than he was a twelvemonth
before.  Catharine did not see him on the night on which he made
this discovery.  He came home very late, and she had gone to bed.
At breakfast he was unlike himself--strange, excited, and with a
hunted, terrified look in the eyes which alarmed her.  It was not so
much the actual loss which upset him as the old incapacity of
dealing with the unusual.  Oh, for one hour with Tom!  What should
he do?  Should he retrench?  Should he leave the Terrace?  Should he
try and borrow money?  A dizzy whirl of a dozen projects swung round
and round in his brain, and he could resolve on nothing.  He
pictured most vividly and imagined most vividly the consequences of
bankruptcy.  His intellectual activity in that direction was
amazing, and if one-tenth part of it could have been expended on the
consideration of the next best thing to be done, not only would he
have discovered what the next best thing was, but the dreadful
energy of his imagination would have been enfeebled.  He was sitting
at his desk at the back of the shop with his head propped on his
elbows, when he heard a soft footstep behind him.  He turned round:
it was Catharine.

"Dearest father," she said, "what is the matter?  Why do you not
tell me?"

"I am a ruined man.  The bank refuses to make any further advances
to me, and I cannot go on."

Catharine was not greatly surprised.

"Look at that," he said.  "I don't know what to do; it is as if my
head were going wrong.  If I had lost a lot of money through a bad
debt it would be different, but it is not that:  the business has
been going down bit by bit.  There is nothing before us but
starvation."

Catharine glanced at the abstract of the balance-sheet.

"You must call your creditors together and make a proposal to them.
You will then start fair, and we will reduce our expenses.  Nothing
will be easier.  We will live at the shop again; you will be able to
look after things properly, and everything will go right--it will,
indeed, father."

She was very tender with him, and her love and counsel revived his
spirits.  Suddenly she was seized with a fit of coughing, and had to
sit down.  He thought he saw a red stain on the pocket-handkerchief
she put to her mouth.

"You shall not stay in this cold shop, my dear; you ought not to
have come out."

"Nonsense, father!  There is nothing the matter.  Have you a list of
your creditors?"

"Yes; there it is."

She glanced at it, and to her amazement saw Mr. Cardew's name down
for 100 pounds.

"Mr. Cardew, father?"

"Yes; he came in one day, and said that he had some money lying
idle, and did not know what to do with it.  I was welcome to it if I
wanted it for the business."

A statement was duly prepared by Mr. Askew, Mr. Furze's solicitor;
the usual notice was sent round, and the meeting took place in a
room at the Bell.  A composition of seven-and-sixpence in the pound
was offered, to be paid within a twelvemonth, with a further half-
crown in two years' time, the debtor undertaking to give up his
house in the Terrace.

"Considering," said the lawyer, "that the debts owing to the estate
are nearly all good, although just now it is difficult to realise, I
think, gentlemen, you are safe, and I may add that this seems to me
a very fair proposal.  My client, I may say, would personally have
preferred a different course, and would like to bind himself to pay
in full at some future time, but I cannot advise any such promise,
for I do not think he would be able to keep it."

"I shall want some security for the half-crown," said Mr. Crook,
representative of the firm of Jenkins, Crook, and Hardman, iron
merchants in Staffordshire.

"Can't say as I'm satisfied," said Mr. Nagle, brass founder.  "The
debtor takes an expensive house without any warranty, and he cannot
expect much consideration.  I must have ten shillings now.  Times
are bad for us as well as for him."

Mr. Furze turned very white and rose to speak, but Mr. Askew pulled
him down.

"I beg, gentlemen, you will not take extreme measures.  Ten
shillings now would mean a sale of furniture, and perhaps ruin.  My
client has been a good customer to you."

"I am inclined to agree with Mr. Nagle," said Mr. Crook.  "Sentiment
is all very well, but I do not see why we should make the debtor a
present of half a crown for a couple of years.  For my own part, if
I want to be generous with my money, I have plenty of friends of my
own to whom to give it."

There was a pause, but it was clear that Mr. Nagle's proposal would
be carried.

"I am authorised," said a tall gentleman at the back of the room,
whom Mr. Askew knew to be Mr. Carruthers, of Cambridge, head of the
firm of Carruthers, Doubleday, Carruthers and Pearse, one of the
most respectable legal firms in the county, "to offer payment in
full at once."

"It is a pity," said Mr. Nagle, "that this offer could not have been
made before.  We might have been saved the trouble of coming here."

"Pardon me," replied Mr. Carruthers; "my client has been abroad for
some time, and did not return till last night."

The February in which the meeting of Mr. Furze's creditors took
place was unusually wet.  There had been a deep snow in January,
with the wind from the north-east.  The London coaches had, many of
them, been stopped both on the Norwich, Cambridge, and Great North
roads.  The wind had driven with terrible force across the flat
country, piling up the snow in great drifts, and curling it in
fantastic waves which hung suspended over the hedges and entirely
obliterated them.  Between Eaton Socon and Huntingdon one of the
York coaches was fairly buried, and the passengers, after being near
death's door with cold and hunger, made their way to a farmhouse
which had great difficulty in supplying them with provisions.  Coals
rose in Abchurch and Eastthorpe to four pounds a ton, and just
before the frost broke there were not ten tons in both places taken
together.  Suddenly the wind went round by the east to the south-
west, and it began to rain heavily, not only in the Eastern
Midlands, but far away in the counties to the west and south-west
through which the river ran.  The snow and ice melted very quickly,
and then came a flood, the like of which had not been seen in those
parts before.  The outfall has been improved since that time, so
that in all probability no such flood will happen again.  The water
of course went all over the low-lying meadows.  For miles and miles
on either bank it spread into vast lakes, and the only mark by which
to distinguish the bed of the stream was the greater rush and the
roar.  Cottages were surrounded, and people were rescued by boats.
Every sluice and mill-dam were opened, but the torrent poured past
them, and at Cottington Mill it swept from millpool to tail right
over the road which divided them, and washed away nearly the whole
garden.  When the rain ceased the worst had to come, for the upper
waters did not reach Eastthorpe until three or four days later.
Then there was indeed a sight to be seen!  The southern end of
Eastthorpe High Street was actually two feet under water, and a man
in a boat--event to be recorded for ever in the Eastthorpe annals--
went from the timber yard on one side of the street through the
timber-yard gates and into the coal-yard opposite.  Parts of
haystacks, trees, and dead bodies of sheep and oxen drove down on
the yellow, raging waves, and were caught against the abutments of
the bridge.  At one time it was thought that it must give way, for
the arches were choked; the water was inches higher on the west side
than on the east, and men with long poles stood on the parapet to
break up the obstructions.

At last the flood began to subside, and on the afternoon of the day
of the creditors' meeting Mr. Orkid Jim appeared at the boathouse at
the bottom of Rectory Lane and asked to be taken across.  The stream
was still very strong, but the meadows were clear, and some repair
was necessary to the iron work of a sluice-gate just opposite, which
Jim wished to inspect before the men were set to work.

"Don't know as it's safe, Mr. Jim," said the boatman.  "It's as much
as ever I can get through.  It goes uncommon strong against the
willows there."

"You'll get through all right.  I'll give yer a hand.  I don't care
to go a mile round over the bridge."

"Yes, that's all very well, Mr. Jim, but I don't want my boat
smashed."

"Smashed!  I am a lucky one, I am.  No harm comes to any boat or
trap as long as I'm in it."

The boatman consented.  Just as he was about to push off, another
man came down and asked for a passage.  It was Tom Catchpole.  Jim
stared, but said nothing to him.  The boatman also knew Tom, but did
not speak.  Jim now had half a mind to alter his intention of
crossing.

"I don't know as I'll go," said he.  "It does look queer, and no
mistake."

"Well, don't keep me a-waitin', that's all."

Jim took his seat and went to the stern.  Tom sat in the bow, and
the boatman took the sculls.  He had to make for a point far above
the island, so as to allow for the current, and he just succeeded in
clearing it.  He then began to drift down to the landing-place in
the comparatively still water between the island and the mainland.

Jim stood up with a boathook in his hand and laid hold of an
overhanging willow in order to slacken their progress, but the hook
stuck in the wood, and in an instant the boat was swept from under
him and he was in the water.  He went down like a stone, for he
could not swim, but rose again just as he was passing.  Tom leaned
over the side, managed to catch him by the coat-collar and hold his
head above water.  Fortunately the boat had swung round somewhat,
and in a few seconds struck the bank.  It was made fast, and in an
instant Jim was dragged ashore and was in safety.

"That's a narrow squeak for you, Mr. Jim.  If it hadn't been for Mr.
Catchpole you'd have been in another world by this time."

Jim was perfectly sensible, but his eyes were fixed on Tom with a
strange, steady stare.

"Hadn't you better be moving and take off them things?"

Still he did not stir; but at last, without a word, he turned round
and--slowly walked away.

"That's a rum customer," observed the boatman; "he might have
thanked us at least, and he hasn't paid me.  Howsomever, I shan't
forget it the next time I see him."

Tom made no reply:  gave the man double his usual fare and went
across the meadow.  He had no particular object in coming to
Eastthorpe, excepting that he had heard there was to be a meeting of
Mr. Furze's creditors, and he could not rest until he knew the
result.  He avoided the main street as much as possible, but he
intended to obtain his information from Mr. Nagle at the Bell.

As to Jim, he went home, changed his clothes and went out again.  He
walked up and down the street, and presently met Tom.

"Mr. Catchpole," he said, "will you please come along o' me?"

There was something of authority in the tone of Jim's voice, and yet
something which forbade all fear.  Tom followed him in silence, and
they went to the Terrace.  Mr. Furze was not at home, but Jim knew
he would back directly, and they waited in the kitchen, Tom much
wondering, but restrained by some strange compulsion--he could not
say what--not only to remain, but to refrain from asking any
questions.  Directly Mr. Furze returned, Jim went upstairs, with Tom
behind him, and to the amazement of Mr. and Mrs. Furze presented him
in the dining-room.

"What is the meaning of this?" said Mrs. Furze.

"Mrs. Furze," said Jim, "will you please excuse me, and allow me to
speak for this once?  I don't see Miss Catharine here.  I want yer
to send for her.  Wot I've got to say, I mean to say afore you all."

Catharine was in her bedroom.  She came down wrapped up in a shawl,
and Jim stood up.

"Mr. Furze, Mrs. Furze, Miss Catharine, and you, Mr. Catchpole, you
see afore you the biggest liar as ever was, and one as deserves to
go to hell, if ever any man did.  Everything agin Mr. Catchpole was
all trumped up, for he never had Humphries' money, and it was me as
put the marked sovereign in his pocket.  I was tempted by the devil
and by--but the Lord 'as 'ad mercy on me and 'as saved my body and
soul this day.  I can't speak no more, but 'ere I am if I'm to be
locked up and transported as I deserve."

"Never," said Tom.

"You say never, Mr. Catchpole.  Very well, then:  on my knees I axes
your pardon, and you won't see me agin."  Jim actually knelt down.
"May the Lord forgive me, and do you forgive me, Mr. Catchpole, for
being such a--" (Jim was about to use a familiar word, but checked
himself, and contented himself with one which is blasphemous but
also orthodox)--"such a damned sinner."

He rose, walked out, left Eastthorpe that night, and  nothing more
was heard of him for years.  Then there came news from an Eastthorpe
man, who had gone to America, that Jim was at work at Pittsburg;
that he was also a preacher of God's Word, and that by God's grace
he had brought hundreds to a knowledge of their Saviour.

This story may be deemed impossible by the ordinary cultivated
reader, but he will please to recollect John Bunyan's account of the
strange behaviour of Mr. Tod.  "At a summer assizes holden at
Hertford," says Bunyan, "while the judge was sitting up on the
bench, comes this old Tod into court, clothed in a green suit, with
his leathern girdle in his hand, his bosom open, and all in a dung
sweat, as if he had run for his life; and being come in, he spake
aloud as follows:  'My Lord,' said he, 'here is the veriest rogue
that breathes upon the face of the earth.  I have been a thief from
a child.  When I was but a little one I gave myself to rob orchards,
and to do other such like wicked things, and I have continued a
thief ever since.  My Lord, there has not been a robbery committed
these many years, within so many miles of this place, but I have
been either at it, or privy to it!'  The judge thought the fellow
was mad, but after some conference with some of the justices, they
agreed to indict him; and so they did of several felonious actions;
to all of which he heartily confessed guilty, and so was hanged with
his wife at the same time."  I can also assure my incredulous
literary friends that years ago it was not uncommon for men and
women suddenly to awake to the fact that they had been sinners, and
to determine that henceforth they would keep God's commandments by
the help of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  What is more
extraordinary is that they did keep God's commandments for the rest
of their lives.  Fear of hell fire and hope of heaven may have had
something to do with their reformation, but these were not the sole
motives, and even if they were, the strength of mind necessary in
order to sacrifice the present for the sake of something remote--a
capacity which lies, we are told, at the basis of all virtue--was
singular.



CHAPTER XXI



Tom was restored to his former position, and Mr. Furze's business
began to improve.  Arrangements were made for the removal from the
Terrace, and they were eagerly pressed forward by Catharine.  Her
mother pleaded that they could not leave till June; that even in
June they would sacrifice a quarter's rent, but Catharine's reply
was that they would pay no more if they went beforehand.  Her father
was anxious to please her, and the necessary alterations at the shop
were taken in hand at once, and towards the beginning of May were
completed.  She was not allowed to move to the High Street with her
father and mother; it was thought that the worry and fatigue would
be too much for her, and it was settled, as the weather was
wonderfully warm, and bright for the time of year, that she should
go over to Chapel Farm for a week.  At the end of the week she would
find the furniture all in its place and her room quite straight.

Mrs. Bellamy called for her, and she reached the farm in safety, and
looking better.  The next morning she begged to be taken for a
drive.  Mr. Bellamy had to go over to Thingleby, and she was able to
go with him.  It a lovely sunny day, one of those days which we
sometimes have in May, summer days in advance of the main body, and
more beautiful, perhaps, than any that follow, because they are days
of anticipation and hope, our delight in the full midsummer being
sobered by the thought of approaching autumn and winter.  When they
reached the bridge Mr. Bellamy remembered that he had forgotten his
cheque-book and his money, and it was of no use to go to Thingleby
without them.

"Botheration!  I must go back, my dear."

"Leave me here, Mr. Bellamy; you won't be long.  Let me get out,
though, and just turn the mare aside off the road on to the grass
against the gate; she will be quite quiet."

"Had you not better sit still?  I shall be back in a quarter of an
hour."

"If you do not mind, dear Mr. Bellamy, I should so like to stand on
the bridge.  I cannot let the gig stay there."

"Well, my dear, you shall have your own way.  You know," he said,
laughing, "I've long ago given up asking why my Catharine wants
anything whatsomever.  If she wishes it that's enough for me."

Catharine dismounted, and Mr. Bellamy walked back.

She went to the parapet and once more looked up the stream.  Once
more, as on a memorable day in August, the sun was upon the water.
Then the heat was intense, and the heavy cumulus clouds were charged
with thunder and lightning.  Now the sun shone with nothing more
than warmth, and though the clouds, the same clouds, hung in the
south-west, there was no fire in them, nothing but soft, warm
showers.  She looked and looked, and tears came into her eyes--tears
of joy.  Never had a day been to her what that day was.  She felt as
if she lay open to all the life of spring which was pouring up
through the earth, and it swept into her as if she were one of those
bursting exultant chestnut buds, the sight of which she loved so in
April and May.  Always for years when the season came round had she
gathered one of those buds and carried it home, and it was more to
her than any summer flower.  The bliss of life passed over into
contentment with death, and her delight was so great that she could
happily have lain down amid the hum of the insects to die on the
grass.

When they came back to the farm Mr. Bellamy observed to his wife
that he had not seen Catharine looking better or in better spirits
for months.  Mrs. Bellamy said nothing, but on the following morning
Catharine was certainly not so well.  It was intended that she
should go home that day, but it was wet, and a message was sent to
Eastthorpe to explain why she did not come.  The next day she was
worse, and Mrs. Bellamy went to Eastthorpe and counselled Mr. and
Mrs. Furze to come to the Farm, and bring Dr. Turnbull with them.
They all three came at once, and found Catharine in bed.  She was
feverish, and during the night had been slightly delirious.  The
doctor examined her carefully, and after the examination was over
she turned to him and said -

"I want to hear the truth; I can bear it.  Am I to die?"

"I know you can bear it.  No man could be certain; but I believe the
end is near."

"How much time have I?"

He sat down by the bedside.  "Perhaps a day, perhaps a week.  Is
there anybody you wish to see?"

"I should like to see Mr. Cardew."

"Mr. Cardew!" said Dr. Turnbull to himself; "I fancied she would not
care to have a clergyman with her; I thought she was a little beyond
that kind of thing, but when people are about to die even the
strongest are a little weak."

"She always liked Mr. Cardew's preaching," said Mrs. Furze, sobbing,
"but I wish she had asked for her own rector.  It isn't as if Mr.
Cardew were her personal friend."

It was Saturday evening when the message was dispatched to Abchurch,
but Mr. Cardew was fortunately able to secure a substitute for the
morrow; Sunday morning came.  Mrs. Furze, who had been sitting up
all night, drew down the blinds at dawn, but Catharine asked, not
only that they might be drawn up again, but that her bed might be
shifted a little so that she might look out across the meadow and
towards the bridge.  "The view that way is so lovely," said she.  It
was again a triumphal spring day, and light and warmth streamed into
the sick chamber.

Presently her mother went to take a little rest, and Mr. Cardew was
announced almost immediately afterwards.  He came upstairs, and Mrs.
Bellamy, who had taken Mrs. Furze's place, left the room.  She did
not think it proper to intrude when the clergyman visited anybody
who was dying.  Mr. Cardew remained standing and speechless.

"Sit down, Mr. Cardew.  I felt that I should like to see you once
more."

He sat down by the bedside.

"Do you mind opening the window and drawing up the blind again?  It
has fallen a little.  That is better:  now I can see the meadows and
away towards the bridge foot.  Will you give me a glass of water?"

She drank the water:  he looked steadily at her, and he knew too
well what was on her face.  Her hand dropped on the bed:  he fell on
his knees beside her with that hand in his, but still he was dumb,
and not a single article of his creed which he had preached for so
many years presented itself to him:  forgiveness, the atonement,
heaven--it had all vanished.

"Mr. Cardew, I want to say something."

"Wait a moment, let me tell you--YOU HAVE SAVED ME."

She smiled, her lips moved, and she whispered -

"YOU have saved ME."

By their love for each other they were both saved.  The disguises
are manifold which the Immortal Son assumes in the work of our
redemption.


Tom henceforth wore the ring on his finger.  Mr. Cardew resigned his
living, and did not preach for many years.  When pressed for an
explanation he generally gave his health as an excuse.  Later in
life he took up work again in a far distant, purely agricultural
parish, but his sermons were of the simplest kind--exhortations to
pity, consideration, gentleness, and counsels as to the common
duties of life.  He spent much of his time in visiting his
parishioners and in helping them in their difficulties.  Mrs.
Cardew, as we have said, died before him, but no woman ever had a
husband more tender and devoted than hers in these later years.  He
had changed much, and she knew it, but she did not know exactly how,
nor did she know the reason.  It was not the kind of change which
comes from a new theory or a new principle:  it was something
deeper.  Some men are determined by principles, and others are drawn
and directed by a vision or a face.  Before Mr. Cardew was set for
evermore the face which he saw white and saintly at Chapel Farm that
May Sunday morning when death had entered, and it controlled and
moulded him with an all-pervading power more subtle and penetrating
than that which could have been exercised by theology or ethics.



Footnotes:

{1}  "Not now nor of yesterday are they, but for ever they live, and
no one knows whence to date their appearance."--Sophocles,
"Antigone."

{2}  "You, yourself, some time or other, overcome by the terror-
speaking tales of the seers, will seek to fall away from us." --
Lucritius, "De Rerum Natura."





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