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Title: A modern exodus: a novel
Author: Guttenberg, Violet
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                            A MODERN EXODUS



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                            A Modern Exodus
                                A Novel


                                   BY

                           VIOLET GUTTENBERG

                               AUTHOR OF

       “NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK,” “THE POWER OF THE PALMIST,” ETC.


                                 LONDON
                          GREENING & CO., LTD.
                20 CECIL COURT, CHARING CROSS ROAD, W.C.

                                  1904

 _All Rights Reserved._]



                               _Copyright
                                   in
                           The United Kingdom
                                   of
                       Great Britain and Ireland,
                                 in the
                           Dominion of Canada
                               and in the
                       United States of America,
                             March, 1904._



                                PREFACE


Not wishing my readers to be falsely impressed on perusing this novel, I
wish to inform them that this is a story of the impossible, and is
placed in the future for the sake of convenience. Were England other
than she is, however, it would not be so impossible to issue such an
edict as I have here introduced; and therefore it is a matter of
congratulation and deep thankfulness to both Jew and Gentile that the
attitude of our country towards her Jewish subjects is that of justice,
toleration, and friendliness. At the same time, the poisonous seeds of
anti-Semitism are so subtle and so easily instilled, that a warning—even
in the form of fiction—may not be out of place.

With regard to the practical side of the story, I claim the author’s
privilege of imagination; since this is not a treatise on Zionism, but
merely a novel.

                                                      VIOLET GUTTENBERG.

 _London, 1904._



                                CONTENTS


                                 BOOK I

                       THE GATHERING OF THE STORM

                  CHAP.                           PAGE
                      I OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE        11

                     II THE MONTELLAS               20

                    III PATRICIA                    29

                     IV THE MASKED BALL             39

                      V THE STORY OF FERDINAND      50

                     VI A HOUSE OF MOURNING         59

                    VII THE UNEMPLOYED              68

                   VIII LADY CHESTERWOOD’S SECRET   80

                     IX THE ZIONISTS                90

                      X PREMIER AND PEERESS         98

                     XI THE PREMIER OUTWITTED      108

                    XII MONTELLA’S OLD NURSE       119

                   XIII A DIFFICULT ALTERNATIVE    130


                                BOOK II

                       THE LAND OF THEIR FATHERS

                      I PURIM IN HAIFA             141

                     II THE TOURIST AND RAIE       152

                    III A GIRL IN LOVE             161

                     IV GOVERNOR OF HAIFA          168

                      V THE COMING OF ZILLAH       179

                     VI THE CAVE OF ELIJAH         186

                    VII EL KÛDS                    197

                   VIII AMID SACRED SCENES         205

                     IX MEMORABLE MOMENTS          213

                      X THE BLOW FALLS             223

                     XI FAREWELL                   237

                    XII RAIE’S DILEMMA             244

                   XIII THE EMPTY HOUSE            254

                    XIV IN THE LIGHT OF THE MOON   266


                                BOOK III

                         THE LAST OF THE EDICT

                      I ENGLAND ONCE MORE          279

                     II AN ANTI-SEMITE STILL       288

                    III THE MIND OF THE PREMIER    299

                     IV LADY PATRICIA’S CONQUEST   308

                      V “THE SKIRT OF A JEW”       317

                          _Period.—The Future_



                                 BOOK I
 “_Thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word amongst
   all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee._”—DEUT. xxviii. 37.



                            A MODERN EXODUS



                               CHAPTER I
                          OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE


It was the Day of Atonement—the Great White Fast. The principal
synagogue in the West End of London was crowded from the doors to the
Ark, and the heat was intense. Like a flock of frightened sheep, those
Jews—and they were many—who ignored the claims of public worship for
over eleven months at a stretch, rushed to the synagogue on this Holy
Day in order to settle their accounts with an offended Deity, and obtain
exemption from service for yet another year. This Day served as a test
to prove whether a man of Hebrew birth clung to the Jewish faith or not;
for if he retained the very smallest respect for the tenets of his
religion, he would at least put in an appearance at the synagogue, and
refrain from tasting food. However lax he might be throughout the year,
on this Day he would try to make reparation, lest he should be struck
off from the inheritance of Israel; for if he failed to observe _Yom
Kippur_, he could no longer claim—amongst his own people—to be a Jew.

People are apt to speak of “the Jews” as though they were one nation of
one unvaried character, and in so doing they make a fatal mistake. The
fact that Jews possess in a large measure the chameleon-like faculty of
reflecting the colour—or rather the characteristics—of the country
wherein they happen to reside is entirely overlooked. No wider
divergence of opinion and character between that possessed by the
English Jew and the Polish Jew, between the educated and the ignorant,
could be imagined; yet by the easy-going Gentile the whole heterogeneous
mass of the race of Israel is summed up in one category—“The Jews.” Even
in this small gathering of modern Israelites there were many different
types. There was the old man, clad in his burial garments, and
slipperless, who swayed to and fro and smote his breast with the zeal of
a devotee; there was—up in the gallery—the equally old woman, her head
disfigured by the _scheitel_[1] (tabooed by the modern Jewish matron),
which she wore as the mark of her wifehood. There was the opulent Jew,
newly imported from South Africa, with his consort above him; the
diamond merchant from Holland; the English stockbroker; the German
commercial traveller; the Oxford under-graduate. There was the vulgar
Jewish matron, with her insufferable air of affluence and her display of
diamonds; and the refined Jewish lady, with her less conspicuous attire
and quieter manner. There were men and women of all nationalities and
classes, bound together by one common tie, yet in temperament as
opposite as the poles. And out of this crowd of more or less fervent
worshippers there is but one who claims our attention, a man of
religious views so broad as to be almost heterodox, yet still in his
conformity to the fundamental principles of his religion, a faithful
Jew.

Footnote 1:

  Wig.

He belonged to one of the noblest Jewish families in England. Descended
from the Sephardim, his ancestors had come over in the reign of Charles
II., and his forefathers for generations had been therefore of English
birth. The Selim Montellas were famous throughout the land for their
wealth, their munificence in disposing of it, and their devotion to
their country and its sovereign ruler. Lionel, the last of the race,
proved no less worthy a representative of the ancient house. After a
brilliant career at Oxford, where he had earned the respect of both dons
and under-graduates for his adherence to the rules of his religion, he
had entered Parliament as member for Thorpe Burstall—where his father
possessed an estate. He was one of the youngest men in the House, but
possessed a clear-sightedness beyond his age. His youth served to
intensify rather than detract from the interest he instilled into his
political duties.

It was after he left the university that his religious views underwent a
change. From orthodoxy he drifted into reform—a reform which was
dangerously akin to Rationalism, and then putting a stern check upon
himself, he adopted a belief not unlike that of the Karaites. He tried
to reject the Talmud and the whole authority of tradition, and to adhere
only to the written Law; but finding this unsatisfactory, he was
gradually making his way back to conventional Judaism once again. That
accounted for his presence in the synagogue on this solemn occasion, for
whatever his views on the lesser details of the faith might be, on _Yom
Kippur_ he was as strict as the most orthodox of his _confrères_.

It was about two o’clock in the afternoon, and vitality in the synagogue
was at a somewhat low ebb. Most of the children, and those of their
elders who were too delicate to sustain the rigours of an absolute fast,
had gone home to lunch, leaving their stricter co-religionists to
satisfy the cravings of hunger by naught but spiritual refreshment. It
was in the gallery where the ordeal was found most severe, for the
ladies possessed less staying power than the more hardy men; moreover,
the mere fact of having to refrain from the gossip in which they
delighted was in itself a trial of no little magnitude. Their faces
showed signs of weariness and _ennui_, and the air of smartness which
had been theirs at the beginning of the service had almost disappeared.
Two or three of them created a diversion by fainting—the majority of
them were too healthy to swoon. They sat still, and counted the hours
and minutes to nightfall; it seemed as if the Fast would never end.

In the quietest part of the service a noise from the street was heard. A
number of boys were calling out the afternoon editions of the
newspapers, but although their voices floated in through the open
windows, the substance of their announcement was lost. Lionel Montella
almost unconsciously raised his head to listen, for he was always on the
alert for new tidings of any kind, but the peculiar enunciation of the
newspaper boys baffled even his acute ear. All he could make out was the
word “death.” Who was dead he had not the faintest idea.

He raised his prayer-book, and applied himself with renewed diligence to
the text. They were saying the _Ameedah_, and he repeated the responses
with the rest of the congregation; but all the time the word “death” was
at the back of his mind. It worried him so much that he was unable to
give his undivided attention to the service, and when the newspaper boys
repassed the synagogue, he listened to their shouts with all the
intensity of which he was capable. He could not help feeling—perhaps it
was a premonition—that the death was an important one, that it affected
him in some way he could not define; and when at last he caught the
name, the surprise which he ought to have experienced was absent—only
the deep, inexpressible horror remained.

“Death of Mr. Lawrence Campbell!... Sudden death of the Premier!”

The words fell on the ears of the congregation like a knell. The reader
paused almost imperceptibly in his chanting, the majority of the people
looked at each other in horrified surprise. The name of Lawrence
Campbell was synonymous with all that was noble and good, and as a loyal
friend of the Jews, he had ever earned their respect and affection.
Although he had occupied the high office of Prime Minister for over ten
years, he was comparatively a young man, and his death came as a totally
unexpected blow. What it would mean to the community remained to be
seen, but like a sudden ray of light the possible consequence flashed
across Lionel Montella’s mind. He sank on to his seat with his brain in
a whirl, and in spite of the temporary feeling of weakness brought on by
his long hours of fasting, tried to think clearly. He alone of all his
co-religionists knew the true and perilous position of the Jews in
modern Europe at the present day. The Alien Immigration question had
reached a crisis which would have to be settled at Parliament’s next
session, and the issue practically depended on the unreliable temper of
the Government. Various expedients for colonisation had been tried
without success, for the Jews, never having been “hewers of wood and
drawers of water,” did not take kindly to the manual labour necessitated
by such colonisation. What form the next experiment would take,
therefore, was a difficult and vexed question, and one which the Premier
and his subordinate, Montella, had been threshing out together for
weeks. And now Lawrence Campbell, the chief, almost the only,
enthusiastic champion of the Jews in Great Britain was dead. No wonder
the young politician’s heart grew faint within him!

The signal that the long day’s service was at an end—the blowing of the
ram’s horn—recalled him to himself; and folding up his talith, he made
his way with the others to the vestibule. The refreshing breeze from the
street came as a blessed relief after the close atmosphere of the
interior of the synagogue, and he leant against the balustrade for a
moment before searching for his hansom. All around him the people were
dispersing, and as he listened to their kindly greetings to each other,
he realised the close bond of unity—more evident in the Jewish than in
any other faith—which drew them together with irresistible force. A few
of the men with whom he was acquainted came up to him to shake hands.
One—the treasurer of the synagogue—lingered for a few moments’
conversation.

“Sudden thing this—death of the Premier,” he remarked, attacking the
subject which was uppermost in his mind. “Heart failure, Cohen says.
Struck down all in a minute. Bad thing for the Chosen, I’m afraid.”

“Yes, very,” Montella returned seriously, with emphasis on the words. “I
saw poor Campbell only last week. I had no idea that he was subject to
heart attacks.”

“Nor I either. I am sorry—very sorry. Campbell was the right man in the
right place, and a difficult place it is nowadays. Can you tell me who
will be likely to succeed him in the premiership?”

A little knot of men gathered round him as he put the question, leaving
their women-folk to hasten towards home and food. Lionel Montella had
been singled out and recognised, and the opportunity of rubbing
shoulders with him and listening to his words was too valuable to be
passed by. That they were personally unacquainted with him mattered not
in the least, and he was so used to being lionised that he did not dream
of considering their curiosity impertinent.

“Don’t you know?” he said slowly, with a slight tremor of agitation in
his voice. “The successor to Lawrence Campbell will be the very last man
we want to see in power. I mean Athelstan Moore.”

Athelstan Moore—the avowed anti-Semite and rabid Jew-hater, a man who
possessed the dangerous power of swaying men’s minds by the force of his
rhetoric, of fascinating them by the strength of his personality, of
completely subjugating them by the influence of his invincible will. No
wonder a thrill ran through the hearts of the people as Montella
pronounced the name.

“That rabid enemy of the Jews!” exclaimed the treasurer, in dismay.
“Why, the lives of our poorer brethren will not be worth twopence if he
is at the head of the State.”

Montella’s face was more expressive than he knew.

“We must not make trouble for ourselves,” he said, his words belying the
troubled expression in his eyes. “We must hope that Moore is not so
black as he’s painted. After all, he’s only a man, and even as chief
Minister of State he can’t do more than exercise powers which are
distinctly limited. Unfortunately, since the influx of Roumanian
immigrants at the beginning of the century, anti-Jewish feeling among
the masses has been increasingly strong. I’m afraid that it’s the
impolitic and regrettable behaviour of the immigrants themselves which
has brought this about. It has needed all our strength to counteract
this feeling, and I am afraid it will need more than ever now. One thing
we must make up our minds to do, and that is to stand by each other, no
matter what our social position may be. We must remember the old truism
that ‘Unity is strength.’”

Another eager listener had joined the group.

“Do you think it possible that Athelstan Moore may direct his spite
against the upper and middle classes of Jewish society as well as the
sweaters and aliens of the East End?” he asked, with a slightly foreign
accent. “Or shall we be, as law-abiding citizens, exempt?”

“I cannot say,” Montella replied, with hesitation. “In so far as the
Jewish question includes the effect of Jewish influence upon the trade
and commerce of the country, it concerns all classes from the highest to
the lowest. But, friends, it is getting late; and we are most of us
faint from want of food. If the consequence of poor Campbell’s death is
in anyway serious, we must call a meeting in order to discuss the
situation. For the present, I think we should disperse.”

He had noticed the beadle waiting to switch off the light and bolt the
doors. It was characteristic of the young member to avoid causing
inconvenience to any person; and in this case he could see that the
synagogal officer was weary from his arduous duties, and anxious to be
gone. So he shook hands with each one of his willing hearers, and bade
them all farewell. Then he signalled to his waiting hansom, and was
driven rapidly away.

The treasurer watched the vehicle until it was out of sight.

“Fine chap—Montella,” he said to a friend who stood near by. “One of the
good old stock, and not ashamed to own it either. He’ll give that devil
Moore a _potch_ if anyone can. He’s got plenty of brain and heart and
grit in him, or my name’s not Jacob Schlapp.”

The friend’s enthusiasm was less effusive.

“We will discuss Lal Montella when we’ve put something inside us,” he
rejoined, taking the treasurer’s arm. “Have you forgotten that it was
_Yom Kippur_ to-day?”



                               CHAPTER II
                             THE MONTELLAS


The Montellas, in spite of their being the owners of a mansion in
Portland Place, chose to occupy a flat in Knightsbridge, and to let
their house to someone who had more use for the magnificent rooms and
galleries than themselves. Ten years ago they had been renowned for
their lavish hospitality and brilliant receptions; but a paralytic
stroke having suddenly attacked Sir Julian when at the zenith of his
popularity, they had been obliged to forego the pleasures of
entertaining, and to retire into private life. The terrible affliction
which had come upon her husband seemed also to have shattered Lady
Montella’s health; and always more or less invalided, she seldom
ventured forth into the maze of society. Whenever she made an effort to
be present at some function, it was only for the sake of her son; for
Lionel, being her only surviving child, was the lodestar of her
existence. All her thoughts, hopes, and prayers were centred on him; and
that he responded so faithfully to the influence of her training was the
greatest joy she possessed. Had he proved otherwise, he would most
surely have broken her heart.

It was twilight, the hour her ladyship loved the best. She was reclining
in an easy-chair near the window, with her hands loosely folded, and her
eyes watching the dying glory of the sunset. There was a vague something
in her attitude which indicated peace—peace and contentment. It was as
if she had been through all the storm and stress of life, and found a
haven at the end. There were traces of suffering on her forehead,
surmounted by its coronal of white hair; but the curves of her lips, and
the indefinable sweetness of their expression, showed that she was
neither embittered by sorrow nor hardened by experience. As wife and
mother, as hostess and poor man’s friend, her interests had ever been
concentrated outside herself.

The tinkling bells of a clock in the adjoining room disturbed her
reverie, and at the same moment the door opened to admit a girl. Pausing
a moment to switch on the electric light, she advanced towards Lady
Montella’s chair. Her step, elastic yet firm, indicated the exuberance
of youth.

“A penny for your thoughts, auntie. You look like Patience on a
monument,” she said merrily, sinking on to a little chair at her
ladyship’s side. “Are you still lamenting your sins, or have you, like
myself, put them away for another year? I am so glad Dr. Ford allowed me
to fast for half the day. My appetite is keener than it has been for
weeks.”

Lady Montella looked at the girl and smiled. Raie Emanuel was her niece
only by adoption, but there was as deep an affection on both sides as if
a blood relationship had existed between the two. Raie, in keeping with
her name, constituted a ray of brightness in a somewhat silent
household, and to its mistress was a source of comfort and delight. The
eldest daughter of a large but impecunious family, her nature was a
combination of practicality with romance. She could cook a dinner or
compose a poem with equal facility, and although in Lady Montella’s
menage the former accomplishment was never required, it was to the
girl’s credit that the ability was there.

“Lionel ought to be here soon,” she ran on, scarcely waiting for an
answer, “unless he calls at Grosvenor Square on the way. I wonder which
he wants most: the Lady Patricia or his breakfast?”

“He must be tired and hungry after his long day’s fast,” her foster-aunt
returned. “I hope he will come straight home. You are joking, Raie, in
saying that. Have you any grounds for supposing that Lady Patricia is
the special object of my son’s interest?”

“Yes.” The girl nodded vivaciously. “One has only to see them together
to be sure of it. Patricia Byrne is Lionel’s ideal woman—fair to look
upon, fair at heart. And Lionel is Lady Patricia’s hero, as indeed he
deserves to be. Haven’t you noticed the change which has come over him
lately—the change in his opinions about women, I mean? Until a few weeks
ago he was absorbed in his politics and his poor Jews. Now there is a
counter attraction.”

Lady Montella looked distressed.

“You are more observant than I am, Raie,” she rejoined. “I have noticed
nothing; perhaps I did not wish to notice—this.”

She leant back in her chair, her hands interlocked. For some
unaccountable reason she had not thought that her boy would go the usual
way of youth, and entangle himself in a love-affair; he had always
seemed much too serious and reserved for anything of the kind. Of
course, she wanted him to marry some day—a girl of his own faith whom
she would choose. To allow himself to fall in love with Lady Patricia
Byrne was the height of folly, and could only bring trouble on all
concerned.

“I hope you are mistaken, Raie,” she added, at last. “I don’t think my
son would do anything to give me pain.”

Fond mother who, because she has made an idol of her son, thinks he is
totally devoid of the human passions which have agitated the breast of
youth ever since the world began. Raie marvelled that a man should be so
little understood by his nearest and dearest, but she said nothing; and
at that moment the subject of their conversation himself appeared.

He came in with a number of newspapers in his hand, and having kissed
his mother and inquired how Raie had fasted, informed them of the
important news. He looked tired and worn; and Raie, to whom the death of
premiers was as nothing compared with nearer and more practical matters,
immediately hurried off to see if his breakfast were fully prepared. She
returned a few minutes later, and insisted on his going to the
dining-room forthwith. She would listen to nothing he had to say until
he had satisfied the demands of the inner man. She captured the papers,
however, and read the accounts for herself.

“Only forty-four years of age,” she remarked, as she put the last one
down. “Well, I suppose he will have a state funeral; it will be worth
seeing. Do you think you can get us tickets of admission, Lal?”

“Raie!” exclaimed Lady Montella, in a tone of reproof. “Is that the
first thing you think of—not the serious consequence of the Premier’s
death upon the nation, but only the excitement of watching his funeral
procession?”

Lionel glanced at his foster-cousin with indulgence.

“Never mind,” he said kindly. “Let Raie leave state affairs to people
who are forced to consider them. Time enough to be serious when the
necessity occurs.”

“That’s what I think,” the girl rejoined, with a smile. “Auntie takes
things much too seriously. By-the-bye, Lionel, will Lady Chesterwood
have to put off her masked ball?”

“Unless she is personally related to poor Campbell, no. When is it going
to be?”

“On Thursday week. I’ve been looking forward to it for months; it will
be my first real ball, you know. Auntie has given me the loveliest dress
you can imagine; it’s a perfect dream.”

“Not a nightmare, I hope,” he returned, and then drew back his chair.
“Well, I must away to Downing Street, I suppose.” He sighed. “I wish I
could look a year or so ahead.”

“Do the days pass too slowly for you, then?” asked his mother, in a tone
of sympathy. “It is not like you to wish away your time.”

“The days pass too quickly for all I mean to do in them,” he replied.
“It is only because I foresee trouble in the distance, mother dear.
However, I won’t be a prophet of evil. Let me take a leaf out of Raie’s
book, and put away dull care.”

Lady Montella followed him out into the hall.

“You will be back soon, I hope, dear?” she said. “I expect Miss Lorm
during the evening.”

“I will be back as soon as I can,” he returned; “but I may be detained
at Downing Street, and—and I have promised to call at Grosvenor Square.”

“To see Lady Patricia?” Her voice unconsciously hardened.

“Yes; Lady Patricia and her father.” A tinge of colour came into his
cheeks.

His mother said no more, but kissing him lightly on the forehead, went
to her room, and rang the bell for her maid. At dinner she listened to
Raie’s light chatter with her thoughts elsewhere, and when the meal was
at an end, asked the girl for music. Raie played and sang as well as
most girls of her age, and having once started, was in no hurry to
cease. She amused herself, and in a lesser degree her aunt, until the
footman announced the advent of Miss Lorm. Then she put her music away
in the rack, and rose to greet the guest.

Zillah Lorm was a singer who owed her position in a great measure to
Lady Montella’s liberality. She had been introduced to her ladyship’s
notice some years ago as a young co-religionist who possessed an
exceptional voice, but who lacked the means to ensure an adequate
training; and as Lady Montella loved to interest herself in such cases,
the necessary money was immediately forthcoming. Zillah went to the
Royal College for three years, after which she studied in Rome and
Paris. Then, through her patroness’s influence, she secured engagements
to sing at homes and receptions. Now, at the age of five-and-twenty, she
was one of the most popular vocalists in London.

She entered the room with the graceful self-possession which betokened
the artiste. Unusually tall, and with an inclination towards embonpoint,
her evening-gown of clinging silk concealed, yet at the same time
revealed the rounded curves of her figure. Her eyes, dark and luminous,
wandered restlessly through the room, as though in quest of someone she
desired to see; her face, as she shook hands with her patroness and Raie
Emanuel, lighted up with a winning smile.

“My son has had to go to Downing Street on account of the Premier’s
death,” Lady Montella informed her, although there was no reason why she
should apologise for his absence. “I hope he will return before you go.”

Raie looked questioningly at her foster-aunt, and invited Miss Lorm to
loosen her wraps. For no accountable reason a feeling of aversion
existed between the two; perhaps it was because the young girl felt
small and insignificant in the presence of Miss Lorm; and the singer
was, or had been, jealous of the position occupied by Raie.

“I am in luck’s way, Lady Montella,” she said, settling herself on one
of the silk-covered chairs in a way which made Raie’s movements look
awkward in comparison. “I am to be commanded to sing before the
Queen-Regent early next month.”

“Indeed?” Her ladyship’s face lit up with interest. “It is a great
honour, Zillah. I am very glad; I am always glad when a Jewess
distinguishes herself.”

Zillah moved her position.

“I—I don’t wish to distinguish myself _as a Jewess_,” she replied
hastily, with a spot of colour on her cheeks. “I am a singer, _pur et
simple_. The Queen-Regent doesn’t know that I’m a Jewess, nor do the
powers that be who managed the affair for me know either. The name of
Jew is in such ill-favour just now that I have thought it best to sink
my connection with the Chosen in case it should prove a hindrance to my
career. Fortunately, although I am dark, my appearance does not betray
me. Do you not think me wise, dear Lady Montella?”

“From the worldly point of view, perhaps; but I would rather have you
cling to your precious heritage, my dear, especially just now, when
people are so ready to seize on anything which can be considered
discreditable to us. My son is doing his utmost to serve his country,
and to prove himself a worthy Jew. Even those who are the enemies of our
people are forced to honour him. I should like you, in the same way, to
prove yourself a worthy Jewess, and so raise the standard in public
opinion. What do you say, Raie?”

Raie tossed her head. “I—oh, I haven’t the least respect for a Jew or
Jewess who is ashamed to own it! Besides, the most superficial student
of physiognomy could trace Miss Lorm’s descent in her features. It is
the most difficult thing in the world to hide one’s Hebrew origin. A
look or a word—even a gesture will show it.”

Zillah bit her lip to repress a sarcastic rejoinder, then changed the
subject. Secretly she made up her mind to pay Raie back when opportunity
occurred. Shortly afterwards she rose to take her leave. She was very
fond of dear Lady Montella, but her ladyship’s dialectics on Judaism
bored her excessively, and the one to whom she liked to converse was not
there.

Raie hailed her departure with relief.

“I think I must be bad-tempered, auntie,” she remarked, as soon as the
hall door was closed. “At any rate, Zillah Lorm always rubs me up the
wrong way.”

“Why? I have never heard her say anything to offend you, dear.”

“No, it isn’t what she says; it’s the way she looks at me. She always
makes me say all the sharp horrid things I can think of. I am thoroughly
ashamed of myself afterwards, but I wouldn’t apologise for the world.
And I know she’s trying to set her cap at Lionel, and she knows I know
it; and—and—I would much rather Lal married Lady Patricia than Zillah
Lorm.”

She spoke in the short, nervous way which was characteristic of herself.
Lady Montella glanced at her musingly.

“I am afraid your imagination is running away with you, Raie,” she
returned, in a quiet voice. “First it is Lady Patricia Byrne, then
Zillah Lorm. To how many more ladies are you going to engage my son?”

“To me, if you like!” The girl laughed merrily. “Don’t you think I would
make a good wife, auntie? But no, I am destined to be an old maid! I
took the last piece of bread-and-butter at tea; and that, you know, is a
sure sign.”

She kissed her foster-aunt good-night, and danced along the corridor to
her bedroom. Lady Montella glanced at the clock, and noticed that it was
nearly eleven. She gave a sigh, and wondered what her son was doing. She
thought that on this night—after he had been fasting all day—he might
have stayed at home.



                              CHAPTER III
                                PATRICIA


Meanwhile, Lionel Montella, having left his card at Downing Street,
re-entered his hansom, and was driven to Grosvenor Square. The casket
which contained his jewel consisted of a house situated in the quietest
corner; and here the vehicle slackened speed. Having pulled the great
bell, Montella was admitted by a powdered footman, and shown into one of
the smaller rooms at the back of the hall. Allowing himself to be
divested of his overcoat, he asked to see the Earl.

It was an extremely quiet household, in spite of its grandeur. The Earl
was a peculiar individual of misanthropical temperament, who shut
himself up in his study, and never mixed with the outer world unless
there were some urgent necessity. The death of his wife some fourteen
years ago had given him ample excuse for eschewing society; and society,
being aware of his crotchety ideas, returned the compliment by leaving
him severely alone.

The room to which Montella was eventually conducted was a small
turret-chamber approached by a special staircase from the topmost
landing. There was no electric light here, and the flickering
candle-light cast weird shadows across the stone walls and tessellated
floor. As he entered the room two large blackbirds flew towards him, and
encircled his head. The footman waved them away; and flapping their
wings, they returned to their aviary in the embrasure formed by the
window. Then the manservant retired, to leave Montella alone with the
Earl.

He was a man just bordering on middle age, but his bald head and
stooping figure gave him the appearance of the aged. He was bending over
a tank, with the sleeves of his little velvet jacket turned up. His
dress-coat had been carelessly slung over the back of a chair. The drip
of the water into the tank was the only sound to break the silence.
Montella for the moment remained inert.

At last the Earl turned round.

“Oh—ah—Montella,” he said, with his hands still in the water. “Roberts
announced you, didn’t he? I was rather—ah—preoccupied. Hope you’ll
excuse my shaking hands. Come here and look at—ah—some of my work.”

The young man did as he was told, and advanced towards the tank, which
proved to be a toning-bath. Amateur photography was the Earl’s latest
hobby, and one which for a while absorbed all his time. The photographs
floating in the water were principally views of his country seat, but
there were also a few portraits amongst them. One, of a child of about
six years of age, his lordship picked up and laid in the palm of his
hand.

“There!” he exclaimed, in a tone of triumph. “Can you tell me who that
is?”

The face in the photograph had moved horribly, and the eyes were
doubled. It might have stood for any small boy in the kingdom. Montella
hesitated before replying; but at last he received a happy inspiration.

“The King!” he exclaimed. “One can scarcely fail to recognise him. It is
the King!”

“It _is_ the King.” Lord Torrens dipped the print lovingly in the water
once more. “I photographed him in the grounds of the palace by special
permission of his mother—ah—the Queen-Regent. He was a terrible little
rascal to take—moved all over the place; but I’ve got a splendid picture
of him, don’t you think so? Of course it wants touching up a bit; you
can understand that?”

“Oh, certainly,” Montella replied, in good faith. Then he too dipped his
hand in the water, and turned over the prints. He knew that the Earl
liked to be humoured in his hobby, so he proceeded to ply him with
questions relating to the art. Suddenly he gave an exclamation of
pleasure. The portrait of a girl floated towards him—a girl with wavy
hair, whose tendrils strayed on to a low but intelligent forehead; with
large eyes, set somewhat far apart and full of expression; with a
well-formed nose, short upper-lip and rounded chin. She was clasping a
bunch of roses against her breast, and a garland of the same flowers
nestled in her hair. “Lady Patricia,” he said, a softened tone in his
voice. “This is the best portrait of her I have ever seen.”

The Earl was delighted.

“Ah, do you really think so?” he returned. “My daughter is not a good
subject for a photograph; rather too fair, and doesn’t look her best in
repose. However, I flatter myself that I have succeeded in getting a
very happy expression. You must let me give you a copy when there is one
finished.”

“You are very kind.” He gazed at the photograph as if loath to let it
go. “There is no gift that would please me more—unless it were the
original herself.”

He dried his hands and paced the room, overcome by an unwonted
nervousness. The Earl had apparently not noticed the latter part of his
speech, for he went on toning the prints with imperturbability.
Montella, however, intended him to notice it, and after stalking up and
down for some minutes, decided to take the bull by the horns.

“Lord Torrens,” he began, feeling more agitated than when he had given
his maiden speech in the House, “I have come here to-night to ask you a
question on the answer to which my whole life’s happiness depends. Since
I have enjoyed the privilege of your friendship, I have learnt to know
you and your daughter better than would have been possible in ordinary
circumstances. I know that there are very few who are admitted to the
intimacy of your home life as you have so kindly admitted me, and
therefore I appreciate the privilege all the more. But to come to the
point—I wish to speak of Lady Patricia. I have seen her constantly
during the past year, and—and—” His flow of words suddenly broke down.
“My lord, you are acquainted with my family, and I hope by now that you
know something of me personally. Have I your permission to pay my
addresses to your daughter?”

The choice little speech he had prepared forsook his memory just when it
was most needed; even in his own ears the statement of his desire
sounded lame. The Earl turned round slowly, and regarded him fixedly;
but the monosyllable “Eh?” was all he vouchsafed in reply.

It is one of the most trying things in the world to have to repeat a
difficult request. Montella began all over again, and gaining
confidence, succeeded in giving an impassioned appeal. Lord Torrens
listened with some little show of interest, because if there existed a
tender spot in his heart, it was for his daughter Patricia; but he was
inwardly longing to get back to his beloved prints.

“I did not think you were the man to bother yourself about women,” he
said at last, jerking out the words in his characteristic way. “If you
take my advice, as a friend, you will stick to your Parliament and your
politics; leave the women to those young fools whose chief vocation is
to become ladies’ men. The farther you keep away from frills and
furbelows, the better for yourself.”

“You preach what you have not practised, Lord Torrens,” Lionel rejoined,
with a smile. “I suppose that you were once in love?”

The Earl gave an expressive gesture.

“My dear fellow, I was no less susceptible than the rest; and my
sweetheart—afterwards my wife, and Patricia’s mother—was a queen amongst
women. But I sometimes wish that I had never crossed her path; for she
managed to twine herself about my heart, became the chief delight of my
life; and then—”

“Then?” questioned Montella, filling up the pause.

“Then she died; and I was left with two infants to bring up, and a
dreary waste of years before me to fill up as best I could. So you see
that had I never met my wife, I might have made a career of some sort;
at least, I should have been saved a considerable amount of heartache
and pain.”

“And love,” added the youth, secretly wondering that the prosaic and
somewhat crusty exterior of the Earl should conceal the heart-feelings
of an emotional being. “Is it not better to have loved and lost than
never to have loved at all? Tennyson says so. And there is no one who
will ever profit by another’s experience in these affairs. So to return
to my question. You will approve?”

“Have you—ah—spoken to her yet?”

“Not a word. I could not do so until I had obtained your consent. I—”

He broke off abruptly at the sound of the _frou-frou_ of a woman’s
skirt. The small door at the top of the spiral staircase opened, and a
girl in a simple white dress stood on the threshold.

“May I come in, father?” she asked; then noticed the visitor. “Mr.
Montella! I did not know you were here.”

She advanced with outstretched hand, her face lighting up with pleasure.
The blackbirds flew down from their perch, twittering as though in
greeting. The little turret-chamber seemed transformed by her presence:
an air of constraint crept over the two men, and for the moment neither
of them had anything to say. The Earl returned to the tank, and turned
on the tap once more. The momentary emotion caused by the mention of his
dead wife was now a thing of the past.

“I am very busy, my dear,” he said, somewhat pointedly. “Very busy
indeed. Perhaps you would like to entertain Mr. Montella below? This is
my workroom, you know.”

“Yes. I came up here because Mrs. Lowther has gone to bed with a
headache, and I was feeling a wee bit lonesome.” She smiled. “Will you
come down with me, Mr. Montella? I would like to hear what you think of
my latest attempts at verse.”

He rose with alacrity, and holding out his hand to the Earl, turned on
him a questioning glance. Lord Torrens rewarded him with a look and
gesture which implied approval. Then he continued washing his prints.

Montella was foremost in descending the spiral staircase, in order to
assist Lady Patricia down the final steps. Arrived at the base, they
descended the grand staircase together, and made their way to the
library, which was Lady Patricia’s favourite room. Here she was wont to
spend many a long hour in silent communion with men and women long
passed away; for books were her counsellors and friends, and supplied
the companionship which, owing to her father’s idiosyncrasies, she was
denied. Here, too, she wrote the lyrics and sonnets in which her poetic
instinct found its outlet. From her earliest childhood she had possessed
the happy gift of composing verse.

She went to her desk and fetched some sheets of manuscript.

“I am glad Mrs. Lowther has gone to bed,” she remarked, as she gave them
to him. “She always laughs at what she calls my attempts to scale
Parnassus, but I know that you won’t laugh, because you understand.”

“The good lady has not a poetic soul,” he said, as he ran his eye down
the page. “This stanza appears to be very promising, Lady Pat. May I
take the MS. home with me to study when I am quiet and undisturbed?”

She consented readily, and rolling up the sheets, he placed them
carefully in his pocket. Then, closing the door, he began on the subject
on which all his thoughts were set. With a glad light in his eyes, and
eagerness in his voice, he told her of his love.

It caused her no surprise; indeed, why should it? She had invested
Lionel Montella with a poetic idealism almost from the first day of
their acquaintance. She admired the race from which he sprang, and which
seemed to surround him with a halo of romance: she liked to see the
verve which leapt into his eyes when he spoke of the ancestors who had
been so cruelly wronged. More than this, she loved the man himself;
therefore his declaration seemed the most natural thing in the world.

Nevertheless there was a mist in her eyes as she responded to his
confession. She knew that he was not a man who was easily impressed by a
woman’s personality, so that to have so greatly stirred his heart’s
emotions was to have accomplished something indeed. She listened to his
sweet nothings with her own heart beating in response, with her face
upturned, and love’s ardour in her eyes. And so the moments sped
on—moments to be remembered in eternity—until the chiming of a clock
recalled them to the prosaicism of life.

“Half-past ten already,” he said, rising with reluctance. “I have stayed
an unconscionable time, and my mother asked me particularly to come
home.”

“Naughty boy!” she exclaimed playfully. “You must put the blame on me.
Does Lady Montella know that—that—I mean, does she know about me?”

“Not yet, dear.” His brow clouded. “But she shall know very soon.”

“Do you think she will be displeased?”

“Displeased!” He took her in his arms again. “My darling, who could be
displeased where you are concerned?”

“But I am a Christian, Lionel, and you are a Jew.”

“Yes, dear; but what does that matter? Are we to be separated for life
because of the difference in our birth? The sacrifice is too great—for
me, at least. Does it make any difference to you that I am a Jew?”

“None at all,” she rejoined impetuously, “unless it makes me love you
more.”

He pressed her hand.

“I am glad—so glad—and yet—” A new thought came into his mind.
“Patricia, my heart’s dearest, there may be dark days coming for my
people. If Athelstan Moore becomes Premier, Heaven alone knows what new
plans he may be able to carry out. As a Member of Parliament, and a
representative of one of the oldest Jewish families in the kingdom, it
is possible I may be considered the spokesman for my co-religionists. In
that case, I shall have to defend their cause with all the enthusiasm of
which I am capable. So you see that while I am the friend of Christians,
I must, at the same time, be the still greater champion of the Jews.
Patricia, dearest, this may bring me into a most unenviable position,
one which I fear to ask you to share.”

He let go her hands, and paced the room in thought. The girl watched
him, and a look of determination came into her eyes.

“We must not meet trouble half way, dear,” she said seriously; “but
whatever happens, there is nothing that affects you in which I cannot
have a share. You must do your duty to the race to which you belong, and
I—I will help you to do it. I am not a Jewess, Lionel, but I know that
your cause is a just one; therefore I have made up my mind to enter into
it with all my heart.”

“Thank Heaven for so sweet a helper!” he exclaimed fervently. “You have
taken a load off my mind.”

There was a joyous light in his eyes as he kissed her good-bye. With her
love to nerve him, he felt able to withstand the world. At parting, she
made him promise to acquaint his parents of their engagement without
delay. She was anxious to know what they would say when they heard that
he intended to marry a Christian girl.

“You need not fear, darling,” he assured her, with convincing ardour. “I
am certain that my father, at least, will approve of my action, and my
mother’s blessing, if it does not come at once, will soon follow suit.”

His words, although intended to reassure his sweetheart, also served as
an assurance to himself.



                               CHAPTER IV
                            THE MASKED BALL


Lionel did not feel it so easy as he had imagined to acquaint his
parents of his engagement to the daughter of Earl Torrens. He tackled
his father first, deeming him the easier to mollify, and succeeded in
obtaining his consent to the betrothal. To win his mother’s approval was
a more difficult matter, and one which he knew necessitated considerable
tact. He postponed the announcement until the last possible moment,
hoping that if Sir Julian had informed her of the news, she would
herself introduce the subject; but as two days passed without a word
having been said, he was obliged to take the initiative. His sweetheart
was eagerly awaiting the news.

Lady Montella listened to her son’s confession with compressed lips and
a cloud on her brow. She had nothing against the woman of his choice—the
Lady Patricia was well-born, and all that could be desired in looks,
manner, and disposition—but there was one great, insuperable objection:
the girl was a Christian.

“Are there not good and sweet Jewish girls among your acquaintance that
you must seek a wife of another race?” she asked, with a touch of
reproach. “Could you not set your affections upon Raie Emanuel, for
instance, or Zillah Lorm?”

“Mother!” He glanced at her in surprise. “I thought you would
understand. Can a man just calmly and dispassionately choose a girl
first, and _then_ pour his love upon her? I admire Miss Lorm, and I am
fond of our little Raie, but I would no more think of marrying either of
them than I would think of a journey to the moon. Don’t you see, mother,
that my feeling for Patricia is totally different. She herself is
different to all other women—whether Jewish or Christian—that I have
ever met. Her thoughts are mine, her sympathies are mine, her love is
mine. Oh, I can’t explain it properly, but surely you must know!”

There was an eager expression, half of entreaty, in his face. His mother
regarded him earnestly, and realised the effort it was costing him to
break through his accustomed reserve. Her face relaxed a little of its
sternness, but the determination remained.

“Lionel,” she asked quietly, “are you a true and zealous Jew?”

“Yes.” He looked her straight in the eyes. “At least I try to be.”

“And yet you would marry a Christian?”

“I would marry the Lady Patricia; that she is a Christian is a mere
accident of birth.”

“Until now the Montella stock has been entirely and purely Jewish. Do
you think the prestige of the family would gain by an infusion of
Gentile blood?”

“If you put it that way, as long as it is ‘blue blood’ I do not think
the prestige of family would suffer.”

Lady Montella could not resist a smile, but it quickly faded.

“Is Patricia willing to become a Jewess or, rather, a proselyte?” she
asked.

The young man’s face clouded.

“I do not know,” was his rejoinder. “Patricia and I have never discussed
the subject of religion, but I believe she belongs, nominally at least,
to the Church of England. If her faith is, to her, a source of
happiness, I scarcely like to ask her to give it up.”

Again the mother’s swift glance seemed to penetrate his being; again the
question passed her lips.

“Lionel, are you a true Jew?”

The colour surged into his cheeks.

“Have you any reason to doubt my sincerity?” he said.

“I trust not; but, my son, I am more far-seeing than you. A Christian
mother means Christian children, a Christian household. In this way the
Montella traditions will be destroyed.”

“If I am blessed with sons, they shall be brought up as strict Jews.”
The colour still suffused his cheeks. “I promise you, and she shall
promise too, that the Montellas shall ever remain a Jewish family, and
faithful to their heritage.”

“Unless Lady Patricia renounces her creed and embraces ours, I shall
never be satisfied. For the sake of the future generation, and for the
honour of the House, I must insist on this.”

“Very well, I will ask her; and I now have your approval and consent?”

“Subject to this, yes.”

She sighed, and received his filial kiss with moisture in her eyes. She
felt that her boy was no longer her own particular idol now that he had
given his heart away. Hitherto she had been the only woman to whom he
offered his sweet tokens of affection; now there was another—and for the
moment more attractive—goddess to whom there was homage due. That this
was in the natural course of things did not mitigate the soreness in her
heart. He was her only and passionately beloved son.

“Lionel,” she said softly. “May I tell you a little story? It is about
myself. When I was a girl, long before I met Sir Julian, I fell in love
with a young officer—a Christian. I was so much in love with him that I
thought it would break my heart to give him up. But in spite of that I
would not consent to become his wife; there was something that held me
back.”

“And that was?”

“Duty.” She laid an accent on the word. “My duty to my race and faith;
my duty to my parents. I sent him away, and he eventually married a girl
of his own faith. The happiness of my married life you know. So you see
that although duty clashed with my own inclinations at the time, it
brought me the truest happiness in the end.”

Lionel paced the room with bent head.

“I am disappointed in you, dear,” she continued slowly. “You must not
mind my telling you the truth. I had thought that with you, as with me,
duty would occupy the foremost place. I had thought that your enthusiasm
for our race and your ambitions in regard to the amelioration of our
oppressed brethren were such that you would forget all personal
inclination. Lionel, I am certain, as I look into the future, that
opportunity will be given you to prove your devotion to our cause. I am
certain that you are destined to exercise a great influence, both
politically and socially, _as a Jew_. Can you wonder, therefore, that I
see in Lady Patricia a stumbling-block to your career? Will your
co-religionists have the same opinion of you when you have married a
Christian? Will you have the same voice, the same power, when you have
married away from the race which you profess to love so deeply? Have you
considered the question from that point of view? If not, you are merely
acting on the impulse of the moment.”

She looked into his face almost appealingly, but knew that all the
arguing in the world would not alter his determination. He was so
convinced that Patricia Byrne was his true mate, that discussion of the
pros and cons was to him beside the question. He wished with all his
heart to do his duty to his race, and to remain faithful to his
inherited religion, and in this he believed that his sweetheart would
help, not hinder him. So the result of the interview was as satisfactory
as, under the circumstances, it could be; on this one point it was not
possible that mother and son should think alike.

Lionel could not make up his mind to tell his beloved of the conditions
of his mother’s approval at once: for a short time he wished to enjoy
her sweet companionship without the smallest cloud to mar the brightness
of their love. He brought her to see his parents, and the Earl dined
with them in state, but not a word as to their difference of religion
was said by either side. The only one who ventured to object was Mrs.
Lowther, Patricia’s companion; but as she occupied a subordinate
position, her opinion was of little consequence. Lionel sought an
interview with her in private, and won her over in less than half an
hour. What Patricia’s relatives would have to say in the matter,
however, remained to be discovered.

The Countess of Chesterwood, at whose masked ball Raie Emanuel intended
to make her _début_, was the widow of Earl Torrens’ nephew. An American
by birth, she possessed democratic views, modified in accordance with
the exigencies of her position in society. She loved to surround herself
with clever people, no matter what their social status, and her house
was the resort of many a young literary aspirant or budding musical
genius. The Montellas admired her for her shrewd common sense and
vivacious manner, and Lionel was certain that in her he and his
sweetheart would find a firm ally. He took Patricia to call on her, but
she was not at home; and they did not see her until the night of the
ball. Her congratulations were offered in the bright way which was one
of her most charming characteristics.

“I wish you love and luck,” she said.

“Luck?” repeated Patricia. “My dear Mamie, you are thinking of the St.
Leger. We don’t intend to run a race.”

“Luck” was the name of Lady Chesterwood’s one and only racer. The little
widow smiled.

“Life is a race, and you need plenty of luck to help you steer clear of
the ditches,” she replied. “However, let me satisfy your fastidious ear
by terming it ‘Providence.’ Mr. Montella, you haven’t asked me for a
dance.”

Lionel apologised, and took possession of her card. Then he glanced at
her costume.

“You are an Italian lady?” he queried, in doubt.

“I am Dante’s _Beatrice_; rather an assumption, isn’t it! But I am _so_
tired of the conventional fancy-dress people. Besides, my mask will
conceal my face until midnight. What made you two choose to represent
the Stuarts?”

“A lack of originality on my part, I think,” Patricia replied. “The
‘bonnie prince’ is one of my pet heroes, so I suggested him for Lionel,
and Mary Queen of Scots seemed to follow suit. By the way, Mamie, what
sort of people have you here?”

“All sorts and conditions. Authors, actors, musicians, artists, a
sprinkling of politicians, and many mere society people. They are all
thoroughly respectable, I assure you, my dear, and as you won’t be
introduced, it doesn’t matter if you should happen to dance with someone
of whom, ordinarily, your chaperon would not approve. Here, Equality is
the watchword. In the matter of this masked ball, at least, I am a law
unto myself.”

She bowed and swept away on the arm of a chivalrous knight. The
musicians struck up the spirited tune of a new dance which had recently
been invented, and the lovers, preferring to witness it rather than to
take part, mounted to the gallery in order to view the _mise en scène_.
The ball-room was decorated in white and gold, the clusters of electric
light arranged to form huge daffodils hanging at measured intervals from
the painted ceiling. The musicians were almost hidden by a bank of
flowers, consisting principally of orchids and the rarest ferns; a
similar bank adorned the other end of the room. The motley dresses of
the guests—some attractive, some merely grotesque—lent a brilliancy
which was somewhat bizarre in its effect. To the onlookers, the
combination of personalities was curious—perhaps not without
significance to some who were there.

“There is Oliver Cromwell dancing with a charming little _vivandière_,”
observed Patrica, with amusement. “What must the shade of that worthy
Puritan think—if think it can?”

“Let us hope that in the course of centuries it has gained sense,”
Lionel responded lightly. “Do you not recognise the _vivandière_? It is
our Raie.”

“Miss Emanuel? How _petite_ she looks; and the Cromwell, who is he, I
wonder?”

“I have no idea; but we had better avoid him, hadn’t we? Cromwell was
rather antagonistic towards the Stuarts, you know.”

She laughed. “All the more reason why we should attempt a reconciliation
now. Don’t be surprised if you see me as his partner a little later on.”

The lovers were obliged to separate when the music came to a close, for
both were engaged elsewhere. Patricia was taken back to Mrs. Lowther,
and Lionel went off to find “Cleopatra,” otherwise Zillah Lorm. He saw
his sweetheart, a few minutes later, dancing with a courtier of the
period of Louis XIV., and could not help remarking how sweet she looked.
Miss Lorm’s eyes gleamed through the eyelets of her mask as she made a
response; she was not one of those who care to hear any individual of
their own sex praised.

“I must congratulate you on your engagement, Mr. Lionel,” she said, with
a slight effort. “I was somewhat surprised when Lady Montella informed
me of the news. I did not think that you—of all people—would marry
without the pale; but, of course, there is no Earl’s daughter to be
found among the Jews.”

The latter part of her speech was spoken jestingly, but the sting was no
less keen. The young man’s face coloured beneath his mask. Had anyone
else proffered such a remark, he could only have received it as an
insult. Restraining the hasty rejoinder which rose to his lips, he kept
silence, and Zillah, seeing that her dart had struck home, immediately
changed the subject. But the pleasure of the evening was spoilt for
Montella, and a troubled expression settled on his brow. It occurred to
him that the singer had perhaps unconsciously foretold the decision of
public opinion—namely, that he was marrying the Lady Patricia Byrne on
account of her noble birth, and in order to strengthen his position as a
member of the aristocracy. He knew that public opinion was never
inclined to ascribe a man’s action to lofty and disinterested motives,
but in this case it would vex him greatly if he were misunderstood.

His mind was busy all the time he danced, and Zillah Lorm might have
been miles away, so little was he influenced by her charms. The room was
crowded, for it was close on midnight, when the culminating point of the
evening would be reached. It needed some amount of care on the part of
the men to lead their partners gracefully through the maze of dancers,
and two or three times Zillah narrowly escaped colliding with the
others. Montella—probably because his thoughts were elsewhere—was
unusually awkward, and just as he was guiding his partner round a
difficult corner, he accidentally trod upon a lady’s dress. There
followed the sound of tearing lace and splitting seams, and an
exclamation of anger escaped from the lady at having been stopped short
in that unpleasant way. Her partner—the Oliver Cromwell whom Patricia
had noticed earlier in the evening—insisted that the offender had been
guilty of gross carelessness, and waiving the young man’s apologies,
proceeded to harangue him on the subject. There was something so
aggressive in his manner that Montella felt his temper rise, and gave
vent to a heated rejoinder, quite foreign to his general equability. The
“Cromwell” took it up, determined to give his pugnacious propensities
full sway, whilst the ladies stood by and listened uncomfortably to the
wordy war.

“You have ruined the lady’s dress, and spoilt her evening,” he said,
glaring at the culprit as if he were a schoolboy. “And all you do in
return is to stand there and make lame apologies. I should think the
least you could do would be to make amends like a gentleman.”

“Certainly. What can I do? If this lady will kindly tell me, I shall be
happy to do it. I have already expressed my deep regret that the
accident should have occurred.”

The lady gathered her train over her arm.

“I accept the apology of ‘King Charles,’” she said, her vexation already
subdued. “It is not worth while quarrelling about.”

The clock struck twelve as she spoke, and as the last chime died away,
the order was given to unmask. The two men fronted each other, and
simultaneously uncovered their faces. Montella almost involuntarily gave
a start, for the countenance of his opponent was curiously and
unpleasantly familiar. He had seen it pictured in all the illustrated
journals in the kingdom, cartooned in _Punch_, caricatured elsewhere; he
had seen it scowling at the Opposition in the House, and at the anxious
journalists in the Lobby. It was most unfortunate that this regrettable
circumstance should be connected with his first personal introduction to
the man.

There was a moment’s silence, during which the young politician’s eyes
fell like an abashed schoolboy. The “Cromwell” was the first to speak.

“Your name?” he demanded curtly.

“Selim Montella.”

“Montella? member for Thorpe Burstall?”

“Yes.”

“Ah! Mine is—as you may know—Athelstan Moore.”

He offered his arm to his partner, and without another word, turned
shortly away. Zillah Lorm looked after them with increasing interest.

“The new Premier!” she exclaimed, as soon as they were out of earshot.
“Athelstan Moore, the Jew-hater! Was it wise to offend him, Mr. Lionel?”

“Wise? It was the most foolish thing I ever did in my life,” he
rejoined, with a short laugh.

It was amusing—to the singer—to witness his discomfiture.



                               CHAPTER V
                         THE STORY OF FERDINAND


Acting on his mother’s advice, Lionel Montella wrote a letter of apology
to the Premier, and received a short note of acknowledgment in return.
It was some time before he could overcome his vexation at the
unfortunate encounter, even though he was assured by his confrères that
the destiny of a nation is not affected by petty personal spite. He knew
that it was good policy on his part to conciliate the chief Minister of
State, instead of which he had done the direct opposite by personally
offending him.

The new Premier’s attitude towards the Jewish community soon made itself
felt. The greater part of the press—the part which was open to bribery
and corruption—was in his favour, and did not hesitate to voice his
opinions and echo his antagonism. About this time a celebrated
Consolidated Trust, of which the principal directors were South African
Jews, went to destruction, making one of the most sensational failures
on record. Hundreds of people were ruined, but the directors managed to
emerge unharmed, and the rumours of swindling on their part were left
unrefuted. Immediately the papers expressed their sympathy for the
unfortunate Gentile victims who had been preyed upon by swindling Jews,
and long leaders declared that such things should not be. Following the
rule in such cases, the whole Hebrew community was made to suffer for
the reprehensible actions of the few. Public feeling—always ready to
rush to extremes—ranged itself conclusively on the side of the
anti-Semites; and the man in the street, as well as the music-hall
artiste, kept his sneer ready for the unfortunate Jew.

All this did not affect the Montellas so keenly as those who were more
in touch with the masses. They read the papers, and inwardly burned with
indignation, but from the taunts which greeted the ears of their poorer
brethren they were happily exempt. Lionel went out and about, never
seeking to conceal his origin from those who despised his race; but
there was something in the influence of his personality which forbade
any remark of disparagement to fall in his hearing. Raie Emanuel was the
only member of the household who was to some extent personally
concerned. She went to see her relations in Canonbury, and found them
smarting under what they considered a cruel rebuff. Their only son—a
smart youth of nineteen—had been dismissed from the office in which he
had hoped to obtain promotion, and the two little girls had been
expelled from their ladies’ school.

“Expelled!” Raie exclaimed, in dismay. “But why? what have they done?”

For answer her mother handed her the note she had received from the
principal.

“That’s all,” was her reply.

  _“Miss Perkins regrets that owing to the wishes of some of the parents
  of her scholars she is obliged to ask Mrs. Emanuel to remove her two
  daughters, Pearl and Charlotte, from the school. Miss Perkins ventures
  to respectfully suggest that the girls would be happier if educated at
  a Hebrew school, or by a Hebrew governess at home.”_

Raie tossed the note impatiently aside.

“I wish people wouldn’t call us ‘Hebrews,’” she said. “It irritates me.
Well, I suppose Pearl and Lottie will be able to exist without the
advantages obtained at Miss Perkins’ seminary. But how absurd it all is.
As if Pearl and Lottie were the least bit different to the Smiths,
Jones, and Robinson girls!”

“And I’m no different to the other chaps at the office,” Walter added,
in an aggrieved tone; “but just because old Blank has taken a dislike to
the name of Jew, I’ve got the sack. I wish I’d never been born a Jew.”

“Oh, you must not say that,” Raie said reprovingly. “It is a great
privilege to be a Jew, and if Christians believed what they preach, they
would give us the honour which is our due.”

This little speech was _à la_ Lady Montella, whose views the girl
unconsciously imbibed. The Emanuels regarded Raie as the oracle of the
family, and looked up to her as living on a higher plane than
themselves. Mrs. Emanuel was a widow, with six children and a small
income. It had been no easy matter to rear and educate these children,
even though the eldest had been taken off her hands at the age of
fourteen. The second girl, Harriet, had just become engaged to the son
of a wealthy stockbroker, which was a matter for congratulation to the
Emanuels and their relatives. Harriet was a bright girl of seventeen,
with what her mother called a “taking” manner. She contributed to the
family purse by teaching music at a kindergarten school, and was out
when Raie arrived.

“We’ve been looking at houses all the week,” Mrs. Emanuel said, when the
girl inquired after her sister. “The sooner they get settled the better.
I don’t believe in long engagements; never did.”

Raie considered a moment.

“I wonder if Harriet will be happy with Harry Levi,” she said
thoughtfully. “He is not a man I could care for in the least.”

“You never did like him,” her mother remarked; “but then you’ve not got
to marry him, so it doesn’t matter. He seems affable enough, I think.
Have you any reason for your dislike?”

“Only that the Montellas do not approve of his family. Harry Levi’s
father waxed fat over the Consolidated Trust concern, and Lionel says
that Harry himself is not over-scrupulous. Lionel Montella would not say
a thing like that unless there were good reason.”

Mrs. Emanuel regarded her contemplatively.

“You seem to think a great deal of Lionel Montella,” she rejoined. “You
always talk about him as if he were a prophet or a prince. I shall not
be at all surprised when I hear that he has fallen in love with you and
asked you to marry him. Well, it would be a great _simcha_[2] for us, I
am sure. The _Jewish Chronicle_ would give you a notice—‘_A marriage has
been arranged between Mr. Lionel Selim Montella, M.P., only son of Sir
Julian and Lady Selim Montella, and Miss Raie Emanuel, eldest daughter
of Mrs. Joshua Emanuel, late of Liverpool._’ Wouldn’t it make the
Canonbury people sit up, eh? Instead of Mrs. Abrahams snubbing me like
she does, she would come and implore me to attend her next dinner-party;
and I would say—‘So sorry: I’ve promised to dine with dear Lady
Montella.’”

Footnote 2:

  Joy.

Raie put up her hand, as though to stay her mother’s garrulity.

“Mamma!” she exclaimed, her cheeks tingling, “I wish you would not talk
like that. It’s so vul—so horrid. I would not marry Lionel Montella,
even if he asked me, because I do not consider myself fitted to become
his wife. As he will not ask me, however, I shall be saved the trouble
of declining. Have you not heard that he is engaged to Lady Patricia
Byrne?”

“What!” Mrs. Emanuel sat bolt upright. “This is news, indeed. Who is
Lady Patricia What’s-her-name? A Jewess?”

“No; a—Christian—the daughter of Earl Torrens—gloriously beautiful, and
with a face like a Greuze. She is far more suitable as a wife for Mr.
Montella than a plain, insignificant little creature like myself could
ever be.”

There was nothing either of mock modesty or bitterness in her words. She
knew that she was small and slight, with ordinary features and ordinary
abilities. She did not know that when she spoke her eyes sparkled with
animation, and that the sweetness of her smile amply compensated for the
irregularity of her features. She did not know either that there was a
_naïveté_ about her manner which endeared her to those with whom she
came into contact. Perhaps, had she known, the charm would no longer
have been there.

“Lionel Montella has no right to marry a _shicksa_,[3] even if she does
belong to the aristocracy,” was Mrs. Emanuel’s stricture. “If you are
not good enough for him, why doesn’t he marry a Rothschild? It must be a
terrible disappointment to his father, especially after the trouble he
has had with Ferdinand.”

Footnote 3:

  Gentile.

“Who is Ferdinand?” asked Raie, her cheeks still burning.

“Ferdinand Montella, of course. Sir Julian’s son by his first wife, who
was a Miss Klonsberg of Birkenhead, and second cousin of your poor
papa’s step-brother’s wife. Do you mean to say, child, that you’ve lived
with the Montellas all this time without ever hearing of Ferdinand, or
that I never told you about him? It seems almost incredible.”

Raie became interested.

“I have never heard the name until you mentioned it just now,” she
replied. “Tell me all about him, please.”

Mrs. Emanuel was fond of relating the personal history of anyone with
whom she happened to be acquainted.

“Ferdinand is the skeleton in the Montellas’ cupboard,” she began,
giving her daughter time to digest the statement. “His mother died when
he was born, and until his father married again he was brought up by a
relation of the Selim Montellas. He was expelled from Eton, and ran away
from boarding-school, and was the sort of little monster who would never
be able to abstain from wickedness outside a reformatory. When he was
about eighteen, he did something shady—I don’t quite know what it was,
for the matter was hushed up, but I believe he tried to embezzle, or
something of the sort. Anyway, Sir Julian disinherited him, cut him out
of his will, and sent him off to Australia with just enough money to pay
his passage. Since then, the name of Ferdinand has been tabooed by the
Montella family, which, I suppose, accounts for your ignorance of the
matter.”

Raie’s eyes were wide open.

“Do they never hear from him?” she asked.

“I don’t know; but I heard that Sir Julian once received a letter from
him, and returned it unopened. You ought to know whether they receive
letters from Australia or not.”

“I never trouble myself about the Montellas’ correspondence; they
receive letters from all kinds of places. Besides, Ferdinand may have
left Australia. How long ago did it all happen?”

Mrs. Emanuel thought a moment.

“Let me see,” she replied musingly. “It was just after Pearl was born. I
remember quite well, because Lady Montella paid me a visit, and I was
wearing a pale-blue dressing-gown trimmed with Irish lace. It was the
first day I sat up in my room. It must be about eleven years ago.
Ferdinand—if he is still alive—will be about thirty.”

“So old?” To Raie thirty seemed like middle age. “What a strange story;
it quite fascinates me, and”—there was a touch of excitement in her
voice—“why, if there is an elder son, Lionel will not succeed to the
title and estate.”

“To the estates, yes; to the title, no. Sir Julian cannot will away the
baronetcy, much as he might like to do so. Lionel will never be a
baronet unless his step-brother dies.”

“Poor Lal! But I do not think he has much craving for a title; he is not
that kind of man. I wonder why Lady Montella has never mentioned her
step-son to me?”

The matter gave her food for speculation during the remainder of the
day. It seemed so strange that Sir Julian—the mild, unobtrusive Sir
Julian—should go to such lengths as to disinherit his own son. The more
she thought about the scapegrace the more her heart went out to him,
although she knew that her sympathy was probably undeserved. When she
returned to the flat she routed out an old family album, and carefully
turned over the leaves. There were photographs in abundance of Lady
Montella in different positions and dresses, chiefly dating from her
early wedded days. There were photographs of Lionel in the various
periods of infancy, as well as of the two little children who had died.
Raie was deeply interested in them all, but she glanced at them
cursorily in her eagerness to find the one she sought. At last her
attention was arrested by a carte-de-visite in platinotype of a youth in
a golf blazer, club in hand. It had evidently been taken some years ago,
and was partially discoloured. The face of the young man was somewhat
sensual in character, the mouth weak, but the eyes, on the contrary
denoted intellect, and were so like Sir Julian’s that Raie looked at
them in doubt. Flicking the dust from the album, she carried it into the
study, where Lionel was writing.

“Lal,” she demanded, as he put down his pen, “is this your father when
he was a young man?”

Montella glanced at the photograph, then up at the girl.

“Where have you been rummaging, Raie?” he remarked, with curiosity.
“This photograph is not my father, but a lad who went abroad a long time
ago. I am afraid I must not tell you his name.”

“It is Ferdinand Montella,” she returned boldly. “You see I know.”

He regarded her with surprise. “Who told you?” he asked, in his quiet
way.

“I guessed it; but mamma was talking to me about Ferdinand to-day. I did
not know there was such a person in existence. There seems to be quite a
mystery about him. May I not know what it is, Lal?”

“You surely do not desire to know what my parents wish to keep secret,
do you, Raie?”

“Oh, no—if you put it like that; but I did not think there was any harm
in asking. Perhaps Aunt Inez will not mind telling me now that I am no
longer a child.”

“I should advise you not to mention the subject for the present, Raie,”
he answered seriously. “It isn’t worth while raking up a story of the
past which people would rather forget, is it? Perhaps, if you wait a
little while, my mother will tell you of her own accord.”

Raie quenched her thirst for information, and acquiesced, but still
regarded the pictured face intently. There was an expression in the eyes
which took her fancy; and in spite of the weakness of the mouth, the
lips indicated good-humour.

“I like Ferdinand Montella,” she said decidedly, with a secret wonder at
her own effusiveness. “He may not be perfect, and I suppose, from what
mamma says, he is something of a scapegrace; but he has rather a nice
face, I think. If ever he comes back I shall stand up for him.”

She was such an impetuous child.



                               CHAPTER VI
                          A HOUSE OF MOURNING


Sir Julian was very ill. His physician had to be rung up in the middle
of the night, and arrived to find him in an exceedingly critical
condition. Raie, tucked up in her little white bed, awoke with a start
to hear footsteps in the corridor, and the subdued sound of voices.
Hastily attiring herself in her dressing-gown, she unlocked her door and
peered out to see what was happening. As she did so, the bald head and
gaunt figure of the physician emerged from the morning-room, followed by
Lady Montella in deshabille. Raie, not wishing to be noticed, shrank
back into her own room; but a few minutes later she put her head out
again, and espied a maid.

“Maggie!” she called, in a whisper. “Mr. Lionel isn’t ill?”

“No, it’s Sir Julian; had another stroke. They think it’s the end. Mr.
Lionel has gone for the rabbi.”

“Oh!” There was a scared look on her face. She called the girl into her
room, and shut the door. “It’s frightfully sudden,” she remarked,
sinking on to a little wicker chair. “He was normal when Lady Montella
went to bed.”

“Yes, miss, it came on all of a sudden like. Those things always do. I
remember my grandfather whom we buried a year come Christmas; he had St.
Vitus’s dance—the twitchings, you know, and—”

“Don’t tell me,” interrupted the girl, with a shudder. “I’ve got the
creeps already. Tell me, Maggie, do you think I ought to go into Sir
Julian’s room when the minister comes? I don’t want to go, because I
feel so horribly nervous, and I’ve never been near anyone who is dying
before, but if—if Lady Montella expects it—?”

“I should go back to bed if I were you, miss,” the servant advised.
“There is no occasion for you to go near a death-bed unless you are
obliged. You will not do Sir Julian nor my lady any good by upsetting
yourself.”

“No, but I don’t want auntie to think me unkind. Will you ask her,
please, Maggie? Tell her I send my love, and am very sorry; and if she
wants me, I’ll come.”

The maid rose with an air of reluctance and took the message. Two
minutes later she returned. Her ladyship sent her love, and wished her
niece to go to sleep without frightening herself. Everything that was
possible was being done for the patient, therefore her presence could
not assist.

Raie jumped back into bed and snuggled down, with a sigh of relief; but
sleep was impossible. She was on the alert for every sound, and heard
the coming of the minister with a flutter of excitement at her heart.
The atmosphere seemed to be charged with a sense of death, and the
silence seemed more acute because occasionally broken by subdued
snatches of conversation. She buried her head beneath the counterpane,
as though in fear of beholding the King of Terrors in visible form. She
recollected all the gruesome stories she had heard of death and the
dying, and did her best to induce a nightmare. She imagined she felt the
passing of Sir Julian’s soul, and a tremor ran through her being at the
thought. Wondering if all were over, she heard the physician take his
departure. It seemed as if morning would never come, for long hours
passed without bringing light. Eventually, however, she awoke out of a
short and troubled sleep to hear the yodel of the early milkman. The
long night was over at last.

At breakfast-time she entered the morning-room, scarcely knowing how to
frame the question which rose to her lips. Lionel Montella was reclining
in the easy-chair with his eyes closed; no doubt he was tired after his
sleepless night. He opened his eyes at her approach, and glanced at her
wearily. Then he gave her the usual matutinal greeting.

“You look worn out,” she observed sympathetically. “If I were you I
should go and rest until lunch-time.”

He shook his head.

“My father is dying,” he rejoined, in a low voice. “Did you not know?”

“Yes.” She did not tell him that she had made up her mind that Sir
Julian was already dead. “I am so sorry, Lionel. You must feel upset,
and poor auntie, too. Where is she?”

“In the sick-room; she will not leave his side. I have begged her to
take some rest, but she is determined to stay with him until a change
occurs.”

They sat down at the table, but neither of them could eat. Lionel left
his omelette untasted, and his letters unread; and Raie forbore to
glance through the newspaper, as was her daily custom. After breakfast,
she screwed up her courage and knocked at the door of Sir Julian’s room.
She had made up her mind that it was her duty to visit the old man; in
the daytime the ordeal did not seem so great.

He was awake, and droning Hebrew prayers in an inaudible voice in
company with the minister. Lady Montella sat by the bedside, her
beautiful face drawn and anxious. Raie went over to her and kissed her
without a word; she did not know quite what to say. She was a sensitive
girl, and often restrained herself from mere shyness; but Lady Montella
knew her well, and understood.

Presently Sir Julian made as if he would sit up. “Ferdinand!” he
exclaimed, and then again, “Ferdinand!” He had not mentioned the name
for ten years. Lady Montella rose from her seat with a start; Raie
remained inert, but the name attracted her attention.

The sick man gazed at them as if he were dazed.

“Ferdinand,” he repeated; “I thought he was here. I don’t want to see
him.” His words came with difficulty. “Send him away. Tell him he has
brought down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.”

Lady Montella bent over the bed.

“Ferdinand is not here,” she repeated, in a low voice. “We do not know
where he is; but if we can find him, will you not forgive him?”

“No. He shall not have a penny.” His words grew fainter. “He is no more
my son. He sold—his—birthright—for—a mess of pottage.”

Raie listened with all her ears, but the dying man did not speak again,
and soon fell into the lethargy which preceded the end. The physician
came again, but the baronet was beyond the reach of human aid. At two
o’clock in the afternoon Lady Montella was led out of the room,
half-fainting. Sir Julian was dead.

Raie had never been in a house of death before, for her father had been
drowned at sea. She was too shy to go in to her foster-aunt at once, and
wandered in and out of the darkened reception rooms as if she were
unable to rest. The household was in a state of confusion, for it was
Friday, and therefore necessary that the preliminary burial rites should
be performed before the Sabbath fell. She heard Lionel and the minister
arrange the details, and afterwards she saw the repulsive-looking
_wachers_[4] who had come to stay with the body until Sunday, when the
funeral would take place. There were people coming and going all the
afternoon, and she was obliged to have her tea in solitude. After it was
over she was sent for to Lady Montella’s boudoir.

Footnote 4:

  Professional watchers by the dead.

She obeyed the summons without delay, and clung to her foster-aunt with
the tears welling up in her eyes. When the first outburst of emotion was
over, Lady Montella asked her if she would like to go home until after
the funeral; it would be so very dull for her in the house of mourning.
Raie conquered her first impulse and decided to remain. She did not feel
justified in leaving Lady Montella alone in her sorrow.

It was indeed a dull week. In accordance with Jewish usage all the
blinds in the flat were kept down for seven days instead of being pulled
up directly after the funeral. The principal mourners, including two of
Sir Julian’s sisters, sat on low chairs to lament and receive the
condolences of their friends, whilst near by a tiny float burned in a
glass of oil as a memorial of the dead. Every evening a service was held
in the drawing-room, attended by most of the Jewish gentlemen of the
Montellas’ acquaintance, and not a few strangers. It was Lionel’s
melancholy duty to say _Kaddish_ for his father, which prayer he would
have to repeat daily until his term of mourning expired.

One of the first visitors to offer her condolence was Lady Patricia
Byrne. Accompanied by Mrs. Lowther, she drove up in a closed carriage,
bringing a beautiful wreath composed of lilies and violets. As no
flowers were permitted to decorate the coffin, however, the wreath was
placed in the room where the _shiva_[5] was held. It was the first
opportunity Lady Montella’s relatives and friends had of observing
Lionel’s future wife, and they did not scruple to make the most of it.
Attired in complimentary mourning, with a black picture hat to set off
the fairness of her hair and complexion, and carrying herself with an
unaffected but distinguished air of grace, the girl certainly satisfied
their critical eyes. With her face lit up with honest sympathy, she
conversed with the mourners in a way which proved her tact and her
knowledge of Jewish customs. Lionel’s face glowed with pride and
gratification at the presence of his beloved.

Footnote 5:

  Mourning.

Mrs. Lowther was a colonel’s widow, fair, fat, and forty. She was
devoted to her charge, but she did not understand the girl in the least.
She was much too prosaic and matter-of-fact to enter into the hidden
depths of Patricia’s temperament; and although she had lived with her
for years, she knew only her exterior. Her manner towards Lionel
Montella’s relatives was decidedly distant, and sitting apart, she did
not attempt to join in the conversation. She showed unmistakably that
she had come merely for Patricia’s sake, and not for her own. Her face
expressed disapproval as they re-entered the carriage and were driven
homewards.

“You are the most curious girl I ever came across, Pat,” she said, with
a sigh. “I wonder what your poor mother would have thought of you had
she lived.”

“_À propos_ of what?” interrogated Patricia, with wonder.

“Why, your foolish engagement to this young man, of course.”

Patricia’s brow contracted.

“I thought you liked him,” she said.

“Yes; I’ve nothing against him personally, but I do not approve of your
becoming connected with a Jewish family.”

“I am not going to marry the family,” the girl corrected amiably. “I
have no desire to have more than one husband.”

Her chaperon frowned.

“You ought not to joke on this subject, Patricia,” she rejoined. “Your
words confirm my opinion: you do not realise the gravity of the step you
intend to take.”

“Yes, I do—to its fullest extent. That is why I have allowed Mr.
Montella to give me an engagement ring.”

“Do you mean to say that you really have anything in common with those
people—the people we have just left?” Mrs. Lowther asked, still
unconvinced, “Cannot you see that they live in a world of their own,
cemented by their religious and national customs? You may attempt to
enter that world, but you must for ever remain an outsider. Even if you
marry a Jew, you are not, and never can be, a Jewess. There is no strain
of Oriental blood in you.”

“Do not be so sure. I believe if I choose to look up the family tree I
shall be able to discover some remote Hebrew ancestor. But that is
nothing. Lionel is quite as British as I am. The Torrens were originally
French.”

“What shall you do?” pursued her chaperon, unwilling to leave the
subject. “Become a Jewish proselyte, or turn Mr. Montella into a
Christian?”

“I do not see the necessity for either,” Patricia rejoined, with a
slight flush; “but one thing is certain. Situated as he is, Lionel
cannot possibly forsake the faith of his forefathers. Were he to do so,
the whole fabric of his Jewish inheritance would be shattered.”

“Then I suppose that if you were to find it necessary, you would become
a pervert rather than he?”

“I cannot answer that at the moment. But why discuss the matter until we
are obliged to consider it?”

“Why should we shirk it simply because it is disagreeable? It is one
that will have to be faced as soon as you take any definite steps
towards marriage.”

The girl leant back against the cushions with an expression of
weariness.

“We shall not be married until Mr. Montella’s year of mourning is at an
end, so I shall not have to decide hastily,” she answered. “I shall do
what appears to me to be the best. Religion is not meant to separate man
and wife.”

Mrs. Lowther sighed. “What a pity you have an Agnostic for a father,”
she said.



                              CHAPTER VII
                             THE UNEMPLOYED


Mrs. Lowther’s remark was not without foundation. The Earl, despite the
fact that he was patron of more than one living in the country, had
severed his connection with the Established Church some years ago, and
now professed no religion, save that of Agnosticism. His son—a youth at
Sandhurst—followed in his wake, talked grandiosely of the First Cause,
and pinned his faith on Huxley. Patricia saved the reputation of the
family—in the eyes of her father’s tenants, at least—by attending the
Parish Church regularly when she was in the country; but as Patricia’s
religion had never been properly moulded, it was liable to variation.
Her first finishing governess being a Roman Catholic, her youthful mind
had been filled with the mystic saint-lore of the Roman Church, and she
fell deeply in love with St. Patrick, her patron saint. As Patricia had
always been deeply in love with somebody or other since the days of her
swaddling clothes, however, her father was not greatly concerned, and
expressed no surprise when she told him one morning that she found
Mariolatry and Saintolatry detestable, and asked to have the Roman
Catholic governess sent away. Good St. Patrick was dislodged from the
little niche she had accorded him, his image was shattered into a
hundred pieces, and Patricia was heart-whole once more. The next phase
through which she passed was that of admiration for Comte and
Swedenborg, but as the ethics of both were beyond her comprehension, she
was little influenced by either. From Positivism she found her way into
Unitarianism, and with her usual craving for some great teacher whom she
delighted to honour, she made Ralph Waldo Emerson—or rather his
writings—her oracle. It was somewhat curious that Patricia’s religion
always concentrated itself around some _person_, yet she did not seek to
render her homage to a personal God. Her only experience of Christianity
other than Romanism was the stern Evangelicism of her old nurse, and
this creed, with its narrow interpretations and material heaven, she
found equally as repellent as the former. Although not lacking in
spiritual perception, she had not yet rightly understood the divine
personality of the Incarnate Deity; she admired Christ, it is true, but
in the same way she admired Gautama—the founder of Buddhism—and
Confucius. To her, the heaven of the Christian and the Nirvana of the
Buddhist were almost synonymous terms; and the gospel of right living
the only one that was necessary. So that when her lover suggested with
much diffidence that she should become a member of his own faith, she
did not meet his proposal with the firm refusal he had anticipated.

They were sitting under the trees in one of the quietest spots in
Kensington Gardens, glad to escape for the moment from the din and roar
of the traffic. Although late autumn, the air was mild and dry, and
Patricia allowed her sables to fall from her shoulders and to rest on
the back of the chair. She listened to her lover’s words with animation
in her face, and wonder in her eyes; she could not make an immediate
reply.

“The idea is so curious, so difficult to grasp,” she said, when he had
finished. “Judaism seems so formidable to the uninitiated. I am afraid I
should break the laws a hundred times a day.”

“I do not think you would. Judaism does not demand so much from a woman
as from a man. All a Jewess has to do is to see that her mènage is
ordered in accordance with Jewish law, and to bring up her children in
the Jewish faith. More will not be expected of you than that; and as we
can have a Jewish housekeeper, you need not be worried with the details
of the dietary and other laws.”

“But what of my own personal religion?”

“As long as you keep to Theism—the absolute Unity—you can believe what
you please,” Montella replied. “So you see your Judaism need not be so
difficult after all.”

Patricia’s eyes waxed thoughtful.

“You must give me a few days to think it over,” she said, after a short
pause. “You are not in a hurry, dear?”

“Not at all. I promised the mater I would ask you. She is such an
enthusiastic Jewess.”

“Yes; I admire her for it. It is a wonder she does not live in the Holy
Land.”

Lionel smiled.

“I really believe she would, if Palestine were a Jewish country,” he
replied. “She cherishes a grudge against the Sultan for shilly-shallying
over the affair all these years. She is, like myself, an ardent
Zionist.”

They rose from their chairs, and made their way towards the Albert Gate.
Patricia was unusually vivacious, and giving a truce to serious
subjects, chatted in lighter vein. When they reached the main road,
however, they were abruptly silenced. The smile faded from the young
Member’s face, and the girl looked on with equal gravity.

The traffic was being stopped by a procession—a procession characterised
by sordidness, for those who took part constituted the great body of the
unemployed in the metropolis. Four abreast they walked, dirty, unkempt
men, with ragged clothes and emaciated faces. They had turned out in
hundreds, organised presumably by a trade-union, in order to enlist the
sympathy of a good-natured public. Here and there banners were
displayed, bearing the legend:—“_Unemployed and starving_”; “_British
workmen thrown out by aliens_”; “_Employ British labour_”; “_Boycott
alien labour_”; “_Boycott foreign Jews_,” and other numerous
inscriptions. Along the route, which was guarded by the police, men were
collecting money from the passers-by. It was indeed a sight to move the
most phlegmatic.

Patricia almost involuntarily tightened her grasp on her lover’s arm. A
more depraved-looking set of human beings she had never seen. Some, it
is true, were stalwart Britons, or had been before the starvation
process had set in; but the majority of them were unable to hold
themselves erect from sheer weakness, and the dogged expression of
misery was on all faces alike. The expression haunted the girl for
weeks; it suggested to her naught else but the faces of lost spirits in
Hades. She turned away with a shudder.

“Terrible!” she exclaimed unsteadily. “It makes me feel quite ill.”

“Do not look, dear,” Montella advised, with solicitude. “Such sights are
not for you.”

“Oh, but I must look.” She turned back again. “One cannot shirk such a
grim reality. I knew that while we were living in luxury there existed
thousands who had not the bare necessities of life, but I have never had
the fact pressed home so forcibly before. I feel as if I had no right to
wear these expensive sables—which I could so easily do without—when
these poor creatures have nothing to eat. The look in their eyes
condemns me. Cannot we do something to help them, Lionel? Surely there
must be something terribly wrong somewhere, or else we should never see
such a degrading sight as this.”

She unfastened the magnificent diamond brooch she wore beneath her
jacket, and impulsively cast it into the collecting-box; her tiny gold
purse with its contents followed suit. Her lover, even if he thought her
proceeding rash, did not remonstrate; he too divested himself of all the
gold in his possession.

“The condition of these people is not exactly the fault of the
Government,” he replied thoughtfully, as they moved on towards
Knightsbridge. “It is always disastrous to trade when the supply exceeds
the demand. It makes labour so cheap that the men cannot ask more than a
starvation wage.”

“But what is the reason?” she asked, with eagerness. “It seems almost
incredible that all these hundreds should be thrown out of employment.”

“Have you not noticed the banners?” he returned. “‘Alien labour’—that is
at the root of their distress. It is hateful to me to have to
acknowledge it—nevertheless the fact remains that the influx of pauper
Jews from the Continent has been enormous during the past few years.
Athelstan Moore once introduced a Bill in Parliament for the suppression
of alien immigration; but there was some flaw in it, and it was thrown
out.”

“Did you vote for or against?”

“Against. You see, whatever my private opinion may be, I am tied down in
this matter. I cannot vote against my own people, especially when I am
told that owing to the persecution abroad they come here to try and
regain their self-respect, and to develop into worthy British subjects.”

“And what is your private opinion?”

“That when they do develop into worthy British subjects, the result is
satisfactory, but when they persist in being clannish and in refusing to
conform to the exigencies of modern civilisation, they are a clog on the
wheel of national progress. I do not consider it politic on the part of
our country to continue to receive them in such great numbers. The
consequence you have just seen.”

Patricia was silent for a moment, but she was not yet satisfied.

“Why do the employers prefer to engage foreigners to work for them?” she
asked, after a short pause.

“Because the pauper aliens require less wages. They are so anxious to
get work of some kind that they will accept the lowest wage possible;
and they can live on next to nothing. Then when they have learnt their
respective trades, they become sweaters on their own account. The whole
system is most deplorable.”

“And the legitimate British workman goes to the wall?”

“Yes.”

“It is a great shame.” Her eyes flashed with indignation. “And yet where
would the poor Jews go if they are expelled from the Continent and we
forbid them to come here? They must go somewhere.”

“Ah, that is the great question.” He sighed. “If America closes her
doors to them as South Africa has done, there seems to be only Australia
left, and in Australia their company will be as little desired as it is
here.”

“It reminds me of the Wandering Jew—the one who insulted the Christ when
He was on the way to His crucifixion, and was condemned to live and
wander through the ages until the Day of Judgment,” the girl said
musingly. “Only in this case the wandering Jew has been multiplied into
a whole horde of wandering Jews. Do you think there is any truth in the
legend, Lionel?”

Her lover smiled.

“I do not know, dear,” he replied. “I dare say it is the same as other
legends—a tenth part of truth, and nine-tenths superstition.”

“Yes, but it is a very fascinating legend. Do you know, Lionel, the
condition of the Jews in modern days has always been to me one of the
strongest arguments in favour of Christianity. It is such an exact
fulfilment of prophecy. I wonder if they will ever fulfil the other part
of the prophecy and eventually make Palestine their home?”

“If the Zionists have anything to do with it they will; but it is
scarcely likely to happen in our time. What an interest you take in
Jewish affairs, Patricia! You might be a Jewess yourself.”

The girl smiled, knowing that her interest was only on her lover’s
account, and that had he not been a Jew, that interest would never have
been aroused. Truth to tell, Mrs. Lowther and Lady Chesterwood were
frightfully bored by what they termed Patricia’s Jewish hobby. The
Countess had forbidden the subject to be mentioned in her presence.

She was there waiting for them when they arrived at Earl Torrens’
mansion, and received them with a sigh of relief. Ten minutes of the
Earl’s society was to her an amplitude, and she had listened to his
dissertation on the triumph of colour photography for twenty minutes by
the clock. Perhaps the Earl was equally glad to be released from his
arduous duty; for he retired as soon as the lovers made their
appearance. Lionel, having an appointment elsewhere was obliged to take
his departure; so, promising to look in again later, he left the ladies
to themselves.

“Mrs. Lowther is out,” Patricia remarked, as she took off her things,
and rang for her maid. “Will you stay to lunch?”

“I should like to very much. I made up my mind to do so directly your
respected father informed me that the she-dragon was off duty. I really
cannot understand how you can tolerate her, Pat.”

“Mrs. Lowther? Oh, she is a well-meaning soul; a little trying
sometimes, I must admit, but I do not see much of her just now. I go out
a great deal, you know. Lionel is a most attentive lover.”

“But I thought you told me you were obliged to be very quiet on account
of his mourning?”

“Yes; we do not attend any society functions unless they are political;
but we go for long walks and drives together, and we spend a good deal
of our time with Lady Montella, who is one of the sweetest women in the
world.”

The Countess regarded her contemplatively.

“So you are in love, and flourishing,” she observed, with a smile.
“Well, I am very glad. Long may it last. Presently I may tell you my
news; but it is such a great secret that I hardly know if I am justified
in trusting you.”

Patricia looked up with curiosity.

“Which means that you will tell me, nevertheless,” she rejoined. “What
is it, Mamie? Something new?”

The little Countess nodded.

“Something very new; but I am not going to divulge until after lunch. I
am too hungry to talk secrets.”

Lunch was a somewhat dreary affair. The Earl seemed to consider it his
duty to lead the conversation; and as he was a peculiarly absent-minded
man, his efforts were not entirely successful. The Countess, having
started her host on the subject of one of his hobbies, confined her
attention to her favourite mayonnaise, whilst Patricia, like a dutiful
daughter, supplemented her father’s disquisitions by the most
intelligent questions she could muster. When it was over, the ladies
adjourned to Patricia’s boudoir, which was the cosiest room in the
house. It was decorated in the style of the Renaissance, and the few
pictures on the walls were of the choicest. Patricia loved to surround
herself with pretty things but she also possessed a leaning towards the
antique. There was on her little table—itself of ancient origin—a gold
snuff-box, which belonged originally to George I.; an old Roman coin,
said to be one of the thirty pieces of silver for which Judas Iscariot
sold our Lord; the quill pen with which the sentence of Lady Jane Grey
was signed; and various other articles of vertu. There was also a small
oaken prie-dieu, with the inscription which St. Paul found at Athens
displayed above it: “_To the Unknown God_”; and there was an exquisite
marble bust of the late Countess Torrens, Patricia’s mother. There were
_editions de luxe_ of the works of Patricia’s favourite poets, and as
many photographs of the said poets as could be obtained. In the bow
window, which overlooked the square, an old-fashioned harpsichord was
placed; here Lady Chesterwood seated herself, and began to play.

The tone of the instrument was mellow, but the fingers of the Countess
were stiff. Pianoforte-playing had quite gone out of fashion, for the
mechanisms for automatic pianoforte-playing—by means of an attachment to
the instrument—were so perfect and in such general use that it was
really a waste of energy for a person to manipulate the keys in the old
way. This ancient harpsichord, however, was spared the indignity of a
mechanical addition. Patricia was too deeply imbued with the sense of
the fitness of things to have allowed it, even had it been possible.

“Have you given up wearing a brooch, or have you lost it, Pat?” Lady
Chesterwood asked suddenly. She was watching her all the time she
played.

Patricia involuntarily put up her hand to her collar.

“Neither,” she answered promptly. “I have given it away.”

“Given it away? You foolish girl!” The Countess ceased playing, whilst a
look of astonishment crossed her face. “You don’t mean to say it was the
diamond spray you always wear?”

“Yes; the one father gave me after I was ill two years ago. I gave it to
the Unemployed.”

“Patricia! Are you mad? Please explain yourself.”

Patricia blushed. “There is not much to explain,” she rejoined. “Lionel
and I happened to come across the procession of the Unemployed—perhaps
you have seen it yourself? Yes? Then you know how it makes one’s blood
run cold to see the misery on their faces. I had only a little money to
put in the collecting-box, so I gave my brooch. If they can sell it, it
will do them more good than myself.”

“Preposterous!” the Countess exclaimed. “Why, it was worth at least two
hundred pounds.”

“So much the better; even if they get only a hundred, it will go towards
buying bread. And I shall not even miss it—I have so many trinkets.”

Her cousin shrugged her shoulders.

“Well, I won’t say any more,” she said. “You always were one of the most
absurdly quixotic creatures of my acquaintance. I should not be at all
surprised if you ended by beggaring yourself.”

“In that case, I shall appeal to you for assistance,” Patricia answered,
with a smile. “But do not let us talk about myself. Tell me your great
secret, Mamie.”

“Presently. There is plenty of time.”

Patricia glanced at her with curiosity.

“You are making a great mystery of it,” she remarked. “Whom does it
concern?”

Lady Chesterwood’s fingers pressed the keys once more. There was a
peculiar expression on her face, and a new gleam seemed to come into her
eyes. She was a pretty woman, and possessed the indefinable charm which
generally associates itself with young widows. She turned round slowly
on the music-stool, and faced Patricia with a glance which almost
betrayed a touch of defiance.

“The secret concerns myself and a man,” she replied slowly. “A great
man.”



                              CHAPTER VIII
                       LADY CHESTERWOOD’S SECRET


Patricia’s interest deepened. “A great man?” she repeated. “In what way
is he great?”

The Countess rose with an air of mystery, and closed the door, which had
been left ajar. Then she established herself comfortably in one of the
beautifully carved chairs, and assumed a look of importance.

“First of all, dear,” she said impressively, “you must promise absolute
secrecy. I must have your word of honour that you won’t tell a living
soul, not even Lionel Montella.”

“I will readily promise not to tell any of my friends,” Patricia
answered, “but I have no secrets from Lionel. Is this necessary?”

“Absolutely. I would not have Montella know for worlds. Perhaps I am
foolish in telling you, Pat, but I know I can trust you if you promise.”

The girl hesitated. She was not sure that she cared to be told anything
which must be expressly kept back from her lover; but after a few
moments’ consideration she yielded. After all, it might not be of much
importance—a love-affair probably, for the Countess was still quite
young.

“Very well, I promise,” she said.

“On your word of honour?”

“On my word of honour.”

Lady Chesterwood’s expression was inscrutable.

“Then I will tell you,” she said, after a moment’s pause. “I have
received an offer of marriage from Mr. Athelstan Moore.”

Had she received an offer of marriage from his Satanic Majesty, her
cousin could not have looked more aghast. She started to her feet, the
colour ebbing from her cheeks.

“From Athelstan Moore?” she repeated, in a voice of excitement. “But
surely you will not accept it? You cannot accept it!”

The Countess clasped her hands at the back of her head, and regarded her
cousin imperturbably.

“Why not?” she asked, with irritating calmness. “I am only twenty-six,
and tired of my widowhood. There is no earthly reason why I should not
marry again. What could be more satisfactory than a widow with one
little boy marrying a widower with one little girl? And Athelstan Moore
is one of the first men in England, and has been angled for by every
girl in society since his wife died. I should be very foolish if I did
not give his proposal very careful consideration.”

Patricia paced the room in agitation.

“I thought you loved my Cousin Chesterwood,” she said. “I did not think
you would be faithless to his memory so soon.”

“You have no right to use the word ‘faithless,’” the Countess returned,
with a touch of hauteur. “I made Chesterwood a true wife while he lived;
I have nothing to reproach myself with where he is concerned. But I have
always had the desire for power. I am tired of being a mere society
puppet with a coronet. As wife of the Prime Minister I should shine in a
manner after my own heart. There is a certain fascination in helping to
pull the wires which govern the State.”

“You would help to accomplish the downfall of Lionel Montella’s race?”
said Patricia, her face hardening. “I had thought our friendship was
tried and true, Mamie; but it seems that, like everything else, it is
only transient, seeing that you are so willing to relinquish it.”

“Nonsense! You are too much given to high-falutin’, Pat. Be sensible.
Why should the Premier’s wife be considered unworthy of your
friendship?”

“It is not a case of ‘unworthiness’ at all. The Premier is the enemy of
my future husband and of his co-religionists. If you marry him, it is
not possible that you can still be my greatest friend. There can be no
intercourse between your house and mine. Do you not understand? Mr.
Moore would probably forbid you to visit or receive me, and Lionel would
have to do the same.”

“I do not quite see it,” the Countess returned obdurately. “Politics
need not interfere with a private and personal friendship. I think you
exaggerate the matter, my dear. Why, I might even influence Moore on
behalf of Montella’s cause. I might be the saviour of Judaism, and
receive the thanks of every Jew in the kingdom. Instead of becoming your
enemy, I might prove myself in very truth your friend.”

Her eyes glistened at the picture her imagination had painted. She would
prove what a tremendous influence a woman could have over a man, and how
her feminine will, as frail as gossamer, yet as strong as iron, could
decide the destiny of a whole race. Here would be something worth
accomplishing, a feat at least worthy of the attempt. To subjugate the
invincible will of Athelstan Moore! Her face glowed with a foretaste of
the charm of such a battle.

Patricia was doubtful, but her features relaxed. She wondered if the
Countess, whose nature she had always considered somewhat shallow, would
have the strength of purpose to fulfil her words. If she could succeed,
what a glorious victory it would be! The thought caused her heart to
leap and her eyes to deepen. She paused in front of her dead cousin’s
wife, and held out her hands.

“Would you do this, Mamie?” she asked, in a tense voice. “Would you
really espouse our cause? Oh, it would be so grand, so blessed a thing!
Read the history of the Jews, and you will see what a long-suffering
people they are, surely more sinned against than sinning. It is we who
are to blame—we Gentiles, who, in the name of Christianity, have
persecuted them throughout the ages, who have inflicted on them the
tortures of the Inquisition, who have denied them the rights accorded to
other civilised beings. The Jews are the elder brothers of the human
race, and to hate them is to hate the God who made them. Long before
Greece and Rome held sway over the world, _they_ had their kings,
warriors, poets, and philosophers. Has there ever been in the world’s
history a greater king and philosopher than Solomon, a greater warrior
than Judas the Maccabee, a greater poet than the Psalmist, a greater
athlete than Samson, a greater Christian than Paul the Apostle?—and all
these men were Jews. Oh, if you could only make Athelstan Moore and his
followers see the uselessness and iniquity of anti-Semitism, you would
do a work which would endear you to the hearts of hundreds! But will you
do it? Have you the power to carry out your determination? Have you the
moral courage to risk incurring the disapproval of society? It is no
trivial matter. Think—think what it means!”

Her hands unclasped and fell to her side; her face was unlifted in
appeal. She was evidently actuated by a great sincerity and earnestness;
and Lady Chesterwood’s playful rejoinder froze on her lips.

“Sweet little enthusiast!” she exclaimed, moved in spite of herself.
“Montella is lucky in winning your love. It is your love which casts the
roseate hue over the Jewish people, dear, and you see I do not possess
the same incentive. Still, I will do my best, and if I marry Athelstan
Moore, I promise you that I shall not lack the courage to voice your
opinions. I would rather remain your friend than become your enemy, and
the idea of thwarting the Premier pleases me mightily. It is like David
with his little sling and stone attacking the formidable Goliath, or the
tiny mouse gnawing the rope which great men cannot break. The world
shall see, as it has seen before, what a beautiful woman can do. Have no
fear, my dear child, I know I shall succeed.”

Self-assurance had ever been the keynote to the success of Mamie
Chesterwood’s family. From a mere clerk in an engineering office in
Baltimore, with little more than his pride of descent from the Pilgrim
Fathers to sustain him, her father had risen to the wealth and power of
an American copper king. As a matter of course, both his daughters had
married titles, Mamie’s elder sister, Olive, being the wife of Prince
Charles of Felsen-Schvoenig. It was no wonder, therefore, that Mamie
herself had inherited a love of overcoming difficulties, and of mounting
from one high position to another. She knew that by marrying Athelstan
Moore she would partially lose her freedom; but she felt that this would
amply be compensated for by the exciting situations which would probably
affect her as Premier’s wife. So by the time her conversation with
Patricia came to an end, she had made up her mind to accept the offer of
her would-be swain. She asked her cousin for pen and paper, and wrote
the answer then and there.

There was always a little of her own notepaper in Patricia’s desk, so
that she did not have to use Earl Torrens’ address. Patricia watched her
as she wrote, and wondered what the ultimate result would be. Was the
Countess unconsciously making trouble for herself, or was she really
paving the way of freedom for the British Jews? Who could look into the
future, and foresee the consequence of her act? Only time would show.

“May I not tell Lionel?” the girl asked eagerly, when the letter was
sealed. “Why should he be kept in ignorance of the matter? He may be
able to offer some advice.”

The Countess shook her head.

“For the present I do not wish him to know,” she rejoined. “I must hold
you to your promise, Pat. Remember, you gave me your word of honour.
Soon it will be in all the society papers. You will not have to wait
long.”

Patricia said no more; and soon afterwards the Countess took her
departure. When she had gone, the girl remained long in her boudoir,
deep in thought. Was it Providence, or merely the irony of fate, that
caused her greatest friend to become the wife of her greatest enemy, she
wondered. If only she might talk it over with her lover when he came;
but she was bound to silence. The fire burned low, and as the shadows
gathered, a shadow seemed to oppress her heart. Presently a footman
brought her some tea, and tried to make the room more cosy by stirring
the fire and drawing the velvet curtains together. Certainly the
electric lamps, under their golden shades, conduced to cheerfulness more
than the grey twilight. But the sense of loneliness was not dispelled,
and crept closer as the hours lengthened. At six o’clock Mrs. Lowther
returned, and expounded on all the events of the day; but her
companionship was not of the kind that the girl needed, and she was glad
when it was time to dress. Her lover did not arrive until much
later—just when she had given him up, and was contemplating bed. He had
come straight from the House, and burst into the room with an
impetuosity she had never seen in him before. His face was so pale, and
his eyes so bright, that instinctively she knew that something was
wrong. Being aware of the presence of her chaperon, he said not a word,
but took both her hands in silence.

Mrs. Lowther, with unusual tact, gathered up her belongings, and
uttering a trivial excuse, sailed majestically out of the room. Patricia
gave a sigh of relief, but she was in a flutter of suspense.

“Your hands are as cold as ice, dear,” she said, with concern. “What has
happened?”

“The very worst!” was his reply, in a voice which was hoarse with
emotion—“worse than anything I had anticipated even in my wildest
dreams. Athelstan Moore has declared open antagonism towards my people.
To-night a Bill came up for its first reading in Parliament—a Bill for
the banishment of all the Jews!”

“All the Jews?” the girl repeated questioningly. “The pauper aliens, you
mean?”

He shook his head.

“No, _all_ the Jews, both English and foreign, rich and poor. Moore does
not intend to do things by halves.”

Patricia drew a deep breath.

“Preposterous!” she exclaimed—“preposterous! Surely the man must be mad.
Banish the Jews! Why, anyone can see at first sight that the idea is
totally impracticable. How was it received?”

He sank on to a chair, looking almost exhausted.

“I hardly know. I was so dumfounded that I could scarcely move, and the
whole place seemed to spin. The other Members regarded it with
equanimity, and evidently knew something of it before. I suppose I was
purposely kept in the dark. The House rose before the debate was
concluded, and it will be brought on again to-morrow night. But think,
Patricia, what it will mean. It is enough to make a man’s senses reel!”

The girl poured him out a glass of wine and made him take it. If only
she had known of this before Lady Chesterwood had left! Her heart beat
like a sledge-hammer against her breast, and for the moment she could
find no words; but she knew that her lover needed comfort, and that it
was her duty to help him.

“Your nerves are unstrung, dear,” she said, in a soothing voice. “You
must go home soon and rest. I am sure you need not be alarmed, Lionel.
The Bill will never be carried; it cannot, while there is justice in
England. What man in his senses would counsel intoleration in these
days? This is the age of freedom—of freedom in religious matters most of
all.”

“It is not the Jewish religion that Moore objects to so much as the
Jewish race,” Montella replied, in a dull voice. “He is as rabid as it
is possible for a Jew-baiter to be, and he has, unfortunately, such a
convincing manner that there are few who can withstand him. Of course,
he made a great deal of the Consolidated Trust smash and those
processions of the Unemployed. Yet, as you say, the Bill is
impracticable. I do not see how it is possible to banish the Jews. Where
are they to go? The whole thing is monstrous—absurd!”

“It is, and therefore you must not worry about it, Lal. You must laugh
at it instead. The good-natured British Public will laugh, I am sure,
when they read of it in the papers to-morrow. And now, dear, I am not
going to talk to you any more to-night. You must go straight home to
bed, and try to cool that burning forehead of yours.”

He rose and drew her affectionately towards him.

“My darling! You are brave enough to put courage into any man.” He
sighed, and squaring his shoulders, added: “Well, if it’s fighting they
want, we must fight to the death. But, Patricia, if by any horrible
chance this Bill is passed, it will mean that I also am included under
the ban. It will mean the emptying out of joy from my life—for it will
mean separation from you.”

“Never!” she exclaimed, almost before the words had passed his lips.
“Your cause is mine, and not all the devilish designs of Athelstan Moore
and his satellites shall come between us. If you are banished, then I
shall be banished, too. Oh, Lionel, what is love worth if it fails at
such a time!”

She hid her face on his shoulder, her form shaken with heavy sobs; but
she quickly recovered from her emotion, and regained her
self-possession.

“Mamie Chesterwood was here to-day,” she informed him, as he went
towards the door. “She is our friend, Lionel, and has promised to stand
by us through thick and thin.”

“Has she, dear?” There was little hope in his voice. He did not seem to
think the Countess would prove an ally of much importance.

“There is more in her than we think,” Patricia added, more cheerfully.
“I really believe she will be of use. She is one of those who have to be
fully persuaded in their own minds before they will do anything.”

Then she remembered that her lips were sealed.



                               CHAPTER IX
                              THE ZIONISTS


Montella did not go straight home in spite of Patricia’s injunction. He
turned into the park, and crossed over to the Serpentine, scarcely
knowing whither his steps were tending. A slight mist hung over the
water, and the air was chilly with the raw dampness of November. With no
sound to break the stillness, save the echo of his own tread and the
rumble of far-off traffic, he was able to steady his nerves. Moore’s
Bill had given him a blow from which he could not easily recover; but on
due consideration he came to the conclusion that he had been unwise to
have so openly displayed his agitation. What he needed were coolness and
confidence; but instead of showing either he had become as
panic-stricken as an animal driven to bay.

He flung himself down on a seat, with his back to the water, and tried
to think out his speech for the morrow. He knew that as the only Jewish
member of any importance in the House, his co-religionists would look to
him to vindicate their claims. On him had fallen the responsibility of
voicing the appeal for justice of the whole Jewish community, and
although he was but a unit when it came to taking the majority, it was
his duty to oppose the Bill tooth and nail.

The absurdity of the Bill would have caused him amusement had it not
affected him so nearly; for he could see that endless complications
would arise if it were passed. The banishment of the Jews was a matter
easier said than done, seeing that the yellow badge and the _rouelle_
were things of the past. Well, it would be a fine test for separating
true Jews from false: perhaps persecution would—as it had so often done
before—kindle the smouldering fire of Judaism into a flame.

The newspapers next morning were full of the new Bill, and despite the
fact that many of the newspaper proprietors were of Hebrew extraction,
the attitude taken up by the majority of the dailies was in favour of
the project. Instead of displaying the sense of justice and fairplay
which has ever been the Englishman’s boast, the leaders were
characterised by envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. The
jealousy which had been kept under for so long a time now burst forth
with uncontrollable fury; to Montella, it was but the impotent howling
of a totally corrupt press.

His speech that night had nothing of the brilliance of the Premier’s
oration, but it was manly and straight to the point. Like a second
Daniel come to judgment, he stood erect and fearless; and stated his
case with a lucidity which was bound to create a good impression. While
admitting the undesirability of pauper alien immigration, he considered
it the height of folly to desire to interfere with the peace of those
estimable Jewish citizens who kept the laws and contributed to the
welfare of the country. He asked his colleagues to look back to the
reign of Queen Victoria—the reign which brought so much emancipation to
the Jews—to note the friendliness with which she always treated them,
and the consequent prosperity of England during her reign. He begged
them not to allow the beneficent influence of Victoria the Good to be
dispelled; and appealing to their common sense as well as their
humanity, endeavoured to point out the disadvantages appertaining to
such a Bill. He certainly had logic on his side, as well as the
certainty that his cause was a just one; and his words, uttered in a low
but distinct tone, commanded respect. The calmness with which he spoke
contrasted favourably with the lashing words of the Premier, whose eyes
gleamed with a personal hatred as well as an impersonal conviction. But
despite the justice of Montella’s plea, the general feeling was against
the Jews; and as the whole of the working-classes supported the Bill,
there was little doubt as to its final issue.

“It is madness!” Montella exclaimed, when he told his mother and Raie of
the result. “The people are all afflicted with Judaphobia; their
reasoning powers are numbed. They will not be satisfied until they have
broken up our homes and driven us away.”

“And is there no antidote?” asked Raie wistfully. “Cannot we come to a
compromise of some sort?”

“There is the only one which Mr. Lawson Holmes suggested in the House
this afternoon—assimilation. We are to sink our racial affinity, one
towards another; give up our Judaism for Theism; attend Theistic places
of worship, if worship in public we must; pull down our synagogues and
burn our _talithim_; abstain from clannishness; marry only Gentiles; and
forget our descent. That, says Mr. Holmes, is the rational solution of
the whole question. Assimilation is the means by which we are to wriggle
out of the difficulty. Of course, it applies only to us British Jews.”

“No doubt there are many who will think that a very sensible course,”
said Lady Montella. “Still I am surprised that if the racial prejudice
is really so strong the Gentiles should desire the admixture with
English blood. Ah—” as a maid approached bearing a card on a silver
salver, “someone to see you, I suppose.”

“Dr. Engelmacher!” exclaimed Lionel, with pleasure, as he took up the
card. “I had no idea that he was in London. Show him in here please,
Mary.”

“Dr. Engelmacher!” repeated Lady Montella, her eyes brightening at the
name. “He must have come here for some special purpose.”

Max Engelmacher was the great leader of the Zionists in Germany, a man
whose fame had spread throughout every Jewish centre. In appearance he
was a typical German, with fair hair, light blue eyes covered with
spectacles, and rugged features. No less Oriental-looking man could ever
have been found; nevertheless, he was a very Jew of the Jews—to some a
second Moses ready to lead his people to the promised land, to others
the one who should come in the power and spirit of Elijah before the
advent of the national Messiah. As a young man he—in common with
others—had seen his visions and dreamed his dreams; but experience had
hardened him into a genial cynic who was practical before everything
else.

Lady Montella rose as his burly figure blocked the doorway, and held out
her hand with almost the first smile which had passed across her face
since her husband’s death. There was no doubt as to the sincerity of her
welcome.

“This bad business has had one good effect, since it has brought you
here,” she said.

“A bad business indeed, lady,” he replied, in German. “Yet if it stirs
up some of you English Jews to action, I shall not call it altogether
bad.”

“You think we are too cold, eh, doctor?”

“Cold? _Um Gotteswillen!_ yes. You sit at home in your fine houses, with
your maids and footmen, your electric light and your telephone, and you
will scarcely spare a _nebbich_[6] for those of your own race who are
hounded from one place to another, who are scarcely allowed to take a
free breath of God’s air because they are Jews. You metaphorically
gather your skirts together lest you should be defiled by contact with
those whom you choose to call the scum of the earth; but you do not take
the trouble to consider what has brought them so low. And you tie up
your heart-strings and your purse-strings tight, lest you should be
tempted to throw good money away. Cold! You are a nation of icebergs, so
civilised and anglicised that what feeling you ever possessed has been
refined out of you long ago. That is my opinion of the English Jews,
madam. I am bound to speak the truth.”

Footnote 6:

  “Poor things!”

“Dear old Engelmacher!” exclaimed Montella, _sotto voce_. “A voice of
thunder, and a heart of gold!”

Then he turned to the mighty pioneer, and entered upon a serious
conversation concerning the present crisis. It was a relief to him to be
able to open his heart.

The doctor, having obtained permission, lit up his old and well-beloved
briar, and puffed away in silence. He always believed that his pipe
assisted his mental digestion, and never troubling to study
conventionalities, was not deterred by the presence of the ladies. Lady
Montella was too much interested in the discussion to mind the smoke.
She considered this an opportunity which should certainly not be lost.

“It is money we want,” the doctor said, when the whole situation had
been explained. “Another two millions, and Palestine will be ours. I
have the best authority for saying this; our colleague Karl Lierhammer
had an audience with the Sultan last week. Only one hundred thousand
pounds is needed to allow us to start operations north-west of the
Jordan at once, and I can lay my hands on fifty thousand Jewish artisans
who are ready to begin. So you see our dream is not so far from being
realised after all.”

Lady Montella’s face glowed.

“How splendidly you have worked while we thought the movement was at a
standstill,” she said. “You may count on us for the hundred thousand; we
will raise it among ourselves and our relations. We can safely promise
this, I think?” she added, addressing her son.

Lionel answered in the affirmative.

“We do not require the money as a donation,” Dr. Engelmacher explained.
“It will all go into the national debt. Palestine will be a
self-supporting country in a comparatively short time; the fertility of
the land is remarkable. Will you believe me, dear people, when I tell
you that before the Zionist movement was conceived, that country was
barren from lack of water; but that since we began our operations there
the rain has fallen in due season, and all Nature has conduced to
further our aim?[7] Is not this a testimony—if such we need—to the
righteousness of our cause?”

Footnote 7:

  A fact attested by the Rev. Dr. Gaster.

“Wonderful!” exclaimed Lady Montella, with glad surprise. “Yet people
say that miracles do not happen nowadays. Why, even Christians believe
that we are to be restored to our own land—the land of promise. Strange
that some of the Jews themselves should be so reluctant to act on that
belief.”

“Strange indeed,” returned the doctor. “I believe that prosperity and
freedom have combined to dim their spiritual vision. They live only for
the present, and being happy themselves, they are incapable of feeling
for their persecuted brethren abroad. Ah, if I can only succeed in
arousing the interest of all the rich Jews in England so far as to make
them invest their money Zionwards, our cause will be won. It is for this
purpose that I have come here.”

“If England expels the Jews, I’m afraid she will regret it before many
months are past,” said Montella thoughtfully. “I believe the Government
will not have the best side of the bargain after all.”

“The Government will find itself in the biggest pickle it has ever
known,” was Dr. Engelmacher’s reply. “It is safe to say that when
anti-Semitism attacks a country, that country is in a state of decline.
England, the justice-loving happy queen of nations, will soon find out
her mistake. She is but passing through a phase; she will come through
the cloud strengthened and purified. I know and love the English people
well enough to be certain of this.”

“Then you think—?”

“I think nothing yet, my dear Montella. I prefer to wait for the course
of events. For the present I must say _Auf Wiedersehen_. I shall see you
again before I leave London, I hope.”

He rose, and politely declining Lady Montella’s cordial invitation to
dinner, took his departure; but they saw him again at a huge Zionist
meeting on the following night. The hall was packed from door to door,
rich and poor uniting for once under the sense of common danger. Like a
drowning man catches at a straw, they clung to the new hope which was
presented to them; for with anti-Semitism brought so near home, they
could no longer afford to ignore the burning question. And what a hope
it was that, clothed though it was in foreign accents, breathed through
Engelmacher’s words! A land of their very own, where persecution would
be forgotten, where they could lift their heads in freedom, and win back
their good name. The promised land of their forefathers and of their
glorious past—the promised land of the future, where they should behold
the long-looked-for coming of the King! No wonder that their stricken
hearts were inflamed by the national hope. The voices of the prophets—to
which for so long they had turned deaf ears—were reaching them at last.

Who could tell what new revelations they might not have to unfold?



                               CHAPTER X
                          PREMIER AND PEERESS


The new Grand Imperial Hotel at Brighton was very full; for it had
become the fashion once again to spend the week-end away from town, and
the Grand Imperial was the hotel temporarily favoured, not so much by
the so-called “smart set” as by those who were popularly supposed to
possess brains. Jaded barristers, glad to forget for the moment that
there existed such a place as the Inner Temple, a trio of actor-managers
who were “resting”; two or three of the most beautiful women in society,
and a sprinkling of clerics were included among the guests.
To-night—Saturday—the Right Hon. Athelstan Moore was expected, and the
hotel complement would be complete.

It was the hour between tea and dinner—the children’s hour. Those who
were not imbibing the salubrious air along the promenade were gathered
in the lounge, whilst the children—there were not many—played
hide-and-seek around the Corinthian pillars and behind the numerous
Chesterfield couches. One of them, a tiny boy of scarcely five summers,
was playing horses with a little girl three years his senior, and racing
up and down as fast as his little legs would carry him, seemed bubbling
over with health and merriment.

“You go too slow, Phyllis,” he piped, almost out of breath with his
mimic galloping and plunging. “Why don’t you run?”

Phyllis Moore loosened the reins.

“If I run I shall make myself tired,” she replied demurely. “My
governess told me to play quietly. I am going to wait up for father
to-night.”

The air of maiden superiority jarred upon the little boy.

“I will wait up for father, too,” he announced sturdily. “Let’s both
wait up.”

Phyllis looked more superior than ever.

“You are very silly, Leslie,” she returned. “How can you wait up for
your father when he is dead?”

“What’s dead?” demanded Leslie, with wide-open eyes.

“Dead? Oh, it’s being put down in a hole in the ground and being covered
with a lot of nasty earth, and then having a great flat stone plumped
down on top of you. That’s what your father is.”

“He isn’t,” denied Leslie, with indignation.

“He is, or else you would not be the Earl of Chesterwood.”

“He isn’t!” Leslie stamped his foot.

“He is!”

“He isn’t. You are a horrid little girl, and I don’t like you a bit.”

“Children, what are you quarrelling about?” said a lady’s voice from
behind one of the pillars. “It is very naughty to quarrel. Come and tell
me what is the matter.”

Leslie dissolved into tears, and hid his face in the folds of his
mother’s skirt, whilst Phyllis stood by abashed. Lady Chesterwood, not
wishing to have her gown marred by her son’s emotion, produced a small
cambric handkerchief, and placed it between the child’s face and her
skirt.

“Now,” she said, addressing herself to Phyllis, “why did you make Leslie
cry?”

“I didn’t make him cry,” the Premier’s daughter answered sulkily. “I
only told him his father was dead. It is quite true. His father _is_
dead.”

“He isn’t,” came from Leslie, in a stifled voice. “She says my father is
in a hole in the ground, with a lot of nasty earth and a stone on top of
him; and he isn’t! My father doesn’t live in a hole.”

The Countess maintained a calm demeanour.

“Your father is above the bright blue sky with the angels, sonnie,” she
said soothingly. “Don’t you remember that I told you he had gone away to
heaven?”

“Yes.” Leslie raised his head triumphantly, and glowered at Phyllis. “My
father is in heaven with the angels. I knew he wasn’t down a nasty hole
in the ground!”

Phyllis, still unconvinced, stalked away to rejoin her governess, and
the Countess was spared the necessity of entering further into the
problem. She wondered what Leslie would have to say if she were to
provide him with a new father, and how he and Phyllis would agree. The
letter which she had dashed off in Patricia’s boudoir had never been
sent, for she had thought better of it before she reached home. She had
not yet given a definite answer to her illustrious wooer, although a
month had passed, but she knew that he was coming to Brighton expressly
to hear what she had to say.

When the nurse came for her boy, she went to rejoin the sister with whom
she was staying—the Princess Charles von Felsen-Schvoenig. She felt
unusually nervous, and could not settle down anywhere. The bravado she
had shown in her conversation with Patricia had gradually evaporated
until there was little left. The nearer it came to meeting the Premier
the less courageous did she feel. She was not at all sure now that she
considered it worth while to become the defender of the Jews.

The Princess was very much like her sister in appearance, but possessed
stronger features and a firmer will. She considered Mamie foolish to
wish to encumber herself with another husband, and to give up her
widowed freedom. Her own husband—with whom she was not in love—was
suffering with a disease of the spine; and as he allowed himself to be
relegated to the castle in Felsen-Schvoenig whenever his presence was
undesired by his wife, the Princess enjoyed life in her own way as a
woman of independence. She was fond of travelling, and journeyed from
one place to another as she felt inclined. Perhaps there was scarcely a
wife in the whole of Europe so little troubled by domestic affairs.

“So the hour approaches!” she exclaimed, as her sister appeared in her
boudoir. “Whence the pale cheeks and troubled brow?”

“Am I pale?” The Countess glanced at herself in the mirror. “I shall
have plenty of colour when the lights are lit. I feel real stupid
to-day; I don’t know why. When Moore begins rolling off his words to me
in that curious manner of his, I know I shall have nothing to say for
myself in return. I might be a girl in her first season instead of a
widow and a woman of the world. And I just wanted to be especially
brilliant to-night. It’s very annoying, isn’t it?”

The Princess regarded her contemplatively. “I believe you are afraid of
Moore,” she said.

“Afraid? What nonsense. As if I could be frightened of a little man
scarcely a head taller than myself!”

“A little man certainly, but he has a great personality. It is said that
the man or woman does not exist who can oppose Moore’s iron will. It is
true enough that when he determines on a thing, that thing always comes
to pass. Therefore, my dear Mamie, you will know what to expect.”

“_Qui vivra verra_,” returned her sister, as the dressing-bell resounded
through the hotel; and then, with a careless nod, she left the room.

She looked much better when, an hour later, she descended to the salon.
Her gown of filmy chiffon and lace suited her to perfection, and
anticipation had lent a touch of colour to her cheeks. The Princess, who
was in black relieved and studded by gems which glittered with every ray
of light, glanced at her with satisfaction.

“Moore is here,” she announced quietly. “He arrived about ten minutes
ago, and has gone up to see Phyllis and dress.”

Nevertheless the Premier was absent from the dinner-table, and the
Countess was kept on tenter-hooks until the gentlemen rejoined the
ladies, when she noticed his short, thick-set figure at the entrance to
the lounge. The band in the north gallery had begun the overture to
Faust, and his coming was—by a coincidence—heralded by the martial tones
of the Soldiers’ Chorus. She put down the untasted cup of coffee on the
little table at her side, and trifled nervously with the diamond collar
on her neck. The next moment she had shaken hands and was exchanging
commonplaces with the first man in England. Her nervousness suddenly
vanished, leaving her natural and free.

The Press had often remarked on the apparent likeness between the
Premier and Napoleon the Great. Certainly Athelstan Moore possessed
eagle-eyes, a Roman nose, and somewhat round and stooping shoulders, and
the brusqueness of his manner considerably strengthened the effect. He
jerked out his words in the tone of one accustomed to command, and was
absolutely devoid of the saving sense of humour. That was why some
people found his society somewhat trying. He never could—or
would—receive a joke.

“You are late,” the Countess said, as she made room for him beside her.
“I expected you long ago.”

“Yes; I was detained in town. I could have been down to dinner, however,
had not Phyllis insisted on my staying with her until she went to
sleep.”

It was a curious fact that while the Premier never suffered himself to
be dictated to by those whose powers of thought equalled his own, he was
as wax in the hands of his child. The Countess smiled.

“Phyllis has been quarrelling with my little Leslie,” she informed him,
with pretended gravity. “It is strange that they two can never agree.”

“I suppose it is because the girl is older than the boy,” he returned
thoughtfully. “A boy does not like to be commanded by a girl, even if
she be older than himself. I must have a serious talk with Phyllis. I do
not wish her to quarrel with anyone, least of all your little boy.”

He laid stress on the pronoun. The Countess knew what he meant, but she
said nothing, and turned over the pages of her book with apparent
carelessness. The lounge was filling, and the music ceased. Espying the
figure of a well-known political bore opposite, Moore leant farther back
in shadow. He knew that if he were noticed he would be called upon to
talk politics for the remainder of the evening; and although it was true
that his life was bound up in his beloved Government, he was not anxious
to enter into a controversy just now.

“I wish to speak to you, Mamie,” he said, lowering his voice. “Will you
come out on the terrace? It is a glorious night; and if you put on a
wrap you will not feel cold.”

The Countess rose obediently, and sent for her fur-lined cloak. It was
just like a man to think that a bare neck and arms could be sufficiently
protected by a flimsy “wrap.” The night was certainly calm, but as it
was winter it could scarcely be otherwise than chilly. The terrace was
deserted, save for a young man who was enjoying a smoke at the far end.
Moore drew the young widow to a rustic seat at the most sheltered
corner. There was no sound save the swish of the sea.

Athelstan Moore was not the man to indulge in sentimentality. He paid no
heed to the moon and the stars and the stillness, but came to the point
at once. Lady Chesterwood had been given a month to consider his offer
of marriage, and as the time had expired, he awaited her answer now.

Lady Chesterwood was still undecided.

“You say you wish to marry me because you are particularly drawn towards
me,” she said evenly. “But in your position as head of the State, is it
wise to saddle yourself with a wife?”

“‘_Amare simul et sapere ipsi jovi non datur_,’” he quoted lightly.
“Besides, I think it expedient for a Prime Minister to be married, since
his wife can perform her duty to the State socially as hostess. Mrs.
Moore, as you know, died a year after our marriage—when Phyllis was
born. Don’t you think I owe a duty also to my motherless child?”

If there was a tender spot in the Premier’s heart, it was for his little
girl. Mamie knew it, and thought she recognised what had prompted the
man’s desire.

“You want a mother for Phyllis?” she asked softly. “Am I not right?”

“Yes; but I also want you for myself. It is not good for man to be
alone, especially a man so harassed and worried by the affairs of the
nation as I am. When a fellow’s brain is so severely taxed that
sometimes the whole universe seems out of joint, he longs for the
sympathy of an intelligent woman to steady his nerves. I am not a young
man, and I do not offer you the passionate devotion which a hotheaded
youth lavishes on a young girl in her teens; but I will do my best to
make you a good husband, Mamie; and as you are a sensible woman, I think
you will understand.”

Mamie did understand, and experienced a feeling of gratification. It
seemed strange to hear Moore—the ostensibly stony-hearted, hard-headed
Prime Minister—talk in this strain. It showed that, strong as he was, he
was not too strong to be able to dispense with sympathy. It showed that,
in spite of all the logic of dry-as-dust professors, there was a force
to be reckoned with in love.

The music had begun again, and the seductive strains of a valse floated
out towards them. The waves, as they broke at regular intervals upon the
beach, seemed to beat time to the melody, and the seething foam rushing
backwards on the pebbles added a refrain. A sense of unreality affected
the little Countess as she listened; it seemed almost as if she were
living the past over again. She had had acquaintance with the man beside
her for at least three years, but she had never liked him so well as at
this moment. Perhaps it was because she saw him in a new light, and felt
the undoubted fascination of his virile personality. She forgot the many
stories she had heard of his despotic dealings, forgot altogether his
hatred of the Jews. She remembered only that he was a great man, and
that he had come to _her_ for sympathy. Was it a wonder that her small
features glowed with pride!

“I will marry you because you want me,” she said, in a gentle voice at
last, “and I will try and do my duty to your motherless girl, as I hope
you will to my fatherless boy. But you will be good to me, won’t you,
Athelstan?” she added, almost wistfully. “You will be our
protector—Leslie’s and mine?”

He raised her hand to his lips.

“It will be my first care to protect you,” he replied, well pleased,
although he had known all along that she would consent. And he decided
that the marriage should take place in six weeks’ time; there was no
occasion for a further delay.

It was getting cold, and Mamie suggested an adjournment within. They
repassed the young man on their way, still unconcernedly smoking his
cigar. The Princess watched their return, but failed to deduce from
their manner what had happened. Before retiring to rest, however, she
presented herself in her sister’s apartment. She was curious to know the
result.

Mamie was sitting in front of her dressing-table shedding tears—though
whether of joy or sadness she did not herself know. She felt as though
she had just come through an ordeal, which, paradoxically, had not been
an ordeal after all. She dried her eyes hastily, declaring that she was
a goose; to which statement her sister unhesitatingly agreed.

Mamie pushed back her chair, and regarded her with an unnecessary
expression of defiance.

“Well, it’s all settled,” she said carelessly. “I am just going to write
to Poppa. We shall be married on the 10th of February if the fates
propend.”

The Princess gave her a sisterly kiss.

“I suppose you know your own business best, so I will congratulate you,”
she remarked. “Did you keep your promise to Patricia and impose some
condition about the Jews?”

Mamie shook her head.

“It would not have been wise to ruffle Athelstan’s feelings just then by
talking about the Jews,” was her reply. “To tell you the truth, I
entirely forgot their existence. However, there is time yet. I will
introduce the subject to-morrow.”

She was not over-anxious to show the red rag to the bull.



                               CHAPTER XI
                         THE PREMIER OUTWITTED


The next day Lady Chesterwood sat down and wrote the following letter to
her husband’s cousin:

  “MY DEAR PATRICIA,—I have just been up Queen’s Road to see Athelstan
  off by the 6.40 to town, but he will be here again in the middle of
  the week (Parliament permitting), so the parting will not be for long.
  Not forgetting my promise to you, I had a long conversation with him
  this afternoon on the Jewish question, and as you know his feelings on
  the matter, I think I was _most courageous_ in introducing the subject
  at all. He says that the affair has now passed out of his hands, and
  that in speaking as he did, he merely voiced the opinion of the great
  bulk of the British workmen. That the Bill will be passed is an
  absolute certainty, and he thinks the Edict of Banishment will be
  proclaimed in about a month from now. I then told him about your
  engagement to Mr. Montella, and he said it was _absolutely suicidal_
  on your part to become the wife of a Jew. He was so angry about it
  that I dared not say a word in defence. He has begged me to do my
  utmost to persuade you to break off the engagement; and really,
  Patricia, I think you will be _most foolish_ if you persist. Have you
  not realised that, as the wife of Montella, you will either be banned
  and cut in society, or else you will have to be separated from him
  when the new Act comes into force? I don’t know what your father can
  be about that he does not interfere. Athelstan intends to pay him a
  visit during the course of the week, to acquaint him of his duty.
  Don’t think me unkind for taking this view of the matter. What I
  really desire is your _ultimate_ happiness.—Ever your affectionate
  cousin,

                                                    “MAMIE CHESTERWOOD.”

The caligraphy was somewhat sprawling in effect, and much underlined. A
student of graphology would have noticed weakness, and a disposition
easily amenable to persuasion in the unconnected and carelessly formed
characters. Patricia absorbed the contents of the letter with very
little surprise. Knowing how easy it was to influence the Countess in
almost any direction, she had been certain all along that the Prime
Minister would soon persuade her to his way of thinking. That was why
she had been so horror-stricken at Mamie’s anticipated engagement to
Moore.

The Premier did not pay his visit that week, but he came before the
month was out. The Earl received him in the state drawing-room, and
listened attentively to what he had to say. He and Moore had been at
Balliol together, and although they had never been actual friends, they
had always entertained a mutual respect for each other. Therefore he did
not think of resenting the Minister’s interference in the matter, and
went so far as to acknowledge the apparent reasonableness of his
opinions.

Nevertheless he did not consider it necessary to be greatly concerned.
If it had been his son who wished to marry a Jewess, the case would have
been different; he seemed to think a daughter of much less consequence.

“Patricia is of age and able to decide for herself,” he said, with an
air of nonchalance. “As she makes her bed, so must she lie upon it—that
is all.”

“But it is such a disgrace,” persisted Moore, determined on carrying his
point. “It is a case which will excite public comment, and therefore is
not merely a personal matter. For the sake of example it ought not to be
allowed.”

The Earl’s face was impassive.

“What is it you object to?” he asked. “The race or the religion?”

“Both, though if Montella dropped his Judaism it would not be so bad.
But Montella never will; the matter will be solved by your daughter
joining the Jewish Church. That is where the disgrace comes in—for a
woman in these days of grace to voluntarily go back to the religion of
the pre-Christian Era, to fling away the Christianity which has done
more than anything else to civilise the world. Why, it’s absolutely
ridiculous. She might just as well put away her modern dress, education,
and culture. I have never known such an absurd thing in my life.”

“I am afraid my daughter is angry with Christianity just now,” said the
Earl imperturbably, “since it is used as a cloak to cover the
persecution of the Jews. She thinks the end does not justify the means.”

“Nonsense! she does not understand anything at all about it. The rulers
of the State have to look far ahead; what we legislate now is for the
benefit of the future generations. It is surely better that these people
should be expelled than that the whole nation should suffer later on.”

He paced up and down the room, his face crimson with indignation. He
could have shaken the noble Earl for being so dense as not to see the
enormity of the situation. He continued to harangue him for another
forty minutes, until the Earl was so weary that he promised faithfully
to insist on the dissolution of the betrothal. Then just as he was about
to conclude his remarks, the door opened to admit the happy—or
unhappy—pair. To the Premier their appearance was most opportune.

They both bowed to the visitor, but neither attempted to shake hands.
Patricia, forgetting that he was Mamie Chesterfield’s fiancé, saw in him
only the virulent Jew-hater, and could not bring herself to give him a
friendly greeting, even though at this particular moment she felt at
peace with all the world. Montella looked unusually flushed, but the
anxious expression which had been his of late had vanished, and there
was an eager glow in his eyes. He took not the slightest notice of the
Premier’s glance of hatred, and stood by his sweetheart’s side with an
air of self-possession. He knew, without requiring to be told, that the
visit of his enemy was in some way connected with himself; but an event
had happened which caused him to view this visit with equanimity almost
amounting to unconcern.

The day was raw and cold, but Patricia was dressed in the palest shade
of grey, the delicate appearance of which was enhanced by the choice
white flowers at her breast and attached to her ermine muff. She looked
so fair and radiant, that Athelstan Moore’s indignation increased, and
he determined yet again that this beautiful girl should not be lost to
England and the Church by becoming Montella’s bride. He asked for an
interview with her and her father, minus the presence of her lover; but
to this request the girl refused to accede. She was quite willing to
listen to whatever the Premier might wish to say, but it must be said
before Mr. Montella or not at all.

The Premier met the steady glance from her grey eyes without flinching.

“Very well, Lady Patricia, you give me no alternative but to speak out
my mind before one to whom my words must be extremely disagreeable,” he
said, with a glance at Montella. “I will not beat about the bush then; I
will come to the point at once. I have just had a long conversation with
your father, in which I have tried to point out to him the many
disadvantages which would accrue from your marriage with Mr. Montella.
Not to mention the many minor points which I might put forth for his
consideration and yours, I will repeat three great impedimenta to such a
marriage. Firstly, you would have to become an apostate from the
Christian religion—an action, the gravity of which it is possible you
could not realise for many years; secondly, you would be ostracised by
society, and for your father’s sake you should remember the motto
_noblesse oblige_—you are not justified in renouncing your birthright;
and thirdly, you would perform an action contrary to the spirit and
temper of the nation at the present time, by not only advocating the
Jewish cause, but by becoming the wife of a Jew. These three reasons are
surely of sufficient weight to deter you from such a course, especially
as you would give not only personal, but national offence. Of course I
take it for granted that you are not actuated purely by a motive of
selfishness. I presume that you are not unwilling to weigh the pros and
cons of the case?”

Patricia had sunk on to one of the little Chippendale chairs, and was
looking up at him with an air of artlessness, whilst the Earl and
Montella stood inertly by.

“You are very kind to take so much interest in me, Mr. Moore,” she said
quietly, when he had finished. “May I be so bold as to inquire the
reason?”

“Certainly; the reason is not far to seek. Having the honour and
pleasure of your acquaintance, your contemplated marriage would grieve
me inexpressibly. And not only that; as I said before, the marriage of a
lady of high rank and noble family with a leader of insurgent Jews is a
matter of national importance. Your father has agreed with me that such
is the case.”

At the word “insurgent” Montella started forward as though he wished to
speak, but his sweetheart, with a gesture, restrained him.

“The Jews are not insurgents,” she corrected quietly. “It is you and
your party who are endeavouring to make them so. I think it a pity that
the nation has not enough to do to look after its own affairs without
troubling about mine. I am afraid I do not appreciate an interest of
this sort.”

The Premier scowled, and Lord Torrens, noticing it, advanced.

“I wish you to give Mr. Moore a proper answer, my dear child,” he said
amicably. “Since he has taken the trouble to come here expressly on your
account, it is fitting that you should make your defence.”

“Defence?” repeated the girl, with rising colour. “Am I in a court of
law?” She gulped down her angry feelings, and added, in a quieter tone:
“Very well, Mr. Moore, my defence is simply this: If I am of noble
birth, Mr. Montella’s lineage is more ancient than my own, and there is
no member of my family who has ever done so much to promote the general
welfare of his country as did the late Sir Julian Montella for England.
Lionel himself is in every way worthy of respect; and the brilliance of
his university and parliamentary careers has proved that a more gifted
man of his age cannot be found. That he is a Jew is to me an additional
attraction, and for the senseless opinions of society at large I care
nothing whatever. In regard to the religious point of view, I feel
justified in seceding from Christianity if the circumstances necessitate
my doing so. Perhaps had I received a more careful religious training, I
might not have found it so easy to renounce, but since my mother died I
have been left to flounder about in the maze of conflicting and
contradictory doctrines; consequently I have nothing to cling to, and no
treasured sentiment to forego. Finally, I love Mr. Montella with all my
heart, and therefore I am determined to be faithful to my promise.”

She gave a sigh of relief as her voice dropped into silence. Her
listeners could not help admiring the staunch spirit of her words.
Lionel hated to be eulogised, but his heart warmed towards his sweet and
zealous advocate. The Premier realised the futility of his intervention,
but he was not yet willing to throw up the sponge.

“I see that to discuss the matter with you is useless,” he returned,
with equanimity. “It is seldom possible to argue with a woman, I find.
However, I now make my appeal to your father. Lord Torrens, you have
heard my opinion both as politician and friend, and I hope you now
realise the importance and truth of what I have said. It is your duty to
prohibit this marriage by every means in your power; but if you do not
feel disposed to exert your prerogative, will you accept me as deputy in
your place? Do you give me the authority to work for you in this matter?
If so, I think I shall be able to find—by means of the law—an impediment
which cannot be surmounted. If I undertake to fight out the matter, the
marriage _shall not take place_!”

He jerked out the last words as though he were pronouncing final
judgment, and brought his fist down on the table with force. The lovers
looked at each other, and Montella made as though he would speak; but
again Patricia restrained him.

“Father,” she said, approaching the Earl, with a look of appeal, “do you
not think this interview has lasted long enough? I have listened to Mr.
Moore with all the patience I could manage; but when he threatens to
prevent my marriage by means of the law, it is like trying to frighten a
child. We may not know much—Lionel and I—but we are wise enough to know
that the law has no power where we are concerned. Besides, you would not
give Mr. Moore permission to act for you in this matter, would you,
dear?”

The Earl was getting impatient, and took no notice of her caress.

“I give Mr. Moore permission to do as he likes,” he answered, a trifle
pettishly. “If the matter is of national importance, it is in his
domain, and he can take what steps he chooses. Personally, I like
Montella, and have no objection to him as a son-in-law. You must fight
it out between you; I wash my hands of the whole affair.”

The two young people looked triumphant, but so did the Premier.

“Then it is unnecessary to prolong this interview further,” he said,
taking up his hat and stick. “Since you give me authority, Lord Torrens,
I shall know what course to pursue.”

Montella at last came forward.

“One moment, Mr. Moore, before you go,” he put in, drawing his beloved
towards him. “Lady Patricia and I have no wish to maintain a personal
enmity towards you, and we should like to part as friends. It may be
that we shall never cross your path again, for when the barbarous Edict
is published, it is probable that we shall leave England for good.
Meanwhile, we may assure you that whatever steps you may take to prevent
our marriage will be absolutely useless, for the simple reason that—in
order to save further controversy on the matter—_we were married this
morning_.”

He had no occasion to repeat his statement; his words carried conviction
with them. The Earl started in surprise, and then gave vent to a chuckle
of amusement. The Premier was quite taken aback, but in spite of the
sudden pallor which overspread his face, he managed to retain his
self-possession.

“Since you have taken the law into your own hands, then there is no more
to be said,” he returned, in a voice from which all the bombast had
departed. “May I ask where the ceremony was performed?”

The bridegroom produced sundry documents from his breast pocket.

“We were married first at the registrar’s office at Knightsbridge, then
by the Chief Rabbi in my mother’s drawing-room. If you wish to see the
certificate you are welcome to do so,” he said.

The Premier condescended to give the papers his examination. Then he
suddenly veered round, and astonished them all by offering his
congratulations. The newly-married pair were too happy to bear malice,
and accepted them with satisfaction. But they could not help remarking
on his sudden change of feeling when the Premier eventually took his
leave.

The Earl chuckled for the remainder of the day, and in his admiration
for Montella’s smartness, forbore to be angry. He considered that the
interfering Premier had been nicely fooled, and expressed the hope that
the lesson would do him good. Montella wondered what Moore’s next move
would be; he knew that he was not the man to swallow defeat.

“What a strange wedding-day, dearest!” he exclaimed on the drive towards
his mother’s flat—their temporary home. “We could not have been married
in a quieter manner had we been the poorest couple in England. Why, even
our footman had his wedding-breakfast, and a fortnight at Southend; but
we have had to dispense both with festivities and honeymoon.”

Patricia smiled up at him reassuringly.

“Never mind, Lal, we will make up for it later on,” she returned
happily. “It is Parliament’s fault, and you are still in mourning, you
know. There will be plenty of time for our honeymoon when the Edict is
proclaimed.”

“There will be hardships for us both,” he said, with a sigh, his brow
clouding. “I quail when I think of what I have brought upon you, my
beloved.”

She drove away his forebodings with a gentle caress.

“I can bear all hardships and all troubles,” she answered, in an eager
voice. “I can undergo anything—so long as I have you!”



                              CHAPTER XII
                          MONTELLA’S OLD NURSE


The Montella-Byrne alliance evoked no little comment in society and the
Press, and it was tacitly agreed that Lady Patricia should be socially
punished for her offence. Nevertheless, friends sprang up in defence of
the newly-married pair from the most unexpected quarters, and Patricia
found that she was not to lose all her Christian acquaintance after all.
When Parliament adjourned for the Christmas recess, she and her husband
travelled to a village near Thorpe Burstall, in the vicinity of which
was situated the Montellas’ country seat. They arrived there at noon on
Christmas Eve, and to their complete surprise, received an ovation at
the railway station. The villagers, too loyal to be affected by the
anti-Jewish agitation, remembered only the never-failing kindness they
had received at the hands of the late Sir Julian Montella, and turned
out in full force to welcome his son’s bride. Between the station and
Burstall Abbey two arches of welcome had been erected, and although the
quantity of highly-coloured paper with which they were adorned conduced
to a somewhat crude effect, to the happy pair they were not lacking in
beauty. When the second was reached, four stalwart men insisted on
taking the horses out of the carriage, and themselves dragged the
vehicle to its destination. Surely there could be no greater honour than
this!

Amidst the joyous sound of cheering they alighted and entered the house.
Montella’s heart was so full that he could scarcely find words in which
to frame his thanks. The devotion of the people, coming at a time when
he had had nothing but unfavourable criticism on all sides, could not
fail to touch him deeply. It showed him that the burning fever of
anti-Semitism had at least not been permitted to penetrate here, and
that it was still possible to show good feeling towards a Jew. He
reciprocated by inviting them to dinner in the large hall on New Year’s
Day, an invitation which, needless to say, was unanimously accepted.

Burstall Abbey—which was built in the Gothic style—had come into the
Montellas’ possession in 1870. It was a fine old place, and Sir Julian
had taken pride in seeing that it was kept in good repair. There had
been two chapels attached, the first of which had fallen into decay many
years ago. The second had been transformed into a dining-room, and was
one of the finest apartments in the house. The altar had long since been
done away with, and its place was now occupied by a massive chiffonier;
but the oak wainscot and mullioned windows remained, as well as the
high-pointed arches and lofty roof.

“What would the old monks say if they could see us enjoying our lunch
here?” remarked Patricia laughingly, as she sat down to the table. “They
would call us vandals and barbarians, I suppose.”

She was so delighted with everything in the place, that Lionel was all
the more grieved that the property would so soon pass out of his hands.
It seemed such a great pity to have to give up the Abbey, where both he
and his father had been born. There were so many tender memories and
associations of his childhood connected with it, that it would be like
renouncing part of his own personality. But when the Edict was
proclaimed there would be no other alternative; and sell it he must.

“I wish my father would take it over,” Patricia said eagerly, when they
had discussed the question several times. “We can ask him to hold it in
trust for us; some day we may be able to have it back again. Shall I
write to him about it, Lionel?”

“If you like, dear; but there is no immediate hurry. You are more
hopeful than I am,” he added half sorrowfully. “Some day to me means no
day.”

Patricia looked up quickly and noticed the little furrow on his brow.

“It is not like you to be despondent, Lal,” she said, with a touch of
reproach. “You have worried too much, and eaten too little of late I
think. I want you to promise me not to give another thought to the Jews
whilst we are down here. Let us be happy as long as we can.”

Had she been less unselfish, the girl would have been jealous of the
subject which engrossed so much of her husband’s attention; but she was
so anxious to be his helpmate as well as his wife, that she concentrated
her own interest on the same question. She knew that when the call to
action came he was the man of all men to be inspired with hope, and to
press on towards the end he had in view. It was the forced inaction—the
waiting for events—which proved such a strain to his mental system, and
it was for this reason that she sought to divert his thoughts elsewhere.
She encouraged him to go out as much as possible, and scoured the
surrounding country with him in his motor. There were also his numerous
cottages to be inspected and his favourite tenants to be visited, for
Montella was not only landlord, but friend.

It was while they were on their peregrinations through the village that
they came across one Anne Whiteside, who had once been Lionel’s nurse.
They happened to meet her just outside her own dwelling, and she
insisted on their entering to partake of tea. The Montellas, nothing
loath, stepped into her little parlour, and settled themselves
comfortably on the stiff horse-hair sofa. It was a pleasant little room
in spite of its plainness, and everything in it was scrupulously clean.
There was an old-fashioned piano which had probably not been opened for
years, and a still more old-fashioned cabinet. The table—round in
shape—was covered by an elaborately worked cloth, upon whose surface
rested a number of books, including a huge Family Bible.

The old dame took such evident pleasure in preparing the tea, that the
visitors felt no compunction in giving her the trouble. She toasted the
cakes in the kitchen, but popped into the parlour every few minutes,
fork in hand, to assure them that she would not be long. When all was
ready, she donned her best widow’s cap, and took her seat at the head of
the table. Then Montella inquired after Tom.

“Oh, Tom’s well enough,” she replied, with affability. “He’s grown
mightily since you saw him last, Master Linie, only his poor brain seems
to stand still. He is sitting in his corner of the kitchen, looking at a
picture-book the lady up at the lodge has given him. He’s mighty fond of
pictures, is my Tom.”

The “Master Linie” caused a smile to flit across Patricia’s face, and
immediately she called up the vision of her husband as a child in frocks
and pinafores.

“Is Tom your little grandson?” she asked.

The old nurse nodded.

“Yes; leastways, he isn’t a little boy, for he will be fifteen next
March, and he’s an orphan, poor lad! Perhaps you would like to see him,
my lady, after tea?”

Patricia answered in the affirmative, and proceeded to attack a somewhat
substantial toasted bun. She knew that if she did not do justice to the
tea, Mrs. Whiteside would feel aggrieved, so she strove courageously to
demolish her share of the feast. Her duty fulfilled, she followed her
kindly hostess to the kitchen, where the shining cleanliness of the
stove and culinary utensils excited her admiration. In a corner by the
window sat the afflicted boy. Patricia went over to him, and held out
her hand.

He was small for his age, but he had a large and peculiarly-shaped head.
His abnormally developed forehead contrasted almost grotesquely with the
receding chin, and his small nose was out of proportion with both. His
eyes were large, and surmounted by heavy lids, but there was little
intelligence in their depths. They roamed shiftily from one object to
another, never concentrating their gaze on anything for more than two or
three seconds at a time. His mouth was large and weak, and he was unable
to close it with firmness. Moreover, he was afflicted by an impediment
in his speech, which added to the difficulty he experienced in making
himself understood. To strangers, it was hard to understand the purpose
of the poor lad’s existence, for to the end of his life he could be
nothing but a useless burden. But his grandmother loved him, and never
considered him a load of care. Since her husband’s death, she had saved
and pinched in order to put by enough to keep the boy when she was gone.
It was nothing to her that he could not understand and appreciate her
self-denial; all the wealth of her affection was lavished on the lad. He
took no notice of Patricia’s outstretched hand, but glanced at her out
of the corner of his eyes, whilst Mrs. Whiteside coaxed him to say “How
do you do?” to the lady. Montella’s deep voice seemed to attract his
attention more than Patricia’s gentle tones, and an expression which was
almost intelligent passed over his countenance as he gazed steadily for
a moment at the stalwart figure of the man. Montella noticed it, and
smiled back encouragingly, but he could not persuade the boy to speak.

“Do you think he has improved at all?” he inquired of the grandmother,
whose face beamed with pride. “I suppose he is not able to go to
school?”

“Oh, no; I couldn’t bear to trust him out of my sight, and to think that
the other boys might make game of him. Besides, he could not learn
anything, poor lamb. There will be time enough for him to learn when he
has put off this mortal flesh, and received his incorruptible
inheritance.”

She spoke so cheerfully that Lionel was puzzled.

“Do you mean when he has finished with this life?” he asked.

She nodded.

“That thought is my greatest comfort, Master Linie,” she replied. “You
see, if poor Tom cannot do any work in the world by reason of his poor
weak brain, he cannot commit sins either. I would far rather have him as
he is than see him grow up to drink and gamble like Widow Robson’s son
next door. And I know that the Lord will make up to him in the next
world for all he has missed in this; so you see that it will all come
right in the end, after all.”

“What faith you have!” exclaimed Patricia, in admiration. “I suppose
that you would have him cured if you could, all the same?”

“Certainly, my lady; I would travel to the other side of the earth if I
thought that I should find an infallible cure at the end of the journey;
but as the doctors have assured me over and over again that nothing can
be done for the boy, I am resigned to the inevitable. As long as the
Lord spares him to me I shall never complain.”

“Your resignation is exemplary, nurse,” said Montella, as they returned
to the little parlour; and then Patricia having refastened her jacket,
they took their leave.

They saw more of Mrs. Whiteside, however, before they went back to town.
She had heard something of the anticipated Edict, and desired full
information on the subject. Leaving Tom in the charge of a neighbour,
she came up to the Abbey one morning, dressed in her best. The Montellas
were in the library discussing a letter they had received from Dr.
Engelmacher. The news was good, insomuch as building operations on the
portion of land between Haifa and Akka, stretching to the Sea of
Galilee, had now commenced.

“Haifa will be our capital for the present,” the great leader wrote,
after he had given vent to his jubilant feelings. “There is a fairly
good harbour here, except when the wind is in the north-west. The town
seems more capable of improvement and extension than any other on the
coast of Palestine, and there is already a Jewish colony near by. By the
time you and your charming wife come out, my dear Montella, your place
of residence will be ready for your occupation. Picture to yourself a
magnificent white-painted, flat-roofed house situated amidst
olive-trees, with Mount Carmel to look down upon you, and hill after
hill as far as eye can reach. Why, you will wonder how you could have
remained in prosaic London for so many months at a time. And the thought
that we are no longer on sufferance, but that this is our own
country—our own little republic—will be best of all!”

He was not lacking in enthusiasm, this big, burly, and usually
matter-of-fact doctor. His letter brimmed over with expressions of
cheery optimism, and he refused to be disheartened by those who opposed
his schemes. What mattered the growlings of France and Russia so long as
Turkey could be conciliated by _backsheesh_? Once the Palestinian
negotiations were concluded and the treaty signed, he was certain his
people need have no fear.

Montella put the letter away as Mrs. Whiteside was shown into the room.
To the old nurse every chair in the place was familiar, and she entered
with the air of one who knew her way about. She remained standing,
however, and refused to be seated. She did not wish to detain Master
Linie and her ladyship; she had only come to make a request. Lionel
expressed his willingness to grant it whatever it might be. He thought
she might want to change her abode, or to have some improvements made to
the cottage, or something of a like nature. He was always ready to meet
the wishes of his tenants, including this one, in spite of the fact that
she lived rent free. But Mrs. Whiteside’s desire lay in another
direction altogether; she was quite satisfied with the present condition
of her house.

“Is it true that if Parliament persecutes the Lord’s ancient people you
will go and live in the Holy Land?” she asked, in her quaint way. “Mr.
Bell, the policeman, said you might; but I said you would never leave
Burstall Abbey for good.”

“It will be a case of needs must, I am afraid, Anne,” Montella replied,
noticing the look of concern on her face. “If it comes to being false to
Judaism or leaving the country, Lady Patricia and I will have to go. But
I will not sell the Abbey except to some good and responsible man, and
you need have no fear that you will suffer by the change. Your house
belongs to you, nurse, and no one shall rob you of it. I will tell my
solicitor to prepare a document to that effect.”

The dame’s eyes filled with tears.

“Oh, I wasn’t thinking of that, Mr. Linie,” she said quickly, with a
touch of reproach. “Only it will nearly break my heart to see strangers
in the old place. It was your grandfather who first got me a situation
down here, and I’ve been here ever since. I remember every birth,
marriage, and death in the family, and I’ve just counted time by those
events.”

“You have always been a faithful retainer, nurse,” he rejoined kindly.
“It is gratifying to know that our departure will be regretted.”

“Ay, it will be regretted by every man, woman, and child in the place,
but by me most of all. Mr. Linie, will you do me a favour—the greatest
I’ve ever asked of you? Will you take me and my boy with you when you
go?”

It was out at last, and the old woman’s form quivered with excitement.
If he were to refuse, it would be the greatest disappointment she had
ever received. She was so devoted to the very name of Montella that she
could not bear to be left behind. She watched Lionel’s face as she put
the question, and awaited his answer in an agony of suspense. Lady
Patricia drew forward a chair, and made her sit down. She could see that
the nurse was intensely moved.

“We intend dismissing our staff of servants both in London and down here
if we go,” the young man replied thoughtfully. “We shall be expected to
employ Jewish labour as much as possible in the new land.”

“But you will have to employ some Gentile servants to work for you on
your Sunday, sir,” she interposed eagerly. “I could see to that for you,
and I could do all sorts of odd jobs for your lady and Lady Montella. I
am getting old, maybe, but I can get about just as well as ever I could.
I am sure you could manage the matter, Mr. Linie, if you were to try.”

The pleading in her manner touched Patricia.

“Say yes, Lionel,” she said to her husband, in a quiet voice. “As Mrs.
Whiteside seems so anxious to accompany us, it would be a pity not to
take her with us if we go.”

Lionel smiled.

“The Queen hath spoken: so be it,” he returned lightly. “Very well,
nurse, I will promise you this. If we go, you shall go with us.”

“And Tom, too, sir?”

“Yes, certainly. We should not think of parting you from your boy.”

The old nurse was not effusive in her gratitude, but her eyes shone as
she thanked them and went away.

“I believe that woman would be faithful to the death,” Lionel said, as
the door closed behind her. He felt that it was good to be the possessor
of such loyal allegiance.



                              CHAPTER XIII
                        A DIFFICULT ALTERNATIVE


The Jews’ Expulsion Bill had been passed through the House of Lords at
last, but the Act would not be put into full force until the April of
the next year. The fourteen months’ grace was given for charity’s sake,
in order that those Jews who came under the ban might have time to
settle up their affairs. This was certainly an improvement on the
Expulsion of 1290, when the Jews were deprived of all they possessed,
and cast adrift in such a manner that many of them succumbed before
reaching the other side of the Channel. Nevertheless, Athelstan Moore
and his party had taken care to impose certain restrictions, so that the
interim would not be entirely a respite. The immigration of aliens from
abroad, whether _en route_ for other countries or not, was immediately
stopped, no foreign Jew of whatever status being allowed to land. No Jew
was allowed to rent or purchase any new property, and the money-lending
business was brought to an abrupt standstill. Jewish marriages were
forbidden, and all Jews holding civic positions were deprived of office.
Besides all this, there were numerous rules and regulations of lesser
importance, so that the Jew would find himself hedged in on every side.
But there existed a loophole of escape available to all; it was nothing
to the Government that it would be accepted only by the few.

This loophole consisted of a certificate of assimilation granted by
every local magistrate on certain conditions. Any Jew or Jewess over the
age of fifteen was eligible as a candidate, and children could be signed
for by their parents. In order to obtain it, certain statements had to
be declared on oath in the presence of a commissioner and three
witnesses, and once the oath was taken, the penalty for breaking it
would be extremely severe. The conditions were embodied in the following
form of declaration:

  “I ............ hereby declare that I am a Jew (or Jewess) by birth
  only, and not by religion; that I totally renounce Judaism, and
  everything connected therewith; that I will mix freely with Gentiles,
  and do my best to dispel all clannishness and cliquism of race.

  “I further undertake to make the Christian Sunday my day of rest, and
  to celebrate socially the great Christian festivals; also to partake
  of ordinary Gentile food, and to cease to observe the Jewish dietary
  laws; to refrain from speaking or reading Hebrew, and from the use of
  Jewish idioms. I promise to abstain from every Jewish rite, to attend
  either a Christian, Theistic, or Unitarian place of worship, and to
  associate myself religiously and socially with either of these three
  bodies.

  (If eligible for marriage.) “I undertake to marry one of Gentile birth
  only, and to bring up any children of the said union in the faith of
  their Gentile parent.

  (If already married.) “I undertake to teach all my children, both now
  and in the future, the religion of the Church (Christian, Theistic, or
  Unitarian) I intend to make my own.

                                         (Signed) .....................”

Here was to follow the full name address, and description of the
candidate, with photograph attached.

This certificate was granted only to those who were already British
subjects either by birth or by naturalisation of five years’ standing.
No “greener” was therefore eligible, and foreign labour in Whitechapel
was thereby done away with. The formula had been drawn up by Mr. Lawson
Holmes, M.P., the ardent advocate of assimilation in its most thorough
form. To him it seemed fair and just, and the only means of refining the
Jewish element of the English nation to its due proportion. He
considered that from the point of view of utilitarianism, mere sentiment
must be put aside. He was not an anti-Semite, and he disagreed on many
points with the Premier; he was undoubtedly a man of sound common sense.

As was to be expected, however, his formula evoked a storm of
indignation in the Jewish press. Eloquent appeals to the
patriotism of the race were issued and disseminated amongst the
British Jews throughout the land, and meetings of protest were
held despite the vigilance of the police. What People—were they
ever so irresponsible—would renounce their race and religion,
together with their ancient and illustrious past, at the mere word
of command? The very thought of persecution was enough to make men
cling to their cherished traditions with a new and greater
strength. Such a result—the deepening of their peculiar unity—had
been proved in the annals of history over and over again.

“I shall go and see Holmes to-night,” Montella said to his wife, as soon
as he had received notice of the formula. “I cannot rest until I have
made him see the absurdity of the whole thing. He used to be a friend of
mine.”

“Ask him what would be his answer if he were commanded to give up his
birthright as a freeborn English Christian,” advised his mother, with
heat.

“But don’t make matters worse by quarrelling with him, dear,” added
Patricia gently.

Montella promised to use his discretion; he was not of a fiery
temperament. He met Mr. Lawson Holmes in the lobby of the House of
Commons, and adjourned with him to his club. His friend insisted on
dining first before entering on the subject, and Lionel consented to
partake of a vegetarian repast. It was when they lingered over their
wine that the Cabinet Minister began his defence. He could not help
being impressed in spite of himself by Lionel’s reproachful mien.

“Now, my dear fellow, let us survey the question from an economic
standpoint,” he began, as he puffed away at a cigar. “I shall proceed to
dissect you metaphorically, if you have no objection?”

“None at all, so long as you leave the ego—that which is my real
self—intact,” Lionel replied.

“Very well, then, let us begin.” The Minister removed his cigar from his
lips, and placed it between his fingers. “First of all, I take it that
you are one of the units of which the English nation is composed: that
you are by birth and education an Englishman, and a subject of the
King?”

Montella acquiesced.

“That being so, then, your tastes are naturally British, and your
interest is to a great degree monopolised by the country of your birth.
This is proved by the mere fact of your being an ex-member of
Parliament, in which capacity I know you desired to exercise your
influence for the national good.”

“Certainly.”

“Yet when you are told that a certain legislation concerning the
question of the Jews is for the national good, you steadfastly set your
face against it, and resent its introduction. Being hemmed in by the
narrowness of your creed, you are unable to get outside yourself, so to
speak, and look at the matter from a rational and utilitarian point of
view. That is the great difference between you and your parliamentary
colleagues.”

“Exactly,” put in Montella eagerly. “I am a Jew.”

“A Jew, yes; but I wish to discover how much of the Jew there is in
you—the real Jew, according to the Oriental sense of the term. That
there is an element of Hebraism in your moral and intellectual nature I
do not dispute; but there are other and Occidental elements which you
have inherited to a greater degree. Do you think your forefathers, when
they left Palestine and lived in the West, were not affected by the
influences of Hellenism, of Chivalry, of the Renaissance, of the
Reformation, and of the Christian ethics in general, with which they
came into contact? My dear fellow, the Occidental Jew—such as
yourself—is no more like the Hebrew of old than I am! Do you think that
if you were forced to live in strict accordance with the Talmudic law,
you would feel that you were fulfilling the obligations of your race? I
assure you that you would feel nothing of the kind; you would know that
you were returning to darkness, shutting out civilisation and light.”

“Perhaps so,” replied the young man thoughtfully, “but for all that, I
am a Jew, and not all the Occidental influences in the world have been
able to break the bond which unites me to my forefathers. Blood is
thicker than water, Mr. Holmes; and when once the blood of an Israelite
flows in a man’s veins, it is impossible for him to forget his heritage.
He may renounce it as he likes, but by his looks, his temperament, his
associations, his very tricks of gesture, he betrays it. That I have
nothing in common with the typical Jew of tradition, and that I am a
thorough Englishman at heart I am glad to admit; nevertheless there is a
difference between myself and you, for instance. Small and indefinable
though it may be, you know that it is there.”

He had drawn his chair back from the table in his ardour, and leant back
with a flush on his brow. His dark eyes glowed with the intensity of
feeling, and about the youthful, clean-shaven face, with its splendid
forehead, sensitive nostrils, and firm, yet gentle mouth, there was a
nobility which it was hard to resist. Holmes secretly considered
Montella a perfect specimen of his race, but he was loath to believe
that he had inherited a single good quality from his Hebrew ancestors.

“As long as you remain an idealist, my dear boy, you will never be able
to take a dispassionate view of the matter,” he returned, with
deliberation. “It is that sentimental clinging to tradition which is
your people’s bane. My standpoint, however, is simply this: A Jewish
element in a nation is a desirable and almost an essential thing to
have, but as soon as that element preponderates—as now—it becomes a
danger to the State. Therefore it must be kept within bounds, and those
Jews who refuse to conform to the customs of this country must be weeded
out. The only way out of the present crisis, it seems to me, is
absorption, for as long as you Jews remain separatists you have no right
to the full privileges of the land of your adoption. Therefore the
Government has thought fit to take stringent measures to bring about
this result; and although I admit that those measures seem unnecessarily
harsh, I know that they are for the benefit of the nation at large. Let
those Jews who cherish the scriptural tradition and maintain their
clannishness return to the land of their fathers. There must be either
assimilation or a separate Jewish state.”

“And you think this justifies the persecution of two hundred and seventy
thousand people, the majority of whom are loyal subjects of the King?”

The Minister frowned.

“I do not call it persecution when the alternative is such a reasonable
one,” he replied. “It is not as if we were compelling you to become
Christians. You can retain your religious belief in the Absolute Unity
by declaring yourselves Theists or Monotheists instead of Jews; the
change is only in the name.”

“But we are to give up our customs and our Sabbath, our fasts and our
feasts, and everything which throughout the centuries has made Judaism
the bond of union twixt Jew and Jew!” He sighed, knowing that they might
argue till Doomsday, and yet remain as far asunder as the poles. Mr.
Lawson Holmes was well informed concerning the Jews, and indeed
possessed more knowledge than the average Gentile; but he was not
capable of putting himself in the position of a Jew; he could not
understand the racial claim.

In spite of all Jewish obligations and the condemnation of the press,
however, the assimilation plan was not unanimously rejected by the Jews.
Some were too deaf to the claims of race and faith to care to retain
them; others were less insensible, but could not bear the thought of
suffering; others, again, were prepared to sacrifice their personal
feelings for the sake of the public good. It was one thing to cherish
one’s old traditions, and look kindly on all things Jewish for old
association’s sake; it was quite another thing to have to pay for the
privilege of doing so by expulsion, physical discomfort, money, and loss
of pride. It was found that the majority of those Jews who had long
mixed with the _élite_ of English society, including some of the princes
of finance, were quite willing to take the oath; but the number of
faithful Jews increased as one descended the social scale. It is ever so
when a religious or moral upheaval affects the heart of a people; for a
passionate and public adherence to a religious or moral belief one has
to look amongst the poor.

The Montellas were a notable exception amongst their prosperous
_confrères_. The loyal faith and inherent sense of duty possessed by
Lady Montella were shared by her son, and to him the rest of their
co-religionists looked for help. Young as he was, he possessed all the
characteristics which conduce to the making of a good leader, and in his
devotion to the cause he made a worthy protector of his people’s
interests. It was good to know that amidst the trouble and confusion of
this terrible crisis there was a man in Israel on whom one could
depend—a man who possessed the power of wealth and influence as well as
that of intellectual attainments, whose very personality inspired
confidence in the souls of the depressed, whose heart was in truth a
heart of gold. Encouraged by the resolute faith of his mother, and
influenced by the beautiful disposition of his wife, his character
expanded in breadth without losing its manliness. Difficulties which
would have filled others with alarm, were to him as so many easily
surmounted obstacles to be overcome. With a clearness of vision, granted
only to the few, he was able to look onward in the future, seeing not
the immediate distress of present circumstances, but only the coming
glory of that Eastern Land.



                                BOOK II
                       THE LAND OF THEIR FATHERS
“_And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the
outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the
              four corners of the earth._”—ISAIAH xi. 12.



                               CHAPTER I
                             PURIM IN HAIFA


Haifa, the most modern city in Palestine, lay at the southern point of
the Bay of Acre, about fifty miles north of Jaffa. Situated amid
palm-trees, it retained its Eastern character whilst bearing witness to
the innovations of the West. During the two years which had elapsed
since the English Edict of Expulsion, the great army of Jewish artisans
had laboured well. Rows upon rows of white bungalows had sprung up
almost, as it seemed, in a night; and although they could not boast of
the substantiality of their construction, they could be improved by
degrees. The greater part of the population consisted of British
refugees, who, linked together by the same home ties, concentrated
themselves as much as possible in one quarter, leaving their brethren of
other nationalities to settle in different parts of the country.
Therefore, although it was an accepted rule that Hebrew was to be learnt
and spoken, they instinctively clung to their native tongue.

They were very aristocratic, these exiled English Jews. Like many
English people who travel abroad, they considered themselves vastly
superior to all the foreigners with whom they came into contact. They
looked down on their poor Polish and Roumanian brethren, who in their
turn considered the English as irreligious moderns, scarcely worthy of
the name of Jews. The brotherly feeling of equality which their leaders
endeavoured to instil within them was as yet entirely lacking. Although
of identical race and religion, and gathered together under one banner,
the distinctions of class and nationality held them aloof.

It was the eve of Purim, the Feast of Lots. By decree of the council, a
public holiday had been proclaimed; for it was intended that this day
should annually be observed, and that the rejoicings should be akin to
the nature of a carnival. It was not until dusk, however, that the
festivities began. The day had been unusually hot, even for Syria, and
the majority of the inhabitants had chosen to spend the holiday indoors.
At sunset came the breeze, and the heat of the day was replaced by a
refreshing and welcome coolness. No matter how hot the day in Haifa, the
nights were always cool.

In a sequestered corner of a city roof-garden were Lionel Montella and
his wife. Above them the moon shone with dazzling splendour, making the
numberless hills stand out as sentinels on guard, and causing the waters
of the bay to sparkle like myriads of jewels. Patricia reclined against
the cushions of her chair, and inhaled the fragrance of the breeze with
keen enjoyment. She found the Syrian climate so trying that she was
thankful for every breath of air.

The two years in Palestine had changed her little, and she was still a
delicately fair and beautiful girl. Devotedly attached to her husband
and baby boy, she found no occasion to pine for her friends in the West.
She had always possessed the power of adapting herself to her
surroundings, and she soon became accustomed to the strangeness of her
new life. Recently the Princess Charles von Felsen-Schvoenig had arrived
to “do” Palestine, and was at present in Haifa, so that she was not
entirely destitute of friends.

“The Princess is late,” she remarked, as Lionel took a seat at her side.
“She said she would come here to see the fun.”

“Perhaps her carriage has some difficulty in getting through the crowd,”
Montella replied. “I am just wondering if this carnival idea of
Engelmacher’s is a wise one. It means practically setting the people
loose.”

“I rather like the idea,” Patricia said thoughtfully. “The people have
had such a serious time of it that it will do them good to relax for
once. I do not see why they should not behave as well as the people at
Nice or Cannes. The soldiers will keep them within bounds.”

“I can scarcely reconcile myself to the thought of vociferous Jewish
rejoicing,” he rejoined. “We have sung in the minor key for so many
years. Do you know, dearest, these last two years seem to have passed
like a dream. I have difficulty in convincing myself sometimes that I am
awake.”

“A dream of hard work, then,” was her reply. “To be governor of a city
so cosmopolitan as Haifa, and where the inhabitants have scarcely
settled down, is no sinecure, Lal, dear. I know of no man, not excepting
Dr. Engelmacher himself, who could have done so much in so short a time.
It is no wonder that there is already a streak of grey in your hair.”

He bent down and kissed her with eyes full of tenderness. His life in
Palestine would have been almost unbearable without Patricia’s sweet
sympathy and encouragement; for there was much in the city and the
people over whom he was placed that vexed him sometimes beyond
endurance. Her love was the sustaining power which made the rough places
smooth, and she possessed so winning a manner that she could exert a
greater influence over the people by a single sentence than he could by
a long and forcible address. Political administration could do much to
improve the conditions of the city, but it could not instil a high moral
tone.

The rustle of silken garments announced the approach of ladies, and
Montella rose from his chair. The Princess, clad in a gown of filmy
white, was accompanied by Lady Montella and Raie. Just at that moment
the sound of cheering came up to them from below.

“My little car has met with the approval of the people,” the Princess
said, smiling. “It is the one I had in Rome.”

Montella went over to the parapet and looked down. A small white
swan-shaped car, drawn by four Arabian ponies, was being driven slowly
away. It was decorated with choice flowers, and illuminated with tiny
lamps, resulting in a fairy-like effect. In the procession which would
presently set out for the mock hanging of Haman’s effigy, it would serve
as Queen Esther’s triumphal car.

“Lady Montella took me over your new house this afternoon,” the Princess
informed Patricia, as she settled herself at her side. “It will be the
show-place of Haifa. I like your Roman atrium immensely. Who designed
it?”

“Lionel. He is so determined that I should have an artistic home that he
has spared no pains to make it beautiful for me. That is why the
builders have taken so much time over it. For myself, I am quite happy
in this little place, in spite of its plainness. It was a sort of
hospice before we came, you know.”

She smiled as she thought of her husband’s enthusiasm over the house he
was having built. That house was his hobby, and he took the same pride
in it as an artist over his picture. And she knew the motive of his
interest was concentrated in herself; in his eyes there was no home
which could be beautiful enough for his wife.

“You must invite me to come and stay with you when it is finished,” said
the Princess lightly. “Meanwhile I must be content with my exalted
position on the top of Mount Carmel. It is something, is it not, to stay
in the very place where Elijah conquered the prophets of Baal? I love
Mount Carmel!”

“You seem quite enamoured of Palestine altogether,” said Montella,
joining the group. “I did not think you would stay so long, Princess—you
who have seen so much of other countries.”

“I do like Palestine,” she admitted readily. “I like the Oriental
colouring, and it amuses me to note the curious blending of types and
nationalities to be found here. Besides, Palestine possesses an interest
all its own. I am not religiously inclined myself; but it is, after all,
the _Holy Land_.”

“The Holy Land!” repeated Patricia musingly. “Do you know of what the
phrase puts me in remembrance? Why, of the dreaded Scripture lessons I
had in the days of my childhood. My governess used to make me learn the
exact position of every place mentioned in the Bible, until I could
almost find them, blindfolded, on the map. I am afraid I used to hate
the Holy Land in those days. I never dreamt that I should go there
myself.”

“And do you like it better now that you are here?”

“Yes; but I should like any place for so long as my husband were with
me.”

She glanced affectionately at Lionel. The Princess sighed. Perhaps a
pang of compunction smote her for having left her own husband to lead a
solitary life in the castle at Felsen-Schvoenig. Hers was a curious
blending of character which the German Prince could not understand. She
was alternately defiant and yielding; unfortunately, whenever she came
into contact with her husband, the defiance predominated.

“To-day’s mail brought me a letter from Mamie,” she said, after a
moment’s silence. “She seems to be getting on very well with her new
husband, considering Moore’s temper. She says that he is more
interesting than Chesterwood, because she never knows what sort of a
mood he will be in next. There is something in that, you know.”

Patricia smiled.

“How does she like being the Prime Minister’s wife?” she asked.

“Oh, Athelstan is horrid in that way,” the Princess replied vaguely. “He
doesn’t believe in women meddling with politics; and won’t tell her any
State secrets.”

“Sensible man!” remarked Montella, with a playful glance at his wife;
and then the cheering having begun anew, he returned to the parapet.

“The procession is coming,” announced Raie, who was looking down on the
crowd. “Look: ‘_What shall be done to the man whom the King delighteth
to honour?_’ There is the Scroll of Esther. I suppose they are going to
the synagogue to read it.”

The procession was headed by the students of the new Haifa Jews’ College
in full dress, and was unenlivened by the strains of any brass band.
Instead, the weird chanting of Psalms in Hebrew smote the air, the
voices sounding clear, but somewhat harsh. Men of all sorts and
conditions followed on: the swarthy Pole walked side by side with the
ruddy Saxon, the fair and slender Jerusalemite with the wiry Roumanian.
Coming from a source so heterogeneous, they were yet able to sink their
national differences on one common meeting-ground; and Hebrew, that
sacred tongue of their fathers, served as a language for them all.

Lady Montella, with her arm within her son’s, watched them with swelling
heart. To her, there was a deeper significance than the mere joy of
Purim in the procession of rejoicing Jews. The chord of racial
nationalism which lay so far down in her nature responded as to an
harmonious touch, and quivered with an emotion which could scarcely be
expressed in words. Years ago she had dreamt of a free gathering under
the sign of the Shield of David. It seemed as if her dream had at last
come true.

“Can I go down amongst the crowd, Aunt Inez?” asked Raie, breaking in
upon her reverie. “I want to have a look at all the funny things the men
are selling.”

“It would not be safe, dear,” Lady Montella replied. “You would need a
stronger escort than Anne.”

“You can come with me presently, Raie,” volunteered the Princess,
noticing the girl’s air of disappointment “If Lady Montella has no
objection, you shall spend the night with me at the Mount Carmel Hotel.”

Raie was delighted, and having obtained permission, went to get ready
forthwith. An hour later they were being driven through the densely
thronged streets. The festivities had taken a more hilarious turn, but
there was nothing riotous in the behaviour of any of the people. When
the Jew rejoices as a religious duty, he does it with his whole heart;
but as he is not addicted to drink, he is able to keep his merriment
within bounds. The throwing of the modern confetti and the trampling
underfoot of Haman’s effigies constituted the chief source of amusement.
Indoors the better-class families were celebrating the occasion by a
grand Purim feast.

Arrived at the summit of the mount, they found the hotel in a state of
confusion. A tourist—arrived only that day—had been attacked by an Arab
in one of the caves, and—it was said—lay in a critical condition. It was
the first time for many years that an outrage had been committed so near
the town.

The Princess was much concerned, for she had made the acquaintance of
the tourist in question immediately after his arrival.

“His name is Frank Merryweather, and he comes from Australia,” she said
to Raie, who was always anxious for information. “He is one of the
finest men I have ever seen.”

“He is not a Jew?” affirmed the girl, with interrogation.

“I am not sure. He is the sort of man one can’t easily place; but as he
spoke of going on to England shortly, I suppose he is not.”

Later in the evening, the physician, who happened to be staying in the
hotel, informed them that his patient’s wound was not so serious as had
been feared. The next morning the patient himself was brought up to the
roof-garden to enjoy the air before the heat of the day.

The Princess and her friend were up early, and found him propped up on a
couch beneath a shady palm. The air was fragrant with the breath of
tropical flowers, and was made melodious by the sweet carolling of the
birds. The sick man lay with his eyes closed, but he opened them as he
heard the rustling of a woman’s dress. His glance first fell on the
stately figure of the Princess, and his features relaxed in greeting.
Then he looked at Raie, who, in a simple linen gown which suited her
well, might have stood for a picture of perfect girlhood.

“Miss Emanuel, Mr. Merryweather,” said the Princess; and Raie shook
hands with a new tinge of colour in her cheeks. Then an almost
involuntary look passed between them—the intuitive sign when Jew meets
Jew.

“We were distressed to hear of your accident last night,” the Princess
said, as they took their seats beside him. “Do tell us about it. Do you
feel better this morning?”

“Oh, yes, thank you,” he replied, in a genial voice. “It was a mere
scratch, which the people chose to magnify into a serious wound. I shall
be as right as ninepence pretty soon. It was my own fault for prying
where I wasn’t wanted. I got into one of the caves on the other side of
the mount, not knowing that it was the parlour of an Arab gentleman
until he set on me and whipped out a knife. I wouldn’t have intruded if
I had known it was his den. I guess I’ll keep to the township for the
future, anyway.”

“Have you been long in Syria?” asked the Princess, when they had both
commented on the adventure. “I suppose you have visited Jerusalem and
the neighbourhood?”

He answered in the negative.

“I came from Port Said to Jaffa, and from Jaffa to here,” he explained.
“I am really _en route_ from Australia to England.”

Raie wondered what business had brought him to Haifa, but she was too
well-bred to ask.

“I suppose England is your home?” she said gently, thinking that there
was no harm in questioning so far.

“I have no home, Miss Emanuel,” was his prompt reply. “The world is my
home.”

There was a touch of sadness in his words, as well as in his voice. The
girl glanced up suddenly, and meeting the gaze from his deep eyes looked
as suddenly away. She felt instinctively that this was a man who had
been brought into contact with the rough side of life, but who yet
retained his natural refinement of birth. He interested her strangely,
and so strongly that she longed to find out more about him. If he were a
Jew, how was it that he intended to go to England? Surely he must be
aware of the expulsion of the Jews?

She was so impressed by his personality that she could not help thinking
of him, even after her departure from the hotel. She visited her
people—who lived in one of the white houses in the suburbs—later in the
day, and could scarcely refrain from mentioning him to them. She was
glad, however, that she was able to check herself in time, for Mrs.
Emanuel’s badinage was the last thing that she desired. In talking to
her mother, however, a half-forgotten chord of remembrance was stirred
in her brain—a psychological connection between Mr. Merryweather and a
former conversation. She tried to fathom it out, but the solution
escaped her. One thing she was certain about: she had seen something of
the tourist before.



                               CHAPTER II
                          RAIE AND THE TOURIST


The Princess had taken a fancy to Raie. She admired the girl’s winsome
face, with its coronal of curly hair, and the animation which shone in
her dark eyes. She liked, too, her naïve manner and natural freshness,
for, in spite of her thoughtfulness, Raie was a child of Nature. In
England the two had scarcely spoken, although they had met several
times; but in Haifa the conditions of life were different, and the
friendship, once begun, soon ripened. Thus it happened that Raie spent a
great part of her time at the Mount Carmel Hotel, either lunching or
dining with her friend.

The air of mystery which pervaded the Australian tourist still
prevailed. He would give a certain amount of information about himself,
but no more; and concerning his own life he was extremely reticent. He
seldom ventured far into the town, and had not troubled to call at the
Government House. What attracted him to Haifa, therefore, no one exactly
knew; he had evidently come for a private purpose of his own.

Now the Princess possessed acute powers of perception. She soon saw that
Mr. Merryweather took pleasure in Raie’s society, and that Raie
reciprocated in like manner. So she set the seal of her approval on the
acquaintance by giving them opportunities for its further cultivation;
and in spite of her worldly wisdom she did not pause to consider whether
such a friendship were desirable. The tourist was much older than Raie,
and of his connections nothing was known. Yet she encouraged the girl to
form a liking for him which gradually deepened into love.

He had travelled so much that conversation never languished for want of
subject matter. Raie was profoundly interested in his graphic accounts
of life in the bush, but she would have preferred to hear him talk about
himself. She did not even know if her instinctive belief that he
belonged to her own race was correct; for although they had often
approached the subject, he had not yet confessed himself a Jew. She
thought so much of him that she was determined to find out. It would
make all the difference in the world if he were not a Jew.

He was fond of taking excursions in the surrounding country on
horseback, and often remained away over night. He invited the Princess
and Raie to picnic with him near the ruins of the Castellum Peregrinorum
of the Crusaders one day, and seemed so bent upon their going, that they
did not like to refuse. They set out at dawn, accompanied by two other
gentlemen who were staying at the hotel, and three Arab servants. Their
way lay along a cultivated plain between the mountains and the sea, with
villages nestling on the slopes above them, and rocks and ruins below.
The gaudily-dressed peasants gazed at them with distrust, evidently
regarding them as intruders. Arrived at Athlit, they put up their horses
at a neighbouring khan, and prepared to partake of a light repast. Their
appetites had been sharpened by the ride.

Raie felt like a schoolgirl out for a holiday. She had come out with the
express intention of enjoying herself, and she meant to fulfil it to the
letter. Outside the khan lay a solemn-looking camel; immediately she
made up her mind that she must have a ride.

The Arab in charge was a gentle-looking individual, with somewhat
melancholy eyes. He wore both a tarbûsh and keffiyeh on his head, and
his abbâ—or shawl—fell from his shoulders in graceful folds. He shrugged
his shoulders when Mr. Merryweather’s servant proffered Raie’s request,
and in consideration of _backsheesh_ allowed her to mount. This was
easier said than done, for when the camel began to rise from the ground
she was nearly thrown over his head. She clung on, however, with all the
tenacity of which she was capable, and felt as if she had attained a
victory when the animal set off at a jog-trot.

Mr. Merryweather walked alongside in order to keep her company, and
endeavoured to sustain a conversation with the Arab on the way. When the
girl declared that the motion gave her a peculiar sensation, he
suggested a halt, and the animal was brought to a sudden standstill.
Raie was not sorry to dismount, and gave a sigh of relief when her feet
touched the ground. She had no desire to repeat the experience which had
been hers on the sea.

Her companion paid the Arab, and sent the camel back to the khan. Then
he drew Raie towards one of the fine carob-trees which abound in that
district, and bade her rest beneath its shade. She settled herself
comfortably on a boulder, and he flung himself down at her side. The
opportunity for which he had sought had come.

“Miss Emanuel,” he said suddenly, “are you fond of Heine?”

The question was so unexpected that Raie glanced at him in surprise.

“Do you mean the German poet?” she asked.

“Yes.”

The girl waxed thoughtful.

“I admire his genius,” she replied, at length, “but some of his poems
irritate me. He is so apt to descend from the sublime to the ridiculous,
and to him absolutely nothing is sacred. He has the poet’s mind without
the poet’s soul. What makes you think of Heine, though, just now?”

“I was thinking of a little poem I read of his a long time ago—‘Life’s
Salutations.’ It was about meeting each other on the highway of life,
but having little time to greet before the postillion gives the starting
signal, and we have to be off again.

            “‘In passing each other we nod and we greet
            With our handkerchiefs waved from the coaches,
            We fain would embrace, but our horses are fleet,
            And speed on, despite all reproaches.’

That seems to apply to our case, does it not? We have had time to greet
each other, but that is all. The signal has been given for my coach to
start.”

“Do you mean that you are going away?” Raie asked, with a sinking at her
heart.

He nodded his head.

“Yes,” was his reply. “I have stayed here much longer than I intended,
already. I must be in London at the beginning of next month.”

“You are going to England!” she exclaimed, with disappointment in her
voice. If he were going to England, he could not be a Jew; and if he
were not a Jew, he could be nothing to her. She glanced at him with an
unspoken question in her eyes, whilst across her bright face flitted an
expression of pain.

He captured one of her little sunburnt hands, and held it between his
own.

“You are sorry—Raie?” he said, in a quiet voice. “Tell me the truth.”

“Yes, I am sorry.” She glanced away, and refused to meet his gaze. “I
can’t help being sorry. You have been so kind to me.”

She had never felt so near crying in her life, and yet she could have
laughed at her own foolishness. A mist rose before her eyes, and the
mountains in the distance seemed blurred. She released her hand, and
fumbled for her tiny lace handkerchief. Mr. Merryweather’s features
relaxed into an expression of gentleness.

“Raie,” he said, with a tender accent on the name, “I am going to
England, but I am not bound to stay there. In three months’ time I can
be back in Haifa—that is, if you will give me permission to come.”

“I?” she exclaimed evasively. “What has it to do with me?”

“Everything. If I return to Haifa it will only be for you. Perhaps I
have no right to speak to you like this, dear, but I could not go away
without declaring myself. Raie, look me in the face and tell me the
truth. Do you love me?”

He raised her chin gently with his two hands, and brought her face on a
level with his own. The girl’s cheeks grew crimson as she looked back
into the depths of his eyes. She answered not a word, but he was
satisfied.

“You do love me,” he said, with conviction. “I can read the answer in
your eyes.”

There was a moment of silence as he relaxed his hold. The girl was
undergoing an inward struggle, and her heart beat fast. She was
wondering what the Montellas would think of her secret lover, and what
her mother would say. Would they be angry with her, and consider her
conduct underhand? Would they approve of one who was presumably a
Christian and a wanderer? Would it not be wiser to send him away before
it was too late? In less than a minute these suggestions crowded in upon
her mind.

Mr. Merryweather seemed to guess her thoughts.

“I wonder if you love me enough to trust me, dear,” he said slowly. “You
have a right to want to know something about the man you intend to
marry, but I cannot tell you all about myself just yet. I can assure
you, though, that I come of a good family—my father is a baronet; and
although I am over thirty, I am a bachelor, and have never had a
love-affair. More than this I cannot tell you now, but you shall know
everything some day. Until then, will you be content to take me on
trust? Will you promise to become my wife?”

He spoke in the sharp, disjointed sentences which were—with him—a sign
of deep feeling. Raie looked up at him almost piteously, and for the
moment knew not how to reply. He was so much older and stronger than
herself that she instinctively felt that resistance would be useless;
besides, she did not want to resist. But something within urged her not
to be rash, and she felt compelled to listen to her conscience.

“I do trust you,” she answered, almost inaudibly, “but I cannot promise
to become your wife. I owe so much to Lady Montella that I could not—I
dare not—engage myself without her consent. You see I believe in you
because—because I know that you are good; but in her case it would be so
different. I am sure she would not give her consent to our engagement
unless she were satisfied that you—that you—oh, I can’t explain, but you
know what I mean. And she is so particular that I am afraid she would
never allow me to marry away from my religion. I suppose you are—not a
Jew?”

She studied his features as though their contour would reveal what she
sought. He was neither fair nor dark, and his life in the open had lent
a ruggedness to his countenance which baffled her completely.
Fortunately she was not kept long in suspense.

“That objection can be easily dispelled,” he answered, with a slight
touch of colour. “I have the right to call myself a Jew.”

She gave a sigh of relief.

“And yet you are going to England?” she questioned, not yet satisfied.
“And—and—Merryweather is not a Jewish name?”

He bent down and regarded her steadfastly once more.

“Did you not say you would trust me, Raie?” he rejoined, with a touch of
reproach. “What if, for a certain grave reason, I have been obliged to
change my name? Listen, child,”—his voice became almost stern—“I am a
Jew; but for many years past I have made mankind my brethren, the world
my country, and God in Nature my religion. When I was a youth I was
expelled from home and people for a crime which I never committed, since
when I have lived alone. Recently I have had reason to believe that by
returning to England I may be able to prove my innocence, and as I have
made my fortune out on the goldfields, I shall have the power that money
can give. I can tell you no more, perhaps I have told you too much
already; but I have made you a most serious confidence. Surely you can
trust me in return?”

Her face was full of trouble.

“I do trust you!” she repeated, with a catch in her breath; “but what
you have told me makes it harder still. Unless she knows the whole
truth, I know Lady Montella will not consent.”

“She must know nothing for the present. Not a word of what I have told
you must pass your lips. Raie, my darling, I must insist on this for the
sake of us both. Promise me you will not say anything of this.”

She promised—but with reluctance, because she hated to have a secret
from her foster-aunt.

“Won’t you tell me your real name?” she asked half wistfully. “I do not
want to think of you as ‘Frank Merryweather’ if that is only a
pseudonym.”

But he shook his head.

“You must have patience a little longer, dear,” he rejoined. “I dare not
tell you yet.”

She glanced at him with reproach in her eyes, but forbore to put it into
words. He bent down and kissed her on the forehead, and then assisted
her to rise. They were both silent on the way back to the khan, and
Raie, at least, was deep in thought. Suddenly a flash of light as
dazzling as a revelation burst in upon her mind. She knew now why her
lover’s personality had always seemed so familiar to her. The son of a
Jewish baronet—expelled from home—fortune made in Australia. It was
impossible that there could exist two such men.

She stopped short in her walk, and faced him with excitement.

“It is not necessary for you to tell me your name,” she said hurriedly.
“I know it already. I first heard of you from my mother some months ago,
and I have seen your photograph. You are the son whom Sir Julian so
cruelly disinherited. You are Lionel’s half-brother—Ferdinand Montella!”



                              CHAPTER III
                             A GIRL IN LOVE


He met her gaze of astonishment with a curious expression on his face.

“Ferdinand Montella is dead,” he returned slowly, “or at least he is
sleeping. For the present Frank Merryweather remains to take his place.
You are a clever child, Raie. I did not think you would find me out so
easily.”

“I seemed, somehow, to know you from the first,” she said gladly, as
they continued their walk. “There was something about your personality
which gave me the impression of having met you before. I suppose I never
have met you before; but your ways of looking and speaking are very like
your poor father’s, and of course I knew him well.”

The adjective arrested his attention.

“You do not mean to say that my father is—” He broke off shortly. “Why
did you say ‘poor’?”

“Because he is dead.” Then realising her abruptness, she was filled with
compunction. “Oh, I am so sorry,” she added respectfully. “I ought not
to have told you like that. I made sure that you knew; it was in all the
papers. He died over three years ago.”

The tourist’s face grew grave, and unconsciously hardened.

“I have lived practically away from civilisation for some time, where no
news could reach me,” he rejoined, “but I do not suppose I should have
been sent for, even had it been possible. Sir Julian treated me very
unjustly, Raie, and I find it hard to forget. Still, he was my father,
and loved me when I was a child. I am sorry he has died believing me
guilty.”

Raie was silent for a few moments, and left him to his own reflections;
but before they rejoined their party, she spoke again.

“Why did you come to Haifa without making yourself known to your people,
Ferdinand?” she asked, eager for information.

“Frank, dear, not Ferdinand—for the present,” he corrected, starting
slightly at the name. “My coming to Haifa was a mere chance, and it was
not until I arrived here that I learnt that my brother Lionel was
Governor. I suppose Burstall Abbey has been sold? Who lives there now?”

“It belongs to Earl Torrens, Lionel’s father-in-law; but it is standing
empty for the present. Do you remember the nurse—Anne—from Thorpe
Burstall? She came with us to Palestine, and is with us now.”

“Anne Whiteside? Yes, I remember her well. I must be careful, or she
will recognise me. She was always very shrewd.”

Raie glanced up at him thoughtfully.

“I wish you would go and see Lady Montella and Lionel before you go
away,” she said, with a touch of entreaty. “I am sure they would receive
you well.”

He shook his head.

“I intend to have nothing to do with the Montellas until my innocence
has been proved,” he rejoined firmly. “I do not desire pity or
forgiveness; I want only justice.”

“But you will claim your title, surely? Even if it is not of much value
away from England, it is your right. Some day we may all return.”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“For myself I care nothing; I have roughed it too long to wish for
anything of the sort. If I claim it, dearest, it will be for you.”

The colour came into her cheeks, and she made no reply. Of all the
strange coincidences she had met with during her short life, this seemed
the strangest. Her eyes shone with a new light when, a few minutes
later, she rejoined the Princess; and on the homeward journey she was
unusually silent. As they passed through the outskirts of Haifa, she
found herself with her lover at the head of the little cavalcade a few
paces in advance, and begged him to allow her to confide in her friend.
She was so anxious to tell someone that she was afraid she would not be
able to refrain from introducing the subject; so Ferdinand, knowing that
the Princess could be trusted, consented. The occasion was celebrated by
a dainty supper in the hotel, and Raie’s eyes shone as they had never
done before. And even when her lover took his departure a few days
later, the love-light in her eyes remained, so that the Montellas
wondered what had come to her, and why she was so unusually joyous.
Perhaps the girl wondered at herself, for it seemed almost incredible
that the mere fact of knowing Ferdinand should make so great a
difference. But the fact remained, and she had no power to prevent
it—indeed, she had no wish that it should be otherwise. Gazing into her
mirror one morning, she was astonished to find how well she looked—how
her eyes sparkled, and how vivacious was the expression on her face.

“I shall be quite pretty by the time Ferdie comes back,” she said softly
to herself, exhibiting for the first time a sense of vanity. “I want to
be pretty for him. For myself, I do not care at all; but for him—”

And then she leant her elbows on the dressing-table and lost herself in
a delicious reverie; but presently a cloud passed over her brow.
Supposing Ferdinand were unable to prove his innocence, what would she
do? Had she the courage to marry him with a stain upon his name and
character; and even if she had the courage, would it be right for her so
to do? Besides, she could not marry him whilst he retained his
pseudonym, and neither in Palestine nor England could they be united
under the name of Montella. Looking into the future, she foresaw
difficulties so immense as to be almost insuperable, but she could not
bear the thought of ever having to give up the man she loved. No
sacrifice would be too great so far as she personally was concerned; but
she hated the thought of grieving the one to whom she owed more than she
could ever repay. It was not in her nature to act clandestinely or to
rebel against authority, especially when she knew that that authority
was worthy of esteem. So that if it came to breaking with either Lady
Montella or her lover, the struggle would be keen and bitter; for
whichever way it went she would lose a friend. She could only hope that
what she dreaded might never come to pass, and that her lover would
return with his honour unimpeached. Once he were able to reclaim his
forfeited rights, all impedimenta to their marriage would be removed.
Her foster-aunt would not withhold her consent without due cause.

“Haifa seems to agree with you better than it does with us,” her mother
remarked, when in the cool of early morning she betook herself to the
little white bungalow which the Emanuels inhabited. “You are looking
splendid, Raie—different to our pasty-looking, freckled Harriet.”

Raie was sorry for her sister, who, since the dissolution of her
engagement with the young man who had cruelly jilted her some months
before they left England, had come in for an unpalatable number of
home-truths.

“Harriet cannot help her freckles, mother,” she rejoined, taking up the
cudgels in her defence. “I think she finds the climate trying, and I
know she does not like the food.”

Mrs. Emanuel tossed her head in impatience.

“Nonsense!” she exclaimed, with anger. “She doesn’t give the food a
chance; it is all I can do to get her to eat at all. Ever since her
engagement was broken off, she has done nothing but mope and pine for
Harry Levi. She has lost all her good looks, and she takes no trouble
over her appearance; and I’m sure the fellow isn’t worth a thought. I’m
ashamed of her, and that’s the truth; I never thought she would develop
into a crotchety old maid.”

The girl was silent, scarcely knowing what to say. Thinking of her own
lover, she felt more sympathy for her unfortunate sister than she dare
own. But when Harriet made her appearance a little while later, she
could not help experiencing a shock. Was it really love—or the lack of
it—that could make such a change?

“She does look ill,” she admitted, when the girl had left the room, “I
wonder if it would do her good to stay at Government House for a few
days? I am sure Lady Montella would allow me to invite her. What has
become of Harry Levi, I wonder. He is not in Palestine?”

“No, of course not. He is one of the ‘assimilated’ Jews. I suppose he
will marry a _shicksa_,[8] and bring up his children as Christians. He
doesn’t deserve to get on, spoiling a girl’s life as he did. I’d like to
‘assimilate’ him, the scoundrel! There wouldn’t be much of him left by
the time I had finished. I hope you’ll be more careful when you get a
young man, Raie.”

Footnote 8:

  Gentile (fem.).

Raie blushed to the roots of her hair. “My young man would not throw me
over,” she said playfully, and quickly changed the subject. With a
somewhat forced carelessness she inquired if her mother were getting
more used to the place.

“Getting used to the place?” repeated Mrs. Emanuel, in her usual
high-pitched voice. “I shall never get used to Haifa if I live to be a
hundred. When I want to be in bed, I’ve got to get up because it’s cool,
and when I want to be up and about, I’ve got to go to bed because it’s
hot. And as soon as I move out of doors I’m pestered with a lot of
Moslem beggars, until I come home without a farthing in my pocket. What
with the difference in the food, and the water that isn’t fit to drink,
and the funny people with their silly jargon, and the stupid currency,
which gives me a headache every time I have to buy anything, and the
peculiar mode of living, it’s enough to turn one’s hair grey. Besides,
the place is overcrowded. Palestine is too small for all the people who
want to settle down here.”

Raie could not resist a smile.

“There is bound to be a little overcrowding until the people are more
dispersed,” she returned convincingly. “When the other towns are ready
to receive them they will leave the larger cities. There are building
operations going on all over the country, and in a few years Palestine
will be extended to double its present area. So you see there will be
room for everybody, mother.”

“Give me Canonbury,” continued Mrs. Emanuel, following her own train of
thought. “I would rather live in the Petherton Road than anywhere else
in the world;” and no amount of persuasion or argument would make her
think otherwise. She was too old to bear transplanting successfully,
Raie thought.

She found her foster-aunt and Lionel in the morning-room when she
returned to the Government House an hour later. They were engaged in a
desultory conversation, for Lady Montella was writing, but a few words
reached her as she passed down the corridor. Her heart seemed to leap,
and she paused irresolute at the door; for they made mention of her
lover’s name.

“Anne declares she has seen Ferdinand in the town,” Lionel was saying,
as he put down the newspaper he was reading; “but why should Ferdinand
come to Haifa? And if he did come, would he not seek us out?”

Then seeing Raie’s figure framed in the doorway, he spoke of something
else, but not before the girl had had time to hear.

“Ferdie will have to be careful when he comes back, or he will be
discovered,” she thought, as she advanced farther into the room.

It was a very difficult matter to elude the lynx-like eye of the old
nurse, Anne.



                               CHAPTER IV
                           GOVERNOR OF HAIFA


Montella was alone in his study, with books and papers scattered on the
table before him; but although he was apparently reading, very little of
the printed matter penetrated so far as his brain. Deep in thought, his
brow was furrowed with lines which should not have appeared on the
forehead of so young a man; indeed, his whole appearance bore evidence
to the fact that he had been severely tried. It was possible that the
responsibility of governing the English portion of Palestine weighed too
heavily upon his shoulders, or that he took upon himself more than was
absolutely necessary for the welfare of his people. Certain it was that
his energies were boundless, and that nothing was too great for him to
achieve; but he could not spend himself without losing some of his
inherent vitality, and while he was indefatigable in his efforts for the
public good, his own health suffered from lack of care.

There is nothing which ages a human being so quickly as worry; and of
this Montella had his share. The race for wealth among the Europeans in
Palestine was keener even than it had been in the West, and the
unscrupulous greed of the people, who, in the ardour of competition
would financially cut each other’s throats, grieved him more than he
cared to own. Not satisfied with comfort and peace in the new land,
their one desire was to attain to wealth, the means to which entailed
the cost of suffering to hundreds less fortunate than themselves. To
Montella it was like a disease, sapping the moral strength of the people
at the very root; but neither he nor his colleagues were able to conquer
it; all they could do was to deprecate the evil.

And now there was a new difficulty with which to contend. Montella had
seen it coming almost from the first, but he had ever done his best to
drive it back. It arose from the relations twixt civil and religious
Judaism, and threatened to cause a serious split in the camp. The Chief
Rabbi of Palestine, Ben Yetzel, desired to exercise supreme authority in
imitation of the papal power, whereas Montella and his party opposed
despotism in religious matters, and favoured freedom of thought. To
those who wished for progress and the civilising influences of the West,
rigid orthodoxy was well-nigh impossible, and they chafed beneath its
yoke; but the sacerdotal dignitaries declared that the loosening of the
ceremonial ties would eventually mean the downfall of Judaism, and
insisted on the strict enforcement of the letter of the law. It was the
old well-known quarrel between Church and State, each striving for the
mastery, and neither prepared to grant the concessions which would make
for peace. And the Jews, although lacking nothing in astuteness, were
unable to profit by the experience of other countries once similarly
placed. They were obliged to learn their hard lesson alone.

The Chief Rabbi’s recent visit to Haifa had been an inauspicious event.
Although famed for his piety and scholarship, the great man’s views were
of necessity cramped by his narrow surroundings. He might have been a
Hillel or a Gamaliel had he lived in Hillel’s day; but he could not
realise the doctrine of evolution with regard to the moral nature of
man; and to him the world continued in the same stage of development as
it existed two thousand years ago. Therefore there were many customs of
the English Jews in Haifa of which he keenly disapproved; and that the
Governor’s wife should be of Gentile birth but added to his ire.
Montella, ardent upholder of Judaism though he ever remained, was at the
same time clear-headed and rational, and had no patience with the
Talmudic narrowness which converted a thoughtful man into a mere
automaton. His principles of sincerity and truth abolished all the
ceremonial observances which had degenerated into empty forms; and he
hated anything approaching priest-craft, even though it were Jewish. His
opinions, happily for himself, were shared by the most intelligent of
his colleagues, who openly showed their resentment towards the
interference of Ben Yetzel; but the majority agreed that every religious
body should have its head, and respected the Chief Rabbi’s position too
much to presume to criticise his views.

A Hebrew letter from Ben Yetzel lay on the young man’s desk, and it was
this which caused his present thoughtful mood. Taking up a pen, he began
to translate his reply, but with a sudden gesture of impatience he
tossed it aside. At the same moment the door opened slowly to admit a
small boy in a white frock, and accepting this as a welcome interruption
to his work, he drew back his chair. The little lad ran up to him with a
chuckle of delight, and clambered on to his knee.

“Daddy, I’se tum!” he exclaimed, giving voice to an obvious fact. “I’se
here, daddy, wif oo!”

Montella’s face brightened.

“What a naughty little boy to run away,” he answered lovingly. “What
have you done with nurse?”

“Nanna up’tairs in garden wif mammy,” was his prompt reply. “Me ’tay
here.”

Then he rested his golden head against his father’s coat, and gave vent
to a sigh of satisfaction. A few minutes later he was fast asleep.

He was a beautiful boy, and his pink cheeks glowed with health. In spite
of the fairness of his hair and complexion, his eyes were dark, and
fringed with long lashes of dusky brown. To his parents he was an
endless source of pleasure and amusement, and nothing delighted them
more than to notice his comical little ways. Montella carried him up to
the roof-garden, and gave him over to the nurse. It was his usual hour
of sleep.

“I think he has been running about too much,” his mother said, as the
maid bore him away. “It is easy to get over-tired in this heat. And you,
darling, you look fagged. Can’t you take a little rest?”

He threw himself down in the deck-chair at her side, and having asked
permission, prepared to smoke. Patricia applied the match to his cigar,
and then leant back with an expression of content.

“It is good to have you with me, Lal,” she said softly. “You have had so
little time to spare lately for baby and me.”

He glanced into her clear blue eyes with compunction.

“Never mind, sweet, I will make up for it later on,” he replied
cheerfully. “When I get my full staff of assistants I shall not have so
much to do. What with Ben Yetzel pulling one way and Engelmacher
another, it takes me all my time to steer clear between the two.
However, I don’t want to worry you with those affairs; let us throw dull
care to the winds.”

“The Chief Rabbi does not like me,” Patricia said thoughtfully. “I felt,
all the time he was here, that he disapproved of everything I did. I
wonder why?”

“Because he is a confounded idiot,” rejoined her husband, with heat. “If
you had been an old Polish woman with a _scheitel_[9] he would have
taken you to his heart. It’s jealousy, my dearest, nothing else. He
doesn’t like the idea of my having such a sweet and beautiful woman for
a wife. I suppose, too, he considers you a sort of heathen because you
are not of Jewish birth.”

Footnote 9:

  Wig.

“I think I am a sort of heathen,” the girl repeated slowly, with
thoughtful eyes. “I am no more a Jewess at heart than our baby is a Jew.
I have tried to love the Jewish religion for your sake, Lal, but I can’t
succeed. It seems so full of ceremonies which are beyond my
comprehension, and which puzzle me dreadfully. I am afraid you must be
very disappointed in me, dear.”

“Not at all. I never expected you to follow in my mother’s steps. _She_
has all the claims of ancestry and old association to make her love her
faith; you have nothing except your love for me.”

“It is of our child I am thinking,” she continued quietly. “How can I
teach him his faith as a mother ought to do?”

“Leave it to his grandmother,” Montella advised carelessly. “It will be
a task after her own heart. There is no need to worry yourself about
that, dear; I assure you little Julian will grow up a strict enough
Jew.”

Patricia sighed.

“I am glad you are not dissatisfied with me, Lionel,” she said, placing
her hand within his own. “Sometimes I have thought—and Lady Montella has
hinted—that you would have been happier with a Jewish wife.”

Lionel sat bolt upright and pressed her hand to his lips. “Stuff and
nonsense,” he returned, with indignation. “You will make me very angry
if you have such foolish thoughts. I would not exchange you for all the
Jewesses in the world.” Then he laughed at the idea conjured up by his
last sentence, but added seriously, “Has my mother said anything to make
you unhappy, dear?”

“Oh, no, nothing at all. It is not what she says—” She broke off
abruptly, and was silent for a moment, whilst the colour rushed into her
cheeks. “I love you so passionately, Lionel, that I cannot bear to think
there is any flaw in your love for me,” she continued hurriedly. “And
when these Jewish ceremonies crop up, they seem like barriers to drive
us away from each other. And I thought when Ben Yetzel was here that you
were a little bit ashamed of my ignorance of the Jewish laws. And that
is why—because I love you—I have been so anxious to learn.”

She nestled her head against his shoulder, and a tear fell with a splash
on to his coat. Montella was startled beyond measure, for she was a
woman who seldom wept. Either she was suffering from debility, or there
must be some serious cause for her emotion. Hastily he jumped to the
former conclusion—his beloved could not be well.

“My darling!” he exclaimed, in dismay, tenderly stroking her hair.
“Whatever has happened to give you such ideas? I’m afraid I have left
you too much to yourself of late; I am such a selfish creature when I
get wrapped up in my work. Why, Patricia, don’t you know what people
think of you in Haifa? You are the most admired woman in the town, and
the most respected. And you have endeared yourself to the heart of
everyone by going so much amongst the poor. Do you want me to tell you
that you are my queen, and that with you at my side, I am the most
fortunate man in the world? Because that is the truth, and you ought to
know it without needing to be told!”

He could not say more; and his words were uttered with heartfelt
sincerity. Patricia, duly comforted, dried her eyes, and a smile like a
burst of sunshine after rain illumined her face. Feeling that he could
not settle down to work again, her husband fetched her hat and gloves,
and together they sauntered through the white streets and across the
market square. Their destination, as usual, proved to be the new house,
the inevitable magnet which drew him towards itself whenever he had a
little time to spare. The builders and decorators were still hard at
work, and the sound of the hammers as they fell rhythmically upon the
stone greeted them as they approached. A sloping avenue of palm-trees
led up to the principal entrance, and the house, situated on a slight
eminence, commanded a fine view. From the observatory, which was nearly
completed, the mountain ranges of Galilee and Phœnicia, stretching away
to Lebanon and Hermon in the distance, could be seen, as well as the Bay
of Acre and Mediterranean Sea. The position was the best that could
possibly have been obtained; for if there were but a breath of air
stirring it would be obliged to find its way here. Patricia already felt
the difference as she seated herself on the one chair of which the roof
boasted, and drew a deep breath of relief. Montella left her for a few
minutes while he went to give a few directions in various languages to
the cosmopolitan band of workmen; but in a very few minutes he was back
again.

“Your boudoir is nearly finished, dear,” he said, with jubilance in his
tone. “Would you like to come down and see it? You might make some
further suggestions before it is too late.”

She rose with alacrity, and they descended the handsome staircase
arm-in-arm. All the rooms were situated on the ground floor, most of
them abutting on the atrium, in the centre of which was to be erected a
fountain in a colossal marble basin. The boudoir adjoined the
night-nursery, and was octagonal in shape. It was decorated in white and
gold, but the hangings were of old rose, Patricia’s favourite hue. The
furniture had just arrived, and some of the pictures already adorned the
walls. One, a small oil-painting of the Thames near Chertsey, had hung
in her old boudoir in Grosvenor Square, and called up a flood of old and
half-forgotten memories. She sank on to the silken covered settee,
whilst her husband went on a tour of inspection, and gave herself up to
a dreamy recollection of the past. How dull and prosy it had been in her
father’s house, and how depressing the magnificence of the silent rooms.
It seemed almost impossible to believe that she had existed for so long
with only the companionship of the phlegmatic Mrs. Lowther, except for
the occasional visits of the Countess of Chesterwood to break the dreary
monotony. What a change the advent of Lionel had been! He had
transformed her life, had given a zest and interest of which she had
never dreamed, had flooded her heart with the sunshine of his love. How
noble he was, and brave, and good! She glanced up at his stalwart figure
with shining eyes. She at least had no cause to long for the past.

“Well, what do you think of it, Patricia?” he said playfully, returning
to her side. “Does it meet with your little ladyship’s approval? Are you
satisfied?”

“More than satisfied!” she exclaimed, with ardour. “The house will be a
perfect paradise. But, do you know, Lal, it all seems unreal.”

“Unreal?” he repeated, in perplexity. “How? It is substantial
enough—built of stone throughout.”

“Yes, I know. I didn’t mean that. I cannot realise, somehow, that this
is to be our own house. It is more like a fairy palace than Grosvenor
Square.”

Lionel laughed, well pleased.

“If this is a fairy palace, you are the fairy queen,” he replied
gallantly. “You shall hold your court in the atrium, and all Haifa will
come and do you homage. Ah, you do not know what pleasant things are in
store for you when we have established ourselves here!”

Patricia answered him with a smile, but a sigh soon took its place. This
peculiar air of unreality always affected her when she went over this
new house. She could not imagine herself domestically settled in the
place, and although the arrival of the furniture introduced a more
home-like appearance, this feeling still remained. It was almost like a
premonition—a presentiment that although the house was being built
especially for her, although everything in it had been chosen in
accordance with her own taste, all the care and thought had been in
vain, for the simple reason that fate ordained that she should never
live in it. It was so unaccountable and inexplicable that she would not
mar her husband’s satisfaction in the place by worrying him with this
foolish fancy. But the fancy, foolish or not, remained; and the oftener
they visited the house the more certain she became that the magnificent
edifice would never be her home.

Having completed their inspections, they walked leisurely back to the
Government House, where a surprise in the shape of Dr. Engelmacher
awaited them. The good doctor was passing through Haifa _en route_ for
Beyrout, and intended to stay for two or three days. Knowing that the
two men were anxious to talk over communal matters, Patricia left them
to themselves. In the library she found Lady Montella and Raie.

Her mother-in-law looked up with a smile.

“I want to ask you something, Patricia,” she said, making room for her
on the couch. “Do you remember Miss Lorm?”

“Zillah Lorm,” put in Raie, desiring to be more explicit. “A dark girl,
with nice eyes, splendid figure, and stand-offish manner. You know her,
Patricia; she sings.”

“Yes, I know her,” Patricia answered readily. “She is in England, is she
not?”

Lady Montella referred to the letter she held in her hand.

“She was; but she will be in Haifa very soon,” was her reply.
“Assimilation does not seem to have agreed with her very well, and she
is evidently hankering after the Jews in spite of her former desire to
forget her origin. She writes that on account of a disappointment—of
which she gives no particulars—she is very unhappy, and wishes to join
us here for a time. As I have known her for many years, I should like to
invite her to stay with us for two or three months; but I would not do
so without first consulting you.”

Raie made a little grimace.

“I am sure you do not want her, do you, Patricia?” she interrupted, with
a comically defiant look at her aunt. “She used to be sweet on Lionel
before he married you, and I know she’s fearfully jealous of you even
now. I don’t like her a bit, and I don’t know what Aunt Inez can see in
her. I am sure she will come and upset us all if you invite her here.”

“Hush, Raie!” said Lady Montella reprovingly. “You allow your tongue to
run away with you. Miss Lorm is a very bright and nice woman, in spite
of your opinion. Whether she shall be invited here or not is for
Patricia to decide. What do you say, my daughter? Shall she come?”

“Certainly, if you wish it,” Patricia answered promptly, but without
enthusiasm. She was not anxious to play hostess to Zillah Lorm, but she
was too certain of her husband’s love to listen to Raie’s warning. It
was not in her nature to entertain that kind of fear.



                               CHAPTER V
                          THE COMING OF ZILLAH


So Miss Lorm came, and took up her abode at the Government House as if
it were the most natural thing in the world, and immediately aroused
Raie’s anger by making great friends with the Princess; for Raie looked
upon the Princess as her own especial property, and resented the
addition of a third to share their walks and drives. She anticipated
worse to follow, however, for the Princess, prior to her departure from
Palestine, intended to visit Jerusalem, accompanied by Lionel and
Patricia, so that she would be left to help Lady Montella entertain the
guest. She sincerely hoped that Ferdinand would not come back until it
were a thing of the past; she did not desire him to meet Zillah Lorm.

There was no denying that Zillah possessed an attractive personality, as
well as a magnificent voice. She seemed to be able to draw people
towards her with an almost magnetic power, and there were few who
refused to be fascinated by her charms. Nevertheless, she did not
improve on acquaintance, for there was a hardness in her nature which
soon made itself felt. She had no sympathy with the poor and
down-trodden, or with anyone whose sole aim was not success. Her one
desire was to advance in the world, and her friends were chosen in
accordance with this end. And this ambition sometimes manifested itself
unpleasantly in her words, for she did not seek to disguise the trait.

Strangely enough, Raie was not the only one who regarded her with
dislike. Little Julian manifested a distinct animosity from the very
first day of her arrival, nor was he to be propitiated by caresses and
presents. He began to cry directly she spoke to him, and screamed
lustily for her to go away. His parents and nurses tried every means in
their power to win him over, but in vain. He would not kiss Miss Lorm,
neither would he allow her to touch him; all he could do was to look a
picture of misery while she remained in the room.

He was only a baby, and his goodwill of no value at all; but he was
Montella’s child, and Zillah felt piqued.

“Let me sing to him,” she suggested, as the boy hid his face on his
mother’s shoulder. She was certain of conquering him by the dulcet tones
of her voice.

But even the soothing notes of a lullaby were powerless to move the
stubborn little heart. Julian fixed his round eyes on the singer for a
moment, but soon looked away. Seeing that he was still obdurate, Zillah
ceased in disgust; after all, it mattered little whether he condescended
to kiss her or not.

“I have never seen baby behave like that before,” Patricia said, when
the others had left the nursery. “I felt quite ashamed of him before
Miss Lorm. How can you account for it, nurse?”

The nurse was at a loss for a reply, but Anne Whiteside came to the
rescue.

“Oh, there’s no accounting for the likes and dislikes of children, my
lady,” she replied easily. “I believe they can see further into a
person’s character than we grown-ups can; it’s a sort of second sight, I
think. Now, my Tom, he’s just the same. He took a dislike to the Arab
boy who minds him when I’m up here, and no amount of coaxing would make
him alter his mind. So all I could do was to send the boy away and get
another; it wasn’t worth while making the lad ill on that account.”

“Certainly not,” was Patricia’s comment. “It is not the least use to try
and force affection. How is your grandson, by the way? I have scarcely
seen him since we came to Haifa.”

Nothing delighted Anne more than to discuss her boy.

“He’s doing fairly well, thank you, my lady,” she replied, with
alacrity. “Of course, he found the heat trying at first, but he’s
getting used to it now.”

“And is his brain more active than it was?”

“I’m afraid not, my lady; he’ll never be no better than a poor imbecile.
Not that I’m complaining, though; there’s worse things than that.”

“You ought to let him sleep in the Cave of Elijah, Mrs. Whiteside,”
advised Raie, suddenly appearing at the door. “Wouldn’t it make a
sensation if he were to be cured!”

“Eh, miss!” The poor woman looked bewildered. “Is it a doctor’s
treatment you mean?”

“No; the Cave of Elijah.” She smiled good-humouredly, not in the least
realising the serious import of her words. “They say that all who are
mentally diseased are cured by sleeping there over night. I suppose it’s
after the style of Lourdes.”

“Oh! but it isn’t true, surely, miss?” Her form trembled like a leaf.
“It can’t be true!”

“I can’t swear to it, but that is what tradition says. I think it is
supposed to have to do with the influence of Elijah’s spirit on Mount
Carmel. Mustaph, our guide at the hotel, said he actually knew someone
who was cured.”

“How came you to hear of it, Raie?” asked Patricia, with surprise. She
was sorry the girl had mentioned it to Anne, thereby raising false
hopes.

“I heard of it when I was staying with the Princess: the cave is not far
from the Mount Carmel Hotel.”

“And does the Princess believe in it?”

“She neither believes nor disbelieves, because it’s a sort of
faith-cure. When I asked her, she answered by quoting Shakespeare:
‘_There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of
in your philosophy._’ But the Carmelites evidently accept it as a fact.”

“It is not well to believe too much in such superstitions,” said
Patricia thoughtfully. “I should advise you not to think about it,
Anne.”

The nurse looked from the one to the other in a tremor of excitement.
“Oh, but, my lady, if it should be true! If it should be true!” she
cried, scarcely able to contain herself. “Think what it would mean to me
to see my Tom growing in mind and body like other boys! Think what a
comfort he would be to me in my old age. Surely if the cave is so near
by it would be sinful not to try it. Maybe the Lord has brought me out
to the Holy Land for this very purpose, else why should it happen that I
should come to this very place?”

“If faith is wanted, you will not be found lacking,” her mistress said,
with a sigh, as she handed her pet back to the under-nurse. “But if you
are disappointed, Anne, remember that I warned you. Every countryside
has its legends and superstitions. At Burstall Abbey we had a magic
well.”

“I am sorry I have put the poor creature in such a state of excitement,”
Raie said, as they left the nursery. “Surely, though, she would not be
so foolhardy as to take her little boy to the cave? I would not spend a
night there for all the gold of Ophir.”

“Anne will do anything if she thinks it is of God,” rejoined her friend,
as she turned into her own room. “She seems to see the working of
Providence in every event.”

Dinner that evening was considerably enlivened by the presence of Zillah
Lorm, for coming direct from England, she had much to tell. Owing to her
connection with influential Christian people she had evaded the
Assimilation Act until a few weeks ago; but her origin having been
eventually discovered, she had been given the option of taking the oath
or leaving the country. Indeed, it was only by the prompt action on her
behalf by a friendly peer that she had escaped the penalty meted out to
such defaulters. Instead of viewing her position with anything
approaching repentance, however, she seemed to regard it as a good joke.
She was genuinely elated at having had the cleverness to defy the
authorities for so long a time.

“It was Mrs. Athelstan Moore—the Countess of Chesterwood, I mean—who
found me out,” she informed Lionel cheerfully. “You see, she had met me
at your house and knew something about me; the others never dreamt that
I was a Jewess. Of course, I took care to avoid all those who already
knew.”

“I thought you had already taken the oath,” said Lady Montella, from the
other side of the table. “Did you not give me to understand that such
was the case?”

“Did I? I have forgotten.” Zillah looked up with an air of frankness.
“To tell you the truth, I was very near taking it, but when it actually
came to it, I couldn’t find it in my heart to give up all connection
with things Jewish. Not that I care much for _Yiddishkeit_—I generally
try to avoid it as much as I can; but as long as I was born a Jewess, I
suppose I’d better die one too.”

“Was that your only reason for refusing to secede?” asked Lionel, with a
curious smile. “That you might die a Jewess? Why not that you might live
a Jewess too?”

Zillah gave a gesture of insouciance.

“To live is always more difficult than to die,” she returned lightly.
“Besides, I could not make a _Brocha_[10] over the Sabbath candles to
save my life. It is not in my nature to conform to that sort of thing.”

Footnote 10:

  Blessing.

“But living in Israel, you will do as the Israelites do?”

“Certainly, as long as no great effort is expected of me. I should
certainly not go out of my way to offend.”

“Your candour is refreshing,” said Lady Montella, scarcely knowing
whether to be shocked or to admire, “and, unfortunately, your position
is a common one amongst the Jews of to-day. So long as you do not
actually renounce the faith, you, and those who adopt your standpoint,
think you are fulfilling your whole duty to it. Why do you cling so
ardently to the thought of dying a Jewess? Is it not because you cannot
bear the thought of being separated from your own people at the last?”

“I suppose so,” Miss Lorm admitted. “It is just a sentiment, or else a
prick of conscience. I am not sure which.”

“But our religion claims more of you than that,” the elder lady
returned, with a touch of reproach. “People would not have to talk of
the decadence of Judaism were it not for the neglect and lack of
enthusiasm shown by many Jews. How I long for a grand revival—a
rekindling of Judaism as it was in the days of old! Surely it ought to
take place in this sacred land of our fathers. And when so opportune a
time as now!”

Her eyes deepened with an intensity of feeling, and she became lost in
thought. Zillah diverted the conversation into another channel, and
began to speak of English affairs. She wished her ladyship were not
quite so ardent a Jewess; she could not understand it at all.



                               CHAPTER VI
                           THE CAVE OF ELIJAH


Anne Whiteside was sitting in her own room, absorbed in thought, whilst
near by, in his little white bed, lay her sleeping boy. Raie’s words had
sunk deep into her mind—so deep that she could think of nothing else.
Had she been told of such a cave in England she would probably have
considered it unworthy her attention, but here in Palestine the
conditions were entirely of another kind. She remembered the story of
the pool of Bethesda, where the great multitude of impotent folk waited
for the moving of the water; and to her it seemed quite as likely for a
miracle to happen in a cave as in a pool. Moreover, the very soil of
Palestine was sacred, and more associated with divine interposition than
any country in the world, so that it seemed to lend itself to the
miraculous as a matter of course.

“With God all things are possible,” she said to herself. “The arm of the
Lord is not shortened.” The physicians were unable to cure the lad, and
had pronounced his case hopeless; but surely no case was beyond the
power of the Great Physician? She was determined to have faith.

The boy awoke, and blinking sleepily at the light, glanced at his
grandmother, but no ray of intelligence crossed his face. He knew her,
of course—he would take his food at the hands of no one else; but he
showed no sign of recognition, and gazed vacantly into space. Anne moved
the lamp in order to prevent the glare from hurting his eyes, then
fetched him a glass of fresh cocoanut milk. He drank it greedily, and
asked for more, but the old nurse thought he had had sufficient, and
coaxed him to try and sleep.

Sitting by the bed, she sang a crooning little melody, such as might be
used to lull a baby in a cradle, whilst her fingers busily plied a pair
of woollen socks. There was no sound to break the stillness but that of
her own voice, yet she was quite oblivious of the gentle lifting of the
latch. A sudden shadow on the opposite wall, however, caused her to look
up suddenly, and without any sense of surprise she discovered a swarthy
Arab at her side.

“Mustaph!” she exclaimed, putting down her needles in haste. “You have
come from the Princess? What does her Highness say?”

For answer he produced a note from the folds of his inner garment and
handed it with a bow. The nurse took it with trembling fingers and broke
the seal. Then she adjusted her spectacles and turned towards the light.
Mustaph complacently squatted on the floor.

  “_I think your project considerably fraught with risk both to the boy
  and yourself_,” it ran; “_but if you are determined to venture, I will
  not deter you. To-morrow will be a good opportunity on account of the
  full moon, and my carriage will be at your disposal. Be ready an hour
  and a half before sunset, when one of my servants shall call. Please
  inform Mustaph if this arrangement is satisfactory, or if you have
  changed your mind. Personally, I should advise you to leave well alone
  rather than be guided by a Mohammedan superstition._

                                             _O. von Felsen-Schvoenig._”

To read and digest the note took some little time; but the Arabs are
never in a hurry, and Mustaph waited with calm patience. Anne sank on to
a chair, with her back to the man and her elbows resting on the pillows
of the bed. ‘To be, or not to be?’ that was the question which sent a
thrill of agitation through her being. Whether it were better for Tom to
remain as he was—a helpless imbecile—or to undergo the chance of being
cured. Cured! The very word set all her pulses throbbing, and made the
blood course rapidly through her veins. To have his intellect restored,
to be clothed and in his right mind, like the demoniac of old, to be a
help and a comfort instead of the burden he ever remained! For she knew
he was a burden, in spite of the assurances she always gave herself to
the contrary. His condition necessitated more attention than she was
ever able to give him, even though he was watched by some obliging
friend when she was away. Cured! As in a vision she saw him growing up
beside her, his form no longer delicate and shrunken, but strong and
stalwart with the vigour of youth; his face glowing with intelligence
instead of that vacant expression which seemed to cleave her heart in
twain. If he were but healthy like other boys, her life would be a very
paradise on earth, for it but needed this to complete her happiness. A
mist rose before her eyes as she gazed at the poor old-young face, the
large forehead which betokened not intellect but idiocy, the heavy
eyelids closed in sleep.

“Oh, Christ, dear Lord, help me!” she whispered, clasping her hands in
an agony of indecision. She knew not what to do for the best.

Mustaph, noticing her agitation, rose from the floor and approached with
wonder.

“_Malaish!_” he exclaimed, using the Arab term of condolence. “What
matter? _Mafîsh._ There is nothing.”

“The cave,” she said, raising her head. “The Cave of Elijah. You have
been there. Is it true that people are cured?”

He stared at her interrogatively, scarcely understanding her words.

“_Fen_—where? The cave? Boy go? _Haiwa._ Yes, varry good.”

Then he nodded vigorously, meaning to say that he knew all about it now.

“Tell her Highness I have made up my mind to try with Tom,” Anne said,
deciding suddenly. “I will be ready at the time she says—before sunset.
But I suppose I had better write it.”

And finding a pencil, she scribbled the message on the reverse side of
the Princess’s note. She felt as if she had cast the die.

Nodding and smiling, the Arab departed, and she was left to herself
again. The boy was still asleep, with a look almost of babyhood on his
face. If he suffered in any way by his visit to the cave she was certain
she would never forgive herself; but the temptation to make the trial
was too great to be passed by.

“You will be cured, Tom!” she exclaimed softly, as she bent down and
kissed him on the forehead. “I know you will; I can feel it in my heart.
No more weary hours, no more pain, dearest. Oh, to see you no longer
suffering! ’Tis worth the trial of faith!”

She paced the room, scarcely able to contain her deeply-stirred
emotions, and without the least inclination for rest. And when she did
go to bed, sleep refused to come, so that she tossed the whole night
through, and longed for daylight. But she was up again at the usual
early hour, and fulfilled her duties with no lack of energy. Fearing to
receive discouragement, she did not inform the Montellas of her
intention to put the matter to the test that night, and only the
Princess, to whom she had rendered some service in Haifa, was in the
secret. Punctual to the appointed time the car appeared before her door,
with two servants in attendance, and fortunately there were few people
about to wonder at its coming. Anne’s heart beat fast as she placed the
lad in the most comfortable seat, and took up her position beside him.
The cee-spring and thick rubber tires on the wheels of the vehicle
minimised the jolting, which would otherwise have rendered the drive
more or less unpleasant, and the white awning served to protect the
occupants from the glare of the sun. Occasionally a string of
soft-treading camels passed them, their sweetly-sounding bells
announcing their approach; or the peasant-women in their picturesque
blue robes would stand and stare at them, perhaps in the hope of selling
some of the milk which they carried in pans on their heads. The road on
the mountain side lay between rich and beautiful vineyards, and as they
ascended a glorious view expanded before their gaze. Northwards sparkled
the waters of the bay, across which, at a distance of about twelve
miles, lay Akka, once in the coasts of the Gentiles, but now a Jewish
town. Eastwards rose the hills of Galilee, whose undulating ranges
overlooked Nazareth, Cana, and the Sacred Lake; and far away in the
distance towered the snowy cap of Hermon, like the only cloud in a clear
sky. Around them was spread the rich flora of the Carmel ridge, with
occasional Druze villages nestling on its slopes; and close at hand the
happy twittering of the birds fell on the fragrant air. Anne drew a deep
breath of enjoyment, feeling that here—so close to the scene of Elijah’s
victory over the prophets of Baal—nothing was impossible. The very
atmosphere seemed charged with the miraculous, the Oriental colouring
bridged over the distance from that time of old. It was the first time
she had been any distance from the town, the first time that she was
able to realise that this was in truth the land of the Bible; and the
fascination of it all crept over her spirit—that peculiar spell of the
Holy Land.

The Princess was waiting for them when they arrived at the hotel. It was
characteristic of her to treat her inferiors with as much deference as
her equals, and since the nurse had obtained the promise of this favour,
she would not stint the measure of her goodwill. A substantial repast
had been prepared for them in her private sitting-room; and with her own
hands she ministered to their wants. Yet if at home in Felsen-Schvoenig
her husband had asked for such an attention, she would have replied that
she was not a serving-maid. She was indeed a mixture of perversity, but
a sweet woman withal.

“Tom does not look so well to-day,” she observed, as she coaxed him to
eat. “Do you think the journey has been too much for him, Anne?”

Anne was not sure, but she thought he must have benefited by the lovely
drive.

“If your Highness will allow me to feed him, I think he will get on
better,” she suggested cheerfully, and held the spoon to his lips as
though he had been a child.

The meal over, they re-entered the little carriage, and prepared to
start for the wonderful cave. Standing under the stone portico, the
Princess wished them farewell.

“I shall think of you to-night,” she said, with a smile of
encouragement. “I hope the cure will work.”

“If God will,” was the nurse’s rejoinder. “I thank your Highness for the
great help you have given me.”

But the Princess would not receive her gratitude.

“I will send the carriage for you at dawn,” she called out, as the
coachman took up the reins; and then again wishing luck to the venture,
she disappeared from view.

The cave, which was formed out of the limestone of which the mountain
was composed, was reached shortly after leaving the hotel. A chapel had
been built there to commemorate the place, but it had been done away
with when the Jews came into possession, and now there existed nothing
to distinguish it from other caves. Coming into it from the open air, it
seemed to exhale an atmosphere of warm humidity, and the walls, when
Anne felt them, were quite damp. Mustaph had brought with him a lamp,
some warm blankets, and a small folding-chair, but in spite of these
commodities, the place scarcely promised to be a comfortable one in
which to spend the night. The shadows gathered as they made their
preparations, and the nurse shivered, though scarcely with cold. Even
Tom, who scarcely ever displayed an emotion of any kind, seemed
frightened, and at first refused to lie down in the strange floor-bed
allotted to him. At sunset Mustaph took off his shoes, spread his mat,
and said his prayers in approved Mohammedan fashion, after which he took
up his position on guard at the mouth of the cave. The lighted lamp
brought with it a homely ray of comfort, but it was too small to
adequately illumine the cavern, and the corners were dark and black.
Amidst such eerie surroundings, Anne would not have been surprised at
any apparition or supernatural manifestation, and as the time wore on,
she worked herself up to an intense pitch of excitement. Tom lay awake
for several hours with wide-open, frightened eyes, his hands clutching
tightly at the counterpane, whilst in his own way he expressed his
disapproval and fear. At last, however, his hands unclosed and his
features relaxed, and closing his eyes wearily, he dropped off to sleep.

Anne heaved a trembling sigh as she sank on to her knees at his side.
Who could tell what would have happened by the time he awoke again?
Crossing her hands on her breast to still the rapid beating of her
heart, she sent up a passionate entreaty to Heaven to grant her prayers
for the boy. What would she not do to show her gratitude if only he were
cured of his disease! How devoted her life would be to the Most High
henceforth! She was not the first soul who has presumed to bribe the
Almighty when in distress: it is a common human instinct to think that
we can gain a divine benefaction by promising to do something great and
magnanimous in return.

The silence was intense, but suddenly it was broken by a weird and
melancholy sound. The nurse started in affright, wondering from whence
it came, and listened with distended eyes. Moving towards the entrance,
she called to Mustaph, who was endeavouring to rouse himself from sleep,
whilst the sound continued, just like a cry of woe.

“A jackal,” the Arab replied imperturbably. “_Malaish_—never mind. I
tell him _imshi_—be off! _La!_ no. He not come here. Ma’am not be
afraid. He only howl.”

Anne was thankful to hear the sound of a human voice.

“I wish the night were over,” she said, with a sigh. “Tom is fast
asleep. Are you sure we have done everything properly? I am so anxious.
I cannot sleep.”

Mustaph suppressed a yawn.

“Allah is good!” he exclaimed wearily. “Ma’am must sleep, or else Elijah
not come. To stay awake is _harâm_—forbidden. I tell jackal _imshi_.
Ma’am sleep.”

So Anne returned to the interior of the cave, and wrapping herself in a
blanket, tried to fulfil the command. The howling and whimpering of the
jackals continued for some time, but she covered her ears, and did her
best to shut out the sound. She was, indeed, very tired, and since it
was necessary that she should sleep, she was determined not to keep
awake. Gradually she lost consciousness, until the cheerless cave
entirely disappeared, to be replaced by a phantomatic but more happy
slumberland. The night wore on, but nothing happened to disturb her
dreams, and she slept right on until a strip of light in the east
heralded the dawn. Then she awoke with a start to find her two
companions still asleep, the Arab in his place at the mouth of the cave.
Pulling herself together, she rose and stretched wearily, and then bent
over her beloved grandchild. He was lying in the same position, but so
still that he might have been a waxen figure instead of a human boy.
With an indefinable sense of alarm she knelt down beside him, and
scarcely knowing what she was doing, felt his heart and his wrist. Then
a low cry of anguish echoed and re-echoed through the silence of the
cavern—the cry of a broken-hearted woman.

For the light of her life had been extinguished—the boy was quite dead!

She remained in her kneeling position, totally stunned. It was possible
that lying on the floor the damp vapours had poisoned him, but it did
not occur to her yet to seek the cause; it mattered not how he died,
since there was no hope of his instantaneous resurrection. But while she
knelt, her eyes blinded with tears, there appeared before her mind’s eye
something which was almost akin to a vision. The cave in which she had
slept for so many hours became the rock-hewn sepulchre of Mary and
Martha’s brother, and in fancy she heard the sweet but authoritative
Voice: “_Lazarus, come forth!_” Oh, that that same Voice might utter the
command over the inanimate figure of her boy! But no, that Voice spake
no longer, save in the souls of men. Of a different nature, though no
less potent, were the miracles of to-day.

“_‘He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it him, even length of days
for ever and ever’!_” she quoted, in a whisper, as her lips touched the
ice-cold forehead of the lad. She had prayed that he might be cured,
that he might spend no more weary hours, and have no more pain. Ought
she not to be happy since God in His own way had cured the child?
Certain it was that for him there would be no more suffering and
weariness. “_‘Even length of days for ever and ever’!_” she repeated, as
she went to inform the Arab.

She was no longer sorrowful. The boy was cured at last!



                              CHAPTER VII
                                EL KÛDS


Jerusalem—that much-coveted city of quarrels—was still under Moslem
rule. The Jews—to whom it was as the golden heart of their country—had
done all in their power to possess it, but the Sultan was obdurate, and
had only bartered Palestine on the condition that El Kûds—the
Holy—should be extra-territorialised. So the rivalry between the Greeks,
Latins, Protestants, Armenians, Copts and Mohammedans continued. But the
Jews stood on a firmer footing than heretofore; and if secretly they
looked upon the _Harâm_ with covetous eyes, seeing behind the Mosque of
Omar the dome of their own Temple, they kept their secret well. The
Zionist leaders had impressed upon their minds the need of maintaining
friendly relations with their rivals; and they were urged to treat the
Christian sacred places with due respect, in order to show that they
were as capable as the Mohammedans of guarding them intact, if ever
opportunity should occur. That the opportunity would occur some day, was
to them a foregone conclusion; for however long and weary the waiting,
they were certain that Jerusalem would eventually be theirs.

Dr. Engelmacher’s house was situated in the south-eastern suburb of the
town, adjoining the Jewish quarter. Montella and his wife and child—who
were to be the doctor’s guests—arrived late on a Friday afternoon, just
before the falling of the Sabbath. They had travelled from Haifa to
Jaffa by boat, and then on to Jerusalem by train, for the new railway
between the two capitals was not yet completed. Engelmacher received
them with a breezy cordiality which immediately put them at their ease;
and his wife, a typical German frau, busied herself greatly concerning
their comfort. Little Julian, who had come in the care of the faithful
Anne, was installed in a pretty room transformed into a nursery for the
occasion. Mrs. Engelmacher had no children of her own, her only little
one having died in infancy. Perhaps that was why she had begged Lady
Patricia to bring hers: she longed for the sound of a childish voice.

To the true Jew there is no happier hour than that of a calm Sabbath
eve. Having rid himself of the turmoil of his daily labour, he dons his
best garb to meet the Bride of the Sabbath. The Friday night supper is
in itself an institution; and the ceremonial candles, the sweet wine and
cloth-covered bread, serve as links to unite him to his brethren
throughout the world. So felt Dr. Engelmacher, as with his velvet cap
well set on his head, he intoned the Hebrew grace. To him the Sabbath
had but one disadvantage: he could not smoke, for as to touch fire is
forbidden, his well-beloved briar had to be laid aside until on the
following evening three stars appeared in the sky. But he made the
sacrifice cheerfully, even if he sometimes grumbled about it to his
wife. His motto with regard to his religion was “_Noblesse oblige._” The
more was it to be appreciated in that it cost something to be a Jew.

“Your wife is a picture!” he exclaimed to his guest, when a little while
later Patricia, on the plea of fatigue, excused herself and retired to
rest. “Himmel! what eyes! One can look right through them to her soul.
But she is a thorough Englishwoman. How likes she the foreign life?”

“Very well, I think,” Montella replied, with a contented smile. “She
would make herself happy anywhere with me; she is only unhappy when she
thinks she disappoints me in not doing the proper thing in accordance
with Jewish law.”

“Then she is conscientious?”

“Yes, very; it is her nature. She is the sort of girl who would be happy
in any country and under any conditions so long as she thought she was
doing the right thing. She is the dearest little woman in the world!”

“Little, do you call her?” said Mrs. Engelmacher, who was short and
plump. “_Um Gotteswillen_, if she is little, I must be a pigmy. She is
tall and graceful, such as one reads of. If I were a man I should be
proud of such a wife—eh, Max?”

“Ach well, perhaps.” The good doctor pinched her cheek affectionately,
knowing what she desired. “For myself I prefer a small wife, because she
takes up less room in a house, and you can put her in your pocket if
there is nowhere else for her to go. Besides, I like to see a dear
Yiddishë _ponim_[11] at my side. It would not do for us all to fall in
love with fair and beautiful Christians. Where would Judaism be?”

Footnote 11:

  Countenance.

He laughed heartily, and so did Montella, who was too sensible to take
offence. And so the evening passed, enlivened by anecdotes and jokes,
until Mrs. Engelmacher also said good-night. Left to themselves, the two
men entered upon a more serious conversation, for in connection with the
Rabbinical faction there was much to be discussed. Ben Yetzel had openly
declared antagonism towards any kind of reform, and in doing so had
practically thrown down the glove.

“He came back from Haifa with his hands raised in holy horror,”
Engelmacher said, in his short, dry accents. “According to him the city
is a veritable hot-bed of heresy. He saw with his very own eyes a Jewish
man carrying a walking-stick on the Sabbath; and the strange thing about
it was that the heavens did not fall!”

“Ridiculous!” exclaimed the young man, with contempt. “It is a wonder he
will consent to carry his clothes.”

“Well, you know he wears his pocket-handkerchief tied round his knee as
a garter because it would be a sin to carry it in his pocket on the
Sabbath. But there is worse to follow. He went to your house to dinner
in spite of his misgiving as to the orthodoxy of your menage, and your
wife actually offered him milk in his coffee thirty minutes after he had
partaken of meat! After that he has given you all up as hopeless; and
really, my dear Montella, I think you might have exercised greater
care!”

“My wife offered him milk in his coffee!” repeated Lionel incredulously.
“I can scarcely believe it. My mother was in the room, and would surely
have noticed it; she is quite as particular in that way as Ben Yetzel
himself.”

“But how is it there was milk on the tray at all so soon after dinner?”

“Because my wife and Miss Emanuel seldom eat meat. They find that light
food agrees with them better in this climate. Of course, Patricia, who
finds it difficult to realise the importance of the dietary laws,
_might_ unthinkingly have passed him the milk. It is a great pity,
especially as Ben Yetzel is such a fanatic. But I dare not say anything
to her about it; she would be very grieved at her mistake.”

“Oh, it isn’t worth while to rake up the matter now,” said the doctor,
relapsing into his native tongue. “The question is, are we to bow down
to Ben Yetzel or not? Years ago, when I was threshing out the Zionist
question, I thought what a glorious thing national Judaism would be, but
I left the narrowness of Rabbinical Judaism quite out of account. In
this new State, it seems to me, as to my contemporaries, that we should
let every man find salvation in his own particular way.[12] How can we,
who have suffered so much on account of religious persecution, afford to
deny toleration to our own brethren? Let every man do that which seems
right according to his own conscience, thereby abolishing the secret
hypocrisy which is so detestable to an honest soul. To enforce orthodoxy
as Ben Yetzel would do is absolute madness; it will simply mean the
cramping and narrowing down of all the best that is in us; it will mean
the practical ruin of the State.”

Footnote 12:

  Dr. Herzl’s principle.

“And yet you are an orthodox Jew yourself?”

“I am. Use is second nature, you know, and I am willing to try and set a
good example. But I am a broad-minded man of the world, and I know that
that world does not end at my own horizon. People of different
temperaments need various forms, even of the same religion. It is
impossible for an Englishman like yourself, for instance, to beat your
breast like the Polish Jew.”

Montella nodded. “You are a sensible man, doctor,” he said, with
enthusiasm. “But what do you advise?”

“I hardly know. The bulk of the people in Palestine are with Ben Yetzel
to a man. It is only the few emancipated, deep-thinking men like
ourselves who have any thought of rebellion. For the present we must
just watch and wait to see how things go. You will see Ben Yetzel, of
course, while you are here?”

“My people in Haifa expect it of me. I suppose I must.”

“Then be careful what you say to him. He is an adept at catching one in
one’s words. He loves to condemn people out of their own mouths; it is a
form of amusement in which he delights.”

“You may rely on me to be discreet,” returned Montella, with a smile. “I
can be as stolid as the Sphinx when I please.”

They parted for the night, and the young man went to his room with a
light step. To his surprise he found Patricia still half dressed, her
willowy figure enveloped in a loose silken wrapper. Sitting with her
elbows resting on the ledge of the open casement, she looked like some
frail sprite in the light of the moon. Montella went up to her, and
tenderly touched the loosened tendrils of her hair.

“I thought you were in bed long ago, sweet,” he said.

She turned towards him with an affectionate gesture. “I have been
talking to Anne,” was her reply. “It is just a month since her
grandchild died. She seemed very much upset about it, poor woman, and I
think it has done her good to tell me. I have been trying to console
her.”

“At the expense of your beauty sleep?”

“I do not feel inclined for sleep; I am not so tired as I was an hour
ago.”

“But you must sleep, or you will be fit for nothing to-morrow,” he urged
gently. “What were you gazing at so intently out of the window?”

“Jerusalem!” she replied, and the words fell almost musically from her
lips. “I look through this casement window, and I see the city stretched
out before me, with its white domes and flat roofs, and a kind of spell
comes over me as I gaze. See how solitary it looks, surrounded by those
savage hills, and yet it is the centre of the three great religions of
the world, and the goal of pilgrims from the uttermost ends of the
earth. Even I, who am neither a Jewess by birth nor scarcely a Christian
by faith, cannot help feeling thrilled. Eight times destroyed, it has
come through fire and blood, and still remains; even Rome cannot boast
of such a record as this.”

Montella smiled.

“What a fascinating goddess Jerusalem is!” he exclaimed softly. “She
intoxicates us all when we first come within her walls; but you will
find that the charm will wear off when you have been here a few days. A
bird’s-eye view of the city is more satisfactory, I think, than a closer
inspection. She doesn’t improve on acquaintance, for beneath her
apparently peaceful exterior, there rises the humbug of her
ecclesiastical show-places, the wrangle of creeds. When you have seen
all the sights of the place, you will find that your pleasing sensations
have gradually evaporated. At least, that was my experience on my first
visit here.”

“You are more matter-of-fact than I am,” she rejoined, almost
reproachfully. “I am sure that to me Jerusalem will always remain the
same.”

She closed the casement and turned away, a thoughtful expression in her
eyes. She could not imagine why the sight of the city should raise such
emotions in her, since she was not bound to it by ties either of race or
faith. She was always moved by places of historic interest, it was true,
and she remembered how greatly she had been stirred by her first view of
the seven hills of Rome; but Jerusalem impressed her in an entirely
different way, and one which she could not so easily explain. She had
looked forward with no especial pleasure to her sojourn in the Holy
City, and had come merely because her husband wished it. Now, however,
her feeling was one of inexplicable delight. She would not have missed
the visit for the world.



                              CHAPTER VIII
                         AMID THE SACRED SCENES


The Princess Charles von Felsen-Schvoenig was also in Jerusalem, but she
stayed at a hospice in the Christian quarter, where a friendly bishop
and two or three other English Christians were included among the
guests. In a fortnight’s time she would be _en route_ for the Rhenish
principality where her husband was patiently awaiting her return, but at
the present moment her one desire was to “do” Jerusalem thoroughly, and
in this she succeeded fairly well. Armed with Baedeker’s guide, she
called at Dr. Engelmacher’s house for Lady Patricia, and chartering a
light _arabiyeh_, drove wherever the streets would permit. The influence
of the British Consul and Turkish Governor, combined with an unlimited
amount of _backsheesh_, gained admittance to the innermost courts of the
_Harâm_, and most effectually paved the way to the various places of
interest. But the enjoyment of the Princess was somewhat marred by her
inherent scepticism. She refused to believe in many cases that certain
events happened on the exact spots to which they were ascribed, and
therefore the great fascination of them was lost. For the city itself
she possessed the deepest reverence; indeed it was this very reverence
which made the morbid hallowing of certain rocks and stones so repugnant
to her mind. Descended from a strictly Puritanical race, she found it
impossible to manifest enthusiasm for relics—so many of them
spurious—and the numerous mementoes sold by avaricious Moslems. The
fanaticism of some of the Latins and Greeks was to her as
incomprehensible as it was revolting.

She was obliged to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by herself;
for Patricia, being nominally a Jewess, was not permitted to enter the
sacred precincts. So she left her friend in the little _arabiyeh_ to
meditate on the ambiguity of her position, and descended to the paved
quadrangle alone. After what seemed a very long time she returned,
thankful to be out again in the fresh air.

“Well?” said Patricia, with a smile, as she made room for her in the
carriage. “Did it come up to your expectations?”

“Yes—and no,” the Princess replied, sitting down with relief. “To me the
chapels are tawdry in the extreme, and the building enclosing the Holy
Sepulchre is a miracle of bad taste. But to see the adoration of the
pilgrims is wonderful; what a pity that the place has been desecrated by
so much bloodshed! I wish you could come with me next time I go.”

“Impossible,” returned her friend, as the vehicle pursued its way. “I
should be drawn and quartered by the mob. You forget that I am to all
intents and purposes a Jewess.”

“Ridiculous!”

“But I am,” the girl insisted, as though trying to convince herself;
“otherwise I could not be Lionel’s wife.”

“And you are happy?”

“As Lionel’s wife, yes. As a Jewess, no. Fortunately, my husband’s love
is more than compensation for the difficulty I find in his religion.”

“Then, by your experience, mixed marriages are a success?”

“Yes, where there is such love as ours. Of course I cannot help wishing
sometimes that we were one in our faith, especially for the sake of the
child.”

“But you are one in your faith!” exclaimed the Princess, with surprise.
“Have you not become a Jewess? By your own confession you had no
cherished belief to renounce at the time of your apostasy—excuse the
word.”

Patricia sighed, but was silent, scarcely liking to give voice to her
thoughts. They had just passed through the Jaffa gate on the road to
Bethlehem, and the magnificent view attracted their attention. Wild
mountains stretched above them, varied by occasional vineyards and olive
plantations; and a bend in the road disclosed that which was said to be
Rachel’s tomb.

The stone streets of Bethlehem were so narrow that the carriage occupied
almost all the available space. Their destination was, of course, the
Church of the Nativity, which stands at the upper end of the
market-place. Passing through the low and narrow doorway, they descended
to the sacred crypt, where about fifty exquisite lamps hung from the
roof. On the pavement below one of the altars a metal star had been let
into the rock; it indicated the exact spot where the Holy Babe was born.

“This, I believe, is authentic,” said the Princess, as she bent down to
read the Latin inscription on the star: “‘_Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus
Christus natus est._’ Can you realise that this is the very cave—the
outhouse of the khân—in which the greatest event recorded in history
occurred? Is it not wonderful! The thought almost takes my breath away!”

Had she been a pilgrim and emotional, she would have knelt and kissed
the star. As it was, she stood by the altar with reverently bent head,
her thoughts concentrated on the stupendous miracle which had been
enacted there. In the adjoining church of the Latins the choir were
singing vespers; and their voices, subdued by distance, rose and fell in
pleasant rhythm; but within the cave itself there was silence, and the
solemnity of the moment was undisturbed.

A deep sigh from her friend recalled her to the present, and with a last
look at the star she turned away. To Patricia the sight of Bethlehem was
like a silent reproach. It recalled with almost vivid clearness the many
Christmas Days of her childhood, and how thoroughly she had entered into
the spirit of the Festival; for she had been a Christian then. She was
silent as they re-entered their little carriage and were driven onwards
towards the village of Bêt Sahûr; and the Princess also seemed to have
little to say. Their destination this time was the field “where
shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground”; and
arrived there they alighted to stroll among the olive groves. Near by,
the Field of Boaz brought to their minds the charming idyll of Ruth the
gleaner, and they could almost imagine the sweet Hebrew maiden gathering
the ears of corn. Gazing down the slopes, they could see far away in the
distance the brilliant waters of the Dead Sea; above them was the still
deeper blue of the Syrian sky.

“This is heavenly!” exclaimed the Princess, as she flung herself down on
the dry turf. “It only needs the music of Handel’s Pastoral Symphony to
complete the scene. The very atmosphere seems to breathe peace.”

“I did not think you could be so enthusiastic,” said Patricia, with a
smile. “I thought you were one of the _nil admirari_ kind.”

“So I am—sometimes; it’s just how I feel. Nature appeals to me much more
than the showy buildings wrought by the hand of man. Do you know, I made
a splendid resolution when we were in the little crypt of the Nativity.
I believe Palestine is making me good. I suppose you think I can do with
it, Pat?” she added, with a naïve smile.

Patricia glanced at her curiously.

“I don’t know,” she returned honestly. “I believe your heart is in the
right place, and I know you wouldn’t hurt a fly if you could help it.
But you might be kinder to a certain person, you know.”

“My husband? Yes. It is concerning him that I have made the resolution.
Of course he is rather stupid, but I suppose he can’t help it, and I’m
afraid I did treat him rather badly. You see he always let me squash
him; and he is so delicate that it made me feel mean—as if I had thrown
a stone at a child. If he had placed himself on the defensive, I should
not have minded in the least. But if I smote him on one cheek, he would
turn the other to me also; and no woman could stand that.”

“Why smite him at all?” asked Patricia pertinently. “Is it not better to
live in peace?”

“Ye—es; but if you were shut up in that grim old castle at
Felsen-Schvoenig with an invalid husband, I believe even your sweet
temper would be tried. However, I promised God in that little cave of
the Nativity that I would go home and try and make Karl a better wife. I
haven’t the least idea what made me think of Karl just then; his figure
seemed to rise up and reproach me when I was looking at the star.”

“It is an excellent resolution,” said her friend, as she gazed
thoughtfully over the Shepherds’ Field to the distant hills. “Strange
that you should have to come all the way to Palestine to make it. I
believe there is something in this atmosphere which stirs us up to
spiritual action; I felt it directly we came to Jerusalem. You would not
think it to look at me, would you?—but I am as worried as I can possibly
be.”

The Princess looked up sharply, with an expression of surprise.

“Worried?” she repeated. “Why?”

Patricia pulled up the grass with nervous energy.

“I don’t know if I am wise to talk about it,” she rejoined slowly; “but
I think I can trust you, Olive. I said a little while ago that I was a
Jewess. The statement was false; I am not a Jewess.”

“No? Well, I never thought you were. What need is there to worry
yourself about that?”

“Ah, you do not understand.” She threw away the blade of grass, and
pressed her hands together. “I am living, spiritually, a double life,
deceiving others as well as myself. I thought at the time of my marriage
that it was quite easy to renounce Christianity; and indeed it was
then—my soul must have been in a comatose condition. But since I have
come to Jerusalem, all is changed. These sacred scenes have revived
within me the faith of my childhood; almost every stone reminds me of
the Master I have denied. It is impossible for one who has ever been a
Christian to gaze on the Holy City unmoved. Even you have come under the
influence of this wonderful place.”

“Yes, that is true. In London and New York one does not seem to have
time or the inclination to trouble oneself about religion, but here
Christianity is so very real. I understand your frame of mind exactly.
It was absurd to ever expect you to conform to Jewish law.”

“Lady Montella does expect me to conform to the Jewish law,” Patricia
continued seriously. “She is always impressing upon me that I have
become a Jewess, and until now I have constantly reminded myself of the
fact. Situated as he is, Lionel _must_ have a Jewish wife. That is why I
am so greatly troubled. I can no longer pretend to be what I am not.”

“But you must!” exclaimed the Princess forcibly. “Since you have married
a Jew, you must abide by the consequence. I believe I know your people
better than you know them yourself. It will never do for them to find
out that you have relapsed—that there is a heretic within the fold. You
must exercise tact and discretion: learn to be a diplomatist.”

“Learn to be a hypocrite, you mean. It will be a hard lesson! I am
afraid I shall never master it. After all, what does it matter to the
Montellas what I privately believe so long as I respect their Judaism?
Will it not be better to make a clean breast of it, and tell them at
once?”

“Tell them if you like, but do not say that I failed to warn you. I am
older than you, Patricia, and have seen more of the world. Religion was
never meant to disturb domestic happiness, and break up a home. Openly
declare your faith, and you can no longer remain in Palestine. You
yourself said that Lionel must have a Jewish wife.”

The coachman was growing impatient, and seeing that he wished to return,
they bade good-bye to the Shepherds’ Field. The homeward drive was made
almost in silence, for Patricia was too much disturbed to speak. She
knew that her friend’s view was a correct one, and that to confess her
newly-recovered faith would cause an open breach. And to leave Palestine
would mean separation from the two dear ones to whom she was bound by
the most sacred ties. The thought was too terrible to be borne.

“I must keep silence!” she said to herself. “I must!” But she knew that
at any time her secret might escape, and she would be lost.

She went back with the Princess to supper, in accordance with the
arrangement they had made before they started on their expedition; but
she was poor company that night. The conversation of the guests in the
hospice rolled past her like a distant echo; and even the epigrams of
the Bishop (who was noted for his wit) failed to dispel her troubled
thoughts. She was glad when Lionel came for her and took her
home—although “home” at present was Dr. Engelmacher’s house. She nestled
her head against his shoulder in the little _arabiyeh_, and closed her
eyes in dreamy satisfaction. His very presence imbued her with a sense
of protection, and drove away the worry—at least temporarily—from her
mind.

“Don’t let me be away from you for a whole day again, darling,” she
said, in what he always called the “baby” voice. “Olive is the dearest
woman I know, but I want you. I seem to have been parted from you for
ages—positively _ages_!” And then she laughed in order to drive away a
tear.



                               CHAPTER IX
                           MEMORABLE MOMENTS


Montella and the Rabbi Ben Yetzel had quarrelled, in spite of Dr.
Engelmacher’s warning. It was a great pity, because Ben Yetzel was a
dangerous man to offend; but his decision on certain matters had been so
arbitrary that Montella could not help protesting, and the discussion
had led to hot words on either side. Engelmacher, knowing that to
overthrow the Rabbinical authority altogether was bad policy on Lionel’s
part, endeavoured to make peace between them, but in vain. The young
Governor of Haifa declared that he would sell his conscience in bondage
to no man, were he priest or peasant; and determined to use his own
judgment in matters pertaining to the people. So the incensed Chief
Rabbi literally shook off the dust of Engelmacher’s courtyard from his
feet, and departed in great wrath, calling down in the choicest Hebrew
the vengeance of Heaven on all concerned.

“You have done wrong, my boy,” said the doctor to Lionel in the calm
which followed the storm. “It is never wise to make an enemy, especially
such a man as Ben Yetzel. ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ is
his motto. I am afraid he will make you suffer for what you have said
to-day. He holds the majority of the Palestinian Jews in the hollow of
his hand.”

“Even if it is so, I could not have spoken otherwise,” rejoined the
young man, his eyes still flashing with the intensity of his outraged
feelings. “Ben Yetzel must do his worst. One generally has to suffer for
right and truth in this world, I find.”

“H’m, perhaps so.” The doctor applied a match to his pipe. “But as ‘this
world’—as you so contemptuously call it—is the only one with which we
have to do, I think we ought to jog along with as few jars as possible.
However, what’s done is done, and you will have to make the best of it.
Be on your guard against Ben Yetzel—that’s all. He will never forget
that he owes you a grudge.”

“He is welcome to pay me back whensoever he pleases,” Montella said
carelessly.

He was too young and too strong to cherish the smallest fear.

Nevertheless he knew that the quarrel was to be regretted. He had come
to Jerusalem, hoping to improve matters by the aid of diplomacy, and had
failed. It was perhaps that the English method of handling such affairs
did not work in Palestine; but he could not help that—he was British to
the backbone. What he said he meant with his whole heart, and the
foreign system of prevarication and petty quibbling was to him as
distasteful as it was unintelligible. Therefore it was impossible for
him to tolerate the slippery dealings of Ben Yetzel and his clan; a
breach had been inevitable from the first.

“We may as well return to Haifa as soon as the Princess leaves,” he said
to his wife, when he had given vent to his indignation. “I can do no
good here, I am afraid.”

Patricia looked up at him with her blue eyes full of sympathy.

“Poor boy!” she exclaimed softly. “You always seem to be in hot water
with these rabbis. They remind me of the Pharisees of old.”

“They are Pharisees—and hypocrites,” he returned, with a touch of
bitterness. “However, I am not going to trouble about them; they are not
worth it. I shall try to take a leaf out of Engelmacher’s book: instead
of getting angry with them he simply laughs.”

“That is the most sensible way. How many quarrels would be averted if we
could only laugh!” She sighed, and added regretfully: “I shall be sorry
to leave Jerusalem. It is the most wonderful little city in the world.”

She would not tell him how much she dreaded the return to Haifa, but the
fact remained. Here, in Mrs. Engelmacher’s house, she had been
comparatively free from the obligations of the Jewish ceremonial, but
when she took up the domestic reins once more, the responsibility would
again devolve upon her shoulders. Lady Montella had been careful to
train her in the right way, and hitherto she had responded with a
certain degree of enthusiasm; indeed, she had been so anxious to do the
correct thing that she had sometimes done more than was absolutely
necessary. Now all was changed. She felt that she could no longer show
spontaneity in the duties of a Jewish housewife, even though she meant
to perform them conscientiously for her husband’s sake; and she feared
the keenly perceptive powers of her mother-in-law, who almost seemed
able to read one’s thoughts. The Premier’s words to her on her
wedding-day recurred with new and added force. She had thought so
lightly of her apostasy at the time; she could see the reprehensibility
and gravity of her action now.

It was Sunday afternoon—their last Sunday in Jerusalem—and she had
promised to go to the hospice for tea. The Engelmachers were expecting
friends in the evening, and she was not sorry to obtain leave of
absence; but her husband, on whose account the company had been invited,
was obliged to remain. She found the Princess in the pretty hospice
drawing-room surrounded by a little group of admirers, whilst a
good-looking curate from Devonshire obligingly handed round the tea.

The scene was in marked contrast to the glaring Orientalism without.
Patricia felt as if she had been suddenly transported to a homely
English vicarage, and experienced an indefinable sense of comfort at the
thought. The Bishop was in the midst of one of his innumerable
anecdotes, and was dilating on the humorous vagaries of a certain Scotch
gillie; but he paused at the most interesting point of the story in
order to fetch the new-comer a chair.

“Sit down here, Lady Patricia,” he said genially. “You will be able to
get a breath of air from the window.”

And then he resumed his account of the golf-loving Tammas, to the
amusement, if not the edification of his friendly audience.

“We are all going to St. George’s this evening,” the Princess informed
her, when a momentary lull in the conversation occurred. “You don’t mind
coming, do you, Pat? The Bishop has been asked to preach.”

“I shall be very glad,” the girl answered promptly. “It is such a long,
long time since I went to church; I have almost forgotten what the
service is like. But I wonder if Lionel would object? I hardly like to
go without his knowledge.”

The Princess looked dubious.

“I should think he is too broad-minded to object,” she said
thoughtfully. “However, you must do just as you like; I don’t want
Lionel to tell me that I have led you astray.”

“Oh, he wouldn’t do that,” returned Patricia quickly, wondering how she
should decide. There was an uneasy sensation at the back of her mind,
that in her present position she ought not to attend a Christian church;
but the desire to form one of the party conquered. After all, she was
acquainted with so few people in Jerusalem that it was very improbable
that she would meet anyone she knew. But she made up her mind to tell
her husband that same night; she had no wish to act clandestinely.

They set out just as the bells began to ring, the Devonian curate in
attendance. Passing through the Damascus Gate, they paused at El
Hieremîyeh—the “green hill far away, without a city wall,” which some
believed, with General Gordon, to be the true Calvary, in preference to
the site within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Certain it was that
the caves on the southern side gave it the appearance of “the place
which is called the place of a skull”; and it was the Jews’ traditional
place of execution. Below was a garden, containing a rock-hewn
sepulchre, which might well have been the “new tomb” belonging to Joseph
of Arimathea; but by some it was said to be fifth-century work, and its
authenticity was open to question. To the Princess it seemed well that
the exact locality of the Great Redemption should never be decided; for
the place was surely too sacred to be desecrated by the wrangling of the
various Christian denominations for its possession, which had so often
led to bloodshed; by gaudy altars, the bartering of candles, the gross
irreverence of the Mohammedan guardians. Better far that the exact spot
where Divine Love was crucified should remain unknown, since that
knowledge, instead of making for reverent peace, would only serve to
engender strife.

They had just examined the cave called Jeremiah’s grotto, at the foot of
the hill, when Patricia became conscious of a man in the attire of a
Jerusalemite Christian, who seemed to be watching her with special
intent. Every time she looked in his direction she encountered the
dog-like expression of his melancholy eyes, and as he did not attempt to
ask for _backsheesh_, she wondered why he favoured her with his regard.
When they left the grotto, he walked, or rather glided away in an
opposite direction, but no sooner had they arrived at the Tombs of the
Kings than he suddenly reappeared, although it was impossible to tell
which way he had come.

Patricia felt vaguely alarmed, but she scarcely liked to communicate her
nervousness to the others. The last bell of St. George’s opposite had
almost ceased, and there was no time to look at the tombs, so they
crossed over and entered the church without delay. The man also crossed,
peered into the vestibule, and then withdrew; but, unobserved by
Patricia, re-entered when the service began, and remained until the
beginning of the sermon.

To no one in the sacred building did Evensong sound more solemn and
sweet than to the girl who for so long had been alienated from her
Church. The General Confession, Psalms, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis
brought back a host of recollections to her mind, even though she had
lapsed into indifference for some time before her marriage. She could
almost imagine herself back in the little parish church of Newlingham
Heath—her father’s village—with her mother’s memorial tablet and window
just above her head, and the memorial chancel rails a few paces to the
front. Ah, if that mother had lived, what a different training she would
have received! For the Countess Torrens had been known for her gentle
piety, and it was only since her death that the Earl had drifted into
Agnosticism. Thoroughly repentant and subdued, she determined to
reconsecrate her life to the Highest, and to do all in her power to
atone for her temporary aberration. The difficulties of the situation
vanished away as she meditated upon the marvellous compelling power of
the Divine. She was so certain that if she were but true to the highest
instincts of her spiritual nature, all things would work together for
good. The pettiness of the Jewish ceremonial should trouble her not at
all; she would look through and above it to the Great Majesty beyond.

There was a new impress of spirituality upon her face when, the service
over, she left the church. The Princess guessed the nature of her
thoughts, and instead of criticising—as she usually did—the sermon, the
music, and the congregation, she remained silent for awhile. The
Devonian curate suggested a walk to the Mount of Olives, for the night
was fine, and the moon brilliantly full. So they betook themselves
through the north-eastern suburb of the city, and past St. Stephen’s
Gate, near where a belated beggar afflicted with the terrible disease of
leprosy called out his melancholy warning “Lebbra!” and solicited alms.
Then down they went into the Kidron Valley, and past the venerable olive
trees of Gethsemane, where they paused awhile. Bathed in moonlight, the
Sacred Garden seemed enwrapt by a solemn peace, and as lonely as in the
time of old, save for the little chapel tended by Franciscan monks.
Whether this were the authentic spot or not, it could not have been far
away where the Agony of the Divine Sufferer had taken place; for the
Mount of Olives was close at hand, and though all the ecclesiastical
localities were spurious, this sacred mount remained unchanged.

The ascent was steep and difficult, but they climbed high enough to
obtain a splendid view. They could look right down into the Temple area
on one side, and towards Bethany and the Dead Sea on the other. The air
was cool and balmy, and so still that they scarcely cared to disturb the
silence by conversation, but the Princess could not resist the
temptation to quote some verses of a poem she remembered, which so
beautifully described the scene:

            “The full moon rose o’er Anathoth,
              And gleamed upon the lone Dead Sea,
            Threw silver spears o’er Olivet
              And touched each hoary rock and tree.

            In solemn darkness Kedron lay;
              But all the wealth of light was poured
            Fondly upon Jerusalem,
              The ancient city of the Lord.

            As ivory her houses gleamed
              Against the blue of hill and sky,
            And all her slender towers arose,
              Like shafts of silver thrown on high.

            No sound profaned the holy scene,
              Save the sad jackal’s plaintive wail;
            No light of lamp, no ray of star,
              Disturbed the shadows blue and pale.

            And just so looked Jerusalem
              To Him, who, on the self-same spot,
            Would long ago have sheltered her
              Beneath His wing, but she would not.

            So she remains unchanged and lone,
              Till He shall come again and fold
            In the vast pity of His love
              Creeds, nations, empires, worlds untold.”[13]

Footnote 13:

  “Jerusalem by Moonlight” (Margaret Thomas).

“I like that,” said Patricia, with a sigh of enjoyment, when she had
finished. “And oh, how glorious it is up here! No wonder our Saviour
loved to come here when He wished to be alone. I like this better than
all the other historic places we have seen, because it is the work of
Nature, and there is no chance of its having been artificially
disturbed. The same blue sky overhead, the same rocks and stones and
flowers as were here over nineteen hundred years ago, when He walked and
taught on these slopes. This is grander than all the churches which have
been erected in His name; it is an everlasting witness—Heaven’s own
natural church!”

Surprised at her own effusiveness, she turned away and walked a few
paces to the rear, alone. It was something to be remembered, this
moonlight night on the Mount of Olives, with the sleeping city below;
and the emotions of her newly-quickened soul—they were to be remembered
too. How good was God; how fair was the earth; how sweet was life! Could
she not say with Browning,

                     “God’s in His Heaven,
                       All’s right with the world”?

for at this height the troublous details of human existence sank into
insignificance compared with the grandeur of eternity which knows not
time. With a strange feeling of exaltation she stooped down, and
plucking a tiny flower from the rocky soil, pinned it gently to her
breast. Then with a sigh of perfect contentment she rejoined her
friends. No matter what sorrow there might be for her in the future, she
was strong—she had braced herself to endure.



                               CHAPTER X
                             THE BLOW FALLS


It was quite late (for Jerusalem) when Patricia drove home in her
friend’s little _arabiyeh_, but the Engelmacher household was still
astir. In the drawing-room she found her husband playing cards with the
doctor and two other gentlemen, and smoking a Turkish nargileh. The
fumes were not unpleasant, so she would not allow him to put it away on
her account. Taking the little chair he placed for her, she sat down at
his side. She had no desire to watch the play—indeed the very sight of
cards was distasteful to her just then; but she liked to be near her
husband, and to talk to him between the deals.

“There is a letter from your father,” he said, when she had been
introduced to Dr. Engelmacher’s friends. “He has been staying at
Burstall Abbey, but thinks of coming over here on a visit for a change.
He has photographed almost every place of interest in Europe, and would
like to add a few Oriental scenes to his collection. You would be
pleased to see him, would you not, dear?”

“Yes, of course, dear.”

She took the letter out of his pocket-book and read it for herself. Lord
Torrens did not write often, and his epistles were generally brief and
to the point, but this one extended over four pages of closely-written
notepaper, and had evidently taken him some time to indite. He said he
was longing for a sight of his daughter’s bonnie face; and as he usually
concealed his feelings by a mask of cold austerity, Patricia was
somewhat surprised. Wrapped up in his books and hobbies, she had always
left him severely alone unless he particularly asked for her society.
She had never given him credit for the human sympathy which, in spite of
his crusty exterior, he undoubtedly possessed.

She put the letter back into the envelope as the men threw down the
cards in order to partake of the refreshments which Mrs. Engelmacher had
thoughtfully provided; for although they had had supper scarcely an hour
before, they were already thirsty again. Montella rose and stretched
himself with an air of relief. At the same moment there came a violent
ringing at the courtyard bell.

“_Donner und Blitz!_” exclaimed Dr. Engelmacher, with resentment. “Is
the house on fire? Who has the impudence to pull the bell so that it can
be heard all over Jerusalem? _Dummkopp!_ Stupidhead! I will tell him so
to his face.”

He continued to demolish a huge slice of cake, however, with
imperturbability, and carefully filled his friends’ glasses with wine. A
moment later the door was thrown open with a flourish, and after a brief
altercation without, three men appeared on the threshold. The foremost
was Ben Yetzel, the Chief Rabbi, in all the glory of his official robes.

His visit at that hour, and after his quarrel with Montella, was so
totally unexpected that the occupants of the room were all taken aback.
Dr. Engelmacher swallowed the remaining portion of his cake in one
mouthful, after which he was obliged to hastily gulp down a glass of
wine to save himself from choking. His friends stared at the new-comers
with curiosity, and Lionel grasped the back of the chair with an air of
defiance. But the most agitated of all was Patricia, who had recognised
in one of Ben Yetzel’s companions the man she had met by Jeremiah’s
Grotto, and again at the Tombs of the Kings. No wonder he had watched
her so carefully; he was evidently in the Chief Rabbi’s service as a
spy.

Judging by the pomposity with which Ben Yetzel advanced into the room,
his errand was aggressive in intent. Taking not the slightest notice of
Montella, he began to talk to Dr. Engelmacher in Hebrew, his voice
raised in excitement, and his features glowing with a fanatical light.
For a while Lionel took no part in the colloquy, and listened in
silence, with lowering brow; but at last he could restrain himself no
longer, and spoke in the deep and peculiarly resonant voice which
betrayed his agitation. Then there ensued a veritable babel of noise and
confusion of tongues; for the simultaneous combination of Hebrew,
German, and English, and all spoken in anger, did not conduce to the
clear understanding of either side.

Patricia had never felt so uncomfortable in her life. Although she could
not understand exactly what they were saying, she knew that the
dissension was in some way connected with herself. Her one desire was to
escape from the room, but she dare not attract attention by rising from
her seat. So she remained, until hearing her little boy crying in the
room above, she took courage and moved towards the door. But the Rabbi’s
lynx eyes caught the action, and just as she reached the threshold, she
was asked by Dr. Engelmacher to remain.

“I am very sorry, Lady Patricia,” he said, in a more gentle voice than
he had used to the men, “but the Chief Rabbi is labouring under a
misapprehension, and we had better set him right. He declares, on the
authority of his employee here, that you joined in the service at the
Church of St. George this evening. I have told him that the employee
must have made a mistake, and perhaps confused you with your friend, the
Princess; but he will not be satisfied until he hears the denial from
your own lips. He wishes you to tell him yourself that you did not enter
the church while service was proceeding.”

There was a breathless pause. Patricia remained standing, her fair face
proudly raised.

“I cannot tell him that,” she said, addressing the doctor, but looking
straight at the Rabbi. “I went to the church with the Princess—the first
time for many years. I saw no harm in it, or I would not have gone. I
did not think I was being watched.”

Montella beat an impatient tattoo on the table at his side.

“Absurd!” he exclaimed, with irritation. “Ben Yetzel has no right to
send out spies. Besides, what harm has my wife done? Surely she can
accompany her friend to church without all this fuss being made? She
went simply on account of the Princess; she could scarcely have done
otherwise, since she was on a visit to the hospice. Dr. and Mrs.
Engelmacher know that Lady Patricia is a faithful Jewess and observes
the Law.”

The Chief Rabbi understood English, although he seldom cared to speak
it.

“A faithful Jewess bends not the knee in a Christian church,” he said.
“Yussuf here sat just opposite her and saw her join in the prayers and
hymns. The lady is not a Jewess, even though she does profess to keep
the Holy Law. She is a Christian; and for the wife of the Governor of
Haifa to be a Christian is a scandalous thing.”

“She is not a Christian!” denied Montella, with heat. “She renounced her
Christianity before she became my wife. Ask her, and she will tell you;
she does not believe in Christ.”

Again the appeal was made to the girl herself. Patricia felt the eyes of
the room upon her, and the colour rushed to her cheeks. With beating
heart she gazed almost piteously at her inexorable accusers. Oh, Lionel,
most devoted of husbands, most foolish of men! Why had he put the
question direct, with so much confidence in her unbelief? Neither
sophistry nor prevarication would avail now; she must speak the truth,
even though to utter the words might ruin her life’s happiness. But
then—quick as a lightning flash the thought came—why give these people
the satisfaction of victory? Why play into their hands, and witness the
chagrin of her husband? Why not say no in public and yes in private. Ah,
but she could not do that; she dare not again deny her faith.

“My husband does not know,” she said, in a stifled voice. “I did
renounce Christianity before my marriage, and I have tried to keep the
Jewish Law until this day, and intend still to do so as long as it is
necessary. But while I have been in Jerusalem my religious views have
undergone a change. The Chief Rabbi is unnecessarily harsh, but he is
correct in his statement. I do believe in Christ. I believe in Him with
all my heart and soul!”

Had a thunderbolt fallen, the silence which succeeded her avowal could
not have been more pregnant with surprise. The Chief Rabbi’s expression
lightened into one of triumph, and his satellites, taking their cue from
him, looked about them with calm contempt. Dr. Engelmacher spread his
hands deprecatingly, and gave vent to a shrug of the shoulders which was
eloquent with meaning, whilst Montella—almost stunned by the
unexpectedness of the dénouement—started to his feet in sorrow and
amazement.

“Patricia!” he exclaimed, in a voice of poignant grief. “You don’t mean
it—you, who have been so staunch and true ever since you became a
Jewess. Oh, you don’t realise what you are saying, dearest. You have
been carried away by the emotions called up by these historic scenes!”

She shook her head. “I must speak the truth, dear,” she answered,
softly, “or I should despise myself for a coward.”

Then she sank on to a chair, almost overcome with the heat and the
excitement. The blow had fallen; she dared not think what the
consequence would be.

“For the wife of the Governor of Haifa to be a Christian is a scandalous
thing,” repeated Ben Yetzel quietly, in Hebrew. “Either Mr. Montella
must resign his post, or there must be a divorce.”

Dr. Engelmacher was the only one near enough to hear his dictum.

“Gently, my dear sir,” he returned, in a tone of reproof. “If we live,
we shall see; there is plenty of time.”

But he knew that his friend Montella was in a most difficult
predicament, and that it would need all his astuteness to extract him
from the same.

He rose, in order to show that he considered the interview at an end;
and the Chief Rabbi, well satisfied with the work he had accomplished,
took his departure with due ceremony. There was an awkward pause when
the door had closed behind him, and Patricia seized the opportunity to
escape from the room. Scarcely knowing whither she went, she rushed up
the shallow staircase to the apartment which served as her boudoir. Her
one desire was to be alone for a few minutes—anywhere away from the
people she had offended. Opening the door which led into the
night-nursery, she peeped timidly into the room, and seeing that her
baby was alone, advanced gently towards his little cot. Although he
seemed so still, he was not asleep, but lay staring up at the pattern on
the wall with wide-open eyes. Hearing the rustle of her dress, however,
he sat up in eager anticipation.

“Nanna just gone down’tairs,” he informed her, even before she asked
him. “Baby hot.”

“Too hot to sleep?” she asked gently, and lifting him up into her arms,
pushed the curls away from his forehead.

It was a relief to feel his loving little caress, to have the golden
head nestling against her shoulder, to hear the piping notes of the baby
voice. His very presence soothed her as no other earthly thing could
have done; he seemed just like a little cherub of peace.

“Mammy not go ’way,” he said contentedly, his tiny hands grasping her
wrist. “Mammy ’tay wiv baby always?”

He looked up confidingly into her face, but the expected answer was not
forthcoming. A hot tear splashed on to his hair; and although but a
baby, he knew instinctively that something was wrong. He did not know
that his words had caused a dread possibility to flash across his
mother’s mind—for the result of that evening’s confession might mean
separation, not only from her husband, but from her child. Seeing her
distress, he began to sob in sympathy, and clung to her with almost
convulsive force.

“Mammy not go ’way!” he wailed, over and over again. “Mammy ’tay with
baby!” and he refused to be consoled, until Patricia declared
unceasingly that she would never forsake him.

She stayed until he was asleep again, and then, leaving him in the
charge of Anne, returned to her own room. Too much perturbed to
methodically disrobe, she took her favourite seat by the casement
window, and rested her elbows lightly on the ledge. The moon still shone
with brilliant splendour, illumining the whole city with its silvery
radiance; and away to the east she could see the Sacred Mount upon whose
slopes she had so recently stood. The view recalled her lofty
aspirations, and endued her with courage. She was surely not so weak as
to quail at the first attack!

But the sound of her husband’s footsteps caused her heart to beat fast
again with apprehension. What would he say, she wondered, and how
display his anger? She had never seen him angry—at least, never with
her; for in all the four years of their married life they had not
quarrelled once. She glanced up from beneath her long lashes as he
entered the room, and noticed with a pang of compunction that he looked
haggard and pale. But although she longed to say something, the words
froze on her lips. Always reserved by nature, she became suddenly
self-conscious, and instead of showing sympathy, as she longed to do,
the result was a stony silence.

But Montella understood. Locking the door with his usual care, he
advanced towards the dressing-table and turned up the light. Then taking
a little chair at her side, he grasped both her hands.

“Patricia, how could you?” he said, so quietly that she could scarcely
catch his voice. “How could you, dearest? You do not realise what you
have done!”

He gazed into the depths of her eyes, as though he would read her very
soul. She looked back, and saw that there was no anger, but only deep,
impenetrable sorrow reflected there. And then he explained. He was not
so shocked that she had returned to her former religion—indeed, he had
always known that she had found Judaism difficult; but that she should
have publicly confessed her relapse, and in the very presence of the
Chief Rabbi—that was where she had done irreparable harm.

“Under those circumstances prevarication was justifiable,” he said, when
she had protested her inability to answer otherwise. “You could have
said something—anything—only to defy Ben Yetzel and put him off the
track.”

“I could not tell a deliberate falsehood,” she answered, in a voice as
low as his own. “I am sure no good ever comes of telling a lie.”

“Ah, but you do not understand!” he said, in agitation. “To Ben Yetzel
your admission is the peg on which to hang his revenge. He has hated me
ever since I opposed his priestly tyranny, and now he has the power to
ruin me. Shall I tell you the ultimatum he has given to Engelmacher
concerning us? Believe me, dearest, it is as hard for me to say as it is
for you to hear; but it is this: either I must resign my post—which
means leaving Palestine in disgrace—or—or there must be a—divorce.”

He brought out the last word as though he could hardly get it to pass
his lips. Patricia pressed her hands to her face in an agony of feeling.

“Oh, no! no! _no!_” she cried, in a passionate voice. “Not divorce! It
is too dreadful! Anything but that! I will go away, to Germany, to
England, anywhere in Europe; but you must remain my husband, and I your
wife. Surely if we are separated for ever the Rabbi will be satisfied;
surely he, a minister of God, is not so utterly wicked as to wish to
break the most sacred bonds of our marriage. Let him part us so that we
shall never meet again. In the sight of Heaven I shall always be your
wife!”

Her self-control collapsed completely, and she gave vent to such sobs as
seemed to come from the depths of her being. Montella took her in his
arms, and endeavoured to comfort her with the assurance that the hated
contingency should never occur. But he felt no less miserable in his way
than she did in hers. He knew that their separation was inevitable, and
that it might be indefinitely prolonged. He knew also that life in
Palestine would be almost unendurable without Patricia at his side.

“Oh, darling, darling, what grief you have brought down upon us both!”
he exclaimed, in anguish. “Truly did your Christ say, ‘_I came not to
send peace, but a sword!_’ Is not that sword piercing your heart and
mine? Cursed be all creeds which bring dissension and sorrow in their
wake, which separate a husband from his wife, a mother from her child!
How can I send you away—you whom I have sworn to protect and cherish? To
know that you are lonely, and that I cannot comfort you; that you are
ill, and I cannot sit beside you; that you want me, and I cannot come.
Oh, Patricia, they have laid their finger on the weak spot in my
manhood’s armour! I cannot bear to let you go away!”

She had never seen him so intensely moved. She dried her eyes with a
feeling almost of awe, and in her desire to comfort him, recovered her
own self-possession.

“We must both be brave, dearest,” she said, in a broken voice. “If it is
necessary for us to part for a time, it will not last for ever—nothing
lasts for ever. Don’t let us make it harder for each other than we can
help. Let us try to think of the—the—happy reunion in the future.”

“The future? But when? So far as I know, I am settled in Haifa for life.
If we part, it may be for years, for we do not know when we shall see
each other again.” He paused, evidently struck by a new idea, and
continued impulsively: “Patricia, why should we give up our happiness
for the sake of people who do not care two straws whether we live or
die? Why should I slave and toil and worry, only to be rewarded by base
ingratitude? Resign my post! Well, why not? What is the governorship
worth in comparison with you!”

He rose and paced the room with bent head and folded arms. It was his
moment of weakness, and the girl knew it; but she could not help
considering the alternative he suggested. If he left Palestine, they
could go and live quietly somewhere on the Continent; he might even
obtain permission to return to England. At least, it would be better
than an indefinite separation; she did not care where she lived, so long
as she were with him. But she knew that by so doing he would be guilty
of forsaking his people and losing his honour, and that she would never
forgive herself for having blighted his career.

“No, dearest; you must not abandon your post just when you are most
needed,” she said, with a heavy sigh. “An Englishman must do his duty at
the cost of life itself. I know you better than you think, Lionel. Life
would not be worth living to you without your honour. Besides, it would
break your mother’s heart; in her eyes, you are ever the dauntless
champion of the Jews.”

“The dauntless champion of the Jews!” he repeated bitterly. “I wonder
sometimes if the Jews are worth championing. Where is the grand spirit
of unity and discipline which held together the nation of old?
Quarrellings, bickerings, murmurings, grumbling at every semblance of
authority, one striving to out-do the other; that is what one has to
contend with in these days. Oh, how I long to throw it all up, to let
them go their own way, and end the struggle by the survival of the
fittest! How I long to escape with you to some quiet little spot, where
we might live in peace and quiet happiness with our child. Since all
these people are selfish, why should not I be selfish too? The
temptation is so great—so great! I have not the power to withstand it!”

“But you must!” she cried, in a tense voice. “Lionel, this is unworthy
of you! When the children of Israel complained and murmured in the
wilderness, did Moses forsake them in disgust? Ah, no; a leader must
expect to suffer by and for his people. Having put your hand to the
plough, you must not look back. You have been so brave and so noble
until this very day. Do not spoil your record by turning coward at the
last.”

“Coward!” The word stung him like a lash. “Good God, no! But, Patricia—”
He turned towards her with a gesture of appeal. “You love me? Ah, I know
you do! And yet you can urge me to stick to my guns whilst you go away
to live in loneliness, perhaps for the remainder of your life? I cannot
understand it.... Is this love?”

“Yes, of the truest kind,” she answered, her deep eyes glistening with
tears. “‘_I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honour
more._’ Do you think I’m not longing to say, ‘Come with me to the other
end of the world, and leave these people to look after themselves’? But
I must not, I dare not! Your duty lies in Palestine, and here you must
stay. I know that when you are your old self again, you will say that I
was right.”

“Of course you are right; but I am not of the self-sacrificing sort. I
wouldn’t mind going under fire and having a bullet put through my head
for my country’s sake—that’s soon over; but I don’t like having the
agony prolonged.” He flung himself on to a chair, and added, in a
different voice: “What of the child? My mother will never free you from
your promise to have him brought up as a Jew. She will do her utmost to
retain him in her custody. You must not let him go back to Haifa if you
wish to keep him with you. Possession is nine points of the law.”

She shuddered. “It is terrible to have to use force in the matter.
Surely Lady Montella will not object to my having him with me while he
is so young? I am his mother, and his place is with me. Afterwards, when
he is grown up, it will be a different matter; but now—”

She covered her face with her hands, unable to finish the sentence. She
knew even while she spoke that she would have to drink her cup of
bitterness to the dregs. To part with her husband was terrible enough;
yet they would both have the consciousness of having done their duty to
sustain them. But in the case of her child it was different, since there
was no such urgent necessity. She knew that if Lady Montella succeeded
in keeping him from her, her last ray of comfort would be gone.



                               CHAPTER XI
                               FAREWELL!


Ben Yetzel was not slow to act on his discovery. The news of Lady
Patricia’s secession spread with lightning rapidity, and in two days
every one in Palestine who had the slightest connection with Lionel
Montella was aware of it. In these days of liberty it is difficult to
understand the importance of such an event, but in the eyes of the
Palestinian Jews it was of the greatest consequence. That the Governor’s
wife was not of Jewish birth had always been a drawback in their eyes,
but that she should openly profess the Christian Faith was unendurable.
Her return to Haifa, therefore, was practically out of the question, and
she decided to leave with the Princess at the end of the week.

And then came the dispute about the child. Lady Montella was up in arms
at the suggestion that he should accompany his mother to Europe; and
arrived in Jerusalem in hot haste, or at least as soon as the boat and
train would bring her. She said very little to her daughter-in-law, and
maintained a distinctly cold demeanour; but she spoke her mind freely to
her son, whose filial respect was sadly tried.

“This is the happy result of a mixed marriage!” she exclaimed, with
angry sarcasm. “Did I not tell you that the pride of the Montellas would
depart? Little Julian is practically the last descendant of the
house—for we do not know whether Ferdinand is alive or dead—and that he
should grow up a Christian would be a disgrace I should never survive.
Your poor father trusted to me to do all in my power to keep up the
honour of the family; to keep it—as it has ever been till now—purely
Jewish. Do you think that if Patricia takes the boy she will not educate
him in her faith? Of course she will; she cannot do otherwise, whatever
promises she may make.”

“But he is so young,” urged Montella, with reproach. “You forget that he
is only a baby. Why not let Patricia have the comfort of him until he is
old enough to be taught? It will be several years before he is able to
understand anything of religious matters. Heaven knows I should miss the
little chap if he left me too, but I think it cruel to part mother and
child.”

“It is cruel only to be kind,” she rejoined vigorously. “Julian must be
nurtured in Judaism, must breathe the atmosphere from babyhood if he is
to grow up a true Jew. The earliest years of a child’s life are the most
important, for it is then he imbibes the ideas which cling to him till
he becomes a man. Soon he will be old enough to notice the Sabbath
candles, and we shall be able to teach him the beginnings of our faith.
But remove him from all Jewish influence, let Patricia teach him the
Christian Catechism, and whatever else he may be, he will never grow up
a Jew. No, there is no alternative in the matter; no compromise is
possible. Julian must stay with us to be properly trained for the
responsibilities he will have to fulfil. Patricia ought never to have
married you if she did not mean to remain a Jewess. If she suffers, she
has no one to blame but herself. With us religions are not lightly
received to be afterwards cast away.”

By which it will be seen that Lady Montella was obdurate, and did not
mean to be gainsayed. If Patricia intended to take her baby away, it
would have to be by violence, and she was of much too gentle a nature to
think of forcible measures. Moreover, she knew that Lady Montella was
right, and that if she had the training of the child she could not help
bringing him up as a Christian—thereby breaking the promise she had made
before his birth. She knew also that, tended by his grandmother and the
faithful Anne, he would be in safe hands; but this did not compensate
her for the grief of the parting. The wrench was terrible, and on the
morning of her departure she felt that she must set all at defiance and
take him bodily away. The child seemed to understand what was happening,
and clung to her with the tenacity of fear; and thus, clasped in each
other’s arms, they awaited the dread signal which should warn them that
the hour was come.

Lady Montella, away from her religious principles, was as warm-hearted
as it was possible for woman to be, and could not witness the separation
unmoved. She knew that both husband and wife were suffering keenly, and
that Patricia’s heart was bleeding for her child. But the sternness of
her decision was not relaxed, and the carriage drove up relentlessly to
take the young mother away. Not caring to see the final farewell, she
joined Mrs. Engelmacher in the room above; and a few minutes later she
knew by the sound of wheels that all was over, and Patricia had gone.

The Princess was already at the little station when the unhappy pair
arrived. She had never seen either of them look so ill, but was too wise
to express her concern. Instead, she tried to make light of the whole
matter, and drew their attention to the peculiar mixture of
nationalities and personalities which composed the motley crowd on the
platform. And there was the luggage to be seen to, and the red tape of
Oriental officialism to be overcome, as well as the numerous necessities
for the journey to the West. When all was accomplished, however, there
still remained a little time before the train was due to start; and to
the Montellas these few minutes were the hardest of all.

Lionel stood with his arm around his wife, and gazed piteously at the
Princess.

“You will take care of my darling, won’t you, Olive?” he said, with a
pathetic air of appeal. “In letting her go, I am parting with half of my
life, and I know she feels it as much as I do, and perhaps more, because
she is leaving the one little ray of sunshine she might have retained.
But don’t let her fret, will you? Fretting doesn’t do a bit of good, and
it will make her ill. Perhaps I shall be able to come over to
Felsen-Schvoenig for a holiday next winter, or—or— Oh, we must look
forward to meeting again soon, however it’s managed or whatever we do.
So you’ll cheer her up, won’t you? Don’t let her get depressed. And I’ll
write every mail, and—and—”

But his flow of language gave way; he could not bring himself to say
another word.

“Oh, I’ll cheer her up,” the Princess returned confidently. “You may
rely on me. You both look as mournful as if you were parting for ever;
but that’s quite absurd. After I’ve seen my poor old Karl, I shall go to
England and get my sister to work round that wooden-headed Moore. I
fancy from what Mamie writes that the Expulsion Act is not working so
well as he anticipated. Anyway, coming straight from the Holy Land, I
shall be able to give them both a piece of my mind. Oh, there’s no
knowing what may happen in another year. You must both keep up your
spirits and hope for the best. It’s a long lane that has no turning, and
I guess yours will turn pretty soon.”

She was so anxious to comfort them that the words seemed to fall over
each other at express speed. Lionel thanked her from the bottom of his
heart, and did his best to conjure up a wan smile. Then the signal for
starting was given, and the final leavetakings had to be exchanged. A
last fond embrace, a cordial hand-shake with the Princess, and Montella
assisted the two travellers to mount their somewhat ungainly carriage.
Then a vista of waving handkerchiefs, of straining eyes, as the train
puffed and snorted on its way; and a few minutes later he was left
standing on the platform surrounded by people—but alone. Turning
resolutely, he made his way through the crowd and back to Dr.
Engelmacher’s house, his shoulders thrown back, his head bravely raised.
His mother, anxious and suddenly diffident, awaited him in the
drawing-room, and as he approached the door, gently called his name. But
either he did not hear, or he was not inclined to respond, for he passed
by quickly, and ascended to the nursery.

“He has gone to his boy for consolation,” said Dr. Engelmacher, as the
baby’s joyful “Daddy!” reached their ears. “Poor chap! he seems very
much—what do you call it—cut down? No, I meant to say cut up. Ach, the
women! Nine-tenths sorrow to a man, and one-tenth joy. Poor Montella! I
am full of regrets. He loves his wife.”

“Yes, but he must love duty more,” Lady Montella rejoined, feeling a
trifle hurt that he had not come straight back to her. “It will do him
no harm to suffer a little; he is a man, and men are made strong through
suffering. Ah, if I were only a man, what would I not do for my people,
what would I not undergo for them! Years ago I determined that what I
could not do should be accomplished by my son; and all my thoughts, my
prayers have been centred on him for that purpose. He must show the
world what can be done by a Jew who has had all the advantages of
Western culture that wealth and influence can procure; it is his
vocation, and he must not shirk it. That is why I am hard as adamant
when any hindrance occurs. He ought never to have taken a Christian
wife.”

“Of course not,” assented the doctor complacently. “Your sentiments are
most admirable, dear lady; but Montella, though a man, is human, and has
a heart. It is impossible to expect him to be a mere patriotic machine;
and even the greatest patriots in history have had a feminine angel
somewhere in the background. Ach, the women! But Ben Yetzel was a beast;
it ought never to have been necessary to send Lady Patricia away.
However, whats done is done. Montella must make the best of a bad
business, and live it down.”

And upstairs the young Governor was already trying to carry out this
very injunction. He was sitting near the open window with the child on
his knee, and battling with the sore and angry feelings which threatened
to rise and overwhelm him. Anne, busying herself about the room, saw
that his face was white and set, and likened the expression in his eyes
to that of a gazelle who had been cruelly wounded. But although her kind
old heart was overflowing with sympathy, she had too much tact to speak,
and knew that her respectful silence was perhaps more eloquent than
words. Afterwards he joined the others below, and entered into their
conversation with such zest that they were almost astonished. Lady
Montella glanced at him with pride, and congratulated herself upon the
fact that he had borne the separation well.

But from that day forth he was a changed man. The iron had entered into
his soul.



                              CHAPTER XII
                             RAIE’S DILEMMA


Zillah Lorm was suffering from _ennui_. Haifa, even with Lady Montella
and Lionel close at hand, was monotonous enough, but Haifa without them
was simply unbearable. She had never liked Raie Emanuel at the best of
times, and to have to be entertained by her was a hardship to which she
could scarcely submit. But until the Montellas returned there was no
alternative, and she was obliged to resign herself to the inevitable.
She managed to spend most of her time with some people whom she had
known in England, thus saving her little deputy-hostess a considerable
amount of trouble. For several days they scarcely met, except at meals,
and even then Zillah did not always choose to remain at home.

The news of Patricia’s departure, however, created a sensation, which
both felt too keenly to ignore. Raie’s tender little heart was sincerely
grieved, for she possessed a deep affection both for Lionel and his
wife. Miss Lorm, on the other hand, seemed almost to exult over the
affair, and affected an air of superior wisdom which jarred upon the
younger girl.

“What a muddle Lionel has made of his life!” she exclaimed, with unusual
complacency. “I always said the marriage would not turn out well—mixed
marriages seldom do. I believe in her heart of hearts Patricia hates
everything Jewish. I suppose she thought she had had about enough of it
here; it _is_ dull in Palestine for a society girl, I must admit. Still,
she might have managed to make a more graceful exit; she could have
pleaded ill-health as an excuse for returning to Europe. Anything would
have been better than this: to be publicly expelled like a naughty
schoolgirl!”

Raie gave the cushions on her wicker chair an unnecessary thump.

“I don’t understand what you mean,” she returned coldly. “Lady Patricia
has been obliged to sacrifice her home and happiness for the sake of her
religion. It all seems very quixotic, very unnecessary; but—there it
is!”

“Fiddlesticks! Who, in these enlightened days, sacrifices anything for
religion? Neither Christians nor Jews; we are all materialists. What we
can see and understand we believe—for the rest, it is all in the clouds;
let it remain there! No, my dear, you will never get me to believe that.
Patricia has evidently been sighing for the fleshpots of Egypt,
otherwise the social amenities of English life. She is well-born,
beautiful in her way, and has had the _entrée_ to the most exclusive
circles of society. Her ladyship felt cramped and bored in this
insanitary hole of a place, and surrounded by Jews—always Jews. She
longed to get back to her own sphere, to entertain in the parental
mansion in Grosvenor Square, to drive in the park, to shop in Regent
Street, to feel civilised once more. The desire was perfectly natural; I
can even sympathise with her. But religion—no! This is not the age of
martyrdom.”

“All the same, you are wrong—quite wrong,” returned Raie, with heat.
“Patricia was devoted to her husband and her baby. Do you think she
would have given them up for all the Londons in the world? You may be a
materialist, but she is an idealist, and with her spiritual things are
of vital importance. You do not understand her, but I do; and I am
certain that away from her husband she will not go near society or take
any part in the London season. She will probably bury herself in Thorpe
Burstall for the remainder of her life. I am certain she would never
have left Lionel of her own accord; but she was obliged to speak the
truth, and the Chief Rabbi sent her away.”

Miss Lorm shrugged her shoulders, still unconvinced, but did not trouble
to argue the matter further, and at that moment a masculine figure
appeared in the doorway. Possessing fine features, and presumably
English, Zillah wondered where he could have come from. Raie had walked
to the other end of the garden, and was standing beneath a shady palm.

The stranger advanced with hesitation.

“I beg your pardon,” he said, doffing his white cap. “They told me I
should find Miss Emanuel here. I am sorry—”

Zillah favoured him with a quick scrutiny, and decided that he was the
handsomest man she had yet met in Palestine.

“Oh, it’s all right,” she answered readily. “Miss Emanuel is here. If
you will sit down I will call her.” And making room for him beside her
on the settle, she let her musical voice enunciate the name—“Raie!”

Raie turned quickly and came towards them, her simple garden-hat pushed
carelessly back, and allowing the dark curls to escape their usual
bonds. At sight of the visitor a warm colour leapt into her cheeks, and
her eyes unconsciously brightened; but she suppressed the words which
rose to her lips, and formally held out her hand.

It was very wrong of him to come in that manner, even if he did know
that the Montellas were away. She managed to convey this opinion to him,
although she did not put it into actual words. She was embarrassed and
shy, and seemed scarcely to know what to say; and when she introduced
him—as “Mr. Merryweather”—to Miss Lorm, she did it with a hesitancy
which was distinctly noticeable. She wished Zillah would leave them to
themselves; but Zillah meant to stop, and to find out as much as ever
she could about the stranger, and to see if she could put two and two
together to make four. So there was a sense of restraint between them
which was uncomfortable in the extreme, and Raie worked herself up
almost to the verge of tears. But it was worse still when Zillah, with
almost impertinent curiosity, began to cross-question him with regard to
his sojourn in the Holy Land. She was not satisfied until she had
mentally “placed” him in the order of globe-trotters to which he
belonged; and proceeded with such insistence that it needed all Mr.
Merryweather’s skill to parry her questions. Raie found herself left out
in the cold, and sat, the personification of silent reproach. She was
almost glad when he rose to take his leave, and saw him downstairs with
an air of dejection. Away from Miss Lorm, however, her spirits soon
revived; and seeing that the library was unoccupied, she drew him
inside.

He bent down, and raising her face gently with his two hands, looked
into her eyes with kindly scrutiny.

“Well?” he interrogated, almost quizzingly. “I have come back. Is not my
little Raie pleased?”

“Yes,” she answered, returning his gaze without a smile; “but—”

“‘But me no buts,’” he rejoined lightly. “I have displeased you, little
girl. Is not that so? What have I done?”

“You should have let me know that you were coming,” she said, in an
aggrieved tone. “You have put me in a difficult position. Miss Lorm is
very inquisitive; she will want to know all about you—and our
acquaintance—when I go back to her. I would have had her out of the way
if I had known. I have been in torture during the last half-hour.”

“Poor child!” He bent still further and kissed her on the forehead. “I
ought not to have come at all; but I was told that the Montellas and
Anne were in Jerusalem, so I thought the coast was clear. I wanted to
give you a pleasant surprise—but there! I always bungle everything I
do.”

“Oh, no!” The grasp on his arm tightened. “It _was_ a pleasant surprise,
and of course you did not know Miss Lorm was here.” The smile which had
been delayed began to play about her mouth and eyes. “Tell me what you
have been doing, Ferdinand,” she added eagerly, as he pushed forward a
chair. “I am longing to know. Was your mission to England successful?”

“Almost—but not quite. A man I particularly want to consult—he is a
solicitor—is at present in New York; but he will be back in about six
weeks’ time, when I shall have to go to England again.”

“In six weeks? Then why did you come all this way for so short a time?
What trouble and expense—just to see me!”

He smiled affectionately.

“You are worth any amount of trouble and expense,” he rejoined
gallantly. “But I must be honest. I have come to Haifa this time for a
special purpose; and I believe you can help me, Raie.”

“Yes?” She became serious. “What is it? Of course I will help you if I
can.”

He rose from his chair, and closing the door, looked stealthily round
the room.

“There are some papers in connection with—the forgery,” he said, in a
low but clear voice. “They must be in Lionel’s keeping; unless they have
been destroyed, which is unlikely. I want them—I must have them—in order
to verify a certain piece of evidence in connection with the case. And
as I cannot ask for them without disclosing my identity, I want you to
get them for me, dear.”

“I? But how can I?” She looked up with a startled expression on her
face. “Lionel keeps most of his documents at the solicitors’—at least he
used to do in England. I have not the slightest idea where to look for
them. Where do you think they will be?”

For answer, he walked to the iron safe which stood in the opposite
corner, and tapped it with his stick.

“This is where they will be—docketed all together with the date 19— and
probably labelled ‘Ferdinand.’” He turned towards her with a gesture of
appeal, and held out his hands. “Raie, you will manage this for me,
dear, won’t you? Oh, you must, you must! It is of such great
importance—it will finally vindicate my character—it will mean happiness
for us both. Look, this is a patent lock. I don’t know how it works, but
you must seize an opportunity of watching Lionel open it; and then by
hook or crook you must get hold of the keys. The papers are of no use to
him—he will never miss them; but they are of the greatest consequence in
the world to me, and it is of no use for me to return to England without
them. Afterwards, when the whole thing is cleared up, we will tell him
all about it; and I know he will say our action was justified.
Raie—don’t look so strange—it’s nothing; and you have pluck. Put
yourself in my position—an innocent man falsely accused. Oh, you will do
it for me—for _me_! I know you will!”

She stood quite still, and for a moment made no response. Her face was
white, and her brown eyes looked preternaturally large and troubled. And
when she spoke her voice sounded strangely hoarse.

“You want me to—steal some papers out of Lionel’s safe,” she said, with
difficulty. “Oh, but, Ferdinand, I—I can’t; it would not be right. Why
do you not take him into your confidence instead, and ask him for them
yourself? He is such a good man; he would never betray your trust.”

“I do not ask you to _steal_,” he answered, with the faintest touch of
irritation. “I merely ask you to borrow the documents for me. When I
have done with them—when my counsel have seen them—you can put them
back. My dear child, why will you not understand? To approach Lionel at
this crisis would be to spoil everything. He may be the bestmeaning
fellow in the world, but his course of procedure would be the very
opposite of mine. Oh, I can’t explain it all; it would take days—weeks!
But surely you can trust me—if you love me, dear?”

She took a step forward, and looked at him with doubt in her eyes.

“I do—love you,” she faltered, the colour returning to her cheeks;
“but—but I hate anything that is not straightforward—that is underhand.
Lady Montella and Lionel have been my best friends ever since I was a
tiny girl; I could not bear to think I was perhaps acting as a traitor
to them in their own house.”

Loyal little soul! Ferdinand could not help casting her a glance of
admiration, even though he was vexed by her dalliance.

“There is nothing traitorous about the action; you exaggerate the
importance,” he said; and then approaching nearer, he made her look
straight into his eyes. “How can I make you believe in me?” he asked, in
a voice which was almost stern, yet sad. “Raie, I swear to you that I am
an honourable man, that I too would despise this means were the cause
not so vitally urgent. Look!”—he held up the locket on his watch-chain,
and opened it to disclose a minute but faithful portrait—“here is a
picture of Sir Julian. Remember—I am my father’s son.”

She glanced down at the well-remembered features of the late baronet,
and up again at the strong face of the new one, with an indefinable
feeling of compunction; and her will gave way. After all, he was right;
she ought to trust him—she would trust him, even with her very life. A
wave of emotion swept right through her being, and found expression in
the depths of her brown eyes. He saw it, and knew that he had conquered,
knew too that the struggle had been keen.

“Dear little girl!” he exclaimed softly. “You would never forsake a man
in distress. Think of the future; it will mean so much for us both.”

“Very well, I will try to do what you want,” she said, with an effort;
“but you must never blame me if any evil comes of it. I cannot pretend
to like the commission, even though I am doing it for your sake. But I
believe in you—I do believe that you have been cruelly wronged in the
past, although you will not tell me all. How much time can you give me?
Lionel does not return until next Monday.”

“You can have a whole month, dear,” he returned eagerly, “a few days
longer if necessary. I know I can rely on you to use your discretion.”

She nodded.

“Yes; I think I know of a way. Lionel has some letters of mine locked up
in that safe. If I ask him, he will give me the keys. I shall do it in
less than a month, if I can do it at all. But oh, I wish there were some
other means!”

She sighed, and seeing the cloud on her usually bright face, he did his
best to drive it away. Then promising to meet her at Lionel’s new house
the following day at sunset, he took his departure, and she was left to
meditate on the subject of his request. After all, it was not so very
dreadful: only to take a few papers out of the safe if she could find
them, and to put them back after they had been read. But it was the idea
of secrecy that she did not like; of performing an action of which she
feared Lionel Montella would not approve. Since she had promised,
however, there was no retraction possible, and she reminded herself of
the fact with firmly-set lips.

Zillah Lorm could talk of nothing else but “Mr. Merryweather” that
night. She considered him distinctly handsome, and although his manners
were somewhat colonial, he was evidently cultured and well-read. Raie
listened to her eulogy with a feeling akin to jealousy, and refused to
state how she had become acquainted with the young man. Whereupon her
interlocutor stormed the citadel by making certain suppositions, to be
contradicted by Raie if she chose to do so.

“A secret love-affair!” she said, when she had almost exhausted her
remarks. “I should not have thought it of you, Raie. And with a man so
much older than yourself! Do you know anything of his family?”

“Yes, I know his people very well,” answered the girl, almost
petulantly; and then she excused herself and went to bed. She was
determined not to discuss Ferdinand with Zillah Lorm.

“Little chit!” exclaimed Zillah to herself, as she left the room. “I
shall soon stop her game when Lady Montella comes back. I don’t believe
she knows much more about him than I do. And as if a man of his calibre
could really be in love with a silly little thing like her! Absurd! He
would be much more likely to fancy a beautiful woman—like myself. I
wonder—”

And resting her finely chiselled face on her hand, she gave herself up
to cogitations which were vague, but pleasant. She was of too
unscrupulous a nature to consider the claims of Raie.



                              CHAPTER XIII
                            THE EMPTY HOUSE


The Montellas were back in Haifa. They arrived late in the afternoon,
after a stormy passage from Jaffa, and received a hearty welcome from
the two girls. But of course the absence of Patricia made itself felt,
even though they were careful not to mention it. It was as if a shadow
had fallen on the house which made them speak softly, as though there
had been a death. Lionel spent the greater part of his time in his
study, and seemed always anxious to get away from his family. His most
constant companion was his little boy; otherwise he preferred to be
alone.

He had dreaded the return to Haifa, and had postponed it as long as
possible, knowing that his worthy citizens were all agog on the matter
of his wife’s departure. His eyes were open to the mingled glances of
scorn and sympathy which were cast upon him when he walked through the
streets of the town; and he refused to give the explanation which was
expected, yet could not very well be sought. He took his part in
communal matters with the same energy as of old; but apart from his
official duties he was as immovable as the Sphinx. Declining all the
invitations which poured in upon him from the wealthier members of the
corporation, he seemed to wish to lead the life of a recluse. His mother
knew not whether to be displeased or grieved, but remonstrated with him
vigorously on the subject one day.

“This will never do,” she said, when for the third time he had absented
himself from her weekly receptions. “You will make yourself unpopular if
you persist in holding yourself aloof socially from the people. Besides,
it isn’t manly, Lionel; you are wearing your heart on your sleeve.”

So he promised to amend his ways; and the study saw less of him again;
and joining more in the social life of the town, a little of his old
buoyancy returned. But there always remained a sore place in his heart,
only to be temporarily relieved by the balm of her precious letters.
They arrived with every mail—those dear messages from his beloved.

He had been back a full week before he could bring himself to visit his
new house. The operations of the builders and decorators had been
suspended during his stay in Jerusalem, and he had not yet given the
order for them to resume their work. Making a sudden decision one
morning, however, he walked quietly up the avenue of palm-trees, and
unlocked the great oaken doors at the entrance to the hall. The house
was, as he had anticipated, totally deserted, and his steps echoed and
re-echoed drearily on the stone floor. Passing through the wonderful
atrium, whose fame had already reached from one end of Syria to the
other, he entered the boudoir, and removing the holland covering, sat
down on one of the dainty chairs. What a hideous, ghastly mockery the
whole place appeared! how it seemed to rise up and taunt him with its
emptiness, with its bright but hollow splendour! He glanced about him
with a shudder, and rested his head wearily on his hand. The
decorations, to which he had given so much thought—for Patricia; the
exquisite frescoes painted by an eminent Jewish artist—for Patricia; the
beautifully carved bureau with its cunning design—for Patricia; the
hangings of vieux rose—Patricia’s favourite hue; the little oil-painting
of the Thames—Patricia’s own picture. All for Patricia, the one woman in
the world to whom it was a joy to render homage; and she had been
snatched from him by the crass stupidity of his people, by the ignorant
prejudice of a stubborn race! Oh, the foolishness of men, to bow down to
the fanatical ceremonialism of dogma and creed, and turn away from the
purest of all passions—conjugal love! Rising, he threw open the windows,
and with bent head, paced the room; then espying the flutter of a white
gown amid the myrtle bushes in the avenue, paused in silent wonder. How
came a woman in the grounds—his grounds—not knowing that he was there?

He closed the window, and went forth to investigate, almost inclined to
believe that he was the victim of an illusion. But no; for as he
appeared beneath the portico, the figure approached and sauntered
leisurely towards him. For one moment his heart stood still, a wild
hypothesis taking possession of his brain. Patricia in some mysterious
way had come back to him, either in the flesh, or by the projection of
her astral body—he had heard and read of such things. Thought telepathy,
spiritualism—he had never believed in either, yet he knew by hearsay
that the most wonderful phenomena had actually occurred; and if to other
people, why not to himself? But the fantastic idea born of his ardent
longing was suddenly doomed to disappointment; the figure proved to be
not Patricia, but merely that of Zillah Lorm.

“I wondered if you were here,” she said sweetly, as he advanced to meet
her. “Do you know, I come here every day, just for a walk—the little
side gate is always open. But I have never been inside the house,
although I have heard so much about it. Would you not like to show it to
me? We have a good opportunity now.”

He had never felt more disinclined to play the part of showman, but
knowing that she was really eager to go over the place, he could not
well refuse. Admitting her by the principal entrance, he allowed her to
wander through the rooms at her own sweet will, and listened to her
enthusiastic observations with no pleasure, and perhaps a little pain.
Yielding to a feeling he could not describe, he passed over the door of
the boudoir; but Zillah was quick enough to notice his hesitation, and
inexorably demanded a view.

“What is it, Lionel?” she asked playfully. “Bluebeard’s chamber, or the
_sanctum sanctorum_?”

He threw open the door, and stood back for her to enter.

“Neither,” he answered quietly. “It is the room which was to have been
my wife’s boudoir.”

“Oh!” She threw him a glance of somewhat steely commiseration, and
proceeded to look about her with cold criticism. Montella went to the
window, his eyes dreamily scanning the distant mountain ranges of
Galilee. He wanted to be blind and deaf for a few minutes, until his
visitor had concluded her examination of the room. He did not want to
hear her careless remarks; they affected him like so many knife thrusts.

But Miss Lorm was not the woman to spare him one small thrust. She sat
down at the little piano—Patricia’s own piano—and playing a short
prelude, glided into that song of Goring Thomas’s “A Summer Night.” Then
her rich voice, subdued to a low tone of sweetness, sent forth its full
notes to thrill her listener and fill the house with music:

               “‘_Have you forgotten, love, so soon
               That night, that lovely night in June?_’”

She sang without effort, and almost as if her thoughts were elsewhere,
but as the song proceeded, her voice gained in intensity. Lionel stood
immovable, hating the sound of music in that house and under those
conditions. The empty corridor beyond caught the echo and threw it back
with a hollow and depressing sound. But she could sing—Heavens, how she
could sing! Whatever soul she possessed seemed to be concentrated in her
voice.

“You are not in the humour for music, my friend?” she said, veering
round on the music-stool when she had finished, to see no gaze of
admiration, but only an unappreciative back. “It does sound strange in
this great unfinished house, I admit. By the way, when will the workmen
have finished? When will you come into residence here?”

“Never.” He turned away from the window and faced her, with a set look
in his eyes, then added, in explanation: “The house is a wilderness, an
empty barn. It can never be a home—to me.”

“No?” She glanced at him questioningly from under her thick lashes. “But
I thought you took such pride in it. Lady Montella told me long ago that
it was your hobby. And the expense—why, it must have cost a fortune.
What will you do with it if you do not intend to live in it? Oh, it
seems such a shame—such a magnificent house—!”

“I shall sell it if I can,” he said, meeting the reproach in her eyes
steadily. “I had hoped to spend many happy years here, but now— It is a
mere white elephant to me. They can call it ‘Montella’s Disappointment’
if they like; I don’t care. I shall have this furniture removed as soon
as I can; and I shall never come here again.”

“But if she should come back?”

“She will never come back; it is not possible for her ever to live in
Palestine again. That dream is over, but of course the awakening is
hard: and this”—he touched the silken hangings behind their cover—“this
all seems part of it. I can’t realise....”

He broke off suddenly, fearing he said too much. He had spoken
incoherently, and with a sharpness which betokened deep feeling.
Zillah’s features relaxed into a forced expression of sympathy.

“Poor fellow!” she exclaimed softly. “You have suffered, and you are
lonely. I can sympathise with you; for—although you would not think it—I
am lonely too.”

“Yes?” He looked up quickly, to encounter the radiance of her eyes.

“I left England because I was unhappy,” she went on, in a confidential
tone. “I was engaged to Lord St. Maur; but he was much younger than
myself, and when his people found out, they persuaded him to break it
off; and he was weak, and consented. Of course I wasn’t in love with
him—he was a mere boy; but I would have married him if I could, since
the man I did love—once—was beyond my reach.” She looked at him
steadily, and added, in a different voice: “It is the loneliness I
dread, and now I seem to have no aim in life. What is the use of my
voice in Palestine? The greatest of singers is not wanted here.”

“Not yet, perhaps,” he added, in his usual voice, “but the time will
come. At present all our energies are directed on the things necessary
to the welfare of our citizens, the introduction of hygiene, the
prevention of drought and famine, and so on. Afterwards we shall be able
to turn our thoughts to lighter matters—the recreation of the people;
and then you may be sure music will not be left out of account.”

“And meanwhile I must wait as patiently as I can?” She sighed. “Oh,
dear, how I hate life—hate it! The inconsistencies, the mistakes, the
waste of suffering—all one long series of disappointments.”

“And yet there do occur moments, sometimes, which make it worth while to
have lived!”

“To you, perhaps, because you have experienced the joy of requited love,
but not to me. Why, even that shallow-minded little Raie is happier than
I am. She has a lover—she meets him every day, and that gives her a zest
and joy in life which are like the condiments in food. But I am boring
you—” She paused abruptly, and rose from her chair. “Let us go, or we
shall have the full glare of the sun upon us. This intolerable heat is
another of the evils which has fallen to our lot to bear.”

Lionel rose with alacrity, and replacing the coverings, relocked the
door. He could not help wondering what had made Miss Lorm so unusually
serious, and why she had chosen to favour him with her confidence. He
was silent as they passed through the atrium, and Zillah, on her part,
had little to say. She was thinking how much better it would be if
Montella would and could get a divorce, so that he might be free to
marry again. She knew that she was liked by his mother; and that if it
were possible, she would have a good chance of becoming his second wife.
To be mistress of this mansion! She caught her breath at the thought,
albeit a foolish one. She knew that Patricia would be his wife as long
as she lived, even though they never saw each other again.

“Did you not say Raie had a lover?” asked her companion, as he closed
the great doors. “I did not know it.”

Zillah opened her sunshade, and held it daintily at the back of her
head.

“Perhaps I ought not to have mentioned it,” she responded carelessly,
“but I think you and Lady Montella ought to know. Raie has not told me
much, but it is evidently a secret love-affair. They meet clandestinely
every day somewhere in this direction.”

“And the man?”

“Is a Mr. Merryweather, presumably a tourist. He came to the Government
House one evening, and I was rather favourably impressed. But he is too
old and too worldly-wise for Raie. He must be over thirty, and has
evidently been about a good deal.”

“Merryweather?” repeated Lionel thoughtfully. “Is he a Jew?”

“Yes; at least Raie says he is, although he has not the appearance of
one.”

“And they made each other’s acquaintance while we were in Jerusalem, I
suppose?” There was a note of vexation in his voice. “I am surprised at
Raie. My mother will be very displeased. But perhaps Mrs. Emanuel—Raie’s
mother—knows something about it?”

Miss Lorm gave vent to a little shrug. “Perhaps,” she replied
carelessly. “I do not know. Don’t say I told you anything about it, will
you, Lionel? Raie would be so cross, and— Good gracious, there they
are!”

She stopped suddenly in her walk, and placed her hand detainingly on his
arm. Montella’s eyes followed the direction of her glance with
astonishment, and he could not resist an exclamation of surprise. The
two delinquents were seated in a shady arbour, almost concealed by
deeply-hanging evergreens. Their faces were in shadow, but Miss Lorm
recognised the girl’s light hat.

“What are you going to do?” she asked, with a touch of excitement.
“Catch them red-handed, or pretend not to see them?”

“I don’t know.” Montella paused irresolute. It was very wrong of Raie to
meet a young man in this unconventional manner, especially as she had
been brought up so strictly; but not being aware of all the
circumstances, he was at a loss to know how to proceed. He had half a
mind to pass by quietly, and speak to the girl afterwards; but
approaching the arbour he caught the sound of his own name, and could
not help standing still.

“Lionel is wiser than I thought,” the man was saying, in a tone of
dissatisfaction. “So he will not trust you with the keys? But are you
sure you went the right way to work, Raie, dear? You see if you looked
at all agitated when you asked him, you probably made him suspicious.”

His accents were strong and well-bred. Montella started as at a familiar
sound, but was almost too dumfounded to move.

“My cheeks did burn,” the girl acknowledged, almost tearfully. “You see
Lionel gave me one of his straight looks—as if he were reading me
through and through, and I felt so guilty that I dared not say a word.
He gave me my letters out of the safe, and I just took them and went,
thankful to get away. I did my best really, but it is such a difficult
task, dear. I am sure I shall never be able to succeed.”

“Oh, yes, you will,” he returned encouragingly. “You can ask for the
keys to return the letters, and have another try. Or if it comes to the
worst, we must resort to stratagem; all’s fair in love and war.”

“Is it?” thought Lionel, who could remain hidden no longer. Motioning to
Miss Lorm to keep in the background, he suddenly presented himself
before the apparent conspirators. Raie gave a scream, and turned as pale
as her dress; Ferdinand rose to his feet in an attitude of defence, his
large sun-hat well over his face. For a moment there was a breathless
silence, whilst Zillah looked on with enjoyment. Then Lionel spoke,
although he scarcely knew what to say.

“I am the son of Miss Emanuel’s foster-aunt, and these are my grounds,”
he said stiffly. “Hearing my name mentioned as I passed, I could not
help listening to a scrap of your conversation. I cannot quite
understand what you have to do with this young lady, who is very young,
and has no right to form any attachment without the consent of her
guardians. From what I can gather from your words, however, I understand
that you pose as her lover merely to win her as a confederate. I shall
be glad of some explanation, if you please. I can scarcely believe that
Miss Emanuel—of whom I hold a very high opinion—would deliberately help
you to burgle my safe!”

He addressed the tourist alone, and vouchsafed not a glance at Raie. The
girl looked appealingly at her lover, who seemed to be rapidly summing
up the situation. His decision was evidently a desperate one, for he
threw back his shoulders with a gesture of courage.

“I am not a burglar,” he replied, carefully choosing his words, “and I
need not explain unless I choose. But I know that if I keep silence I
shall be putting Miss Emanuel in a false position, and I would not do
that for the world. It was my intention to keep my incognito until my
innocence was absolutely proved; but I suppose that is impossible since
you have found me out. Look at me, old fellow. Don’t you know who I am?”

He pulled off his hat, and stood bare-headed in the sunlight—a veritable
picture of manly strength. Lionel scanned the rugged face—the deep-set
eyes so like his own—and recognised it even as he had partially known
the voice.

“Ferdinand!” he exclaimed in a startled tone. “What does this mean? How
in Heaven’s name have you come here? Where have you come from?” and
suppressing the hundred and one questions which rose to his lips, he
regarded his step-brother in bewildered astonishment, whilst Zillah Lorm
advanced, an eager glow in her eyes.

Ferdinand assisted his sweetheart to rise, and bowed to Miss Lorm.

“I will tell you everything presently, Lionel—when we are alone,” he
answered complacently. “I should not like to tire the ladies with an
account of my adventures.”

Zillah swept past Raie and held out her hand.

“I congratulate you on your return, _Sir_ Ferdinand,” she said, with
stress on the title, and a curious smile on her face.

“Frank Merryweather” had risen considerably in her estimation during the
last ten minutes. No matter what crime he had committed, he was a
baronet, and evidently not in captivity. She was determined to enter the
lists with Raie.



                              CHAPTER XIV
                        IN THE LIGHT OF THE MOON


To Raie the recognition of Ferdinand was the best thing that could have
happened, and a load was thereby lifted from her mind. The task he had
set her to perform had been most repugnant to her taste, and she was
thankful in the extreme that the difficulty had been obviated in a more
open-handed way. As it happened, the necessary documents were not in the
safe at all, but in a private bureau in Montella’s bedroom; so that all
her trouble and heart-burning would have been in vain. Lionel readily
forgave the intended ruse, and produced the papers without delay. His
greatest desire was to help his step-brother to regain his honour and
good name.

But Lady Montella was not so easily won. The circumstances of the
forgery had been very black against Ferdinand, even if he had been, as
was supposed, the mere tool of another and older man. She knew that her
husband until his dying day had believed him guilty, had wrested him
from his affection, had deprived him of all his privileges of sonship to
bestow them on her own—the younger—son. If, therefore, Ferdinand had
been wrongfully accused, he was a much-injured man; but his personality
did not impress her in that way. At least, he bore no malice towards any
of his accusers, and seemed to desire to forget the actors in the
unpleasant drama of the past. But, on the other hand, he appeared
anxious to claim his title—valueless though it was in Palestine—to
reinstate himself as a member of his fathers House, and to win back his
reputation as an honourable man. Until his innocence had been
established, therefore, she preferred to remain on neutral terms. But
she allowed him to come to the Government House as often as he pleased,
even though she would not yet receive him as a son.

He informed her of his desire to marry Raie on the very first evening of
his reconciliation; and begged that if Mrs. Emanuel gave her consent she
would not withhold hers. Lady Montella knew not whether to be displeased
or glad, and held her answer in abeyance until Ferdinand should have
paid his intended visit to England; but she sent for Raie’s mother in
order to discuss the affair.

Raie was not in the room when the consultation took place, but waited on
tenter-hooks in the roof-garden above. Occasionally sentences in her
mother’s high-pitched voice reached her through the open window, but she
riveted her attention on the book she was supposed to be reading, and
resolutely determined not to hear. After what seemed an unconscionable
time, she was sent for to express her views. Lady Montella was, as
usual, calm and placid; Mrs. Emanuel beamed with delight.

“We have come to the conclusion that if Sir Ferdinand is able to
establish his innocence in England, your engagement will receive our
consent,” her foster-aunt said, in answer to her glance of
interrogation; “but are you sure you love him well enough to marry him,
dear? Remember the difference in your ages. He is nearly eleven years
older than yourself.”

“Oh, that’s nothing,” put in Mrs. Emanuel quickly, before her daughter
had time to reply. “It’s much better than if it were the other way
about. Besides, I should not care for Raie to marry a much younger man;
and if she loves him—”

“I do love him,” said the girl, with fervour. “I should love him if he
were a hundred. If I can’t marry him, mamma, I shall be an old maid.”

“God forbid!” ejaculated Mrs. Emanuel piously, under her breath. “Not if
I know it.” She had not yet recovered from the rupture of Harriet’s
betrothal.

“I should advise you not to place too much confidence in Ferdinand’s
success, dear,” advised Lady Montella thoughtfully. “It is always
difficult to reopen an old case, and two of the witnesses in connection
with it are dead. And you see if he fails to prove his innocence, the
slur on his name remains.”

“Oh, but he will succeed, Aunt Inez—he must!” rejoined Raie, with
youthful optimism. She did not add that she meant to be true to him
under any circumstances, nevertheless such was the case. As long as she
was morally convinced of his innocence, the opinion of the world
mattered little. She knew, however, that she could not marry him for
some time to come unless the proof were found.

So the matter was settled, pending the decision of the judicial court;
and Ferdinand was tacitly acknowledged as Raie’s _fiancé_. There was now
no need for any clandestine trysts, but they still met constantly in the
grounds of the empty house. Zillah often passed their arbour in her
daily walk, and observing that they seemed absorbed in mutual
admiration, experienced a pang of envy at her jealous heart. She had
scarcely spoken to Raie since the recognition of her lover, but she
always seemed to have a good deal to say to Sir Ferdinand whenever she
came across him. Secretly she longed to display her superior charms; to
fascinate him by the power of her voice and smile. Realising that Lionel
was for ever beyond her reach, she desired to transfer her attention to
his step-brother. That he was already engaged seemed to trouble her not
at all; for until he were actually married she considered him free.

But as the day of his departure approached, and she had made no
progress, she grew desperate; and on the last evening a crisis came.
Raie, as it happened, was confined to her bed with a cold, and her lover
was obliged to say his farewell by proxy. Lady Montella conveyed all the
tender messages, after which she drove off to a reception with her son.
Zillah, therefore, was left to entertain Sir Ferdinand for an hour
alone, an opportunity of which she was determined to make the most.

As usual, she tried the effect of music first, and sang her sweetest
songs. She knew, of course, that he was watching her through a thin haze
of smoke; and felt almost magnetically the power of his eyes on her
face. Then, rising suddenly, she suggested an adjournment to the roof.
She felt, somehow, that they would both feel less restraint in the open
air and under the light of the moon.

He helped her to place the filmy lace mantilla, with its red roses, on
her head, and in doing so his fingers touched hers. She looked up,
thrilled and eager, the colour slowly spreading over her cheeks; and
struck by her expression, he returned her gaze with surprise. But they
exchanged not a word, and ascended to the garden in silence; and with
scarcely a remark he settled her comfortably in a deck-chair. Then he
lighted a fresh cigar, and puffed away in contentment, whilst the soft
breeze dispersed the smoke and gently caressed their hair.

“I have often wondered what the exact pleasure is that you men find in
the weed,” Zillah observed, thinking he had gazed long enough at the
deep blue of the sky. “I suppose it soothes you in a way we women cannot
understand.”

“I really don’t know.” He held the cigar between his fingers and
surveyed it contemplatively. “It’s all habit, I suppose; but I do think
a good cigar aids one’s mental digestion. And I know that if I am in a
bad temper, a quiet smoke will always pull me round.”

“‘Open confession is good for the soul,’” she quoted, with a smile. “I
hope that does not often occur.”

“What—the bad temper?”

“Yes; but _I_ ought not to say anything.” She sighed. “People in glass
houses should not throw stones. I am in a bad temper with everybody and
everything, most of all with myself.”

She spoke impulsively, and with such force that the young man glanced
towards her with wonder.

“Indeed,” he responded courteously. “That sounds rather depressing. May
I ask for what reason you have quarrelled with yourself?”

Zillah turned her face away, so that the moonlight caught her classic
profile.

“The reason—oh, simply that I am unhappy.”

“And why?”

“Because I hate Palestine and everything connected with it!” she
answered, a defiant ring in her voice. “I came here because I could not
help myself—because—as a Jewess—I could no longer stay in the old
country. I thought from Lady Montella’s letters that Haifa was a _beau
ideal_ of a place; but she sees everything Jewish from behind
rose-coloured spectacles. To me it is a desert with scarcely an oasis to
break the monotony, with a climate as sultry as that of the Inferno, and
an atmosphere of brick-dust and tar. Building to right of us, building
to left of us—scaffoldings, ladders, and paint-pots; what is so
depressing as a half-built town? And as for society—why, there isn’t any
worth speaking of, because the people here will not recognise
distinctions of class. Yesterday a poverty-stricken woman—an odious,
unkempt individual—had the audacity to approach me in a most familiar
manner, in order to tell me that she lived next door to my grandfather
in Poland, and as my father was no better than hers, she thought she
might claim me as a friend. That is the result of liberty and equality;
we are all children of Abraham, and education counts for nothing. Oh,
it’s disgusting! I hate it! Until Palestine gets a king and an
aristocracy the country will not be worth living in to cultured Jews.”

She raised herself on her arm, her eyes flaming with the emotion caused
by her outburst. Ferdinand remarked the passion in her voice, and felt
vaguely stirred. But she did not give him time to speak, and continued
hurriedly:

“I want to escape—to get away from Palestine, even at the risk of
offending your step-mother. If I stay here while the country is in its
present condition, I shall only droop and die. Sir Ferdinand, you are
the only man in the world who can help me; but will you? I have no
right—except that of old friendship with the Montellas—to ask you; and
yet—”

“I will help you with pleasure if I can,” he put in, unable to resist
the pathetic look of appeal. “What is it you want me to do?”

“You are going to England,” she said abruptly. “But England does not
admit a Jew. Tell me: how do you intend to evade the authorities?”

He flashed her a quick glance. “I have a special permit from a member of
the Cabinet—Mr. Lawson Holmes,” he replied promptly. “I shall be allowed
to stay until my case is concluded without being forced to take the
Assimilation Oath.”

“Then you will go as Sir Ferdinand Montella?”

“No; I shall retain my old pseudonym _pro tem_. We have all come to the
conclusion that that will be best.”

Zillah drew a deep breath. “Then my scheme is practicable,” she said,
with clasped hands. “I too cannot enter the country in my own name; but
disguised and under an alias—it is my only chance. Sir Ferdinand, will
you take me with you? It will only be for the journey; at Charing Cross
Station we can part. Once in England, I have friends to whom I can go.”

“Take you with me?” he repeated, starting with a feeling of uneasiness.
“But, Miss Lorm! I don’t see how I can.”

“Why not? I can go as Miss Merryweather, your sister—a lady missionary,
if you like.” Her eyes shone naïvely. “Oh, there’s not a shadow of harm
in it. I merely want your protection politically; and when I arrive
there I will write to the Montellas and explain. I dare not tell them
before I go. They would want to keep me here.”

“And meanwhile?” He flung away his cigar, and rising, paced the garden
in agitation. Then he came back and stood at her side. “You don’t
understand,” he said, in a voice which sounded almost stern. “What would
my people say; what would Raie’s feelings be? They might place a wrong
construction—might think.... Oh, no, it wouldn’t do—wouldn’t do at all.
It would place us both in an utterly false position. You must see that
yourself.”

Zillah’s mouth grew stubborn.

“I don’t see it at all,” she returned, looking straight before her.
“‘_Honi soit qui mal y pense._’ If Raie cannot trust you, she is not
worthy of your affection. Besides, it’s so ridiculous. Surely a P. & O.
steamer is large enough to hold us both. In my part of official sister I
need only speak to you at meals.”

Ferdinand shook his head.

“Whether you speak to me much or little has nothing to do with the
question,” he said imperturbably. “Miss Lorm, do be reasonable. If you
were engaged to a man, and that man went on a three weeks’ journey with
another lady—and that lady an inmate of your house—without telling you,
how would _you_ take it? Excuse my putting it so plainly, but you give
me no alternative. Raie is the most trusting little soul in the world,
but she would not be human if she did not have her doubts. Were I to
accede to your request, I should be landed in a most unpleasant
situation. Besides, it can’t be done; my permit is available only for
myself.”

His decision was evidently final, and Zillah knew that it was not to be
shaken. Once on a P. & O. steamer, she had hoped to win him through the
social amenities of life on board ship; and if the Montellas—as
Ferdinand feared—should place a wrong construction on her departure, so
much the better for the success of her plan. But seeing that she could
not enlist his aid, her dream gradually and regretfully melted away,
until, overcome by disappointment and mortification, she threw away her
self-control and burst into tears.

“I did not think you would refuse,” she sobbed, using her handkerchief
with great ostentation. “I had packed my things and made all
arrangements; I could have got off without telling a soul.”

Ferdinand hated to see a woman cry, and felt suddenly mean and
despicable. But he could not bring himself to give way to her desire;
something within him seemed to rise up and say, “_Thou shalt not!_” It
was his love for Raie, his fear of doing her a seeming injustice. For
himself he cared not at all—he was too well-seasoned a man of the world.

Zillah dried her eyes, feeling that she had betrayed herself for nought,
and shivering, asked to return to the drawing-room. As they entered
through the somewhat narrow doorway, a slender, white-clad figure rose
from the embrasure formed by the window. Coming from without into the
glare of the artificial light, Ferdinand could scarcely believe his
eyes; but he was not deceived—it was indeed Raie.

“I was so hot that I could not stay in bed, Ferdie,” she explained,
putting her arm confidingly in his. “Besides, I could not let you go
without saying good-bye properly, dearest, if I had fifty colds.”

And clinging to him like a child, she drew him into the library, whilst
Zillah was left to nurse her anger alone. Watching them depart, her
heart burned with impotent rage, as she realised how miserably she had
been defeated. It seemed to her that failure was written right across
her life, that she was pursued by a hard and inexorable fate. Gifted
with a good voice and personal charms of no mean order, she had been
ambitious—over ambitious to do well. Consequently she had frequently
overreached herself when just at the point of success. She was at enmity
with God, the world, and herself; and she was obliged to acknowledge
it—she had only herself to blame. Nevertheless, her courage revived when
her first feelings of depression had dissolved.

“He goes to England to-morrow without me,” she said to herself, in a
whisper. “Never mind, I shall soon follow him up. In England I shall at
least be happier than here. Assimilation is the way—I ought to have done
it long ago. Fool that I was to consider the Montellas! They are
intoxicated with their Judaism—but I—I—am a total abstainer from
Judaism.”

And then she laughed hysterically at her feeble joke. She was clearly
much overwrought.



                                BOOK III
                         THE LAST OF THE EDICT
“_And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out, I will
 return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every
  man to his heritage, and every man to his land._”—JEREMIAH xii. 15.



                               CHAPTER I
                           ENGLAND ONCE MORE


Patricia left the Princess with her husband at Felsen-Schvoenig, and
journeyed back to London with Lord Torrens, whom she had met at Port
Said. The Earl was somewhat annoyed at having been baulked of his
Eastern tour; but as he did not care to visit the Holy Land in his
daughter’s absence, his only alternative was to turn back. Secretly, he
considered Patricia’s action absurdly quixotic, for he could not in the
least understand her point of view. To him all creeds were but
variations of one fundamental principle, and to quarrel over individual
shades of opinion seemed unnecessary in the extreme. As for sentiment in
religion, he refused to recognise that at all, since it could be
analysed and physically accounted for by the materialistic exponents of
modern thought. Nevertheless he was considerate enough not to add to the
girl’s suffering by vain reproaches; he knew that, for the present, it
was best to leave her alone.

The home-coming seemed so strange that Patricia felt as if she were in a
dream. Coming from the brilliant sunshine of the East, London looked
cold and grey, and the dresses of the people curiously prosaic after the
gay colours of the Orient. It was about six o’clock in the evening, and
the lamps were already lit. Clerks and business people generally were
travelling homewards, newspaper boys were calling out the special
editions of the evening papers, and the traffic rushed bewilderingly
through the crowded streets. Leaning back in the brougham, Patricia’s
head seemed to swim, for the roads and shops and people had apparently
magnified themselves tenfold, and loomed large and vast through the
gloom of the evening twilight. She was thankful when the carriage
slackened pace, and pulled up before the familiar door. But even
Grosvenor Square seemed to have extended in area. She could not imagine
why everything looked so immense.

The house was still in a state of metaphorical curl-papers and overalls,
for they intended to stay there only for one night. By Patricia’s
orders, Mrs. Lowther—her old companion—had taken a small villa near
Richmond, where the girl intended to live out her days. She established
herself there the very next morning, thankful to have some occupation to
distract her thoughts. The villa, which rejoiced in the romantic name of
“Ivydene,” was light and pretty, and more attractive in its way than the
solemn magnificence of the parental mansion. Mrs. Lowther, too, had done
all in her power to make it home-like: there were bright fires in the
grates and flowers in the vases, and the hundred and one little things
which contribute to domestic comfort. The girl could not help feeling
touched by the thoughtfulness which had evidently been expended on her
account, and as she went over the small but prettily-decorated rooms,
her eyes grew misty with no far-distant tears. There was one room in
particular which held her spellbound, for the wall-paper depicted
well-known nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill,” “Little Miss
Muffit,” and “Red Ridinghood”; and in one corner stood a brand-new
rocking-horse.

“I am so sorry,” Mrs. Lowther said, half-apologetically. “I had
thought—had made sure—that you would bring your little boy.” And she
wished she had had the tact not to allow the young mother to enter the
room just then, for the sight of the childish appurtenances evidently
called up an emotion of pain.

But Patricia begged her not to be concerned.

“It was very kind of you to take so much trouble,” she said, going to
the window and looking at the tiny lawn without. “Oh, how I wish we
could have Julian here! He is such a lovely boy, Lowthy, and so
wonderfully intelligent. It nearly broke my heart to have to leave him
behind.”

“I don’t know how you could,” her companion returned, almost severely.
“It seems unnatural to part a mother from her child. If I had been you—”

Patricia put up her hands as though to ward off a blow. “Yes, I know,”
she put in hastily. “Don’t hurt me, dear. If you had been in my place
you would have acted just the same. You don’t understand what Judaism
is—how it used to rise up between the Montellas and myself like a wall.
They would not let me bring baby away for fear I should make a Christian
of him, which of course I should do; for I could not help wanting to
consecrate his little life to Christ. Oh, I don’t wish to go over the
whole story again; it is too painful. The Montellas are quite right from
their point of view, and I am quite right from mine. We must all do what
seems to be our duty according to our own conscience, even if it seems
hard at the time.”

Mrs. Lowther regarded her contemplatively.

“How you have changed, Patricia,” she observed, placing her hand on the
rough mane of the horse. “At the time of your marriage none of these
considerations seemed to trouble you. Did I not warn you during your
engagement that although you might attempt to enter their Jewish world,
you must for ever remain an outsider? I don’t want to be cruel, but I
can’t help telling you how I regret that you did not listen to me. For
look at your present position: a wife, and yet practically without a
husband—a mother, and yet without a child. Oh, you poor dear girl, if
you had only taken my advice you would never have made such a shipwreck
of your life!”

Had she not been sincerely sympathetic, Patricia would have been
irritated by her comments.

“Oh, I don’t regret the past,” she responded quickly, “not one little
bit; and if I had it to live over again I would marry Lionel just the
same. It is not his fault that things have turned out like this; it is
the fault of a fanatical Chief Rabbi and a narrow creed. But Lowthy, if
you don’t mind, I would rather not talk about it any more. You see it
hurts; and—and—I shall have to get used to being alone.” She held up the
locket containing the portraits of her husband and baby, and looking at
it thoughtfully, added sadly: “Not that I want to forget these two dear
ones. The remembrance of them will remain with me day and night. I can’t
yet realise that they are all those hundreds of miles away; I want to
consult my husband at every turn.”

And then dashing away the tears which in spite of her will would come,
she left the intended nursery, and descended to the hall.

It took her some time to settle down to her new life in Richmond. Lord
Torrens, scarcely caring for the menage of a suburban residence, left
after a few days, but the faithful Mrs. Lowther remained. Of callers
there were none; for Patricia’s object in coming to live so far out was
to avoid those who would have visited her in Grosvenor Square. She was
in no mood for any kind of social pleasure, nor for the sympathy of kind
but curious friends. So she kept her arrival a secret from those who
would have been glad to know, and preferred to spend the greater part of
her time in solitude.

But Montella had given her a task to perform. He wanted to know her
version of the condition of English affairs; and in order to form an
opinion, she was obliged to go out and about. So far as she could see,
the assimilation process seemed, socially, to be working well enough.
The names of Cohen, Jacobs, and Levy no longer existed; but those of
Cowan, Jackson, and Leigh were on the increase, and perhaps sounded more
euphonious in English ears. In spite of the exodus of the alien
immigrants whose presence had been so greatly deplored, however, there
were still a great number of the unemployed. Trade was bad—so bad that
the prosperity of many families of the middle class was seriously
threatened, and complaints were heard on all sides. Several well-known
shops in the West End were shut up, and the bankruptcy of a celebrated
mercantile house had ruined hundreds. Affairs on the Stock Exchange were
quieter than ever they had been before, and finance, in the absence of
two or three of the greatest Jewish capitalists, was at a low ebb.
Moreover, people began to attribute the decline in commerce to the
removal of Jewish influence by the Expulsion. Many said that the Jews
who had gone to Palestine had taken the prosperity of England with them;
many more heartily wished for their return. Certain it was that a wave
of adversity had spread over the country; the nation seemed to be under
a cloud.

“I have not come across many Jews so far,” she wrote, “although there
must still be a great many here. I went on an exploration expedition to
Canonbury and Highbury last week, and found most of the houses there to
let. The shops there—or, rather, those that remain—seem to be undergoing
a hard struggle, and I was told on inquiry that it was because their
principal customers in the past had been those of the Jewish race. The
synagogues have, of course, all been swept away; but, judging by
statistics, there appears to be very little increase in the attendance
at the various churches. The theatres also are not doing so well as of
old, as a considerable amount of both talent and patronage has by the
Expulsion been sent away. So the practical side of the Bill does not
answer so well as it did in theory, and by the man in the street the
Government is roundly blamed.”

She experienced a peculiar sense of gratification in having to give so
unsatisfactory a report. Perhaps she thought it would comfort her
husband to know that England missed the Jews, and was not flourishing so
well without them; yet she knew that his love for his native country was
such that he could not help feeling sincerely grieved.

She had just returned from her peregrination westwards one day, and was
walking through the High Street on her way home, when she came face to
face with a lady who was preparing to re-enter her carriage. Patricia,
full of her own thoughts, would have passed on; but the lady, with an
exclamation of surprise, barred the way.

“So I have found you at last, you truant!” she said, in a voice full of
satisfaction.

It was Lady Chesterwood, the wife of Athelstan Moore.

Patricia looked up, half abashed, and held out her hand, scarcely
knowing how to greet her old friend under the changed circumstances. But
Mamie had heard the whole story of the Montellas’ separation from the
Princess, and had the good grace not to refer to the affair. She
insisted on taking the girl into a neighbouring tea-shop in order to
have a chat, and gossiped away to her heart’s content. Then she suddenly
remembered the purpose for which she had come out, and broke off in the
middle of her conversation to ask Patricia’s advice.

“I meant to call and ask the doctor to come and look at
Phyllis—Athelstan’s child, you know; but I have not made up my mind
whether to do so or not,” she said, with an expression of doubt.
“Athelstan slept in town last night, but I expect him home to dinner;
and if he hears that the doctor has been, he will be so frightfully
alarmed. He absolutely worships that girl; and if her little finger
aches, he immediately makes up his mind that she is going to die. So I
never send for the doctor unless it is really necessary; it doesn’t seem
worth while to have a fuss for nothing.”

“What is the matter with her?” asked Patricia equably. “Nothing serious,
I suppose?”

“No, only a sore throat; a cold probably. I dare say she will be better
to-morrow.”

“A sore throat,” repeated Patricia meditatively. “I don’t like anything
the matter with the throat. I should send for the doctor if I were you.”

“You would? Well then, I think you ought to help me to bear the brunt of
Athelstan’s alarm. Come to dinner, and bring your she-dragon with you if
you like. You know where we live: the other side of Richmond
Park—Ravenscroft Hall. We dine at seven o’clock, but I shall expect you
at half-past six. Now”—as Patricia prepared to remonstrate—“I know you
are going to put all sorts of objections in the way, but I shall not
accept one of them. I will take absolutely no refusal; you _must_ come.”

“But, my dear Mamie, how can I?” The girl looked almost bewildered. “To
meet the Premier in his own house at dinner, after he has been the means
of sending my husband to the Antipodes! Oh, it’s impossible! Can’t you
see the irony of it? There can be no friendship between a Montella and
Athelstan Moore.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed the Countess, unconvinced. “Richmond is not
Downing Street. In our own house we have nothing to do with politics;
besides, Athelstan may not put in an appearance after all. Don’t be so
absurdly sensitive, Pat; I want you to come.”

But Patricia still hesitated. The thought of being a guest at Mr.
Moore’s table was so repugnant that it could scarcely be tolerated; yet
she felt a secret curiosity to meet the great anti-Semite again. She
would, at least, have something of interest to report to Lionel; and
although she could not introduce the subject of the Expulsion, she might
indirectly glean an inkling of the Premier’s views. So—not without
misgivings—she yielded, and promised to be there by the appointed time.
Whether good or evil would come of the visit, however, remained to be
seen; and as she left her friend, she felt as if she were about to
trifle with edged tools.



                               CHAPTER II
                          AN ANTI-SEMITE STILL


The “she-dragon,” as Mamie unkindly dubbed Mrs. Lowther, did not care
to accept the invitation to Ravenscroft Hall, and asked to be excused;
so Patricia dressed herself in a simple evening-gown and drove off
alone. Excitement had lent a touch of colour to her cheeks, and as the
carriage swept up the avenue she trifled nervously with her long
neck-chain of pearls. Arrived at the house, however, she soon regained
her self-possession, and followed the footman up the stone staircase
with her usual equanimity. The Countess received her with cordiality;
but seemed curiously diffident. She glanced at the door every now and
then with marked uneasiness; her mind was evidently—on some
account—disturbed.

“The doctor has not been yet,” she said, in answer to Patricia’s
enquiry. “I am expecting him every minute. I don’t quite like the look
of Phyllis; she has been shivering so terribly. I do hope she isn’t
going to be ill.”

“Has Mr. Moore seen her?”

“No, he has not arrived yet, but he will be here soon. He wired that he
is bringing Mr. Lawson Holmes back with him.” Her brow grew troubled. “I
want to keep him away from Phyllis until after dinner, when I hope the
doctor will have been. The children always come in to dessert, you
know.”

The words had scarcely passed her lips when the scrunch of carriage
wheels on the gravel approached them, and the hall door closed with a
heavy sound. A moment later the men’s voices were heard on the stairs,
as they parted to go to their respective rooms. The Countess, excusing
herself to her guest, went dutifully to greet her husband; but she
returned before Patricia had time to notice her absence, and together
they descended to the rooms below.

“I think you will find a great change in Athelstan,” she said, as
Patricia glanced at the large portrait of the Premier which adorned the
wall. “He has aged terribly during the last three years, and suffers
from periodical fits of depression which seem to take all the life out
of him. The doctors cannot account for it, and put it down to overwork.
But I believe I know what it is: there is something preying on his
mind.”

“Yes?” Patricia looked up half wonderingly. “I suppose he is troubled
about State affairs?”

The Countess waxed confidential.

“It’s the Jews,” she said impressively, forgetting, perhaps, the
political position of her friend. “I believe they’ve affected his brain.
He thinks about them all day, dreams about them at night, and talks
about them in his sleep. It’s Jews, Jews, Jews—always Jews! The fact of
the matter is, that in pushing the Expulsion Bill he made a tremendous
mistake; and he knows it, and is suffering from remorse. But in spite of
this he maintains his ground, and won’t budge an inch from his original
standpoint. He is as hard and as obstinate as a piece of flint.”

Patricia turned over the leaves of a magazine with agitation. “Mamie,
ought you to tell me this?” she asked, feeling that she had received a
confidence which should have been withheld. “Do you think your husband
would care for me to know that he is attacked by remorse? Remember, I am
the wife of an exiled Jew.”

“I don’t care anyway,” the little woman returned recklessly. “If you can
act on that knowledge, so much the better. Oh, Patricia! you do not know
what I have suffered during the past two years. You do not know what it
is to have a husband so morose that he will scarcely speak, except to
say something unkind. For the first few months of our married life,
Athelstan was as genial and happy as a boy; but now—now—his only smile
is for Phyllis—never for me.”

She sank on to a chair, a look of wounded pride in her eyes. Patricia
was genuinely sorry, but she scarcely knew what to say. She remembered
the boasted power, the desire to rule which had animated the Countess at
the time of Moore’s proposal. Where was that conquering influence of her
feminine personality which was to have decided not only the affairs of
her husband, but also of the State? Gone—all gone; nay, it had never
been there. For Mamie’s will was far too frail to have ever run counter
to that of the Premier; and now, after repeated storms, only a crushed
and broken spirit remained.

The girl sympathised as best she could, and skilfully drew the
conversation to matters of lighter trend. She did not want to hear such
secrets, and shrank from prying into the private life of her husband’s
enemy. But Mamie was naturally loquacious, and her thoughts expressed
themselves in words almost as soon as they entered her mind. It was
probably this very garrulity which had sent Moore back into his shell;
for knowing that his wife could not be trusted with a secret, he
naturally became more reserved.

They were both glad of the presence of Mr. Lawson Holmes at the
dinner-table that night. He was a man who could converse well on almost
any subject, and possessed a good many interests besides that of
politics. Moore was, as usual, preoccupied and gloomy, and had shaken
hands with Patricia as though she had been a complete stranger. The
Countess, who had quietly been called away to see the doctor before the
commencement of the meal, was pale and silent, so the two guests had the
conversation principally to themselves. When the dessert was reached,
however, the Premier suddenly awoke as from a sleep, and fixing his
steely eyes on his wife’s face, inquired solemnly for the children.

Lady Chesterwood’s eyes fell.

“Leslie was a naughty boy this afternoon, and I was obliged to punish
him,” she returned quietly. “And Phyllis—Phyllis is not well.”

“Not well?” Moore became visibly alarmed. “What is the matter with her?
Has the doctor been?”

“Yes; he says she has a bad sore throat, and must stay in bed. He
suggested moving her to the south wing of the house, because it is
warmer there and the aspect sunnier, so we have done so. And he doesn’t
think much of Leslie’s old nurse, so he is going to send a trained nurse
from the hospital, and perhaps an assistant as well.” She paused, out of
breath. “He is coming again to-morrow morning,” she added rapidly, “so
you can see him then.”

Moore tossed off a glass of wine, and excusing himself, rose from the
table.

“I shall not wait until to-morrow morning,” he said, in a rough voice.
“I shall see him to-night. But I must have a look at the child first.
Poor little girl! A sore throat—” and without finishing the sentence he
left the room.

There was a moment’s silence, and then the Countess also rose.

“I suppose I shall have to tell him,” she said, with an interrogative
look at her two guests. “The child has a touch of diphtheria; that is
why we have thought it best to isolate her at once. It is not serious at
present, but of course there is no knowing how it may turn out. I think
I had better go up to them, if you will not think me very rude. I am so
sorry this should have happened just now; it is so unpleasant. But, of
course, one cannot help these things.”

“Don’t apologise, dear,” said Patricia kindly. “I will amuse myself in
the library until Mr. Holmes has finished his wine. Go to your husband
now. I am sure you ought to be with him. It is very unfortunate
altogether; I do hope Phyllis will soon be well.”

“I should advise you to tell Moore exactly what it is,” advised Holmes,
as the ladies passed across the threshold. He knew that to keep the
Premier in ignorance of the true nature of the illness would only serve
to make matters worse, since he must inevitably find out in the course
of two or three hours.

He smoked his cigar in solitude, a thoughtful expression on his face.
The presence of Lady Patricia Montella in that household had caused him
a deep sensation of astonishment, for he had not been aware of her
arrival in England. He knew, of course, that Lady Chesterwood was a
connection of hers by marriage; but even so, he was surprised that she
should be friendly with Moore. Thirsting for information, he threw down
his cigar half smoked, and rejoined her without delay. Without appearing
unduly curious, he elicited the whole story of her pathetic separation.
Then he inquired after his old friend, Montella, in almost affectionate
terms, and expressed his regret that Parliament should have lost such a
gifted and true young statesman.

“I always liked Montella,” he said, when he had related more than one
reminiscence of past years; “but he had one weakness: he allowed himself
to be ruled by his mother. Now, I have the greatest respect for Lady
Montella, but I do not believe in petticoat interference. Montella was
quite capable of riding his political horse without the aid of feminine
spurs.”

“You are quite right, Mr. Holmes,” assented the girl, almost surprised
at his perception; “but Lady Montella is a strange woman; she has the
spirit of a Joan of Arc, and the self-discipline of a nun. I have often
wished myself that Lionel were left more to act on his own initiative.
His ideas are on a broader plane than his mother’s, although he may be
less of a Jew.”

“Quite so. Dear me, but how the poor fellow did scold me for introducing
the Assimilation Bill! And, by Jove! I think he was right. We’ve made a
ghastly mistake over the whole business, Lady Patricia. You can tell him
so if you like.”

Patricia was all attention.

“You mean that the result of the Expulsion is unsatisfactory,” she
interrupted eagerly. “I thought so, judging by all the reports I had
heard.”

The Cabinet Minister bent forward confidentially.

“Shall I tell you something?” he answered impressively. “England can
_not_ get along without Jewish money and Jewish brains; and she’s
shipped all the best of it away—sent it to Palestine to enrich the Holy
Land. That’s the plain truth—and a truth which is going to be expressed
pretty forcibly by the people in Hyde Park next Saturday. Of course,
Moore pooh-poohs it, and means to hold out to the end; but it strikes me
that there will be a fairly sharp ministerial struggle before long.”

“And the result?”

“Ah, who can tell? I don’t think we have ever had such a feeble
Government as there is now. There’s scarcely a man among them worth his
salt. Moore still wields that sort of one-man power which is
occasionally beneficial, and at times so dangerous; and I believe
Moore’s mind on the Jewish question is warped. We’ve got to try and drag
that rabid anti-Semitic feeling out of him: it’s no easy task.”

Patricia remembered what Mamie had told her concerning the Premier’s
inmost feelings, and grew thoughtful.

“I wonder if I could do anything to change Mr. Moore’s opinions,” she
said slowly. “I have seen so much of both sides that I ought to be able
to speak with authority. At present he distrusts me; he has scarcely
spoken a word to me this evening, but of course he may have just felt in
a taciturn mood. If I can win him over from anti-Semitism to common
sense, will you excuse the petticoat interference for once, Mr. Holmes?”

He smiled good-humouredly at her naïve use of his own expression, but
quickly regained his gravity as the door opened to admit the Countess.
The unfortunate little lady seemed full of trouble, and sank on to the
settee with an expression of despair. Athelstan was behaving in a most
ridiculous manner, and declared he would have no trained nurses creeping
about the house.

“He wants me to nurse her myself, with the assistance of an old and
trusted servant of his first wife’s,” she said, in a voice which was
almost tearful. “He says Phyllis has a horror of strangers. But,
Patricia, how can I? I know I’m not strong, and I should be sure to
catch it. My throat feels quite sore already at the mere thought.”

She looked the picture of misery, with her pale face and troubled eyes.
Patricia wondered that she could so easily collapse, but taking pity on
her, made a sudden resolve.

“Would Mr. Moore be satisfied if I undertook to nurse her in your
place?” she said impulsively, without giving herself time to consider
the consequence. “Phyllis will probably remember me; I am not quite a
stranger. And I am a good nurse—I like it. So if you will have me, I am
quite willing to stay.”

Mr. Lawson Holmes cast her a glance of admiration. It seemed to him that
her beautiful eyes shone with the light of heroism; and he recognised
that hers was the material of which soldiers are made. But the Countess
could not conceal her astonishment.

“You!” she exclaimed, starting to her feet. “Oh, Patricia, you _can’t_
mean it? Why should you do it for the child of Athelstan Moore? And
think of the responsibility and the risk. Diphtheria is so infectious.
Are you not afraid?”

“Afraid? No.” The girl met her gaze bravely. “I shall not neglect the
necessary precautions, you may be sure; but even if I do take the
disease, it won’t matter—much. Away from my husband, I don’t care what
happens to me, and that is the very reason why I shall be immune.
Besides, this would be what Lionel calls a _Mitzvah_—a good deed which
brings a blessing. Oh, I should like to do it; it would give me
something to occupy my thoughts!”

Her words unconsciously betrayed the unhappiness of her present
position. Her recklessness with regard to the danger amounted almost to
desperation; and she seemed to have fully made up her mind. So the
Countess, with a feeling almost of awe, went to acquaint the Premier of
her unselfish offer; she could not understand her cousin’s frame of mind
in the least.

The Premier manifested not a flicker of surprise. He returned with his
wife to accept the offer with formal gratitude, but Patricia could see
that in reality he was much stirred. Moreover, it pleased her to know
that he had confidence in her ability, that he could bring himself to
trust her with his precious child. Realising the tremendous
responsibility she had taken upon herself, she sat down with trembling
hand to write to Mrs. Lowther for what she required. She could imagine
what that good lady would say when she read the note, and the flutter
there would ensue at Ivydene. Truly the situation was a curious one,
though not so outrageous as Mrs. Lowther would make out. But she had
long ago made up her mind that life was full of the strangest
inconsistencies, and had therefore no compunction in adding one more to
the list.

“I have ordered my _chauffeur_ to get the car ready,” said the Premier,
when she had finished the note. “Will you come with me, Holmes?”

“With pleasure.” The Cabinet Minister rose with alacrity. “You are going
to the doctor, I suppose.”

“Yes; but I haven’t any faith in him—he is only a local practitioner. I
want him to get hold of that specialist, though—I’ve forgotten the man’s
name, but you know whom I mean. He cured the Crown-Princess of Germany
from the same complaint, and it was stated at the time that he was the
only doctor in the world who could have pulled her through. I am certain
my little girl will be all right if she is in his hands, and it will be
a great comfort for me to have him. But I can’t for the life of me think
of his name. It was something beginning with a K.”

“I know!” exclaimed the Countess, glad to be able to come to the rescue.
“It was Dr. Kesten.”

Moore gave a sigh of relief.

“That’s right,” he replied, almost cheerfully. “Kesten. He’s a splendid
doctor, and a really good and conscientious man. I believe he lives in
Portland Place.”

“Dr. Kesten?” repeated Mr. Lawson Holmes, in astonishment. “Good
gracious, Moore, you can’t have him. He’s in Palestine—one of the
victims of the Expulsion. Have you forgotten that Kesten is a Jew?”

Patricia looked up with a startled expression on her face, and exchanged
a glance with Mr. Holmes. Here indeed was a curious dénouement: Moore
was personally feeling the dire result of his own Bill.

And the Premier in his rage and emotion forgot himself for once.

“Hang the Jews!” was his uncivil, but forcible remark.



                              CHAPTER III
                        THE MIND OF THE PREMIER


Patricia found her post no sinecure. The first thing she did was to send
Lady Chesterwood and her little boy to Ivydene; for Mamie’s fear of
infection was so great that she would most certainly have caught the
disease had she remained, even though the south wing in which the child
lay was quite apart from the rest of the house. Moore’s foolish aversion
to professional nurses entailed greater vigilance on the part of the two
physicians who were attending the case, and they were obliged to visit
the Hall three or four times in the course of the day. In reality the
little girl was suffering from a peculiarly mild form of the disease,
but her father was so nervous that the very pronouncement of the word
“diphtheria” had frightened him beyond measure. For himself he
entertained no fear—his was too strong a nature to admit of cowardice;
but his love for his child was passionate almost to excess. Patricia had
never seen anything like it in her life.

His time was divided between Downing Street, the House of Commons, and
Ravenscroft Hall. At the Foreign Office he was dictatorial and shrewd;
in the House his speeches lacked nothing of their usual brilliance; but
as soon as he returned to the Hall he became a different man. The
pomposity departed from him, his step became light, his voice subdued;
and ascending the staircase on tiptoe, the usual question, “How is she?”
fell almost pathetically from his lips. If she were a little better his
happiness knew no bounds, but if worse, his spirits sank to zero; and
one night, when the child was really in danger, there ensued a scene
which the Hall servants remembered for months. The doctors would not
allow him to remain in the room, so he paced the corridor, almost
distraught; and as no one dared say a word to comfort him without the
fear of instant dismissal, he was left to drink his cup of bitterness
alone.

But Patricia, coming off duty an hour later, brought him the welcome
news that Phyllis was asleep and the crisis almost past; and inducing
him to accompany her to the adjoining housekeeper’s room, talked to him
quietly for a little while. She looked pale from lack of sleep, and her
eyes were heavy; but in his stress of mind and self-absorption he
scarcely spared her a thought.

“Do you really think she will get better—on your word of honour?” he
asked, for the hundredth time; “or are you only saying it to comfort me?
I don’t want to be buoyed up by false hopes; I would rather know the
worst. I— Oh dear, how my head seems to spin! Or is it the room that is
going round like a top?”

The girl helped him to a chair, and forced him to take a little brandy.

“No wonder you are exhausted,” she said, when he was somewhat revived.
“You are wearing yourself out; your nerves are constantly on the rack. I
don’t understand you at all, Mr. Moore. In public life you have the
courage and strength of a giant—I have been reading about you only this
morning in the _Post_; but in private life—here—you behave just like a
nervous woman. I really feel quite ashamed of you before the doctors. If
you do not take care, they will form a very poor opinion of the Prime
Minister’s fortitude.”

She spoke boldly, knowing that the rebuke was just what he needed, and
that it would have a salutary effect. The Premier regarded her with
astonishment, and a sharp rejoinder rose to his lips; but he repressed
it, and the momentary gleam of anger died out of his eyes.

“You are right,” he returned, his hands falling dejectedly to his side;
“but I have had so much worry lately; I think my nerves are unstrung.
And you don’t know—what it is to love a child—as I love my Phyllis.”

Her eyes deepened with feeling. “Ah, but I do!” she said, with a sudden
catch in her voice. “I too have a child—a little darling whom I may
never see again, although he is as dear to me as your little girl is to
you. But I am brave, or at least I try to be.... And Phyllis will get
better. My case is more hopeless than yours.”

“Phyllis will get better?” He grasped at the words as a drowning man
clutches a straw. “I pray God she may! I pray God she may!” Then he
leant his head against his hands, and continued, as though speaking to
himself: “I am not superstitious—a sensible man has no right to give way
to such folly; but I thought the judgment of Heaven had fallen when
Phyllis was taken ill. The Jews.... They are the bane of my life ...
they would pay me out if they could. Pharaoh oppressed them, and was
smitten with the ten plagues.... But I won’t be beaten; I _won’t_....
Not if fifty plagues come on my people—not if Phyllis dies. _If Phyllis
dies...._ Good God, what am I saying? She must not die.... Any judgment
from Heaven—but not that ... my one little ewe lamb. Eh?” he added
thickly, as Patricia made a movement. “What was I talking about? The
brandy has got into my head, I think. Let me go—into the garden; I must
have air.”

He stumbled up to the French window, which, by means of a flight of
steps, gave access to the lawn. Patricia assisted him to descend, and
rang hastily for his valet. Then she returned to the sick-room, thereby
incurring the displeasure of the doctor; for in the hours that she was
not on duty it was necessary that she should rest.

“I am on my way to bed now,” she whispered, glancing tenderly at the
unconscious child; “but I wanted to tell you something, doctor. Mr.
Moore seems very much unstrung, and I should like you to prescribe for
him before you go. He has to preside at a Cabinet Meeting to-morrow, and
unless he sleeps to-night, I am sure he will be unable to attend.”

The physician nodded.

“Very well, I will, as soon as I have given my instructions for the
night to nurse,” he whispered back. “And now, Lady Patricia, I must
insist on you going to bed; otherwise, we shall be having you on the
sick-list too.”

The girl smiled, and quietly withdrew; but although she was tired, she
felt little inclination for sleep. The stray glimpse into the secret
chambers of the Premier’s mind had filled her with all sorts of curious
cogitations, and she could not help pondering on the strange character
of the man. He was evidently suffering either from distorted mental
vision or—as Mamie had said—from remorse; and his recently-grey hair and
haggard features testified that his health was being injured in
consequence. But if that was the case—if his part in connection with the
Expulsion was weighing so heavily on his mind, why did he not seek to
atone for his action by advocating retractive measures? If he were a
brave man—and his brilliant Parliamentary career proved him to be a
morally strong one—why did he shrink from owning himself to have been in
the wrong? Was it cowardice or sheer obstinacy which made him hold on
grimly to his original views in spite of his inmost convictions? And how
long would he be able to maintain that line of conduct—how long before
the great mind would over-balance itself, and travel along the course
which led to insanity? Could it be possible that they should ever see
“_that noble and most sovereign reason, like sweet bells jangled, out of
tune and harsh_?”

But the next morning she found him as abrupt and self-possessed as
usual. All traces of his recent emotion had disappeared, and he had
evidently regained complete command over himself. The child had passed a
better night, and his matutinal visit to the sick-room caused him such
satisfaction that he was able to leave for London almost as soon as the
doctor had been. And that day his dialectics at the Foreign Office were
more irresistible than ever; he was once more his old self, now that the
danger to his child was past.

Patricia found the period of the little girl’s convalescence more trying
than the actual illness, for there seemed more to do, and Phyllis was
often peevish and cross. Lady Chesterwood and Mrs. Lowther called every
day, and sometimes twice a day; but unless she changed all her clothes,
for fear the germs of infection should—according to the Countess—lurk in
the folds of her nursing costume, she could not see them, and often she
was obliged to let them go away: so that all communication with the
outer world had practically ceased for the present, and of the daily
inquirers who drove up to the Hall she saw not one. She looked over the
visitors’ book sometimes, and collected the numerous visiting-cards for
Phyllis to play with; but although some of the names were so familiar
that they called up vivid remembrances of the days of her early
girlhood, she felt no desire to see any of these quondam friends.
Whether they knew of her presence in the Premier’s mansion she knew not;
but it was likely that Mamie had spread the news.

One afternoon, however, a card was brought up to her which dispelled her
usual indifference, and caused the colour to mount to her cheeks. It
bore the inscription “Sir Ferdinand Montella,” and on the reverse side
the intimation of his immediate return to Haifa. Scarcely pausing to
smooth her fair hair, Patricia rushed down to receive him; for although
she had never seen him before, she looked upon him as a link from the
East.

His visit was the best tonic she could have taken, for his breezy manner
had an exhilarating effect. He brought good news of her beloved ones in
Palestine, inasmuch as they were both well, and the baby bonnier than
ever. He expressed himself willing to take back any messages she cared
to send, and apologised deeply for not having come before.

“I was so busy with my affair,” he said, with the light of satisfaction
in his eyes. “Thank goodness it’s all settled, and I’ve won the case. I
was the cat’s-paw of another fellow, you know; and I could not have come
forward before without betraying him. But now he is dead, and I have
been able to prove my innocence; and now that I am a free and honourable
man in the sight of the world, I am going back to marry my little Raie.”

Patricia held out her hands.

“I am very glad,” she said sincerely. “I congratulate you from the
bottom of my heart. And I hope you and Raie will be very happy; she is a
sweet girl, and will make you an admirable wife.”

“So I think,” he returned, with a glad smile, as his grasp on her
fingers relaxed. “I believe we were cut out for each other; it was love
at first sight, anyway. But I don’t want to talk about myself, Patricia;
I want to know something about you. Lionel will be full of questions
when I get back. I was astonished when Mrs. Lowther informed me that you
were here. Whatever made you walk direct into the lion’s mouth?”

“Providence, or a combination of circumstances,” she answered slowly.
“When I advised Mrs. Lowther to rent Ivydene for a year, I had quite
forgotten that Ravenscroft Hall was so near; and you see, Lady
Chesterwood was in such trouble that I was bound to offer to help. I do
hope Lionel will not be angry; I would never have become an inmate of
the Premier’s household under any other circumstances, and I shall leave
as soon as I can. They have treated me very courteously here; I cannot
complain.”

“It seems so strange—so unnecessary,” he said, with a puzzled
expression, “that you, a Montella by marriage, should go out of your way
to nurse the child of an anti-Semite. It is heaping coals of fire on his
head with a vengeance. I cannot understand how the man could accept your
services if he has any pride about him at all.”

“You do not know him, Ferdinand. He has pride, but he would not let it
stand in the way where the welfare of his child was concerned. Besides,
I did it for Mamie’s sake; her husband was my first-cousin. And, do you
know, I am glad I came. I believe I shall be able to convert the Premier
before I leave.”

“Convert the Premier,” he repeated, with an ironical smile. “What
to?—Judaism?”

She laughed.

“Not quite; but you are not far wrong. I want to cure him of his
anti-Semitic mania, and so far I have progressed well. At first I dare
not mention the Jewish question to him; but now that I have nursed his
child through a serious illness, he is beginning to trust me, and to
listen to what I choose to say.”

“But do you really think that you, a mere woman—I had almost said
child—can influence Athelstan Moore?” he asked incredulously. “Why, I
know of no one in England who is able to do that.”

Patricia was too sensible to be piqued by his scepticism.

“I do think so,” she returned, with enthusiasm. “Mr. Moore is a man who
can be led, but not driven. You know what Shakespeare says:

                        ‘What thou wilt
              Thou rather shalt enforce it with thy smile,
              Than hew to’t with thy sword.’

Mr. Lawson Holmes and his colleagues might talk to him till Doomsday
without the slightest effect, because he is strenuously determined to
oppose them; but I have the opportunity of approaching him in his
tenderest moments—when he is with his child. There are some cases in
which a ‘mere woman’ can do more than the strongest man.”

He glanced at her with admiration, not unmixed with wonder.

“And if you do cure him of his anti-Semitic mania, as you call it,” he
said slowly, “what will be the practical result?”

“I cannot say; but it will be a victory worth achieving. Everyone knows
how the Premier dominates the Government, both collectively and
individually—how they have not the courage to move a step without his
approval, how they follow him just like a flock of sheep. Cure him of
his anti-Semitism, and there is no knowing what may happen. Do not
discourage me, Ferdinand, I mean to try very hard.”

The clock struck four, and warned her that she was due in the sick-room;
but she had so many messages to send that she could scarcely bear to
tear herself away. If she had only known of his coming, she would have
loaded him with presents for her dear ones, but he intended to start on
the morrow, and it was too late to get anything now. So she was obliged
to be content with sending her love—so much of it that Ferdinand
laughingly declared he would never be able to carry it; and she wept a
little in spite of his cheerful words. Then she said good-bye, and went
to her own room for a few minutes to finish her cry.

It might be a long time before she saw a Montella again.



                               CHAPTER IV
                        LADY PATRICIA’S CONQUEST


Slowly, but surely, Phyllis Moore crept back to health, and as the
danger of infection was over, Lady Chesterwood and Leslie returned to
the Hall. The child had been ordered to Bournemouth to recuperate her
lost strength, but the weather was so unfavourable that her father
thought it advisable to wait for a possible improvement. He himself
would not be able to leave London until the Christmas recess, and was
rather glad than otherwise of the enforced delay.

Patricia was asked to accompany them, in order that her health might
also benefit by the change; but as her services were no longer required,
she politely but firmly declined. She acknowledged to Mamie that her
stay at Ravenscroft Hall had been somewhat of a strain; and although she
was glad to have been of use at so urgent a time, she did not care to
remain as the Premier’s guest.

Athelstan Moore had shown very little appreciation of her magnanimity
during the child’s illness, but as her stay drew to a close he gradually
unbent, and on the last night he made an effort to express his gratitude
for her kindness. Perhaps he felt more demonstrative than usual, for all
Richmond was rejoicing at his little daughter’s happy recovery; and they
had just returned from a crowded thanksgiving service at the parish
church. He took her into the library after dinner on the pretext of
showing her a particular _edition de luxe_, but in reality it was
because he had something to say. He fidgeted uneasily with his diamond
stud, and launched forth into a long explanation concerning the merits
of his various editions of Shakespeare, whilst Patricia, knowing that he
had not brought her there to discuss bibliography, waited as patiently
as she could.

She sat down in front of the blazing log-fire, and watched him from the
depths of a heavy arm-chair. He looked almost handsome that night, in
spite of the lines on his forehead, and seemed to have regained a little
of his former sprightliness. Yet, recollecting his visit to her father
on the day of her marriage, she recognised a great difference. She
remembered how his short, thick-set figure had bristled with
indignation, and how the steely grey eyes had gleamed. She remembered
his gestures—sharp, stern, commanding, just as the political
caricaturists had pictured him in their cartoons—but there was little of
that fiery alertness in his bearing now. He looked like a man who had in
some peculiar way lost all verve: the features, the form, and the voice
remained, but the animation which had given life to the whole
personality was gone.

Abruptly finishing his superfluous dissertation, he took up his position
on the hearthrug, with his back to the fire, and gazed moodily down at
the parquet floor. Then glancing up suddenly his eye caught Patricia’s,
and his face lit up with the faintest glimmer of a smile.

“I want to ask you something,” he said, leaning his arm against the
oaken mantel-shelf. “In reviewing the events of the last three weeks, it
has struck me as curious that you, of all persons, should have nursed my
little girl, since neither she nor I had the slightest claim on you.
Tell me, Lady Patricia, and do not be offended at my question—why did
you do it?”

“Why?” She hesitated. “Oh, because I thought it was a case in which I
could assist. I am always ready to help _anyone_ in trouble, if I can.”

“I see. You did it for charity’s sake. If it had been my lodge-keeper’s
child you would have nursed her with equal willingness and care?”

“Certainly.”

“Ah!” His exclamation was sharp and gruff. “Then you did not do it as a
personal favour to me?”

“No.” She met his gaze steadily. “I did not do it for you.”

There was an uncomfortable pause. He turned round and gave the fire a
vigorous poke, which sent the flames roaring up the chimney. The light
caught the diamond star at her breast, and set it scintillating with
prismatic rays. Then with his eyes almost involuntarily set on the
jewel, he addressed her again.

“It is as well to know the truth,” he said, with feigned nonchalance.
“Otherwise I might have flattered myself that you nursed Phyllis for my
sake. I suppose, in reality, you consider me more of an enemy than a
friend?”

“I think I have reason to do so,” she returned, with a sigh.

“On account of the Jewish question?” he asked slowly.

“Yes.”

“I am sorry.” He spread his hands deprecatingly. “But you see it is not
my fault that you happened to marry a Jew. You know I have no love for
that race.”

“I do know, to my sorrow,” she answered quietly. “But I cannot
understand it at all. Mr. Moore, why are you an anti-Semite?”

The question was given with such direct simplicity that for a moment he
was at a loss for a reply. This was carrying the war into the enemy’s
country.

“Why am I an anti-Semite?” he repeated, with hesitation. “Well, that is
too large a matter to be entered into now. My motives are both political
and personal; but they can be summed up in one sentence: I hate the
Jews.”

“And yet you call yourself a Christian!” she said, with contempt.

His cheeks flushed. “Lady Patricia!” he exclaimed, half angrily; but she
was undismayed.

“You do call yourself a Christian,” she continued calmly. “You are
publicly known as one of the staunchest of churchmen, and you are
president of several church societies. Mr. Moore, did Christ hate the
Jews?”

There was silence, but she scarcely waited for a response. “You know He
did not,” she went on quickly. “He healed them of their diseases, toiled
for them, suffered for them, died for them, loved them to the end. To be
at the same time a Christian and an anti-Semite is absolutely
impossible. More: if England is anti-Semitic, she cannot be Christian,
and (I quote from one of your own speeches now)—the day England ceases
to be Christian she ceases to be great. Oh, cannot you see the
inconsistency of your position? How could you reconcile it with your
conscience to persecute the Jews?”

She raised her sweet face in passionate appeal. The words seemed to come
direct from her heart, and her ardour expressed itself in the depths of
her blue eyes. Moore stared at her with unconcealed astonishment. No
one—not even his friend Lawson Holmes—had dared to be so outspoken; but
this gentle girl evidently was not afraid. And her words struck home:
they pierced the outer shield of his obstinacy, and penetrated to the
true self within; they touched the inmost chords of his troubled
emotions, and set them quivering like the strings of a lyre. Yet he
displayed no resentment, rather was he abashed: for his usual flow of
language deserted him; he could, for once, find no counter-reply.

“Persecution is an accommodating term,” he said, at last. “Place the
smallest restriction on the liberty of a sect, and immediately they
proclaim themselves martyrs. We have no desire to ‘persecute’ the Jews;
we have used neither the knout nor the rack. For myself, all I desire is
to eliminate everything Jewish from our English life; nothing more.”

“To eliminate everything Jewish?” she repeated, unable to conceal a
touch of scorn. “Why, it cannot be done; the Jews have left too great an
impress on the world. Religion, history, science, the fine arts,
commerce, is there anything in which they have never had a place? We
went to church this evening: was your enjoyment of the anthem marred
because the music was composed by Mendelssohn, a Jew? And has it ever
occurred to you that our Liturgy is almost entirely of Jewish origin?
The _Magnificat_—what is it but the joy-song of a Jewish maiden?—the
_Nunc Dimittis_, that of Simeon the Jew? Why, the whole Bible belongs to
the Jews—is Jewish literature from Genesis to Revelations. And yet you
would eliminate everything Jewish from your thoughts. As well try to
wipe out the past and re-create the world!”

She paused as the door opened to admit the Countess, who was tired of
her own society, and wondered what the two could be talking about. Mamie
considered it selfish of her husband to monopolise the girl’s company on
the last night of her stay; but noticing the gravity of his expression,
she conquered her desire to tell him so.

“I hope you have thanked Patricia nicely for her kindness to Phyllis,”
she said, with complacence, as she settled herself in the opposite
arm-chair. “Have you decided what form the memento is to take?”

Her husband looked almost disconcerted. “Not yet,” he returned dryly.
“When I led up to the subject we both went off at a tangent; however,
the evening is yet young.”

“We want to give you a little souvenir of your visit,” Mamie explained
eagerly; “but we could not decide as to what it should be, so we thought
we had better ask you. I suggested a crescent brooch to replace the one
you gave to the Unemployed. Do you remember that day, Patricia? What a
tender-hearted goose you were!”

Patricia’s colour rose.

“You are very good,” she said, addressing them both, and inwardly
determining not to accept any reward for her services, however
delicately it might be offered. “But I really have more jewellery than I
can wear already. I would rather not have a present, if you don’t mind;
indeed, I haven’t the faintest idea what to choose. I have all I want.”

The Premier seemed to be turning over something in his mind.

“All you want?” he repeated slowly; “except—your husband.”

Mamie cast him a sharp glance of interrogation, but he took no notice,
and advanced towards his guest.

“Lady Patricia,” he said impressively, “you do want your husband?”

“Want him?” She choked down a sob. “Yes, I do want him; I long for him
night and day! But you are unkind: don’t tease me, Mr. Moore!”

The tears welled up in her eyes, and gathered slowly on her beautiful
lashes. She felt as if he were playing with her as a cat plays with a
mouse, and her whole being rose in revolt at such a lack of generous
feeling. But the Premier’s features showed no sign of intended satire;
he had evidently spoken in perfect faith.

“I am not teasing you,” he said, in a peculiarly quiet voice. “Patricia,
I have to make an important decision before ten o’clock to-morrow
morning. A month ago I should have given my answer without the slightest
hesitation, but now—now I see that things are different to what they
appeared a little while ago. Supposing the Edict of Expulsion were
cancelled, would your husband return?”

“The Edict cancelled!” She could scarcely believe her ears. “Do you mean
that England will open her doors to the Jews again?” she asked, in a
tone of excitement. “Oh, it seems too good to be true; I can scarcely
believe it.” She took a deep breath. “Of course Lionel would come back;
Haifa would soon empty itself of its English population. But, Mr. Moore,
is it true? Do you really—_really_ mean it?”

“It is a possibility,” he returned, as though with an effort.
“Statistics show that trade and commerce have deteriorated since the
Expulsion; and the people are clamouring for the Jews’ return. To-morrow
the question comes up in Parliament, and I shall make a speech either
for or against. My colleagues, knowing my views, anticipate my
opposition; but—”

“But you will surprise them all by supporting the resolution,” she
interpolated quickly. “Mr. Moore, you know the Expulsion Act has been a
weight on your mind ever since it was put into force; you know that it
was all a gross miscarriage of justice. If the Jews have suffered
through it, so has England, so have you. Here is a Heaven-sent
opportunity to retrieve your mistake!”

The Premier winced, scarcely relishing such frank condemnation. If he
were obliged to drink the cup of defeat he shrank from having it offered
in that way. But Patricia had conquered; and the long arguments in which
she had so patiently engaged with him all through his child’s
convalescence were about to bear fruit. She had known all along that her
insistent pleading was making some little impression on his stubborn
heart; but she had never dared to think that he would so easily
surrender. Her questions fell thick and fast as she considered the
details of the proposed repeal, and she volunteered more than one
pertinent remark. The Premier sighed as he noticed her flushed cheeks
and sparkling eyes; for what was to her a cause of profound joyfulness,
meant to him a great renunciation. Perhaps the girl never knew what the
abandonment of his principles really cost him; it was like an upheaval
of his whole political life.

It was nearly twelve o’clock before they parted for the night, and even
then Patricia seemed inclined to linger. Hope had sprung up anew within
her breast, and the thought of her husband’s probable return invested
her with fresh life and energy. She listened to Mamie’s cheerful
prognostication of the future with a happy smile, never thinking that
her elation perhaps jarred upon her host. But when the clock struck the
hour she approached him to say good-night, and the gladness on her face
grew more subdued.

“Good-night, Mr. Moore,” she said, holding out her hand. “I am sorry if
I hurt you by what I said before, and if—if you will have me as a
friend—?”

He bent over the hand and raised it to his lips.

“Certainly we are friends, Patricia,” he answered quietly, with an
involuntary sigh. “Moore—the anti-Semite—is dead.”

“And Mr. Moore the Christian statesman lives!” She glanced into his face
with shining eyes. “Oh, I am so glad—so glad! I feel as if I could sing
a _Te Deum_ of praise!”



                            THE LAST CHAPTER
                           THE SKIRT OF A JEW


So the English nation decided that it was more to their advantage to
“take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew” than to avoid him
altogether; and the Expulsion Act was eventually repealed. But
Parliament was too wary to fall into the old error of allowing
unrestricted immigration, and determined to keep the pauper alien away
from English shores. Fortunately this class was rapidly becoming
extinct, for in the Holy Land there was work and a welcome for all, and
the term “pauper alien” would soon be as worn out as the dodo. Moreover,
the establishment of the Jews in Palestine meant an end to the
atrocities to which they had been subjected from time to time in Eastern
Europe: for in their own land they were at least free. And even though
the English population flowed steadily back to the dearly-loved native
country, there were still enough Jews in Palestine to promote the
general welfare of the Jewish State. Indeed, the return of the Jews to
England proved a beneficial check to the threatened overcrowding of the
towns.

Haifa—as Patricia had predicted—soon lost its English citizens, and
Lionel Montella found it easy to resign his post. His mother, preferring
to remain in the Holy Land, went to live with Dr. and Mrs. Engelmacher
in Jerusalem, but intended to visit England once a year. The others made
preparations to leave in the ensuing April; perhaps they were less
susceptible to the claims of ancestry.

Patricia’s joy knew no bounds, and she was so busy preparing for their
return that the intermediate months seemed to have taken wings. With
generous magnanimity her husband renounced the ownership of Burstall
Abbey in favour of his step-brother; and she had been commissioned to
see that the place was prepared for the reception of Sir Ferdinand and
his bride. Lionel himself intended to stay at Ivydene, prior to
purchasing a new and suitable town-house near Piccadilly, for Patricia
had refused her father’s offer of his mansion for the whole of the
forthcoming season. So she occupied herself in beautifying the villa so
far as its dimensions would allow, and spared no pains to make it as
attractive as possible. She called Mrs. Lowther into the nursery one day
to see the alterations she had made, and leaning against the dappled
back of the rocking-horse, gave vent to the rapture which burned within
her breast.

“To think that in a week’s time my little Julian will be here!” she
exclaimed, with joy. “And I thought when I left him that I should not
see him for years!”

And then she proceeded to relate a pretty little anecdote of his
infancy; for nothing gave her greater pleasure than to talk about her
boy.

She looked so fair and radiant that Mrs. Lowther could not help
congratulating her on her improved appearance. She went singing about
the house as blithely as a lark, and the careworn expression on her face
had entirely disappeared. The greater part of her time was spent in the
company of the Princess, who, with her husband, had just arrived on a
visit to Ravenscroft Hall. Her Highness was delighted at the turn
affairs had taken, and expressed keen satisfaction that her prophecy had
been fulfilled.

“I told you I guessed the separation would not be for long, didn’t I?”
she said, when they first met; “but tell me, Pat, how are you going to
arrange matters about Lionel’s Judaism now?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care,” the girl rejoined, a ring of defiance
in her voice; “there will be time enough to worry about that later on.
Besides, Lady Montella means to stay in Jerusalem, so I shall feel
comparatively free.”

“You always speak of your respected mother-in-law as if she were a kind
of policeman,” said Lady Chesterwood, smiling. “Was her interference
really so terrible as all that?”

Patricia nodded.

“Yes. You see Lady Montella is very nice, and one of the kindest and
most religious women in the world, but her rigid Judaism is very
difficult to get on with. To be honest, I am glad that she is making her
home in Jerusalem; it is the best place for her under the
circumstances.”

“I wish I could send my mother-in-law to Jerusalem!” remarked the
Princess feelingly. “She is always doing her utmost to upset my poor
Karl. We have decided to stay away from Felsen-Schvoenig as long as we
possibly can; but if we could ship her off to the Holy Land we might be
able to go back.”

Whereupon they agreed that there ought to be a special place for
unwanted mothers-in-law; and talked a great deal of nonsense to that
effect.

And so the time went on, until the long-looked-for day of the Montellas’
return dawned at last. Patricia was up with the birds, thankful for the
spring sunshine which streamed through the windows, and seemed to typify
to her the brightness of her coming future. Directly after breakfast her
friends from Ravenscroft Hall brought her some of the choicest flowers
out of the Premier’s conservatories, and gaily helped her to fill the
rooms. But they considerately refused the invitation to accompany her to
the station, thinking she would prefer to meet her people alone. They
remained until the hour of departure, and then drove back to the Hall,
the Countess making Patricia promise to bring her husband to see the
Premier at the first opportunity.

In spite of her careful calculations, the expectant wife arrived at the
station only just in time. The continental train came steaming into the
terminus just as her brougham drew up alongside the platform, and the
usual bustle and shouting of porters immediately ensued. Patricia looked
about her in bewilderment, but in another moment she was surrounded by
the party she sought. Sir Ferdinand and his happy young bride; Mrs.
Emanuel—elated at the thought of returning to her beloved Canonbury—with
her little brood; baby Julian fast asleep in the arms of the faithful
Anne; and last but not least, Lionel Montella, looking pale and somewhat
thin, but happy withal. Patricia received her husband’s embrace in
silence, unable to say a word; but he knew that her heart was full with
a joy too deep for utterance, and her hand-clasp meant more to him than
the choicest of flowery speeches.

It was not until they had parted from the others, and were driving back
to Richmond, that she remembered a non-arrival amongst the party.

“I thought Zillah Lorm intended to come, too,” she said half
wonderingly. “Did she leave you on the way?”

Montella exchanged a glance with Anne.

“Yes, darling, she left us on the way,” he returned, with a sigh. “Poor
Zillah! It is very sad.”

Something in his tone arrested the girl’s attention.

“What do you mean, dear?” she asked, with hesitation. “Is anything
wrong?”

“The poor unfortunate woman threw herself overboard soon after we left
Port Said, my lady,” said Anne, as her master did not reply. “She was
drowned almost before anyone knew, and the Lascars tried in vain to
recover her body. Oh, dear, what excitement there was on the boat! We
were all that upset we could talk of nothing else for days, she being
such a comely young person and all!”

“So I should think. But how dreadful! Poor girl!” Her eyes filled. “What
made her put such a terrible end to her life? Was she unhappy?”

“I am afraid so, dear,” replied Montella quietly. “She seemed to have no
aim in life, and to find everything as Dead Sea fruit. She was always
pessimistic and despondent. I believe she wanted to return to England
some months ago, and only remained for my mother’s sake; yet when we
eventually started, she expressed no pleasure at the thought of going
home. On board the vessel she became engaged to an English officer, but
quarrelled with him the night before her death. Whether that had
anything to do with her suicide, however, we shall never know. It is
unspeakably sad.”

It was indeed sad, and Patricia could not help thinking about it for
days. It seemed such a potent example of the consequence of a life
unsustained by faith. She knew that poor Zillah Lorm had believed
neither in God nor her fellow-creatures, and that to her the world had
been naught but a great charnelhouse of crushed and moribund desires.
But she was unable to imagine the agony of mind which had caused the
unhappy girl to throw herself into the sea. The tragedy scarce bore
contemplation; its secret reason would remain a mystery to the end.

Not wishing to mar her husband’s home-coming by the expression of gloomy
sentiments, she avoided the subject after she had learnt the news.
Arrived at Ivydene, little Julian awoke from his sleep just in time for
tea, and delighted the mother’s heart by his display of recognition and
affection. Full of happiness, she assisted Anne to put him to bed,
lingering by his little cot until he visited slumberland once more. Then
she descended to spend a quiet evening with her husband _tête-à-tête_;
for Mrs. Lowther considerately went to dine out with a friend.

It was not cold, but they had a fire lit for comfort’s sake, and watched
the cheerfully blazing embers as they talked. They had so much to say
that they scarcely knew where to begin, and enjoyed each other’s
presence in silence for a little while. Patricia felt like a child who,
after long waiting, had found its lost protector, and sat with her head
nestled contentedly against Lionel’s shoulder. Presently, however, her
curiosity got the better of her; there were so many things she wanted to
know.

He answered her questions concerning his doings in Palestine with gentle
patience. Their enemy, Ben Yetzel, had conquered, in so far as rigid
orthodoxy throughout the Holy Land was to prevail, and he had had more
than one skirmish with the Rabbi since she had taken her departure. Dr.
Engelmacher, good-humoured and pliant as usual, had accepted the dictum
with cheerful resignation, deeming it wiser to sacrifice his own view of
the matter for the sake of peace. Most of the English people who availed
themselves of the repealing of the Act retained a financial interest in
Palestine, which would result in a constant communication between the
two countries. The outlook on Jewish affairs, therefore, was of the
brightest, and more promising than it had been since the time of the
First Dispersion.

“And Lady Montella?” asked Patricia, when he had finished. “Did she
approve of your returning to England and me, or would she have been
better pleased if you had remained out there in spite of the cancelling
of the Edict?”

“I am not sure, dear,” was her husband’s reply. “My mother is so fond of
the Holy Land that she would have been delighted had I chosen to stay;
but I should have been more than human had I remained under those
circumstances. When the path which led to you became easy, how could I
refrain from taking it? Only an exaggerated sense of duty would have
made me act otherwise. Besides I wanted you so much, my darling. Those
eight months of our separation were the hardest of my life.”

“And of mine,” she added softly, with a fervent pressure of his hand.
“But, Lionel, I am surprised that your mother allowed you to bring baby
Julian back to me. She seemed to think that I had no further right to
him since I could not teach him orthodox Judaism.”

“I took the law into my hands in this instance, dear,” he answered,
dispelling the pucker on her brow with a kiss. “I told her that Julian
was your child as well as mine, and that I was determined you should
educate him in accordance with your conscience until he grew old enough
to choose for himself. Besides, there’s Ferdinand now to keep up the old
traditions of the House; and as he has married a Jewess, we can
reasonably hope for a Jewish heir.”

“And you will not expect me to feign Judaism any more?” she asked
wistfully.

“Certainly not. We shall settle the question by introducing a Jewish
housekeeper to do all that is necessary. I have thoroughly made up my
mind that the difference-in-creed bogey shall never come between us
again. I am a Jew, and you are a Christian, and so long as we do our
duty according to our respective convictions, no one has a right to
expect any more. Thank God, there is now neither a fanatical Chief Rabbi
nor a foolish Assimilation Act to interfere. We are free at last, and in
such freedom there is happiness for us both. Set your mind at rest, my
dear one; the troubles of the past can never return.”

And Patricia gave a sigh of relief as she gazed into the heart of the
fire. How broad-minded he was, and noble, and true!

“Dear boy!” she exclaimed softly. “I am the happiest creature in the
world!”

The heaviness which endured for a night had been replaced by the joy of
the morning. She felt that the suffering of the past months was as
nothing compared with the happiness which had dawned at last.

                  *       *       *       *       *

They went to Ravenscroft Hall before the end of the week to pay their
respects to the Premier and his wife. It was quite a summer’s day—one
which had wedged itself into April by a meteorological mistake—and they
found their friends enjoying tea on the lawn. Lady Chesterwood presided,
assisted by her sister, whilst Prince Karl pretended to be a waiter, to
the intense delight of Phyllis and Leslie. The new-comers were provided
with tea, and urged by the children to tip the waiter for his attention;
after which they suddenly discovered Raie behind a neighbouring tree.

“I wanted to give you a surprise,” she said laughingly, as she came
forward and joined the group. “Ferdinand is indoors talking to Mr.
Moore. We came over to Richmond this morning.”

“But you did not find time to visit us?” said Patricia, aggrieved.

“Oh, we went with mamma and Harriet to the Isaacson’s to lunch,” was her
apologetic reply. “Mamma insists on taking us to see all her friends; it
is such a novelty for her to possess a married daughter.”

She did not add that Mrs. Emanuel was so proud of “my daughter Lady
Ferdinand” that she was anxious to exhibit her to all and sundry. She
was so happy that what might have jarred upon her in other circumstances
simply caused her amusement now.

“What do you intend to do with the she-dragon, Pat?” asked Mamie, when
the conversation turned on domestic affairs. “I suppose her services as
lady-companion will no longer be required.”

Patricia smiled. “I have two dear companions of my own now,” she
answered happily. “I shall have to find Mrs. Lowther another berth.”

“Send her to Jerusalem,” suggested the Princess naïvely; and Raie,
unable to see the point of the remark, wondered why they laughed.

Lionel left them to finish their tea without him, and strolled through
the grounds towards the house. The French windows at the north side
stood invitingly open, and ascending the short flight of steps, he
entered the room. It happened to be the Premier’s library, and the
shelves which lined the four walls were filled with books. In one corner
stood a large writing-table, littered with documents of various
descriptions; and above it hung a beautifully painted panel mounted in
oak, and inscribed with a lengthy quotation from Shakespeare. Not caring
to linger near the open bureau, Montella would have passed on; but the
old English letters with their illuminated points attracted his
attention, and half wondering what would be the substance of the
Premier’s motto, he paused a moment to read:

  “SALARINO—Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh;
  what’s that good for?

  “SHYLOCK—To bait fish withal; if it will feed nothing else, it will
  feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million;
  laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted
  my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what’s his
  reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
  dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt
  with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the
  same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a
  Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do
  we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us,
  shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble
  you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
  revenge; if a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
  Christian example? why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will
  execute; and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.”

So this was the lesson which Athelstan Moore had set himself to learn!
Lionel could scarcely repress an exclamation of surprise as his eye ran
over the inscription. As in a flash, the revelation of what Moore’s
inward struggle must have meant burst in upon him; and he recognised the
courage the great man had shown even in his defeat. Full of thought, the
young champion of the Jews turned thoughtfully away, to be met by the
Premier himself before he reached the door.

There was a moment of embarrassing silence as the two men confronted one
another. The thoughts of both went back to the time of their antagonism,
when hot and bitter words had been spoken on either side. But the Prime
Minister was not long before he recovered himself, and with a softened
light in his usually brilliant eyes, he held out his hand.

“Welcome back to England, Montella,” he said, in a quiet but hearty
voice. “We parted as enemies, but I trust we meet as friends?”

Lionel gripped his hand like a true Briton.

“I trust so,” he returned, noticing almost with a pang of compunction
how grey and old he looked. “It was never my wish to quarrel with you,
Mr. Moore, but I could not help being a Jew.”

“Of course you couldn’t.” He glanced towards the panel with a sigh. “And
I know you are proud of it, too. We’ve been taught a hard lesson during
your absence, Montella. Anti-Semitism doesn’t answer in England, and it
never will; for it’s a savage and retrograde movement, incompatible both
with our Christianity and our advanced state of civilisation. Strange
that we had to have an Expulsion in order to find that out! The simplest
truths are the most difficult to learn, it seems to me.”

“They are, sometimes,” acquiesced the young man, with respect; “but we
had better forget the past, Mr. Moore. The Jew—in spite of popular
tradition—does not bear malice, and now that our beloved England has
returned our freedom to us, I am sure we shall be greater friends than
ever before.”

“God grant we may!” was the Premier’s fervent reply.

He was no longer an enemy of the Jews. He had become their staunch ally.


                                THE END


               _Printed by Cowan & Co., Limited, Perth._

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES


 1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in
      spelling.
 2. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
 3. Re-indexed footnotes using numbers.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
 5. Enclosed bold font in =equals=.



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