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The Cloister and the Hearth
by Charles Reade
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And sure enough ere long Pietro Vanucci and Andrea passed by them, and cast a careless glance on the two friars. They did not recognize their dead friend in a shaven monk.

Clement gave a very little start, and then lowered his eyes and said a paternoster.

"Would ye not speak with them, brother?" said Jerome, trying him.

"No brother: yet was it good for me to see them. They remind me of the sins I can never repent enough."

"It is well," said Jerome, and he made a cold report in Clement's favour.

Then Jerome took Clement to many death-beds. And then into noisome dungeons; places where the darkness was appalling, and the stench loathsome, pestilential; and men looking like wild beasts lay coiled in rags and filth and despair. It tried his body hard; but the soul collected all its powers to comfort such poor wretches there as were not past comfort. And Clement shone in that trial. Jerome reported that Clement's spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak.

"Good!" said Anselm; "his flesh is weak, but his spirit is willing."

But there was a greater trial in store.

I will describe it as it was seen by others.

One morning a principal street in Rome was crowded, and even the avenues blocked up with heads. It was an execution. No common crime had been done, and on no vulgar victim.

The governor of Rome had been found in his bed at daybreak, slaughtered. His hand, raised probably in self-defence, lay by his side severed at the wrist; his throat was cut, and his temples bruised with some blunt instrument. The murder had been traced to his servant, and was to be expiated in kind this very morning.

Italian executions were not cruel in general. But this murder was thought to call for exact and bloody retribution.

The criminal was brought to the house of the murdered man and fastened for half an hour to its wall. After this foretaste of legal vengeance his left hand was struck off, like his victim's. A new-killed fowl was cut open and fastened round the bleeding stump; with what view I really don't know; but by the look of it, some mare's nest of the poor dear doctors; and the murderer, thus mutilated and bandaged, was hurried to the scaffold; and there a young friar was most earnest and affectionate in praying with him, and for him, and holding the crucifix close to his eyes.

Presently the executioner pulled the friar roughly on one side, and in a moment felled the culprit with a heavy mallet, and falling on him, cut his throat from ear to ear.

There was a cry of horror from the crowd.

The young friar swooned away.

A gigantic monk strode forward, and carried him off like a child.

Brother Clement went back to the convent sadly discouraged. He confessed to the prior, with tears of regret.

"Courage, son Clement," said the prior. "A Dominican is not made in a day. Thou shalt have another trial. And I forbid thee to go to it fasting." Clement bowed his head in token of obedience. He had not long to wait. A robber was brought to the scaffold; a monster of villainy and cruelty, who had killed men in pure wantonness, after robbing them. Clement passed his last night in prison with him, accompanied him to the scaffold, and then prayed with him and for him so earnestly that the hardened ruffian shed tears and embraced him Clement embraced him too, though his flesh quivered with repugnance; and held the crucifix earnestly before his eyes. The man was garotted, and Clement lost sight of the crowd, and prayed loud and earnestly while that dark spirit was passing from earth. He was no sooner dead than the hangman raised his hatchet and quartered the body on the spot. And, oh, mysterious heart of man! the people who had seen the living body robbed of life with indifference, almost with satisfaction, uttered a piteous cry at each stroke of the axe upon his corpse that could feel nought. Clement too shuddered then, but stood firm, like one of those rocks that vibrate but cannot be thrown down. But suddenly Jerome's voice sounded in his ear.

"Brother Clement, get thee on that cart and preach to the people. Nay, quickly! strike with all thy force on all this iron, while yet 'tis hot, and souls are to be saved."

Clement's colour came and went; and he breathed hard. But he obeyed, and with ill-assured step mounted the cart, and preached his first sermon to the first crowd he had ever faced. Oh, that sea of heads! His throat seemed parched, his heart thumped, his voice trembled.

By-and-by the greatness of the occasion, the sight of the eager upturned faces, and his own heart full of zeal, fired the pale monk. He told them this robber's history, warm from his own lips in the prison, and showed his hearers by that example the gradations of folly and crime, and warned them solemnly not to put foot on the first round of that fatal ladder. And as alternately he thundered against the shedders of blood, and moved the crowd to charity and pity, his tremors left him, and he felt all strung up like a lute, and gifted with an unsuspected force; he was master of that listening crowd, could feel their very pulse, could play sacred melodies on them as on his psaltery. Sobs and groans attested his power over the mob already excited by the tragedy before them. Jerome stared like one who goes to light a stick; and fires a rocket. After a while Clement caught his look of astonishment, and seeing no approbation in it, broke suddenly off, and joined him.

"It was my first endeavour," said he apologetically. "Your behest came on me like a thunderbolt. Was I?—Did I?—Oh, correct me, and aid me with your experience, Brother Jerome."

"Humph!" said Jerome doubtfully. He added, rather sullenly after long reflection, "Give the glory to God, Brother Clement; my opinion is thou art an orator born."

He reported the same at headquarters, half reluctantly. For he was an honest friar though a disagreeable one.

One Julio Antonelli was accused of sacrilege; three witnesses swore they saw him come out of the church whence the candle-sticks were stolen, and at the very time. Other witnesses proved an alibi for him as positively. Neither testimony could be shaken. In this doubt Antonelli was permitted the trial by water, hot or cold. By the hot trial he must put his bare arm into boiling water, fourteen inches deep, and take out a pebble; by the cold trial his body must be let down into eight feet of water. The clergy, who thought him innocent, recommended the hot water trial, which, to those whom they favoured, was not so terrible as it sounded. But the poor wretch had not the nerve, and chose the cold ordeal. And this gave Jerome another opportunity of steeling Clement. Antonelli took the sacrament, and then was stripped naked on the banks of the Tiber, and tied hand and foot, to prevent those struggles by which a man, throwing his arms out of the water, sinks his body.

He was then let down gently into the stream, and floated a moment, with just his hair above water. A simultaneous roar from the crowd on each bank proclaimed him guilty. But the next moment the ropes, which happened to be new, got wet, and he settled down. Another roar proclaimed his innocence. They left him at the bottom of the river the appointed time, rather more than half a minute, then drew him up, gurgling and gasping, and screaming for mercy; and after the appointed prayers, dismissed him, cleared of the charge.

During the experiment Clement prayed earnestly on the bank.

When it was over he thanked God in a loud but slightly quavering voice.

By-and-by he asked Jerome whether the man ought not to be compensated.

"For what?"

"For the pain, the dread, the suffocation. Poor soul, he liveth, but hath tasted all the bitterness of death. Yet he had done no ill."

"He is rewarded enough in that he is cleared of his fault."

"But being innocent of that fault, yet hath he drunk Death's cup, though not to the dregs; and his accusers, less innocent than he, do suffer nought."

Jerome replied somewhat sternly—

"It is not in this world men are really punished, Brother Clement. Unhappy they who sin yet suffer not. And happy they who suffer such ills as earth hath power to inflict; 'tis counted to them above, ay, and a hundred-fold."

Clement bowed his head submissively.

"May thy good words not fall to the ground, but take root in my heart, Brother Jerome."

But the severest trial Clement underwent at Jerome's hands was unpremeditated. It came about thus. Jerome, in an indulgent moment, went with him to Fra Colonna, and there "The Dream of Polifilo" lay on the table just copied fairly. The poor author, in the pride of his heart, pointed out a master-stroke in it.

"For ages," said he, "fools have been lavishing poetic praise and amorous compliment on mortal women, mere creatures of earth, smacking palpably of their origin; Sirens at the windows, where our Roman women in particular have by lifelong study learned the wily art to show their one good feature, though but an ear or an eyelash, at a jalosy, and hide all the rest; Magpies at the door, Capre n' i giardini, Angeli in Strada, Sante in chiesa, Diavoli in casa. Then come I and ransack the minstrels' lines for amorous turns, not forgetting those which Petrarch wasted on that French jilt Laura, the sliest of them all; and I lay you the whole bundle of spice at the feet of the only females worthy amorous incense; to wit, the Nine Muses."

"By which goodly stratagem," said Jerome, who had been turning the pages all this time, "you, a friar of St. Dominic, have produced an obscene book." And he dashed Polifilo on the table.

"Obscene? thou discourteous monk!" And the author ran round the table, snatched Polifilo away, locked him up, and trembling with mortification, said, "My Gerard, pshaw! Brother What's-his-name had not found Polifilo obscene. Puris omnia pura."

"Such as read your Polifilo—Heaven grant they may be few—will find him what I find him."

Poor Colonna gulped down this bitter pill as he might; and had he not been in his own lodgings, and a high-born gentleman as well as a scholar, there might have been a vulgar quarrel.

As it was, he made a great effort, and turned the conversation to a beautiful chrysolite the Cardinal Colonna had lent him; and while Clement handled it, enlarged on its moral virtues: for he went the whole length of his age as a worshipper of jewels.

But Jerome did not, and expostulated with him for believing that one dead stone could confer valour on its wearer, another chastity, another safety from poison, another temperance.

"The experience of ages proves they do," said Colonna. "As to the last virtue you have named, there sits a living proof. This Gerard—I beg pardon, Brother Thingemy—comes from the north, where men drink like fishes; yet was he ever most abstemious. And why? Carried an amethyst, the clearest and fullest coloured e'er I saw on any but noble finger. Where, in Heaven's name, is thine amethyst? Show it this unbeliever!"

"And 'twas that amethyst made the boy temperate?" asked Jerome ironically.

"Certainly. Why, what is the derivation and meaning of amethyst? {a} negative, and {methua} to tipple. Go to, names are but the signs of things. A stone is not called {amethustos} for two thousand years out of mere sport, and abuse of language."

He then went through the prime jewels, illustrating their moral properties, especially of the ruby, the sapphire, the emerald, and the opal, by anecdotes out of grave historians.

"These be old wives' fables," said Jerome contemptuously. "Was ever such credulity as thine?"

Now credulity is a reproach sceptics have often the ill-luck to incur; but it mortifies them none the less for that.

The believer in stones writhed under it, and dropped the subject. Then Jerome, mistaking his silence, exhorted him to go a step farther, and give up from this day his vain pagan lore, and study the lives of the saints. "Blot out these heathen superstitions from thy mind, brother, as Christianity hath blotted them from the earth."

And in this strain he proceeded, repeating, incautiously, some current but loose theological statements. Then the smarting Polifilo revenged himself. He flew out, and hurled a mountain of crude, miscellaneous lore upon Jerome, of which, partly for want of time, partly for lack of learning, I can reproduce but a few fragments.

"The heathen blotted out? Why, they hold four-fifths of the world. And what have we Christians invented without their aid? painting? sculpture? these are heathen arts, and we but pigmies at them. What modern mind can conceive and grave so god-like forms as did the chief Athenian sculptors, and the Libyan Licas, and Dinocrates of Macedon, and Scopas, Timotheus, Leochares, and Briaxis; Chares, Lysippus, and the immortal three of Rhodes, that wrought Laocoon from a single block? What prince hath the genius to turn mountains into statues, as was done at Bagistan, and projected at Athos? What town the soul to plant a colossus of brass in the sea, for the tallest ships to sail in and out between his legs? Is it architecture we have invented? Why, here too we are but children. Can we match for pure design the Parthenon, with its clusters of double and single Doric columns? (I do adore the Doric when the scale is large), and for grandeur and finish, the theatres of Greece and Rome, or the prodigious temples of Egypt, up to whose portals men walked awe-struck through avenues a mile long of sphinxes, each as big as a Venetian palace. And all these prodigies of porphyry cut and polished like crystal, not rough hewn as in our puny structures. Even now their polished columns and pilasters lie o'erthrown and broken, o'ergrown with acanthus and myrtle, but sparkling still, and flouting the slovenly art of modern workmen. Is it sewers, aqueducts, viaducts?

"Why, we have lost the art of making a road—lost it with the world's greatest models under our very eye. Is it sepulchres of the dead? Why, no Christian nation has ever erected a tomb, the sight of which does not set a scholar laughing. Do but think of the Mausoleum, and the Pyramids, and the monstrous sepulchres of the Indus and Ganges, which outside are mountains, and within are mines of precious stones. Ah, you have not seen the East, Jerome, or you could not decry the heathen."

Jerome observed that these were mere material things. True greatness was in the soul.

"Well then," replied Colonna, "in the world of mind, what have we discovered? Is it geometry? Is it logic? Nay, we are all pupils of Euclid and Aristotle. Is it written characters, an invention almost divine? We no more invented it than Cadmus did. Is it poetry? Homer hath never been approached by us, nor hath Virgil, nor Horace. Is it tragedy or comedy? Why, poets, actors, theatres, all fell to dust at our touch. Have we succeeded in reviving them? Would you compare our little miserable mysteries and moralities, all frigid personification, and dog Latin, with the glories of a Greek play (on the decoration of which a hundred thousand crowns had been spent) performed inside a marble miracle, the audience a seated city, and the poet a Sophocles?

"What then have we invented? Is it monotheism? Why, the learned and philosophical among the Greeks and Romans held it; even their more enlightened poets were monotheists in their sleeves.

{Zeus estin ouranos, Zeus te gy Zeus toi panta} saith the Greek, and Lucan echoes him: 'Jupiter est quod cunque vides quo cunque moveris.'

"Their vulgar were polytheists; and what are ours? We have not invented 'invocation of the saints.' Our sancti answers to their Daemones and Divi, and the heathen used to pray their Divi or deified mortal to intercede with the higher divinity; but the ruder minds among them, incapable of nice distinctions, worshipped those lesser gods they should have but invoked. And so do the mob of Christians in our day, following the heathen vulgar or by unbroken tradition. For in holy writ is no polytheism of any sort or kind.

"We have not invented so much as a form or variety of polytheism. The pagan vulgar worshipped all sorts of deified mortals, and each had his favourite, to whom he prayed ten times for once to the Omnipotent. Our vulgar worship canonized mortals, and each has his favourite, to whom he prays ten times for once to God. Call you that invention? Invention is confined to the East. Among the ancient vulgar only the mariners were monotheists; they worshipped Venus; called her 'Stella maris,' and 'Regina caelorum.' Among our vulgar only the mariners are monotheists; they worship the Virgin Mary, and call her the 'Star of the Sea,' and the 'Queen of Heaven.' Call you theirs a new religion? An old doubtlet with a new button. Our vulgar make images, and adore them, which is absurd; for adoration is the homage due from a creature to its creator; now here man is the creator; so the statues ought to worship him, and would, if they had brains enough to justify a rat in worshipping them. But even this abuse, though childish enough to be modern, is ancient. The pagan vulgar in these parts made their images, then knelt before them, adorned them with flowers, offered incense to them, lighted tapers before them, carried them in procession, and made pilgrimages to them just to the smallest tittle as we their imitators do."

Jerome here broke in impatiently, and reminded him that the images the most revered in Christendom were made by no mortal hand, but had dropped from heaven.

"Ay," cried Colonna, "such are the tutelary images of most great Italian towns. I have examined nineteen of them, and made drafts of them. If they came from the sky, our worst sculptors are our angels. But my mind is easy on that score. Ungainly statue or villainous daub fell never yet from heaven to smuggle the bread out of capable workmen's mouths. All this is Pagan, and arose thus. The Trojans had Oriental imaginations, and feigned that their Palladium, a wooden statue three cubits long, fell down from heaven. The Greeks took this fib home among the spoils of Troy, and soon it rained statues on all the Grecian cities, and their Latin apes. And one of these Palladia gave St. Paul trouble at Ephesus; 'twas a statue of Diana that fell down from Jupiter: credat qui credere possit."

"What, would you cast your profane doubts on that picture of our blessed Lady, which scarce a century agone hung lustrous in the air over this very city, and was taken down by the Pope and bestowed in St. Peter's Church?"

"I have no profane doubts on the matter, Jerome. This is the story of Numa's shield, revived by theologians with an itch for fiction, but no talent that way; not being orientals. The 'ancile' or sacred shield of Numa hung lustrous in the air over this very city, till that pious prince took it down and hung it in the temple of Jupiter. Be just, swallow both stories or neither. The 'Bocca della Verita' passes for a statue of the Virgin, and convicted a woman of perjury the other day; it is in reality an image of the goddess Rhea, and the modern figment is one of its ancient traditions; swallow both or neither.

'Qui Bavium non odit amet tua carmina, Mavi.'

"But indeed we owe all our Palladiuncula, and all our speaking, nodding, winking, sweating, bleeding statues, to these poor abused heathens; the Athenian statues all sweated before the battle of Chaeronea, so did the Roman statues during Tully's consulship, viz., the statue of Victory at Capua, of Mars at Rome, and of Apollo outside the gates. The Palladium itself was brought to Italy by Aeneas, and after keeping quiet three centuries, made an observation in Vesta's Temple: a trivial one, I fear, since it hath not survived; Juno's statue at Veii assented with a nod to go to Rome. Antony's statue on Mount Alban bled from every vein in its marble before the fight of Actium. Others cured diseases: as that of Pelichus, derided by Lucian; for the wiser among the heathen believed in sweating marble, weeping wood, and bleeding brass—as I do. Of all our marks and dents made in stone by soft substances, this saint's knee, and that saint's finger, and t'other's head, the original is heathen. Thus the footprints of Hercules were shown on a rock in Scythia. Castor and Pollux fighting on white horses for Rome against the Latians, left the prints of their hoofs on a rock at Regillum. A temple was built to them on the spot, and the marks were to be seen in Tully's day. You may see, near Venice, a great stone cut nearly in half by St. George's sword. This he ne'er had done but for the old Roman who cut the whetstone in two with his razor.

'Qui Bavium non odit amet tua carmina, Mavi.'

"Kissing of images, and the Pope's toe, is Eastern Paganism. The Egyptians had it of the Assyrians, the Greeks of the Egyptians, the Romans of the Greeks, and we of the Romans, whose Pontifex Maximus had his toe kissed under the Empire. The Druids kissed the High Priest's toe a thousand years B.C. The Mussulmans, who, like you, profess to abhor Heathenism, kiss the stone of the Caaba: a Pagan practice.

"The Priests of Baal kissed their idols so.

"Tully tells us of a fair image of Hercules at Agrigentum, whose chin was worn by kissing. The lower parts of the statue we call Peter are Jupiter. The toe is sore worn, but not all by Christian mouths. The heathen vulgar laid their lips there first, for many a year, and ours have but followed them, as monkeys their masters. And that is why, down with the poor heathen!

Pereant qui ante nos nostra fecerint.

"Our infant baptism is Persian, with the font and the signing of the child's brow. Our throwing three handfuls of earth on the coffin, and saying dust to dust, is Egyptian.

"Our incense is Oriental, Roman, Pagan; and the early Fathers of the Church regarded it with superstitious horror, and died for refusing to handle it. Our Holy water is Pagan, and all its uses. See, here is a Pagan aspersorium. Could you tell it from one of ours? It stood in the same part of their temples, and was used in ordinary worship as ours, and in extraordinary purifications. They called it Aqua lustralis. Their vulgar, like ours, thought drops of it falling on the body would wash out sin; and their men of sense, like ours, smiled or sighed at such credulity. What saith Ovid of this folly, which hath outlived him?

'Ah nimium faciles, qui tristia crimina coedis Fluminea tolli posse putetis aqua.'

Thou seest the heathen were not all fools. No more are we. Not all."

Fra Colonna uttered all this with such volubility, that his hearers could not edge in a word of remonstrance; and not being interrupted in praising his favourites, he recovered his good humour, without any diminution of his volubility.

"We celebrate the miraculous Conception of the Virgin on the 2nd of February. The old Romans celebrated the Miraculous Conception of Juno on the 2nd of February. Our feast of All Saints is on the 2nd November. The Festum Dei Mortis was on the 2nd November. Our Candlemas is also an old Roman feast; neither the date nor the ceremony altered one tittle. The patrician ladies carried candles about the city that night as our signoras do now. At the gate of San Croce our courtesans keep a feast on the 20th August. Ask them why! The little noodles cannot tell you. On that very spot stood the Temple of Venus. Her building is gone; but her rite remains. Did we discover Purgatory? On the contrary, all we really know about it is from two treatises of Plato, the Gorgias and the Phaedo, and the sixth book of Virgil's Aeneid.

"I take it from a holier source: St. Gregory," said Jerome sternly.

"Like enough," replied Colonna drily. "But St. Gregory was not so nice; he took it from Virgil. Some souls, saith Gregory, are purged by fire, others by water, others by air.

"Says Virgil—

'Aliae panduntur inanes, Suspensae ad ventous, aliis sub gurgite vasto Infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuritur igni.'

But peradventure, you think Pope Gregory I lived before Virgil, and Virgil versified him.

"But the doctrine is Eastern, and as much older than Plato as Plato than Gregory. Our prayers for the dead came from Asia with Aeneas. Ovid tells, that when he prayed for the soul of Anchises, the custom was strange in Italy.

'Hunc morem Aeneas, pietatis idoneus auctor Attulit in terras, juste Latine, tuas.'

The 'Biblicae' Sortes,' which I have seen consulted on the altar, are a parody on the 'Sortes Virgilianae.' Our numerous altars in one church are heathen: the Jews, who are monotheists, have but one altar in a church. But the Pagans had many, being polytheists. In the temple of Pathian Venus were a hundred of them. 'Centum que Sabaeo thure calent arae.' Our altar's and our hundred lights around St. Peter's tomb are Pagan. 'Centum aras posuit vigilemque sacraverat ignem.' We invent nothing, not even numerically. Our very Devil is the god Pan, horns and hoofs and all; but blackened. For we cannot draw; we can but daub the figures of Antiquity with a little sorry paint or soot. Our Moses hath stolen the horns of Ammon; our Wolfgang the hook of Saturn; and Janus bore the keys of heaven before St. Peter. All our really old Italian bronzes of the Virgin and Child are Venuses and Cupids. So is the wooden statue, that stands hard by this house, of Pope Joan and the child she is said to have brought forth there in the middle of a procession. Idiots! are new-born children thirteen years old? And that boy is not a day younger. Cupid! Cupid! Cupid! And since you accuse me of credulity, know that to my mind that Papess is full as mythological, born of froth, and every way unreal, as the goddess who passes for her in the next street, or as the saints you call St. Baccho and St. Quirina: or St. Oracte, which is a dunce-like corruption of Mount Soracte, or St. Amphibolus, an English saint, which is a dunce-like corruption of the cloak worn by their St. Alban, Or as the Spanish saint, St. Viar: which words on his tombstone, written thus, 'S. Viar,' prove him no saint, but a good old nameless heathen, and 'praefectus Viarum,' or overseer of roads (would he were back to earth, and paganizing of our Christian roads!), or as our St. Veronica of Benasco, which Veronica is a dunce-like corruption of the 'Vera icon,' which this saint brought into the church. I wish it may not be as unreal as the donor, Or as the eleven thousand virgins of Cologne, who were but a couple."

Clement interrupted him to inquire what he meant. "I have spoken with those have seen their bones."

"What, of eleven thousand virgins all collected in one place and at one time? Do but bethink thee, Clement. Not one of the great Eastern cities of antiquity could collect eleven thousand Pagan virgins at one time, far less a puny Western city. Eleven thousand Christian virgins in a little, wee, Paynim city!

'Quod cunque ostendis mihi sic incredulus odi.'

The simple sooth is this. The martyrs were two: the Breton princess herself, falsely called British, and her maid, Onesimilla, which is a Greek name, Onesima, diminished. This some fool did mis-pronounce undecim mille, eleven thousand: loose tongue found credulous ears, and so one fool made many; eleven thousand of them, an' you will. And you charge me with credulity, Jerome? and bid me read the Lives of the Saints. Well, I have read them, and many a dear old Pagan acquaintance I found there. The best fictions in the book are Oriental, and are known to have been current in Persia and Arabia eight hundred years and more before the dates the Church assigns to them as facts. As for the true Western figments, they lack the Oriental plausibility. Think you I am credulous enough to believe that St. Ida joined a decapitated head to its body? that Cuthbert's carcass directed his bearers where to go, and where to stop; that a city was eaten up of rats to punish one Hatto for comparing the poor to mice; that angels have a little horn in their foreheads, and that this was seen and recorded at the time by St. Veronica of Benasco, who never existed, and hath left us this information and a miraculous handkercher? For my part, I think the holiest woman the world ere saw must have an existence ere she can have a handkercher or an eye to take unicorns for angels. Think you I believe that a brace of lions turned sextons and helped Anthony bury Paul of Thebes? that Patrick, a Scotch saint, stuck a goat's beard on all the descendants of one that offended him? that certain thieves, having stolen the convent ram, and denying it, St. Pol de Leon bade the ram bear witness, and straight the mutton bleated in the thief's belly? Would you have me give up the skilful figments of antiquity for such old wives' fables as these? The ancients lied about animals, too; but then they lied logically; we unreasonably. Do but compare Ephis and his lion, or, better still, Androcles and his lion, with Anthony and his two lions. Both the Pagan lions do what lions never did' but at the least they act in character. A lion with a bone in his throat, or a thorn in his foot, could not do better than be civil to a man. But Anthony's lions are asses in a lion's skin. What leonine motive could they have in turning sextons? A lion's business is to make corpses, not inter them." He added, with a sigh, "Our lies are as inferior to the lies of the ancients as our statues, and for the same reason; we do not study nature as they did. We are imitatores, servum pecus. Believe you 'the lives of the saints;' that Paul the Theban was the first hermit, and Anthony the first Caenobite? Why, Pythagoras was an Eremite, and under ground for seven years; and his daughter was an abbess. Monks and hermits were in the East long before Moses, and neither old Greece nor Rome was ever without them. As for St. Francis and his snowballs, he did but mimic Diogenes, who, naked, embraced statues on which snow had fallen. The folly without the poetry. Ape of an ape—for Diogenes was but a mimic therein of the Brahmins and Indian gymnosophists. Natheless, the children of this Francis bid fair to pelt us out of the Church with their snowballs. Tell me now, Clement, what habit is lovelier than the vestments of our priests? Well, we owe them all to Numa Pompilius, except the girdle and the stole, which are judaical. As for the amice and the albe, they retain the very names they bore in Numa's day. The 'pelt' worn by the canons comes from primeval Paganism. 'Tis a relic of those rude times when the sacrificing priest wore the skins of the beasts with the fur outward. Strip off thy black gown, Jerome, thy girdle and cowl, for they come to us all three from the Pagan ladies. Let thy hair grow like Absolom's, Jerome! for the tonsure is as Pagan as the Muses."

"Take care what thou sayest," said Jerome sternly. "We know the very year in which the Church did first ordain it."

"But not invent it, Jerome. The Brahmins wore it a few thousands years ere that. From them it came through the Assyrians to the priests of Isis in Egypt, and afterwards of Serapis at Athens. The late Pope (the saints be good to him) once told me the tonsure was forbidden by God to the Levites in the Pentateuch. If so, this was because of the Egyptian priests wearing it. I trust to his holiness. I am no biblical scholar. The Latin of thy namesake Jerome is a barrier I cannot overleap. 'Dixit ad me Dominus Dens. Dixi ad Dominum Deum.' No, thank you, holy Jerome; I can stand a good deal, but I cannot stand thy Latin. Nay; give me the New Testament! 'Tis not the Greek of Xenophon; but 'tis Greek. And there be heathen sayings in it too. For St. Paul was not so spiteful against them as thou. When the heathen said a good thing that suited his matter, by Jupiter he just took it, and mixed it to all eternity with the inspired text."

"Come forth, Clement, come forth!" said Jerome, rising; "and thou, profane monk, know that but for the powerful house that upholds thee, thy accursed heresy should go no farther, for I would have thee burned at the stake." And he strode out white with indignation.

Colonna's reception of this threat did credit to him as an enthusiast. He ran and hallooed joyfully after Jerome. "And that is Pagan. Burning of men's bodies for the opinions of their souls is a purely Pagan custom—as Pagan as incense, holy water, a hundred altars in one church, the tonsure, the cardinal's, or flamen's hat, the word Pope, the—"

Here Jerome slammed the door.

But ere they could get clear of the house a jalosy was flung open, and the Paynim monk came out head and shoulders, and overhung the street shouting,

"Affecti suppliciis Chrisitiani, genus hominum Novas superstitionis ac maleficae,'"

And having delivered this parting blow, he felt a great triumphant joy, and strode exultant to and fro; and not attending with his usual care to the fair way (for his room could only be threaded by little paths wriggling among the antiquities), tripped over the beak of an Egyptian stork, and rolled upon a regiment of Armenian gods, which he found tough in argument though small in stature.

"You will go no more to that heretical monk," said Jerome to Clement.

Clement sighed. "Shall we leave him and not try to correct him? Make allowance for heat of discourse! he was nettled, His words are worse than his acts. Oh 'tis a pure and charitable soul."

"So are all arch-heretics. Satan does not tempt them like other men. Rather he makes them more moral, to give their teaching weight. Fra Colonna cannot be corrected; his family is all-powerful in Rome, Pray we the saints he blasphemes to enlighten him, 'Twill not be the first time they have returned good for evil, Meantime thou art forbidden to consort with him, From this day go alone through the city! Confess and absolve sinners! exorcise demons! comfort the sick! terrify the impenitent! preach wherever men are gathered and occasion serves! and hold no converse with the Fra Colonna!"

Clement bowed his head.

Then the prior, at Jerome's request, had the young friar watched. And one day the spy returned with the news that Brother Clement had passed by the Fra Colonna's lodging, and had stopped a little while in the street, and then gone on, but with his hand to his eyes and slowly.

This report Jerome took to the prior. The prior asked his opinion, and also Anselm's, who was then taking leave of him on his return to Juliers.

Jerome. "Humph! He obeyed, but with regret, ay, with childish repining."

Anselm, "He shed a natural tear at turning his back on a friend and a benefactor, But he obeyed."

Now Anselm was one of your gentle irresistibles, He had at times a mild ascendant even over Jerome.

"Worthy Brother Anselm," said Jerome, "Clement is weak to the very bone, He will disappoint thee, He will do nothing, great, either for the Church or for our holy order. Yet he is an orator, and hath drunken of the spirit of St. Dominic. Fly him, then, with a string."

That same day it was announced to Clement that he was to go to England immediately with Brother Jerome.

Clement folded his hands on his breast, and bowed his head in calm submission.



CHAPTER LXXIII

THE HEARTH

A Catherine is not an unmixed good in a strange house. The governing power is strong in her. She has scarce crossed the threshold ere the utensils seem to brighten; the hearth to sweep itself; the windows to let in more light; and the soul of an enormous cricket to animate the dwelling-place. But this cricket is a Busy Body. And that is a tremendous character. It has no discrimination. It sets everything to rights, and everybody. Now many things are the better for being set to rights. But everything is not. Everything is the one thing that won't stand being set to rights; except in that calm and cool retreat, the grave.

Catherine altered the position of every chair and table in Margaret's house; and perhaps for the better.

But she must go farther, and upset the live furniture.

When Margaret's time was close at hand, Catherine treacherously invited the aid of Denys and Martin; and on the poor, simple-minded fellows asking her earnestly what service they could be, she told them they might make themselves comparatively useful by going for a little walk. So far so good. But she intimated further that should the promenade extend into the middle of next week all the better. This was not ingratiating. The subsequent conduct of the strong under the yoke of the weak might have propitiated a she-bear with three cubs, one sickly. They generally slipped out of the house at daybreak; and stole in like thieves at night; and if by any chance they were at home, they went about like cats on a wall tipped with broken glass, and wearing awe-struck visages, and a general air of subjugation and depression.

But all would not do. Their very presence was ill-timed; and jarred upon Catherine's nerves.

Did instinct whisper, a pair of depopulators had no business in a house with multipliers twain?

The breastplate is no armour against a female tongue; and Catherine ran infinite pins and needles of speech into them. In a word, when Margaret came down stairs, she found the kitchen swept of heroes.

Martin, old and stiff, had retreated no farther than the street, and with the honours of war: for he had carried off his baggage, a stool; and sat on it in the air.

Margaret saw he was out in the sun; but was not aware he was a fixture in that luminary. She asked for Denys. "Good, kind Denys; he will be right pleased to see me about again."

Catherine, wiping a bowl with now superfluous vigour, told her Denys was gone to his friends in Burgundy. "And high time, Hasn't been anigh them this three years, by all accounts."

"What, gone without bidding me farewell?" said Margaret, uplifting two tender eyes like full-blown violets.

Catherine reddened. For this new view of the matter set her conscience pricking her.

But she gave a little toss and said, "Oh, you were asleep at the time: and I would not have you wakened."

"Poor Denys," said Margaret, and the dew gathered visibly on the open violets.

Catherine saw out of the corner of her eye, and without taking a bit of open notice, slipped off and lavished hospitality and tenderness on the surviving depopulator.

It was sudden: and Martin old and stiff in more ways than one—

"No, thank you, dame. I have got used to out o' doors. And I love not changing and changing. I meddle wi' nobody here; and nobody meddles wi' me."

"Oh, you nasty, cross old wretch!" screamed Catherine, passing in a moment from treacle to sharpest vinegar. And she flounced back into the house.

On calm reflection she had a little cry. Then she half reconciled herself to her conduct by vowing to be so kind, Margaret should never miss her plagues of soldiers. But feeling still a little uneasy, she dispersed all regrets by a process at once simple and sovereign.

She took and washed the child.

From head to foot she washed him in tepid water; and heroes, and their wrongs, became as dust in an ocean—of soap and water.

While this celestial ceremony proceeded, Margaret could not keep quiet. She hovered round the fortunate performer. She must have an apparent hand in it, if not a real. She put her finger into the water—to pave the way for her boy, I suppose; for she could not have deceived herself so far as to think Catherine would allow her to settle the temperature. During the ablution she kneeled down opposite the little Gerard, and prattled to him with amazing fluency; taking care, however, not to articulate like grown-up people; for, how could a cherub understand their ridiculous pronunciation?

"I wish you could wash out THAT," said she, fixing her eyes on the little boy's hand.

"What?"

"What, have you not noticed? on his little finger."

Granny looked, and there was a little brown mole,

"Eh, but this is wonderful!" she cried. "Nature, my lass, y'are strong; and meddlesome to boot. Hast noticed such a mark on some one else? Tell the truth, girl!"

"What, on him? Nay, mother, not I."

"Well then he has; and on the very spot. And you never noticed that much. But, dear heart, I forgot; you han't known him from child to man as I have, I have had him hundreds o' times on my knees, the same as this, and washed him from top to toe in luke-warm water." And she swelled with conscious superiority; and Margaret looked meekly up to her as a woman beyond competition.

Catherine looked down from her dizzy height and moralized. She differed from other busy-bodies in this, that she now and then reflected: not deeply; or of course I should take care not to print it.

"It is strange," said she, "how things come round and about, Life is but a whirligig. Leastways, we poor women, our lives are all cut upon one pattern. Wasn't I for washing out my Gerard's mole in his young days? 'Oh, fie! here's a foul blot,' quo' I; and scrubbed away at it I did till I made the poor wight cry; so then I thought 'twas time to give over. And now says you to me, 'Mother,' says you, 'do try and wash you out o' my Gerard's finger,' says you. Think on't!"

"Wash it out?" cried Margaret; "I wouldn't for all the world, Why, it is the sweetest bit in his little darling body. I'll kiss it morn and night till he that owned it first comes back to us three, Oh, bless you, my jewel of gold and silver, for being marked like your own daddy, to comfort me."

And she kissed little Gerard's little mole; but she could not stop there; she presently had him sprawling on her lap, and kissed his back all over again and again, and seemed to worry him as wolf a lamb; Catherine looking on and smiling. She had seen a good many of these savage onslaughts in her day.

And this little sketch indicates the tenor of Margaret's life for several months, One or two small things occurred to her during that time which must be told; but I reserve them, since one string will serve for many glass beads. But while her boy's father was passing through those fearful tempests of the soul, ending in the dead monastic calm, her life might fairly be summed in one great blissful word—Maternity.

You, who know what lies in that word, enlarge my little sketch, and see the young mother nursing and washing, and dressing and undressing, and crowing and gambolling with her first-born; then swifter than lightning dart your eye into Italy, and see the cold cloister; and the monks passing like ghosts, eyes down, hands meekly crossed over bosoms dead to earthly feelings.

One of these cowled ghosts is he, whose return, full of love, and youth, and joy, that radiant young mother awaits.

In the valley of Grindelwald the traveller has on one side the perpendicular Alps, all rock, ice, and everlasting snow, towering above the clouds, and piercing to the sky; on his other hand little every-day slopes, but green as emeralds, and studded with cows and pretty cots, and life; whereas those lofty neighbours stand leafless, lifeless, inhuman, sublime. Elsewhere sweet commonplaces of nature are apt to pass unnoticed; but, fronting the grim Alps, they soothe, and even gently strike, the mind by contrast with their tremendous opposites. Such, in their way, are the two halves of this story, rightly looked at; on the Italian side rugged adventure, strong passion, blasphemy, vice, penitence, pure ice, holy snow, soaring direct at heaven. On the Dutch side, all on a humble scale and womanish, but ever green. And as a pathway parts the ice towers of Grindelwald, aspiring to the sky, from its little sunny braes, so here is but a page between

"the Cloister and the Hearth."



CHAPTER LXXIV

THE CLOISTER

THE new pope favoured the Dominican order. The convent received a message from the Vatican, requiring a capable friar to teach at the University of Basle. Now Clement was the very monk for this: well versed in languages, and in his worldly days had attended the lectures of Guarini the younger. His visit to England was therefore postponed though not resigned; and meantime he was sent to Basle; but not being wanted there for three months, he was to preach on the road.

He passed out of the northern gate with his eyes lowered, and the whole man wrapped in pious contemplation.

Oh, if we could paint a mind and its story, what a walking fresco was this barefooted friar!

Hopeful, happy love, bereavement, despair, impiety, vice, suicide, remorse, religious despondency, penitence, death to the world, resignation.

And all in twelve short months.

And now the traveller was on foot again. But all was changed: no perilous adventures now. The very thieves and robbers bowed to the ground before him, and instead of robbing him, forced stolen money on him, and begged his prayers.

This journey therefore furnished few picturesque incidents. I have, however, some readers to think of, who care little for melodrama, and expect a quiet peep at what passes inside a man, To such students things undramatic are often vocal, denoting the progress of a mind.

The first Sunday of Clement's journey was marked by this. He prayed for the soul of Margaret. He had never done so before. Not that her eternal welfare was not dearer to him than anything on earth. It was his humility. The terrible impieties that burst from him on the news of her death horrified my well-disposed readers; but not as on reflection they horrified him who had uttered them. For a long time during his novitiate he was oppressed with religious despair. He thought he must have committed that sin against the Holy Spirit which dooms the soul for ever, By degrees that dark cloud cleared away, Anselmo juvante; but deep self-abasement remained. He felt his own salvation insecure, and moreover thought it would be mocking Heaven, should he, the deeply stained, pray for a soul so innocent, comparatively, as Margaret's. So he used to coax good Anselm and another kindly monk to pray for her. They did not refuse, nor do it by halves. In general the good old monks (and there were good, bad, and indifferent in every convent) had a pure and tender affection for their younger brethren, which, in truth, was not of this world.

Clement then, having preached on Sunday morning in a small Italian town, and being mightily carried onward, was greatly encouraged; and that day a balmy sense of God's forgiveness and love descended on him. And he prayed for the welfare of Margaret's soul. And from that hour this became his daily habit, and the one purified tie, that by memory connected his heart with earth.

For his family were to him as if they had never been.

The Church would not share with earth. Nor could even the Church cure the great love without annihilating the smaller ones.

During most of this journey Clement rarely felt any spring of life within him, but when he was in the pulpit. The other exceptions were, when he happened to relieve some fellow-creature.

A young man was tarantula bitten, or perhaps, like many more, fancied it. Fancy or reality, he had been for two days without sleep, and in most extraordinary convulsions, leaping, twisting, and beating the walls. The village musicians had only excited him worse with their music. Exhaustion and death followed the disease, when it gained such a head. Clement passed by and learned what was the matter. He sent for a psaltery, and tried the patient with soothing melodies; but if the other tunes maddened him, Clement's seemed to crush him. He groaned and moaned under them, and grovelled on the floor. At last the friar observed that at intervals his lips kept going. He applied his ear, and found the patient was whispering a tune; and a very singular one, that had no existence. He learned this tune and played it. The patient's face brightened amazingly. He marched about the room on the light fantastic toe enjoying it; and when Clement's fingers ached nearly off with playing it, he had the satisfaction of seeing the young man sink complacently to sleep to this lullaby, the strange creation of his own mind; for it seems he was no musician, and never composed a tune before or after. This sleep saved his life. And Clement, after teaching the tune to another, in case it should be wanted again, went forward with his heart a little warmer. On another occasion he found a mob haling a decently dressed man along, who struggled and vociferated, but in a strange language. This person had walked into their town erect and sprightly, waving a mulberry branch over his head. Thereupon the natives first gazed stupidly, not believing their eyes, then pounced on him and dragged him before the podesta, Clement went with them; but on the way drew quietly near the prisoner and spoke to him in Italian; no answer. In French' German; Dutch; no assets. Then the man tried Clement in tolerable Latin, but with a sharpish accent. He said he was an Englishman, and oppressed with the heat of Italy, had taken a bough off the nearest tree, to save his head. "In my country anybody is welcome to what grows on the highway. Confound the fools; I am ready to pay for it. But here is all Italy up in arms about a twig and a handful of leaves."

The pig-headed podesta would have sent the dogged islander to prison; but Clement mediated, and with some difficulty made the prisoner comprehend that silkworms, and by consequence mulberry leaves, were sacred, being under the wing of the Sovereign, and his source of income; and urged on the podesta that ignorance of his mulberry laws was natural in a distant country, where the very tree perhaps was unknown, The opinionative islander turned the still vibrating scale by pulling' out a long purse and repeating his original theory, that the whole question was mercantile. "Quid damni?" said he, "Dic; et cito solvam." The podesta snuffed the gold: fined him a ducat for the duke; about the value of the whole tree; and pouched the coin.

The Englishman shook off his ire the moment he was liberated, and laughed heartily at the whole thing; but was very grateful to Clement.

"You are too good for this hole of a country, father," said he, "Come to England! That is the only place in the world, I was an uneasy fool to leave it, and wander among mulberries and their idiots. I am a Kentish squire, and educated at Cambridge University. My name it is Rolfe, my place Betshanger, The man and the house are both at your service. Come over and stay till domesday. We sit down forty to dinner every day at Betshanger. One more or one less at the board will not be seen. You shall end your days with me and my heirs if you will, Come now! What an Englishman says he means." And he gave him a great hearty grip of the hand to confirm it,

"I will visit thee some day, my son," said Clement; "but not to weary thy hospitality."

The Englishman then begged Clement to shrive him. "I know not what will become of my soul," said he, "I live like a heathen since I left England."

Clement consented gladly, and soon the islander was on his knees to him by the roadside, confessing the last month's sins.

Finding him so pious a son of the Church, Clement let him know he was really coming to England. He then asked him whether it was true that country was overrun with Lollards and Wickliffites.

The other coloured up a little. "There be black sheep in every land," said he. Then after some reflection he said gravely, "Holy father, hear the truth about these heretics. None are better disposed towards Holy Church than we English. But we are ourselves, and by ourselves. We love our own ways, and above all, our own tongue. The Norman could conquer our bill-hooks, but not our tongues; and hard they tried it for many a long year by law and proclamation. Our good foreign priests utter God to plain English folk in Latin, or in some French or Italian lingo, like the bleating of a sheep. Then come the fox Wickliff and his crew, and read him out of his own book in plain English, that all men's hearts warm to. Who can withstand this? God forgive me, I believe the English would turn deaf ears to St, Peter himself, spoke he not to them in the tongue their mothers sowed in their ears and their hearts along with mothers' kisses." He added hastily, "I say not this for myself; I am Cambridge bred; and good words come not amiss to me in Latin; but for the people in general. Clavis ad corda Anglorum est lingua materna."

"My son," said Clement, "blessed be the hour I met thee; for thy words are sober and wise. But alas! how shall I learn your English tongue? No book have I."

"I would give you my book of hours, father. 'Tis in English and Latin, cheek by jowl. But then, what would become of my poor soul, wanting my 'hours' in a strange land? Stay, you are a holy man, and I am an honest one; let us make a bargain; you to pray for me every day for two months, and I to give you my book of hours. Here it is. What say you to that?" And his eyes sparkled, and he was all on fire with mercantility.

Clement smiled gently at this trait; and quietly detached a MS. from his girdle, and showed him that it was in Latin and Italian.

"See, my son," said he, "Heaven hath foreseen our several needs, and given us the means to satisfy them: let us change books; and, my dear son, I will give thee my poor prayers and welcome, not sell them thee. I love not religious bargains."

The islander was delighted. "So shall I learn the Italian tongue without risk to my eternal weal, Near is my purse, but nearer is my soul."

He forced money on Clement. In vain the friar told him it was contrary to his vow to carry more of that than was barely necessary.

"Lay it out for the good of the Church and of my soul," said the islander. "I ask you not to keep it, but take it you must and shall." And he grasped Clement's hand warmly again; and Clement kissed him on the brow, and blessed him, and they went each his way.

About a mile from where they parted, Clement found two tired wayfarers lying in the deep shade of a great chestnut-tree, one of a thick grove the road skirted. Near the men was a little cart, and in it a printing-press, rude and clumsy as a vine-press, A jaded mule was harnessed to the cart.

And so Clement stood face to face with his old enemy.

And as he eyed it, and the honest, blue-eyed faces of the wearied craftsmen, he looked back as on a dream at the bitterness he had once felt towards this machine. He looked kindly down on them, and said softly—

"Sweynheim!"

The men started to their feet.

"Pannartz!"

They scuttled into the wood, and were seen no more.

Clement was amazed, and stood puzzling himself.

Presently a face peeped from behind a tree.

Clement addressed it, "What fear ye?"

A quavering voice replied—

"Say, rather, by what magic you, a stranger, can call us by our names! I never clapt eyes on you till now."

"O, superstition! I know ye, as all good workmen are known—by your works. Come hither and I will tell ye."

They advanced gingerly from different sides; each regulating his advance by the other's.

"My children," said Clement, "I saw a Lactantius in Rome, printed by Sweynheim and Pannartz, disciples of Fust."

"D'ye hear that, Pannartz? our work has gotten to Rome already."

"By your blue eyes and flaxen hair I wist ye were Germans; and the printing-press spoke for itself. Who then should ye be but Fust's disciples, Pannartz and Sweynheim?"

The honest Germans were now astonished that they had suspected magic in so simple a matter.

"The good father hath his wits about him, that is all," said Pannartz.

"Ay," said Sweynheim, "and with those wits would he could tell us how to get this tired beast to the next town."

"Yea," said Sweynheim, "and where to find money to pay for his meat and ours when we get there."

"I will try," said Clement. "Free the mule of the cart, and of all harness but the bare halter."

This was done, and the animal immediately lay down and rolled on his back in the dust like a kitten. Whilst he was thus employed, Clement assured them he would rise up a new mule.

"His Creator hath taught him this art to refresh himself, which the nobler horse knoweth not. Now, with regard to money, know that a worthy Englishman hath entrusted me with a certain sum to bestow in charity. To whom can I better give a stranger's money than to strangers? Take it, then, and be kind to some Englishman or other stranger in his need; and may all nations learn to love one another one day."

The tears stood in the honest workmen's eyes. They took the money with heartfelt thanks.

"It is your nation we are bound to thank and bless, good father, if we but knew it."

"My nation is the Church."

Clement was then for bidding them farewell, but the honest fellows implored him to wait a little; they had no silver nor gold, but they had something they could give their benefactor, They took the press out of the cart, and while Clement fed the mule, they hustled about, now on the white hot road, now in the deep cool shade, now half in and half out, and presently printed a quarto sheet of eight pages, which was already set up. They had not type enough to print two sheets at a time. When, after the slower preliminaries, the printed sheet was pulled all in a moment, Clement was amazed in turn.

"What, are all these words really fast upon the paper?" said he. "Is it verily certain they will not go as swiftly as they came? And you took me for a magician! 'Tis 'Augustine de civitate Dei.' My sons, you carry here the very wings of knowledge. Oh, never abuse this great craft! Print no ill books! They would fly abroad countless as locusts, and lay waste men's souls."

The workmen said they would sooner put their hands under the screw than so abuse their goodly craft.

And so they parted.

There is nothing but meeting and parting in this world.

At a town in Tuscany the holy friar had a sudden and strange recontre with the past. He fell in with one of those motley assemblages of patricians and plebeians, piety and profligacy, "a company of pilgrims;" a subject too well painted by others for me to go and daub.

They were in an immense barn belonging to the inn, Clement, dusty and wearied, and no lover of idle gossip, sat in a corner studying the Englishman's hours, and making them out as much by his own Dutch as by the Latin version.

Presently a servant brought a bucket half full of water, and put it down at his feet. A female servant followed with two towels. And then a woman came forward, and crossing herself, kneeled down without a word at the bucket-side, removed her sleeves entirely, and motioned to him to put his feet into the water. It was some lady of rank doing penance. She wore a mask scarce an inch broad, but effectual. Moreover, she handled the friar's feet more delicately than those do who are born to such offices.

These penances were not uncommon; and Clement, though he had little faith in this form of contrition, received the services of the incognita as a matter of course. But presently she sighed deeply, and with her heartfelt sigh and her head bent low over her menial office, she seemed so bowed with penitence, that he pitied her, and said calmly but gently, "Can I aught for your soul's weal, my daughter?"

She shook her head with a faint sob. "Nought, holy father, nought; only to hear the sin of her who is most unworthy to touch thy holy feet. 'Tis part of my penance to tell sinless men how vile I am."

"Speak, my daughter."

"Father," said the lady, bending lower and lower, "these hands of mine look white, but they are stained with blood—the blood of the man I loved. Alas! you withdraw your foot. Ah me! What shall I do? All holy things shrink from me."

"Culpa mea! culpa mea!" said Clement eagerly. "My daughter, it was an unworthy movement of earthly weakness, for which I shall do penance. Judge not the Church by her feebler servants, Not her foot, but her bosom, is offered to thee, repenting truly. Take courage, then, and purge thy conscience of its load."

On this the lady, in a trembling whisper, and hurriedly, and cringing a little, as if she feared the Church would strike her bodily for what she had done, made this confession.

"He was a stranger, and base-born, but beautiful as Spring, and wise beyond his years. I loved him, I had not the prudence to conceal my love. Nobles courted me. I ne'er thought one of humble birth could reject me. I showed him my heart oh, shame of my sex! He drew back; yet he admired me; but innocently, He loved another; and he was constant. I resorted to a woman's wiles, They availed not. I borrowed the wickedness of men, and threatened his life, and to tell his true lover he died false to her, Ah! you shrink your foot trembles. Am I not a monster? Then he wept and prayed to me for mercy; then my good angel helped me; I bade him leave Rome. Gerard, Gerard, why did you not obey me? I thought he was gone. But two months after this I met him, Never shall I forget it. I was descending the Tiber in my galley, when he came up it with a gay company, and at his side a woman beautiful as an angel, but bold and bad. That woman claimed me aloud for her rival. Traitor and hypocrite, he had exposed me to her, and to all the loose tongues in Rome. In terror and revenge I hired-a bravo. When he was gone on his bloody errand, I wavered too late. The dagger I had hired struck, He never came back to his lodgings. He was dead. Alas! perhaps he was not so much to blame: none have ever cast his name in my teeth. His poor body is not found: or I should kiss its wounds; and slay myself upon it. All around his very name seems silent as the grave, to which this murderous hand hath sent him." (Clement's eye was drawn by her movement. He recognized her shapely arm, and soft white hand.) "And oh! he was so young to die. A poor thoughtless boy, that had fallen a victim to that bad woman's arts, and she had made him tell her everything. Monster of cruelty, what penance can avail me? Oh, holy father, what shall I do?"

Clement's lips moved in prayer, but he was silent. He could not see his duty clear.

Then she took his feet and began to dry them. She rested his foot upon her soft arm, and pressed it with the towel so gently she seemed incapable of hurting a fly. Yet her lips had just told another story, and a true one.

While Clement was still praying for wisdom, a tear fell upon his foot. It decided him. "My daughter," said he, "I myself have been a great sinner."

"You, father?"

"I; quite as great a sinner as thou; though not in the same way. The devil has gins and snares, as well as traps. But penitence softened my impious heart, and then gratitude remoulded it. Therefore, seeing you penitent, I hope you can be grateful to Him, who has been more merciful to you than you have to your fellow-creature. Daughter, the Church sends you comfort."

"Comfort to me? ah! never! unless it can raise my victim from the dead."

"Take this crucifix in thy hand, fix thine eyes on it, and listen to me," was all the reply.

"Yes, father; but let me thoroughly dry your feet first; 'tis ill sitting in wet feet; and you are the holiest man of all whose feet I have washed. I know it by your voice."

"Woman, I am not. As for my feet, they can wait their turn. Obey thou me.

"Yes, father," said the lady humbly. But with a woman's evasive pertinacity she wreathed one towel swiftly round the foot she was drying, and placed his other foot on the dry napkin; then obeyed his command.

And as she bowed over the crucifix, the low, solemn tones of the friar fell upon her ear, and his words soon made her whole body quiver with various emotion, in quick succession.

"My daughter, he you murdered—in intent—was one Gerard, a Hollander. He loved a creature, as men should love none but their Redeemer and His Church. Heaven chastised him. A letter came to Rome. She was dead."

"Poor Gerard! Poor Margaret!" moaned the penitent.

Clement's voice faltered at this a moment. But soon, by a strong effort, he recovered all his calmness.

"His feeble nature yielded, body and soul, to the blow, He was stricken down with fever. He revived only to rebel against Heaven. He said, 'There is no God.'"

"Poor, poor Gerard!"

"Poor Gerard? thou feeble, foolish woman! Nay, wicked, impious Gerard. He plunged into vice, and soiled his eternal jewel: those you met him with were his daily companions; but know, rash creature, that the seeming woman you took to be his leman was but a boy, dressed in woman's habits to flout the others, a fair boy called Andrea. What that Andrea said to thee I know not; but be sure neither he, nor any layman, knows thy folly, This Gerard, rebel against Heaven, was no traitor to thee, unworthy."

The lady moaned like one in bodily agony, and the crucifix began to tremble in her trembling hands.

"Courage!" said Clement. "Comfort is at hand."

"From crime he fell into despair, and bent on destroying his soul, he stood one night by Tiber, resolved on suicide. He saw one watching him. It was a bravo."

"Holy saints!"

"He begged the bravo to despatch him; he offered him all his money, to slay him body and soul. The bravo would not. Then this desperate sinner, not softened even by that refusal, flung himself into Tiber."

"Ah!"

"And the assassin saved his life. Thou hadst chosen for the task Lodovico, husband of Teresa, whom this Gerard had saved at sea, her and her infant child."

"He lives! he lives! he lives! I am faint."

The friar took the crucifix from her hands, fearing it might fall, A shower of tears relieved her. The friar gave her time; then continued calmly, "Ay, he lives; thanks to thee and thy wickedness, guided to his eternal good by an almighty and all-merciful hand. Thou art his greatest earthly benefactor."

"Where is he? where? where?"

"What is that to thee?"

"Only to see him alive. To beg him on my knees forgive me. I swear to you I will never presume again to—How could I? He knows all. Oh, shame! Father, does he know?"

"All."

"Then never will I meet his eye; I should sink into the earth. But I would repair my crime. I would watch his life unseen. He shall rise in the world, whence I so nearly thrust him, poor soul; the Caesare, my family, are all-powerful in Rome; and I am near their head."

"My daughter," said Clement coldly, "he you call Gerard needs nothing man can do for him. Saved by a miracle from double death, he has left the world, and taken refuge from sin and folly in the bosom of the Church."

"A priest?"

"A priest, and a friar."

"A friar? Then you are not his confessor? Yet you know all. That gentle voice!"

She raised her head slowly, and peered at him through her mask.

The next moment she uttered a faint shriek, and lay with her brow upon his bare feet.



CHAPTER LXXV

Clement sighed. He began to doubt whether he had taken the wisest course with a creature so passionate.

But young as he was, he had already learned many lessons of ecclesiastical wisdom. For one thing he had been taught to pause, ie., in certain difficulties, neither to do nor to say anything, until the matter should clear itself a little.

He therefore held his peace and prayed for wisdom.

All he did was gently to withdraw his foot.

But his penitent flung her arms round it with a piteous cry, and held it convulsively, and wept over it.

And now the agony of shame, as well as penitence, she was in, showed itself by the bright red that crept over her very throat, as she lay quivering at his feet.

"My daughter," said Clement gently, "take courage. Torment thyself no more about this Gerard, who is not. As for me, I am Brother Clement, whom Heaven hath sent to thee this day to comfort thee, and help thee save thy soul. Thou last made me thy confessor, I claim, then, thine obedience."

"Oh, yes," sobbed the penitent.

"Leave this pilgrimage, and instant return to Rome. Penitence abroad is little worth. There where we live lie the temptations we must defeat, or perish; not fly in search of others more showy, but less lethal. Easy to wash the feet of strangers, masked ourselves, Hard to be merely meek and charitable with those about us."

"I'll never, never lay finger on her again."

"Nay, I speak not of servants only, but of dependents, kinsmen, friends. This be thy penance; the last thing at night, and the first thing after matins, call to mind thy sin, and God His goodness; and so be humble and gentle to the faults of those around thee. The world it courts the rich; but seek thou the poor: not beggars; these for the most are neither honest nor truly poor. But rather find out those who blush to seek thee, yet need thee sore. Giving to them shalt lend to Heaven. Marry a good son of the Church."

"Me? I will never marry."

"Thou wilt marry within the year. I do entreat and command thee to marry one that feareth God. For thou art very clay. Mated ill thou shalt be naught. But wedding a worthy husband thou mayest, Dei gratia, live a pious princess; ay, and die a saint."

"I?"

"Thou."

He then desired her to rise and go about the good work he had set her.

She rose to her knees, and removing her mask, cast an eloquent look upon him, then lowered her eyes meekly.

"I will obey you as I would an angel. How happy I am, yet unhappy; for oh, my heart tells me I shall never look on you again. I will not go till I have dried your feet."

"It needs not. I have excused thee this bootless penance."

"'Tis no penance to me. Ah! you do not forgive me, if you will not let me dry your poor feet."

"So be it then," said Clement resignedly; and thought to himself, "Levius quid foemina."

But these weak creatures, that gravitate towards the small, as heavenly bodies towards the great, have yet their own flashes of angelic intelligence.

When the princess had dried the friar's feet, she looked at him with tears in her beautiful eyes, and murmured with singular tenderness and goodness—

"I will have masses said for her soul. May I?" she added timidly.

This brought a faint blush into the monk's cheek, and moistened his cold blue eye. It came so suddenly from one he was just rating so low.

"It is a gracious thought," he said. "Do as thou wilt: often such acts fall back on the doer like blessed dew. I am thy confessor, not hers; thine is the soul I must now do my all to save, or woe be to my own. My daughter, my dear daughter, I see good and ill angels fighting for thy soul this day, ay, this moment; oh, fight thou on thine own side. Dost thou remember all I bade thee?"

"Remember!" said the princess. "Sweet saint, each syllable of thine is graved in my heart."

"But one word more, then. Pray much to Christ, and little to his saints."

"I will."

"And that is the best word I have light to say to thee. So part we on it. Thou to the place becomes thee best, thy father's house, I to my holy mother's work."

"Adieu," faltered the princess. "Adieu, thou that I have loved too well, hated too ill, known and revered too late; forgiving angel, adieu—for ever."

The monk caught her words, though but faltered in a sigh.

"For ever?" he cried aloud, with sudden ardour. "Christians live 'for ever,' and love 'for ever,' but they never part 'for ever. They part, as part the earth and sun, to meet more brightly in a little while. You and I part here for life. And what is our life? One line in the great story of the Church, whose son and daughter we are; one handful in the sand of time, one drop in the ocean of 'For ever.' Adieu—for the little moment called 'a life!' We part in trouble, we shall meet in peace: we part creatures of clay, we shall meet immortal spirits: we part in a world of sin and sorrow, we shall meet where all is purity and love divine; where no ill passions are, but Christ is, and His saints around Him clad in white. There, in the turning of an hour-glass, in the breaking of a bubble, in the passing of a cloud, she, and thou, and I, shall meet again; and sit at the feet of angels and archangels, apostles and saints, and beam like them with joy unspeakable, in the light of the shadow of God upon His throne, FOR EVER—AND EVER—AND EVER."

And so they parted. The monk erect, his eyes turned heavenwards and glowing with the sacred fire of zeal; the princess slowly retiring and turning more than once to cast a lingering glance of awe and tender regret on that inspired figure.

She went home subdued, and purified. Clement, in due course, reached Basle, and entered on his duties, teaching in the University, and preaching in the town and neighbourhood. He led a life that can be comprised in two words; deep study, and mortification. My reader has already a peep into his soul. At Basle he advanced in holy zeal and knowledge.

The brethren of his order began to see in him a descendant of the saints and martyrs.



CHAPTER LXXVI

THE HEARTH

When little Gerard was nearly three months old, a messenger came hot from Tergou for Catherine.

"Now just you go back," said she, "and tell them I can't come, and I won't: they have got Kate," So he departed, and Catherine continued her sentence; "there, child, I must go: they are all at sixes and sevens: this is the third time of asking; and to-morrow my man would come himself and take me home by the ear, with a flea in't." She then recapitulated her experiences of infants, and instructed Margaret what to do in each coming emergency, and pressed money upon her, Margaret declined it with thanks, Catherine insisted, and turned angry. Margaret made excuses all so reasonable that Catherine rejected them with calm contempt; to her mind they lacked femininity,

"Come, out with your heart," said she "and you and me parting; and mayhap shall never see one another's face again."

"Oh! mother, say not so."

"Alack, girl, I have seen it so often; 'twill come into my mind now at each parting, When I was your age, I never had such a thought, Nay, we were all to live for ever then: so out wi' it."

"Well, then, mother—I would rather not have told you—your Cornelis must say to me, 'So you are come to share with us, eh, mistress?' those were his words, I told him I would be very sorry.

"Beshrew his ill tongue! What signifies it? He will never know,

"Most likely he would sooner or later, But whether or no, I will take no grudged bounty from any family; unless I saw my child starving, and—Heaven only knows what I might do, Nay, mother, give me but thy love—I do prize that above silver, and they grudge me not that, by all I can find—for not a stiver of money will I take out of your house."

"You are a foolish lass, Why, were it me, I'd take it just to spite him."

"No, you would not, You and I are apples off one tree"

Catherine yielded with a good grace; and when the actual parting came, embraces and tears burst forth on both sides.

When she was gone the child cried a good deal; and all attempts to pacify him failing, Margaret suspected a pin, and searching between his clothes and his skin, found a gold angel incommoding his backbone.

"There, now, Gerard," said she to the babe; "I thought granny gave in rather sudden."

She took the coin and wrapped it in a piece of linen, and laid it at the bottom of her box, bidding the infant observe she could be at times as resolute as granny herself.

Catherine told Eli of Margaret's foolish pride, and how she had baffled it. Eli said Margaret was right, and she was wrong.

Catherine tossed her head. Eli pondered.

Margaret was not without domestic anxieties. She had still two men to feed, and could not work so hard as she had done. She had enough to do to keep the house, and the child, and cook for them all. But she had a little money laid by, and she used to tell her child his father would be home to help them before it was spent. And with these bright hopes, and that treasury of bliss, her boy, she spent some happy months.

Time wore on; and no Gerard came; and stranger still, no news of him.

Then her mind was disquieted, and contrary to her nature, which was practical, she was often lost in sad reverie; and sighed in silence. And while her heart was troubled, her money was melting. And so it was, that one day she found the cupboard empty, and looked in her dependents' faces; and at the sight of them, her bosom was all pity; and she appealed to the baby whether she could let grandfather and poor old Martin want a meal; and went and took out Catherine's angel. As she unfolded the linen a tear of gentle mortification fell on it. She sent Martin out to change it. While he was gone a Frenchman came with one of the dealers in illuminated work, who had offered her so poor a price. He told her he was employed by his sovereign to collect masterpieces for her book of hours. Then she showed him the two best things she had; and he was charmed with one of them, viz., the flowers and raspberries and creeping things, which Margaret Van Eyck had shaded. He offered her an unheard-of price. "Nay, flout not my need, good stranger," said she; "three mouths there be in this house, and none to fill them but me."

Curious arithmetic! Left out No. 1.

"I'd out thee not, fair mistress. My princess charged me strictly, 'Seek the best craftsmen'; but I will no hard bargains; make them content with me, and me with them.'"

The next minute Margaret was on her knees kissing little Gerard in the cradle, and showering four gold pieces on him again and again, and relating the whole occurrence to him in very broken Dutch,

"And oh, what a good princess: wasn't she? We will pray for her, won't we, my lambkin; when we are old enough?"

Martin came in furious. "They will not change it. I trow they think I stole it."

"I am beholden to thee," said Margaret hastily, and almost snatched it from Martin, and wrapped it up again, and restored it to its hiding-place.

Ere these unexpected funds were spent, she got to her ironing and starching again. In the midst of which Martin sickened; and died after an illness of nine days.

Nearly all her money went to bury him decently.

He was gone; and there was an empty chair by her fireside, For he had preferred the hearth to the sun as soon as the Busy Body was gone.

Margaret would not allow anybody to sit in this chair now. Yet whenever she let her eye dwell too long on it vacant, it was sure to cost her a tear.

And now there was nobody to carry her linen home, To do it herself she must leave little Gerard in charge of a neighbour, But she dared not trust such a treasure to mortal; and besides she could not bear him out of her sight for hours and hours. So she set inquiries on foot for a boy to carry her basket on Saturday and Monday.

A plump, fresh-coloured youth, called Luke Peterson, who looked fifteen, but was eighteen, came in, and blushing, and twiddling his bonnet, asked her if a man would not serve her turn as well as a boy.

Before he spoke she was saying to herself, "This boy will just do."

But she took the cue, and said, "Nay; but a man will maybe seek more than I can well pay.

"Not I," said Luke warmly. "Why, Mistress Margaret, I am your neighbour, and I do very well at the coopering. I can carry your basket for you before or after my day's work, and welcome, You have no need to pay me anything. 'Tisn't as if we were strangers, ye know."

"Why, Master Luke, I know your face, for that matter; but I cannot call to mind that ever a word passed between us."

"Oh yes, you did, Mistress Margaret. What, have you forgotten? One day you were trying to carry your baby and eke your pitcher full o' water; and quo' I, 'Give me the baby to carry.' 'Nay, says you, 'I'll give you the pitcher, and keep the bairn myself;' and I carried the pitcher home, and you took it from me at this door, and you said to me, 'I am muckle obliged to you, young man,' with such a sweet voice; not like the folk in this street speak to a body."

"I do mind now, Master Luke; and methinks it was the least I could say."

"Well, Mistress Margaret, if you will say as much every time I carry your basket, I care not how often I bear it, nor how far."

"Nay, nay," said Margaret, colouring faintly. "I would not put upon good nature, You are young, Master Luke, and kindly. Say I give you your supper on Saturday night, when you bring the linen home, and your dawn-mete o' Monday; would that make us anyways even?"

"As you please; only say not I sought a couple o' diets! for such a trifle as yon."

With chubby-faced Luke's timely assistance, and the health and strength which Heaven gave this poor young woman, to balance her many ills, the house went pretty smoothly awhile. But the heart became more and more troubled by Gerard's long, and now most mysterious silence.

And then that mental torturer, Suspense, began to tear her heavy heart with his hot pincers, till she cried often and vehemently, "Oh, that I could know the worst."

Whilst she was in this state, one day she heard a heavy step mount the stair. She started and trembled, "That is no step that I know. Ill tidings?"

The door opened, and an unexpected visitor, Eli, came in, looking grave and kind.

Margaret eyed him in silence, and with increasing agitation,

"Girl." said he, "the skipper is come back."

"One word," gasped Margaret; "is he alive?"

"Surely I hope so. No one has seen him dead."

"Then they must have seen him alive."

"No, girl; neither dead nor alive hath he been seen this many months in Rome. My daughter Kate thinks he is gone to some other city. She bade me tell you her thought."

"Ay, like enough," said Margaret gloomily; "like enough. My poor babe!"

The old man in a faintish voice asked her for a morsel to eat: he had come fasting.

The poor thing pitied him with the surface of her agitated mind, and cooked a meal for him, trembling, and scarce knowing what she was about.

Ere he went he laid his hand upon her head, and said, "Be he alive, or be he dead, I look on thee as my daughter. Can I do nought for thee this day? bethink thee now?"

"Ay, old man. Pray for him; and for me!"

Eli sighed, and went sadly and heavily down the stairs.

She listened half stupidly to his retiring footsteps till they ceased. Then she sank moaning down by the cradle, and drew little Gerard tight to her bosom. "Oh, my poor fatherless boy; my fatherless boy!"



CHAPTER LXXVII

Not long after this, as the little family at Tergou sat at dinner, Luke Peterson burst in on them, covered with dust. "Good people, Mistress Catherine is wanted instantly at Rotterdam."

"My name is Catherine, young man. Kate, it will be Margaret."

"Ay, dame, she said to me, 'Good Luke, hie thee to Tergou, and ask for Eli the hosier, and pray his wife Catherine to come to me, for God His love.' I didn't wait for daylight."

"Holy saints! He has come home, Kate. Nay, she would sure have said so. What on earth can it be?" And she heaped conjecture on conjecture.

"Mayhap the young man can tell us," hazarded Kate timidly.

"That I can," said Luke, "Why, her babe is a-dying, And she was so wrapped up in it!"

Catherine started up: "What is his trouble?"

"Nay, I know not. But it has been peaking and pining worse and worse this while."

A furtive glance of satisfaction passed between Cornelis and Sybrandt. Luckily for them Catherine did not see it. Her face was turned towards her husband. "Now, Eli," cried she furiously, "if you say a word against it, you and I shall quarrel, after all these years.'

"Who gainsays thee, foolish woman? Quarrel with your own shadow, while I go borrow Peter's mule for ye."

"Bless thee, my good man! Bless thee! Didst never yet fail me at a pinch, Now eat your dinners who can, while I go and make ready."

She took Luke back with her in the cart, and on the way questioned and cross-questioned him severely and seductively by turns, till she had turned his mind inside out, what there was of it.

Margaret met her at the door, pale and agitated, and threw her arms round her neck, and looked imploringly in her face.

"Come, he is alive, thank God," said Catherine, after scanning her eagerly.

She looked at the failing child, and then at the poor hollow-eyed mother, alternately, "Lucky you sent for me," said she, "The child is poisoned."

"Poisoned! by whom?"

"By you. You have been fretting."

"Nay, indeed, mother. How can I help fretting?"

"Don't tell me, Margaret. A nursing mother has no business to fret. She must turn her mind away from her grief to the comfort that lies in her lap. Know you not that the child pines if the mother vexes herself? This comes of your reading and writing. Those idle crafts befit a man; but they keep all useful knowledge out of a woman. The child must be weaned."

"Oh, you cruel woman," cried Margaret vehemently; "I am sorry I sent for you. Would you rob me of the only bit of comfort I have in the world? A-nursing my Gerard, I forget I am the most unhappy creature beneath the sun."

"That you do not," was the retort, "or he would not be the way he is."

"Mother!" said Margaret imploringly.

"'Tis hard," replied Catherine, relenting. "But bethink thee; would it not be harder to look down and see his lovely wee face a-looking up at you out of a little coffin?"

"Oh, Jesu!"

"And how could you face your other troubles with your heart aye full, and your lap empty?"

"Oh, mother, I consent to anything. Only save my boy."

"That is a good lass, Trust to me! I do stand by, and see clearer than thou."

Unfortunately there was another consent to be gained—the babe's; and he was more refractory than his mother.

"There," said Margaret, trying to affect regret at his misbehaviour; "he loves me too well."

But Catherine was a match for them both. As she came along she had observed a healthy young woman, sitting outside her own door, with an infant, hard by. She went and told her the case; and would she nurse the pining child for the nonce, till she had matters ready to wean him?

The young woman consented with a smile, and popped her child into the cradle, and came into Margaret's house. She dropped a curtsey, and Catherine put the child into her hands. She examined, and pitied it, and purred over it, and proceeded to nurse it, just as if it had been her own.

Margaret, who had been paralyzed at her assurance, cast a rueful look at Catherine, and burst out crying.

The visitor looked up. "What is to do? Wife, ye told me not the mother was unwilling."

"She is not: she is only a fool. Never heed her; and you, Margaret, I am ashamed of you."

"You are a cruel, hard-hearted woman," sobbed Margaret.

"Them as take in hand to guide the weak need be hardish. And you will excuse me; but you are not my flesh and blood; and your boy is."

After giving this blunt speech time to sink, she added, "Come now, she is robbing her own to save yours, and you can think of nothing better than bursting out a-blubbering in the woman's face. Out fie, for shame!"

"Nay, wife," said the nurse. "Thank Heaven, I have enough for my own and for hers to boot. And prithee wyte not on her! Maybe the troubles o' life ha' soured her own milk."

"And her heart into the bargain," said the remorseless Catherine.

Margaret looked her full in the face; and down went her eyes.

"I know I ought to be very grateful to you," sobbed Margaret to the nurse: then turned her head and leaned away over the chair, not to witness the intolerable sight of another nursing her Gerard, and Gerard drawing no distinction between this new mother and her the banished one.

The nurse replied, "You are very welcome, my poor woman. And so are you, Mistress Catherine, which are my townswoman, and know it not."

"What, are ye from Tergou? all the better, But I cannot call your face to mind."

"Oh, you know not me: my husband and me, we are very humble folk by you. But true Eli and his wife are known of all the town; and respected, So, I am at your call, dame; and at yours, wife; and yours, my pretty poppet; night or day."

"There's a woman of the right old sort," said Catherine, as the door closed upon her.

"I HATE her. I HATE her. I HATE her," said Margaret, with wonderful fervour.

Catherine only laughed at this outburst.

"That is right," said she; "better say it, as set sly and think it. It is very natural after all, Come, here is your bundle o' comfort. Take and hate that, if ye can;" and she put the child in her lap.

"No, no," said Margaret, turning her head half way from him; she could not for her life turn the other half. "He is not my child now; he is hers. I know not why she left him here, for my part. It was very good of her not to take him to her house, cradle and all; oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! oh oh! oh!"

"Ah! well, one comfort, he is not dead. This gives me light: some other woman has got him away from me; like father, like son; oh! oh! oh! oh! oh!"

Catherine was sorry for her, and let her cry in peace. And after that, when she wanted Joan's aid, she used to take Gerard out, to give him a little fresh air. Margaret never objected; nor expressed the least incredulity; but on their return was always in tears.

This connivance was short-lived. She was now altogether as eager to wean little Gerard. It was done; and he recovered health and vigour; and another trouble fell upon him directly teething, But here Catherine's experience was invaluable; and now, in the midst of her grief and anxiety about the father, Margaret had moments of bliss, watching the son's tiny teeth come through. "Teeth, mother? I call them not teeth, but pearls of pearls." And each pearl that peeped and sparkled on his red gums, was to her the greatest feat Nature had ever achieved.

Her companion partook the illusion. And had we told them standing corn was equally admirable, Margaret would have changed to a reproachful gazelle, and Catherine turned us out of doors; so each pearl's arrival was announced with a shriek of triumph by whichever of them was the fortunate discoverer.

Catherine gossiped with Joan, and learned that she was the wife of Jorian Ketel of Tergou, who had been servant to Ghysbrecht Van Swieten, but fallen out of favour, and come back to Rotterdam, his native place. His friends had got him the place of sexton to the parish, and what with that and carpentering, he did pretty well.

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