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The History of David Grieve
by Mrs. Humphry Ward
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She tossed her head significantly.

'Lucy, you know you ought to give in when you can,' said the perplexed Dora, with rebuke in her voice.

'Oh, nonsense!' said Lucy. 'You can't—it's ridiculous. Well, he'll quarrel with that woman some day—I'm sure she's his match—and then maybe he'll want me back. But perhaps he won't get me.'

Dora looked up with a curious expression, half smiling, half wistful. She had already heard all the story of the walk.

'O Dora!' cried the child, laying down her head on the table beneath her cousin's eyes, 'Dora, I do believe he's beginning to care. You see he asked to come to Wakely. I didn't ask him. Oh, if it all comes to nothing again, I shall break my heart!'

Dora smoothed the fine brown hair, and said affectionate things, but vaguely, as if she was not quite certain what to say.

'He does look quite different, somehow,' continued Lucy. 'Why do you think he was so long away over there, Dora? Father says nasty things about it—says he fell into bad company and lost his money.'

'I don't know how uncle Purcell can know,' said Dora indignantly. 'He's always thinking the worst of people. He was ill, for Mr. Ancrum told me, and he's the only person that does know. And anyone can see he isn't strong yet.'

'Oh, and he is so handsome!' sighed Lucy, 'handsomer than ever. There isn't a man in Manchester to touch him.'

Dora laughed out and called her a 'little silly.' But, as privately in her heart of hearts she was of the same opinion, her reproof had not much force.

When Lucy left, Dora put away her work, and, lifting a flushed face, walked to the window and stood there looking out. A pale April sun was shining on the brewery opposite, and touched the dark waters of the canal under the bridge to the left. The roofs of the squalid houses abutting on the brewery were wet with rain. Through a gap she could see a laundress's back-yard mainly filled with drying clothes, but boasting besides a couple of pink flowering currants just out, and holding their own for a few brief days against the smuts of Manchester. Here and there a man out of work lounged, pipe in mouth, at his open door, silently absorbing the sunshine and the cheerfulness of the moist blue over the house-tops. There was a new sweetness and tenderness in the spring air—or were they in Dora's soul?

She leant her head against the window, and remained there with her hands clasped before her for some little time—for her, a most unusual idleness.

Yes, Lucy was very obstinate. Dora had never thought she would have the courage to fight her father in this way. And selfish, too. She had spoken only once of Daddy, and that in a way to make the daughter wince. But she was so young—such a child!—and would be ruined if she were left to this casual life, and people who didn't understand her. A husband to take care of her, and children—they would be the making of her.

And he! Dora's eyes filled with tears. All this winter the change in him, the silent evidences of a shock all the more tragic to her because of its mystery, had given him a kind of sacredness in her eyes. She fell thinking, besides, of the times lately he had been to church with her. Ah, she was glad he had heard that sermon, that beautiful sermon of Canon Welby's in Passion Week! He had said nothing about it, but she knew it had been meant for clever, educated men—men like him. The church, indeed, had been full of men—her neighbours had told her that several of the gentlemen from Owens College had been there.

That evening David knocked at the door below about half-past eight. Dora got up quickly and went across to her room-fellow, a dark-faced stooping girl, who took her shirt-maker's slavery without a murmur, and loved Dora.

'Would you mind, Mary?' she said timidly. 'I want to speak to Mr. Grieve.'

The girl looked up, understood, stopped her machine, and, hastily gathering some pieces together that wanted buttonholes, went off into the little inner room and shut the door.

Dora knelt and with restless hands put the bit of fire together. She had just thrown a handkerchief over her canaries. On the frame a piece of her work, a fine altar-cloth gleaming with golds, purples, and pale pinks, stood uncovered. The deal table, the white walls on which hung Daddy's old prints, the bare floor with its strip of carpet, were all spotlessly clean. The tea had been put away. Daddy's vacant chair stood in its place.

When David came in he found her sitting pensively on a little wooden stool by the fire. Generally he gossipped while the two girls worked busily away—sometimes he read to them. To-night as he sat down he felt something impending.

Dora talked of Lucy's visit. They agreed as to the folly and brutality of Purcell's treatment of her, and laughed together over the marauding stepmother.

Then there was a pause. Dora broke it. She was sitting upright on the stool, looking straight into his face.

'Will you not be cross if I say something?' she asked, catching her breath. 'It's not my business.'

'Say it, please.' But he reddened instantly.

'Lucy's—Lucy's—got a fancy for you,' she said tremulously, shrinking from her own words. 'Perhaps it's a shame to say it—oh, it may be! You haven't told me anything, and she's given me no leave. But she's had it a long time.'

'I don't know why you say so,' he replied half sombrely.

His flush had died away, but his hand shook on his knee.

'Oh, yes, you do,' she cried; 'you must know. Lucy can't keep even her own secrets. But she's got such a warm heart! I'm sure she has. If a man would take her and be kind to her, she'd make him happy.'

She stopped, looking at him intently.

Then suddenly she burst out, laying her hand on the arm of his chair—Daddy's chair:

'Don't be angry; you've been like a brother to me.'

He took her hand and pressed it, reassuring her.

'But how can I make her happy?' he said, with his head on his hand. 'I don't want to be a fool and deny what you say, for the sake of denying it. But—'

His voice sank into silence. Then, as she did not speak, he looked up at her. She was sitting, since he had released her, with her arms locked behind her, frowning in her intensity of thought, her last energy of sacrifice.

'You would make her happy,' she said slowly, 'and she'd be a loving wife. She's flighty is Lucy, but there's nothing bad in her.'

Both were silent for another minute, then, by a natural reaction, both looked at each other and laughed.

'I'm making rather free with you, I'm bound to admit that,' she said, with a merry shamefaced expression, which brought out the youth in her face.

'Well, give me time, Miss Dora. If—if anything did come of it, I should have to let Purcell know, and there'd be flat war. You've thought of that?'

Certainly, Dora had thought of it. They might have to wait, and Purcell would probably refuse to give or leave Lucy any money. All the better, according to David. Nothing would ever induce him to take a farthing of his ex-master's hoards.

But here, by a common instinct, they stopped planning, and David resolutely turned the conversation. When they parted, however, Dora was secretly eager and hopeful. It was curious how little the father's rights weighed with so scrupulous a soul. Whether it was his behaviour to her father which had roused an unconscious hardness even in her gentle nature, or whether it was the subtle influence of his Dissent, as compared with the nascent dispositions she seemed to see in David—anyway, Dora's conscience was silent; she was entirely absorbed in her own act, and in the prospects of the other two.



CHAPTER XVI

When David reached home that night he found a French letter awaiting him. It was from Louie, still dated from the country town near Toulouse, and announced the birth of her child—a daughter. The letter was scrawled apparently from her bed, and contained some passionate, abusive remarks about her husband, half finished, and hardly intelligible. She peremptorily called on David to send her some money at once. Her husband was a sot, and unfaithful to her. Even now with his first child, he had taken advantage of her being laid up to make love to other women. All the town cried shame on him. The priest visited her frequently, and was all on her side.

Then at the end she wrote a hasty description of the child. Its eyes were like his, David's, but it would have much handsomer eyelashes. It was by far the best-looking child in the place, and because everybody remarked on its likeness to her, she believed Montjoie had taken a dislike to it. She didn't care, but it made him look ridiculous. Why didn't he do some work, instead of letting her and her child live like pigs? He could get some, if his dirty pride would let him. It wasn't to be supposed, with this disgusting Commune going on in Paris, and everybody nearly ruined, that anyone would want statues—they had never even sold the Maenad—but somebody had wanted him to do a monument, cheap, the other day for a brother who had been killed in the war; and he wouldn't. He was too fine. That was like him all over.

It was as though he could hear her flinging out the reckless sentences. But he thought there were signs that she was pleased with the baby—and he suddenly remembered her tyrannous passion for the Mason child.

As to the money, he looked carefully into his accounts. For the last six months he had been gathering every possible saving together with a view to the History of Manchester, which he and John had planned to begin printing in the coming autumn. It went against him sorely to take from such a hoard for the purpose of helping Jules Montjoie to an idler and easier existence. The fate of his six hundred pounds burnt deep into a mind which at bottom was well furnished with all the old Yorkshire and Scotch frugality.

However, he sent his sister money, and he gave up in thought that fortnight's walking tour in the Lakes he had planned for his holiday. He must just stay at home and see to business.

Then next morning, as it happened, he woke up with a sudden hunger for the country—a vision before his eyes of the wide bosom of the Scout, of fresh airs and hurrying waters, of the sheep among the heather. His night had been restless; the whole of life seemed to be again in debate—Lucy's figure, Dora's talk, chased and tormented him. Away to the April moorland! He sprang out of bed determined to take the first train to Clough End. He had not been out of Manchester for months, and it was luckily a Saturday. Here was this letter of Louie's too—he owed the news to Uncle Reuben. Since Reuben's visit to Manchester, a year before, there had been no communication between him and them. Six years! How would the farm—how would Aunt Hannah look? There was a drawing in him this morning towards the past, towards even the harsh forms and memories of it, such as often marks a time of emotion and crisis, the moment before a man takes a half-reluctant step towards a doubtful future.

But as he journeyed towards the Derbyshire border, he was not in truth thinking of Dora's counsels or of Lucy Purcell at all. Every now and then he lost himself in the mere intoxication of the spring, in the charm of the factory valleys, just flushing into green, through which the train was speeding. But in general his attention was held by the book in his hand. His time for reading had been much curtailed of late by the toils of his business. He caught covetously at every spare hour.

The book was Bishop Berkeley's 'Dialogues.'

With what a medley of thoughts and interests had he been concerned during the last four or five months! His old tastes and passions had revived as we have seen, but unequally, with morbid gaps and exceptions. In these days he had hardly opened a poet or a novelist. His whole being shrank from them, as though it had been one wound, and the books which had been to him the passionate friends of his most golden hours, which had moulded in him, as it were, the soul wherewith he had loved Elise, looked to him now like enemies as he passed them quickly by upon the shelves.

But some of his old studies—German, Greek, science especially—were the saving of him. Among some foreign books, for instance, which he had ordered for a customer he came upon a copy of some scientific essays by Littre. Among them was a survey of the state of astronomical knowledge written somewhere about 1835, with all the luminous charm which the great Positivist had at command. David was captured by it, by the flight of the scientific imagination through time and space, amid suns, planets and nebulae, the beginnings and the wrecks of worlds. When he laid it down with a sigh of pleasure, Ancrum, who was sitting opposite, looked up.

'You like your book, Davy?'

'Yes,' said the other slowly, staring out of the twilight window at the gloom which passes for sky in Manchester. Then with another long breath,—'It makes you a new heaven and a new earth!'

A similar impression, only even richer and more detailed, had been left upon him by a volume of Huxley's 'Lay Sermons.' The world of natural fact in its overpowering wealth and mystery was thus given back to him, as it were, under another aspect than that torturing intoxicating aspect of art—one that fortified and calmed. All his scientific curiosities which had been so long laid to sleep revived. His first returning joy came from a sense of the inexhaustibleness and infinity of nature.

But very soon this renewed interest in science began to have the bearing and to issue in the mental activities which, all unknown to himself, had been from the beginning in his destiny. He could not now read it for itself alone. That new ethical and spiritual susceptibility, into which agony and loss had become slowly transformed, dominated and absorbed all else. For some time, beside his scientific books, there lay others from a class not hitherto very congenial to him, that which contains the great examples in our day, outside the poets, of the poetical or imaginative treatment of ethics—Emerson, Carlyle, Ruskin. At an age when most young minds of intelligence amongst us are first seized by these English masters, he had been wandering in French paths. 'Sartor Resartus,' Emerson's 'Essays,' 'The Seven Lamps,' came to him now with an indescribable freshness and force. Nay, a too great force! We enjoy the great prophets of literature most when we have not yet lived enough to realise all they tell us. When David, wandering at night with Teufels-drockh through heaven and hell, felt at last the hard sobs rising in his throat, he suddenly put the book and others akin to it away from him. As with the poets so here. He must turn to something less eloquent—to paths of thought where truth shone with a drier and a calmer light.

But still the same problems! Since his Eden gates had closed upon him, he had been in the outer desert where man has wandered from the beginning, threatened with all the familiar phantoms, illusions, mist-voices of human thought. What was consciousness—knowledge—law? Was there any law—any knowledge—any I?

Naturally he had long ceased to find any final sustenance or pleasure in the Secularist literature, which had once convinced him so easily. Secularism up to a certain point, it began to seem to him, was a commonplace; beyond that point, a contradiction. If the race should ever take the counsel of the Secularists, or of that larger Positivist thought, of which English secularism is the popular reflection, the human intellect would be a poorer instrument with a narrower swing. So much was plain to him. For nothing can be more certain than that some of the finest powers and noblest work of the human mind have been developed by the struggle to know what the Secularist declares is neither knowable nor worth knowing.

Yet the histories of philosophy which he began to turn over were in truth no more fruitful to him than the talk of the Reasoner. They stimulated his powers of apprehension and analysis; and the great march of human debate from century to century touched his imagination. But in these summaries of the philosophical field his inmost life appropriated nothing. Once by a sort of reaction he fell upon Hume again, pining for the old intellectual clearness of impression, though it were a clearness of limit and negation. But he had hardly begun the 'Treatise' or the 'Essays' before his soul rose against them, crying for he knew not what, only that it was for nothing they could give.

Then by chance a little Life of Berkeley, and upon it an old edition of the works, fell into his hands. As he was turning over the leaves, the 'Alciphron' so struck him that he turned to the first page of the first volume, and evening after evening read the whole through with a devouring energy that never flagged. When it was over he was a different being. The mind had crystallised afresh.

It was his first serious grapple with the fundamental problems of knowledge. And, to a nature which had been so tossed and bruised in the great unregarding tide of things, which had felt itself the mere chattel of a callous universe, of no account or dignity either to gods or men, what strange exaltation there was in the general suggestion of Berkeley's thought! The mind, the source of all that is; the impressions on the senses, merely the speech of the Eternal Mind to ours, a Visual Language, whereof man's understanding is perpetually advancing, which has been indeed contrived for his education; man, naturally immortal, king of himself and of the senses, inalienably one—if he would but open his eyes and see—with all that is Divine, true, eternal: the soul that had been crushed by grief and self-contempt revived at the mere touch of these vast possibilities like a trampled plant. Not that it absorbed them yet, made them its own; but they made a healing stimulating atmosphere in which it seemed once more possible for it to grow into a true manhood. The spiritual hypothesis of things was for the first time presented in such a way as to take imaginative hold without exciting or harrowing the feelings; he saw the world reversed, in a pure light of thought, as Berkeley saw it, and all the horizon of things fell back.

Now—on this April afternoon—as the neighbourhood of Manchester was left behind, as the long woodclad valleys and unpolluted streams began to prophesy of Derbyshire and the Peak, David, his face pressed against the window, fell into a dream with Berkeley and with nature. Oh for knowledge! for verification! He began dimly and passionately to see before him a life devoted to thought—a life in which science after science should become the docile instrument of a mind still pressing on and on into the shadowy realm, till, in Berkeley's language, the darkness part, and it 'recover the lost region of light'!

But in the very midst of this overwhelming vision he said suddenly to himself:

'There is another way—another answer—Dora's way and Ancrum's.'

Aye, the way of faith, which asks for no length of years in which to win the goal, which is there at once—in the beat of a wing—safe on the breast of God! He thought of it as he had seen it illustrated in his friend and in Dora, with the mixture of attraction and repulsion which, in this connection, was now more or less habitual to him. The more he saw of Dora, the more he wondered—at her goodness and her ignorance. Her positive dislike to, and alienation from knowledge was amazing. At the first indication of certain currents of thought he could see her soul shrivelling and shrinking like a green leaf near flame. As he had gradually realised, she had with some difficulty forgiven him the attempt to cure Daddy's drinking through a doctor; that anyone should think sin could be reached by medicine—it was in effect to throw doubt on the necessity of God's grace! And she could not bear that he should give her information from the books he read about the Bible or early Christianity. His detached, though never hostile, tone was clearly intolerable to her. She could not and would not suffer it, would take any means of escaping it.

Then that Passion-week sermon she had taken him to hear; which had so moved her, with which she had so sweetly and persistently assumed his sympathy! The preacher had been a High Church Canon with a considerable reputation for eloquence. The one o'clock service had been crowded with business and professional men. David had never witnessed a more tempting opportunity. But how hollow and empty the whole result! What foolish sentimental emphasis, what unreality, what contempt for knowledge, yet what a show of it!—an elegant worthless jumble of Gibbon, Horace, St. Augustine, Wesley, Newman and Mill, mixed with the cheap picturesque—with moonlight on the Campagna, and sunset on Niagara—and leading, by the loosest rhetoric, to the most confident conclusions. He had the taste of it in his mouth still. Fresh from the wrestle of mind into which Berkeley had led him, he fell into a new and young indignation with sermon and preacher.

Yet, all the same, if you asked how man could best live, apart from thinking, how the soul could put its foot on the brute—where would Dora stand then? What if the true key to life lay not in knowledge, but in will? What if knowledge in the true sense was ultimately impossible to man, and if Christianity not only offered, but could give him the one thing truly needful—his own will, regenerate?

But with the first sight of the Clough End streets these high debates were shaken from the mind.

He ran up the Kinder road, with its villanous paving of cobbles and coal dust, its mills to the right, down below in the hollow, skirting the course of the river, and its rows of workmen's homes to the left, climbing the hill—in a tremor of excitement. Six years! Would anyone recognize him? Ah! there was Jerry's 'public,' an evil-looking weather-stained hole; but another name swung on the sign; poor Jerry!—was he, too, gone the way of orthodox and sceptic alike? And here was the Foundry—David could hardly prevent himself from marching into the yard littered with mysterious odds and ends of old iron which had been the treasure house of his childhood. But no Tom—and no familiar face anywhere.

Yes!—there was the shoemaker's cottage, where the prayer-meeting had been, and there, on the threshold, looking at the approaching figure, stood the shoemaker's wife, the strange woman with the mystical eyes. David greeted her as he came near. She stared at him from under a bony hand put up against the sun, but did not apparently recognise him; he, seized with sudden shyness, quickened his pace, and was soon out of her sight.

In a minute or two he was at the Dye-works, which mark the limit of the town, and the opening of the valley road. Every breath now was delight. The steep wooded hills to the left, the red-brown shoulder of the Scout in front, were still wrapt in torn and floating shreds of mist. But the sun was everywhere—above in the slowly triumphing blue, in the mist itself, and below, on the river and the fields. The great wood climbing to his left was all embroidered on the brown with palms and catkins, or broken with patches of greening larch, which had a faintly luminous relief amid the rest. And the dash of the river—and the scents of the fields! He leapt the wall of the lane, and ran down to the water's edge, watching a dipper among the stones in a passion of pleasure which had no words.

Then up and on again, through the rough uneven lane, higher and higher into the breast of the Scout. What if he met Jim Wigson on the way? What if Aunt Hannah, still unreconciled, turned him from the door? No matter! Rancour and grief have no hold on mortals walking in such an April world—in such an exquisite and sunlit beauty. On! let thought and nature be enough! Why complicate and cumber life with relations that do but give a foothold to pain, and offer less than they threaten?

There is smoke rising from Wigson's, and figures moving in the yard. Caution!—keep close under the wall. And here at last is Needham farm, at the top of its own steep pitch, with the sycamore trees in the lane beside it, the Red Brook sweeping round it to the right, the rough gate below, the purple Scout mist-wreathed behind. There are cows lowing in the yard, a horse grazes in the front field; through the little garden gate a gleam of sun strikes on the struggling crocuses and daffodils which come up year after year, no man heeding them; there is a clucking of hens, a hurry of water, a flood of song from a lark poised above the field. The blue smoke rises into the misty air; the sun and the spring caress the rugged lonely place.

With a beating heart David opened the gate into the field, walked round the little garden, let himself into the yard, and with a hasty glance at the windows mounted the steps and knocked.

No answer. He knocked again. Surely Aunt Hannah must be about somewhere. Eleven o'clock; how quiet the house was!

This time there was a clatter of a chair on a flagged floor inside, and a person with a slow laboured step came and opened.

It was Reuben. He adjusted his spectacles with difficulty, and stared at the intruder.

'Uncle Reuben!—I thought it was such a fine day, I'd just run over and see the old place, and bring you some news,' said David, smiling and holding out his hand.

Reuben took it, stupefied. 'Davy,' he said, trembling. Then with a sudden movement he whipped the door to behind him, and shut it close.

'Whist!' he said, putting his old finger to his lip. 'T' servant's just settlin her i' t' kitchen. She's noa ready yet—she's been terr'ble bad th' neet. Coom yo here.' And he descended the steps with infinite care, and led David to the wood-shed.

'Is Aunt Hannah ill?' asked David, astonished.

Reuben leant against the wall of the shed, and took off his spectacles, as though to wipe them with his old and shaking hands. Then David saw a sort of convulsion pass across his ungainly face.

'Aye,' he said, looking down, 'aye, she's broken is Hannah. Yo didna knaw?'

'I've heard nothing.'

Reuben recounted the facts. Since her stroke of last spring, and the partial recovery which had followed upon it, there had been little apparent change, except perhaps in the direction of slowly increasing weakness. She was a wreck, and likely to remain so. Hardly anybody but Reuben could understand her now, and she rarely let him out of her sight. He could not get time to attend to the farm, was obliged to leave things to the hired man, and was in trouble often about his affairs.

'Bit yo see, she hasna t' reet use of her speach,' he said, excusing himself humbly to this handsome city nephew. 'An' she conno gie ower snipin aw at onst. 'Twudna be human natur'. An't' gell's worritin' an' I mun tell her what t' missis says.'

David asked if he might see her, or should he just turn back to the town? Reuben protested, his hospitality and family feeling aroused, his poor mind torn with conflicting motives.

'I believe she'd fratch if she didna see tha,' he said at last. 'A'll just goo ben, and ask.'

He went in, and David remained in the wood-shed, staring out at the familiar scene, at Louie's window, at the steps where he and she had fed the fowls together.

The door opened again, and Reuben reappeared on the steps, agitated and beckoning.

David went in, stepping softly, holding his blue cloth cap in his hand. In another instant he stood beside the old cushioned seat in the kitchen, looking down at Hannah.

This Hannah! this his childhood's enemy! this shawled and shrunken figure with the white parchment face and lantern cheeks!

He stooped to her and said something about why he had come. Reuben listened wondering.

'Louie's married and got a babby—dosto hear, Hannah? And he—t' lad—did yo iver see sich a yan for growin?'

He wished to be mildly jocular. Hannah's face did not move. She had just touched her nephew with her cold wasted hand. Now she beckoned to him to sit down at her right. He did so, and then for the first time he could believe that Hannah, the old Hannah, was there beside them. For as she slowly studied his dress, the Inverness cape then as now a favourite garb in Manchester, the hand holding the cap, refined since she saw it last by commerce with books and pens rather than hurdles and sheep, the broad shoulders, the dark head, her eye for the first time met his, full, and a weird thrill went through him. For that eye—dulled, and wavering—was still Hannah. The old hate was in it, the old grudge, all that had been at least for him and Louie the inmost and characteristic soul of their tyrant. He knew in an instant that she had in her mind the money of which he and his sister had robbed her, and beyond that the offences of their childhood, the infamy of their mother. If she could, she would have hurled them all upon him. As it was, she was silent, but that brooding eye, like a smouldering spark in her blanched face, spoke for her.

Reuben tried to talk. But a weight lay on him and David. The gaunt head in the coarse white nightcap turned now to one, now to the other, pursued them phantom-like. Presently he insisted that his nephew must dine, avoiding Hannah's look. David would much rather have gone without; but Reuben, affecting joviality, called the servant, and some food was brought. No attempt was made to include Hannah in the meal. David supposed that it was now necessary to feed her.

Reuben talked disjointedly of the neighbours and his stock, and asked a few questions, without listening to the answers, about David's affairs, and Louie's marriage. In Hannah's presence his poor dull wits were not his own; he could in truth think of nothing but her.

After the meal, however, when a draught of ale had put some heart in him, he got up with an air of resolution.

'I mun goo and see what that felly's been doin' wi' th' Huddersfield beeasts,' he said; 'wilta coom wi' me, Davy? Mary!'

He called the little maid. Hannah suddenly said something incoherent which David could not understand. Reuben affected not to hear.

'Mary, gie your mistress her dinner, like a good gell. An' keep t' house-door open, soa 'at she can knock wi' t' stick if she wants owt.'

He stood before her restless and ashamed, afraid to look at her. Then he suddenly stooped and kissed her on the forehead. David felt a lump in his throat. As he took leave of her the spell, as it were, of Reuben's piteous affection came upon him. He saw nothing but a dying and emaciated woman, and taking her hand in his, he said some kind natural words.

The hand dropped from his like a stone. As he stood at the door behind Reuben, the servant came forward with a plate of something which she put down inside the fender. As she did so, she awkwardly upset the fire-irons, which fell with a crash. Hannah started upright in her chair, with a rush of half-articulate words, grasping fiercely for her stick with glaring eyes. The servant, a wild moorland lass, fled terrified, and at the 'house' door turned and made a face at David.

Outside Reuben slowly mastered himself, and woke up to some real interest in Louie's doings. David told him her story frankly, so far as it could be separated from his own, and, pressed by Reuben's questions, even revealed at last the matter of the six hundred pounds. Reuben could not get over it. Sandy's "six hunderd pund" which he had earned with the sweat of his brow, all handed over to that minx Louie, and wasted by her and a rascally French husband in a few months—it was more than he could bear.

'Aye, aye, marryin's varra weel,' he said impatiently. 'A grant tha it's a great sin coomin thegither without marryin. But Sandy's six hunderd pund! Noa, I conno abide sich wark.'

And he fell into sombre silence, out of which David could hardly rouse him. Except that he said once, 'And we that had kep' it so long. I'd better never ha gien it tha.' And clearly that was the bitter thought in his mind. The sacrifice that had taxed all his moral power, and, as he believed, brought physical ruin on Hannah, had been for nothing, or worse than nothing. Neither he nor David nor anyone was the better for it.

'I must go over the shoulder to Frimley,' said David at last. They had made a half-hearted inspection of the stock in the home fields, and were now passing through the gate on to the moor. 'I must see Margaret Dawson again before I take the train back.'

Reuben looked astonished and shook his head as though he did not remember anything about Margaret Dawson. He walked on beside his nephew for a while in silence. The Red Brook was leaping and dancing beside them, the mountain ashes were just bursting into leaf, the old smithy was ahead of them on the heathery slope, and to their left the Downfall, full and white, thundered over its yellow rocks.

But they had hardly crossed the Red Brook to mount the peak beyond when Reuben drew up.

'Noa'—he said restlessly—'noa. I mun goo back. T' gell's flighty and theer's aw maks o' mischief i' yoong things.' He stood and held his nephew by the hand, looking at him long and wistfully. As he did so a calmer expression stole for an instant into the poor troubled eyes.

'Very like a'st not see tha again, Davie. We niver know, Livin's hard soomtimes—soa's deein, folks say. I'm often freet'nt of deein'—but I should na be. Theer's noan so mich peace here, and we knaw that wi' the Lord theer's peace.'

He gave a long sigh—all his character was in it—so tortured was it and hesitating.

They parted, and the young man climbed the hill, looking back often to watch the bent figure on the lower path. The spell had somehow vanished from the sunshine, the thrill from the moorland air. Life was once more cruel, implacable.

He walked fast to Frimley, and made for the cottage of Margaret's brother. He remembered its position of old.

A woman was washing in the 'house' or outer kitchen. She received him graciously. The weekly money which in one way or another he had never failed to pay since he first undertook it, had made him well known to her and her husband. With a temper quite unlike that of the characteristic northerner, she showed no squeamishness at all about the matter. If it hadn't been for his help, they would just have sent Margaret to the workhouse, she said bluntly; for they had many mouths to feed, and couldn't have burdened themselves with an extra one. She was quite 'silly' and often troublesome.

'Is she here?' David asked.

'Aye, if yo goo ben, yo'll find her,' said the woman, carelessly pointing to an inner door. 'I conno ha her in here washin days, nor the children noather.'

David opened the door pointed out to him. He found himself in a rough weaving shed almost filled by a large hand-loom, with its forest of woodwork rising to the ceiling, its rolls of perforated pattern-paper, its great cylinders below, and many-coloured shuttles to either hand. But to-day it stood idle, the weaver was not at work. The room was stuffy but cold, and inexpressibly gloomy in this silence of the loom.

Where was Margaret? After a minute's search, there, beyond the loom, sitting by a fireless grate, was a little figure in a bedgown and nightcap, poking with a stick amid the embers, and as it seemed crooning to itself.

David made his way up to her, inexpressibly moved.

'Margaret!'

She did not know him in the least. She had a starved-looking cat on her lap, which she was huddling against her breast. The face had fallen away almost to nothing, so small and thin it was. She was dirty and unkempt. Her still brown hair, once so daintily neat, straggled out beneath her torn cap; her print bed-gown was pinned across her, her linsey skirt was in holes; everywhere the same tale of age neglected and unloved.

When David first stood before her she drew back with a terrified look, still clutching the cat tightly. But, as he smiled at her, with the tears in his eyes, speaking her name tenderly, her frightened look relaxed, and she remained staring at him with the shrinking furtive expression of a quite young child.

He knelt down beside her.

'Margaret, dear Margaret—don't you know me?'

She did not answer, but her wrinkled eyes, still blue and vaguely sweet, wavered under his, and it seemed to him that every now and then a shiver of cold ran through her old and frail body. He went on gently, trying to recall her wandering senses. In vain. In the middle she interrupted him with a piteous lip.

'They promised me a ribbon for't,' she said, complainingly, in a hoarse, bronchitic voice, pointing to the animal she held, and to its lean neck adorned with a collar of plaited string, on which apparently she had just been busy, to judge from the odds and ends of string lying about.

At the same moment David became aware of a couple of children craning their heads round the corner of the loom to look, a loutish boy about eleven, and a girl rather younger. At sight of them, Margaret raised a cry of distress and alarm, with that helpless indefinable note in the voice which shows that personality, in the true sense, is no longer there.

'Go away!' David commanded.

The children did not stir, but grinned. He made a threatening movement. Then the boy, as quick as lightning, put his tongue out at Margaret, and caught hold of his sister, and they clattered off, their mother in the next room scolding them out into the street again.

And this the end of a creature all sacrifice, a life all affection!

He took her shivering hand in his.

'Margaret, listen to me. You shall be better looked after. I will see to that. No one shall be unkind to you any more. If they won't do it here, my—my—wife shall take care of you!'

He lifted her hand and kissed it, putting all the pity and bitter indignation of his heart into the action. Margaret, seeing his emotion, whimpered too; otherwise she was impassive.

He left her, went into the next room, and had a long energetic talk with Margaret's sister-in-law. The woman, half ashamed, half recalcitrant, in the end promised amendment. What business it was of his she could not imagine; but the small weekly addition which he offered to make to Margaret's payments, while it showed him a greater fool than before, made it impossible to put his meddling aside. She promised that Margaret should be brought into the warm, that she should have better clothes, and that the children should be kept from plaguing her.

Then he departed, and mounting the moor again, spent an hour or two wandering among the boggy fissures of the top, or sitting on the high edges of the heather, looking down over the dark and craggy splendour of the hill immediately around and beneath him, on and away through innumerable paling shades of distance to the blue Welsh border. His speculative fervour was all gone. Reuben, Hannah, Margaret, these figures of suffering and pain had brought him close to earth again. The longing for a human hand in his, for a home, wife, children to spend himself upon, to put at least for a while between him and this unconquerable 'something which infects the world,' became in this long afternoon a physical pain not to be resisted. He thought more and more steadily of Lucy, schooling himself, idealising her.

It was the Sunday before Whitsunday. David was standing outside a trim six-roomed house in the upper part of the little Lancashire town of Wakely, waiting for Lucy Purcell.

She came at last, flushed and discomposed, pulling the door hastily to behind her.

They walked on a short distance, talking disconnectedly of the weather, the mud, and the way on to the moor, till she said suddenly:

'I wish people wouldn't be so good and so troublesome!'

'Did Robert wish to keep you at home?' inquired David, laughing.

'Well, he didn't want me to come out with—anybody but him,' she said, flushing. 'And it's so bad, because one can't be cross. I don't know how it is, but they're just the best people here that ever walked!'

She looked up at him seriously, an unusual energy in her slight face.

'What!—a town of saints?' asked David, mocking. It was so difficult to take Lucy seriously.

She tossed her head and insisted.

Talking very fast, and not very consecutively, she gave him an account, so far as she was able, of the life lived in this little town, a typical Lancashire town of the smaller and more homogeneous kind. All the people worked in two large spinning mills, or in a few smaller factories representing dependent industries, such as reed-making. Their work was pleasant to them. Lucy complained, with the natural resentment of the idle who see their place in the world jeopardised by the superfluous energy of the workers, that she could never get the mill girls to say that the mill hours were too long. The heat tried them, made appetites delicate, and lung mischief common. But the only thing which really troubled them was 'half-time.' Socially everybody knew everybody. They were passionately interested in each other's lives and in the town's affairs. And their religion, of a strong Protestant type expressed in various forms of Dissent, formed an ideal bond which kept the little society together, and made an authority which all acknowledged, an atmosphere in which all moved.

The picture she drew was, in truth, the picture of one of those social facts on which perhaps the future of England depends. She drew it girlishly, quite unconscious of its large bearings, gossiping about this person and that, with a free expenditure of very dogmatic opinion on the habits and ways which were not hers. But, on the whole, the picture emerged, and David had never liked her talk so well. The little self-centred thing had somehow been made to wonder and admire; which is much for all of us.

And she, meanwhile, was instantly sensible that she was in a happy vein, that she pleased. Her eyes danced under her pretty spring hat. How proud she was to walk with him—that he had come all this way to see her! As she shyly glanced him up and down, she would have liked the village street to be full of gazers, and was almost loth to leave the public way for the loneliness of the moor. What other girl in Wakely had the prospect of such a young man to take her out? Oh! would he ever, ever 'ask her'—would he even come again?

At last, after a steep and muddy climb, through uninviting back ways, they were out upon the moor. An apology for a moor in David's eyes! For the hills which surround the valley of the Irwell, in which Wakely lies, are, for the most part, green and rolling ground, heatherless and cragless. Still, from the top they looked over a wide and wind-blown scene, the bolder moors of Rochdale behind them, and in front the long green basin in which the Irwell rises. Along the valley bottoms lay the mills, with their surrounding rows of small stone houses. Up on the backs of the moors crouched the old farms, which have watched the mills come, and will perhaps see them go; and here and there a grim-looking colliery marked a fold of the hill. The landscape on a spring day has a bracing bareness, which is not without exhilaration. The wind blows freshly, the sun lies broadly on the hills. England, on the whole at her busiest and best, spreads before you.

They were still on the top when it occurred to them that they had a long walk in prospect—for they talked of getting to the source of the Irwell—and that it was dinner-time. So they sat down under one of the mortarless stone walls which streak the moors, and David brought out the meal that was in his pockets. They ate with laughter and chat. Pigeons passed overhead, going and coming from an old farm about a hundred yards away; the sky above them had a lark for voice singing his loudest; and in the next field a peewit was wheeling and crying. The few trees in sight were struggling fast into leaf. Nature even in this cold north was gay to-day and young.

Suddenly, in the midst of their meal, by a natural caprice and reaction of the mind, as David sat looking down on slate roofs and bare winding valley, across the pale, rain-beaten grass of the moor, all the northern English detail vanished from his eyes. For one suffocating instant he saw nothing but a great picture gallery, its dimly storied walls and polished floor receding into the distance. In front Velazquez' 'Infanta,' and before it a figure bent over a canvas. Every line and tint stood out. He heard the light varying voice, caught the complex grace of the woman, the strenuous effort of the artist.

Enough! He closed his eyes for one bitter instant; then raised them again to England and to Lucy.

There under the wall, while they were still lingering in the sun, he asked Lucy Purcell to be his wife. And Lucy, hardly believing her own foolish ears, and in a whirl of bliss and exultation past expression, nevertheless put on a few maidenly airs and graces, coquetted a little, would not be kissed all at once, talked of her father and the war that must be faced, and finally surrendered, held up her scarlet cheek for her lord's caress, and then sat speechless, hand in hand with him.

But Nature had its way. They rambled on, crossing the stone stiles which link the bare green fields on the side of the moor. When a stile appeared, Lucy would send him on in front, so that she might mount decorously, and then descend trembling upon his hand.

Presently they came to a spot where the path crossed a little streamlet, and then climbed a few rough steps in a steep bank, and so across a stile at the top.

David ran up, leapt the stile, and waited. But he had time to study the distant course of their walk, as well as the burnt and lime-strewn grass about him, for no Lucy appeared. He leant over the wall, and to his amazement saw her sitting on one of the stone steps below, crying.

He was beside her in an instant. But he could not loosen the hands clasped over her eyes.

'Oh, why did you do it?—why did you do it? I'm not good enough—I never shall be good enough!'

For the first time since their formal kiss he put his arms round her. And as she, at last forced to look up, found herself close to the face which, in its dark refinement and power, seemed to her to-day so far, so wildly above her deserts, she saw it all quivering and changed. Never had little Lucy risen to such a moment; never again, perhaps, could she so rise. But in that instant of passionate humility she had dropped healing and life into a human heart.

Yet, was it Lucy he kissed?—Lucy he gathered in his arms? Or was it not rather Love itself?—the love he had sought, had missed, but must still seek—and seek?



BOOK IV MATURITY



CHAPTER I

'Daddy!' said a little voice.

The owner of it, a child of four, had pushed open a glass door, and was craning his curly head through it towards a garden that lay beyond.

'Yes, you rascal, what do you want now?'

'Daddy, come here!'

The voice had a certain quick stealthiness, through which, however, a little tremor of apprehension might be detected.

David Grieve, who was smoking and reading in the garden, came up to where his small son stood, and surveyed him.

'Sandy, you've been getting into mischief.'

The child laid hold of his father, dragged him into the little hall, and towards the dining-room door. Arrived there, he stopped, put a finger to his lip, and laid his head plaintively on one side.

'Zere's an aw ful sight in zere, Daddy.'

'You monkey, what have you been up to?'

David opened the door. Sandy first hung back, then, in a sudden enthusiasm, ran in, and pointed a thumb pink with much sucking at the still uncleared dinner-table, which David and the child's mother had left half an hour before.

'Zere's a pie!' he said, exultantly.

And a pie there was. First, all the salt-cellars had been upset into the middle of the table, then the bits of bread left beside the plates had been crumbled in, then—the joys of wickedness growing—the mustard-pot had been emptied over the heap, some bananas had been stuck unsteadily here and there to give it feature, and finally, in a last orgie of crime, a cruet of vinegar had been discharged on the whole, and the brown streams were now meandering across the clean tablecloth.

'Sandy, you little wretch!' cried his father, 'don't you know that you have been told again and again not to touch the things on the table? Hold out your hand!'

Sandy held out a small paw, whimpered beforehand, but never ceased all the time to watch his father with eyes which seemed to be quietly on the watch for experiences.

David administered two smart pats, then rang the bell for the housemaid. Sandy stationed himself on the rug opposite his father, and looked at his reddened hand, considering.

'I don't seem to mind much, Daddy!' he said at last, looking up.

'No, sir. Daddy'll have to try and find something that you will mind.'

The tone was severe, and David did his best to frown. In reality his eyes, under the frown, devoured his small son, and he had some difficulty in restraining himself from kissing the hand he had just slapped.

When the housemaid entered, however, she showed a temper which would clearly have slapped Master Sandy without the smallest compunction.

The little fellow stood and listened to her laments and denunciations with the same grave considering eyes, slipped his hand inside his father's for protection, watched, like one enchained, the gradual demolition of the pie, and when it was all gone, and the tablecloth removed, he gave a long sigh of relief.

'Say you're sorry, sir, to Jane, for giving her so much extra trouble,' commanded his father.

'I'm soddy, Jane,' said the child, nodding to her; 'but it was a p—wecious pie, wasn't it?'

The mixture of humour and candour in his baby eye was irresistible. Even Jane laughed, and David took him up and swung him on to his shoulder.

'Come out, young man, into the garden, where I can keep an eye on you. Oh! by the way, are you all right again?'

This inquiry was uttered as they reached the garden seat, and David perched the child on his knee.

'Yes, I'm bet—ter,' said the child slowly, evidently unwilling to relinquish the dignity of illness all in a moment.

'Well, what was the matter with you that you gave poor mammy such a bad night?'

The child was silent a moment, pondering how to express himself.

'I was-I was a little sick outside, and a little feelish inside'—he wavered on the difficult word. 'Mammy said I had the wrong dinner yesterday at Aunt Dora's. Zere was plums—lots o' plums!' said the child, clasping his hands on his knee, and hunching himself up in a sudden ecstasy.

'Well, don't go and have the wrong dinner again at Aunt Dora's. I must tell her to give you nothing but rice pudding.'

'Zen I shan't go zere any more,' said the child with determination.

'What, you love plums more than Aunt Dora?'

'No—o,' said Sandy dubiously, 'but plums is good!'

And, with a sigh of reminiscence, he threw himself back in his father's arm, being, in fact, tired after his bad night and the further excitement of the 'pie.' The thumb slipped into the pink mouth, and with the other hand the child began dreamily to pull at one of his fair curls. The attitude meant going to sleep, and David had, in fact, hardly settled him, and drawn a light overcoat which lay near over his small legs, before the fringed eyelids sank.

David held him tenderly, delighting in the weight, the warmth, the soft even breath of his sleeping son. He managed somehow to relight his pipe, and then sat on, dreamily content, enjoying the warm September sunshine, and letting the book he had brought out lie unopened.

The garden in which he sat was an oblong piece of ground, with a central grass plat and some starved and meagre borders on either hand. The gravel in the paths had blackened, so had the leaves of the privets and the lilacs, so also had the red-brick walls of the low homely house closing up the other end of the garden. Seventy years ago this house had stood pleasantly amid fields on the northern side of Manchester; its shrubs had been luxuriant, its roses unstained. Now on every side new houses in oblong gardens had sprung up, and the hideous smoke plague of Manchester had descended on the whole district, withering and destroying.

Yet David had a great affection for his house, and it deserved it. It had been built in the days when there was more elbow-room in the world than now. The three sitting-rooms on the ground floor opened sociably into each other, and were pleasantly spacious, and the one story of bedrooms above contained, at any rate in the eyes of the tenants of the house, a surprising amount of accommodation. When all was said, however, it remained, no doubt, a very modest dwelling, at a rent of somewhere about ninety pounds a year; but as David sat contemplating it this afternoon, there rose in him again the astonishment with which he had first entered upon it, astonishment that he, David Grieve, should ever have been able to attain to it.

'Sandy! come here directly! Where are you, sir?'

David heard the voice calling in the hall, and raised his own.

'Lucy! all right!—he's here.'

The glass door opened, and Lucy came out. She was very smartly arrayed in a new blue dress which she had donned since dinner; yet her looks were cross and tired.

'Oh, David, how stupid! Why isn't the child dressed? Just look what an object! I sent Lizzie for him ten minutes ago, and she couldn't find him.'

'Then Lizzie has even less brains than I supposed,' said David composedly, 'seeing that she had only to look out of a back window. What are you going to do with him?'

'Take him out with me, of course. There are the Watsons of Fallowfield, they pestered me to bring him, and they're at home Saturdays. And aren't you coming too?'

'Madam, you are unreasonable!' said David, smiling, and putting down his pipe he laid an affectionate hand on his wife's arm. 'I went careering about the world with you last Saturday and the Saturday before, and this week end I must take for reading. There is an Oxford man who has been writing me infuriated letters this week because I won't let him know whether we will take up his pamphlet or no. I must get that read, and a good many other things, before tomorrow night.'

'Oh, I know!' said Lucy, pettishly. 'There's always something in the way of what I want. Soon I shan't see anything of you at all; it will be all business, and yet not a penny more to spend! Well, then, give me Sandy.'

David hesitated.

'Do you think you'll take him?' he said, bending over the little fellow. 'He doesn't look a bit himself to-day. It's those abominable plums of Dora's!'

He spoke with fierceness, as though Dora had been the veriest criminal.

'Well, but what nonsense!' cried Lucy; 'they don't upset other children. I can't think what's wrong with him.'

'He isn't like other children; he's of a finer make,' said David, laughing at his own folly, but more than half sincere in it all the same.

Lucy laughed too, and was appeased. She bent down to look at him, confessed that he was pale, and that she had better not take him lest there should be catastrophes.

'Well, then, I must go alone,' she said, turning away discontentedly. 'I don't know what's the good of it. Nobody cares to see me without him or you.'

The last sentence came out with a sudden energy, and as she looked back towards him he saw that her cheek was flushed.

'What, in that new gown?' he said, smiling, and looked her up and down approvingly.

Her expression brightened.

'Do you like it?' she said, more graciously.

'Very much. You look as young as when I first teased you! Come here and let me give you a "nip for new."'

She came docilely. He pretended to pinch the thin wrist she held out to him, and then, stooping, lightly kissed it.

'Now go and enjoy yourself,' he said, 'and I'll take care of Sandy. Don't tire yourself. Take a cab when you want one.'

She was moving away when a thought struck her.

'What are you going to say to Lord Driffield?'

A cloud crossed David's look. 'Well, what am I to say to him? You don't really want to go, Lucy?'

In an instant the angry look came back.

'Oh, very well!' she cried. 'If you're ashamed of me, and don't care to take me about with you, just say it, that's all!'

'As if I wanted to go myself!' he remonstrated. 'Why, I should be bored to death; so would you. I don't believe there would be a person in the house whom either of us would ever have seen before, except Lord Driffield. And I can see Lord Driffield, and his books too, in much more comfortable ways than by going to stay with him.'

Lucy stood silent a moment, trying to contain herself, then she broke out:

'That is just like you!' she said in a low bitter voice; 'you won't take any chance of getting on. It's always the way. People say to me that you're so clever—that you're thought so much of in Manchester, you might be anything you like. And what's the good? —that's what I think! If you do earn more money you won't let us live any differently. It's always, can't we do without this? and can't we do without that? And as to knowing people, you won't take any trouble at all! Why can't we get on, and make new friends, and be—be—as good as anybody? other people do. I believe you think I should disgrace myself—I should put my knife in my mouth, or something, if you took me to Lord Driffield's. I can behave myself perfectly, thank you.'

And Lucy looked at her husband in a perfect storm of temper and resentment. Her prettiness had lost much of its first bloom; the cheek-bones, always too high, were now more prominent than in first youth, and the whole face had a restless thinness which robbed it of charm, save at certain rare moments of unusual moral or physical well-being. David, meeting his wife's sparkling eyes, felt a pang compounded of many mixed compunctions and misgivings.

'Look here, Lucy!' he said, laying down his pipe, and stretching out his free hand to her, 'don't say those things. They hurt me, and you don't mean them. Come and sit down a moment, and let's make up our minds about Lord Driffield.'

Unwillingly she let herself be drawn down beside him on the garden bench. These quarrels and reproaches were becoming a necessity and a pleasure to her. David felt, with a secret dread, that the habit of them had been growing upon her.

'I haven't done so very badly for you, have I?' he said affectionately, as she sat down, taking her two gloved hands in his one.

Lucy vehemently drew them away.

'Oh, if you mean to say,' she cried, her eyes flaming, 'that I had no money, and ought just to be thankful for what I can get, just say it, that's all.'

This time David flushed.

'I think, perhaps, you'd better go and pay your calls,' he said, after a minute; 'we can talk about this letter some other time.'

Lucy sat silent her chest heaving. As soon as ever in these little scenes between them he began to show resentment, she began to give way.

'I didn't mean that,' she said, uncertainly, in a low voice looking ready to cry.

'Well, then, suppose you don't say it,' replied David, after a pause. 'If you'll try and believe it, Lucy, I don't want to go to Lord Driffield's simply and solely because I am sure we should neither of us enjoy it. Lady Driffield is a stuck-up sort of person, who only cares about her own set and relations. We should be patronised, we should find it difficult to be ourselves—there would be no profit for anybody. Lord Driffield would be too busy to look after us; besides, he has more power anywhere than in his own house.'

'No one could patronise you,' said Lucy, firing up again.

'I don't know,' said David, with a smile and a stretch; 'I'm shy—on other people's domains. If they'd come here I should know how to deal with them.'

Lucy was silent for a while, twisting her mouth discontentedly. David observed her. Suddenly he held out his hand to her again, relenting.

'Do you really want to go so much, Lucy?'

'Of course I do,' she said, pouting, in a quick injured tone. 'It's—it's a chance, and I want to see what it's like; and I should hardly have to buy anything new, unless it's a new bonnet, and I can make that myself.'

David sat considering.

'Well!' he said at last, trying to stifle his sigh, 'I don't mind. I'll write and accept.'

Lucy's eye gleamed. She edged closer to her husband.

'You won't mind very much? It's only two nights. Isn't Sandy cramping your arm?'

'Oh, we shall get through, I dare say. No—the boy's all right. I say'—with a groan—'shall I have to get a new dress suit?'

'Yes, of course,' said Lucy, with indignant eagerness.

'Well, then, if you don't go off, and let me earn some money, we shall be in the Bankruptcy Court. Good-bye! I shall take the boy into the study, and cover him up while I work.'

Lucy stood before him an instant, then stooped and kissed him on the forehead. She would have liked to say a penitent word or two, but there was still something hard and hot in her heart which prevented her. Yet her husband, as he sat there, seemed to her the handsomest and most desirable of men.

David nodded to her kindly, and sat watching her slim straight figure as she tripped away from him across the garden and disappeared into the house. Then he bent over Sandy and raised him in his arms.

'Don't wake, Sandy!' he said softly, as the little man half opened his eyes—'Daddy's going to put you to bye in the study.'

And he carried him in, the child breathing heavily against his shoulder, and deposited his bundle on an old horsehair sofa in the corner of his own room, turning the little face away from the light, and wrapping up the bare legs.

Then he sat down to his work. The room in which he sat was made for work. It was walled with plain deal bookcases, which were filled from floor to ceiling, largely with foreign books, as the paper covers testified.

For the rest, anyone looking round would have noticed a spacious writing-table in the window, a large and battered armchair beside the fire, a photograph of Lucy over the mantelpiece, oddly flanked by an engraving of Goethe and the head of the German historian Ranke, a folding cane chair which was generally used by Lucy whenever she visited the room, and the horsehair sofa, whereon Sandy was now sleeping amid a surrounding litter of books and papers which only just left room for his small person. If there were other chairs and tables, they were covered deep in literature of one kind or another, and did not count. The large window looked on the garden, and the room opened at the back into the drawing-room, and at one side into the dining-room. On the rug slept the short-haired black collie, whom David had once protected from Louie's dislike—old, blind, and decrepit, but still beloved, especially by Sandy, and still capable of barking a toothless defiance at the outer world.

It was a room to charm a student's eyes, especially on this September afternoon with its veiled and sleepy sun stealing in from the garden, and David fell into his chair, refilled his pipe, and stretched out his hand for a batch of manuscript which lay on his table, with an unconscious sigh of satisfaction.

The manuscript represented a pamphlet on certain trade questions by a young Oxford economist. For the firm of Grieve & Co., of Manchester, had made itself widely known for some five years past to the intelligence of northern England by its large and increasing trade in pamphlets of a political, social, or economical kind. They supplied mechanics' institutes, political associations, and workmen's clubs; nay, more, they had a system of hawkers of their own, which bade fair to extend largely. To be taken up by Grieve & Co. was already an object to young politicians, inventors, or social reformers, who might wish for one reason or another to bring their names or their ideas before the working-class of the North. And Grieve & Co. meant David, sitting smoking and reading in his armchair.

He gave the production now in his hands some careful reading for half an hour or more, then he suddenly threw it down.

'Stuff and nonsense!' he said to himself. 'The man has got the facts about those Oldham mills wrong somehow, I'm certain of it. Where's that letter I had last week?' and, jumping up, he took a bunch of keys out of his pocket and opened a drawer in his writing-table. The drawer contained mostly bundles of letters, and to the right hand a number of loose ones recently received, and not yet sorted or tied. He looked through these, found what he wanted, and was about to close the drawer when his attention was caught by a thick black note-book lying towards the back of it. He took it out, reminded by it of something he had meant to do, and carried it off with the Oldham letter to his chair. Once settled there again, he turned himself to the confutation of his pamphleteer. But not for long. The black book on his knee exercised a disturbing influence; his under-mind began to occupy itself with it, and at last the Oldham letter was hastily put down, and, taking out a pocket pen, David, with a smile at his own delinquency, opened the black book, turned over many closely written pages, and settled down to write another.

The black book was his journal. He had kept it intermittently since his marriage, rather as a journal of thought than as a journal of events, and he had to add to it to-day some criticisms of a recent book by Renan which had been simmering in his mind for a week or two. Still it contained a certain number of records of events, and, taken generally, its entries formed an epitome of everything of most import—practical, moral, or intellectual—which had entered into David Grieve's life during the eight years since his marriage.

For instance:—

'April 10, 1876.—Our son was born this morning between three and four o'clock, after more than three years of marriage, when both of us had begun to despair a little. Now that he is come, I am decidedly interested in him, but the paternal relation hardly begins at birth, as the mother's does. The father, who has suffered nothing, cannot shut his eyes to the physical ugliness and weakness, the clash of pain and effort, in which the future man begins; the mother, who has suffered everything, seems by a special spell of nature to feel nothing after the birth but the mystery and wonder of the new creature, the life born from her life—flesh of her flesh—breath of her breath. Else why is Lucy—who bears pain hardly, and had looked forward much less eagerly to the child, I think, than I had—so proud and content just to lie with the hungry creature beside her? while I am half inclined to say, What! so little for so much?—and to spend so full an energy in resenting the pains of maternity as an unmeaning blot on the scheme of things, that I have none left for a more genial emotion. Altogether, I am disappointed in myself as a father. I seem to have no imagination, and at present I would rather touch a loaded torpedo than my son.'

'April 30.—Lucy wishes to have the child christened at St. Damian's, and, though it goes against me, I have made no objection. And if she wishes it I shall go. It is not a question of one's own personal consistency or sincerity. The new individuality seems to me to have a claim in the matter, which I have no business to override because I happen to think in this way or that. My son when he grows up may be an ardent Christian. Then, if I had failed to comply with the national religious requirement, and had let him go unbaptized, because of my own beliefs or non-beliefs, he might, I think, rightly reproach me: "I was helpless, and you took advantage."

'Education is different. The duty of the parent to hand on what is best and truest in his own mind to the child is clear. Besides, the child goes on to carry what has been taught him into the open agora of the world's thought, and may there test its value as he pleases. But the omission, in a sense irreparable, of a definite and customary act like baptism from a child's existence, when hereafter the omission may cause him a pang quite disproportionate to any likes or dislikes of mine in the matter, appears to me unjust.

'I talk as if Lucy were not concerned!—or Dora! In reality I shall do as Lucy wills. Only they must not misunderstand me for the future. If my son lives, his father will not hide his heart from him.

'I notice for the first time that Lucy is anxious and troubled about her father. She would like now to be friends, and she took care that the news of the child's birth should be conveyed to him at once through a common acquaintance. But he has taken no notice. In some natures the seeds of affection seem to fall only on the sand and rock of the heart, where because they have "no depth of earth they wither away;" while the seeds of hatred find the rich and good ground, where they spring and grow a hundred-fold.'

'December 8, 1877.—I have just been watching Sandy on the rug between the two dogs—Tim, and the most adorable black and tan dachshund that Lord Driffield has just given me. Sandy had a bit of biscuit, and was teasing his friends—first thrusting it under their noses, and then, just as they were preparing to gulp, drawing it back with a squeal of joy. The child's evident mastery and sense of humour, the grave puzzled faces of the dogs, delighted me. Then a whim seized me. I knelt down on the rug, and asked him to give me some. He held out the biscuit and laid it against my lips; I saw his eye waver; there was a gleam of mischief—the biscuit was half snatched away, and I felt absurdly chagrined. But in an instant the little face melted into the sweetest, keenest smile, and he almost choked me in his eagerness to thrust the biscuit down my throat. "Poor Daddy! Daddy so hungry."

'I recall with difficulty that I once thought him ugly and unattractive, poor little worm! On the contrary, it is quite clear that, whatever he may be when he grows up—I don't altogether trust his nose and mouth—for a child he is a beauty! His great brown eyes—so dark and noticeable beneath the fair hair in the little apple-blossom face—let you into the very heart of him. It is by no means a heart of unmixed goodness. There is a curious aloofness in his look sometimes, as of some pure intelligence beholding good and evil with the same even speculative mind. But this strange mood breaks up so humanly! he has such wiles—such soft wet kisses! such a little flute of a voice when he wants to coax or propitiate you!'

'March 1878.—My printing business has been growing very largely lately. I have now worked out my profit-sharing scheme with some minuteness, and yesterday the men, John, and I had a conference. In part, my plan is copied from that of the "Maison Leclaire," but I have worked a good deal of my own into it. Our English experience of this form of industrial partnership has been on the whole unfavourable; but, after a period of lassitude, experiments are beginning to revive. The great rock ahead lies in one's relation to the trade unions—one must remember that.

'To the practised eye the men to-day showed signs of accepting it with cordiality, but the north-country man is before all things cautious, and I dare say a stranger would have thought them cool and suspicious. We meet again next week.

'I must explain the thing to Lucy—it is her right. She may resent it vehemently, as she did my refusal, in the autumn, to take advantage of that London opening. It will, of course, restrict our income just as it was beginning to expand quickly. I have left myself adequate superintendence wages, a bonus on these wages calculated in the same way as that of the men, a fixed percentage on the capital already employed in the business and a nominal thirty per cent, of the profits. But I can see plainly that however the business extends, we—she and I—shall never "make our fortune" out of it. For beyond the fifty per cent, of the profits to be employed in bonuses on wages, and the twenty per cent, set aside for the benefit and pension society, my thirty per cent, must provide me with what I want for various purposes connected with the well-being of the workers, and for the widening of our operations on the publishing side, in a more or less propagandist spirit.

'My bookselling business proper is, of course, at present outside the scheme, and I do not see very well how anything of the kind can be applied to it. This will be a comfort to Lucy; and just now the trade both in old and foreign books is prosperous and brings me in large returns. But I cannot disguise from myself that the other experiment is likely to absorb more and more of my energies in the future. I have from sixty to eighty men now in the printing-office—a good set, take them altogether. They have been gradually learning to understand me and my projects. The story of what Leclaire was able to do for the lives and characters of his men is wonderful!

'My poor little wife! I try to explain these things to her, but she thinks that I am merely making mad experiments with money, teaching workmen to be "uppish" and setting employers against me. When in my turn I do my best to get at what she means by "getting on," I find it comes to a bigger house, more servants, a carriage, dinner parties, and, generally, a move to London, bringing with it a totally new circle of acquaintance who need never know exactly what she or I rose from. She does not put all this into words, but I think I have given it accurately.

'And I should yield a great deal more than I do if I had any conviction that these things, when got, would make her happy. But every increase in our scale of living since we began has seemed rather to make her restless, and fill her with cravings which yet she can never satisfy. In reality she lives by her affections, as most women do. One day she wants to lose sight of everyone who knew her as Purcell's daughter, or me as Purcell's assistant; the next she is fretting to be reconciled to her father. In the same way, she thinks I am hard about money; she sees no attraction in the things which fill me with enthusiasm; but at the same time, if I were dragged into a life where I was morally starved and discontented, she would suffer too. No, I must steer through—judge for her and myself—and make life as pleasant to her in little ways as it can be made.

'Ah! the gospel of "getting on"—it fills me with a kind of rage. There is an essential truth in it, no doubt, and if I had not been carried away by it at one time, I should have far less power over circumstances than I now have. But to square the whole of this mysterious complex life to it—to drop into the grave at last, having missed, because of it, all that sheds dignity and poetry on the human lot, all that makes it worth while or sane to hope in a destiny for man diviner and more lasting than appears—horrible!

'Yet Lucy may rightly complain of me. I get dreamy—I procrastinate. And it is unjust to expect that her ideal of social pleasure should be the same as mine. I ought to—and I will—make more effort to please her.'

'July 1878.—I am in Paris again. Yesterday afternoon I wandered about looking at those wrecks of the Commune which yet remain. The new Hotel de Ville is rising, but the Tuileries still stands charred and ruined against the sky, an object lesson for Belleville. I walked up to the Arc de l'Etoile, and coming back I strolled into a little leafy open-air restaurant for a cup of coffee. Suddenly I recognised the place—the fountain—a largo quicksilver ball—a little wooden pavilion festooned with coloured lamps. It was as though eight years were wiped away.

'I could not stay there. But the shock soon subsided. There is something bewildering, de-personalising, in the difference between one stage of life and another. In certain moods I feel scarcely a thread of identity between my present self and myself of eight years ago.

'This morning I have seen Louie, after an interval of three years. Montjoie keeps out of my way, and, as a matter of fact, I have never set eyes on him since I passed him close to the Auteuil station in July 1870. From Louie's account, he is now a confirmed drunkard, and can hardly ever be got to do any serious work. Yet she brought me a clay study of their little girl which he threw off in a lucid interval two or three months ago, surely as good as anybody or anything, astonishingly delicate and true. Just now, apparently, he has a bad fit on, and but for my allowance to her she tells me they would be all but destitute. It is remarkable to see how she has taken possession of this money and with what shrewdness she manages it. I suspect her of certain small Bourse speculations—she has all the financial slang on the tip of her tongue—but if so, they succeed. For she keeps herself and the child, scornfully allows him so much for his pocket in the week, and even, as I judge from the consideration she enjoys in the church she frequents, finds money for her own Catholic purposes.

'Louie a fervent Catholic and an affectionate mother! The mixture of old and new in her—the fresh habits of growth imposed on the original plant—startle me at every turn. Her Catholicism, which resolves itself, perhaps, into the cult of a particular church and of two or three admirable and sagacious priests, seems to me one long intrigue of a comparatively harmless kind. It provides her with enemies, allies, plots, battles, and surprises. It ministers, too, to her love of colour and magnificence—a love which implies an artistic sense, and would have been utilised young if she had belonged to an artistic family.

'But just as I am adapting myself to the new Louie the old reappears! She was talking to me yesterday of her exertions at Easter for the Easter decorations, and describing to me in superlatives the final splendour of the results, and the compliments which had been paid her by one or two of the clergy, when the name of a lady who seems to have been connected with the church longer than Louie has, and is evidently her rival in various matters of pious service and charitable organisation, came to her lips. Instantly her face flamed, and the denunciation she launched was quite in the old Clough End and Manchester vein. I was to understand that this person was a mean, designing, worthless creature, a hideous object besides, and "made up," and as to her endeavours to ingratiate herself with Father this and Father that, the worst motives were hinted at.

'Another little incident struck me more painfully still. Her devotion to the little Cecile is astonishing. She is miserable when the child has a finger-ache, and seems to spend most of her time in dressing and showing her off. Yet I suspect she is often irritable and passionate even with Cecile; the child has a shrinking quiet way with her which is not natural. And today, when she was in the middle of cataloguing Montjoie's enormities, and I was trying to restrain her, remembering that Cecile was looking at a book on the other side of the room, she suddenly called to the child imperiously:

'"Cecile! come here and tell your uncle what your father is!"

'And, to my horror, the little creature walked across to us, and, as though she were saying a lesson, began to debiter a set speech about her father's crimes and her mother's wrongs, containing the wildest abuse of her father, and prompted throughout by the excited and scarlet Louie. I tried to stop it; but Louie only pushed me away. The child rose to her part, became perfectly white, declaimed with a shrill fury, indescribably repulsive, and at the end sank into a chair, hardly able to stand. Then Louie covered her with kisses, made me get wine for her, and held her cradled in her arms till it was time for them to go.

'On the way downstairs, when Cecile was in front of us, I spoke my mind about this performance in the strongest way. But Louie only laughed at me. "It shall be quite plain that she is mine and not his! I don't run away from him; I keep him from dying on the streets like a dog; but his child and everyone else shall know what he is."

'It is a tigress passion. Poor little child!—a thin, brown, large-eyed creature, with rather old, affected manners, and a small clinging hand.'

'July 4 th.—Father Lenoir, Louie's director, has just been to call upon me; Louie insisted on my going to a festival service at St. Eulalie this morning, and introduced me to him—an elderly, courteous, noble-faced priest of a fine type. He was discreet, of course, and made me feel the enormous difference that exists between an outsider and a member of the one flock. But I gathered that the people among whom she is now thrown perfectly understand Louie. By means of the subtle and powerful discipline of the Church, a discipline which has absorbed the practical wisdom of generations, they have established a hold upon her. And they work on her also through the child. But he gave me to understand that there had been crises; that the opportunities for and temptations to dissolute living which beset Montjoie's wife were endless; and it was a marvel that under such circumstances a being so wild had yet kept straight.

'I shook him warmly by the hand at parting, and thanked him from my heart. He somewhat resented my thanks, I thought. They imported, perhaps, a personal element into what he regards as a matter of pure ecclesiastical practice and duty.'

'December 25 th, 1878.—Lucy is still asleep; the rest of the house is just stirring. I am in my study looking out on the snowy garden and the frosted trees, which are as yet fair and white, though in a few hours the breath of Manchester will have polluted them.

'Last night I went with Lucy and Dora to the midnight service at St. Damian's. It pleased them that I went; and I thought the service, with its bells, its resonant Adeste fideles, and its white flowers, singularly beautiful and touching. And yet, in truth, I was only happy in it because I was so far removed from it; because the legend of Bethlehem and the mythology of the Trinity are no longer matters of particular interest or debate with me; because after a period of three-fourths assent, followed by one lasting over years of critical analysis and controversial reading, I have passed of late into a conception of Christianity far more positive, fruitful, and human than I have yet held. I would fain believe it the Christianity of the future. But the individual must beware lest he wrap his personal thinking in phrases too large for it.

'Yet, at least, one may say that it is a conception which has been gaining more and more hold on the minds of those who during the present century have thought most deeply, and laboured most disinterestedly in the field of Christian antiquity—who have sought with most learning and with fewest hindrances from circumstance to understand Christianity, whether as a history or as a philosophy.

'I have read much German during the past year, and of late a book reviewing the whole course of religious thought in Germany since Schleiermacher, with a mixture of exhaustive information and brilliant style most unusual in a German, has absorbed all my spare hours. Such a movement!—such a wealth of collective labour and individual genius thrown into it—producing offshoots and echoes throughout the world, transforming opinion with the slow inevitableness which belongs to all science, possessing already a great past and sure of a great future.

'In the face of it, our orthodox public, the contented ignorance of our clergy, the solemn assurance of our religious press—what curious and amazing phenomena! Yet probably the two worlds have their analogues in every religion; and what the individual has to learn in these days at once of outward debate and of unifying social aspiration, is "to dissent no longer with the heat of a narrow antipathy, but with the quiet of a large sympathy."'



CHAPTER II

A few days after Lord Driffield's warm invitation to Mr. and Mrs. David Grieve to spend an October Saturday-to-Monday at Benet's Park had been accepted, Lucy was sitting in the September dusk putting some frills into Sandy's Sunday coat, when the door opened and Dora walked in.

'You do look done!' said Lucy, as she held up her cheek to her cousin's salutation. 'What have you been about?'

'They kept me late at the shop, for a Saturday,' said Dora, with a sigh of fatigue, 'and since then I've been decorating. It's the Dedication Festival to-morrow.'

'Well, the festivals don't do you any good,' said Lucy, emphatically; 'they always tire you to death. When you do get to church, I don't believe you can enjoy anything. Why don't you let other people have a turn now, after all these years? There's Miss Barham, and Charlotte Corfield, and Mrs. Willan—they'd all do a great deal more if you didn't do so much. I know that.'

Lucy's cool bright eye meant, indeed, that she had heard some remarks made of late with regard to Dora's position at St. Damian's somewhat unfavourable to her cousin. It was said that she was jealous of co-operation or interference on the part of new members of the congregation in the various tasks she had been accustomed for years past to lay upon herself in connection with the church. She was universally held to be extraordinarily good; but both in the large shop, where she was now forewoman, and at St. Damian's, people were rather afraid of her, and inclined to head oppositions to her. A certain severity had grown upon her; she was more self-confident, though it was a self-confidence grounded always on the authority of the Church; and some parts of the nature which at twenty had been still soft and plastic were now tending to rigidity.

At Lucy's words she flushed a little.

'How can they know as well as I what has to be done?' she said with energy. 'The chancel screen is beautiful, Lucy—all yellow fern and heather. You must go to-morrow, and take Sandy.'

As she spoke she threw off her waterproof and unloosed the strings of her black bonnet. Her dark serge dress with its white turn-down collar and armlets—worn these last for the sake of her embroidery work—gave her a dedicated conventual look. She was paler than of old; the eyes, though beautiful and luminous, were no longer young, and lines were fast deepening in the cheeks and chin, with their round childish moulding. What had been naivete and tremulous sweetness at twenty, was now conscious strength and patience. The countenance had been fashioned—and fashioned nobly—by life; but the tool had cut deep, and had not spared the first grace of the woman in developing the saint. The hands especially, the long thin hands defaced by the labour of years, which met yours in a grasp so full of purpose and feeling, told a story and symbolised a character.

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