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The History of David Grieve
by Mrs. Humphry Ward
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She got up and went over to him with his tea. He woke up from his absorption and thanked her.

'Is it right?'

'Just right!' he said, tasting it. 'All the same, Lucy, it would be really nice of you to be kind to her and poor little Cecile. It won't be easy for either of us having Louie here.'

He began to cut up his bread with sudden haste, then, pausing again, he went on in a low voice. 'But if one leaves a task like that undone it makes a sore spot, a fester in the mind.'

She went back to the place in silence.

'What day is it to be?' she said presently. Certainly they both looked dejected.

'The 16th, isn't it? I wonder who the Manchester acquaintance was. He must have given a rose-coloured account. We aren't so rich as all that, are we, wife?'

He glanced at her with a charming half-apprehensive smile, which made his face young again. Lucy looked ready to cry.

'I know you'll get out of buying that coat,' she said with energy, as though referring to an already familiar topic of discussion between them.

'No, I won't,' said David cheerfully. 'I'll buy it before Louie comes, if that will please you. Oh, we shall do, dear! I've had a real good turn at the shop this last month. Things will look better this quarter's end, you'll see.'

'Why, I thought you'd been so busy in the printing office,' she said, a good deal cheered, however, by his remark.

'So we have. But John's a brick, and doesn't care how much he does. And the number of men who take a personal interest in the house, who do their utmost to forward work, and to prevent waste and scamping, is growing fast. When once we get the apprentices' school into full working order, we shall see.'

David gave himself a great stretch; and then, thrusting his hands deep into his pockets, stood by the fire enjoying it and his dreams together.

'Has it begun?' said Lucy. Her tone was not particularly cordial; but anyone who knew them well would perhaps have reflected that six months before he would have neither made his remark, nor she have asked her question.

'Yes—what?' he said with a start. 'Oh, the school! It has begun tentatively. Six of our best men give in rotation two hours a day to it at the time when work and the machines are slackest. And we have one or two teachers from outside. Twenty-three boys have entered. I have begun to pay them a penny a day for attendance.'

His face lit up with merriment as though he anticipated her remonstrance.

'David, how foolish! If you coax them like that they won't care a bit about it.'

'Well, the experiment has been tried by a great French firm,' he said, 'and it did well. It is really a slight addition to wages, and pays the firm in the end. You should see the little fellows hustle up for their money. I pay it them every month.'

'And it all comes out of your pocket—that, of course, I needn't ask,' said Lucy. But her sarcasm was not bitter, and she had a motherly eye the while to the way in which Sandy was stuffing himself with his bread and jam.

'Well,' he said, laughing and making no attempt to excuse himself, 'but I tell you, madam, you will do better this year. I positively must make some money out of the shop for you and myself too. So I have been going at it like twenty horses, and we've sent out a splendid catalogue.'

'Oh, I say, David!' said Lucy, dismayed, 'you're not going to take the shop-money too to spend on the printing?'

'I won't take anything that will leave you denuded,' he said affectionately; 'and whenever I want anything I'll tell you all about it—if you like.'

He looked at her significantly. She did not answer for a minute, then she said:

'Don't you want me to give those boys a treat some time?'

'Yes, when the weather gets more decent, if it ever does. We must give them a day on the moors—take them to Clough End perhaps. Oh, look here!' he exclaimed with a sudden change of tone, 'let us ask Uncle Reuben to come and spend the day to see Louie!'

'Why, he won't leave her,' said Lucy.

'Who? Aunt Hannah? Oh yes, he will. It's wonderful what she can do now. I saw her in November, you remember, when I went to see Margaret. It's a resurrection. Poor Uncle Reuben!'

'What do you mean?' said Lucy, startled.

'Well,' said David slowly, with a half tender, half humorous twist of the lip, 'he can't understand it. He prayed so many years, and it made no difference. Then came a new doctor, and with electricity and rubbing it was all done. Oh yes, Uncle Reuben would like to see Louie. And I want to show him that boy there!'

He nodded at Sandy, who sat staring open-mouthed and open-eyed at his parents, a large piece of bread and jam slipping slowly down his throat.

'David, you're silly,' said Lucy. But she went to stand by him at the fire, and slipped her hand inside his arm. 'I suppose she and Cecile had better have the front room,' she went on slowly.

'Yes, that would be the most cheerful.'

Then they were silent a little, he leaning his head lightly against hers.

'Well, I must go,' he said, rousing himself; 'I shall just catch the train. Send a line to Ancrum, there's a dear, to say I will go and see him to-night. Four months! I am afraid he has been very bad.'

Lucy stood by the fire a little, lost in many contradictory feelings. There was in her a strange sense as of some long strain slowly giving way, the quiet melting of some old hardness. Ever since that autumn time when, after their return from Benet's Park, her husband's chivalry and delicacy of feeling had given back to her the self-respect and healed the self-love which had been so rudely hurt, there had been a certain readjustment of Lucy's nature going on below the little commonplaces and vanities and affections of her life which she herself would never have been able to explain. It implied the gradual abandonment of certain ambitions, the relinquishment bit by bit of an arid and fruitless effort.

She would stand and sigh sometimes—long, regretful sighs like a child—for she knew not what. But David would have his way, and it was no good; and she loved him and Sandy.

But she owed no love to Louie Montjoie! It was a relief to her now—an escape from an invading sweetness of which her little heart was almost afraid—to sit down and plan how she would protect David from that grasping woman and her unspeakable husband.

'David, my dear fellow!' said Ancrum's weak voice. He rose with difficulty from his seat by the fire. The room was the same little lodging-house sitting-room in Mortimer Road, where David years before had poured out his boyish account of himself. Neither chiffonnier, nor pictures, nor antimacassars had changed at all; the bustling landlady was still loud and vigorous. But Ancrum was a shadow.

'You are better?' David said, holding his hand in both his.

'Oh yes, better for a time. Not for long, thank God!'

David looked at him with painful emotion. Several times during these eight years had he seen Ancrum emerge from these mysterious crises of his, a broken and shattered man, whom only the force of a superhuman will could drag back to life and work. But he had never yet seen him so beaten down, so bloodless, so emaciated as this. Lung mischief had declared itself more than a year before this date, and had clearly made progress during this last attack of melancholia. He thought to himself that his old friend could not have long to live.

'Has Williams been to see you?' he asked, naming a doctor whom Ancrum had long known and trusted.

'Oh yes! He can do nothing. He tells me to give in and go to the south. But there is a little work left in me still. I wanted my boys. I grew to pine for my boys—up there.'

'Up there' meant that house in Scotland where lived the friends bound to him by such tragic memories of help asked and rendered in a man's worst extremity, that he could never speak of them when he was living his ordinary life in Manchester, passionately as he loved them.

They chatted a little about the boys, some of whom David had been keeping an eye on. Five or six of them, indeed, were in his printing-office, and learning in the apprentices' school he had just started.

But in the middle of their talk, with a sudden change of look, Ancrum stooped forward and laid his hand on David's.

'A little more, Davy—I have just to get a little worse—and she will come to me.'

David was not sure that he understood. Ancrum had only spoken of his wife once since the night when, led on by sympathy and emotion, he had met David's young confession by the story of his own fate. She was still teaching at Glasgow so far as David knew, where she was liked and respected.

'Yes, Davy—when I have come to the end of my tether—when I can do no more but die—I shall call—and she will come. It has so far killed us to be together—more than a few hours in the year. But when life is all over for me—she will be kind—and I shall be able to forget it all. Oh, the hours I have sat here thinking—thinking—and gnashing my teeth! My boys think me a kind, gentle, harmless creature, Davy. They little know the passions I have carried within me—passions of hate and bitterness—outcries against God and man. But there has been One with me through the storms'—his voice sank—'aye! and I have gone to Him again and again with the old cry—Master!—Master! —carest Thou not that we perish?'

His drawn grey face worked and he mastered himself with difficulty. David held his hand firm and close in a silence which carried with it a love and sympathy not to be expressed.

'Let me just say this to you, Davy,' Ancrum went on presently, 'before we shut the door on this kind of talk—for when a man has got a few things to do and very little strength to do 'em with, he must not waste himself. You may hear any day that I have been received into the Catholic Church, or you may only hear it when I am dying. One way or the other, you will hear it. It has been strange to go about all these years among my Unitarian and dissenting friends and to know that this would be the inevitable end of it. I have struggled alone for peace and certainty. I cannot get them for myself. There is an august, an inconceivable possibility which makes my heart stand still when I think of it, that the Catholic Church may verily have them to give, as she says she has. I am weak—I shall submit—I shall throw myself upon her breast at last.'

'But why not now,' said David, tenderly, 'if it would give you comfort?'

Ancrum did not answer at once; he sat rubbing his hands restlessly over the fire.

'I don't know—I don't know,' he said at last. 'I have told you what the end will be, Davy. But the will still flutters—flutters—in my poor breast, like a caged thing.'

Then that beautiful half-wild smile of his lit up the face.

'Bear with me, you strong man! What have you been doing with yourself? How many more courts have you been pulling down? And how much more of poor Madam Lucy's money have you been throwing out of window?'

He took up his old tone, half bantering, half affectionate, and teased David out of the history of the last six months. While he sat listening he reflected once more, as he had so often reflected, upon the difference between the reality of David Grieve's life as it was and his, Ancrum's, former imaginations of what it would be. A rapid rise to wealth and a new social status, removal to London, a great public career, a personality, and an influence conspicuous in the eyes of England—all these things he had once dreamed of as belonging to the natural order of David's development. What he had actually witnessed had been the struggle of a hidden life to realise certain ideal aims under conditions of familiar difficulty and limitation, the dying down of that initial brilliance and passion to succeed, into a wrestle of conscience as sensitive as it was profound, as tenacious as it was scrupulous. He had watched an unsatisfactory marriage, had realised the silent resolve of the north-countryman to stand by his own people, of the man sprung from the poor to cling to the poor: he had become familiar with the veins of melancholy by which both character and life were crossed. That glittering prince of circumstance as he had once foreseen him, was still enshrined in memory and fancy; but the real man was knit to the cripple's inmost heart.

Another observer, perhaps, might have wondered at Ancrum's sense of difference and disillusion. For David after all had made a mark. As he sat talking to Ancrum of the new buildings behind the printing-office where he now employed from two to three hundred men, of the ups and downs of his profit-sharing experiences, of this apprentices' school for the sons of members of the 'house,' imitated from one of the same kind founded by a great French printing firm, and the object just now of a passionate energy of work on David's part—or as he diverged into the history of an important trade dispute in Manchester, where he had been appointed arbitrator by the unanimous voice of both sides—as he told these things, it was not doubtful even for Ancrum that his power and consideration were spreading in his own town.

But, substantially, Ancrum was right. Hard labour and natural gift had secured their harvest; but that vivid personal element in success which captivates and excites the bystander seemed, in David's case, to have been replaced by something austere, which pointed attention and sympathy rather to the man's work than to himself. When he was young there had been intoxication for such a spectator as Ancrum in the magical rapidity and ease with which he seized opportunity and beat down difficulty. Now that he was mature, he was but one patient toiler the more at the eternal puzzles of our humanity.

Ancrum let him talk awhile. He had always felt a certain interest in David's schemes, though they were not of a quality and sort with which a mind like his naturally concerned itself. But his interest now could not hold out so long as once it could.

'Ah, that will do—that will do, dear fellow!' he said, interrupting and touching David's hand with apologetic affection. 'I seem to feel your pulse beating 150 to the minute, and it tires me so I can't bear myself. Gossip to me. How is Sandy?'

David laughed, and had as usual a new batch of 'Sandiana' to produce. Then he talked of Louie's coming and of the invitation which had been sent to Reuben Grieve.

'I shall come and sit in a corner and look at her,' said Ancrum, nodding at Louie's name. 'What sort of a life has she been leading all these years? Neither you nor I can much imagine. But what beauty it used to be! How will John stand seeing her again?'

David smiled, but did not think it would affect John very greatly. He was absorbed in the business of Grieve & Co., and no less round, roseate, and trusty than he had always been.

'Well, good night—good night!' said Ancrum, and seemed to be looking at the clock uneasily. 'Come again, Davy, and I dare say I shall struggle up to you.'

At that moment the door opened, and, in spite of a hasty shout from Ancrum, which she did not or would not understand, Mrs. Elsley, his landlady, came into the room, bearing his supper. She put down the tray, seemed to invite David's attention to it by her indignant look, and flounced out again like one bursting with forbidden speech.

'Ancrum, this is absurd!' cried David, pointing to the tea and morsel of dry bread which were to provide this shrunken invalid with his evening meal. 'You can't live on this stuff now, you know—you want something more tempting and more nourishing. Do be rational!'

Ancrum sprang up, hobbled with unusual alacrity across the room, and, laying hold of David, made a feint of ejecting his visitor.

'You get along and leave me to my wittles!' he said with the smile of a schoolboy; 'I don't spy on you when you're at your meals.'

David crossed his arms.

'I shall have to send Lucy down every morning to housekeep with Mrs. Elsley,' he said firmly.

'Now, David, hold your tongue! I couldn't eat anything else if I tried. And there are two boys down with typhoid in Friar's Yard—drat 'em!—and scarcely a rag on 'em: don't you understand? And besides, David, if she comes, I shall want a pound or two, you see?'

He did not look at his visitor's face nor let his own be seen. He simply pushed David through the door and shut it.

'Sandy, they're just come!' cried Lucy in some excitement, hugging the child to her by way of a last pleasant experience before the advent of her sister-in-law. Then she put the child down on the sofa and went out to meet the new-comers.

Sandy sucked a meditative thumb, putting his face to the window, and surveyed the arrival which was going on in the front garden. There was a great deal of noise and talking; the lady in the grey cloak was scolding the cabman, and 'Daddy' was taking her bags and parcels from her, and trying to make her come in. On the steps stood a little girl looking frightened and tired. Sandy twisted his head round and studied her carefully. But he showed no signs of running out to meet her. She might be nice, or she might be nasty. Sandy had a cautious philosophical way with him towards novelties. He remained perfectly still with his cheek pressed against the glass.

The door opened. In came Louie, with Lucy looking already flushed and angry behind her, and David, last of all, holding Cecile by the hand.

Louie was in the midst of denunciations of the cabman, who had, according to her, absorbed into his system, or handed over to an accomplice on the way, a bandbox which had certainly been put in at St. Pancras, and which contained Cecile's best hat. She was red and furious, and David felt himself as much attacked as the cabman, for to the best of his ability he had transferred them and their packages, at the Midland station, from the train to the cab.

In the midst of her tirade, however, she suddenly stopped short and looked round the room she had just entered—Lucy's low comfortable sitting-room, with David's books overflowing into every nook and corner, the tea-table spread, and the big fire which Lucy had been nervously feeding during her time of waiting for the travellers.

'Well, you've got a fire, anyway,' she said, brusquely. 'I thought you'd have a bigger house than this by now.'

'Oh, thank you, it's quite big enough!' cried Lucy, going to the tea-table and holding herself very straight. 'Quite big enough for anything we want! Will you take your tea?'

Louie threw herself into an armchair and looked about her.

'Where's the little boy?' she inquired.

'I'm here,' said a small solemn voice from behind the sofa, 'but I'm not your boy.'

And Sandy, discovered with his back to the window, replaced the thumb which he had removed to make the remark, and went on staring with portentous gravity at the new-comers. Cecile had nervously disengaged herself from David and was standing by her mother.

'Why, he's small for his age!' exclaimed Louie; 'I'm sure he's small for his age. Why, he's nearly five!'

'Come here, Sandy,' said David, 'and let your aunt and cousin look at you.'

Sandy reluctantly sidled across the room so as to keep as far as possible from his aunt and cousin, and fastened on his father's hand. He and the little girl looked at one another.

'Go and kiss her,' said David.

Sandy most unwillingly allowed himself to be put forward. Cecile with a little patronising woman-of-the-world air stooped and kissed him first on one cheek and then on the other. Louie only looked at him. Her black eyes—no less marvellous than of yore, although now the brilliancy of them owed something to art as well as nature, as Lucy at once perceived—stared him up and down, taking stock minutely.

'He's well made,' she said grudgingly, 'and his colour isn't bad. Cecile, take your hat off.'

The child obeyed, and the mother with hasty fingers pulled her hair forward here, and put it back there. 'Look at the thickness of it,' she said, proudly pointing it out to David. 'They'd have given me two guineas for it in the Rue de la Paix the other day. Why didn't that child have your hair, I wonder?' she added, nodding towards Sandy.

'Because he preferred his mother's, I suppose,' said David, smiling at Lucy, and wondering through his discomfort what Sandy could possibly be doing with his coat-tail. He seemed to be elaborately scrubbing his face with it.

'What are you doing with my coat, villain?' he said, lifting his son in his arms.

Sandy found his father's ear, and with infinite precaution whispered vindictively into it:

'I've wiped them kisses off anyhow.'

David suppressed him, and devoted himself to the travellers and their tea.

Every now and then he took a quiet look at his sister. Louie was in some ways more beautiful than ever. She carried herself magnificently, and as she sat at the tea-table—restless always—she fell unconsciously into one fine attitude after another, no doubt because of her long practice as a sculptor's model. All the girl's awkwardness had disappeared; she had the insolent ease which goes with tried and conscious power. But with the angularity and thinness of first youth had gone also that wild and startling radiance which Montjoie had caught and fixed in the Maenad statue—the one enduring work of a ruined talent, now to be found in the Luxembourg by anyone who cares to look for it. Her beauty was less original; it had taken throughout the second-rate Parisian stamp; she had the townswoman's pallor, as compared with the moorland red and white of her youth; and round the eyes and mouth in a full daylight were already to be seen the lines which grave the history of passionate and selfish living.

But if her beauty was less original, it was infinitely more finished. Lucy beside her stumbled among the cups, and grew more and more self-conscious; she had felt much the same at Benet's Park beside Lady Venetia Danby; only here there was a strong personal animosity and disapproval fighting with the disagreeable sense of being outshone.

She left almost all the talk to her husband, and employed herself in looking after Cecile. David, who had left his work with difficulty to meet his sister, did his best to keep her going on indifferent subjects, wondering the while what it was that she had come all this way to say to him, and perfectly aware that her sharp eyes were in every place, taking a depreciatory inventory of his property, his household, and his circumstances.

Suddenly Louie said something to Cecile in violent French. It was to the effect that she was to hold herself up and not stoop like an idiot.

The child, who was shyly eating her tea, flushed all over, and drew herself up with painful alacrity. Louie went on with a loud account of the civility shown her by some gentlemen on the Paris boat and on the journey from Dover. In the middle of it she stopped short, her eye flamed, she bent forward with the rapidity of a cat that springs, and slapped Cecile smartly on the right cheek.

'I was watching you!' she cried. 'Are you never going to obey me—do you think I am going to drag a hunchback about with me?'

Both David and Lucy started forward. Cecile dropped her bread and butter and began to cry in a loud, shrill voice, hitting out meanwhile at her mother with her tiny hands in a frenzy of rage and fear. Sandy, frightened out of his wits, set up a loud howl also, till his mother caught him up and carried him away.

'Louie, the child is tired out!' said David, trying to quiet Cecile and dry her tears. 'What was that for?'

Louie's chest heaved.

'Because she won't do what I tell her,' she said fiercely. 'What am I to do with her when she grows up? Who'll ever look at her twice?'

She scowled at the child who had taken refuge on David's knee, then with a sudden change of expression she held out her arms, and said imperiously:

'Give her to me.'

David relinquished her, and the mother took the little trembling creature on her knee.

'Be quiet then,' she said to her roughly, always in French, 'I didn't hurt you. There! Veux-tu du gateau?'

She cut some with eager fingers and held it to Cecile's lips. The child turned away, silently refusing it, the tears rolling down her cheeks. The mother devoured her with eyes of remorse and adoration, while her face was still red with anger.

'Dis-moi, you don't feel anything?' she said, kissing her hungrily. 'Are you tired? Shall I carry you upstairs and put you on the bed to rest?'

And she did carry her up, not allowing David to touch her. When they were at last safe in their own room, David came down to his study and threw himself into his chair in the dark with a groan.



CHAPTER VI

Louie and her child entered the sitting-room together when the bell rang for supper-tea. Louie had put on a high red silk dress of a brilliant, almost scarlet, tone, which showed her arms from the elbows and was very slightly clouded here and there with black; Cecile crept beside her, a little pale shadow, in a white muslin frock, adorned, however, as Lucy's vigilant eyes immediately perceived, with some very dainty and expensive embroidery. The mother's dress reminded her of that in which she first saw Louie Grieve; so did her splendid and reckless carriage; so did the wild play of her black eyes, always on the watch for opportunities of explosion and offence. How did they get their dresses? Who paid for them? And now they had come over to beg for more! Lucy could hardly keep a civil tongue in her head at all, as her sister-in-law swept round the room making strong and, to the mistress of the house, cutting remarks on the difference between 'Manchester dirt' and the brightness and cleanliness of Paris. Why, she lorded it over them as though the place belonged to her! 'And she is just a pauper—living on what we give her!' thought Lucy to herself with exasperation.

After supper, at which Louie behaved with the same indefinable insolence—whether as regarded the food or the china, or the shaky moderator lamp, a relic from David's earliest bachelor days, which only he could coax into satisfactory burning—Lucy made the move, and said to her with cold constraint:

'Will you come into the drawing-room?—David has a pipe in the study after dinner.'

'I want to speak to David,' said Louie, pushing back her chair with noisy decision. 'I'll go with him. He can smoke as much as he likes—I'm used to it.'

'Well, then, come into my study,' said David, trying to speak cheerfully. 'Lucy will look after Cecile.'

To Louie's evident triumph Cecile made difficulties about going with her aunt, but was at last persuaded by the prospect of seeing Sandy in bed. She had already shown signs in her curious frightened way of a considerable interest in Sandy.

Then David led the way to the study. He put his sister into his armchair and stood pipe in hand beside her, looking down upon her. In his heart there was the passionate self-accusing sense that he could not feel pity, or affection, or remorse for the past when she was there; every look and word roused in him the old irritation, the old wish to master her, he had known so often in his youth. Yet he drew himself together, striving to do his best.

Well, now, look here,' said Louie defiantly, 'I want some money.'

'So I supposed,' he said quietly, lighting his pipe.

Louie reddened.

'Well, and if I do want it,' she said, breathing quickly, 'I've a right to want it. You chose to waste all that money—all my money—on that marrying business, and you must take the consequence. I look upon it this way—you promised to put my money into your trade and give me a fair share of your profits. Then you chucked it away—you made me spend it all, and now, of course, I'm to have nothing to say to your profits. Oh dear, no! It's a trifle that I'm a pauper and you're rolling in money compared to me anyway. Oh! it doesn't matter nothing to nobody—not at all! All the same you couldn't have made the start you did—not those few months I was with you—without my money. Why can't you confess it, I want to know—and behave more handsome to me now—instead of leaving me in that state that I haven't a franc to bless myself with!'

She threw herself back in her chair, with one arm flung behind her head. David stared at her tongue-tied for a while by sheer amazement.

'I gave you everything I had,' he said, at last, with a slow distinctness,' all your money, and all my own too. When I came back here, I had my new stock, it is true, but it was much of it unpaid for. My first struggle was to get my neck out of debt.'

He paused, shrinking with a kind of sick repulsion from the memory of that bygone year of shattered nerves and anguished effort. Deliberately he let thought and speech of it drop. Louie was the last person in the world to whom he could talk of it.

'I built up my business again,' he resumed, 'by degrees. Mr. Doyle lent me money—it was on that capital I first began to thrive. From the very beginning, even in the very year when I handed over to you all our father's money—I sent you more. And every year since—you know as well as I do—'

But again he looked away and paused. Once more he felt himself on a wrong tack. What was the use of laying out, so to speak, all that he had done in the sight of these angry eyes? Besides, a certain high pride restrained him.

Louie looked a trifle disconcerted, and her flush deepened. Her audacious attempt to put him in the wrong and provide herself with a grievance could not be carried on. She took refuge in passion.

'Oh, I dare say you think you've done a precious lot!' she said, sitting straight up and locking her hands round her knee, while the whole frame of her stiffened and quivered. 'I suppose you think other people would think so too. I don't care! It don't matter to me. You're the only belonging I've got—who else was there for me to look to? Oh, it is all very fine! All I know is, I can't stand my life any more! If you can't do anything, I'll just pack up my traps and go. Somebody'll have to make it easier for me, that's all! Last week—I was out of the house—he found out where I kept my money, he broke the lock open, and when I got home there was nothing. Nothing, I tell you!' Her voice rose to a shrillness that made David look to see that the door between them and Lucy was securely closed. 'And I'd promised a whole lot of things to the church for Easter, and Cecile and I haven't got a rag between us; and as for the rent, the landlord may whistle for it! Oh! the beast!' she said, between her teeth, while the fierce tears stood in her eyes.

Lucy—any woman of normal shrewdness, putting two and two together—would have allowed these complaints about half their claimed weight. Upon David—unconsciously inclined to measure all emotion by his own standard—they produced an immediate and deep impression.

'You poor thing!' he murmured, as he stood looking down upon her.

She tossed her head, as though resenting his compassion.

'Yes, I'm about tired of it! I thought I'd come over and tell you that. Now you know,—and if you hear things you don't like, don't blame me, that's all!'

Her great eyes blazed into his. He understood her. Her child—the priests—had, so far, restrained her. Now—what strange mixture of shameless impulse—curiosity, greed, reckless despair—had driven her here that she might threaten him thus!

'Ah, I dare say you think I've had a gay life of it over there with your money,' she went on, not allowing him to speak. 'My God! '

She shrugged her shoulders, with a scornful laugh, while the tempest gathered within her.

'Don't I know perfectly that for years I have been one of the most beautiful women in Paris! Ask the men who have painted me for the Salon—ask that brute who might have made a fortune out of me if he hadn't been the sot he is! And what have I got by it? What do other women who are not a tenth part as good-looking as I am get by it? A comfortable life, anyway! Eh bien! essayons!—nous aussi.'

The look she flung at him choked the words on his lips.

'When I think of these ten years,' she cried, 'I just wonder at myself. There,—what you think about it I don't know, and I don't care. I might have had a good time, and I've had a devil's time. And, upon my word, I think I'll make a change!'

In her wild excitement she sprang up and began to pace the narrow room.

David watched her, fighting with himself, and with that inbred antipathy of temperament which seemed to paralyse both will and judgment. Was the secret of it that in their profound unlikeness they were yet so much alike?

Then he went up to her and made her sit down again.

'Let me have a word now,' he said quietly, though his hand as it gripped hers had a force of which he was unconscious. 'You say you wonder at yourself. Well, I can tell you this: other people have wondered too! When I left you in Paris ten years ago, I tell you frankly, I had no hopes. I said to myself—don't rage at me!—with that way of looking at things, and with such a husband, what chance is there? And for some years now, Louie, I confess to you, I have been simply humbled and amazed to see what—what'—his voice sank and shook—'love—and the fear of God—can do. It has been hard to be miserable and poor—I know that—but you have cared for Cecile, and you have feared to shut yourself out from good people who spoke to you in God's name. Don't do yourself injustice. Believe in yourself. Look back upon these years and be thankful. With all their miseries they have been a kind of victory! Will you throw them away now? But your child is growing up and will understand. And there are hands to help—mine, always—always.'

He held out his to her, smiling. He could not have analysed his own impulse—this strange impulse which had led him to bless instead of cursing. But its effect upon Louie was startling. She had looked for, perhaps in her fighting mood she had ardently desired, an outburst of condemnation, against which her mad pleasure in the sound of her own woes and hatreds might once more spend itself. And instead of blaming and reproaching he had—

She stared at him. Then with a sudden giving way, which was a matter partly of nerves and partly of surprise, she let her two arms fall upon the edge of the chair, and dropping her head upon them, burst out into wild sobbing.

His own eyes were wet. He soothed her hurriedly and incoherently, told her he would spare her all the money he could; that he and Lucy would do their best, but that she must not suppose they were very rich. He did not regard all his money as his own.

He went on to explain to her something of his business position. Her sobbing slackened and ceased. And presently, his mood changing instinctively with hers, he became more vague and cautious in statement; his tone veered back towards that which he was accustomed to use to her. For, once her burst of passion over, he felt immediately that she was once more criticising everything that he said and did in her own interest.

'Oh, I know you've become a regular Communist,' she said sullenly at last, drying her eyes in haste.' Well, I tell you, I must have a hundred pounds. I can't do with a penny less than that.'

He tried to get out of her for what precise purposes she wanted it, and whether her husband had stolen from her the whole of the quarter's allowance he had just sent her. She answered evasively; he felt that she was telling him falsehoods; and once more his heart grew dry within him.

'Well,' he said at last with a certain decision, 'I will do it if I can, and I think I can do it. But, Louie, understand that I have got Lucy and the child to think for, that I am not alone.'

'I should think she had got more than she could expect!' cried Louie, putting her hair straight with trembling hands.

His cheek flushed at the sneer, but before he could reply she said abruptly:

'Have you ever told her about Paris?'

'No,' he said, with equal abruptness, his mouth taking a stern line, 'and unless I am forced to do so I never shall. That you understand, I know, for I spoke to you about it in Paris. My past died for me when I asked Lucy to be my wife. I do not ask you to remember this. I take it for granted.'

'I saw that woman the other day,' said Louie with a strange smile, as she sat staring into the fire.

He started, but he did not reply. He went to straighten some papers on his table. It seemed to him that he did not want her to say a word more, and yet he listened for it.

'I remember they used to call her pretty,' said Louie, a hateful scorn shining in her still reddened eyes. 'She is just a little frump now—nobody would ever look at her twice. They say her husband leads her a life. He poisoned himself at an operation and has gone half crippled. She has to keep them both. She doesn't give herself the airs she used to, anyway.'

David could bear it no longer.

'I think you had better go and take Cecile to bed,' he said peremptorily. 'I heard it strike nine a few minutes ago. I will go and talk business to Lucy.'

She went with a careless air. As he saw her shut the door his heart felt once more dead and heavy. A few minutes before there had been the flutter of a divine presence between them. Now he felt nothing but the iron grip of character and life. And that little picture which her last words had left upon the mind—it carried with it a shock and dreariness he could only escape by hard work, that best medicine of the soul. He went out early next morning to his printing-office, spent himself passionately upon a day of difficulties, and came back refreshed.

For the rest, he talked to Lucy, and with great difficulty persuaded her in the matter of the hundred pounds. Lucy's indignation may be taken for granted, and the angry proofs she heaped on David that Louie was an extravagant story-telling hussy, who spent everything she could get on dress and personal luxury.

'Why, her dressing-table is like a perfumer's shop!' she cried in her wrath; 'what she does with all the messes I can't imagine—makes herself beautiful, I suppose! Why should we pay for it all? And I tell you she has got a necklace of real pearls. I know they are real, for she told Lizzie'(Lizzie was the boy's nurse)'that she always took them about with her to keep them safe out of her husband's clutches—just imagine her talking to the girl like that! When will you be able to give me real pearls, and where do you suppose she got them?'

David preferred not to inquire. What could he do, he asked himself in despair—what even could he know, unless Louie chose that he should know it? But she, on the contrary, carefully avoided the least recurrence to the threats of her first talk with him.

Ultimately, however, he brought his wife round, and Louie was informed that she could have her hundred pounds, which should be paid her on the day of her departure, but that nothing more, beyond her allowance, could or should be given her during the current year.

She took the promise very coolly, but certainly made herself more agreeable after it was given. She dressed up Cecile and set her dancing in the evenings, weird dances of a Spanish type, alternating between languor and a sort of 'possession,' which had been taught the child by a moustached violinist from Madrid, who admired her mother and paid Louie a fantastic and stormy homage through her child. She also condescended to take an interest in Lucy's wardrobe. The mingled temper and avidity with which Lucy received her advances may be imagined. It made her mad to have it constantly implied that her gowns and bonnets would not be worn by a maid-of-all-work in Paris. At the same time, when Louie's fingers had been busy with them it was as plain to her as to anyone else that they became her twice as well as they had before. So she submitted to be pinned and pulled about and tried on, keeping as much as possible on her dignity all the time, and reddening with fresh wrath each time that Louie made it plain to her that she thought her sister-in-law a provincial little fool, and was only troubling herself about her to pass the time.

Dora, of course, came up to see Louie, and Louie was much more communicative to her than to either Lucy or David. She told stories of her husband which made Dora's hair stand on end; but she boasted in great detail of her friendships with certain Legitimist ladies of the bluest blood, with one of whom she had just held a quete for some Catholic object on the stairs of the Salon. 'I was in blue and pink with a little silver,' she said, looking quickly behind her to see that Lucy was not listening. 'And Cecile was a fairy, with spangled wings—the sweetest thing you ever saw. We were both in the illustrated papers the week after, but as nobody took any notice of Madame de C—she has behaved like a washerwoman to me ever since. As if I could help her complexion or her age!'

But above all did she boast herself against Dora in Church matters. She would go to St. Damian's on Sunday, triumphantly announcing that she should have to confess it as a sin when she got home, and afterwards, when Dora, as her custom was, came out to early dinner with the Grieves, Louie could not contain herself on the subject of the dresses, the processions, the decorations, the flowers, and ceremonial trappings in general, with which she might, if she liked, regale herself either at Ste. Eulalie or the Madeleine, in comparison with the wretched show offered by St. Damian's. Dora, after an early service and much Sunday-school, sat looking pale and weary under the scornful information poured out upon her. She was outraged by Louie's tone; yet she was stung by her contempt. Once her gentleness was roused to speech, and she endeavoured to give some of the reasons for rejecting the usurped authority of the 'Bishop of Rome,' in which she had been drilled at different times. But she floundered and came to grief. Her adversary laughed at her, and in the intervals of rating Cecile for having inked her dress, flaunted some shrill controversy which left them all staring. Louie vindicating, the claims of the Holy See with much unction and an appropriate diction! It seemed to David, as he listened, that the irony of life could hardly be carried further.

On the following day, David, not without a certain consciousness, said to John Dalby, his faithful helper through many years, and of late his partner:

'My sister is up at our place, John, with her little girl. Lucy would be very glad if you would go in this evening to see them.'

John, who was already aware of the advent of Madame Montjoie, accepted the invitation and went. Louie received him with a manner half mocking—half patronising—and made no effort whatever to be agreeable to him. She was preoccupied; and the stout, shy man in his new suit only bored her. As for him, he sat and watched her; his small, amazed eyes took in her ways with Cecile, alternately boastful and tyrannical; her airs towards Lucy; her complete indifference to her brother's life and interests. When he got up to go, he took leave of her with all the old timid gaucherie. But if, when he entered the room, there had been anything left in his mind of the old dream, he was a wholly free man when he recrossed the threshold. He walked home thinking much of a small solicitor's daughter, who worshipped at the Congregational chapel he himself attended. He had been at David Grieve's side all these years; he loved him probably more than he would now love any woman; he devoted himself with ardour to the printing and selling of the various heretical works and newspapers published by Grieve & Co.; and yet for some long time past he had been—and was likely to remain—a man of strong religious convictions, of a common Evangelical type.

The second week of Louie's stay was a much greater trial than the first to all concerned. She grew tired of dressing and patronising Lucy; her sharp eyes and tongue found out all her sister-in-law's weak points; the two children were a fruitful source of jarring and jealousy between the mothers; and by the end of the week their relation was so much strained, and David had so much difficulty in keeping the peace, that he could only pine for the Monday morning which was to see Louie's departure. Meanwhile nothing occurred to give him back his momentary hold upon her. She took great care not to be alone with him. It was as though she felt the presence of a new force in him, and would give it no chance of affecting her in mysterious and incalculable ways.

On the Saturday before her last Sunday, Reuben Grieve arrived in Manchester—with his wife. His nephew's letter and invitation had thrown the old man into a great flutter. Ultimately his curiosity as to David's home and child—David himself he had seen several times since the marriage—and the desire, which the more prosperous state of his own circumstances allowed him to feel, to see what Louie might be like after all these years—decided him to go. And when he told Hannah of his intended journey, he found, to his amazement, that she was minded to go too. 'If yo'll tell me when yo gan me a jaunt last, I'll be obliged to yo!' she said sourly, and he at once felt himself a selfish brute that he should have thought of taking the little pleasure without her.

When they were seated in the railway-carriage, he broke out in a sudden excitement:

'Wal, I never thowt, Hannah, to see yo do thissens naw moor!'

'Aye, yo wor allus yan to mak t' warst o' things,' she said to him, as she slowly settled herself in her corner.

Nevertheless, Reuben's feeling was amply justified. It had been a resurrection. The clever young doctor, brimful of new methods, who had brought her round, had arrived just in time to stop the process of physical deterioration before it had gone too far; and the recovery of power both on the paralysed side and in general health had been marvellous. She walked with a stick, and was an old and blanched woman before her time. But her indomitable spirit was once more provided with its necessary means of expression. She was at least as rude as ever, and it was as clear as anything can be in the case of a woman who has never learnt to smile, that her visit to Manchester—the first for ten years—was an excitement and satisfaction to her.

David met them at the station; but Reuben persisted in going to an old-fashioned eating-house in the centre of the city, where he had been accustomed to stay on the occasion of his rare visits to Manchester, in spite of his nephew's repeated offers of hospitality.

'Noa, Davy, noa,' he said, 'yo're a gen'leman now, and yo conno' be moidered wi' oos. We'st coom and see yo—thank yo kindly,—bit we'st do for oursels i' th' sleepin' way.'

To which Hannah gave a grim and energetic assent.

When Louie had been told of their expected arrival she opened her black eyes to their very widest extent.

'Well, you'd better keep Aunt Hannah and me out of each other's way,' she remarked. 'I shall let her have it, you'll see. I'm bound to.' A remark that David did his best to forget, seeing that the encounter was now past averting.

When on Sunday afternoon the door of the Grieves's sitting-room opened to admit Hannah and Reuben Grieve, Louie was lying half asleep in an armchair by the fire, Cecile and Sandy were playing with bricks in the middle of the floor, and Dora and Lucy were chatting on the sofa.

Lucy, who had seen Reuben before, but had never set eyes on Hannah, sprang up ill at ease and awkward, but genuinely anxious to behave nicely to her husband's relations.

'Won't you take a chair? I'll go and call David. He's in the next room. This is Miss Lomax. Louie!'

Startled by the somewhat sharp call, Louie sat up and rubbed her eyes.

Hannah, resting on her stick, was standing in the middle of the floor. At sight of the familiar tyrannous face, grown parchment-white in place of its old grey hue—of the tall gaunt figure robed in the Sunday garb of rusty black which Louie perfectly remembered, and surmounted by the old head-gear—the stiff frizzled curls held in place by two small combs on the temples, the black bandeau across the front of the head, and the towering bonnet—Louie suddenly flushed and rose.

'How do you do?' she said in a cool off-hand way, holding out her hand, which Hannah's black cotton glove barely touched. 'Well, Uncle Reuben, do you think I'm grown? I have had about time to, anyway, since you saw me. That's my little girl.'

With a patronising smile she pushed forward Cecile. The short-sighted tremulous Reuben, staring uncomfortably about him at the town splendours in which 'Davy' lived, had to have the child's hand put into his by Dora before he could pull himself together enough to respond.

'I'm glad to see tha, my little dear.' he said, awkwardly dropping his hat and umbrella as he stooped to salute her. 'I'm sure yo're varra kind, miss'—This was said apologetically to Dora, who had picked up his belongings and put them on a chair. 'Wal, Louie, she doan't feature her mither mich, as I can see.'

He looked hurriedly at his wife for confirmation. Hannah, who had seated herself on the highest and plainest chair she could find, stared the child up and down, and then slowly removed her eyes, saying nothing. Instantly her manner woke the old rage in Louie, who was observing her excitedly.

'Come here to me, Cecile. I'd be sorry, anyway, if you were like what your mother was at your age. You'd be a poor, ill-treated, half-starved little wretch if you were!'

Hannah started, but not unpleasantly. Her grim mouth curved with a sort of satisfaction. It was many years since she had enjoyed those opportunities for battle which Louie's tempers had once so freely afforded her.

'She's nobbut a midge,' she remarked audibly to Dora, who had just tried to propitiate her by a footstool. 'The chilt looks as thoo she'd been fed on spiders or frogs, or summat o' that soart.'

At this moment David came in, just in time to prevent another explosion from Louie. He was genuinely glad to see his guests; his feeling of kinship was much stronger now than it ever had been in his youth; and in these years of independent, and on the whole happy, living he had had time to forget even Hannah's enormities.

'Well, have you got a comfortable inn?' he asked Reuben presently, when some preliminaries were over.

'I thank yo kindly, Davy,' said Reuben cautiously, 'we're meeterly weel sarved; bit yo conno look for mich fro teawn folk.'

'What are yo allus so mealy-mouthed for?' said his wife indignantly. 'Why conno yo say reet out 'at it's a pleeace not fit for ony decent dog to put his head in, an' an ill-mannert daggle-tail of a woman to keep it, as I'd like to sweep out wi th' bits of a morning, an' leave her on th' muck-heap wheer she belongs?'

David laughed. To an ear long accustomed to the monotony of town civilities there was a not unwelcome savour of the moors even in these brutalities of Hannah's.

'Sandy, where are you?' he said, looking round. 'Have you had a look at him, Aunt Hannah?'

Sandy, who was sitting in the midst of his bricks sucking his thumb patiently till Cecile should be given back to him by her mother, and these invaders should be somehow dispersed, looked up and gave his father a sleepy and significant nod, as much as to say, 'Leave me alone, and turn these people out.'

But David lifted him up, and carried him off for exhibition. Hannah looked at him, as he lay lazily back on his father's arm; his fair curls straying over David's coat, his cheek flushed by the heat. 'Aye, he's a gradely little chap,' she said, more graciously it seemed to David than he ever remembered to have heard Hannah Grieve speak before. His paternal vanity was instantly delighted.

'Sit up, Sandy, and tell your great-uncle and aunt about the fine games you've been having with your cousin.'

But Sandy was lost in quite other reflections. He looked out upon Hannah and Reuben with grave filmy eyes, as though from a vast distance, and said absently:

'Daddy!'

'Yes, Sandy, speak up.'

'Daddy, when everybody in the world was babies, who put 'em to bed?'

The child spoke as usual with a slow flute-like articulation, so that every word could be heard. Reuben and Hannah turned and looked at each other.

'Lord alive!' cried Hannah 'whativer put sich notions into th' chilt's yed?'

David, with a happy twinkle in his eye, held up a hand for silence.

'I don't know, Sandy; give it up.'

Sandy considered a second or two, then said, with the sigh of one who relinquishes speculation in favor of the conventional solution:

'I s'pose God did.'

His tone was dejected, as though he would gladly have come to another conclusion if he could.

'Reuben,' said Hannah with severity, 'hand me that sugar-stick.'

Reuben groped in his pockets for the barley-sugar, which, in spite of Hannah's scoffs, he had bought in Market Street the evening before, 'for t' childer.' He watched his wife in gaping astonishment as he saw her approaching Sandy, with blandishments which, rough and clumsy as they were, had nevertheless the effect of beguiling that young man on to the lap where barley-sugar was to be had. Hannah fed him triumphantly, making loud remarks on his beauty and cleverness.

Meanwhile Louie stood on the other side of the fire, holding Cecile close against her, with a tight defiant grip—her lip twitching contemptuously. David, always sensitively alive to her presence and her moods, insisted in the midst of Sandy's feast that Cecile should have her share. Sandy held out the barley-sugar, following it with wistful eyes. Louie beat down Cecile's grasping hand. 'You shan't spoil your tea—you'll be sick with that stuff!' she said imperiously. Hannah turned, and brought a slow venomous scrutiny to bear upon her niece—on the slim tall figure in the elegant Parisian dress, the daintily curled and frizzled head, the wild angry eyes. Then she withdrew her glance, contented. Louie's evident jealousy appeased her. She had come to Manchester with one fixed determination—not to be 'talked foine to by that hizzy.'

At this juncture tea made its appearance, Lucy having some time ago given up the sit-down tea in the dining-room, which was the natural custom of her class, as not genteel. She seated herself nervously to pour it out. Hannah had at the very beginning put her down 'as a middlin' soart o' person,' and vouchsafed her very little notice.

'Auntie Dora! auntie Dora!' cried Sandy, escaping from Hannah's knee, 'I'm coming to sit by zoo.'

And as soon as he had got comfortably into her pocket, he pulled her head down and whispered to her, his thoughts running as before in the theological groove, 'Auntie Dora, God made me—and God made Cecile—did God make that one?'

And he nodded across at Hannah, huddling himself together meanwhile in a paroxysm of glee and mischief. He was excited by the flatteries he had been receiving, and Dora, thankful to see that Hannah had heard nothing, could only quiet him by copious supplies of bread and butter.

David wooed Cecile to sit on a stool beside him, and things went smoothly for a time, though Hannah made it clearly evident that this was not the kind of tea she had expected, and that she 'didn't howd wi' new-fangled ways o' takkin' your vittles.' Reuben did his best to cover and neutralise her remarks by gossip to David about the farm and the valley. 'Eh—it's been nobbut raggy weather up o' the moors this winter, Davy, an' a great lot o' sheep lost. Nobbut twothrey o' mine, I thank th' Lord.' But in the midst of a most unflattering account of the later morals and development of the Wigson family, Reuben stopped dead short, with a stare at the door.

'Wal, aa niver!—theer's Mr. Ancrum hissel,—I do uphowd yo!'

And the old man rose with effusion, his queer eyes and face beaming and blinking with a light of affectionate memory, for Ancrum stood in the doorway, smiling a mute inquiry at Lucy as to whether he might come in. David sprang up to bring him into the circle. Hannah held out an ungracious hand. Never, all these years, had she forgiven the ex-minister those representations he had once made on the subject of David's 'prenticing.

Then the new-comer sat down by Reuben cheerily, parrying the farmer's concern about his altered looks, and watching Louie, who had thrown him a careless word in answer to his greeting. Dora, who had come to know him well, and to feel much of the affectionate reverence for him that David did, in spite of some bewilderment as to his religious position, went round presently to talk to him, and Sandy as it happened was left on his stool for a minute or two forgotten. He asked his mother plaintively for cake, and she did not hear him. Meanwhile Cecile had cake, and he followed her eating of it with resentful eyes.

'Come here, Cecile,' said David, 'and hold the cake while I cut it; there's a useful child.'

He handed a piece to Reuben, and then put the next into Cecile's hand.

'Ready for some more, little woman?'

Cecile in a furtive squirrel-like way seized the piece and was retiring with it, when Sandy, beside himself, jumped from his stool, rushed at his cousin and beat her wildly with his small fists.

'Yo're a geedy thing—a geedy 'gustin' thing!' he cried, sobbing partly because he wanted the cake, still more because, after his exaltation on Hannah's knee, he had been so unaccountably neglected. To see Cecile battening on a second piece while he was denied a first was more than could be borne.

'You little viper, you!' exclaimed Louie, and springing up, she swept across to Sandy, and boxed his ears smartly, just as she was accustomed to box Cecile's, whenever the fancy took her.

The child raised a piercing cry, and David caught him up.

'Give him to me, David, give him to me,' cried Lucy, who had almost upset the tea-table in her rush to her child. 'I'll see whether that sister of yours shall beat and abuse my boy in my own house! Oh, she may beat her own child as much as she pleases, she does it all day long! If she were a poor person she would be had up.'

Her face glowed with passion. The exasperation of many days spoke in her outburst. David, himself trembling with anger, in vain tried to quiet her and Sandy.

'Ay, I reckon she maks it hot wark for them 'at ha to live wi her,' said Hannah audibly, looking round on the scene with a certain enjoyment which contrasted with the panic and distress of the rest.

Louie, who was holding Cecile—also in tears—in her arms, swept her fierce, contemptuous gaze from Lucy to her ancient enemy.

'You must be putting in your word, must you?—you old toad, you—you that robbed us of our money till your own husband was ashamed of you!'

And, totally regardless of the presence of Dora and Ancrum, and of the efforts made to silence her by Dora or by the flushed and unhappy Reuben, she descended on her foe. She flung charge after charge in Hannah's face, showing the minutest and most vindictive memory for all the sordid miseries of her childhood; and then when her passion had spent itself on her aunt, she returned to Lucy, exulting in the sobs and the excitement she had produced. In vain did David try either to silence her or to take Lucy away. Nothing but violence could have stopped the sister's tongue; his wife, under a sort of fascination of terror and rage, would not move. Flinging all thoughts of her dependence on David—of the money she had come to ask—of her leave-taking on the morrow—to the winds, Louie revenged herself amply for her week's unnatural self-control, and gave full rein to a mad propensity which had been gradually roused and spurred to ungovernable force by the trivial incidents of the afternoon. She made mock of Lucy's personal vanity; she sneered at her attempts to ape her betters, shrilly declaring that no one would ever take her for anything else than what she was, the daughter of a vulgar cheese-paring old hypocrite; and, finally, she attacked Sandy as a nasty, greedy, abominable little monkey, not fit to associate with her child, and badly in want of the stick.

Then slowly she retreated to the door out of breath, the wild lightnings of her eyes flashing on them still. David was holding the hysterical Lucy, while Dora was trying to quiet Sandy. Otherwise a profound silence had fallen on them all, a silence which seemed but to kindle Louie's fury the more.

'Ah, you think you've got him in your power, him and his money, you little white-livered cat!' she cried, standing in the doorway, and fixing Lucy with a look beneath which her sister-in-law quailed, and hid her face on David's arm. 'You think you'll stop him giving it to them that have a right to look to him? Perhaps you'd better look out; perhaps there are people who know more about him than you. Do you think he would ever have looked at you, you little powsement, if he hadn't been taken on the rebound?'

She gave a mad laugh as she flung out the old Derbyshire word of abuse, and stood defying them, David and all. David strode forward and shut the door upon her. Then he went tenderly up to his wife, and took her and Sandy into the library.

The sound of Cecile's wails could be heard in the distance. The frightened Reuben turned and looked at his wife. She had grown paler even than before, but her eyes were all alive.

'A racklesome, natterin' creetur as ivir I seed,' she said calmly; 'I allus telt tha, Reuben Grieve, what hoo'd coom to. It's bred in her—that's yan thing to be hodden i' mind. But I'll shift her in double quick-sticks if she ever cooms meddlin' i' my house, Reuben Grieve—soa yo know.'

'She oughtn't to stay here,' said Ancrum in a quick undertone to Dora; 'she might do that mother and child a mischief.'

Dora sat absorbed in her pity for David, in her passionate sympathy for this home that was as her own.

'She is going to-morrow, thank God!' she said with a long breath; 'oh, what an awful woman!'

Ancrum looked at her with a little sad smile.

'Whom are you sorry for?' he asked. 'Those two in there?' and he nodded towards the library. 'Think again, Miss Dora. There is one face that will haunt me whenever I think of this—the face of that French child.'

All the afternoon visitors dispersed. The hours passed. Lucy, worn out, had gone to bed with a crying which seemed to have in it some new and heavy element she would not speak of, even to David. The evening meal came, and there was no sign or sound from that room upstairs where Louie had locked herself in.

David stood by the fire in the dining-room, his lips sternly set. He had despatched a servant to Louie's door with an offer to send up food for her and Cecile. But the girl had got no answer. Was he bound to go—bound to bring about the possible renewal of a degrading scene?

At this moment Lizzie, the little nurse, tapped at the door.

'If you please, sir—'

'Yes. Anything wrong with Master Sandy?'

David went to the door in a tremor. 'He won't go to sleep, sir. He wants you, and I'm afraid he'll disturb mistress again.'

David ran upstairs.

'Sandy, what do you want?'

Sandy was crying violently, far down under the bedclothes. When David drew him out, he was found to be grasping a piece of crumbling cake, sticky with tears.

'It's Cecile's cake,' he sobbed into his father's ear. 'I want to give it her.'

And in fact, after his onslaught upon her, Cecile had dropped the offending cake, which he had instantly picked up the moment before Louie struck him. He had held it tight gripped ever since, and repentance was busy in his small heart.

David thought a moment.

'Come with me, Sandy,' he said at last, and, wrapping up the child in an old shawl that hung near, he carried him off to Louie's door. 'Louie!' he called, after his knock, in a low voice, for he was uncomfortably aware that his household was on the watch for developments.

For a while there was no answer. Sandy, absorbed in the interest of the situation, clung close to his father and stopped crying.

At last Louie suddenly flung the door wide open.

'What do you want?' she said defiantly, with the gesture and bearing of a tragic actress. She was, however, deadly white, and David, looking past her, saw that Cecile was lying wide awake in her little bed.

'Sandy wants to give Cecile her cake,' he said quietly, 'and to tell her that he is sorry for striking her.'

He carried his boy up to Cecile. A smile flashed over the child's worn face. She held out her little arms. David, infinitely touched, laid down Sandy, and the children crooned together on the same pillow, he trying to stuff the cake into Cecile's mouth, she gently refusing.

'She's ill,' said Louie abruptly, 'she's feverish—I want a doctor.'

'We can get one directly,' he said. 'Will you come down and have some food? Lucy has gone to bed. If Lizzie comes and sits by the children, perhaps they will go to sleep. I can carry Sandy back later.'

Louie paused irresolutely. Then she went up to the bed, knelt down by it, and took Cecile in her arms.

'You can take him away,' she said, pointing to Sandy. 'I will put her to sleep. Don't you send me anything to eat. I want a doctor. And if you won't order a fly for me at twenty minutes to nine to-morrow, I will go out myself, that's all.'

'Louie!' he cried, holding out his hand to her in despair, 'why will you treat us in this way—what have we done to you?'

'Never you mind,' she said sullenly, gathering the child to her and confronting him with steady eyes. There was a certain magnificence in their wide unconscious despair—in this one fierce passion.

She and Lucy did not meet again. In the morning David paid her her hundred pounds, and took her and Cecile to the station, a doctor having seen the child the night before, and prescribed medicine, which had given her a quiet night. Louie barely thanked him for the money. She was almost silent and still very pale.

Just before they parted, the thought of the tyranny of such a nature, of the life to which she was going back, wrung the brother's heart. The outrage of the day before dropped from his mind as of no account, effaced by sterner realities.

'Write to me, Louie!' he said to her just as the train was moving off; 'I could always come if there was trouble—or Dora.'

She did not answer, and her hand dropped from his. But he remembered afterwards that her eyes were fixed upon him, as long as the train was in sight, and the picture of her dark possessed look will be with him to the end.



CHAPTER VII

It was a warm April Sunday. Lucy and Dora were pacing up and down in the garden, and Lucy was talking in a quick, low voice.

'Oh! there was something, Dora. You know as well as I do there was something. That awful woman didn't say that for nothing. I suppose he'd tell me if I asked him.'

'Then why don't you ask him?' said Dora, with a little frown.

Lucy gathered a sprig of budding lilac, and restlessly stripped off its young green.

'It isn't very pleasant,' she said at last, slowly. 'I dare say it's silly to expect your husband never to have looked at anybody else—'

She paused again, unable to explain herself. Dora glanced at her, and was somewhat struck by her thin and worn appearance. She had often, moreover, seemed to her cousin to be fretting during these last weeks. Not that there was much difference in her ways with David and Sandy. But her small vanities, prejudices, and passions were certainly less apparent of late; she ordered her two servants about less; she was less interested in her clothes, less eager for social amusement. It was as though something clouding and dulling had passed over a personality which was naturally restless and vivacious.

Yet it was only to-day, in the course of some conversation about Louie, of whom nothing had been heard since her departure, that Lucy had for the first time broken silence on the subject of those insolent words of her sister-in-law, which Ancrum and Dora had listened to with painful shock, while to Reuben and Hannah, pre-occupied with their own long-matured ideas of Louie, they had been the mere froth of a venomous tongue.

'Why didn't you ask him about it at first—just after?' Dora resumed.

'I didn't want to,' said Lucy, after a minute, and then would say no more. But she walked along, thinking, unhappily, of the moment when David had taken her into the library to be out of the sound of Louie's rage; of her angry desire to ask him questions, checked by a childish fear she could not analyse, as to hat the answers might be; of his troubled, stormy face; and of the tender ways by which he tried to calm and comfort her. It had seemed to her that once or twice he had been on the point of saying something grave and unusual, but in the end he had refrained. Louie had gone away; their everyday life had begun again; he had been very full, in the intervals of his hard daily business, of the rebuilding of the James Street court, and of the apprentices' school; and, led by a variety of impulses—by a sense of jeopardised possession and a conscience speaking with new emphasis and authority—she had taken care that he should talk to her about both; she had haunted him in the library, and her presence there, once the signal of antagonism and dispute, had ceased to have any such meaning for him. Her sympathy was not very intelligent, and there was at times a childish note of sulkiness and reluctance in it; she was extremely ready to say, 'I told you so,' if anything went wrong; but, nevertheless, there was a tacit renunciation at the root of her new manner to him which he perfectly understood, and rewarded in his own ardent, affectionate way.

As she sauntered along in this pale gleam of sun, now drinking in the soft April wind, now stooping to look at the few clumps of crocuses and daffodils which were pushing through the blackened earth, Lucy had once more a vague sense that her life this spring—this past year—had been hard. It was like the feeling of one who first realises the intensity of some long effort or struggle in looking back upon it. Her little life had been breathed into by a divine breath, and growth, expansion, had brought a pain and discontent she had never known before.

Dora meanwhile had her own thoughts. She was lost in memories of that first talk of hers with David Grieve after his return from Paris, with the marks of his fierce, mysterious grief fresh upon him; then, pursuing her recollection of him through the years, she came to a point of feeling where she said, with sudden energy, throwing her arm round Lucy, and taking up the thread of their conversation:—

'I wouldn't let what Louie said worry you a bit, Lucy. Of course, she wanted to make mischief; but you know, and I know, what sort of a man David has been since you and he were married. That'll be enough for you, I should think.'

Lucy flushed. She had once possessed very little reticence, and had been quite ready to talk her husband over, any day and all day, with Dora. But now, though she would begin in the old way, there soon came a point when something tied her tongue.

This time she attacked the lilac-bushes again with a restless hand.

'Why, I thought you were shocked at his opinions,' she said, proudly.

Dora sighed. Her conscience had not waited for Lucy's remark to make her aware of the constant perplexity between authority and natural feeling into which David's ideals were perpetually throwing her.

'They make one very sad,' she said, looking away. 'But we must believe that God, who sees everything, judges as we cannot do.'

Lucy fired up at once. It annoyed her to have Dora making spiritual allowance for David in this way.

'I don't believe God wants anything but that people should be good,' she said. 'I am sure there are lots of things like that in the New Testament.'

Dora shook her head slowly. '"He that hath not the Son, hath not life,"' she said under her breath, a sudden passion leaping to her eye.

Lucy looked at her indignantly. 'I don't agree with you, Dora—there! And it all depends on what things mean.'

'The meaning is quite plain,' said Dora, with rigid persistence. 'O Lucy, don't be led away. I missed you at early service this morning.'

The look she threw her cousin melted into a pathetic and heavenly reproach.

'Well, I know,' said Lucy, ungraciously, 'I was tired. I don't know what's wrong with me these last weeks; I can't get up in the morning.'

Dora only looked grieved. Lucy understood that her plea seemed to her cousin too trivial and sinful to be noticed.

'Oh! I dare say I'd go,' she said in her own mind, defiantly, 'if he went.'

Aloud, she said:—

'Dora, just look at this cheek of mine; I can't think what the swelling is.'

And she turned her right cheek to Dora, pointing to a lump, not discoloured, but rather large, above the cheek-bone. Dora stopped, and looked at it carefully.

'Yes, I had noticed it,' she said. 'It is odd. Can't you account for it in any way?'

'No. It's been coming some little while. David says I must ask Dr. Mildmay about it. I don't think I shall. It'll go away. Oh! there they are.'

As she spoke, David and Sandy, who had been out for a Sunday walk together, appeared on the steps of the garden-door. David waved his hat to his wife, an example immediately followed by Sandy, who twisted his Scotch cap madly, and then set off running to her.

Lucy looked at them both with a sudden softening and brightening which gave her charm. David came up to her, ran his arm through hers, and began to give her a laughing account of Sandy's behaviour. The April wind had flushed him, tumbled his black hair, and called up spring lights in the eyes, which had been somewhat dimmed by overmuch sedentary work and a too small allowance of sleep. His plenitude of virile energy, the glow of health and power which hung round him this afternoon, did but make Lucy seem more languid and faded as she hung upon him, smiling at his stories of their walk and of Sandy's antics.

He broke off in the middle, and looked at her anxiously.

'She isn't the thing, is she, Dora? I believe she wants a change.'

'Oh! thank you!' cried Lucy, ironically—'with all Sandy's spring things and my own to look to, and some new shirts to get for you, and the spring cleaning to see to. Much obliged to you.'

'All those things, madam,' said David, patting her hand, 'wouldn't matter twopence, if it should please your lord and master to order you off. And if this fine weather goes on, you'll have to take advantage of it. By the way, I met Mildmay, and asked him to come in and see you.'

Lucy reddened.

'Why, there's nothing,' she said, pettishly. 'This'll go away directly.' Instinctively she put up her hand to her cheek.

'Oh! Mildmay won't worry you,' said David; 'he'll tell you what's wrong at once. You know you like him.'

'Well, I must go,' said Dora.

They understood that she had a mill-girls' Bible class at half-past five, and an evening service an hour later, so they did not press her to stay. Lucy kissed her, and Sandy escorted her halfway to the garden-door, giving her a breathless and magniloquent account of the 'hy'nas and kangawoos' she might expect to find congregated in the Merton Road outside. Dora, who was somewhat distressed by his powers of imaginative fiction, would not 'play up' as his father did, and he left her half-way to run back to David, who was always ready to turn road and back garden into 'Africa country' at a moment's notice, and people it to order with savages, elephants, boomerangs, kangaroos, and all other possible or impossible things that Sandy might chance to want.

Dora, looking back from the garden, saw them all three in a group together—Sandy tugging at his mother's skirts, and shouting at the top of his voice; David's curly black head bent over his wife, who was gathering her brown shawl round her throat, as though the light wind chilled her. But there was no chill in her look. That, for the moment, as she swayed between husband and child, had in it the qualities of the April sun—a brightness and promise all the more radiant by comparison with the winter or the cloud from which it had emerged.

Dora went home as quickly as tramcar and fast walking could take her. She still lived in the same Ancoats rooms with her shirt-making friend, who had kept company, poor thing! for four years with a young man, and had then given him up with anguish because he was not 'the sort of man she'd been taking him for,' though no one but Dora had ever known what qualities or practices, intolerable to a pure mind, the sad phrase covered. Dora might long ago have moved to more comfortable rooms and a better quarter of the town had she been so minded, for her wages as an admirable forewoman and an exceptionally skilled hand were high; but she passionately preferred to be near St. Damian's and amongst her 'girls.' Also, there was the thought that by staying in the place whither she had originally moved she would be more easily discoverable if ever,—ay, if ever—Daddy should come back to her. She was certain that he was still alive; and great as the probabilities on the other side became with every passing year, few people had the heart to insist upon them in the face of her sensitive faith, whereof the bravery was so close akin to tears.

Only once in all these years had there been a trace of Daddy. Through a silk-merchant acquaintance of his, having relations with Lyons and other foreign centres, David had once come across a rumour which had seemed to promise a clue. He had himself gone across to Lyons at once, and had done all he could. But the clue broke in his hand, and the tanned, long-faced lunatic from Manchester, whereof report had spoken, could be only doubtfully identified with a man who bore no likeness at all to Daddy.

Dora's expectation and hope had been stirred to their depths, and she bore her disappointment hardly. But she did not therefore cease to hope. Instinctively on this Sunday night, when she reached home, she put Daddy's chair, which had been pushed aside, in its right place by the fire, and she tenderly propped up a stuffed bird, originally shot by Daddy in the Vosges, and now vilely overtaken by Manchester moths. Then she set round chairs and books for her girls.

Soon they came trooping up the stairs, in their neat Sunday dresses, so sharply distinguished from the mill-gear of the week, and she spent with them a moving and mystical hour. She was expounding to them a little handbook of 'The Blessed Sacrament,' and her explanations wound up with a close appeal to each one of them to make more use of the means of grace, to surrender themselves more fully to the awful and unspeakable mystery by which the Lord gave them His very flesh to eat, His very blood to drink, so fashioning within them, Communion after Communion, the immortal and incorruptible body which should be theirs in the Resurrection.

She spoke in a low, vibrating voice, somewhat monotonous in tone; her eyes shone with strange light under her round, prominent brow; all that she said of the joys of frequent Communion, of the mortal perils of unworthy participation, of treating the heavenly food lightly—coming to it, that is, unfasting and unprepared—of the need especially of Lenten self-denial, of giving up 'what each one of you likes best, so far as you can,' in preparation for the great Easter Eucharist—came evidently from the depths of her own intense conviction. Her girls listened to her with answering excitement and awe; one of them she had saved from drink, all of them had been her Sunday-school children for years, and many of them possessed, under the Lancashire exterior, the deep-lying poetry and emotion of the North.

When she dismissed them she hurried off to church, to sit once more dissolved in feeling, aspiration, penitence; to feel the thrill of the organ, the pathos of the bare altar, and the Lenten hymns.

After the service she had two or three things to settle with one of the curates and with some of her co-helpers in the good works of the congregation, so that when she reached home she was late and tired out. Her fellow-lodger was spending the Sunday with friends; there was no one to talk to her at her supper; and after supper she fell, sitting by the fire, into a mood of some flatness and reaction. She tried to read a religious book, but the religious nerve could respond no more, and other interests, save those of her daily occupations, she had none.

In Daddy's neighbourhood, what with his travels, his whims, and his quotations, there had been always something to stir the daughter's mind, even if it were only to reprobation. But since he had left her the circle of her thoughts had steadily and irrevocably narrowed. All secular knowledge, especially the reading of other than religious books, had become gradually and painfully identified, for her, with those sinister influences which made David Grieve an 'unbeliever,' and so many of the best Manchester workmen 'atheists.'

So now, in her physical and moral slackness, she sat and thought with some bitterness of a 'young woman' who had recently entered the shop which employed her, and, by dint of a clever tongue, was gaining the ear of the authorities, to the disturbance of some of Dora's cherished methods of distributing and organising the work. They might have trusted her more after all these years; but nobody appreciated her; she counted for nothing.

Then her mind wandered on to the familiar grievances of Sandy's religious teaching and Lucy's gradual defection from St. Damian's. She must make more efforts with Lucy, even if it angered David. She looked back on what she had done to bring about the marriage, and lashed herself into a morbid sense of responsibility.

But her missionary projects were no more cheering to her than her thoughts about the shop and her work, and she felt an intense sense of relief when she heard the step of her room-mate, Mary Styles, upon the stairs. She made Mary go into every little incident of her day; she was insatiable for gossip—a very rare mood for her—and could not be chattered to enough.

And all through she leant her head against her father's chair, recalling Lucy on her husband's arm, and the child at her skirts, with the pathetic inarticulate longing which makes the tragedy of the single life. She could have loved so well, and no one had ever wished to make her his wife; the wound of it bled sometimes in her inmost heart.

Meanwhile, on this same April Sunday, Lucy, after Sandy was safe in bed, brought down some needlework to do beside David while he read. It was not very long since she had induced herself to make so great a breach in the Sunday habits of her youth. As soon as David's ideals began to tease her out of thought and sympathy, his freedoms also began to affect her. She was no longer so much chilled by his strictness, or so much shocked by his laxity.

David had spoken of a busy evening. In reality, a lazy fit overtook him. He sat smoking, and turning over the pages of Eckermann's 'Conversations with Goethe.'

'What are you reading?' said Lucy at last, struck by his face of enjoyment. 'Why do you like it so much?'

'Because there is no one else in the world who hits the right nail on the head so often as Goethe,' he said, throwing himself back with a stretch of pleasure. 'So wide a brain—so acute and sane a temper!'

Lucy looked a little lost, as she generally did when David made literary remarks to her. But she did not drop the subject.

'You said something to Professor Madgwick the other day about a line of Goethe you used to like so when you were a boy. What did it mean?'

She flushed, as though she were venturing on something which would make her ridiculous.

'A line of Goethe?' repeated David, pondering. 'Oh! I know. Yes, it was a line from Goethe's novel of "Werther." When I was young and foolish—when you and I were first acquainted, in fact, and you used to scold me for going to the Hall of Science!—I often said this line to myself over and over. I didn't know much German, but the swing of it carried me away.'

And, with a deep voice and rhythmic accent, he repeated:' Handwerker trugen ihn; kein Geistlicher hat ihn begleitet.'

'What does it mean?' said Lucy.

'Well, it comes at the end of the story. The hero commits suicide for love, and Goethe says that at his burial, on the night after his death, "labouring men bore him; no priest went with him."'

He bent forward, clasping his hands tightly, with the half smiling, half dreamy look of one who recalls a bygone thrill of feeling, partly in sympathy, partly in irony.

'Then he wasn't a Christian?' said Lucy, wondering. 'Do you still hate priests so much, David?'

'It doesn't look like it, does it, madam,' he said, laughing, 'when you think of all my clergymen friends?'

And, in fact, as Lucy's mind pondered his answer, she easily remembered the readiness with which any of the clergy at St. Damian's would ask his help in sending away a sick child, or giving a man a fresh start in life, or setting the necessary authorities to work in the case of some moral or sanitary scandal. She thought also of various Dissenting ministers who called on him and corresponded with him; of his reverent affection for Canon Aylwin, for Ancrum.

'Well, anyway, you care about the labouring men,' she went on persistently. 'I suppose you're what father used to call a "canting Socialist"?'

'No,' said David, quietly—'no, I'm not a Socialist, except'—and he smiled—'in the sense in which some one said the other day, "we are all Socialists now."'

'Well, what does it mean?' said Lucy, threading another needle, and feeling a certain excitement in this prolonged mental effort.

David tried to explain to her the common Socialist ideal in simple terms—the hope of a millennium, when all the instruments of production shall be owned by the State, and when the surplus profit produced by labour, over and above the maintenance of the worker and the general cost of production, will go, not to the capitalist, the individual rich man, but to the whole community of workers; when everybody will be made to work, and as little advantage as possible will be allowed to one worker above another.

'I think it's absurd!' said Lucy, up in arms at once for all the superiorities she loved. 'What nonsense! Why, they can't ever do it!'

'Well, it's about that!' said David, smiling at her. 'Still, no doubt it could be done, if it ought to be done. But Socialism, as a system, seems to me, at any rate, to strike down and weaken the most precious thing in the world, that on which the whole of civilised life and progress rests—the spring of will and conscience in the individual. Socialism as a spirit, as an influence, is as old as organised thought—and from the beginning it has forced us to think of the many when otherwise we should be sunk in thinking of the one. But, as a modern dogmatism, it is like other dogmatisms. The new truth of the future will emerge from it as a bud from its sheath, taking here and leaving there.' He sat looking into the fire, forgetting his wife a little.

'Well, any way, I'm sure you and I won't have anything to do with it,' said Lucy positively. 'I don't a bit believe Lady Driffield will have to work in the mills, though Mrs. Shepton did say it would do her good. I shouldn't mind something, perhaps, which would make her and Colonel Danby less uppish.'

She drew her needle in and out with vindictive energy.

'Well, I don't see much prospect of uppish people dying out of the world,' said David, throwing himself back in his chair; 'until—'

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