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THE DAWN OF A TO-MORROW
By FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
There are always two ways of
looking at a thingfrequently
there are six or seven; but two ways
of looking at a London fog are quite
enough. When it is thick and yellow
in the streets and stings a man's
throat and lungs as he breathes itan
awakening in the early morning is
either an unearthly and grewsome
or a mysteriously enclosingsecluding
and comfortable thing. If one
awakens in a healthy bodyand with
a clear brain rested by normal sleep
and retaining memories of a normally
agreeable yesterdayone may lie watching
the housemaid building the fire;
and after she has swept the hearth
and put things in orderlie watching
the flames of the blazing and crackling
wood catch the coals and set them
blazing alsoand dancing merrily and
filling corners with a glow; and in so
lying and realizing that leaping light
and warmth and a soft bed are good
thingsone may turn over on one's
backstretching arms and legs
luxuriouslydrawing deep breaths and
smiling at a knowledge of the fog
outside which makes half-past eight
o'clock on a December morning as
dark as twelve o'clock on a December
night. Under such conditions
the softthickyellow gloom has its
picturesque and even humorous aspect.
One feels enclosed by it at once
fantastically and cosilyand is inclined
to revel in imaginings of the picture
outsideits Rembrandt lights and
orange yellowsthe halos about the
street-lampsthe illumination of shopwindows
the flare of torches stuck
up over coster barrows and coffeestands
the shadows on the faces of
the men and women selling and buying
beside them. Refreshed by sleep
and comfort and surrounded by light
warmthand good cheerit is easy to
face the dayto confront going out
into the fog and feeling a sort of
pleasure in its mysteries. This is one
way of looking at itbut only one.
The other way is marked by enormous
A man--he had given his name
to the people of the house as Antony
Dart--awakened in a third-story
bedroom in a lodging-house in a poor
street in Londonand as his consciousness
returned to himits slow and
reluctant movings confronted the
second point of view--marked by
enormous differences. He had not
slept two consecutive hours through
the nightand when he had slept he
had been tormented by dreary dreams
which were more full of misery because
of their elusive vaguenesswhich
kept his tortured brain on a wearying
strain of effort to reach some definite
understanding of them. Yet when
he awakened the consciousness of
being again alive was an awful thing.
If the dreams could have faded into
blankness and all have passed with
the passing of the nighthow he
could have thanked whatever gods
there be! Only not to awake-only
not to awake! But he had
The clock struck nine as he did
soconsequently he knew the hour.
The lodging-house slavey had aroused
him by coming to light the fire. She
had set her candle on the hearth and
done her work as stealthily as possible
but he had been disturbed
though he had made a desperate effort
to struggle back into sleep. That
was no use--no use. He was awake
and he was in the midst of it all again.
Without the sense of luxurious comfort
he opened his eyes and turned
upon his backthrowing out his arms
flatlyso that he lay as in the form
of a crossin heavy weariness and
anguish. For months he had awakened
each morning after such a night
and had so lain like a crucified thing.
As he watched the painful flickering
of the damp and smoking wood and
coal he remembered this and thought
that there had been a lifetime of such
awakeningsnot knowing that the
morbidness of a fagged brain blotted
out the memory of more normal days
and told him fantastic lies which were
but a hundredth part truth. He could
see only the hundredth part truthand
it assumed proportions so huge that
he could see nothing else. In such
a state the human brain is an infernal
machine and its workings can only be
conquered if the mortal thing which
lives with it--day and nightnight
and day--has learned to separate its
controllable from its seemingly
uncontrollable atomsand can silence
its clamor on its way to madness.
Antony Dart had not learned this
thing and the clamor had had its
hideous way with him. Physicians
would have given a name to his
mental and physical condition. He
had heard these names often--applied
to men the strain of whose lives had
been like the strain of his ownand
had left them as it had left him-jaded
joylessbreaking things. Some
of them had been broken and had
died or were dragging out bruised and
tormented days in their own homes
or in mad-houses. He always shuddered
when he heard their names
and rebelled with sick fear against
the mere mention of them. They
had worked as he had workedthey
had been stricken with the delirium
he had been. They had been
caught in the rush and swirl of the
great maelstromand had been borne
round and round in ituntil having
grasped every coveted thing tossing
upon its circling watersthey
themselves had been flung upon the shore
with both hands fullthe rocks about
them strewn with rich possessions
while they lay prostrate and gazed
at all life had brought with dull
hopelessanguished eyes. He knew
--if the worst came to the worst-what
would be said of himbecause
he had heard it said of others. "He
worked too hard--he worked too
hard." He was sick of hearing it.
What was wrong with the world-what
was wrong with manas Man
--if work could break him like this?
If one believed in Deitythe living
creature It breathed into being must
be a perfect thing--not one to be
weariedsickenedtortured by the
life Its breathing had created. A
mere man would disdain to build
a thing so poor and incomplete.
A mere human engineer who constructed
an engine whose workings
were perpetually at fault--which
went wrong when called upon to
do the labor it was made for--who
would not scoff at it and cast it aside
as a piece of worthless bungling?
Something is wrong,he muttered
lying flat upon his cross and
staring at the yellow haze which
had crept through crannies in windowsashes
into the room. "Someone
is wrong. Is it I--or You?"
His thin lips drew themselves
back against his teeth in a mirthless
smile which was like a grin.
Yes,he said. "I am pretty
far gone. I am beginning to talk to
myself about God. Bryan did it just
before he was taken to Dr. Hewletts'
place and cut his throat."
He had not led a specially evil
life; he had not broken lawsbut
the subject of Deity was not one
which his scheme of existence had
included. When it had haunted
him of late he had felt it an untoward
and morbid sign. The thing
had drawn him--drawn him; he
had complained against ithe had
arguedsometimes he knew--shuddering-that
he had raved. Something
had seemed to stand aside and
watch his being and his thinking.
Something which filled the universe
had seemed to waitand to have
waited through all the eternal ages
to see what he--one man--would
do. At times a great appalled wonder
had swept over him at his realization
that he had never known or
thought of it before. It had been
there always--through all the ages
that had passed. And sometimes-once
or twice--the thought had in
some unspeakableuntranslatable way
brought him a moment's calm.
But at other times he had said to
himself--with a shivering soul cowering
within him--that this was only
part of it all and was a beginning
perhapsof religious monomania.
During the last week he had
known what he was going to do-he
had made up his mind. This
abject horror through which others
had let themselves be dragged to
madness or death he would not
endure. The end should come quickly
and no one should be smitten aghast
by seeing or knowing how it came.
In the crowded shabbier streets of
London there were lodging-houses
where oneby taking precautions
could end his life in such a manner
as would blot him out of any world
where such a man as himself had been
known. A pistolproperly managed
would obliterate resemblance to any
human thing. Months ago through
chance talk he had heard how it
could be done--and done quickly.
He could leave a misleading letter.
He had planned what it should be-the
story it should tell of a
disheartened mediocre venturer of his
poor all returning bankrupt and
humiliated from Australiaending
existence in such pennilessness that
the parish must give him a pauper's
grave. What did it matter where a
man layso that he slept--slept-slept?
Surely with one's brains
scattered one would sleep soundly
He had come to the house the
night beforedressed shabbily with
the pitiable respectability of a
defeated man. He had entered
droopingly with bent shoulders and
hopeless hang of head. In his own
sphere he was a man who held himself
well. He had let fall a few
dispirited sentences when he had
engaged his back room from the
woman of the houseand she had
recognized him as one of the luckless.
In factshe had hesitated a
moment before his unreliable look
until he had taken out money from
his pocket and paid his rent for a
week in advance. She would have
that at least for her troublehe had
said to himself. He should not occupy
the room after to-morrow. In
his own home some days would pass
before his household began to make
inquiries. He had told his servants
that he was going over to Paris for a
change. He would be safe and deep
in his pauper's grave a week before
they asked each other why they did
not hear from him. All was in
order. One of the mocking agonies
was that living was done for. He
had ceased to live. Workpleasure
sunmoonand stars had lost their
meaning. He stood and looked at
the most radiant loveliness of land
and sky and sea and felt nothing.
Success brought greater wealth each
day without stirring a pulse of
pleasureeven in triumph. There
was nothing left but the awful days
and awful nights to which he knew
physicians could give their scientific
namebut had no healing for. He
had gone far enough. He would go
no farther. To-morrow it would
have been over long hours. And
there would have been no public
declaiming over the humiliating
pitifulness of his end. And what did it
How thick the fog was outside-thick
enough for a man to lose himself
in it. The yellow mist which
had crept in under the doors and
through the crevices of the windowsashes
gave a ghostly look to the
room--a ghastlyabnormal lookhe
said to himself. The fire was
smouldering instead of blazing. But
what did it matter? He was going
out. He had not bought the pistol
last night--like a fool. Somehow
his brain had been so tired and
crowded that he had forgotten.
repeated the word as he got out of bed.
By this time to-morrow he should
have forgotten everything. THIS
TIME TO-MORROW. His mind repeated
that alsoas he began to dress
himself. Where should he be? Should
he be anywhere? Suppose he
awakened again--to something as
bad as this? How did a man get
out of his body? After the crash
and shock what happened? Did one
find oneself standing beside the Thing
and looking down at it? It would
not be a good thing to stand and
look down on--even for that which
had deserted it. But having torn
oneself loose from it and its devilish
aches and painsone would not care
--one would see how little it all
mattered. Anything else must be
better than this--the thing for
which there was a scientific name
but no healing. He had taken all
the drugshe had obeyed all the
medical ordersand here he was after
that last hell of a night--dressing
himself in a back bedroom of a
cheap lodging-house to go out and
buy a pistol in this damned fog.
He laughed at the last phrase of
his thoughtthe laugh which was a
I am thinking of it as if I was
afraid of taking cold,he said.
There would be no To-morrow.
To-morrows were at an end. No
more nights--no more days--no
He finished dressingputting on
his discriminatingly chosen shabbygenteel
clothes with a care for the
effect he intended them to produce.
The collar and cuffs of his shirt were
frayed and yellowand he fastened his
collar with a pin and tied his worn
necktie carelessly. His overcoat was
beginning to wear a greenish shade
and look threadbareso was his hat.
When his toilet was complete he
looked at himself in the cracked and
hazy glassbending forward to
scrutinize his unshaven face under the
shadow of the dingy hat.
It is all right,he muttered.
It is not far to the pawnshop
where I saw it.
The stillness of the room as he
turned to go out was uncanny. As
it was a back roomthere was no
street below from which could arise
sounds of passing vehiclesand the
thickness of the fog muffled such
sound as might have floated from the
front. He stopped half-way to the
doornot knowing whyand listened.
To what--for what? The silence
seemed to spread through all the
house--out into the streets-through
all London--through all
the worldand he to stand in the
midst of ita man on the way to
Death--with no To-morrow.
What did it mean? It seemed to
mean something. The world
withdrawn--breath withdrawn. He
stood and waited. Perhaps this
was one of the symptoms of the
morbid thing for which there was
that name. If so he had better get
away quickly and have it overlest
he be found wandering about not
knowing--not knowing. But now
he knew--the Silence. He waited
--waited and tried to hearas if
something was calling him--calling
without sound. It returned to him
--the thought of That which had
waited through all the ages to see
what he--one man--would do.
He had never exactly pitied himself
before--he did not know that he
pitied himself nowbut he was a
man going to his deathand a light
cold sweat broke out on him and
it seemed as if it was not he who
did itbut some other--he flung
out his arms and cried aloud words
he had not known he was going to
Lord! Lord! What shall I do
to be saved?
But the Silence gave no answer.
It was the Silence still.
And after standing a few moments
pantinghis arms fell and his head
droppedand turning the handle of
the doorhe went out to buy the
As he went down the narrow staircase
covered with its dingy and
threadbare carpethe found the
house so full of dirty yellow haze
that he realized that the fog must be
of the extraordinary ones which are
remembered in after-years as abnormal
specimens of their kind. He
recalled that there had been one of
the sort three years beforeand that
traffic and business had been almost
entirely stopped by itthat accidents
had happened in the streetsand that
people having lost their way had
wandered about turning corners until
they found themselves far from their
intended destinations and obliged to
take refuge in hotels or the houses of
hospitable strangers. Curious incidents
had occurred and odd stories
were told by those who had felt
themselves obliged by circumstances
to go out into the baffling gloom.
He guessed that something of a like
nature had fallen upon the town
again. The gas-light on the landings
and in the melancholy hall
burned feebly--so feebly that one
got but a vague view of the rickety
hat-stand and the shabby overcoats
and head-gear hanging upon it. It
was well for him that he had but
a corner or so to turn before he
reached the pawnshop in whose
window he had seen the pistol he
intended to buy.
When he opened the street-door
he saw that the fog wasupon the
wholeperhaps even heavier and
more obscuringif possiblethan the
one so well remembered. He could
not see anything three feet before
himhe could not see with distinctness
anything two feet ahead. The
sensation of stepping forward was
uncertain and mysterious enough to be
almost appalling. A man not
sufficiently cautious might have fallen
into any open hole in his path. Antony
Dart kept as closely as possible
to the sides of the houses. It would
have been easy to walk off the pavement
into the middle of the street
but for the edges of the curb and the
step downward from its level. Traffic
had almost absolutely ceasedthough
in the more important streets link-
boys were making efforts to guide
men or four-wheelers slowly along.
The blind feeling of the thing was
rather awful. Though but few
pedestrians were outDart found
himself once or twice brushing against
or coming into forcible contact with
men feeling their way about like
One turn to the right,he
repeated mentallytwo to the left,
and the place is at the corner of the
other side of the street.
He managed to reach it at last
but it had been a slowand therefore
long journey. All the gas-jets
the little shop owned were lighted
but even under their flare the articles
in the window--the one or two
once cheaply gaudy dresses and
shawls and men's garments--hung
in the haze like the drearydangling
ghosts of things recently executed.
Among watches and forlorn pieces
of old-fashioned jewelry and odds and
endsthe pistol lay against the folds
of a dirty gauze shawl. There it
was. It would have been annoying
if someone else had been beforehand
and had bought it.
Inside the shop more dangling
spectres hung and the place was
almost dark. It was a shabby pawnshop
and the man lounging behind
the counter was a shabby man with
an unshavenunamiable face.
I want to look at that pistol in
the right-hand corner of your window,
Antony Dart said.
The pawnbroker uttered a sound
something between a half-laugh and
a grunt. He took the weapon from
Antony Dart examined it critically.
He must make quite sure of
it. He made no further remark.
He felt he had done with speech.
Being told the price asked for the
purchasehe drew out his purse and
took the money from it. After
making the payment he noted that
he still possessed a five-pound note
and some sovereigns. There passed
through his mind a wonder as to
who would spend it. The most
decent thingperhapswould be to
give it away. If it was in his room
--to-morrow--the parish would not
bury himand it would be safer that
the parish should.
He was thinking of this as he
left the shop and began to cross the
street. Because his mind was wandering
he was less watchful. Suddenly
a rubber-tired hansommoving
without soundappeared immediately
in his path--the horse's head
loomed up above his own. He made
the inevitable involuntary whirl aside
to move out of the waythe hansom
passedand turning againhe went
on. His movement had been too
swift to allow of his realizing the
direction in which his turn had been
made. He was wholly unaware that
when he crossed the street he crossed
backward instead of forward. He
turned a corner literally feeling his
waywent onturned anotherand
after walking the length of the street
suddenly understood that he was in
a strange place and had lost his
This was exactly what had happened
to people on the day of the
memorable fog of three years before.
He had heard them talking of such
experiencesand of the curious and
baffling sensations they gave rise to
in the brain. Now he understood
them. He could not be far from
his lodgingsbut he felt like a man
who was blindand who had been
turned out of the path he knew.
He had not the resource of the people
whose stories he had heard. He
would not stop and address anyone.
There could be no certainty as to
whom he might find himself speaking
to. He would speak to no one.
He would wander about until he
came upon some clew. Even if he
came upon nonethe fog would
surely lift a little and become a trifle
less dense in course of time. He
drew up the collar of his overcoat
pulled his hat down over his eyes
and went on--his hand on the thing
he had thrust into a pocket.
He did not find his clew as he
had hopedand instead of lifting the
fog grew heavier. He found himself
at last no longer striving for any
endbut rambling along mechanically
feeling like a man in a dream
--a nightmare. Once he recognized
a weird suggestion in the mystery
about him. To-morrow might
one be wandering about aimlessly in
some such haze. He hoped not.
His lodgings were not far from
the Embankmentand he knew at
last that he was wandering along it
and had reached one of the bridges.
His mood led him to turn in upon
itand when he reached an embrasure
to stop near it and lean upon the
parapet looking down. He could
not see the waterthe fog was too
densebut he could hear some faint
splashing against stones. He had
taken no food and was rather faint.
What a strange thing it was to feel
faint for want of food--to stand
alonecut off from every other
human being--everything done for.
No wonder that sometimesparticularly
on such days as thesethere
were plunges made from the parapet
--no wonder. He leaned farther
over and strained his eyes to see
some gleam of water through the
yellowness. But it was not to be
done. He was thinking the inevitable
thingof course; but such a
plunge would not do for him. The
other thing would destroy all traces.
As he drew back he heard
something fall with the solid tinkling
sound of coin on the flag pavement.
When he had been in the pawnbroker's
shop he had taken the gold
from his purse and thrust it carelessly
into his waistcoat pocketthinking
that it would be easy to reach when
he chose to give it to one beggar
or anotherif he should see some
wretch who would be the better for
it. Some movement he had made
in bending had caused a sovereign to
slip out and it had fallen upon the
He did not intend to pick it up
but in the moment in which he
stood looking down at it he heard
close to him a shuffling movement.
What he had thought a bundle of
rags or rubbish covered with sacking
--some tramp's deserted or forgotten
belongings--was stirring. It was
aliveand as he bent to look at it the
sacking divided itselfand a small
headcovered with a shock of brilliant
red hairthrust itself outa
shrewdsmall face turning to look
up at him slyly with deep-set black
It was a human girl creature about
twelve years old.
Are yer goin' to do it?she
said in a hoarsestreet-strained voice.
Yer would be a fool if yer did--
with as much as that on yer.
She pointed with a reddened
chappedand dirty hand at the
Pick it up,he said. "You may
Her wild shuffle forward was an
actual leap. The hand made a
snatching clutch at the coin. She
was evidently afraid that he was
either not in earnest or would
repent. The next second she was on
her feet and ready for flight.
Stop,he said; "I've got more
to give away."
She hesitated--not believing
himyet feeling it madness to lose a
MORE!she gasped. Then she
drew nearer to himand a singular
change came upon her face. It was
a change which made her look oddly
Gawd, mister!she said. "Yer
can give away a quid like it was
nothin'--an' yer've got more--an'
yer goin' to do THAT--jes cos yer 'ad
a bit too much lars night an' there's
a fog this mornin'! You take it
straight from me--don't yer do it.
I give yer that tip for the suvrink."
She wasfor her yearsso ugly and
so ancientand hardened in voice and
skin and manner that she fascinated
him. Not that a man who has no
To-morrow in view is likely to be
particularly conscious of mental
processes. He was done forbut he stood
and stared at her. What part of the
Power moving the scheme of the
universe stood near and thrust him
on in the path designed he did not
know then--perhaps never did. He
was still holding on to the thing in his
pocketbut he spoke to her again.
What do you mean?he asked
She sidled nearerher sharp eyes
on his face.
I bin watchin' yer,she said.
I sat down and pulled the sack
over me 'ead to breathe inside it an'
get a bit warm. An' I see yer come.
I knowed wot yer was after, I did.
I watched yer through a 'ole in me
sack. I wasn't goin' to call a copper.
I shouldn't want ter be stopped
meself if I made up me mind. I
seed a gal dragged out las' week an'
it'd a broke yer 'art to see 'er tear 'er
clothes an' scream. Wot business
'ad they preventin' 'er goin' off
quiet? I wouldn't 'a' stopped yer
--but w'en the quid fell, that made
I--he saidfeeling the foolishness
of the statementbut making
itneverthelessI am ill.
Course yer ill. It's yer 'ead.
Come along er me an' get a cup er
cawfee at a stand, an' buck up. If
yer've give me that quid straight-wish-
yer-may-die--I'll go with yer
an' get a cup myself. I ain't 'ad a bite
since yesterday--an' 't wa'n't nothin'
but a slice o' polony sossidge I found
on a dust-'eap. Come on, mister.
She pulled his coat with her
cracked hand. He glanced down at
it mechanicallyand saw that some
of the fissures had bled and the
roughened surface was smeared with
the blood. They stood together in
the small space in which the fog
enclosed them--he and she--the
man with no To-morrow and the
girl thing who seemed as old as
himselfwith her sharpsmall nose
and chinher sharp eyes and voice
--and yet--perhaps the fogs
enclosing did it--something drew
them together in an uncanny way.
Something made him forget the lost
clew to the lodging-house-something
made him turn and go with
her--a thing led in the dark.
How can you find your way?
he said. "I lost mine."
There ain't no fog can lose me,
she answeredshuffling along by his
side; " 'sidesit's goin' to lift.
Look at that man comin' to'ards us."
It was true that they could see
through the orange-colored mist the
approaching figure of a man who
was at a yard's distance from them.
Yesit was lifting slightly--at least
enough to allow of one's making a
guess at the direction in which one
Where are you going?he
Apple Blossom Court,she
answered. "The cawfee-stand's in a
street near it--and there's a shop
where I can buy things."
Apple Blossom Court!he
ejaculated. "What a name!"
There ain't no apple-blossoms
there,chuckling; "nor no smell
of 'em. 'T ain't as nice as its nime
is--Apple Blossom Court ain't."
What do you want to buy? A
pair of shoes?The shoes her
naked feet were thrust into were
leprous-looking things through which
nearly all her toes protruded. But
she chuckled when he spoke.
No, I 'm goin' to buy a di'mond
tirarer to go to the opery in,she
saiddragging her old sack closer
round her neck. "I ain't ad a noo
un since I went to the last Drorin'room."
It was impudent street chaffbut
there was cheerful spirit in itand
cheerful spirit has some occult effect
upon morbidity. Antony Dart
did not smilebut he felt a faint
stirring of curiositywhich wasafter
allnot a bad thing for a man who
had not felt an interest for a year.
What is it you are going to
I'm goin' to fill me stummick
fust,with a grin of elation. "Three
thick slices o' bread an' drippin' an'
a mug o' cawfee. An' then I'm
goin' to get sumethin' 'earty to carry
to Polly. She ain't no goodpore
Who is she?
Stopping a moment to drag up the
heel of her dreadful shoeshe
answered him with an unprejudiced
directness which might have been
appalling if he had been in the mood
to be appalled.
Ain't eighteen, an' tryin' to earn
'er livin' on the street. She ain't
made for it. Little country thing,
allus frightened to death an' ready
to bust out cryin'. Gents ain't goin'
to stand that. A lot of 'em wants
cheerin' up as much as she does.
Gent as was in liquor last night
knocked 'er down an' give 'er a
black eye. 'T wan't ill feelin', but
he lost his temper, an' give 'er a
knock casual. She can't go out
to-night, an' she's been 'uddled up
all day cryin' for 'er mother.
Where is her mother?
In the country--on a farm.
Polly took a place in a lodgin'-'ouse
an' got in trouble. The biby was
dead, an' when she come out o'
Queen Charlotte's she was took in by
a woman an' kep'. She kicked 'er
out in a week 'cos of her cryin'.
The life didn't suit 'er. I found 'er
cryin' fit to split 'er chist one night
--corner o' Apple Blossom Court-an'
I took care of 'er.
Me chambers,grinning; "top
loft of a 'ouse in the court. If anyone
else 'd 'ave it I should be turned
out. It's an 'oleI can tell yer-but
it 's better than sleepin' under
Take me to see it,said Antony
Dart. "I want to see the girl."
The words spoke themselves. Why
should he care to see either cockloft
or girl? He did not. He wanted
to go back to his lodgings with that
which he had come out to buy.
Yet he said this thing. His
companion looked up at him with an
expression actually relieved.
Would yer tike up with 'er?
with eager sharpnessas if confronting
a simple business proposition.
She's pretty an' clean, an' she
won't drink a drop o' nothin'. If
she was treated kind she'd be
cheerfler. She's got a round fice an'
light 'air an' eyes. 'Er 'air 's curly.
P'raps yer'd like 'er.
Take me to see her.
She'd look better to-morrow,
cautiouslywhen the swellin 's gone
down round 'er eye.
Dart started--and it was because
he had for the last five minutes forgotten
I shall not be here to-morrow,
he said. His grasp upon the thing
in his pocket had loosenedand he
I have some more money in my
purse,he said deliberately. "I
meant to give it away before going.
I want to give it to people who need
it very much."
She gave him one of the sly
Deservin' cases?She put it to
him in brazen mockery.
I don't care,he answered slowly
and heavily. "I don't care a damn."
Her face changed exactly as he
had seen it change on the bridge
when she had drawn nearer to him.
Its ugly hardness suddenly looked
human. And that she could look
human was fantastic.
'Ow much 'ave yer?she asked.
'Ow much is it?
About ten pounds.
She stopped and stared at him
with open mouth.
Gawd!she broke out; "ten
pounds 'd send Apple Blossom Court
to 'eving. Leastwaysit'd take some
of it out o' 'ell."
Take me to it,he said roughly.
She began to walk quicklybreathing
fast. The fog was lighterand
it was no longer a blinding thing.
A question occurred to Dart.
Why don't you ask me to give
the money to you?he said bluntly.
Dunno,she answered as bluntly.
But after taking a few steps farther
she spoke again.
I 'm cheerfler than most of 'em,
she elaborated. "If yer born cheerfle
yer can stand things. When I
gets a job nussin' women's bibies
they don't cry when I 'andles 'em.
I gets many a bite an' a copper 'cos
o' that. Folks likes yer. I shall
get on better than Polly when I'm
old enough to go on the street."
The organ of whose laggingsick
pumpings Antony Dart had scarcely
been aware for months gave a sudden
leap in his breast. His blood
actually hastened its paceand ran
through his veins instead of crawling
--a distinct physical effect of an
actual mental condition. It was
produced upon him by the mere
matter-of-fact ordinariness of her
tone. He had never been a sentimental
manand had long ceased to
be a feeling onebut at that moment
something emotional and normal
happened to him.
You expect to live in that way?
Ain't nothin' else fer me to do.
Wisht I was better lookin'. But
I've got a lot of 'air,clawing her
mopan' it's red. One day,
chucklinga gent ses to me--he
ses: `Oh! yer'll do. Yer an ugly
little devil--but ye ARE a devil.'
She was leading him through a
narrowfilthy back streetand she
stoppedgrinning up in his face.
I say, mister,she wheedled
let's stop at the cawfee-stand.
It's up this way.
When he acceded and followed
hershe quickly turned a corner.
They were in another lane thick
with fogwhich flared with the
flame of torches stuck in costers'
barrows which stood here and there-barrows
with fried fish upon them
barrows with second-hand-looking
vegetables and others piled with
more than second-hand-looking garments.
Trade was not drivingbut
near one or two of them dirtyillused
looking womena man or so
and a few children stood. At a
corner which led into a black hole
of a courta coffee-stand was stationed
in charge of a burly ruffian in
Come along,said the girl.
There it is. It ain't strong, but
it 's 'ot.
She sidled up to the standdrawing
Dart with heras if glad of his
'Ello, Barney,she said. " 'Ere 's
a gent warnts a mug o' yer best.
I've 'ad a bit o' luckan' I wants
Garn,growled Barney. "You
an' yer luck! Gent may want a
mugbut y'd show yer money fust."
Strewth! I've got it. Y' aint got
the chinge fer wot I 'ave in me 'and
'ere. 'As 'e, mister?
Show it,taunted the manand
then turning to Dart. "Yer wants
a mug o' cawfee?"
The girl held out her hand
cautiously--the piece of gold lying
upon its palm.
Look 'ere,she said.
There were two or three men
slouching about the stand. Suddenly
a hand darted from between
two of them who stood nearestthe
sovereign was snatcheda screamed
oath from the girl rent the thick
airand a forlorn enough scarecrow
of a young fellow sprang away.
The blood leaped in Antony Dart's
veins again and he sprang after him
in a wholly normal passion of
indignation. A thousand years ago--as
it seemed to him--he had been a
good runner. This man was not one
and want of food had weakened him.
Dart went after him with strides
which astonished himself. Up the
streetinto an alley and out of ita
dozen yards more and into a court
and the man wheeled with a hoarse
baffled curse. The place had no
Hell!was all the creature said.
Dart took him by his greasy collar.
Even the brief rush had left him feeling
like a living thing--which was
a new sensation.
Give it up,he ordered.
The thief looked at him with a
half-laugh and obeyedas if he felt
the uselessness of a struggle. He
was not more than twenty-five years
oldand his eyes were cavernous with
want. He had the face of a man
who might have belonged to a better
class. When he had uttered the
exclamation invoking the infernal
regions he had not dropped the
I 'm as hungry as she is,he
Hungry enough to rob a child
Hungry enough to rob a starving
old woman--or a baby,with
a defiant snort. "Wolf hungry-tiger
hungry--hungry enough to
He whirled himself loose and
leaned his body against the wall
turning his face toward it. Suddenly
he made a choking sound
and began to sob.
Hell!he choked. "I 'll give
it up! I 'll give it up!"
What a figure--what a figureas
he swung against the blackened wall
his scarecrow clothes hanging on him
their once decent material making
their pinning together of buttonless
placestheir looseness and rents showing
dirty linenmore abject than any
other squalor could have made them.
Antony Dart's bloodstill running
warm and wellwas doing its normal
work among the brain-cells which
had stirred so evilly through the night.
When he had seized the fellow by
the collarhis hand had left his
pocket. He thrust it into another
pocket and drew out some silver.
Go and get yourself some food,
he said. "As much as you can eat.
Then go and wait for me at the place
they call Apple Blossom Court. I
don't know where it isbut I am
going there. I want to hear how
you came to this. Will you come?"
The thief lurched away from the
wall and toward him. He stared up
into his eyes through the fog. The
tears had smeared his cheekbones.
God!he said. "Will I come?
Look and see if I'll come." Dart
Yes, you 'll come,he answered
and he gave him the money. "I 'm
going back to the coffee-stand."
The thief stood staring after him
as he went out of the court. Dart
was speaking to himself.
I don't know why I did it,he
said. "But the thing had to be
In the street he turned into he
came upon the robbed girlrunning
pantingand crying. She uttered a
shout and flung herself upon him
clutching his coat.
Gawd!she sobbed hysterically
I thort I'd lost yer! I thort I'd
lost all of it, I did! Strewth! I 'm
glad I've found yer--and she
stoppedchoking with her sobs and
sniffsrubbing her face in her sack.
Here is your sovereign,Dart
saidhanding it to her.
She dropped the corner of the
sack and looked up with a queer
Did yer find a copper? Did yer
give him in charge?
No,answered Dart. "He was
worse off than you. He was starving.
I took this from him; but I gave
him some money and told him to
meet us at Apple Blossom Court."
She stopped short and drew back
a pace to stare up at him.
Well,she gave forthy' ARE a
And yet in the amazement on her
face he perceived a remote dawning
of an understanding of the meaning
of the thing he had done.
He had spoken like a man in a
dream. He felt like a man in a
dreambeing led in the thick mist
from place to place. He was led
back to the coffee-standwhere now
Barneythe proprietorwas pouring
out coffee for a hoarse-voiced coster
girl with a draggled feather in
her hatwho greeted their arrival
Hello, Glad!she cried out.
Got yer suvrink back?
Glad--it seemed to be the creature's
wild name--noddedbut held
close to her companion's sideclutching
Let's go in there an' change it,
she saidnodding toward a small pork
and ham shop near by. "An' then
yer can take care of it for me."
What did she call you?Antony
Dart asked her as they went.
Glad. Don't know as I ever 'ad
a nime o' me own, but a little cove
as went once to the pantermine told
me about a young lady as was Fairy
Queen an' 'er name was Gladys Beverly
St. John, so I called mesself that.
No one never said it all at onct-they
don't never say nothin' but
Glad. I'm glad enough this mornin',
chuckling again 'avin' the
luck to come up with you, mister.
Never had luck like it 'afore.
They went into the pork and ham
shop and changed the sovereign.
There was cooked food in the windows-roast
pork and boiled ham
and corned beef. She bought slices
of pork and beefand of suet-pudding
with a few currants sprinkled
Will yer 'elp me to carry it?
she inquired. "I 'll 'ave to get a
few pen'worth o' coal an' wood an'
a screw o' tea an' sugar. My wig
wot a feed me an' Polly 'll 'ave!"
As they returned to the coffeestand
she broke more than once into
a hop of glee. Barney had changed
his mind concerning her. A solid
sovereign which must be changed
and a companion whose shabby gentility
was absolute grandeur when
compared with his present surroundings
made a difference.
She received her mug of coffee and
thick slice of bread and dripping with
a grinand swallowed the hot sweet
liquid down in ecstatic gulps.
Ain't I in luck?she saidhanding
her mug back when it was empty.
Gi' me another, Barney.
Antony Dart drank coffee also and
ate bread and dripping. The coffee
was hot and the bread and dripping
dashed with saltquite eatable. He
had needed food and felt the better
Come on, mister,said Glad
when their meal was ended. "I want
to get back to Pollyan' there 's coal
and bread and things to buy."
She hurried him alongbreaking
her pace with hops at intervals. She
darted into dirty shops and brought
out things screwed up in paper. She
went last into a cellar and returned
carrying a small sack of coal over her
Bought sack an' all,she said
elatedly. "A sack 's a good thing
Let me carry it for you,said
Spile yer coat,with her sidelong
I don't care,he answered. "I
don't care a damn."
The final expletive was totally
unnecessarybut it meant a thing he
did not say. Whatsoever was thrusting
him this way and thatspeaking
through his speechleading him to
do things he had not dreamed of
doingshould have its will with him.
He had been fastened to the skirts of
this beggar imp and he would go on
to the end and do what was to be done
this day. It was part of the dream.
The sack of coal was over his
shoulder when they turned into
Apple Blossom Court. It would
have been a black hole on a sunny
dayand now it was like Hadeslit
grimly by a gas-jet or twosmall
and flickeringwith the orange haze
about them. Filthyflaggingmurky
doorwaysbroken steps and broken
windows stuffed with ragsand the
smell of the sewers let loose had
Apple Blossom Court.
Gladwith the wealth of the pork
and ham shop and other riches in
her armsentered a repellent doorway
in a spirit of great good cheer
and Dart followed her. Past a room
where a drunken woman lay sleeping
with her head on a tablea child
pulling at her dress and cryingup a
stairway with broken balusters and
breaking stepsthrough a landing
upstairs againand up still farther
until they reached the top. Glad
stopped before a door and shook
the handlecrying out:
'S only me, Polly. You can
open it.She added to Dart in an
undertone: "She 'as to keep it locked.
No knowin' who'd want to get in.
Polly shaking the door-handle again,
Polly 's only me."
The door opened slowly. On the
other side of it stood a girl with a
dimpled round face which was quite
pale; under one of her childishly
vacant blue eyes was a discoloration
and her curly fair hair was tucked up
on the top of her head in a knot.
As she took in the fact of Antony
Dart's presence her chin began to
I ain't fit to--to see no one,
she stammered pitifully. "Why did
youGlad--why did you?"
Ain't no 'arm in 'IM,said Glad.
'E's one o' the friendly ones. 'E
give me a suvrink. Look wot I've
got,hopping about as she showed
You need not be afraid of me,
Antony Dart said. He paused a
secondstaring at herand suddenly
addedPoor little wretch!
Her look was so scared and uncertain
a thing that he walked away
from her and threw the sack of coal
on the hearth. A small grate with
broken bars hung loosely in the fireplace
a battered tin kettle tilted
drunkenly near it. A mattressfrom
the holes in whose ticking straw
bulgedlay on the floor in a corner
with some old sacks thrown over it.
Glad hadwithout doubtborrowed
her shoulder covering from the
collection. The garret was as cold as
the graveand almost as dark; the
fog hung in it thickly. There were
crevices enough through which it
Antony Dart knelt down on the
hearth and drew matches from his
We ought to have brought some
Glad ran forward.
Wot a gent ye are!she cried.
Y' ain't never goin' to light it?
She ran back to the rickety table
and collected the scraps of paper
which had held her purchases.
They were smallbut useful.
That wot was round the sausage
an' the puddin's greasy,she
Polly hung over the table and
trembled at the sight of meat and
bread. Plainlyshe did not
understand what was happening. The
greased paper set light to the wood
and the wood to the coal. All three
flared and blazed with a sound of
cheerful crackling. The blaze threw
out its glow as finely as if it had been
set alight to warm a better place.
The wonder of a fire is like the
wonder of a soul. This one changed
the murk and gloom to brightness
and the deadly damp and cold to
warmth. It drew the girl Polly
from the table despite her fears.
She turned involuntarilymade two
steps toward itand stood gazing
while its light played on her face.
Glad whirled and ran to the hearth.
Ye've put on a lot,she cried;
but, oh, my Gawd, don't it warm
yer! Come on, Polly--come on.
She dragged out a wooden stool
an empty soap-boxand bundled the
sacks into a heap to be sat upon. She
swept the things from the table and
set them in their paper wrappings on
Let's all sit down close to it-close,
she saidan' get warm an'
eat, an' eat.
She was the leaven which leavened
the lump of their humanity. What
this leaven is--who has found out?
But she--little rat of the gutter-was
formed of itand her mere pure
animal joy in the temporary animal
comfort of the moment stirred and
uplifted them from their depths.
They drew near and sat upon
the substitutes for seats in a
circle--and the fire threw up flame
and made a glow in the fog hanging
in the black hole of a room.
It was Glad who set the battered
kettle on and when it boiled made
tea. The other two watched her
being under her spell. She handed
out slices of bread and sausage and
pudding on bits of paper. Polly fed
with tremulous haste; Glad herself
with rejoicing and exulting in flavors.
Antony Dart ate bread and meat as
he had eaten the bread and dripping
at the stall--accepting his normal
hunger as part of the dream.
Suddenly Glad paused in the midst
of a huge bite.
Mister,she saidp'raps that
cove's waitin' fer yer. Let's 'ave
'im in. I'll go and fetch 'im.
She was getting upbut Dart was
on his feet first.
I must go,he said. "He is
expecting me and--"
Aw,said Gladlemme go
along o' yer, mister--jest to show
there's no ill feelin'.
Very well,he answered.
It was she who ledand he who
followed. At the door she stopped
and looked round with a grin.
Keep up the fire, Polly,she
threw back. "Ain't it warm and
cheerful? It'll do the cove good to
She led the way down the black
unsafe stairway. She always led.
Outside the fog had thickened
againbut she went through it as if
she could see her way.
At the entrance to the court the
thief was standingleaning against
the wall with feveredunhopeful
waiting in his eyes. He moved
miserably when he saw the girland
she called out to reassure him.
I ain't up to no 'arm,she
said; "I on'y come with the gent."
Antony Dart spoke to him.
Did you get food?
The man shook his head.
I turned faint after you left me,
and when I came to I was afraid I
might miss you,he answered. "I
daren't lose my chance. I bought
some bread and stuffed it in my
pocket. I've been eating it while
I've stood here."
Come back with us,said Dart.
We are in a place where we have
He spoke mechanicallyand was
aware that he did so. He was a
pawn pushed about upon the board
of this day's life.
Come on,said the girl. "Yer
can get enough to last fer three
She guided them back through the
fog until they entered the murky
doorway again. Then she almost
ran up the staircase to the room they
When the door opened the thief
fell back a pace as before an unexpected
thing. It was the flare of
firelight which struck upon his eyes.
He passed his hand over them.
A fire!he said. "I haven't
seen one for a week. Coming out
of the blackness it gives a man a
Improvident joy gleamed in Glad's
We 'll be warm onct,she
chuckledif we ain't never warm
She drew her circle about the
hearth again. The thief took the
place next to her and she handed out
food to him--a big slice of meat
breada thick slice of pudding.
Fill yerself up,she said. "Then
ye'll feel like yer can talk."
The man tried to eat his food with
decorumsome recollection of the
habits of better days restraining him
but starved nature was too much for
him. His hands shookhis eyes
filledhis teeth tore. The rest of
the circle tried not to look at him.
Glad and Polly occupied themselves
with their own food.
Antony Dart gazed at the fire.
Here he sat warming himself in a
loft with a beggara thiefand a
helpless thing of the street. He had
come out to buy a pistol--its weight
still hung in his overcoat pocket-and
he had reached this place of
whose existence he had an hour ago
not dreamed. Each step which had
led him had seemed a simpleinevitable
thingfor which he had apparently
been responsiblebut which he
knew--yessomehow he KNEW--he
had of his own volition neither
planned nor meant. Yet here he sat
--a part of the lives of the beggar
the thiefand the poor thing of
the street. What did it mean?
Tell me,he said to the thief
how you came here.
By this time the young fellow had
fed himself and looked less like a
wolf. It was to be seen now that
he had blue-gray eyes which were
dreamy and young.
I have always been inventing
things,he said a little huskily. "I
did it when I was a child. I always
seemed to see there might be a way
of doing a thing better--getting
more power. When other boys
were playing games I was sitting in
corners trying to build models out
of wire and stringand old boxes
and tin cans. I often thought I saw
the way to thingsbut I was always
too poor to get what was needed to
work them out. Twice I heard of
men making great names and for
tunes because they had been able to
finish what I could have finished if I
had had a few pounds. It used to
drive me mad and break my heart."
His hands clenched themselves and
his huskiness grew thicker. "There
was a man catching his breath,
who leaped to the top of the ladder
and set the whole world talking and
writing--and I had done the thing
FIRST--I swear I had! It was all
clear in my brainand I was half
mad with joy over itbut I could
not afford to work it out. He
couldso to the end of time it will
be HIS." He struck his fist upon his
Aw!The deep little drawl
was a groan from Glad.
I got a place in an office at last.
I worked hard, and they began to
trust me. I--had a new idea. It
was a big one. I needed money to
work it out. I--I remembered
what had happened before. I felt
like a poor fellow running a race for
his life. I KNEW I could pay back
ten times--a hundred times--what
You took money?said Dart.
The thief's head dropped.
No. I was caught when I was
taking it. I wasn't sharp enough.
Someone came in and saw me, and
there was a crazy row. I was sent
to prison. There was no more trying
after that. It's nearly two years
since, and I've been hanging about
the streets and falling lower and
lower. I've run miles panting after
cabs with luggage in them and not
had strength to carry in the boxes
when they stopped. I've starved
and slept out of doors. But the
thing I wanted to work out is in
my mind all the time--like some
machine tearing round. It wants
to be finished. It never will be.
Glad was leaning forward staring
at himher roughened hands with
the smeared cracks on them clasped
round her knees.
Things 'AS to be finished,she
said. "They finish theirselves."
How do you know?Dart
turned on her.
Dunno 'OW I know--but I do.
When things begin they finish. It's
like a wheel rollin' down an 'ill.
Her sharp eyes fixed themselves on
Dart's. "All of us 'll finish somethin'-'
cos we've begun. You will
--Polly will--'e will--I will."
She stopped with a sudden sheepish
chuckle and dropped her forehead
on her kneesgiggling. "Dunno wot
I 'm talking about she said, but
Dart began to understand that it
was. And he also saw that this
ragged thing who knew nothing
whateverlooked out on the world
with the eyes of a seerthough she
was ignorant of the meaning of her
own knowledge. It was a weird
thing. He turned to the girl Polly.
Tell me how you came here,
He spoke in a low voice and
gently. He did not want to frighten
herbut he wanted to know how SHE
had begun. When she lifted her
childish eyes to hisher chin began
to shake. For some reason she did
not question his right to ask what he
would. She answered him meekly
as her fingers fumbled with the stuff
of her dress.
I lived in the country with my
mother,she said. "We was very
happy together. In the spring there
was primroses and--and lambs. I
--can't abide to look at the sheep
in the park these days. They remind
me so. There was a girl in
the village got a place in town and
came back and told us all about it.
It made me silly. I wanted to
come heretoo. I--I came--"
She put her arm over her face and
began to sob.
She can't tell you,said Glad.
There was a swell in the 'ouse
made love to her. She used to carry
up coals to 'is parlor an' 'e talked to
'er. 'E 'ad a wye with 'im--
Polly broke into a smothered wail.
Oh, I did love him so--I did!
she cried. "I'd have let him walk
over me. I'd have let him kill
'E nearly did it,said Glad.
'E went away sudden an' she 's
never 'eard word of 'im since.
From under Polly's face-hiding
arm came broken words.
I couldn't tell my mother. I
did not know how. I was too frightened
and ashamed. Now it's too
late. I shall never see my mother
again, and it seems as if all the lambs
and primroses in the world was dead.
Oh, they're dead--they're dead-and
I wish I was, too!
Glad's eyes winked rapidly and she
gave a hoarse little cough to clear
her throat. Her arms still clasping
her kneesshe hitched herself closer
to the girl and gave her a nudge
with her elbow.
Buck up, Polly,she saidwe
ain't none of us finished yet. Look
at us now--sittin' by our own fire
with bread and puddin' inside us-an'
think wot we was this mornin'.
Who knows wot we 'll 'ave this time
Then she stopped and looked with
a wide grin at Antony Dart.
Ow did I come 'ere?she said.
Yes,he answeredhow did
you come here?
I dunno,she said; "I was 'ere
first thing I remember. I lived with
a old woman in another 'ouse in the
court. One mornin' when I woke
up she was dead. Sometimes I've
begged an' sold matches. Sometimes
I've took care of women's children
or 'elped 'em when they 'ad to lie up.
I've seen a lot--but I like to see a
lot. 'Ope I'll see a lot more afore
I'm done. I'm used to bein' 'ungry
an' coldan' all thatbut--but I
allers like to see what's comin' tomorrer.
There's allers somethin'
else to-morrer. That's all about
ME and she chuckled again.
Dart picked up some fresh sticks
and threw them on the fire. There
was some fine crackling and a new
flame leaped up.
If you could do what you liked
he said, what would you like to
Her chuckle became an outright
If I 'ad ten pounds?she asked
evidently prepared to adjust herself
in imagination to any form of unlooked-
for good luck.
If you had more?
His tone made the thief lift his
head to look at him.
If I 'ad a wand like the one Jem
told me was in the pantermine?
She sat and stared at the fire a few
momentsand then began to speak in
a low luxuriating voice.
I'd get a better room,she said
revelling. "There 's one in the
next 'ouse. I'd 'ave a few sticks o'
furnisher in it--a bed an' a chair
or two. I'd get some warm petticuts
an' a shawl an' a 'at--with
a ostrich feather in it. Polly an'
me 'd live together. We'd 'ave
fire an' grub every day. I'd get
drunken Bet's biby put in an 'ome.
I'd 'elp the women when they 'ad to
lie up. I'd--I'd 'elp 'IM a bit
with a jerk of her elbow toward the
thief. If 'e was kept fed p'r'aps 'e
could work out that thing in 'is 'ead.
I'd go round the court an' 'elp them
with 'usbands that knocks 'em about.
I'd--I'd put a stop to the knockin'
about a queer fixed look showing
itself in her eyes. If I 'ad money
I could do it. 'Ow much with
sudden prudence, could a body 'ave
--with one o' them wands?"
More than enough to do all you
have spoken of,answered Dart.
It 's a shime a body couldn't 'ave
it. Apple Blossom Court 'd be a
different thing. It'd be the sime as
Miss Montaubyn says it's goin' to
be.She laughed againthis time as
if remembering something fantastic
but not despicable.
Who is Miss Montaubyn?
She 's a' old woman as lives next
floor below. When she was young
she was pretty an' used to dance in
the 'alls. Drunken Bet says she was
one o' the wust. When she got old
it made 'er mad an' she got wusser.
She was ready to tear gals eyes out,
an' when she'd get took for makin'
a row she'd fight like a tiger cat.
About a year ago she tumbled downstairs
when she'd 'ad too much an'
she broke both 'er legs. You
Polly hid her face in her hands.
Oh, when they took her away to
the hospital!she shuddered. "Oh
when they lifted her up to carry
I thought Polly 'd 'ave a fit when
she 'eard 'er screamin' an' swearin'.
My! it was langwich! But it was
the 'orspitle did it.
Dunno,with an uncertaineven
slightly awed laugh. "Dunno wot
it did--neither does nobody else
but somethin' 'appened. It was
along of a lidy as come in one day
an' talked to 'er when she was lyin'
there. My eye chuckling, it was
queer talk! But I liked it. P'raps
it was liesbut it was cheerfle lies
that 'elps yer. What I ses is--if
THINGS ain't cheerflePEOPLE 'S got to be
--to fight it out. The women in
the 'ouse larft fit to kill theirselves
when she fust come 'ome limpin' an'
talked to 'em about what the lidy
told 'er. But arter a bit they liked
to 'ear 'er--just along o' the
cheerfleness. Said it was like a
pantermine. Drunken Bet says if she
could get 'old 'f it an' believe it sime
as Jinny Montaubyn does it'd be as
cheerin' as drink an' last longer."
Is it a kind of religion?Dart
askedhaving a vague memory of
rumors of fantastic new theories and
half-born beliefs which had seemed
to him weird visions floating through
fagged brains wearied by old doubts
and arguments and failures. The
world was tired--the whole earth
was sad--centuries had wrought
only to the end of this twentieth
century's despair. Was the struggle
waking even here--in this back
water of the huge city's human tide?
he wondered with dull interest.
Is it a kind of religion?he said.
It 's cheerfler.Glad thrust out
her sharp chin uncertainly again.
There 's no 'ell fire in it. An'
there ain't no blime laid on
Godamighty.(The word as she uttered
it seemed to have no connection
whatever with her usual colloquial
invocation of the Deity.) "When
a dray run over little Billy an' crushed
'im inter a ragan' 'is mother was
screamin' an' draggin' 'er 'air down
the curick 'e ses`It 's Gawd's will'
'e ses--an' 'e ain't no bad sort
neitheran' 'is fice was white an' wet
with sweat--`Gawd done it' 'e ses.
An' meI'd nussed the child an' I
clawed me 'air sime as if I was 'is
mother an' I screamed out`Then
damn 'im!' An' the curick 'e
dropped sittin' down on the curbstone
an' 'id 'is fice in 'is 'ands."
Dart hid his own face after the
manner of the wretched curate.
No wonder,he groaned. His
blood turned cold.
Montaubyn's lidy she says Godamighty
never done it nor never intended it,
an' if we kep' sayin' an' believin' 'e 's
close to us an' not millyuns o' miles
away, we'd be took care of whilst
we was alive an' not 'ave to wait till
we was dead.
She got up on her feet and threw
up her arms with a sudden jerk and
I 'm alive! I 'm alive!she
cried outI've got ter be took care
of NOW! That 's why I like wot she
tells about it. So does the women.
We ain't no more reason ter be sure
of wot the curick says than ter be
sure o' this. Dunno as I've got ter
choose either way, but if I 'ad, I'd
choose the cheerflest.
Dart had sat staring at her--so
had Polly--so had the thief. Dart
rubbed his forehead.
I do not understand,he said.
'T ain't understanding! It 's
believin'. Bless yer, SHE doesn't
understand. I say, let's go an' talk to 'er
a bit. She don't mind nothin', an'
she'll let us in. We can leave Polly
an' 'im 'ere. They can make some
more tea an' drink it.
It ended in their going out of the
room together again and stumbling
once more down the stairway's
crookedness. At the bottom of the
first short flight they stopped in the
darkness and Glad knocked at a door
with a summons manifestly expectant
of cheerful welcome. She used the
formula she had used before.
'S on'y me, Miss Montaubyn,
she cried out. " 'S on'y Glad."
The door opened in wide welcome
and confronting them as she
held its handle stood a small old
woman with an astonishing face. It
was astonishing because while it was
withered and wrinkled with marks of
past years which had once stamped
their reckless unsavoriness upon its
every linesome strange redeeming
thing had happened to it and its
expression was that of a creature to
whom the opening of a door could
only mean the entrance--the tumbling
in as it were--of hopes realized.
Its surface was swept clean of
even the vaguest anticipation of
anything not to be desired. Smiling as
it did through the black doorway
into the unrelieved shadow of the
passageit struck Antony Dart at
once that it actually implied this-and
that in this place--and indeed
in any place--nothing could have
been more astonishing. What
Well, well,she saidcome in,
Glad, bless yer.
I've brought a gent to 'ear
yer talk a bit,Glad explained
The small old woman raised her
twinkling old face to look at him.
Ah!she saidas if summing up
what was before her. " 'E thinks
it 's worse than it isdoesn't 'enow?
This time it struck Dart that her
look seemed actually to anticipate the
evolving of some wonderful and desirable
thing from himself. As if even
his gloom carried with it treasure as
yet undisplayed. As she knew nothing
of the ten sovereignshe wondered
whatin God's nameshe saw.
The poverty of the little square
room had an odd cheer in it. Much
scrubbing had removed from it the
objections manifest in Glad's room
above. There was a small red fire
in the gratea strip of oldbut gay
carpet before ittwo chairs and a
table were covered with a harlequin
patchwork made of bright odds and
ends of all sizes and shapes. The
fog in all its murky volume could
not quite obscure the brightness of
the often rubbed window and its
harlequin curtain drawn across upon
Bless yer,said Miss Montaubyn
Dart sat and thanked her. Glad
dropped upon the floor and girdled
her knees comfortably while Miss
Montaubyn took the second chair
which was close to the tableand
snuffed the candle which stood near
a basket of colored scraps such as
without doubthad made the harlequin
Yer won't mind me goin' on
with me bit o' work?she chirped.
Tell 'im wot it is,Glad suggested.
They come from a dressmaker as is
in a small way,designating the scraps
by a gesture. "I clean up for 'er an'
she lets me 'ave 'em. I make 'em up
into anythink I can--pin-cushions an'
bags an' curtings an' balls. Nobody'd
think wot they run to sometimes.
Now an' then I sell some of 'em.
Wot I can't sell I give away."
Drunken Bet's biby plays with
'er ball all day,said Glad.
Ah!said Miss Montaubyn
drawing out a long needleful of
threadBet, SHE thinks it worse
than it is.
Could it be worse?asked Dart.
Could anything be worse than
Lots,suggested Glad; "might
'ave broke your backmight 'ave a
fevermight be in jail for knifin'
someone. 'E wants to 'ear you
talkMiss Montaubyn; tell 'im all
Me!her expectant eyes on him.
'E wouldn't want to 'ear it. I
shouldn't want to 'ear it myself.
Bein' on the 'alls when yer a pretty
girl ain't an 'elpful life; an' bein'
took up an' dropped down till yer
dropped in the gutter an' don't know
'ow to get out--it 's wot yer mustn't
let yer mind go back to.
That 's wot the lidy said,called
out Glad. "Tell 'im about the lidy.
She doesn't even know who she was."
The remark was tossed to Dart.
Never even 'eard 'er name,with
unabated cheer said Miss Montaubyn.
She come an' she went an' me too
low to do anything but lie an' look
at 'er and listen. An' `Which of us
two is mad?' I ses to myself. But I
lay thinkin' and thinkin'--an' it was
so cheerfle I couldn't get it out of
me 'ead--nor never 'ave since.
What did she say?
I couldn't remember the words
--it was the way they took away
things a body 's afraid of. It was
about things never 'avin' really been
like wot we thought they was.
Godamighty now, there ain't a bit of
'arm in 'im.
What?he said with a start.
'E never done the accidents and
the trouble. It was us as went out
of the light into the dark. If we'd
kep' in the light all the time, an'
thought about it, an' talked about it,
we'd never 'ad nothin' else. 'Tain't
punishment neither. 'T ain't nothin'
but the dark--an' the dark ain't
nothin' but the light bein' away.
`Keep in the light,' she ses, `never
think of nothin' else, an' then you'll
begin an' see things. Everybody's
been afraid. There ain't no need.
You believe THAT.'
Believe?said Dart heavily.
`Yes,' ses I to 'er, `that 's where
the trouble comes in--believin'.'
And she answers as cool as could
be: `Yes, it is,' she ses, `we've all
been thinkin' we've been believin',
an' none of us 'as. If we 'ad what 'd
there be to be afraid of? If we
believed a king was givin' us our
livin' an' takin' care of us who'd
be afraid of not 'avin' enough to
Who?groaned Dart. He sat
hanging his head and staring at the
floor. This was another phase of
`Where is 'E?' I ses. ` 'Im as
breaks old women's legs an' crushes
babies under wheels--so as they 'll
be resigned?' An' all of a sudden
she calls out quite loud: `Nowhere,'
she ses. `An' never was. But 'Im
as stretched forth the 'eavens an' laid
the foundations of the earth, 'Im as
is the Life an' Love of the world,
'E's 'ERE! Stretch out yer 'and,' she
ses, 'an' call out, SpeakLordthy
servant 'eareth an' ye'll 'ear an' SEE.
An' never you stop sayin' it--let yer
'eart beat it an' yer breath breathe it
--an' yer 'll find yer goin' about
laughin' soft to yerself an' lovin'
everythin' as if it was yer own child at
breast. An' no 'arm can come to
yer. Try it when yer go 'ome.'
Did you?asked Dart.
Glad answered for her with a
tremulous--yes it was a TREMULOUS-giggle
a weirdly moved little sound.
When she wakes in the mornin'
she ses to 'erself, `Good things
is goin' to come to-day--cheerfle
things.' When there's a knock at
the door she ses, `Somethin' friendly 's
comin' in.' An' when Drunken Bet's
makin' a row an' ragin' an' tearin'
an' threatenin' to 'ave 'er eyes out of
'er fice, she ses, `Lor, Bet, yer don't
mean a word of it--yer a friend to
every woman in the 'ouse.' When
she don't know which way to turn,
she stands still an' ses, `Speak, Lord,
thy servant 'eareth,' an' then she does
wotever next comes into 'er mind-an'
she says it's allus the right answer.
it myself--p'raps it's true. I did it
this mornin' when I sat down an'
pulled me sack over me 'ead on the
bridge. Polly 'd been cryin' so loud
all night I'd got a bit low in me
stummick an'--She stopped suddenly
and turned on Dart as if light
had flashed across her mind. "Dunno
nothin' about it she stammered,
but I SAID it--just like she does-an'
Plainly she had uttered whatever
words she had used in the form of a
sort of incantationand here was the
result in the living body of this man
sitting before her. She stared hard
at himrepeating her words: "YOU
come. Yesyou did."
It was the answer,said Miss
Montaubynwith entire simplicity as
she bit off her threadthat 's wot it
Antony Dart lifted his heavy
You believe it,he said.
I 'm livin' on believin' it,she
said confidingly. "I ain't got
nothin' else. An' answers keeps
comin' and comin'."
Bits o' work--an' things as
'elps. Glad there, she's one.
Aw,said GladI ain't nothin'.
I likes to 'ear yer tell about it. She
ses,to Dart againa little slowlyas
she watched his face with curiously
questioning eyes--"she ses 'E'S in
the room--same as 'E's everywhere
--in this 'ere room. Sometimes she
talks out loud to 'Im."
The strange Majestic Awful Idea
--the Deity of the Ages--to be
spoken of as a mere unfeared Reality!
And even as the vaguely formed
thought sprang in his brain he started
once moresuddenly confronted by
the meaning his sense of shock
implied. What had all the sermons of
all the centuries been preaching but
that it was Reality? What had all
the infidels of every age contended
but that it was Unrealand the folly
of a dream? He had never thought
of himself as an infidel; perhaps it
would have shocked him to be called
onethough he was not quite sure.
But that a little superannuated dancer
at music-hallsbattered and worn by
an unlawful lifeshould sit and smile
in absolute faith at such a--a superstition
as thisstirred something like
awe in him.
For she was smiling in entire
It 's what the curick ses,she
enlarged radiantly. "Though 'e don t
believe itpore young man; 'e on'y
thinks 'e does. `It's for 'igh an'
low' 'e ses`for you an' me as well
as for them as is royal fambleys.
The Almighty 'E 's EVERYWHERE!'
`Yes' ses I`I've felt 'Im 'ere--as
near as y' are yerselfsirI 'ave--an'
I've spoke to 'Im."'
What did the curate say?Dart
Seemed like it frightened 'im a
bit. `We mustn't be too bold, Miss
Montaubyn, my dear,' 'e ses, for 'e's
a kind young man as ever lived, an'
often ses `my dear' to them 'e 's
comfortin'. But yer see the lidy 'ad gave
me a Bible o' me own an' I'd set 'ere
an' read it, an' read it an' learned
verses to say to meself when I was in
bed--an' I'd got ter feel like it was
someone talkin' to me an' makin' me
understand. So I ses, ` 'T ain't boldness
we're warned against; it's not
lovin' an' trustin' enough, an' not
askin' an' believin' TRUE. Don't yer
remember wot it ses: Ieven Iam
'e that comforteth yer. Who art
thou that thou art afraid of man
that shall die an' the son of man that
shall be made as grassan' forgetteth
Jehovah thy Creatorthat stretched
forth the 'eavens an' laid the foundations
of the earth?" an' "I've covered
thee with the shadder of me
'and it ses; an' I will go before
thee an' make the rough places
smooth;" an' " 'Itherto ye 'ave asked
nothin' in my name; ask therefore
that ye may receivean' yer joy may
be made full." ' An' 'e looked down
on the floor as if 'e was doin' some
'ard thinkin'pore young manan' 'e
sesquite sudden an' shaky`LordI
believe'elp thou my unbelief' an' 'e
ses it as if 'e was in trouble an' didn't
know 'e'd spoke out loud."
Where--how did you come upon
your verses?said Dart. "How did
you find them?"
all answers--they was the first
answers I ever 'ad. When I first come
'ome an' it seemed as if I was goin'
to be swep' away in the dirt o' the
street--one day when I was near
drove wild with cold an' 'unger, I
set down on the floor an' I dragged
the Bible to me an' I ses: `There
ain't nothin' on earth or in 'ell as 'll
'elp me. I'm goin' to do wot the
lidy said--mad or not.' An' I 'eld
the book--an' I 'eld my breath, too,
'cos it was like waitin' for the end o'
the world--an' after a bit I 'ears
myself call out in a 'oller whisper,
`Speak, Lord, thy servant 'eareth.
Show me a 'ope.' An' I was tremblin'
all over when I opened the
book. An' there it was! `I will
go before thee an' make the rough
places smooth, I will break in pieces
the doors of brass and will cut in
sunder the bars of iron.' An' I
knowed it was a answer.
Wot else was it?with a shining
face. "I'd arst for itan' there
it was. An' in about a hour Glad
come runnin' up 'erean' she'd 'ad
a bit o' luck--"
'T wasn't nothin' much,Glad
broke in deprecatinglyon'y I'd got
somethin' to eat an' a bit o' fire.
An' she made me go an' 'ave a
'earty meal, an' set an' warm meself.
An' she was that cheerfle an' full o'
pluck, she 'elped me to forget about
the things that was makin' me into a
madwoman. SHE was the answer-same
as the book 'ad promised. They
comes in different wyes the answers
does. Bless yer, they don't come in
claps of thunder an' streaks o' lightenin'-they
just comes easy an' natural-so
's sometimes yer don't think
for a minit or two that they're
answers at all. But it comes to yer in
a bit an' yer 'eart stands still for joy.
An' ever since then I just go to me
book an' arst. P'raps,her smile an
illuminating thingme bein' the
low an' pore in spirit at the beginnin',
an' settin' 'ere all alone by meself
day in an' day out, just thinkin'
it all over--an' arstin'--an' waitin'
--p'raps light was gave me 'cos I
was in such a little place an' in the
dark. But I ain't pore in spirit now.
Lor', no, yer can't be when yer've
on'y got to believe. `An' 'itherto
ye 'ave arst nothin' in my name;
arst therefore that ye may receive
an' yer joy be made full.'
Am I sitting here listening to an
old female reprobate's disquisition on
religion?passed through Antony
Dart's mind. "Why am I listening?
I am doing it because here is
a creature who BELIEVES--knowing
no doctrineknowing no church.
She BELIEVES--she thinks she KNOWS
her Deity is by her side. She is not
afraid. To her simpleness the awful
Unknown is the Known--and WITH
Suppose it were true,he uttered
aloudin response to a sense of inward
--TRUE?And he was not speaking
either to the woman or the girland
his forehead was damp.
Gawd!said Gladher chin
almost on her kneesher eyes staring
fearsomely. "S'pose it was--an' us
sittin' 'ere an' not knowin' it--an'
no one knowin' it--nor gettin' the
good of it. Sime as if--" pondering
hard in search of similesime
as if no one 'ad never knowed about
'lectricity, an' there wasn't no 'lectric
lights nor no 'lectric nothin'. Onct
nobody knowed, an' all the sime it
was there--jest waitin'.
Her fantastic laugh ended for her
with a little chokingvaguely
Blimme,she said. "Ain't it
queerus not knowin'--IF IT'S TRUE."
Antony Dart bent forward in his
chair. He looked far into the eyes
of the ex-dancer as if some unseen
thing within them might answer
him. Miss Montaubyn herself for
the moment he did not see.
What,he stammered hoarsely
his voice broken with awewhat
of the hideous wrongs--the woes
and horrors--and hideous wrongs?
There wouldn't be none if WE
was right--if we never thought nothin'
but `Good's comin'--good 's
'ere.' If we everyone of us thought
it--every minit of every day.
She did not know she was speaking
of a millennium--the end of
the world. She sat by her one
candlethreading her needle and
believing she was speaking of To-day.
He laughed a hollow laugh.
If we were right!he said. "It
would take long--long--long--to
make us all so."
It would be slow p'raps. Well,
so it would--but good comes quick
for them as begins callin' it. It's
been quick for ME,drawing her
thread through the needle's eye
triumphantly. "Lor'yesme legs is
better--me luck 's better--people 's
better. Bless yeryes!"
It 's true,said Glad; "she gets
on somehow. Things comes. She
never wants no drink. Me now
she applied to Miss Montaubyn, if
I took it up same as you--wot'd
come to a gal like me?"
Wot ud yer want ter come?
Dart saw that in her mind was an
absolute lack of any premonition of
obstacle. "Wot'd yer arst fer in yer
Glad reflected profoundly.
Polly,she saidshe wants to go
'ome to 'er mother an' to the country.
I ain't got no mother an' wot I
'ear of the country seems like I'd get
tired of it. Nothin' but quiet an'
lambs an' birds an' things growin.'
Me, I likes things goin' on. I likes
people an' 'and organs an' 'buses. I'd
stay 'ere--same as I told YOU,with
a jerk of her hand toward Dart.
An' do things in the court--if
I 'ad a bit o' money. I don't want
to live no gay life when I 'm a woman.
It's too 'ard. Us pore uns ends too
bad. Wisht I knowed I could get
on some 'ow.
Good 'll come,said Miss
Montaubyn. "Just you say the same as
me every mornin'--`Good's fillin'
the worldan' some of it's comin' to
me. It 's bein' sent--an' I 'm goin'
to meet it. It 's comin'--it 's
comin'.' " She bent forward and touched
the girl's shoulder with her astonishing
eyes alight. "Bless yerwot's
in my room's in yours; Lor'yes."
Glad's eyes stared into hersthey
became mysteriouslyalmost awesomely
Is it?she breathed in a hushed
Yes, Lor', yes! When yer get
up in the mornin' you just stand still
an' ARST it. `Speak, Lord,' ses you;
Thy servant 'eareth,ended
Glad's hushed speech. "Blimme
but I 'm goin' to try it!"
Perhaps the brain of her saw it
still as an incantationperhaps the
soul of hercalled up strangely out
of the dark and still new-born and
blind and vaguesaw it vaguely and
half blindly as something else.
Dart was wondering which of
these things were true.
We've never been expectin'
nothin' that's good,said Miss
Montaubyn. "We 're allus expectin'
the other. Who isn't? I was allus
expectin' rheumatiz an' 'unger an'
cold an' starvin' old age. Wot was
you lookin' for?" to Dart.
He looked down on the floor and
Failing brain--failing life--
None of 'em 's comin'--if yer
don't call 'em. Stand still an' listen
for the other. It's the other that's
She was without doubt amazing.
She chirped like a bird singing on a
boughrejoicing in token of the
shining of the sun.
It's wot yer can work on--
this,said Glad. "The curick--
'e's a good sort an' no' 'arm in 'im
--but 'e ses: `Trouble an' 'unger is
ter teach yer ter submit. Accidents
an' coughs as tears yer lungs is sent
you to prepare yer for 'eaven. If yer
loves 'Im as sends 'emyer 'll go
there.' ` 'Ave yer ever bin?' ses I.
` 'Ave yer ever saw anyone that's
bin? 'Ave yer ever saw anyone
that's saw anyone that's bin?'
`No' 'e ses. `Don'tme girldon't!'
`Garn' I ses; `tell me somethin'
as 'll do me some good afore I'm
dead! 'Eaven's too far off.' "
The kingdom of 'eaven is at
'and,said Miss Montaubyn. "Bless
Antony Dart glanced round the
room. It was a strange place. But
something WAS here. Magicwas
He heard from below a sudden
murmur and crying out in the
street. Miss Montaubyn heard it
and stopped in her sewingholding
her needle and thread extended.
Glad heard it and sprang to her
Somethin 's 'appened,she cried
out. "Someone 's 'urt."
She was out of the room in a
breath's space. She stood outside
listening a few seconds and darted
back to the open doorspeaking
through it. They could hear below
of a child.
Somethin 's 'appened to Bet!
she cried out again. "I can 'ear the
She was gone and flying down the
staircase; Antony Dart and Miss
Montaubyn rose together. The tumult
was increasing; people were
running about in the courtand it
was plain a crowd was forming by
the magic which calls up crowds as
from nowhere about the door. The
child's screams rose shrill above the
noise. It was no small thing which
I must go,said Miss
Montaubynlimping away from her
table. "P'raps I can 'elp. P'raps
you can 'elptoo as he followed
They were met by Glad at the
threshold. She had shot back to
She was blind drunk she said,
an' she went out to get more. She
tried to cross the street an' fell under
a car. She'll be dead in five minits.
I'm goin' for the biby."
Dart saw Miss Montaubyn step
back into her room. He turned
involuntarily to look at her.
She stood still a second--so still
that it seemed as if she was not drawing
mortal breath. Her astonishing
expectant eyes closed themselves
and yet in closing spoke expectancy
Speak, Lord,she said softlybut
as if she spoke to Something whose
nearness to her was such that her
hand might have touched it. "Speak
Lordthy servant 'eareth."
Antony Dart almost felt his hair
rise. He quaked as she came near
her poor clothes brushing against
him. He drew back to let her pass
firstand followed her leading.
The court was filled with men
womenand childrenwho surged
about the doorwaytalkingcrying
and protesting against each other's
crowding. Dart caught a glimpse
of a policeman fighting his way
through with a doctor. A dishevelled
woman with a child at her
dirtybare breast had got in and was
Just outside the court it was,
she proclaimedan' I saw it. If
she'd bin 'erself it couldn't 'ave
'appened. `No time for 'osspitles,'
ses I. She's not twenty breaths to
dror; let 'er die in 'er own bed, pore
thing!And both she and her baby
breaking into wails at one and the
same timeother womensome hysteric
some maudlin with ginjoined
them in a terrified outburst.
Get out, you women,commanded
the doctorwho had forced
his way across the threshold. "Send
them awayofficer to the policeman.
There were others to turn out of
the room itself, which was crowded
with morbid or terrified creatures,
all making for confusion. Glad had
seized the child and was forcing her
way out into such air as there was
The bed--a strange and loathly
thing--stood by the empty, rusty
fireplace. Drunken Bet lay on it, a
bundle of clothing over which the
doctor bent for but a few minutes
before he turned away.
Antony Dart, standing near the
door, heard Miss Montaubyn speak
to him in a whisper.
May I go to 'er?" and the doctor
She limped lightly forward and
her small face was whitebut expectant
still. What could she expect
An extraordinary thing happened.
An abnormal silence fell. The owners
of such faces as on stretched
necks caught sight of her seemed in
a flash to communicate with others
in the crowd.
whispered. And "Jinny Montaubyn"
was passed alongleaving an
awed stirring in its wake. Those
whom the pressure outside had
crushed against the wall near the
window in a passionate hurrybreathed
on and rubbed the panes that they
might lay their faces to them. One
tore out the rags stuffed in a broken
place and listened breathlessly.
Jinny Montaubyn was kneeling
down and laying her small old hand
on the muddied forehead. She held
it there a second or so and spoke in
a voice whose low clearness brought
back at once to Dart the voice in
which she had spoken to the Something
Bet,she saidBet.And then
more soft still and yet more clear
Bet, my dear.
It seemed incrediblebut it was a
fact. Slowly the lids of the woman's
eyes lifted and the pupils fixed
themselves on Jinny Montaubynwho
leaned still closer and spoke again.
'T ain't true,she said. "Not
this. 'T ain't TRUE. There IS NO
DEATH slow and soft, but passionately
The muscles of the woman's face
twisted it into a rueful smile. The
three words she dragged out were so
faint that perhaps none but Dart's
strained ears heard them.
The soul of her was loosening fast
and straining awaybut Jinny Montaubyn
her low voice had the tone of a slender
silver trumpet. "In a minit yer 'll
know--in a minit. Lord lifting
her expectant face, show her the
Mysteriously the clouds were clearing
from the sodden face--mysteriously.
Miss Montaubyn watched
them as they were swept away! A
minute--two minutes--and they
were gone. Then she rose noiselessly
and stood looking downspeaking
quite simply as if to herself.
Ah,she breathedshe DOES
know now--fer sure an' certain.
Then Antony Dartturning slightly
realized that a man who had entered
the house and been standing near him
breathing with light quicknesssince
the moment Miss Montaubyn had
kneltwas plainly the person Glad
had called the "curick and that
he had bowed his head and covered
his eyes with a hand which trembled.
He was a young man with an
eager soul, and his work in
Apple Blossom Court and places like
it had torn him many ways. Religious
conventions established through
centuries of custom had not prepared
him for life among the submerged.
He had struggled and been appalled,
he had wrestled in prayer and felt
himself unanswered, and in repentance
of the feeling had scourged himself
with thorns. Miss Montaubyn,
returning from the hospital, had filled
him at first with horror and protest.
But who knows--who knows?"
he said to Dartas they stood and
talked together afterwardFaith as
a little child. That is literally hers.
And I was shocked by it--and tried
to destroy it, until I suddenly saw
what I was doing. I was--in my
cloddish egotism--trying to show
her that she was irreverent BECAUSE
she could believe what in my soul I
do not, though I dare not admit so
much even to myself. She took from
some strange passing visitor to her
tortured bedside what was to her a
revelation. She heard it first as a
child hears a story of magic. When
she came out of the hospital, she told
it as if it was one. I--I--he
bit his lips and moistened them
argued with her and reproached
her. Christ the Merciful, forgive
me! She sat in her squalid little
room with her magic--sometimes
in the dark--sometimes without
fire, and she clung to it, and loved it
and asked it to help her, as a child
asks its father for bread. When she
was answered--and God forgive me
again for doubting that the simple
good that came to her WAS an answer
--when any small help came to her,
she was a radiant thing, and without
a shadow of doubt in her eyes told
me of it as proof--proof that she
had been heard. When things went
wrong for a day and the fire was out
again and the room dark, she said, `I
'aven't kept near enough--I 'aven't
trusted TRUE. It will be gave me
soon,' and when once at such a time
I said to her, `We must learn to say,
Thy will be done,' she smiled up at
me like a happy baby and answered:
`Thy will be done on earth AS IT IS IN
'EAVEN. Lor', there's no cold there,
nor no 'unger nor no cryin' nor pain.
That's the way the will is done in
'eaven. That's wot I arst for all
day long--for it to be done on
earth as it is in 'eaven.' What could
I say? Could I tell her that the will
of the Deity on the earth he created
was only the will to do evil--to
give pain--to crush the creature
made in His own image. What else
do we mean when we say under all
horror and agony that befalls, `It is
God's will--God's will be done.'
Base unbeliever though I am, I could
not speak the words. Oh, she has
something we have not. Her poor,
little misspent life has changed itself
into a shining thing, though it shines
and glows only in this hideous place.
She herself does not know of its
shining. But Drunken Bet would
stagger up to her room and ask to be
told what she called her `pantermine'
stories. I have seen her there sitting
listening--listening with strange
quiet on her and dull yearning in
her sodden eyes. So would other
and worse women go to her, and
I, who had struggled with them,
could see that she had reached some
remote longing in their beings which
I had never touched. In time the
seed would have stirred to life--it is
beginning to stir even now. During
the months since she came back to the
court--though they have laughed
at her--both men and women have
begun to see her as a creature weirdly
set apart. Most of them feel something
like awe of her; they half believe
her prayers to be bewitchments,
but they want them on their side.
They have never wanted mine. That
I have known--KNOWN. She believes
that her Deity is in Apple Blossom
Court--in the dire holes its people
live in, on the broken stairway, in
every nook and awful cranny of it-a
great Glory we will not see--only
waiting to be called and to answer.
Do _I_ believe it--do you--do any
of those anointed of us who preach
each day so glibly `God is EVERYWHERE'?
Who is the one who believes? If
there were such a man he would go
about as Moses did when `He wist
not that his face shone.'
They had gone out together and
were standing in the fog in the
court. The curate removed his hat
and passed his handkerchief over his
damp foreheadhis breath coming
and going almost sobbinglyhis eyes
staring straight before him into the
yellowness of the haze.
Who,he said after a moment
of singular silencewho are you?
Antony Dart hesitated a few
secondsand at the end of his pause
he put his hand into his overcoat
If you will come upstairs with
me to the room where the girl Glad
lives, I will tell you,he saidbut
before we go I want to hand something
over to you.
The curate turned an amazed gaze
What is it?he asked.
Dart withdrew his hand from his
pocketand the pistol was in it.
I came out this morning to buy
this,he said. "I intended--never
mind what I intended. A wrong
turn taken in the fog brought me
here. Take this thing from me and
The curate took the pistol and put
it into his own pocket without comment.
In the course of his labors
he had seen desperate men and
desperate things many times. He had
even been--at moments--a desperate
man thinking desperate things
himselfthough no human being had
ever suspected the fact. This man
had faced some tragedyhe could see.
Had he been on the verge of a crime
--had he looked murder in the eyes?
What had made him pause? Was
it possible that the dream of Jinny
Montaubyn being in the air had
reached his brain--his being?
He looked almost appealingly at
himbut he only said aloud:
Let us go upstairs, then.
So they went.
As they passed the door of the
room where the dead woman lay
Dart went in and spoke to Miss
Montaubynwho was still there.
If there are things wanted here,
he saidthis will buy them.And
he put some money into her hand.
She did not seem surprised at the
incongruity of his shabbiness producing
Well, now,she saidI WAS
wonderin' an' askin'. I'd like 'er
clean an' nice, an' there's milk
wanted bad for the biby.
In the room they mounted to Glad
was trying to feed the child with
bread softened in tea. Polly sat near
her looking on with restlesseager
eyes. She had never seen anything
of her own baby but its limp newborn
and dead body being carried
away out of sight. She had not even
dared to ask what was done with such
poor little carrion. The tyranny of
the law of life made her want to paw
and touch this lately born thingas her
agony had given her no fruit of her
own body to touch and paw and nuzzle
and caress as mother creatures will
whether they be women or tigresses
or doves or female cats.
Let me hold her, Glad,she half
whimpered. "When she 's fed let
me get her to sleep."
All right,Glad answered; "we
could look after 'er between us well
The thief was still sitting on the
hearthbut being full fed and
comfortable for the first time in many a
dayhe had rested his head against
the wall and fallen into profound
Wot 's up?said Glad when the
two men came in. "Is anythin'
I have come up here to tell you
something,Dart answered. "Let
us sit down again round the fire. It
will take a little time."
Glad with eager eyes on him
handed the child to Polly and sat
down without a moment's hesitance
avid of what was to come. She
nudged the thief with friendly elbow
and he started up awake.
'E 's got somethin' to tell us,
she explained. "The curick 's come
up to 'ear ittoo. Sit 'erePolly
with elbow jerk toward the bundle
of sacks. It 's got its stummick
full an' it 'll go to sleep fast enough."
So they sat again in the weird
circle. Neither the strangeness of
the group nor the squalor of the
hearth were of a nature to be new
things to the curate. His eyes fixed
themselves on Dart's faceas did the
eyes of the thiefthe beggarand the
young thing of the street. No one
glanced away from him.
His telling of his story was almost
monotonous in its semi-reflective
quietness of tone. The strangeness
to himself--though it was a strangeness
he accepted absolutely without
protest--lay in his telling it at all
and in a sense of his knowledge that
each of these creatures would
understand and mysteriously know what
depths he had touched this day.
Just before I left my lodgings
this morning,he saidI found
myself standing in the middle of my
room and speaking to Something
aloud. I did not know I was going
to speak. I did not know what I
was speaking to. I heard my own
voice cry out in agony, `Lord, Lord,
what shall I do to be saved?'
The curate made a sudden move-
ment in his place and his sallow
young face flushed. But he said
Glad's small and sharp countenance
`Speak, Lord, thy servant
'eareth,' she quoted tentatively.
No,answered Dart; "it was
not like that. I had never thought
of such things. I believed nothing.
I was going out to buy a pistol and
when I returned intended to blow
my brains out."
passionately intent eyes; "why?"
Because I was worn out and done
for, and all the world seemed worn
out and done for. And among other
things I believed I was beginning
slowly to go mad.
From the thief there burst forth a
low groan and he turned his face to
I've been there,he said; "I 'm
near there now."
Dart took up speech again.
There was no answer--none.
As I stood waiting--God knows for
what--the dead stillness of the room
was like the dead stillness of the grave.
And I went out saying to my soul,
`This is what happens to the fool
who cries aloud in his pain.'
I've cried aloud,said the thief
and sometimes it seemed as if an
answer was coming--but I always
knew it never would!in a tortured
'T ain't fair to arst that wye,
Glad put in with shrewd logic.
Miss Montaubyn she allers knows
it WILL come--an' it does.
my feet toward this place,said Dart.
I was thrust from one thing to
another. I was forced to see and hear
things close at hand. It has been as
if I was under a spell. The woman
in the room below--the woman lying
dead!He stopped a secondand
then went on: "There is too much
that is crying out aloud. A man such
as I am--it has FORCED itself upon me
--cannot leave such things and give
himself to the dust. I cannot explain
clearly because I am not thinking as
I am accustomed to think. A change
has come upon me. I shall not
use the pistol--as I meant to use
Glad made a friendly clutch at the
sleeve of his shabby coat.
Right O!she cried. "That 's
it! You buck up sime as I told yer.
Y' ain't stony broke an' there's 'allers
Antony Dart's expression was
I did not think so this morning,
But there is,said the girl.
Ain't there now, curick? There 's
a lot o' work in yer yet; yer could
do all sorts o' things if y' ain't
too proud. I 'll 'elp yer. So 'll
the curick. Y' ain't found out yet
what a little folks can live on till
luck turns. Me, I'm goin' to try
Miss Montaubyn's wye. Le's both
try. Le 's believe things is comin'.
Le 's get 'er to talk to us some
The curate was thinking the thing
Yer see,Glad enlarged cheerfully
yer look almost like a gentleman.
P'raps yer can write a good
'and an' spell all right. Can yer?
I think, perhaps,the curate began
reflectivelyparticularly if you
can write well, I might be able to
get you some work.
I do not want work,Dart
answered slowly. "At least I do not
want the kind you would be likely
to offer me."
The curate felt a shockas if cold
water had been dashed over him.
Somehow it had not once occurred
to him that the man could be one
of the educated degenerate vicious
for whom no power to help lay in
any hands--yet he was not the common
vagrant--and he was plainly
on the point of producing an excuse
for refusing work.
The other manseeing his start
and his amazedtroubled flushput
out a hand and touched his arm
I beg your pardon,he said.
One of the things I was going to
tell you--I had not finished--was
that I AM what is called a gentleman.
I am also what the world knows as a
rich man. I am Sir Oliver Holt.
Each member of the party gazed
at him aghast. It was an enormous
name to claim. Even the two female
creatures knew what it stood for. It
was the name which represented the
greatest wealth and power in the world
of finance and schemes of business.
It stood for financial influence which
could change the face of national
fortunes and bring about crises. It was
known throughout the world. Yesterday
the newspaper rumor that its
owner had mysteriously left England
had caused men on 'Change to discuss
possibilities together with lowered
Glad stared at the curate. For the
first time she looked disturbed and
Blimme,she ejaculated 'e 's
gone off 'is nut, pore chap!--'e 's
gone off it!
No,the man answeredyou
shall come to me--he hesitated a
second while a shade passed over his
eyes--"TO-MORROW. And you shall
He rose quietly to his feet and the
curate rose also. Abnormal as the
climax wasit was to be seen that
there was no mistake about the
revelation. The man was a creature of
authority and used to carrying
conviction by his unsupported word.
That made itselfby some clear
You are Sir Oliver Holt! And
a few hours ago you were on the
Ending it all--in an obscure
lodging. Afterward the earth would
have been shovelled on to a workhouse
coffin. It was an awful thing.
He shook off a passionate shudder.
There was no wealth on earth that
could give me a moment's ease-sleep--
hope--life. The whole
world was full of things I loathed the
sight and thought of. The doctors
said my condition was physical. Perhaps
it was--perhaps to-day has
strangely given a healthful jolt to my
nerves--perhaps I have been dragged
away from the agony of morbidity
and plunged into new intense emotions
which have saved me from the
last thing and the worst--SAVED
He stopped suddenly and his face
flushedand then quite slowly turned
SAVED ME!he repeated the words
as the curate saw the awed blood
creepingly recede. "Who knows
who knows! How many explanations
one is ready to give before one
thinks of what we say we believe.
Perhaps it was--the Answer!"
The curate bowed his head
Perhaps it was.
The girl Glad sat clinging to her
kneesher eyes wide and awed and
with a sudden gush of hysteric tears
rushing down her cheeks.
That 's the wye! That 's the
wye!she gulped out. "No one
won't never believe--they won't
NEVER. That's what she seesMiss
Montaubyn. You don't'E don't
with a jerk toward the curate. I
ain't nothin' but MEbut blimme if I
Sir Oliver Holt grew paler still.
He felt as he had done when Jinny
Montaubyn's poor dress swept against
him. His voice shook when he
So do I,he said with a sudden
deep catch of the breath; "it was
In a few moments more he went
to the girl Polly and laid a hand on
I shall take you home to your
mother,he said. "I shall take you
myself and care for you both. She
shall know nothing you are afraid of
her hearing. I shall ask her to bring
up the child. You will help her."
Then he touched the thiefwho
got up white and shaking and with
eyes moist with excitement.
You shall never see another man
claim your thought because you have
not time or money to work it out.
You will go with me. There are
to-morrows enough for you!
Glad still sat clinging to her knees
and with tears runningbut the ugliness
of her sharpsmall face was a
thing an angel might have paused to
You don't want to go away from
here,Sir Oliver said to herand she
shook her head.
No, not me. I told yer wot I
wanted. Lemme do it.
You shall,he answeredand
I will help you.
The things which developed in
Apple Blossom Court laterthe things
which came to each of those who
had sat in the weird circle round the
firethe revelations of new existence
which came to herselfaroused no
amazement in Jinny Montaubyn's
mind. She had asked and believed
all things--and all this was but
another of the Answers.