Page images

Our mother not to have her own ite hiding-places of Theodora's. I way! how should she bear it? How wondered did Theodora know about should we bear it for her ? She mother now ? was taken into her own room, how- There was no more rest for any ever : there was no help for it- one that night, nor all the next taken from us who loved her so— day, nor the night after that. This and now they would do what they was the stage of tumult, incessant chose. She was very ill, she was going and doing, and awful inchanged and strange. I under- terludes of anguish that made itself stood so much ; but mother, oh, supreme for the moment. Gladys my mother!

Was it night that and I became accustomed to it. came next? It was darkness, but We went about the house, no one night means rest. I thought that interfering with us, and tried to rest was beginning after a time. occupy ourselves and silence our The doors ceased to open and shut, questionings. the voices were stilled; for a little On the morning of the third day while no footsteps went to and after that Sunday—our last day, or fro. Perhaps mother is asleep, I our first, whichever we might elect thought; perhaps she is a little to call it—Gladys and I sat togethbetter. She will sleep and get er in the dining room, or rather on well again, and everything will the threshold of the wide French come right with us. With us, window, between its open panes. perhaps, but what about that The gardener was changing the beggar man? What about Uncle greenhouse plants, and a row of Llewellyn?

fuchsias, geraniums, asters, and Whilst I was speculating in this other flowers stood on the gravelway, I heard a rushing sound in walk close to the room. The scent the passage and a window being of a double lilac petunia was very thrown violently open, and then powerful on my side of the wincame shriek after shriek from some dow; its fragrance came to me one inside.

What was the voice with a sense of luxury and ease, calling so passionately? Was it a and I leaned back in my chair name, or a sentence, or only an and shut my eyes, and enjoyed inarticulate cry that I heard. I the warmth of the sunlight upon raised myself to listen. Llewellyn! my eyelids. It was the first senLlewellyn! Llewellyn! over and sation of rest I had had that week. over again. It was mother's agony By-and-by we heard the sound I was listening to. They heard of wheels along the drive: a carher too, and came and closed round riage drew up before the house, her from many sides, and hustled and the front door bell was rung. her away. IIow could they? They Gladys left the room to find out might have let her cry her fill, and what was happening, but I did break her poor heart there before not open my eyes or move until the pitiful night. Everything the dining-room door opened and pitied her that knew her. The some one came in. Then I looked birds were wakened up by the up. A lady in rather a strange noise, and the sparrows in the ivy dress stood in front of my chair, twittered under the windows. The and looked down at me. I cannot branches of the trees waved and recall one feature of her face, or tell moaned, and the wych-elm struck in the least how it was that her presa pane close to my bed. Beneath ence affected me as it did ; but as the wych-elms used to be favour. I returned her look a feeling awoke




in me which was quite new in my memory as a space becalmed inside experience. I can see now how a cyclone of distress—whilst it the days I had passed through was still afternoon, during the made it possible for me to enter in- hour which in the old days had to that new experience. “Saved

been especially social one, was the word that formed itself in Martha came to us sobbing, with my mind, or rather it swam into her apron held up to her face, and my consciousness, complete and told us that if we wished to see clear at the moment, and I sur- our mother once more we must rendered myself and our enormous stand ready in the drawing-room sorrow into the keeping of the and watch her go away with the person before me. It felt as if

“She's quite quiet and my heart was opening beneath happy now, dear lady,” Martha her, as a flower might unfold in said, “and willing to go.” the sunlight and let the warm So Gladys and Wynne and I rays penetrate to its

I stood huddled together in the open thought that she was about to doorway, and by- and - bythey speak, when my stepfather and passed us closely.

A carriage the doctor came in together in stood ready outside. The two haste. Then her attention was ladies came together towards it, turned

away from me to them. chatting pleasantly as they walked I gathered from their conversation along. Our mother, who was the that she was a nursing sister, and taller of the two, leaned upon the that she had come on mother's nurse's arm, and her eyes rested account. Every word assured me upon the face below her with and comforted me. Such a presence a look as of the returning conas this lady's would rest mother, I fidence of a frightened child. I knew, and soothe her pain and thought perhaps she would catch bring her back to us somehow. sight of us as she went, and

Yet what the lady did was to I wondered how her expression take her away.

The hours of would alter when she saw us, and that day passed peacefully. This how it would be with her when stage of the sorrowful time was she said Good-bye to us.

I felt a quiet expectancy: the tension was choking in my throat. How would loosened, it rested one to breathe. she look? Would she cry very “ It is well with mother, I know it much? We should cry. is well with her,” I kept on saying and Gladys were crying already. to myself, or at least I felt it deep Well, her eyes certainly did see down in my heart. Gladys did us as she passed the drawing-room not share my repose and hope. door; she glanced our way, but She was as restless as ever, and instantaneously she looked from said she could see no difference in us and straight before her. If any way excepting that there was the expression of her face did less going on.

change, the change was so rapid “ And that may mean the worst, that no impression was transyou know,” she said.

“It may be mitted to me. We only noticed like the stillness there was before that she was still talking in a soft Theodora died.”

voice and with an animated manWhilst it was still beautiful ner to the nurse, talking as she afternoon - so soft, so calm, so crossed her threshold, talking as clear that autumn day had been she got into the carriage, talking up to that hour that it lies in my as she was being driven away.




When she was gone I knew how it Robins were mother's favourites feels to be alone, and the con- amongst birds. They almost alsciousness of my own misery and ways came into her stories about utter loss excluded any other Uncle Llewellyn and her old home; thought and feeling for a long and she used to declare that time,-so selfish we are, each in robins had followed her all her her own small environment. We life with friendly and canny ways. had lost her—but no, not lost. I It in mid - October that began at last to realise the differ- year—when Gladys and Wynne ence between the loss of her in her and I were wandering along the relation to us and the loss of her highroad, lazily picking blackadorable self. In a sense she had

berries one Saturday afternoonbeen restored to us during the last that we were startled by the peaceful hours.

of one of these little friends, sudMother was mad. There was denly breaking out from the hedge no need for Martha to tell us that

above us.

We hadn't heard robin in awestruck whispers; we quite un- until that day, and then he claimed derstood. But oh, sweet mother! our friendship with unusual pernobody can ever appal me by that sistence, following us from bush word again. I had gone through to bush, until Wynne grew pettish the clash and the tumult of the about it, and wished the tiresome crisis with you, and I saw the bird would let us alone. But his anguish stilled : I recall you now, song was like a bell ringing, which and I have thought of you ever forced me to look the clock of Time since that brief vision of you, as seriously in the face. you were leaving us, as exquisite- “It's nearly three months, ly beautiful, gentle, and helpless, Gladys, since mother went away, ” borne up over the earth as a child I said. that is nursed. Your hold on this “ Only that,” Gladys answered life had been broken off by some wearily. wonderful spirit - tremor that, in Only indeed. Ages and ages breaking, had freed you at the same of life had passed, so many that time, and the sphere in which you we had ceased to observe them. found a refuge has been sacred to The day week after that Saturme ever since.

day afternoon we three stood Days and weeks of dreary mono- together round an open grave, tony followed ; I cannot think how Gladys and I were orphans, and they got over, but somehow they Wynne was motherless; but our did. Shorter and shorter days, sorrow was not for that day, it chillier and chillier mornings and had begun long before. evenings, reddening landscape, crisping leaves, gorgeous fungi,

Life and Thought have gone away

Side by side, muddy footways, and the gather

Leaving door and windows wide-ing together in flocks of the small

Careless tenants they ! birds. We had been used to watch with interest these footmarks of

Come away ; no more of mirth the hastening year; but this au

Is here, or merrymaking sound;

The house was builded of the earth, tumn we took account of them

And shall fall again to ground. with dimmed senses, as if they had been a painted show.



ing still.

The century was

still in its to the task in a multiplicity of earliest years when Robert Owen ways.

There is no brighter page put forward his schemes for the in our history than the efforts amelioration of the condition of the which charity and liberality have very poorest and the rescue of the put forth in the cause of sufferdestitute; and its closing decade ing and degraded humanity-forfinds us still engaged in projects tunes sacrificed, devoted lives spent with the same end in view, and, in the work, noble examples of zeal we are sorry to say, with not much and love manifested without numhigher hopes of ultimate success ber. The bare enumeration of than those with which we started. workers and their efforts would But if research for that philo- occupy volumes. But where are sopher's stone of modern times, a the results? When we look to panacea for poverty, has made the slums of our great cities—to little progress in the century, London, Liverpool, or to Glaspoverty itself has not been stand- gow—we may well ask the ques

Its increase has been in tion. That there has been good an appallingly high proportion to work done we know from many progress


every other depart- quarters; but when we look at ment of the national life. Fast what there is still to do, we have as wealth, commerce, and industry to confess in despair that our have increased among us, poverty achievements are but as drops and destitution have kept pace with in the bucket. The hideous mass them. An attendant poverty is of poverty, vice, and crime still rethe penalty of a high civilisation, mains apparently impregnable in and the depth of the one seems to our midst, and we can scarcely bear an inverse ratio to the height say that we have carried even its of the other. In our great centres outworks. To endeavour to storm the extremes of wealth and poverty its .citadel seems indeed a forlornare drawn together in the closest hope. juxtaposition, as if by the irony of This, however, is the work for natural law. “Darkest England” which General Booth has volunis conterminous with Brightest teered ; and his offer to underEngland, and yet they stand at take a duty which is daily being opposite and remote poles.

more and more felt to be the We may honestly claim that urgent necessity of the age must there has been a growing desire call forth our hearty admiration. throughout the present century- The undertaking, as we have said, a desire increasing as the terrible is of the nature of a forlorn-hope, realities of the confronting evil are and as such entitled to the symmore and more forcibly brought pathy due to such enterprises. home to men—to bridge over this Since Robert Owen's time, no gulf between wealth and destitu- Englishman has come forward tion. We have come to realise with such a bold proposal, promthat to deal with the problem of ising in its realisation

-even in poverty is one of the highest duties its partial success—so widespread owing to our common humanity, and beneficial results; and the and we have addressed ourselves courage and self-confidence which have made General Booth stand and the fact that it is his own creato the front, are qualities that tion, and its success due to his own will stand him in good stead in ability and exertions, takes away the desperate struggle in which from him any charge of presumptuhe proposes to engage. He may ousness or over-confidence in coming go down in the conflict, but the forward as he has done just now. world will even then be the gainer, Practically he has got his business as it was in the case of Owen be- started already; what he wants is fore him. From Owen's failure the means of extending his plant we learned the valuable lessons and machinery, to enable it to of co-operation, and infant educa- meet the work which he has ready tion, and shorter hours of factory to hand. labour. If, contrary to our best But if the Salvation Army, alwishes, General Booth's schemes ready working heartily and successshould fall short of realisation, we fully, be an advantage to General shall doubtless gather from them Booth at the outset of his scheme, experiences not less valuable for we must admit that it is not withuse in a contest that will go on to out drawbacks which it requires a the end of time. The Scriptural considerable exertion of Christian assurance that we shall have the charity and liberality upon the poor always with us lies beyond part of the great majority of the possibility of scepticism. those who are

now giving him Any discussion of * Darkest their hearty support, to overlook. England and the Way out of it' We cannot profess an intimate must necessarily begin with a acquaintance with the theology consideration of the capabilities of which obtains in the Salvation the man who has undertaken to Army. We fear that at the best show us the way.

General Booth it is but a rudimentary and imperhas the advantage of being a fect form of Christianity. We public character of note. He is know its ritual to be vulgar, noisy, the author and manager of the and ludicrous that to devout religious organisation known as and cultured minds it must even the Salvation Army, which for seem irreverent and blasphemous. five-and-twenty years has been General Booth will triumphantly working in our midst, and which point to the fact that it has made has specially devoted its energies pious and decent men out of the to the rescue of the destitute godless offscourings of the streets, and the fallen. We gather from and the argument is a strong one. its statistics that last October It is, however, a dangerous adthe Army numbered 9416 persons mission to allow that there may wholly engaged in its work, 4506 be one religion for the wealthy of these being in the United King- and educated and another for the dom: the rest are scattered over the ignorant and destitute ; and had Continent, the Colonies, and India. We had our choice we should have It holds invested property amount- preferred to see the work carried ing to £644,618, of which £377,500 on under more orthodox auspices. is held in this country; and in The time, however, is not one for addition, it owns plant and stock hair-splitting. General Booth and amounting to £130,000 additional. his Salvationists have taken their General Booth's organisation is stand in the gap; and their posithus what in the language of trade tion constitutes their best claim would be called a “going concern”; to cordial support, and forbids

« PreviousContinue »