Oliver Brand was seated at his desk, on the evening of the next day, reading the leading article of the New People, evening edition.
* * * * *
"We have had time," he read, "to recover ourselves a little from the intoxication of last night. Before embarking on prophecy, it will be as well to recall the facts. Up to yesterday evening our anxiety with regard to the Eastern crisis continued; and when twenty-one o'clock struck there were not more than forty persons in London—the English delegates, that is to say—who knew positively that the danger was over. Between that moment and half-an-hour later the Government took a few discreet steps: a select number of persons were informed; the police were called out, with half-a-dozen regiments, to preserve order; Paul's House was cleared; the railroad companies were warned; and at the half hour precisely the announcement was made by means of the electric placards in every quarter of London, as well as in all large provincial towns. We have not space now to adequately describe the admirable manner in which the public authorities did their duty; it is enough to say that not more than seventy fatalities took place in the whole of London; nor is it our business to criticise the action of the Government, in choosing this mode of making the announcement.
"By twenty-two o'clock Paul's House was filled in every corner, the Old Choir was reserved for members of Parliament and public officials, the quarter-dome galleries were filled with ladies, and to the rest of the floor the public was freely admitted. The volor-police also inform us now that for about the distance of one mile in every direction round this centre every thoroughfare was blocked with pedestrians, and, two hours later, as we all know, practically all the main streets of the whole of London were in the same condition.
"It was an excellent choice by which Mr. OLIVER BRAND was selected as the first speaker. His arm was still in bandages; and the appeal of his figure as well as his passionate words struck the first explicit note of the evening. A report of his words will be found in another column. In their turns, the PRIME MINISTER, Mr. SNOWFORD, the FIRST MINISTER OF THE ADMIRALTY, THE SECRETARY FOR EASTERN AFFAIRS, and LORD PEMBERTON, all spoke a few words, corroborating the extraordinary news. At a quarter before twenty-three, the noise of cheering outside announced the arrival of the American delegates from Paris, and one by one these ascended the platform by the south gates of the Old Choir. Each spoke in turn. It is impossible to appreciate words spoken at such a moment as this; but perhaps it is not invidious to name Mr. MARKHAM as the orator who above all others appealed to those who were privileged to hear him. It was he, too, who told us explicitly what others had merely mentioned, to the effect that the success of the American efforts was entirely due to Mr. JULIAN FELSENBURGH. As yet Mr. FELSENBURGH had not arrived; but in answer to a roar of inquiry, Mr. MARKHAM announced that this gentleman would be amongst them in a few minutes. He then proceeded to describe to us, so far as was possible in a few sentences, the methods by which Mr. FELSENBURGH had accomplished what is probably the most astonishing task known to history. It seems from his words that Mr. FELSENBURGH (whose biography, so far as it is known, we give in another column) is probably the greatest orator that the world has ever known—we use these words deliberately. All languages seem the same to him; he delivered speeches during the eight months through which the Eastern Convention lasted, in no less than fifteen tongues. Of his manner in speaking we shall have a few remarks to make presently. He showed also, Mr. MARKHAM told us, the most astonishing knowledge, not only of human nature, but of every trait under which that divine thing manifests itself. He appeared acquainted with the history, the prejudices, the fears, the hopes, the expectations of all the innumerable sects and castes of the East to whom it was his business to speak. In fact, as Mr. MARKHAM said, he is probably the first perfect product of that new cosmopolitan creation to which the world has laboured throughout its history. In no less than nine places—Damascus, Irkutsk, Constantinople, Calcutta, Benares, Nanking, among them—he was hailed as Messiah by a Mohammedan mob. Finally, in America, where this extraordinary figure has arisen, all speak well of him. He has been guilty of none of those crimes—there is not one that convicts him of sin—those crimes of the Yellow Press, of corruption, of commercial or political bullying which have so stained the past of all those old politicians who made the sister continent what she has become. Mr. FELSENBURGH has not even formed a party. He, and not his underlings, have conquered. Those who were present in Paul's House on this occasion will understand us when we say that the effect of those words was indescribable.
"When Mr. MARKHAM sat down, there was a silence; then, in order to quiet the rising excitement, the organist struck the first chords of the Masonic Hymn; the words were taken up, and presently not only the whole interior of the building rang with it, but outside, too, the people responded, and the city of London for a few moments became indeed a temple of the Lord.
"Now indeed we come to the most difficult part of our task, and it is better to confess at once that anything resembling journalistic descriptiveness must be resolutely laid aside. The greatest things are best told in the simplest words.
"Towards the close of the fourth verse, a figure in a plain dark suit was observed ascending the steps of the platform. For a moment this attracted no attention, but when it was seen that a sudden movement had broken out among the delegates, the singing began to falter; and it ceased altogether as the figure, after a slight inclination to right and left, passed up the further steps that led to the rostrum. Then occurred a curious incident. The organist aloft at first did not seem to understand, and continued playing, but a sound broke out from the crowd resembling a kind of groan, and instantly he ceased. But no cheering followed. Instead a profound silence dominated in an instant the huge throng; this, by some strange magnetism, communicated itself to those without the building, and when Mr. FELSENBURGH uttered his first words, it was in a stillness that was like a living thing. We leave the explanation of this phenomenon to the expert in psychology.
"Of his actual words we have nothing to say. So far as we are aware no reporter made notes at the moment; but the speech, delivered in Esperanto, was a very simple one, and very short. It consisted of a brief announcement of the great fact of Universal Brotherhood, a congratulation to all who were yet alive to witness this consummation of history; and, at the end, an ascription of praise to that Spirit of the World whose incarnation was now accomplished.
"So much we can say; but we can say nothing as to the impression of the personality who stood there. In appearance the man seemed to be about thirty-three years of age, clean-shaven, upright, with white hair and dark eyes and brows; he stood motionless with his hands on the rail, he made but one gesture that drew a kind of sob from the crowd, he spoke these words slowly, distinctly, and in a clear voice; then he stood waiting.
"There was no response but a sigh which sounded in the ears of at least one who heard it as if the whole world drew breath for the first time; and then that strange heart-shaking silence fell again. Many were weeping silently, the lips of thousands moved without a sound, and all faces were turned to that simple figure, as if the hope of every soul were centred there. So, if we may believe it, the eyes of many, centuries ago, were turned on one known now to history as JESUS OF NAZARETH.
"Mr. FELSENBURGH stood so a moment longer, then he turned down the steps, passed across the platform and disappeared.
"Of what took place outside we have received the following account from an eye-witness. The white volor, so well known now to all who were in London that night, had remained stationary outside the little south door of the Old Choir aisle, poised about twenty feet above the ground. Gradually it became known to the crowd, in those few minutes, who it was who had arrived in it, and upon Mr. FELSENBURGH'S reappearance that same strange groan sounded through the whole length of Paul's Churchyard, followed by the same silence. The volor descended; the master stepped on board, and once more the vessel rose to a height of twenty feet. It was thought at first that some speech would be made, but none was necessary; and after a moment's pause, the volor began that wonderful parade which London will never forget. Four times during the night Mr. FELSENBURGH went round the enormous metropolis, speaking no word; and everywhere the groan preceded and followed him, while silence accompanied his actual passage. Two hours after sunrise the white ship rose over Hampstead and disappeared towards the North; and since then he, whom we call, in truth, the Saviour of the world, has not been seen.
"And now what remains to be said?
"Comment is useless. It is enough to say in one short sentence that the new era has begun, to which prophets and kings, and the suffering, the dying, all who labour and are heavy-laden, have aspired in vain. Not only has intercontinental rivalry ceased to exist, but the strife of home dissensions has ceased also. Of him who has been the herald of its inauguration we have nothing more to say. Time alone can show what is yet left for him to do.
"But what has been done is as follows. The Eastern peril has been for ever dissipated. It is understood now, by fanatic barbarians as well as by civilised nations, that the reign of War is ended. 'Not peace but a sword,' said CHRIST; and bitterly true have those words proved to be. 'Not a sword but peace' is the retort, articulate at last, from those who have renounced CHRIST'S claims or have never accepted them. The principle of love and union learned however falteringly in the West during the last century, has been taken up in the East as well. There shall be no more an appeal to arms, but to justice; no longer a crying after a God Who hides Himself, but to Man who has learned his own Divinity. The Supernatural is dead; rather, we know now that it never yet has been alive. What remains is to work out this new lesson, to bring every action, word and thought to the bar of Love and Justice; and this will be, no doubt, the task of years. Every code must be reversed; every barrier thrown down; party must unite with party, country with country, and continent with continent. There is no longer the fear of fear, the dread of the hereafter, or the paralysis of strife. Man has groaned long enough in the travails of birth; his blood has been poured out like water through his own foolishness; but at length he understands himself and is at peace.
"Let it be seen at least that England is not behind the nations in this work of reformation; let no national isolation, pride of race, or drunkenness of wealth hold her hands back from this enormous work. The responsibility is incalculable, but the victory certain. Let us go softly, humbled by the knowledge of our crimes in the past, confident in the hope of our achievements in the future, towards that reward which is in sight at last—the reward hidden so long by the selfishness of men, the darkness of religion, and the strife of tongues—the reward promised by one who knew not what he said and denied what he asserted—Blessed are the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, for they shall inherit the earth, be named the children of God, and find mercy."
* * * * *
Oliver, white to the lips, with his wife kneeling now beside him, turned the page and read one more short paragraph, marked as being the latest news.
"It is understood that the Government is in communication with Mr. Felsenburgh." II
"Ah! it is journalese," said Oliver, at last, leaning back. "Tawdry stuff! But—but the thing!"
Mabel got up, passed across to the window-seat, and sat down. Her lips opened once or twice, but she said nothing.
"My darling," cried the man, "have you nothing to say?"
She looked at him tremulously a moment.
"Say!" she said. "As you said, What is the use of words?"
"Tell me again," said Oliver. "How do I know it is not a dream?"
"A dream," she said. "Was there ever a dream like this?"
Again she got up restlessly, came across the floor, and knelt down by her husband once more, taking his hands in hers.
"My dear," she said, "I tell you it is not a dream. It is reality at last. I was there too—do you not remember? You waited for me when all was over—when He was gone out—we saw Him together, you and I. We heard Him—you on the platform and I in the gallery. We saw Him again pass up the Embankment as we stood in the crowd. Then we came home and we found the priest."
Her face was transfigured as she spoke. It was as of one who saw a Divine Vision. She spoke very quietly, without excitement or hysteria. Oliver stared at her a moment; then he bent forward and kissed her gently. "Yes, my darling; it is true. But I want to hear it again and again. Tell me again what you saw." "I saw the Son of Man," she said. "Oh! there is no other phrase. The Saviour of the world, as that paper says. I knew Him in my heart as soon as I saw Him—as we all did—as soon as He stood there holding the rail. It was like a glory round his head. I understand it all now. It was He for whom we have waited so long; and He has come, bringing Peace and Goodwill in His hands. When He spoke, I knew it again. His voice was as—as the sound of the sea—as simple as that—as—as lamentable—as strong as that.—Did you not hear it?"
Oliver bowed his head.
"I can trust Him for all the rest," went on the girl softly. "I do not know where He is, nor when He will come back, nor what He will do. I suppose there is a great deal for Him to do, before He is fully known—laws, reforms—that will be your business, my dear. And the rest of us must wait, and love, and be content."
Oliver again lifted his face and looked at her.
"Mabel, my dear—-"
"Oh! I knew it even last night," she said, "but I did not know that I knew it till I awoke to-day and remembered. I dreamed of Him all night…. Oliver, where is He?"
He shook his head.
"Yes, I know where He is, but I am under oath—-"
She nodded quickly, and stood up.
"Yes. I should not have asked that. Well, we are content to wait."
There was silence for a moment or two. Oliver broke it.
"My dear, what do you mean when you say that He is not yet known?"
"I mean just that," she said. "The rest only know what He has done—not what He is; but that, too, will come in time."
"Meanwhile, you must work; the rest will come by and bye. Oh! Oliver, be strong and faithful."
She kissed him quickly, and went out.
* * * * *
Oliver sat on without moving, staring, as his habit was, out at the wide view beyond his windows. This time yesterday he was leaving Paris, knowing the fact indeed—for the delegates had arrived an hour before—but ignorant of the Man. Now he knew the Man as well—at least he had seen Him, heard Him, and stood enchanted under the glow of His personality. He could explain it to himself no more than could any one else—unless, perhaps, it were Mabel. The others had been as he had been: awed and overcome, yet at the same time kindled in the very depths of their souls. They had come out—Snowford, Cartwright, Pemberton, and the rest—on to the steps of Paul's House, following that strange figure. They had intended to say something, but they were dumb as they saw the sea of white faces, heard the groan and the silence, and experienced that compelling wave of magnetism that surged up like something physical, as the volor rose and started on that indescribable progress.
Once more he had seen Him, as he and Mabel stood together on the deck of the electric boat that carried them south. The white ship had passed along overhead, smooth and steady, above the heads of that vast multitude, bearing Him who, if any had the right to that title, was indeed the Saviour of the world. Then they had come home, and found the priest.
That, too, had been a shock to him; for, at first sight, it seemed that this priest was the very man he had seen ascend the rostrum two hours before. It was an extraordinary likeness—the same young face and white hair. Mabel, of course, had not noticed it; for she had only seen Felsenburgh at a great distance; and he himself had soon been reassured. And as for his mother—it was terrible enough; if it had not been for Mabel there would have been violence done last night. How collected and reasonable she had been! And, as for his mother—he must leave her alone for the present. By and bye, perhaps, something might be done. The future! It was that which engrossed him—the future, and the absorbing power of the personality under whose dominion he had fallen last night. All else seemed insignificant now—even his mother's defection, her illness—all paled before this new dawn of an unknown sun. And in an hour he would know more; he was summoned to Westminster to a meeting of the whole House; their proposals to Felsenburgh were to be formulated; it was intended to offer him a great position.
Yes, as Mabel had said; this was now their work—to carry into effect the new principle that had suddenly become incarnate in this grey-haired young American—the principle of Universal Brotherhood. It would mean enormous labour; all foreign relations would have to be readjusted—trade, policy, methods of government—all demanded re-statement. Europe was already organised internally on a basis of mutual protection: that basis was now gone. There was no more any protection, because there was no more any menace. Enormous labour, too, awaited the Government in other directions. A Blue-book must be prepared, containing a complete report of the proceedings in the East, together with the text of the Treaty which had been laid before them in Paris, signed by the Eastern Emperor, the feudal kings, the Turkish Republic, and countersigned by the American plenipotentiaries…. Finally, even home politics required reform: the friction of old strife between centre and extremes must cease forthwith—there must be but one party now, and that at the Prophet's disposal…. He grew bewildered as he regarded the prospect, and saw how the whole plane of the world was shifted, how the entire foundation of western life required readjustment. It was a Revolution indeed, a cataclysm more stupendous than even invasion itself; but it was the conversion of darkness into light, and chaos into order.
He drew a deep breath, and so sat pondering.
* * * * *
Mabel came down to him half-an-hour later, as he dined early before starting for Whitehall.
"Mother is quieter," she said. "We must be very patient, Oliver. Have you decided yet as to whether the priest is to come again?"
He shook his head.
"I can think of nothing," he said, "but of what I have to do. You decide, my dear; I leave it in your hands."
"I will talk to her again presently. Just now she can understand very little of what has happened…. What time shall you be home?"
"Probably not to-night. We shall sit all night."
"Yes, dear. And what shall I tell Mr. Phillips?"
"I will telephone in the morning…. Mabel, do you remember what I told you about the priest?"
"His likeness to the other?"
"Yes. What do you make of that?"
"I make nothing at all of it. Why should they not be alike?"
He took a fig from the dish, and swallowed it, and stood up.
"It is only very curious," he said. "Now, good-night, my dear."
"Oh, mother," said Mabel, kneeling by the bed; "cannot you understand what has happened?"
She had tried desperately to tell the old lady of the extraordinary change that had taken place in the world—and without success. It seemed to her that some great issue depended on it; that it would be piteous if the old woman went out into the dark unconscious of what had come. It was as if a Christian knelt by the death-bed of a Jew on the first Easter Monday. But the old lady lay in her bed, terrified but obdurate.
"Mother," said the girl, "let me tell you again. Do you not understand that all which Jesus Christ promised has come true, though in another way? The reign of God has really begun; but we know now who God is. You said just now you wanted the Forgiveness of Sins; well, you have that; we all have it, because there is no such thing as sin. There is only Crime. And then Communion. You used to believe that that made you a partaker of God; well, we are all partakers of God, because we are human beings. Don't you see that Christianity is only one way of saying all that? I dare say it was the only way, for a time; but that is all over now. Oh! and how much better this is! It is true—true. You can see it to be true!"
She paused a moment, forcing herself to look at that piteous old face, the flushed wrinkled cheeks, the writhing knotted hands on the coverlet.
"Look how Christianity has failed—how it has divided people; think of all the cruelties—the Inquisition, the Religious Wars; the separations between husband and wife and parents and children—the disobedience to the State, the treasons. Oh! you cannot believe that these were right. What kind of a God would that be! And then Hell; how could you ever have believed in that?… Oh! mother, don't believe anything so frightful…. Don't you understand that that God has gone—that He never existed at all—that it was all a hideous nightmare; and that now we all know at last what the truth is…. Mother! think of what happened last night—how He came—the Man of whom you were so frightened. I told you what He was like—so quiet and strong—how every one was silent—of the—the extraordinary atmosphere, and how six millions of people saw Him. And think what He has done—how He has healed all the old wounds—how the whole world is at peace at last—and of what is going to happen. Oh! mother, give up those horrible old lies; give them up; be brave."
"The priest, the priest!" moaned the old woman at last.
"Oh! no, no, no—not the priest; he can do nothing. He knows it's all lies, too!"
"The priest! the priest!" moaned the other again. "He can tell you; he knows the answer."
Her face was convulsed with effort, and her old fingers fumbled and twisted with the rosary. Mabel grew suddenly frightened, and stood up.
"Oh! mother!" She stooped and kissed her. "There! I won't say any more now. But just think about it quietly. Don't be in the least afraid; it is all perfectly right."
She stood a moment, still looking compassionately down; torn by sympathy and desire. No! it was no use now; she must wait till the next day.
"I'll look in again presently," she said, "when you have had dinner. Mother! don't look like that! Kiss me!" It was astonishing, she told herself that evening, how any one could be so blind. And what a confession of weakness, too, to call only for the priest! It was ludicrous, absurd! She herself was filled with an extraordinary peace. Even death itself seemed now no longer terrible, for was not death swallowed up in victory? She contrasted the selfish individualism of the Christian, who sobbed and shrank from death, or, at the best, thought of it only as the gate to his own eternal life, with the free altruism of the New Believer who asked no more than that Man should live and grow, that the Spirit of the World should triumph and reveal Himself, while he, the unit, was content to sink back into that reservoir of energy from which he drew his life. At this moment she would have suffered anything, faced death cheerfully—she contemplated even the old woman upstairs with pity—for was it not piteous that death should not bring her to herself and reality?
She was in a quiet whirl of intoxication; it was as if the heavy veil of sense had rolled back at last and shown a sweet, eternal landscape behind—a shadowless land of peace where the lion lay down with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid. There should be war no more: that bloody spectre was dead, and with him the brood of evil that lived in his shadow—superstition, conflict, terror, and unreality. The idols were smashed, and rats had run out; Jehovah was fallen; the wild-eyed dreamer of Galilee was in his grave; the reign of priests was ended. And in their place stood a strange, quiet figure of indomitable power and unruffled tenderness…. He whom she had seen—the Son of Man, the Saviour of the world, as she had called Him just now—He who bore these titles was no longer a monstrous figure, half God and half man, claiming both natures and possessing neither; one who was tempted without temptation, and who conquered without merit, as his followers said. Here was one instead whom she could follow, a god indeed and a man as well—a god because human, and a man because so divine.
She said no more that night. She looked into the bedroom for a few minutes, and saw the old woman asleep. Her old hand lay out on the coverlet, and still between the fingers was twisted the silly string of beads. Mabel went softly across in the shaded light, and tried to detach it; but the wrinkled fingers writhed and closed, and a murmur came from the half-open lips. Ah! how piteous it was, thought the girl, how hopeless that a soul should flow out into such darkness, unwilling to make the supreme, generous surrender, and lay down its life because life itself demanded it!
Then she went to her own room.
* * * * *
The clocks were chiming three, and the grey dawn lay on the walls, when she awoke to find by her bed the woman who had sat with the old lady.
"Come at once, madam; Mrs. Brand is dying."
Oliver was with them by six o'clock; he came straight up into his mother's room to find that all was over.
The room was full of the morning light and the clean air, and a bubble of bird-music poured in from the lawn. But his wife knelt by the bed, still holding the wrinkled hands of the old woman, her face buried in her arms. The face of his mother was quieter than he had ever seen it, the lines showed only like the faintest shadows on an alabaster mask; her lips were set in a smile. He looked for a moment, waiting until the spasm that caught his throat had died again. Then he put his hand on his wife's shoulder.
"When?" he said.
Mabel lifted her face.
"Oh! Oliver," she murmured. "It was an hour ago. … Look at this."
She released the dead hands and showed the rosary still twisted there; it had snapped in the last struggle, and a brown bead lay beneath the fingers.
"I did what I could," sobbed Mabel. "I was not hard with her. But she would not listen. She kept on crying out for the priest as long as she could speak."
"My dear … " began the man. Then he, too, went down on his knees by his wife, leaned forward and kissed the rosary, while tears blinded him.
"Yes, yes," he said. "Leave her in peace. I would not move it for the world: it was her toy, was it not?"
The girl stared at him, astonished.
"We can be generous, too," he said. "We have all the world at last. And she—she has lost nothing: it was too late."
"I did what I could."
"Yes, my darling, and you were right. But she was too old; she could not understand."
"Euthanasia?" he whispered with something very like tenderness.
"Yes," she said; "just as the last agony began. She resisted, but I knew you would wish it."
They talked together for an hour in the garden before Oliver went to his room; and he began to tell her presently of all that had passed.
"He has refused," he said. "We offered to create an office for Him; He was to have been called Consultor, and he refused it two hours ago. But He has promised to be at our service…. No, I must not tell you where He is…. He will return to America soon, we think; but He will not leave us. We have drawn up a programme, and it is to be sent to Him presently…. Yes, we were unanimous."
"And the programme?"
"It concerns the Franchise, the Poor Laws and Trade. I can tell you no more than that. It was He who suggested the points. But we are not sure if we understand Him yet."
"But, my dear—-"
"Yes; it is quite extraordinary. I have never seen such things. There was practically no argument."
"Do the people understand?"
"I think so. We shall have to guard against a reaction. They say that the Catholics will be in danger. There is an article this morning in the Era. The proofs were sent to us for sanction. It suggests that means must be taken to protect the Catholics."
"It is a strange irony," he said. "But they have a right to exist. How far they have a right to share in the government is another matter. That will come before us, I think, in a week or two."
"Tell me more about Him."
"There is really nothing to tell; we know nothing, except that He is the supreme force in the world. France is in a ferment, and has offered him Dictatorship. That, too, He has refused. Germany has made the same proposal as ourselves; Italy, the same as France, with the title of Perpetual Tribune. America has done nothing yet, and Spain is divided."
"And the East?"
"The Emperor thanked Him; no more than that."
Mabel drew a long breath, and stood looking out across the heat haze that was beginning to rise from the town beneath. These were matters so vast that she could not take them in. But to her imagination Europe lay like a busy hive, moving to and fro in the sunshine. She saw the blue distance of France, the towns of Germany, the Alps, and beyond them the Pyrenees and sun-baked Spain; and all were intent on the same business, to capture if they could this astonishing figure that had risen over the world. Sober England, too, was alight with zeal. Each country desired nothing better than that this man should rule over them; and He had refused them all.
"He has refused them all!" she repeated breathlessly.
"Yes, all. We think He may be waiting to hear from America. He still holds office there, you know."
"How old is He?"
"Not more than thirty-two or three. He has only been in office a few months. Before that He lived alone in Vermont. Then He stood for the Senate; then He made a speech or two; then He was appointed delegate, though no one seems to have realised His power. And the rest we know."
Mabel shook her head meditatively.
"We know nothing," she said. "Nothing; nothing! Where did He learn His languages?"
"It is supposed that He travelled for many years. But no one knows. He has said nothing."
She turned swiftly to her husband.
"But what does it all mean? What is His power? Tell me, Oliver?"
He smiled back, shaking his head.
"Well, Markham said that it was his incorruption—that and his oratory; but that explains nothing."
"No, it explains nothing," said the girl.
"It is just personality," went on Oliver, "at least, that's the label to use. But that, too, is only a label."
"Yes, just a label. But it is that. They all felt it in Paul's House, and in the streets afterwards. Did you not feel it?"
"Feel it!" cried the man, with shining eyes. "Why, I would die for Him!"
* * * * *
They went back to the house presently, and it was not till they reached the door that either said a word about the dead old woman who lay upstairs.
"They are with her now," said Mabel softly. "I will communicate with the people."
He nodded gravely.
"It had better be this afternoon," he said. "I have a spare hour at fourteen o'clock. Oh! by the way, Mabel, do you know who took the message to the priest?"
"I think so."
"Yes, it was Phillips. I saw him last night. He will not come here again."
"Did he confess it?"
"He did. He was most offensive."
But Oliver's face softened again as he nodded to his wife at the foot of the stairs, and turned to go up once more to his mother's room.