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in and forbid the combination of simply went waddling on-towards vulgarism and barbarity.
Berlin. “Let us at least fight like gentlemen," said the Hun, with simple "An experiment, of course," comdignity. “Let us stick to legitimate mented Colonel Kemp, as they remilitary devices—the murder of women turned to headquarters—"a fantastic and children, and the emission of experiment. But I wish they were chlorine gas. But Tanks—no! One ready now. I would give something must draw the line somewhere!"
to see one of them leading the way into But the ill-bred Crême-de-Menthe action tomorrow. It might mean saving took no notice. None whatever. She the lives of a good many of my boys."
By W. M. LETTS.
of dislike? Must it be a total sacrifice The mid hours of the night have to of the hoarded resentment into the the waking a loneliness and solemni- hands of God? ty that bring, very often, an unusual She was conscious that hers was a self-realization. Self communes with very humdrum level of Christianity. self as never during the busy populous There were heights she never strove to day.
climb. Was she one who could ask but Every sound becomes audible, but could not give? For Laurence she yet the tangible seems less than the asked absolute forgiveness if, as she spiritual; the visible is shadowy and fancied, his death had been suicide. aloof while the invisible asserts its What if God demanded of her an power. The spaciousness of today active forgiveness of Lucilla in which shrinks and the soul and God draw heart and will must co-operate? But near. This experience came to Chris- the effort seemed beyond her. Again tina as she watched by Lucilla's child. and again she pleaded with herself, or
She had tidied the room, done all with that invisible Power who seemed the offices of a nurse, and now there to share her watch, that she could was nothing that she could do but sit forgive any wrong to herself. It was in the dim light with her thoughts. on her son's behalf that she could not,
Kneeling down she said her ordinary would not forgive. evening prayers. To these, she added Then the child started awake with a a petition which came easily enough, cry, and Christina went to her to that the child might recover. But for soothe her. As she ministered to the Lucilla she would not pray. Her heart little girl her thoughts went on. Was was still obdurate. But round this this sickness really the curse she had impregnable fortress of her will her laid on Lucilla? She had never meant thoughts beat. It seemed to her that harm to an innocent child. Still the some invisible power waited for her to sins of the fathers are to be visited on yield; that great issues hung upon the children. It might be her cherished some act of will that she might make or resentment that rendered her very reject. Did God, she wondered, ask prayers ineffectual. her to bless Lucilla? was forgiveness S o the night passed and the gray something more than a mere neutrality chill dawn crept into the room. and
with it came Lucilla in the shabby fine dressing-gown. She looked infinitely old and weary. “Is she worse?” question. “I don't think she's worse, but she's very feverish.” Lucilla bent over the child, and the mother who watched her knew every throb of the agony of apprehension that she suffered. “I’ll go and lie down, Lucilla,” Christina said softly. Conscience was urging her to say something kind, to do some foolish act such as taking the miserable woman in her arms and sealing forgiveness with a kiss, so she fled from conscience. In the morning the doctor came. He was a kindly, sensitive little man, full of pity for the young Englishwoman. He was delighted to find, as he supposed, that the devoted grandmother had arrived. She would at least be some comfort to the poor mother when the expected end should come, for he had no doubt of the end. “You must take care of your poor daughter,” he said to Christina; “she is worn out with anxiety and the nursing of her child.” Christina nodded. She did, indeed, in a dutiful way urge Lucilla to eat, to go out for a little, to spare herself. She gave her what money she had, and told Mr. Ingleby to bring anything that she needed. All these ministrations Lucilla accepted sullenly. She was like an animal made docile by great hunger. In her necessity she had to accept help, but Christina was conscious of the defiant hatred that underlay the submission. Once in the morning Christina, urged by some impulse, asked: “Does Marie's father know how ill she is?” “Her father!” Lucilla laughed bitterly. “I’m nothing to her father, nor is she. He's got some one else to think of.”
was her only
Then Christina realized that justice had indeed been done, that Lucilla had received in full measure the bitterness she had meted out to another. “Yes, you're glad,” said the girl; “oh! of course you are. I don't think I wonder. Poor Laurence! I wonder if he suffered as I suffered. We should understand each other now, shouldn't We?” “You know Laurence forgave you everything.” “Yes, but you don't. You think I killed him, you said so, that I'd murdered him. You've no right to think that. His death was just an accident, the jury said so at the inquest.” Christina was silent. Later in the day Mr. Ingleby called again. He insisted that Christina should come out for an hour or two in the fresh April air. “You are looking jaded,” he said; “the walk will do you good.” He offered her his arm in his formal old-world way, and she took it graciously. “Where are we going?” she asked. “You will have no heart for shops,” he answered, “so we'll avoid the Montagne de la Cour. I thought of going by tram to the Bois de Cambre and giving you tea at the Laiterie, but now I have another fancy. There is a little old church that I love very much; oh! not beautiful like St. Gudule or Notre Dame du Sablon, no, not that, but so poor, so homely, so saturated by prayer that it is the very haunt of those in trouble.” It was almost in a dream that Christina walked by the old man down into the town. Once he pointed to a street in process of demolition, and reminded her of Charlotte Brontë and the Héger establishment. As on the day of her arrival, she felt wonder and excitement in the sense of being abroad. But the beauty of the archi
tecture that she saw everywhere sorrows of a hostile world in a great recalled Laurence so keenly that his loneliness. presence seemed almost visible.
It was impossible to look long at The afternoon sunshine was mellow the figure without feeling pity rather in the Grande Place. It glowed among than repulsion. It seemed symbolic the daffodils and tulips of the flower of all the sorrow of life, the loneliness, sellers. Christina caught her breath the poverty, the despair. Christina with pleasure. "Oh, if Laurence began to understand why those who could see this," she cried; "look at passed it bent to kiss the foot. The these old houses and the Hotel de Ville, kiss was with some a token of comisn't it? How Laurence would have passion. With others it was the sign loved it and understood it. If he were of companionship. They had come nere I wouldn't speak to him. I'd with broken hearts and found another just let him look and look. And to broken-hearted. They had come in think that other mothers' sons built their rags and found a king in a shabby these lovely houses, and Laurence ..." mantle thrown round Him in mockery.
“Laurence's work isn't done yet,". All who had come had seen in Him Mr. Ingleby answered.
some reflection of themselves. They The words lingered in Christina's had understood the saying, “Surely mind even till they reached the little He has borne our griefs and carried old church of St. Nicholas.
our afflictions." There was an appeal“What is the history of this church?” ing homeliness and intimacy in the she asked.
suggestion of this wooden image. It “I can't remember it,” he answered, had been more significant of man's "and I've not brought Baedeker, but need and God's response than all the there's a figure of Our Lord that is soaring beauty of St. Gudule. venerated by the people. It is an ugly Christina knelt with her eyes fixed figure but very pitiful. The foot has on this weary and over-burdened been kissed so much that it is nearly Christ. And the image carried her worn away.”
thoughts to the original. Kneeling They entered the church together. here in this city church, where the Mr. Ingleby walked up the center worshipers were poor and shabby, it aisle, genuflected before the high seemed easy to picture in imagination altar and knelt down. He seemed to the Man who bore a cross to Calvary have no desire to look about or to and paused on His way to speak to point out objects of interest. He had the women of Jerusalem, the only come as worshiper not as tourist. Man in all earth's history who had For a while Christina wandered about an answer for the sorrows of life. looking at this and that. But there Moments of religious realization are was little to see, and she too knelt rare with some people. They had down.
been rare with Christina. The sudden She was close to the west door, and consciousness of God that is called her eyes were drawn to the wooden conversion had not come to her. She figure of which Mr. Ingleby had had known the convention of religion spoken. At first it repelled her; it was rather than its reality. so ugly, so crudely realistic, this Now it seemed to her that she too, scourged and weary Christ with the like those mothers of Jerusalem, saw old shabby red velvet mantle round the Man of Sorrows passing by on the His shoulders. Mocked and rejected, way of the Cross. And for her too He He stood there bearing the sins and paused. And in that moment Christina
knew that her son's need was the thing she would urge. She would touch Christ's garment as another woman had done, and He would understand. Then she knew that He had paused and had looked into her soul and had seen her as God sees. And she knew that to love God must always be to enter into the mind of God and to share the infinite pity of God. She could not pray and still hate. She could not seek forgiveness for Laurence and deny it to his wife. There was not now the consciousness of effort and struggle. Love and pity conquered the impregnable fortress of resentment, and she knew that she had forgiven. Those who came into the church at this time saw an elderly lady, who was obviously English, but yet unlike a tourist because she prayed with fervor, unheeding of anything around her. Tears ran down her cheeks under her veil. But this was not strange to the women who passed, for many came to St. Nicholas to weep. The passers-by cast kindly glances at her, and knew that she was of that vast confraternity of the sorrowful whose patron is both God and Man. Spiritual experience was strange to Christina. She was hardly aware of the wonder of the change that had befallen her. Perhaps she would have said that everything seemed suddenly different, as on some soft morning of West wind one wakes to find that the blank bitterness of the East wind has passed. Christina had no plan except that she would go to Lucilla in real pity and tenderness, not as the stern servant of duty which she had been hitherto. Her will accorded with the universal harmony, and she had found peace. Being a simple creature, she steadfastly believed that Christ had really come to her in this dusty city church. She felt that she could gladly kneel at His feet
forever, drawing into the circle of her happiness and love those she loved— yes, Lucilla too and Lucilla's child. There was room for them all. At last she became vaguely aware that Mr. Ingleby had come down the aisle, and that he stood beside her. She rose and followed him from the church, aware now that her cheeks were wet with tears. But Mr. Ingleby did not look at her as she dried her eyes, though he was well aware of the tears. “I want to go back quickly to Lucilla,” Christina said to him; “I have been away too long.” “Not really long,” he answered, “only an hour and a half. But we can get a tram. Come along." He took her arm and steered her across the street. There had been a shower while they were in the church, and now the sun sparkled on wet surface and window-panes. “It is the clear shining after rain,” said Mr. Ingleby, “and there is a rainbow; how beautiful!" Christina looked up anxiously at the window as she rang the bell and waited for the door to be opened. She was full of apprehension for the child whose life hung in the balance. It was Madame Mercier who let her in. Christina could hardly wait to answer the polite inquiries for her welfare in the rain. No, she was not wet, she had escaped the shower; she thanked the little Belgian and went swiftly up the stairs. Her heart sank with fear as she opened the door of the sick room and went in. All was so still that she feared the child must be dead. The blind was drawn and the room was shadowy. Lucilla sat motionless by the bedside, her arm across the quiet little figure. She did not move as Christina came in. The elder woman crossed the room softly and stood beside her. “How has she been?” whispered question.
“The fever seems less, but I think she must be dying, she is so quiet. I wanted to give her something to revive her, but Madame told me to wait for you."
Christina felt the little limp hand, the baby cheek, now so wasted. She spoke with a sob in her voice.
"I believe she is better, Lucilla; oh! thank God.”
Lucilla raised her somber eyes to look at her mother-in-law
“Do you mean that?" she asked.
Christina had made no plan of words or action as she came back, but it was plain to her now what she must do.
She stooped and kissed Lucilla's forehead.
"Ah! poor child,” she said, "God bless you. May He forgive you everything freely . . . as I do."
CHAPTER IV. Westhampton Station seemed very friendly and familiar to Christina as the train came to a standstill at its platform. There was a porter whom she knew, and the out-porter, and there was their local cabman looking out for her. How home-like things seemed on this June day, and how many times she had arrived at this platform, looking out eagerly for some smiling face, her husband's or her son's or her daughter's.
She turned to speak to the Belgian nurse who held a weary child in her arms.
“Here we are, nurse ... c'est Westhampton-chez nous."
Christina blushed over her own effort to speak French. She hoped the girl would learn English soon. Then she turned to the child.
"Poor Marie,” she said, “are you a tired little girl? Never mind, we shall he home soon . . . and we're going to drive."
Mr. Ingleby was collecting the
luggage. He had gone up to London to meet them, for he had left Christina in Brussels till Marie was strong enough to travel.
Christina was full of the small fussiness of unaccustomed travelers.
“Have you everything?" she asked; "there were eight things in all, my handbag—where is that? Ah! I have it. Give Marie to me, nurse, and you help Mr. Ingleby. Oh! here's a porter ... three trunks in the van, one a black, another brown... one has initials . . . C. T."
there was an interval of fevered excitement, then they were all in the cab with the manifold small luggage, and there was time for reflection as the horse ambled quietly through the sunny streets of the old market town.
So she was home again. It seemed to Christina that her absence must be measured by years rather than by weeks. She was almost surprised that the town looked exactly as usual, that she saw familiar faces and familiar shops. No changes were visible. A passing friend saw her and bowed with no look of surprise, hardly aware, perhaps, that she had been away.
Yet since she left Westhampton the course of life had changed for Christina. She had entered a new phase, both mentally and 'in circumstance. Her old vocation was renewed with the third generation. Once more she had a child to be her care and occupation. She sighed. Yet her sigh was only half anxious. In her heart she was satisfied by this new care.
Her thoughts went back to the events that had happened so swiftly in the little house in Brussels. Marie had taken a turn for the better on that very afternoon on which Christina had gone to St. Nicholas. After that the child's recovery had been slow but steady. She would always be delicate, but with care, the care she would have now, all might be well.