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- Thyrza - 6/122 -

touching words in which to express his very real love--words such as every man can summon when he pleads for this greatest boon? Yet his shame heightened the reverence in which he held her; passion of the intellect breathed in his next words.

'If you cannot love me with your heart, in your mind you can be one with me. You feel the great and the beautiful things of life. There is no littleness in your nature. In reading with you just now I saw that your delight in poetry was as spirit-deep as my own; your voice had the true music, and your cheeks warmed with sympathy. You do not deny me the right to claim so much kinship with you. I, too, love all that is rare and noble, however in myself I fall below such ideals. Say that you admit me as something more than the friend of the everyday world! Look for once straight into my eyes and know me!'

There was no doubtful ring in this; Annabel felt the chords of her being smitten to music. She held her hand to him.

'You are my very near friend, and my life is richer for your influence.'

'I may come and see you again before very long, when I have something to tell you?'

'You know that our house always welcomes you.'

He released her hand, and they walked homewards. The sky was again overcast. A fresh gust came from the fell-side and bore with it drops of rain.

'We must hasten,' Annabel said, in a changed voice. 'Look at that magnificent cloud by the sun!'

'Isn't the rain sweet here?' she continued, anxious to re-establish the quiet, natural tone between them. 'I like the perfume and the taste of it. I remember how mournful the rain used to be in London streets.'

They regained the house. Annabel passed quickly upstairs. Egremont remained standing in the porch, looking forth upon the garden. His reverie was broken by a voice.

'How gloomy the rain is here! One doesn't mind it in London; there's always something to do and somewhere to go.'

It was Paula. Egremont could not help showing amusement.

'Do you stay much longer?' he asked.

'I don't know.'

She spoke with indifference, keeping her eyes averted.

'I must catch the mail at Penrith this evening,' he said. 'I'm afraid it will be a wet drive.'

'You're going, are you? Not to Jersey again, I hope?

'Why not?'

'It seems to make people very dull. I shall warn all my friends against it.'

She hummed an air and left him.

Late in the afternoon Egremont took leave of his friends. Mr. Newthorpe went out into the rain, and at the last moment shook hands with him heartily. Annabel stood at the window and smiled farewell.

The wheels splashed along the road; rain fell in torrents. Egremont presently looked back from the carriage window. The house was already out of view, and the summits of the circling hills were wreathed with cloud.



A working man, one Gilbert Grail, was spending an hour of his Saturday afternoon in Westminster Abbey. At five o'clock the sky still pulsed with heat; black shadows were sharp edged upon the yellow pavement. Between the bridges of Westminster and Lambeth the river was a colourless gleam; but in the Sanctuary evening had fallen. Above the cool twilight of the aisles floated a golden mist; and the echo of a footfall hushed itself among the tombs.

He was a man past youth, but of less than middle age, with meagre limbs and shoulders, a little bent. His clothing was rough but decent; his small and white hands gave evidence of occupation which was not rudely laborious. He had a large head, thickly covered with dark hair, which, with his moustache and beard, heightened the wanness of his complexion. A massive forehead, deep-set eyes, thin, straight nose, large lips constantly drawn inwards, made a physiognomy impressive rather than pleasing. The cast of thought was upon it; of thought eager and self-tormenting; the mark of a spirit ever straining after something unattainable. At moments when he found satisfaction in reading the legend on some monument his eyes grew placid and his beetling brows smoothed themselves; but the haunter within would not be forgotten, and, as if at a sudden recollection, he dropped his eyes in a troubled way, and moved onwards brooding. In those brief intervals of peace his countenance expressed an absorbing reverence, a profound humility. The same was evident in his bearing; he walked as softly as possible and avoided treading upon a sculptured name.

When he passed out into the sunny street, he stood for an instant with a hand veiling his eyes, as if the sudden light were too strong. Then he looked hither and thither with absent gaze, and at length bent his steps in the direction of Westminster Bridge. On the south side of the river he descended the stairs to the Albert Embankment and walked along by St. Thomas's Hospital.

Presently he overtook a man who was reading as he walked, a second book being held under his arm. It was a young workman of three- or four-and-twenty, tall, of wiry frame, square-shouldered, upright. Grail grasped his shoulder in a friendly way, asking:

'What now?'

'Well, it's tempted eighteenpence out of my pocket,' was the other's reply, as he gave the volume to be examined. 'I've wanted a book on electricity for some time.'

He spoke with a slight North of England accent. His name was Luke Ackroyd; he had come to London as a lad, and was now a work-fellow of Grail's. There was rough comeliness in his face and plenty of intelligence, something at the same time not quite satisfactory if one looked for strength of character; he smiled readily and had eyes which told of quick but unsteady thought; a mouth, too, which expressed a good deal of self-will and probably a strain of sensuality. His manner was hearty, his look frank to a fault and full of sensibility.

'I found it at the shop by Westminster Bridge,' he continued. 'You ought to go and have a look there to-night. I saw one or two things pretty cheap that I thought were in your way.'

'What's the other?' Grail inquired, returning the work on electricity, which he had glanced through without show of much interest.

'Oh, this belongs to Jo Bunce,' Ackroyd replied, laughing. 'He's just lent it me.'

It was a collection of antitheistic discourses; the titles, which were startling to the eye, sufficiently indicated the scope and quality of the matter. Grail found even less satisfaction in this than in the other volume.

'A man must have a good deal of time to spare,' he said, with a smile, 'if he spends it on stuff of that kind.'

'Oh, I don't know about that. You don't need it, but there's plenty of people that do.'

'And that's the kind of thing Bunce gives his children to read, eh?'

'Yes; he's bringing them up on it. He's made them learn a secularist's creed, and hears them say it every night.'

'Well, I'm old-fashioned in such matters,' said Grail, not caring to pursue the discussion. 'I'd a good deal rather hear children say the ordinary prayer.'

Ackroyd laughed.

'Have you heard any talk,' he asked presently, 'about lectures by a Mr. Egremont? He's a son of Bower's old governor.'

'No, what lectures?'

'Bower tells me he's a young fellow just come from Oxford or Cambridge, and he's going to give some free lectures here in Lambeth.'


'No. Something to do with literature.'

Ackroyd broke into another laugh--louder this time, and contemptuous.

'Sops to the dog that's beginning to show his teeth!' he exclaimed. 'It shows you what's coming. The capitalists are beginning to look about and ask what they can do to keep the people quiet. Lectures on literature! Fools! As if that wasn't just the way to remind us of what we've missed in the way of education. It's the best joke you could hit on. Let him lecture away; he'll do more than he thinks.'

'Where does he give them?' Grail inquired.

'He hasn't begun yet. Bower seems to be going round to get men to

Thyrza - 6/122

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