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"And was it by my being lost that you came here to Westminster and found me?"
"Yes, and myself as well."
"And I thought my life had been wasted! When one thinks of G.o.d's designs one feels humble--humble as the gra.s.s at one's feet----But are you sure you will never regret?"
"Nor look back?"
She tossed her head again. "Call me Mrs. Lot at once, and have done with it."
"It's wonderful! What a glorious work is before you, Glory! You'll take it up where I have left it, and carry it on and on. You are n.o.bler than I am, and stronger, far stronger, and purer and braver. And haven't I said all along that what the world wants now is a great woman? I had the pith of it all, though I saw the true light--but I was not worthy. I had sinned and fallen, and didn't know my own heart, and was not fit to enter into the promised land. It is something, nevertheless, that I see it a long way off. And if I have been taken up to Sinai and heard the thunders of the everlasting law----"
"Hush, dear! Somebody is coming."
It was the great surgeon whom the Prime Minister had sent for. He examined the injuries carefully and gave certain instructions. "Mind you do this, Sister," and that, and the other. But Glory could see that he had no hope. To relieve the pain in the head he wanted to administer morphia, but John refused to have it.
"I am going into the presence of the King," he said. "Let me have all my wits about me."
While the doctor was there the police sergeant returned with a magistrate and the reporter. "Sorry to intrude, but hearing your patient was now conscious----" and then he prepared to take John's deposition.
The reporter opened his notebook, the police magistrate stood at the foot of the bed, the doctor at one side of it and Glory at the other side, holding John's hand and quivering.
"Do you know who struck you, sir?"
There was silence for a moment, and then came "Yes."
"Who was it?"
There was another pause, and then, "Don't ask me."
"But your own evidence will be most valuable; and, indeed, down to the present we have no other. Who is it, sir?"
"I can't tell you."
There was no answer.
"Why not give me the name of the scoundrel who took---- I mean attempted to take your life?"
Then in a voice that was hardly audible, with his head thrown back and his eyes on the ceiling, John said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!"
It was useless to go further. Glory saw the four men to the door.
"You must keep him quiet," said the doctor. "Not that anything can save him, but he is a man of stubborn will."
And the police magistrate said, "It may be all very fine to forgive your enemies, but everybody has his duty to society, as well as to himself."
"Yes, yes," said Glory, "the world has no room for greater hearts than its own."
The police magistrate looked at her in bewilderment. "Just so," he said, and disappeared.
"Where is she now, my girl?"
"She's 'ere, Father."
"Hush!" said Glory, coming back to the room. "The doctor says you are not to talk so much."
"Then let me look at you, Glory. Sit here--here--and if I should seem to be suffering you must not mind that, because I am really very happy."
Just then an organ-man in the street began to play. Glory thought the music might disturb John, and she was going to send Aggie to stop it.
But his face brightened and he said: "Sing for me, Glory. Let me hear your voice."
The organ was playing a "c.o.o.n song," and she sang the words of it.
They were simple words, childish words, almost babyish, but full of tenderness and love. The little black boy could think of nothing but his Loo-loo. In the night when he was sleeping he awoke and he was weeping, for he was always, always dreaming of his Loo-loo, his Loo-loo!
When the song was finished they took hands and talked in whispers, though they were alone in the room now, and n.o.body could hear them. His white face was very bright, and her moist eyes were full of merriment.
They grew foolish in their tenderness and played with each other like little children. There were recollections of their early life in the little island home, memories of years concentrated into an hour--humorous stories and touches of mimicry. "'O Lord, open thou our lips----Where are you, Neilus?' 'Aw, here I am, your riverence, and my tongue shall shew forth thy praise.'"
All at once John's face saddened and he said, "It's a pity, though!"
"I suppose the man who carries the flag always gets 'potted,'as they say. But somebody must carry it."
Glory felt her tears gathering.
"It's a pity that I have to go before you, Glory."
She shook her head to keep the tears from flowing, and then answered gaily: "Oh, that's only as it should be. I want a little while to think it all out, you know, and then--then I'll pa.s.s over to you, just as we fall asleep at night and pa.s.s from day to day."
And then he lay back with a sigh and said, "Well, I have had a happy end, at all events."
The day had been fine, with a rather fierce sun shining until late in the afternoon, and long white clouds lying motionless in a deep blue sky, like celestial sand-banks in a celestial sea. But the tender and tempered splendour of the evening had come at length, with the sun gone over the housetops to the northwest, and its solemn afterglow spreading round, like the wings of angels sweeping down. London was unusually quiet after the roar and turmoil of the day. The great city lay like a tired ocean. And like an ocean it seemed to sleep, full of its living as well as its dead.
In a little square which stands on the fringe of the slums of Westminster, and has a well-worn church in the middle, and tenement houses, inst.i.tutions, and workshops around its sides, a strange crowd had gathered. It consisted for the greater part of persons who are generally thought to be beyond the sympathies of life--the "priestesses of society," who are the lowest among women. But they stood there for hours in silence, or walked about with dazed looks, glancing up at the window of a room on the second story which glittered with the rays of the dying day. Their friend and champion was near to his death in that room, and they were waiting for the last news of him.
The Prime Minister had kept his promise. Walking across from Downing Street his face had been clouded, as if he was thinking out the riddles of the inscrutable Power which stood to him for G.o.d. But when he came to the square, and looked round at the people, his eyes brightened and he went on with resignation and even content. The women made way for him with whispered explanations of who he was, and he walked through them to the room upstairs.