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   Chapter 3 No.3

A Cathedral Singer By James Lane Allen Characters: 34120

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


That night in an attic-like room of an old building opposite Morningside Park a tiny supper-table for two stood ready in the middle of the floor; the supper itself, the entire meal, was spread. There is a victory which human nature in thousands of lives daily wins over want, that though it cannot drive poverty from the scene, it can hide its desolation by the genius of choice and of touch. A battle of that brave and desperate kind had been won in this garret. Lacking every luxury, it had the charm of tasteful bareness, of exquisite penury. The supper-table of cheap wood roughly carpentered was hidden under a piece of fine long-used table-linen; into the gleaming damask were wrought clusters of snowballs. The glare of a plain glass lamp was softened by a too costly silk shade. Over the rim of a common vase hung a few daffodils, too costly daffodils. The supper, frugal to a bargain, tempted the eye and the appetite by the good sense with which it had been chosen and prepared. Thus the whole scene betokened human nature at bay but victorious in the presence of that wolf, whose near-by howl startles the poor out of their sleep.

Into this empty room sounds penetrated through a door. They proceeded from piano-keys evidently so old that one wondered whether possibly they had not begun to be played on in the days of Beethoven, whether they were not such as were new on the clavichord of Bach. The fingers that pressed them were unmistakably those of a child. As the hands wandered up and down the keyboard, the ear now and then took notice of a broken string. There were many of these broken strings. The instrument plainly announced itself to be a remote, well-nigh mythical ancestor of the modern piano, preternaturally lingering on amid an innumerable deafening progeny. It suggested a superannuated human being whose loudest utterances have sunk to ghostly whispers in a corner.

Once the wandering hands stopped and a voice was heard. It sounded as though pitched to reach some one in an inner room farther away, possibly a person who might just have passed from a kitchen to a bedroom to make some change of dress. It was a very affectionate voice, very true and sweet, very tender, very endearing.

"Another string snapped to-day. There's another key silent. There won't be any but silent keys soon."

There must have been a reply. Responding to it, the voice at the piano sounded again, this time very loyal and devoted to an object closer at hand:

"But when we do get a better one, we won't kick the old one down-stairs. It has done its best."

Whereupon the musical ancestor was encouraged to speak up again while he had a chance, being a very honored ancestor and not by any means dead in some regions. Soon, however, the voice pleaded anew with a kind of patient impatience:

"I'm awfully hungry. Aren't you nearly ready?"

The reply could not be heard.

"Are you putting on the dress I like?"

The reply was not heard.

"Don't you want me to bring you a daffodil to wear at your throat?"

The reply was lost. For a few minutes the progenitor emptied his ancient lungs of some further moribund intimations of tone. Later came another protest, truly plaintive:

"You couldn't look any nicer! I'm awfully hungry!"

Then all at once there was a tremendous smash on the keys, a joyous smash, and a moment afterward the door was softly opened.

Mother and son entered the supper-room. One of his arms was around her waist, one of hers enfolded him about the neck and shoulders; they were laughing as they clung to one another.

The teacher of the portrait class and his pupils would hardly have recognized their model; the stranger on the hillside might not at once have identified the newsboy. For model and newsboy, having laid aside the masks of the day which so often in New York persons find it necessary to wear,-- the tragic mask, the comic mask, the callous, coarse, brutal mask, the mask of the human pack, the mask of the human sty,-model and newsboy reappeared at home with each other as nearly what in truth they were as the denials of life would allow.

There entered the room a woman of high breeding, with a certain Pallas-like purity and energy of face, clasping to her side her only child, a son whom she secretly believed to be destined to greatness. She was dressed not with the studied plainness and abnegation of the model in the studio, but out of regard for her true station and her motherly responsibilities. Her utmost wish was that in years to come, when he should look back upon his childhood, he would always remember with pride his evenings with his mother. During the day he must see her drudge, and many a picture of herself on a plane of life below her own she knew to be fastened to his growing brain; but as nearly as possible blotting these out, daily blotting them out one by one, must be the evening pictures when the day's work was done, its disguises dropped, its humiliations over, and she, a serving-woman of fate, reappeared before him in the lineaments of his mother, to remain with him throughout his life as the supreme woman of the human race, his idol until death, his mother.

She now looked worthy of such an ideal. But it was upon him that her heart lavished every possible extravagance when nightly he had laid aside the coarse half-ragged fighting clothes of the streets. In those after years when he was to gaze backward across a long distance, he must be made to realize that when he was a little fellow, it was his mother who first had seen his star while it was still low on the horizon; and that from the beginning she had so reared him that there would be stamped upon his attention the gentleness of his birth and a mother's resolve to rear him in keeping with this through the neediest hours.

While he was in his bath, she, as though she were his valet, had laid out trim house shoes and black stockings; and as the spring-night had a breath of summer warmth, of almost Southern summer warmth, she had put out also a suit of white linen knickerbockers. Under his broad sailor collar she herself had tied a big, soft, flowing black ribbon of the finest silk. Above this rose the solid head looking like a sphere on a column of triumph, with its lustrous bronzed hair, which, as she brushed it, she had tenderly stroked with her hands; often kissing the bronzed face ardent and friendly to the world and thinking to herself of the double blue in his eyes, the old Saxon blue of battle and the old Saxon blue of the minstrel, also.

It was the evening meal that always brought them together after the separation of the day, and he was at once curious to hear how everything had gone at the art school. With some unsold papers under his arm he had walked with her to the entrance, a new pang in his breast about her that he did not understand: for one thing she looked so plain, so common. At the door-step she had stopped and kissed him and bade him good-by. Her quiet quivering words were:

"Go home, dear, by way of the cathedral."

If he took the more convenient route, it would lead him into one of the city's main cross streets, beset with dangers. She would be able to sit more at peace through those hours of posing if she could know that he had gone across the cathedral grounds and then across the park as along a country road bordered with young grass and shrubs in bloom and forest trees in early leaf. She wished to keep all day before her eyes the picture of him as straying that April morning along such a country road-sometimes the road of faint far girlhood memories to her.

Then with a great incomprehensible look she had vanished from him. But before the doors closed, he, peering past her, had caught sight of the walls inside thickly hung with portraits of men and women in rich colors and in golden frames. Into this splendid world his mother had vanished, herself to be painted.

Now as he began ravenously to eat his supper he wished to hear all about it. She told him. Part of her experience she kept back, a true part; the other, no less true, she described. With deft fingers she went over the somberly woven web of the hours, and plucking here a bright thread and there a bright thread, rewove these into a smaller picture, on which fell the day's far-separated sunbeams; the rays were condensed now and made a solid brightness.

This is how she painted for him a bright picture out of things not many of which were bright. The teacher of the portrait class, to begin, had been very considerate. He had arranged that she should leave her things with the janitor's wife down-stairs, and not go up-stairs and take them off behind some screens in a corner of the room where the class was assembled. That would have been dreadful, to have to go behind the screens to take off her hat and gloves. Then instead of sending word for her to come up, he himself had come down. As he led the way past the confusing halls and studios, he had looked back over his shoulder just a little, to let her know that not for a moment did he lose thought of her. To have walked in front of her, looking straight ahead, might have meant that he esteemed her a person of no consequence. A master so walks before a servant, a superior before an inferior. Out of respect for her, he had even lessened the natural noisiness of his feet on the bare floor. If you put your feet down hard in the house, it means that you are thinking of yourself and not of other people. He had mounted the stairs slowly lest she get out of breath as she climbed. When he preceded her into the presence of the class, he had turned as though he introduced to them his own mother. In everything he did he was really a man; that is, a gentleman. For being a gentleman is being really a man; if you are really a man, you are a gentleman.

As for the members of the class, they had been beautiful in their treatment of her. Not a word had been exchanged with them, but she could feel their beautiful thoughts. Sometimes when she glanced at them, while they worked, such beautiful expressions rested on their faces. Unconsciously their natures had opened like young flowers, and as at the hearts of young flowers there is for each a clear drop of honey, so in each of their minds there must have been one same thought, the remembrance of their mothers. Altogether it was as though they were assembled there in honor of her, not to make use of her.

As to posing itself, one had not a thing to do but sit perfectly still! One got such a good rest from being too much on one's feet! And they had placed for her such a splendid carved-oak chair! When she took her seat, all at once she had felt as if at home again. There were immense windows; she had had all the fresh air she wished, and she did enjoy fresh air! The whole roof was a window, and she could look out at the sky: sometimes the loveliest clouds drifted over, and sometimes the dearest little bird flew past, no doubt on its way to the park. Last, but not least, she had not been crowded. In New York it was almost impossible to secure a good seat in a public place without being nudged or bumped or crowded. But that had actually happened to her. She had had a delightful chair in a public place, with plenty of room in every direction. How fortunate at last to remember that she might pose! It would fit in perfectly at times when she did not have to go out for needlework or for the other demands. Dollars would now soon begin to be brought in like their bits of coal, by the scuttleful! And then the piano! And then the teacher and the lessons! And then, and then-

Her happy story ended. She had watched the play of lights on his face as sometimes he, though hungry, with fork in the air paused to listen and to question. Now as she finished and looked across the table at the picture of him under the lamplight, she was rewarded, she was content; while he ate his plain food, out of her misfortunes she had beautifully nourished his mind. He did not know this; but she knew it, knew by his look and by his only comment:

"You had a perfectly splendid time, didn't you?"

She laughed to herself.

"Now, then," she said, coming to what had all along been most in her consciousness-"now, then, tell me about your day. Begin at the moment you left me."

He laid down his napkin,-he could eat no more, and there was nothing more to eat,-and he folded his hands quite like the head of the house at ease after a careless feast, and began his story.

Well, he had had a splendid day, too. After he had left her he had gone to the dealer's on the avenue with the unsold papers. Then he had crossed over to the cathedral, and for a while had watched the men at work up in the air. He had walked around to the choir school, but no one was there that morning, not a sound came from the inside. Then he had started down across the park. As he sat down to count his money, a man who had climbed up the hillside stopped and asked him a great many questions: who taught him music and whether any one had ever heard him sing. This stranger also liked music and he also went to the cathedral, so he claimed. From that point the story wound its way onward across the busy hours till nightfall.

It was a child's story, not an older person's. Therefore it did not draw the line between pleasant and unpleasant, fair and unfair, right and wrong, which make up for each of us the history of our checkered human day. It separated life as a swimmer separates the sea: there is one water which he parts by his passage. So the child, who is still wholly a child, divides the world.

But as she pondered, she discriminated. Out of the long, rambling narrative she laid hold of one overwhelming incident, forgetting the rest: a passing stranger, hearing a few notes of his voice, had stopped to question him about it. To her this was the first outside evidence that her faith in his musical gift was not groundless.

When he had ended his story she regarded him across the table with something new in her eyes-something of awe. She had never hinted to him what she believed he would some day be. She might be wrong, and thus might start him on the wrong course; or, being right, she might never have the chance to start him on the right one. In either case she might be bringing to him disappointment, perhaps the failure of his whole life.

Now she still hid the emotion his story caused. But the stranger of the park had kindled within her that night what she herself had long tended unlit-the alabaster flame of worship which the mother burns before the altar of a great son.

An hour later they were in another small attic-like space next to the supper-room. Here was always the best of their evening. No matter how poor the spot, if there reach it some solitary ray of the great light of the world, let it be called your drawing-room. Where civilization sends its beams through a roof, there be your drawing-room. This part of the garret was theirs.

In one corner stood a small table on which were some tantalizing books and the same lamp. Another corner was filled by the littlest, oldest imaginable of six-octave pianos, the mythical piano ancestor; on it were piled some yellowed folios, her music once. Thus two different rays of civilization entered their garret and fell upon the twin mountain-peaks of the night-books and music.

Toward these she wished regularly to lead him as darkness descended over the illimitable city and upon its weary grimy battle-fields. She liked him to fall asleep on one or the other of these mountain-tops. When he awoke, it would be as from a mountain that he would see the dawn. From there let him come down to the things that won the day; but at night back again to things that win life.

They were in their drawing-room, then, as she had taught him to call it, and she was reading to him. A knock interrupted her. She interrogated the knock doubtfully to herself for a moment.

"Ashby," she finally said, turning her eyes toward the door, as a request that he open it.

The janitor of the building handed in a card. The name on the card was strange to her, and she knew no reason why a stranger should call. Then a foolish uneasiness attacked her: perhaps this unwelcome visit bore upon her engagement at the studio. They might not wish her to return; that little door to a larger income was to be shut in their faces. Perhaps she had made herself too plain. If only she had done herself a little more justice in her appearance!

She addressed the janitor with anxious courtesy:

"Will you ask him to come up?"

With her hand on the half-open door, she waited. If it should be some tradesman, she would speak with him there. She listened. Up the steps, from flight to flight, she could hear the feet of a man mounting like a deliberate good walker. He reached her floor. He approached her door and she stepped out to confront him. A gentleman stood before her with an unmistakable air of feeling himself happy in his mission.

For a moment he forgot to state this mission, startled by the group of the two. His eyes passed from one to the other: the picture they made was an unlooked for revelation of life's harmony, of nature's sacredness.

"Is this Mrs. Truesdale?" he asked with appreciative deference.

She stepped back.

"I am Mrs. Truesdale," she replied in a way to remind him of his intrusion; and not discourteously she partly closed the door and waited for him to withdraw. But he was not of a mind to withdraw; on the contrary, he stood stoutly where he was and explained:

"As I crossed the park this morning I happened to hear a few notes of a voice that interested me. I train the voice, Madam. I teach certain kinds of music. I took the liberty of asking the owner of the voice where he lived, and I have taken the further liberty of coming to see whether I may speak with you on that subject-about his voice."

This, then, was the stranger of the park whom she believed to have gone his way after unknowingly leaving glorious words of destiny for her. Instead of vanishing, he had reappeared, following up his discovery into her very presence. She did not desire him to follow up his discovery. She put out one hand and pressed her son back into the room and was about to close the door.

"I should first have stated, of course," said the visitor, smiling quietly as with awkward self-recovery, "that I am the choir-master of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine."

Stillness followed, the stillness in which painful misunderstandings dissolve. The scene slowly changed, as when on the dark stage of a theater an invisible light is gradually turned, showing everything in its actual relation to everything else. In truth a shaft as of celestial light suddenly fell upon her doorway; a far-sent radiance rested on the head of her son; in her ears began to sound old words spoken ages ago to another mother on account of him she had borne. To her it was an annunciation.

Her first act was to place her hand on the head of the lad and bend it back until his eyes looked up into hers; his mother must be the first to congratulate him and to catch from his eyes their flash of delight as he realized all that this might mean: the fulfilment of life's dream for him.

Then she threw open the door.

"Will you come in?"

It was a marvelous welcome, a splendor of spiritual hospitality.

The musician took up straightway the purpose of his visit and stated it.

"Will you, then, send him to-morrow and let me try his voice?"

"Yes," she said as one who now must direct with firm responsible hand the helm of wayward genius, "I will send him."

"And if his voice should prove to be what is wanted," continued the music- master, though with delicate hesitancy, "would he be-free? Is there any other person whose consent-"

She could not reply at once. The question brought up so much of the past, such tragedy! She spoke with composure at last:

"He can come. He is free. He is mine-wholly mine."

The choir-master looked across the small room at his pupil, who, upon the discovery of the visitor's identity, had withdrawn as far as possible from him.

"And you are willing to come?" he asked, wishing to make the first advance toward possible acquaintanceship on the new footing.

No reply came. The mother smiled at her awe-stricken son and hastened to his rescue.

"He is overwhelmed," she said, her own faith in him being merely strengthened by this revelation of his fright. "He is overwhelmed. This means so much more to him than you can understand."

"But you will come?" the choir-master persisted in asking. "You will come?"

The lad stirred uneasily on his chair.

"Yes, sir," he said all but inaudibly.

His inquisitive, interesting friend of the park path, then, was himself choir-master of St. John's! And he had asked him whether he knew anything about the cathedral! Whether he liked music! Whether he knew how boys got into the school! He had betrayed his habit of idly hanging about the old building where the choir practised and of singing with them to show what he could do and would do if he had the chance; and because he could not keep from singing. He had called one of the Apostles Jim! And another Apostle Pete! He had rejoiced that Gabriel had not been strong enough to stand up in a high wind!

Thus with mortification he remembered the day. Then his thoughts were swept on to what now opened before him: he was to be taken into the choir, he was to sing in the cathedral. The high, blinding, stately magnificence of its scenes and processions lay before him.

More than this. The thing which had long been such a torture of desire to him, the hope that had grown within him until it began to burst open, had come true; his dream was a reality: he was to begin to learn music, he was to go where it was being taught. And the master who was to take him by the hand and lead him into that world of song sat there quietly talking with his mother about the matter and looking across at him, studying him closely.

No; none of this was true yet. It might never be true. First, he must be put to the test. The man smiling there was sternly going to draw out of him what was in him. He was going to examine him and see what he amounted to. And if he amounted to nothing, then what?

He sat there shy, silent, afraid, all the hardy boldness and business preparedness and fighting capacity of the streets gone out of his mind and heart. He looked across at his mother; not even she could help him.

So there settled upon him that terror of uncertainty about their gift and their fate which is known only to the children of genius. For throughout the region of art, as in the world of the physical, nature brings forth all things from the seat of sensitiveness and the young of both worlds appear on the rough earth unready.

"You do wish to come?" the choir-master persisted in asking.

"Yes, sir," he replied barely, as though the words sealed his fate.

The visitor was gone, and they had talked everything over, and the evening had ended, and it was long past his bedtime, and she waited for him to come from the bedroom and say good night. Presently he ran in, climbed into her lap, threw his arms around her neck and pressed his cheek against hers.

"Now on this side," he said, holding her tightly, "and now on the other side, and now on both sides and all around."

She, with jealous pangs at this goodnight hour, often thought already of what a lover he would be when the time came-the time for her to be pushed aside, to drop out. These last moments of every night were for love; nothing lived in him but love. She said to herself that he was the born lover.

As he now withdrew his arms, he sat looking into her eyes with his face close to hers. Then leaning over, he began to measure his face upon her face, starting with the forehead, and being very particular when he got to the long eyelashes, then coming down past the nose. They were very silly and merry about the measuring of the noses. The noses would not fit the one upon the other, not being flat enough. He began to indulge his mischievous, teasing mood:

"Suppose he doesn't like my voice!"

She laughed the idea to scorn.

"Suppose he wouldn't take me!"

"Ah, but he will take you."

"If he wouldn't have me, you'd never want to see me any more, would you?"

She strained him to her heart and rocked to and fro over him.

"This is what I could most have wished in all the world," she said, holding him at arm's-length with idolatry.

"Not more than a fine house and servants and a greenhouse and a carriage and horses and a new piano-not more than everything you used to have!"

"More than anything! More than anything in this world!"

He returned to the teasing.

"If he doesn't take me, I'm going to run away. You won't want ever to see me any more. And then nobody will ever know what becomes of me because I couldn't sing."

She strained him again to herself and murmured over him:

"My chorister! My minstrel! My life!"

"Good night and pleasant dreams!" he said, with his arms around her neck finally. "Good night and sweet sleep!"

* * *

Everything was quiet. She had tipped to his bedside and stood looking at him after slumber had carried him away from her, a little distance away.

"My heavenly guest!" she murmured. "My guest from the singing stars of God!"

Though worn out with the strain and excitements of the day, she was not yet ready for sleep. She must have the luxuries of consciousness; she must tread the roomy spaces of reflection and be soothed in their largeness. And so she had gone to her windows and had remained there for a long time looking out upon the night.

The street beneath was dimly lighted. Traffic had almost ceased. Now and then a car sped past. The thoroughfare along here is level and broad and smooth, and being skirted on one side by the park, it offers to speeding vehicles the illusive freedom of a country road. Across the street at the foot of the park a few lights gleamed scant amid the April foliage. She began at the foot of the hill and followed the line of them upward, upward over the face of the rock, leading this way and that way, but always upward. There on the height in the darkness loomed the cathedral.

Often during the trouble and discouragement of years it had seemed to her that her own life and every other life would have had more meaning if only there had been, away off somewhere in the universe, a higher evil intelligence to look on and laugh, to laugh pitilessly at every human thing. She had held on to her faith because she must hold on to something, and she had nothing else. Now as she stood there, following the winding night road over the rock, her thoughts went back and searched once more along the wandering pathway of her years; and she said that a Power greater than any earthly had led her with her son to the hidden goal of them both, the cathedral.

The next day brought no disappointment: he had rushed home and thrown himself into her arms and told her that he was accepted. He was to sing in the choir. The hope had become an actuality.

Later that day the choir-master himself had called again to speak to her when the pupil was not present. He was guarded in his words but could not conceal the enthusiasm of his mood.

"I do not know what it may develop into," he said,-"that is something we cannot foretell,-but I believe it will be a great voice in the world. I do know that it will be a wonderful voice for the choir."

She stood before him mute with emotion. She was as dry sand drinking a shower.

"You have made no mistake," she said. "It is a great voice and he will have a great career."

The choir-master was impatient to have the lessons begin. She asked for a few days to get him in readiness. She reflected that he could not make his first appearance at the choir school in white linen knickerbockers. These were the only suitable clothes he had.

This school would be his first, for she had taught him at home, haunted by a sense of responsibility that he must be specially guarded. Now just as the unsafe years came on for him, he would be safe in that fold. When natural changes followed as follow they must and his voice broke later on, and then came again or never came again, whatever afterward befell, behind would be the memories of his childhood. And when he had grown to full manhood, when he was an old man and she no longer with him, wherever on the earth he might work or might wander, always he would be going back to those years in the cathedral: they would be his safeguard, his consecration to the end.

* * *

Now a few days later she stood in the same favorite spot, at her windows; and it was her favorite hour to be there, the coming on of twilight.

All day until nearly sundown a cold April rain had fallen. These contradictory spring days of young green and winter cold the pious folk of older lands and ages named the days of the ice saints. They really fall in May, but this had been like one of them. So raw and chill had been the atmosphere of the grateless garret that the window-frames had been fastened down, their rusty catches clamped.

At the window she stood looking out and looking up toward a scene of splendor in the heavens.

It was sunset, the rain was over, the sky had cleared. She had been tracing the retreating line of sunlight on the hillside opposite. First it crossed the street to the edge of the park, then crossed the wet grass at the foot of the slope; then it passed upward over the bowed dripping shrubbery and lingered on the tree-tops along the crest; and now the western sky was aflame behind the cathedral.

It was a gorgeous spectacle. The cathedral seemed not to be situated in the city, not lodged on the rocks of the island, but to be risen out of infinite space and to be based and to abide on the eternity of light. Long she gazed into that sublime vision, full of happiness at last, full of peace, full of prayer.

Standing thus at her windows at that hour, she stood on the pinnacle of her life's happiness.

From the dark slippery street shrill familiar sounds rose to her ear and drew her attention downward and she smiled. He was down there at play with friends whose parents lived in the houses of the row. She laughed as those victorious cries reached the upper air. Leaning forward, she pressed her face against the window-pane and peered over and watched the group of them. Sometimes she could see them and sometimes not as they struggled from one side of the street to the other. No one, whether younger or older, stronger or weaker, was ever defeated down there; everybody at some time got worsted; no one was ever defeated. All the whipped remained conquerors. Unconquerable childhood! She said to herself that she must learn a lesson from it once more-to have always within herself the will and spirit of victory.

With her face still against the glass she caught sight of something approaching carefully up the street. It was the car of a physician who had a patient in one of the houses near by. This was his hour to make his call. He guided the car himself, and the great mass of tons in weight responded to his guidance as if it possessed intelligence, as if it entered into his foresight and caution: it became to her, as she watched it, almost conscious, almost human. She thought of it as being like some great characters in human life which need so little to make them go easily and make them go right. A wise touch, and their enormous influence is sent whither it should be sent by a pressure that would not bruise a leaf.

She chid herself once more that in a world where so often the great is the good she had too often been hard and bitter; that many a time she had found pleasure in setting the empty cup of her life out under its clouds and catching the showers of nature as though they were drops of gall.

All at once her attention was riveted on an object up the street. Around a bend a few hundred yards away a huge wild devil of a thing swung unsteadily, recklessly, almost striking the curb and lamp-post; and then, righting itself, it came on with a rush-a mindless destroyer. Now on one side of the street, now in the middle, now on the other side; gliding along through the twilight, barely to be seen, creeping nearer and nearer through the shadows, now again on the wrong side of the street where it would not be looked for.

A bolt of horror shot through her. She pressed her face quickly against the window-panes as closely as possible, searching for the whereabouts of the lads. As she looked, the playing struggling mass of them went down in the road, the others piled on one. She thought she knew which one,-he was the strongest,-then they were lost from her sight, as they rolled in nearer to the sidewalk. And straight toward them rushed that destroyer in the streets. She tried to throw up the sashes. She tried to lean out and cry down to him, to wave her hands to him with warning as she had often done with joy. She could not raise the sashes. She had not the strength left to turn the rusty bolts. Nor was there time. She looked again; she saw what was going to happen. Then with frenzy she began to beat against the window-sashes and to moan and try to stifle her own moans. And then shrill startled screams and piteous cries came up to her, and crazed now and no longer knowing what she did, she struck the window-panes in her agony until they were shattered and she thrust her arms out through them with a last blind instinct to wave to him, to reach him, to drag him out of the way. For some moments her arms hung there outside the shattered window-glass, and a shower of crimson drops from her fingers splashed on the paving-stones below. She kept on waving her lacerated hands more and more feebly, slowly; and then they were drawn inward after her body which dropped unconscious to the garret floor.

* * *

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