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   Chapter 4 No.4

A Mere Accident By George Augustus Moore Characters: 33417

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

Every morning Mrs Norton flung her black shawl over her shoulders, rattled her keys, and scolded the servants at the end of the long passage. Kitty, as she watered the flowers in the greenhouse, often wondered why John had chosen to become a priest and grieve his mother. Three times out of five when the women met at lunch, Mrs Norton said:

"Kitty, would you like to come out for a drive?"

Kitty answered, "I don't mind; just as you like, Mrs Norton."

After tea at five Kitty read for an hour, and in the evening she played the piano; and she sometimes endeavoured to console her hostess by suggesting that people did change their minds, and that John might not become a priest after all. Mrs Norton looked at the girl, and it was often on her lips to say, "If you had only flirted, if you had only paid him some attentions, all might have been different." But heart-broken though she was, Mrs Norton could not speak the words. The girl looked so candid, so flowerlike in her guilelessness, that the thought seemed a pollution. And in a few days Mr Hare sent for Kitty; and with her departed the last ray of sunlight, and Thornby Place grew too sad and solitary for Mrs Norton.

She went to visit some friends; she spent Christmas at the Rectory; and in the long evenings when Kitty had gone to bed, she opened her heart to her old friend. The last hope was gone; there was nothing for her to look for now. John did not even write to her; she had not heard from him since he left. It was very wrong of the Jesuits to encourage him in such conduct, and she thought of laying the whole matter before the Pope. The order had once been suppressed; she did not remember by what Pope; but a Pope had grown tired of their intrigues, and had suppressed the order. She made these accusations in moments of passion, and immediately after came deep regret.... How wrong of her to speak ill of her religion, and to a Protestant! If John did become a priest it would be a punishment for her sins. But what was she saying? If John became a priest, she should thank God for His great goodness. What greater honour could he bestow upon her? Next day she took the train to Brighton, and went to confession; and that very same evening she pleadingly suggested to Mr Hare that he should go to Stanton College, and endeavour to persuade John to return home. The parson was of course obliged to decline. He advised her to leave the matter in the hands of God, and Mrs Norton went to bed a prey to scruples of conscience of all kinds.

She even began to think it wrong to remain any longer in an essentially Protestant atmosphere. But to return to Thornby Place alone was impossible, and she begged for Kitty. The parson was loth to part with his daughter, but he felt there was much suffering beneath the calm exterior that Mrs Norton preserved. He could refuse her nothing, and he let Kitty go.

"There is no reason why you should not come and dine with us every day; but I shall not let you have her back for the next two months."

"What day will you come and see us, father dear?" said Kitty, leaning out of the carriage window.

"On Thursday," cried the parson.

"Very well, we shall expect you," replied Mrs Norton; and with a sigh she sank back on the cushions, and fell to thinking of her son.

At Thornby Place everything was soon discovered to be in a sad state of neglect. There was much work to be done in the greenhouse, the azaleas were being devoured by insects, and the leaves required a thorough washing. It was easy to see that the cats had not been regularly fed, and one of the tame rooks had flown away. Remedying these disasters, Mrs Norton and Kitty hurried to and fro. There was a ball at Steyning, and Mrs Norton consented to do the chaperon for once; and the girl's dress was a subject of gossip for a month-for a fortnight an absorbing occupation. Most of the people who had been at the hunt breakfast were at the ball, and Kitty had plenty of partners. These suggested husbands to Mrs Norton, and she questioned Kitty; but she did not seem to have thought of the ball except in the light of a toy which she had been allowed to play with one evening. The young men she had met there had apparently interested her no more than if they had been girls, and she regretted John only because of Mrs Norton. Every morning she ran to see if there was a letter, so that it might be she who brought the good news. But no letter came. Since Christmas John had written two short notes, and now they were well on in April. But one morning as she stood watching the springtide, Kitty saw him walking up the drive; the sky was growing bright with blue, and the beds were catching flower beneath the evergreen oaks. She ran to Mrs Norton, who was attending to the canaries in the bow-window.

"Look, look, Mrs Norton, John is coming up the drive; it is he; look!"

"John!" said Mrs Norton, seeking for her glasses nervously; "yes, so it is; let's run and meet him. But no; let's take him rather coolly. I believe half his eccentricity is only put on because he wishes to astonish us. We won't ask him any questions; we'll just wait and let him tell his own story...."

"How do you do, mother?" said the young man, kissing Mrs Norton with less reluctance than usual. "You must forgive me for not having answered your letters. It really was not my fault; I have been passing through a very terrible state of mind lately.... And how do you do, Kitty? Have you been keeping my mother company ever since? It is very good in you; I am afraid you must think me a very undutiful son. But what is the news?"

"One of the rooks is gone."

"Is that all?... What about the ball at Steyning? I hear it was a great success."

"Oh, it was delightful."

"You must tell me about it after dinner. Now I must go round to the stables and tell Walls to take the trap round to the station to fetch my things."

"Are you going to be here some time?" said Mrs Norton, assuming an indifferent air.

"Yes, I think so; that is to say, for a couple of months-six weeks. I have some arrangements to make, but I will speak to you about all that after dinner."

With these words John left the room, and he left his mother agitated and frightened.

"What can he mean by having arrangements to make?" she asked. Kitty could of course suggest no explanation, and the women waited the pleasure of the young man to speak his mind. He seemed, however, in no hurry to do so; and the manner in which he avoided the subject aggravated his mother's uneasiness. At last she said, unable to bear the suspense any longer:

"Are you going to be a priest, John, dear?"

"Of course, but not a Jesuit...."

"And why? have you had a quarrel with the Jesuits?"

"Oh, no; never mind; I don't like to talk about it; not exactly a quarrel, but I have seen a great deal of them lately, and I have found them out. I don't mean in anything wrong, but the order is so entirely opposed to the monastic spirit. It is difficult to explain; I really can't.... What I mean is ... well, that their worldliness is repugnant to me-fashionable friends, confidences, meddling in family affairs, dining out, letters from ladies who need consolation.... I don't mean anything wrong; pray don't misunderstand me. I merely mean to say that I hate their meddling in family affairs. Their confessional is a kind of marriage bureau; they have always got some plan on for marrying this person to that, and I must say I hate all that sort of thing.... If I were a priest I would disdain to ... but perhaps I am wrong to speak like that. Yes, it is very wrong of me, and before ... Kitty, you must not think I am speaking against the principles of my religion, I am only speaking of matters of-"

"And have you given up your rooms in Stanton College?"

"Not yet; that is to say, nothing is settled definitely, but I do not think I shall go back there; at least not to live."

"And you still are determined on becoming a priest?"

"Certainly, but not a Jesuit."

"What then?"

"A Carmelite. I have seen a great deal of these monks lately, and it is only they who preserve some of the old spirit of the old ideal. To enter the Carmelite Chapel in Kensington is to step out of the mean atmosphere of to-day into the lofty charm of the Middle Ages. The long straight folds of habits falling over sandalled feet, the great rosaries hanging down from the girdles, the smell of burning wax, the large tonsures, the music of the choir; I know nothing like it. Last Sunday I heard them sing St Fortunatus' hymn,... the Vexilla regis heard in the cloud of incense, and the wrath of the organ!... splendid are the rhymes! the first stanza in U and O, the second in A, and the third in E; passing over the closed vowels, the hymn ascends the scale of sound-"

"Now, John, none of that nonsense; how dare you, sir? Don't attempt to laugh at your mother."

"My dear mother, you must not think I am sneering because I speak of what is uppermost in my mind. I have determined to become a Carmelite monk, and that is why I came down here."

Mrs Norton was very angry; her temper fumed, and she would have burst into violent words had not the last words, "and that is why I came down here," frightened her into calmness.

"What do you mean?" she said, turning round in her chair. "You came down here to become a Carmelite monk; what do you mean?"

John hesitated. He was clearly a little frightened, but having gone so far he felt he must proceed. Besides, to-day, or to-morrow, sooner or later the truth would have to be told. He said:

"I intend altering the house a little here and there; you know how repugnant this mock Italian architecture is to my feelings.... I am coming to live here with some monks-"

"You must be mad, sir; you mean to say that you intend to pull down the house of your ancestors and turn it into a monastery?"

John drew a breath of relief, the worst was over now; she had spoken the fulness of his thought. Yes, he was going to turn Thornby Place into a monastery.

"Yes," he said, "if you like to put it in that way. Yes, I am going to turn Thornby Place into a monastery. Why shouldn't I? I am resolved never to marry; and I have no one except those dreadful cousins to leave the place to. Why shouldn't I turn it into a monastery and become a monk? I wish to save my soul."

Mrs Norton groaned.

"But you make me say more than I mean. To turn the place into a Gothic monastery, such a monastery as I dreamed would not be possible, unless indeed I pulled the whole place down, and I have not sufficient money to do that, and I do not wish to mortgage the property. For the present I am determined only on a few alterations. I have them all in my head. The billiard room, that addition of yours, can be turned into a chapel. And the casements of the dreadful bow-window might be removed, and mullions and tracery fixed on, and, instead of the present flat roof, a sloping tiled roof might be carried up against the wall of the house. The cloisters would come at the back of the chapel."

John stopped aghast at the sorrow he was causing, and he looked at his mother. She did not speak. Her ears were full of merciless ruins; hope vanished in the white dust; and the house with its memories sacred and sweet fell pitilessly: beams lying this way and that, the piece of exposed wall with the well-known wall paper, the crashing of slates. How they fall! John's heart was rent with grief, but he could not stay his determination any more than his breath. Youth is a season of suffering, we cannot surrender our desire, and it lies heavy and burning on our hearts. It is so easy for age, so hard for youth to make sacrifices. Youth is and must be wholly, madly selfish; it is not until we have learnt the folly of our aims that we may forget them, that we may pity the sufferings of others, that we may rejoice in the triumphs of our friends. To the superficial therefore, John Norton will appear but the incarnation of egotism and priggishness, but those who see deeper will have recognised that he is one who has suffered bitterly, as bitterly as the outcast who lies dead in his rags beneath the light of the policeman's lantern. Mental and physical wants!-he who may know one may not know the other: is not the absence of one the reason of the other? Mental and physical wants! the two planes of suffering whence the great divisions of mankind view and envy the other's destinies, as we view a passing pageant, as those who stand on the decks of crossing ships gaze regretfully back.

Those who have suffered much physical want will never understand John Norton; he will find commiseration only from those who have realised à priori the worthlessness of existence, the vileness of life; above all, from those who, conscious of a sense of life's degradation, impetuously desire their ideal-the immeasurable ideal which lies before them, clear, heavenly, and crystalline; the sea into which they would plunge their souls, but in whose benedictive waters they may only dip their fingertips, and crossing themselves, pass up the aisle of human tribulation. We suffer in proportion to our passions. But John Norton had no passion, say they who see passion only in carnal dissipation. Yet the passions of the spirit are more terrible than those of the flesh; the passion for God, the passion of revolt against the humbleness of life; and there is no peace until passion of whatever kind has wailed itself out.

Foolish are they who describe youth as a time of happiness; it is one of fever and anguish.

Beneath its apparent calm, there was never a stormier youth than John's. The boy's heart that grieves to death for a chorus-girl, the little clerk who mourns to madness for the bright life that flashes from the point of sight of his high office stool, never felt more keenly the nervous pain of desire and the lassitudes of resistance. You think John Norton did not suffer in his imperious desire to pull down the home of his fathers and build a monastery! Mrs Norton's grief was his grief, but to stem the impulse that bore him along was too keen a pain to be endured. His desire whelmed him like a wave; it filled his soul like a perfume, and against his will it rose to his lips in words. Even when the servants were present he could not help discussing the architectural changes he had determined upon, and as the vision of the cloister, with its reading and chanting monks, rose to his head, he talked, blinded by strange enthusiasm, of latticed windows, and sandals.

His mother bit her thin lips, and her face tightened in an expression of settled grief. Kitty was sorry for Mrs Norton, but Kitty was too young to understand, and her sorrow evaporated in laughter. She listened to John's explanations of the future as to a fairy tale suddenly touched with the magic of realism. That the old could not exist in conjunction with the new order of things never grew into the painful precision of thought in her mind. She saw but the show side; she listened as to an account of private theatricals, and in spite of Mrs Norton's visible grief, she was amused when John described himself walking at the head of his monks with tonsured head and a great rosary hanging from a leather girdle. Her innocent gaiety attracted her to him. As they walked about the grounds after breakfast, he spoke to her about pictures and statues, of a trip he intended to take to Italy and Spain, and he did not seem to care to be reminded that this jarred with his project for immediate realisation of Thornby Priory.

Leaning their backs against the iron railing which divided the green sward from the park, John and Kitty looked at the house.

"From this view it really is not so bad, though the urns and the loggia are so intolerably out of keeping with the landscape. But when I have made my alterations it will harmonise with the downs and the flat-flowing country, so English with its barns and cottages and rich agriculture, and there will be then a charming recollection of old England, the England of the monastic ages, before the-but I forgot, I must not speak to you on that subject."

"Do you think the house will look prettier than it does now? Mrs Norton says that it will be impossible to alter Italian architecture into Gothic.... Of course I don't understand."

"Mother does not know what she is talking about. I have it all down in my pocket-book. I have various plans.... I admit it is not easy, but last night I fancy I hit on an idea. I shall of course consult an architect, although really I don't see there is any necessity for so doing, but just to be on the safe side; for i

n architecture there are many practical difficulties, and to be on the safe side I will consult an experienced man regarding the practical working out of my design. I made this drawing last night." John produced a large pocket-book.

"But, oh, how pretty; will it be really like that?"

"Yes," exclaimed John, delighted; "it will be exactly like that; but I will read you my notes, and then you will understand it better.

"Alter and add to the front to represent the fa?ade of a small cathedral. This can be done by building out a projection the entire width of the building, and one storey in height. This will be divided into three arched divisions, topped with small gables."

"What are gables, John?"

"Those are the gables. The centre one (forming entrance) being rather higher than the other gables. The entrance would be formed with clustered columns and richly moulded pointed arches, the door being solid, heavy oak, with large scroll and hammered iron hinges.

"The centre front and back would be carried up to form steep gables, the roof being heightened to match. The large gable in front to have a large cross at apex."

"What is an apex? What words you do use."

John explained, Kitty laughed.

"The top I have indicated in the drawing. And to have a rose window. You see the rose window in the drawing," said John, anticipating the question which was on Kitty's lips.

"Yes," said she, "but why don't you say a round window?"

Without answering John continued:

"The first floor fronts would be arcaded round with small columns with carved capitals and pointed arches.

"At either corner of front, in lieu of present Ionic columns, carry up octagonal turrets with pinnacles at top.

"You see them in the drawing. These are the octagonal turrets."

"And which are the pinnacles?"

"The ornaments at the top.

"From the centre of the roof carry up a square tower with battlemented parapets and pinnacles at all corners, and flying buttresses from the turrets of the main buildings.

"The bow window at side will have the old casements removed, and have mullions and tracery fixed and filled with cathedral glazings, and, instead of the present flat, a sloping roof will be carried up and finished against the outer wall of the house. At either side of bay window buttresses with moulded water-tables, plinths, &c.c.

"From these roofs and the front projections at intersection of small gables, carved gargoyles to carry off water.

"The billiard-room to be converted into a chapel, by building a new high-pitched roof."

"Oh, John, why should you do away with the billiard-room; why shouldn't the monks play billiards? You played billiards on the day of the meet."

"Yes, but I am not a monk yet. No one ever heard of monks playing billiards; besides, that dreadful addition of my mother's could not remain in its present form, it would be ludicrous to a degree, whereas it can be converted very easily into a chapel. We must have a chapel-building a high-pitched timber roof, throwing out an apse at the end, and putting in mullioned and traceried windows filled with stained glass."

"And the cloister you are always speaking about, where will that be?"

"The cloister will come at the back of the chapel, and an arched and vaulted ambulatory will be laid round the house. Later on I shall add a refectory, and put a lavatory at one end of the ambulatory."

"But don't you think, John, you may get tired of being a monk, and then the house will have to be built back again."

"Never, the house will be from every point of view, a better house when my alterations are carried into effect. Beside, why should I be tired of being a monk? Your father does not get tired of being a parson."

This reply, although singularly unconvincing, was difficult to answer, and the conversation fell. And day by day, John's schemes strengthened and took shape, and he seemed to look upon himself already as a Carmelite. He had even gone so far as to order a habit, it had arrived a few days ago; and an architect, too, had come down from London. He was the ray of hope in Mrs Norton's life. For although he had loudly commended the artistic taste exhibited in the drawing, and expressed great wonderment at John's architectural skill, he had, nevertheless, when questioned as to their practicability, declared the scheme to be wholly impossible. And the reasons he advanced in support of his opinions were so conclusive that John was fain to beg of him to draw up a more possible plan for the conversion of an Italian house into a Gothic monastery.

Mr -- seemed to think the idea a wild one, but he promised to see what could be done to overcome the difficulties he foresaw, and in a week he forwarded John several drawings for his consideration. Judged by comparison with John's dreams, the practical architecture of the experienced man seemed altogether lacking in expression and in poetry of proportion; and comparing them with his own cherished project, John hung over the billiard-table, where the drawings were laid out, hour after hour, only to rise more bitterly fretful, more utterly unable than usual to reconcile himself to natural limitation, more hopelessly longing for the unattainable.

He could think of nothing but his monastery; his Latin authors were forgotten; he drew fa?ades and turrets on the cloth during dinner, and he went up to his room, not to bed, but to reconsider the difficulties that rendered the construction of a central tower an impossibility.

Midnight: the house seems alive in the silence: night is on the world. The twilight sheds on the walking birds, on the falling petals, and in the rich shadow the candle burns brightly. The great bridal bed yawns, the lace pillows lie wide, the curtains hang dreamily in the hallowed light. John leans over his drawings. Once again he takes up the architect's notes.

"The interior would be so constructed as to make it impossible to carry up the central tower. The outer walls would not be strong enough to take the large gables and roof. Although the chapel could be done easily, the ambulatory would be of no use, as it would lead probably from the kitchen offices.

"Would have to reduce work on front fa?ade to putting in new arched entrance. Buttresses would take the place of columns.

"The bow-window could remain.

"The roof to be heightened somewhat. The front projection would throw the front rooms into almost total darkness."

"But why not a light timber lantern tower?" thought John. "Yes, that would get over the difficulty. Now if we could only manage to keep my front ... if my design for the front cannot be preserved, I might as well abandon the whole thing! And then?"

And then life seemed to him void of meaning and light. He might as well settle down and marry....

His face contracted in an expression of anger. He rose from the table, and he looked round the room. Its appearance was singularly jarring, shattering as it did his dream of the cloister, and up-building in fancy the horrid fabric of marriage and domesticity. The room seemed to him a symbol-with the great bed, voluptuous, the corpulent arm-chair, the toilet-table shapeless with muslin-of the hideous laws of the world and the flesh, ever at variance and at war, and ever defeating the indomitable aspirations of the soul. John ordered his room to be changed; and, in the face of much opposition from his mother, who declared that he would never be able to sleep there, and would lose his health, he selected a narrow room at the end of the passage. He would have no carpet. He placed a small iron bed against the wall; two plain chairs, a screen to keep off the draught from the door, a basin-stand such as you might find in a ship's cabin, and a prie-dieu, were all the furniture he permitted himself.

"Oh, what a relief!" he murmured. "Now there is line, there is definite shape. That formless upholstery frets my eye as false notes grate on my ear;" and, becoming suddenly conscious of the presence of God, he fell on his knees and prayed. He prayed that he might be guided aright in his undertaking, and that, if it were conducive to the greater honour and glory of God, he might be permitted to found a monastery, and that he might be given strength to surmount all difficulties.

Next morning, calm in mind, and happier, he went downstairs to the drawing-room, a small book in his hand, an historical work of great importance by the Venerable Bede, intitled Vita beatorum abbatum Wiremuthensium, et Girvensiuem, Benedicti Ceolfridi, Easteriwini, Sigfridi atque H?tberti. But he could not keep his attention fixed on the book, it appeared to him dreary and stupid. His thoughts wandered. He thought of Kitty-of how beautiful she looked on the background of red geraniums, with the soft yellow cat on her shoulder, and he wondered which of the four great painters, Manet, Degas, Monet, or Renoir would have best rendered the brightness and lightness, the intense colour vitality of that motive for a picture. He thought of her young eyes, of the pale hands, of the sudden, sharp laugh; and finally he took up one of her novels, "Red as a Rose is She." He read it, and found it very entertaining.

But the evening post brought him a letter from the architect's head clerk, saying that Mr -- was ill, had not been to the office for the last three or four days, and would not be able to go down to Sussex again before the end of the month. Very much annoyed, John spent the evening thinking whom he could consult on the practicability of his last design for the front, and next, morning he was surprised at not seeing Kitty at breakfast.

"Where is Kitty?" he asked abruptly.

"She is not feeling well; she has a headache, and will not be down to-day."

At the end of a long silence, John said:

"I think I will go into Brighton.... I must really see an architect."

"Oh, John, dear, you are not really determined to pull the house down?"

"There is no use, mother dear, in our discussing that subject; each and all of us must do the best we can with life. And the best we can do is to try and gain heaven."

"Breaking your mother's heart, and making yourself ridiculous before the whole county, is not the way to gain heaven."

"Oh, if you are going to talk like that...."

John went into the drawing-room to continue his reading, but the Latin bored him even more than it had done yesterday. He took up the novel, but its enchantment was gone, and it appeared to him in its tawdry, original vulgarity. He got on a horse and rode towards the downs, and went up the steep ascents at a gallop. He stood amid the gorse at the top and viewed the great girdle of blue encircling sea, and the long string of coast towns lying below him, and far away. Lunch was on the table when he returned. After lunch, harassed by an obsession of architectural plans, he went out to sketch. But it rained, and resisting his mother's invitation to change his clothes, he sat down before the fire, damp without, and feverishly irritable within. He vacillated an hour between his translation of St Fortunatus' hymn, Quem terra, pontus ?thera, and "Red as a Rose is She," which, although he thought it as reprehensible for moral as for literary reasons, he was fain to follow out to the vulgar end. But he could interest himself in neither hymn nor novel. For the authenticity of the former he now cared not a jot, and he threw the book aside vowing that its hoydenish heroine was unbearable and he would read no more.

"I never knew a more horrible place to live in than Sussex. Either of two things: I must alter the architecture of this house, or I must return to Stanton College."

"Don't talk nonsense, do you think I don't know you? you are boring yourself because Kitty is upstairs in bed, and cannot walk about with you."

"I do not know how you contrive, mother, always to say the most disagreeable possible things; the marvellous way in which you pick out what will, at the moment, wound me most is truly wonderful. I compliment you on your skill, but I confess I am at a loss to understand why you should, as if by right, expect me to remain here to serve continuously as a target for the arrows of your scorn."

John walked out of the room. During dinner mother and son spoke very little, and he retired early, about ten o'clock, to his room. He was in high dudgeon, but the white walls, the prie-dieu, the straight, narrow bed were pleasant to see. His room was the first agreeable impression of the day. He picked up a drawing from the table, it seemed to him awkward and slovenly. He sharpened his pencil, cleared his crow-quill pens, got out his tracing-paper, and sat down to execute a better. But he had not finished his outline sketch before he leaned back in his chair, and as if overcome by the insidious warmth of the fire, lapsed into fire-light attitudes and meditations.

He looked a little backwards into the blaze; he nibbled his pencil point. Wavering light and wavering shade followed fast over the Roman profile, followed and flowed fitfully-fitfully as his thoughts. Now his thought followed out architectural dreams, and now he thought of himself, of his unhappy youth, of how he had been misunderstood, of his solitary life; a bitter, unsatisfactory life, and yet a life not wanting in an ideal-a glorious ideal. He thought how his projects had always met with failure, with disapproval, above all failure ... and yet, and yet he felt, he almost knew there was something great and noble in him. His eyes brightened; he slipped into thinking of schemes for a monastic life; and then he thought of his mother's hard disposition and how she misunderstood him,-everyone misunderstood him. What would the end be? Would he succeed in creating the monastery he dreamed of so fondly? To reconstruct the ascetic life of the Middle Ages, that would be something worth doing, that would be a great ideal-that would make meaning in his life. If he failed ... what should he do then? His life as it was, was unbearable ... he must come to terms with life....

That central tower! how could he manage it! and that built-out front. Was it true, as the architect said, that it would throw all the front rooms into darkness? Without this front his design would be worthless. What a difference it made!

Kitty liked it. She had thought it charming. How young she was, how glad and how innocent, and how clever, her age being taken into consideration. She understood all you said. It would not surprise him if she developed into something: but she would marry....

But why was he thinking of her? What concern had she in his life? A little slip of a girl-a girl-a girl more or less pretty, that was all. And yet it was pleasant to hear her laugh. That low, sudden laugh-she was pleasanter company than his mother, she was pleasant to have in the house, she interrupted many an unpleasant scene. Then he remembered what his mother had said. She had said that he was disappointed that she was ill, that he had missed her, that ... that it was because she was not there that he had found the day so intolerably wearisome.

Struck as with a dagger, the pain of the wound flowed through him piercingly; and as a horse stops and stands trembling, for there is something in the darkness beyond, John shrank back, his nerves vibrating like highly-strung chords; and ideas-notes of regret and lamentation died in great vague spaces. Ideas fell.... Was this all; was this all he had struggled for; was he in love? A girl, a girl ... was a girl to soil the ideal he had in view? No; he smiled painfully. The sea of his thoughts grew calmer, the air grew dim and wan, a tall foundered wreck rose pale and spectral, memories drifted. The long walks, the talks of the monastery, the neighbours, the pet rooks, and Sammy the great yellow cat, and the green-houses ... he remembered the pleasure he had taken in those conversations!

What must all this lead to? To a coarse affection, to marriage, to children, to general domesticity.

And contrasted with this....

The dignified and grave life of the cloister, the constant sensation of lofty and elevating thought, a high ideal, the communion of learned men, the charm of headship.

Could he abandon this? No, a thousand times no; but there was a melting sweetness in the other cup. The anticipation filled his veins with fever.

And trembling and pale with passion, John fell on his knees and prayed for grace. But prayer was sour and thin upon his lips, and he could only beg that the temptation might pass from him....

"In the morning," he said, "I shall be strong."

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