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THE CHRISTIAN.

By Hall Cainr. Author of "The Manxman." XVII. The board room of the hospital of Martha's Vineyard was a large and luxurioua chamber with an oval window at its farther taid, and it# two aide walls panelled with portraits of former presidents and physicians. In great oaken armchairs, behind ponderous oaken tables, covered with green cloth and furnished with writing pads, the Board of Governors sat in three sides of a square, leaving an open space in the middle. This open space waa reserved for patients seeking admission or receiving discharge, and for officers ot the hospital presenting tbeir weekly reports. On a morning in August the matron's report had closed with a startling item. It recommended the total suspension of a nurse on the ground of gross impropriety of conduct. "Tins is a most serious matter," said the chairman. " I think—this being a public institution—l think the board should investigate the case for itself. We ought to asaure ourselves that —that in fact no other irregularity is going on in the hospital." He was a peppery perron with a stern Biouth and a solid under-jaw. " May it please your lordship," said a rotund voice from one of the side-tables, " I would suggest that a case like this of grievion3 moral delinquency comes directly within the dispensation of the chaplain, and if he has done his duty bj- the unhappy girl (as no doubt he has?) he must have a statement to make to the board with regard to her."

It waß Canon Wealthy. " I may mention," he added, " that Mr Storm has now returned to his duties, and is at present in the hospital." " Send for him," said the chairman.

When John Storm entered the boardroom it was remarked that he looked no better for his holiday. His cheeks were thinner, his eyes more hollow, and there was a strange pallor under his swarthy akin. The business was explained to him, and be was asked if he ban any statement to make with regard to the nurse whom the matron had reported for suspension. " No," he said, " I have no statement." "Do you mean to tell the board," said the chairman, "that you know nothing of this matter—that the case ie too trivial for yonr attention—or perhaps that you have never even spoken to the giri oa the subject?" "That is so- I never have," said John. "Thon you siwill do so now," said the chairman, and he put his hand on the bell beside him, and the messenger appeared. " You cannot intend sir, to examine the *1 '. r e," Raid John. •« And why ftot ? *' Before co many—and all of us men save ene?" The Canon rose to his feet again. " My young brother ia naturally sensitive, my lord, but I assure him his delicate feelings are wasted on a ghrl like this. Hβ forgets that the ehame lies in the girl's sin, not in her just and necessary punishment." " Bring her in," said the chairman. The matron whispered to the messenger, and he left the room. " Pardon mc, sir," said John Storm. "'lf it is your expectation that I should question the nurse on her sin, as the Canon says, I cannot do so." "GannoU" "Well, I will not." " And is that yonr idea of your duty as a chaplain ? A great public institution is in danger of a disgraceful scandal, and you who are responsible for its spiritual welfare . . * really, gentlemen——" Again the Canon rose with a conciliatory Binile. "1 think I understand my young friend," he said, " and your lordship ana the Board will appreciate his feelings however you may disapprove of his judgment. What generous heart cannot sympathise with the sensitive spirit of the youthful clergyman who shrinks from the spectacle of guilt and shame in a young, and perhaps beautiful, woman ? But if it will relieve your lordship from an embarrassing position 1 am myself willing——" "Thank you ,, , said the chairman, and then the girl was brought into the room in charge of Sister Allworthy. She was holding her head down and trying to cover her face with her hands. " Your name, girl ?" said the Canon. . ■■« Mary Elizabeth Love," she faltered. "You are aware, Mary Elizabeth Love, that your excellent and indulgent matron , * (hero he bowed to a atout lady with an eye of ioo and a mouth of iron) " has been pnt to the painful duty of reporting yon: for suspenirion, which is equivalent to your discharge. Now I cannot hold out a hope that trie Board will not ratify her recommendation, but it may perhaps qualify the terms of your certificate if yon can show these gentlemen that the unhappy lapse from good con* duct which "brings you to this, position of shame arid disgrace is due in any measure to the irregularities practised perhaps within this hospital, or to the temptations of Anyone connected with it." Tho girl began to cry. "Speak, nurse; if yon have anything to Bay the gentlemen are willing to hear it." The.-girl'scrying deepened into cobs, said the chairman. ""Impossible," said the canon. Bat someone suggested that perhaps the nurse had a girl friend in the hospital who could throw light on the difficult situation. Then Sister Allworthy whispered to the matron, who said, "Bring her in." John Storm's face had assumed a fixed and absent expression, but he saw a girl of larger size than Polly Love enter the room with a gleam, as it were, of sunshine on her golden red hair. It was Glory. There was some preliminary whispering, and than the canon began again : " You are a friend and companion of Mary Elizabeth Love?" "Yes," said Glory. Her voice was full and calm, and a look of quiet courage lit up her girlish beauty. ' " Yon have known her other friends, no doubt, and perhaps you have shared her confidence f* "I think so." •*Then yon can tell the hoard if theunhappy condition in which she finds herself ia due to anyone connected with this hospital." "I think not," " Not to any officer, servant or member oJ any school or college attached to it t* "Thank you," said the chairman, "that is quite enough," and down the tables of th« governors there were node and smiles of satisfaction. " What have I done!" said Gtory. "You have done a great service to an ancient iand honourable institution," said th« canon, " and the best return the board, oar make for your candour and intelligence it to advise you to avoid such companionship for the futuro and to flee each penton; associations." A certain desperate recklessness expressed itself in Glory's face, and she stepped up t< Rjfly, who was now weeping auaibly, and pet her arm about the girl's want. ** Whet are the girl's relatives t" said tiu The matron replied oat of her book. Polly was an orphan, both her parents beini dead. She had a brother, and he had latclj been a paxient in the hospital, bat he w* only & lay helper in the Angßcan Monastery »t Bishopgate-street, &ad therefore neatest foe present purposes. , There was some farther whispering abort the table. Was this the girl who had beec recommended to the hospital by the coronei who had investigated a cextain notonkms and tragic case? Yee, and thai waa all thai was known about net. " I flunk I have heard af some poor anc low relations," said the ceaon; "bat thw own condition ia probably too needy to »Bo«n «em to help her at a time like the present. , Down to this moment Ptelly had don< nothing bat cry, bet now she named up ii • passion of pride and resentment. " It's false! "she cried. "I have no pool •nu low relations, and I waetnobody'e help. My frieod is ranch a gentle »an **«iiybody here—and I «tn t<ll you hi etxeet, and he is Lord- M "Stop, Kjrl I" sakl the canon in a Vmi to SSffK^K* 1 " 1 «*—*■*

lay there. It was the last annual report ol Martha's Vineyard, with a list of its governors and subscribers. " Tho girl is suspended," said the chairman, and reaching for the matron's book he signed it and returned it. " This," said the canon, *' appears to be a case for Mrs Callender's Maternity Home at Sobo, and with the consent of the board I will request tho chaplain to communicate with that lady immediately." John Storm had hoard, but he made no answer ; he was turning over the leaves of the pamphlet. The canon hemmed and cleared his throat. "Mary Elizabeth Love," he eaid, "you have brought a stain upon, this honourable and hitherto irreproachable institution, bnt I trust and believe that ere long you may see cause to be grateful for our forbearance and our charity. Speaking for myself, I confess it ia an occasion of grief to mc, and might well, I think, be a cause of sorrow to him who has had your spiritual welfare in his keeping" (here he gave a look towards John) " that yon do not seem to realise the position of infamj* in which you stand. God has given you beauty, but the world is only the darker for the use which you have made of that high inheritance. We have always been taught to think of a woman as sweet and true and pure, a being hallowed to our sympathy by the most sacred associations and dear to our love by the tenderest ties, and it is only right" (the canon'a voice was breaking) " it is only right, I say, that you should he told at once and in this place, though tardily and too late, that for the woman who wrongs that great ideal, as you have wronged it, there is but one name known among persons o£ good credit and good report—a hard name, a terrible name, a name of contempt and loathing." Crushing the pamphlet in his hand, John Storm had taken a step towards the canon, hut he was too late. Someone was there before him. It was Glory. With her head erect and eyes flashing she stood between the weeping girl and the blackcoated judge, and everybody could see the swelling and heaving of her bosom. " How dare you !" she cried. " You say you have been taught to think of a woman as sweet and pure. Well, I hare been taught to think of a man as strong and brave, and tender and merciful to every living creature, but most of ( all to a woman if she is vain and foolish, and erring and fallen. But you are not brave and tender, you are cruel and cowardly, and I despise you and liate you !" The men at the tables were rising from their seats. " Oh, you have discharged my friend," she said, " and you may discharge mc too if you like—if you dare! But I will tell everybody that it was because I would not let you insult a poor girl with' a cruel and shameful name, and trample upon her when she was down. And everybody will believe mc, because it is the truth; and anything else you may say will be a lie, and all the world will know it S" The matron was shambling up also. " How dare you, miss ! Go back to your ward this instant! Do you know to whom you are speaking V* " Oh, it's not the first time I've spoken to a clergyman, ma'am. I'm the daughter of a clergyman, and the granddanghter of a clergyman, and I know what a clergyman is when he is brave and good, and gentle and merciful to all women, and when he is a man and a gentleman, not a Pharisee and a Crocodile 1" ' •. "Please take that girl away," said the chairman. ■ But John Storm was by her side in a moment. "No, sir," he said, shall do that!" Bat now Glory Jiad broken down, too, and the girls, like two lost children, were crying on each other's breasts. John opened the door and led them'up to.. " Take your friend to her room, nurse ; I shall be with you presently." Then he turned back to the chairman, still holding the crumpled pamphlet in his hand, aad said calmly and respectfully— " And now that you have finished with the woman, sir, may I ask what you intend to do with the man f* "The man? , "Though I did not feel myself qualified to sit in judgment on the broken heart of a fallen girl, I happen to know the name which she was forbidden to mention, and I find-it here, sir—'here in your list of subscribers aoid governors," , "':. I "Well, what of it r> " You have wiped the girl out of your books, sir. Now I ask you to wipe the man , Ottt also." ' ; ."• " Gentlemen," said the chairman, rising, " the business of the board ie at an end. ,, ivm. John Storm wrote a letter to Mrs Callender, explaining Polly Love's situation and asking her to call on the girl immediately, and then he went oat in search of Lord Bobert Ure at the address he had discovered in the report. He found the man alone on his arrival, but Drake came in soon afterwards. Lord Robert received him with a chilly bow, Drake offered his hand coldly; neither of them requested him to sit. " You are surprised at my visit, gentlemen," eaid John r " but I have just now been present at a painful scene, and I thought it necessary that you should know something about it." Then he described what bad occurred in "the board room, and in doing so dwelt chiefly on the abjectness of the girl's humiliation. Lord Bobert stood by a window rapping a tune on the window pane, and Drake sat in a low chair with his legs stretched out and his hands in his trousers' pockets. "But I am at a loss to understand why yon have thought it necessary to come here to tell that etory," said Lord Robert. "Lord Bobert," eaid John, "yon understand mc perfectly." i "Excuse mc, Mr Storm, I do not understand you in the least." "Then I will not aak you if yon are responsible for the girl's position. "Don't" • "But I will ask you a simpler and easier question." "What is it?" " When are you going to marry her ?" I Lord Bobert burst into ironical laughter and faced round to Drake. "Well, these men—these curates-—their I assurance, don't yon know. . . '. May I ask you, your reverence, what is year position in this matter—yonr standing, don't yon know?" " That of chaplain of the hospital. , * "Bat yon say she has been turned oat of it." " Very well, Lord Bobert, merely that of a man who intends to protect an injured woman." "Oh, I know," said Lord Robert, drily; "I understand these heroics. I've heard of your sermons, Mr Storm-—yonr interviews with ladies and bo forth. ,, •• And I have heard of your doings with girls," said John. <• What are you going to do for this one ?" •• Exactly what I please." "Take care. You know what the jprl ie. It's precisely such girls. .... At this moment she is tottering on the brink of hell, Lord Bobert. If anything further should happen—if yon should disappoint her. . . . . She is looking to you and building tro hopes—if she should fall still lower and destroy herself body and soul—" "My dear Mr Storm, please understand that I shall do everything or nothing fox the girl exactly as I think well, don't yon know, without the counsel-or eoercioa of any clergyman." There waa a short silence, and then John Storm said quietly:—" It ia no worse than I expected. Bat I had to hear it from your own lips, and I have heard it Gooi-bye." He went back to the hospital and asked for Glory. She was wita Polly in the housekeeper's room. Polly was catching files on the window (which overlooked the park) and humming " Sigh so mote, ladies." Glory's eyes were red with weeping. John drew Glory aside. »I have written b> Mrs Callender, and she will be here presently," he said. "It is useless," said Glory. "Folly will refuse to go. She expects Lord Bobert to come to her, and she wants mc to call on Mr Drake." , "Bnt I have seen the man myself. ,, YLordßobeti?" " „. "Yes. . . ..He will do nothing." "Nothing!" " Nothing, or worsn than nothing." " Impossible 1" " Nothing of that Mad is impossible to men like those." " They rt* not so b*a as that though, and even if liord Bobert is all you cay, Mr Drake " - "They are irita&s and eouea mates, Glory, c£w."

"Ob, no, Mr Drake is quite a different person; ,, "Don't be misled, my child. If there were any te*l difference between them——*' "Bat there is; and if a girl were in trouble or wanted help in anything " ; "He would drop her, Glory, like an old lottery ticket that has drawn a blank and is done for."

She was biting her lip and it was bleeding sOghfly. " You dislike Mr Drake." she said, "and that is why you cannot be just to him. Bat he is always praising and excusing you, and when anyone " "Hie praise and excuses are nothing to mc. lam not thinking of myself. lam thinking ..." He hod a look of intense excitement and his speaking was abrupt and disconnected.

" You were splendid this morning, Glory, and when I think of the girl who defied that Pharisee being perhaps herself the victim The man asked mc what ray standing was, as if that ... But if I had really had a right, if the girl had been anything to mc, if she had been somebody else and not a light, shallow, worthless creature, do you know what I shouldiiavesaid to him ? * Since things have gone so far, sir, marry the girl now, and keep to her, and be faithful to her, and love her, or else I -'" •• Yon are flashed and excited, and there is something I do not understand " "Promise mc, Glory, that you will break off thi3 bad connection." "You are unreasonable. I cannot promise." " Promise thai you will never see these men again." "But I must see Mr Drake at once and arrange about Polly." "Don't mention the man's name again; it makes my blood boil to hear you speak it." " But this is tyranny; and yon are worse than the Canon; and I oannot bear it." " Very well: as you will. If s of no use Struggling. . . . What is the time ? " " Sis o'clock nearly." "I must see the Canon before he goes to dinner. , *

His manner had changed suddenly. He looked crushed and benumbed.

"I am going now," he said, turning aside.

"So soon ? When shall I see you again ?' "God knows. . . . I mean. . . I don't know," he answered in a helpless way. He was looking round as if taking a mental farewell of everything. " But we cannot part Jifce this," she said. " I think you like mc a little still, and " Her supplicating voice made him look up into her face for a moment. Then he turned away, saying " Good-bye, Glory." And with a look of utter exhaustion he went out of fche room. Glory walked to a window at the end of the corridor, that she might see him when he crossed the street. There was just a glimpse of hie back as he turned the corner with a slow step and his head on his breast. She went back crying. "I could fancy a fresh herring for supper, dear," said Polly. "What do you say, housekeeper V* (To be continued)

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP18970522.2.5

Bibliographic details

THE CHRISTIAN., Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9733, 22 May 1897

Word Count
3,271

THE CHRISTIAN. Press, Volume LIV, Issue 9733, 22 May 1897

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