Cathedral | Hugh Walpole | Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction | Audio Book | English | 7/9

Cathedral | Hugh Walpole | Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction | Audio Book | English | 7/9

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Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole, CBE (1884 – 1941) was an English novelist. He was the son of an Anglican clergyman, intended for a career in the church but drawn instead to writing. Among those who encouraged him were the authors Henry James and Arnold Bennett. His skill at scene-setting, vivid plots, and high profile as a lecturer brought him a large readership in the United Kingdom and North America. He was a best-selling author in the 1920s and 1930s, but has been largely neglected since his death…. One of Walpole’s major novels of the early post-war period was The Cathedral, which unlike much of his fiction was not dashed off but worked on across four years, beginning in 1918. The story of an arrogant 19th-century archdeacon in conflict with other clergy and laity was certain to bring comparisons with Trollope’s Barchester Towers (The Manchester Guardian ’s review was headed “Polchester Towers”), but unlike the earlier work, The Cathedral is wholly uncomic…. The reviewer Ivor Brown commented that Walpole had earlier charmed many with his cheerful tales of Mayfair, but that in this novel he showed a greater side to his art: “This is a book with little happiness about it, but its stark strength is undeniable. The Cathedral is realism, profound in its philosophy and delicate in its thread.” The Illustrated London News said, “No former novelist has seized quite so powerfully upon the cathedral fabric and made it a living character in the drama, an obsessing individuality at once benign and forbidding. …The Cathedral is a great book.” The Jubilee which plays an important part in the story is the national celebration in 1897 of Queen Victoria’s sixty years on the throne. Summary by Wikipedia and david wales

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book 3 chapter 2 of the cathedral by Hugh Walpole this LibriVox recording is in the public domain chapter 2 Friday June 18 shadow meets shadow on that Friday evening about half-past six o'clock Archdeacon Brandon just as he reached the top of High Street saw God there was nothing either strange or unusual about this having had all his life the conviction that he and God were on the most intimate of terms that God knew and understood himself and his wants better than any other friend that he had that justice God had definitely deputed him to work out certain plans on this earth so at times he needed to his own help and advice having never wavered for an instant in the very simplest tenets of his creed and believing in every word of the New Testament as though the events there recorded had only a week ago happened in his own town under his own eyes all this being so it was not strange that he should sometimes come into close and actual contact with his master it may be said that it was this very sense of contact continued through long years of labor and success that was the original foundation of the archdeacon's pride if of late years that pride had grown from the seeds of the archdeacon's own self-confidence and appreciation who can blame him we translate more easily than we know our gratitude to God into our admiration of ourselves over and over again in the past when he had been laboring with a special fervor he was aware that in the simplest sense of the word God was walking with him he was conscious of a new light and heat of a fresh companionship he could almost translate into physical form that comradeship of which he was so tenderly aware how could it be but that after such an hour he should look down from those glorious heights upon his less favored fellow companions no merit of his own that he had been chosen but the choice had been made on this evening he was in sad need of comfort never in all his past years had life gone so hardly with him as it was going now it was as though about three or four months back he had without knowing it stepped into some new and terrible country one feature after another had changed old familiar faces wore new unfamiliar disguises every step that he took now seemed to be dangerous misfortune after misfortune had come to him at first slight and even ludicrous at last with faults escaped serious and bewilder incurring that was the true word to describe his case he was like a man moving through familiar country and overtaken suddenly by a dense fog through it all examine it asthma nucleus he might he could not see that he had committed the slightest fault he had been as he had always been and yet the very face of the town was changed to him his son had left him even his wife to whom he had been married for twenty years was altered was it not natural therefore that he should attribute all of this to the only new element that had been introduced into his life during these last months to the one human being alive who was his declared enemy to the one man who had openly in the public road before witnesses insulted him to the man who from the first moment of his coming to Paul Chester had laughed at him and mocked and derided him – Rhonda – Rhonda the name was never out of his brain now lying there stirring twisting in his very sleep sneering laughing even in the heart of his private prayers he was truly in need of God that evening and there at the top of the high street he saw him framed in all the color and glow and sparkling sunlight of the summer evening filling him with and new courage surrounding him and developing him in love and tenderness cynics might say that it was because the Archdeacon no longer so young as he had been was blown by his climb of the high street and stood breathing hard for a moment before he passed into the precincts lights dancing before his eyes as they will when one is out of breath the ground swaying a little under the pressure of the heart the noise of the town rocking in his ears that is for the cynics to say Brandon knew his experiences had been in the past too frequent for him even now to make a mistake running down the hill went the high street decorated now with flags and banners in honor of the great event cutting the sky stretching from Brent's they haberdashers across to Adams the hairdresser's was a vast banner of bright yellow silk stamped in red letters with 60 years or queen god bless her just beside the Archdeacon above the door of the bookshop where he had once so ignominiously taken refuge was a flag of red white and blue and opposite the booksellers at Gummidge 'as the stationers was a little festoon of flags and a blue message stamped on a white ground god bless our queen long may she reign all down the street flags and streamers were fluttering in the little summer breeze that stole about the houses and windows and doors as though anxiously inquiring whether people were not finding the evening just a little too warm people were not finding it at all to warm everyone was out and strolling up and down laughing and whistling and chattering dressed although it was only Friday in nearly their Sunday best the shops were closing one by one and the throng was growing thicker and thicker so little traffic was passing that young men and women were already marching four abreast arm-in-arm along the middle of the street it was a long time ten years in fact since beau Chester had seen such gaya this was behind the Archdeacon in front of him was the dark archway in which the grass of the Cathedral Square was framed like the mirrored reflection of evening light where the pale blue and pearl white are shadowed with slanting green the peace was profound nothing stirred there in the archway God stood smiling upon his faithful servant only as Brandan approached him passing into shadow and sunlight and the intense blue of the overhanging sky Brandan tried then as he had often tried before to keep that contact close to himself but the ecstatic moment had passed it had lasted it seemed on this occasion a shorter time than ever before he bowed his head stood for a moment under the arch offering a prayer as simple and innocent as a child offers at its mother's knee then with an instantaneous change that in a more complex nature could have meant only hypocrisy but that with him was perfectly sincere he was in a moment the hot angry mundane priest again doing battle with his enemies and defying them to destroy him nevertheless the transition tonight was not quite so complete as usual he was unhappy lonely and in spite of himself afraid afraid of he knew not what as a child might be when its candle is blown out and with this unhappiness his thoughts turned to home Falk's departure had caused him to consider his wife more seriously than he had ever done in all their married life before she had loved folk she must be lonely without him and during these weeks he had been groping in a clumsy baffled kind of way towards some expression to her of the kindness and sympathy that he was feeling but those emotions do not come easily after many years of disuse he was always embarrassed and self-conscious when he expressed affection he was afraid of her to thought that if he showed too much kindness she might suddenly become emotional fling her arms around him and cover his face with kisses something of that kind then of late she had been very strange ever since that Sunday morning when she had refused to go to communion strange women are strange as different from men as Frenchmen are from Englishmen but he would like tonight to come closer to her dimly far within him something was stirring that told him that it had been his own fault that during all these years she had drifted away from him he must win her back a thing easily done in the archdeacon's view of life any man had only got to whistle and fast the woman came running but tonight he wanted someone to care for him and to tell him that all was well and that the many troubles that seemed to be crowding upon him were but imaginary after all when he reached the house he found that he had only just time to dress for dinner he ran upstairs and then when his door was closed and he was safely inside his bedroom he had to pause and stand his hand upon his heart how it was hammering like a beast struggling to escape its cage his knees too were trembling he was forced to sit down after all he was not so young as he had been these recent months had been trying for him but how humiliating he was glad that there had been no one there to see him he would need all his strength for the battle that was in front of him yes he was glad that there had been no one to see him he would ask old pretty foot to look at him although the man was an ass he drank a glass of water then slowly dressed he came downstairs and went into the drawing-room his wife was there standing in the shadow by the window staring out into the precincts he came across the room softly to her then gently put his hand on her shoulder she had not heard his approach she turned round with a sharp cry and then faced him staring her eyes terrified he on his side was so deeply startled by her alarm that he could only stare back at her himself frightened and feeling a strange clumsy foolishness at her alarm broken sentences came from her what did you who you shouldn't have done that you frightened me her voice was sharply angry and in all their long married life together he had never before felt her so completely a stranger he felt as though he had accosted some unknown woman in the street and been attacked by her for his familiarity he took refuge as he always did when he was confused in pomposity really my dear you'd think that I was a burglar yes you shouldn't be so easily startled she was still staring at him as though even now she did not realize his identity her hands were clenched and her breath came in little hurried gasps as though she had been running no you shouldn't silly coming across the room like that oh very well very well he answered testily why isn't dinner ready it's ten minutes past the time she moved across the room not answering him suddenly his pomposity was gone he moved over to her standing before her like an overgrown schoolboy looking at her and smiling uneasily the truth is my dear he said that I can't conceive my entering a room without everybody hearing it no I can't indeed he laughed boisterously you could tell anybody that I crossed a room without your hearing it and they won't believe you no they won't he bent down and kissed her his touch tickled her cheek but she made no movement he felt as his hand rested on her shoulder that she was still trembling your nerves must be in a bad way he said why you're trembling still why don't you see puddi foot no no she answered hurriedly it was silly of me making a great effort she smiled up at him well how's everything going going yes for the great day is everything settled he began to tell her in the old familiar so boring way every detail of the event of the last few hours I was just by Sharps when I remembered that I said nothing to Nixon about those extra seats at the back of the nave so I had to go all the way round Joan came in is a special need of someone that night rejected as it had been at once by his wife turned to his daughter how pretty she was he thought as she came across the room sunlit with the deep evening gold that struck in long paths of light into the darkest shadows and corners that moment seemed suddenly the culmination of the advance that they had been making towards one another during the last six months when she came close to him he usually so unobservant noticed that she too was in distress she was smiling but she was unhappy and he suddenly felt that he had been neglecting her and letting her fight her battles alone and that she needed his love as urgently as he needed hers he put his arm around her and drew her to him the movement was so unlike him and so unexpected that she hesitated a little then happily came closer to him resting her head on his shoulder they had both for a moment forgotten mrs. Brandon tired he asked Joan yes I've been working at those silly old flags all the afternoon two of them are not finished now we've got to go again tomorrow morning everything ready for the ball yes my dress is lovely Oh mummy mrs. Sampson says will you let two relations of theirs sit in our seat on Sunday morning she hadn't known that they were coming and she's very bothered about it and I'll tell her whether they can in the morning they both turned and saw mrs. Brandon who had gone back to the window and again was looking at the Cathedral now in deep black shadow yes dear there'll be room there's only you and I Joan had in the pocket of her dress a letter as they went into dinner she could hear it's paper very faintly crackle against her hand it was from Falk and was as follows dear Joan I have written to father but he hasn't answered would you find out what he thought about my letter and what he intends to do I don't mind owning to you that I miss him terribly and I would give anything just to see him for five minutes I believe that if he saw me I could win him over otherwise I am very happy indeed we are married and live in two little rooms just off Baker Street you don't know where that is do you well it's a very good place to be near the park and lots of good shops and not very expensive our landlady is a jolly woman as kind as anything and I'm getting quite enough work to keep the wolf from the door I know more than ever now that I've done the right thing and father will recognize it too one day how is he of course my going like that was a great shock to him but it was the only way to do it when you write tell me about his health he didn't seem so well just before I left now Joan write and tell me everything one thing is that he's got so much to do that he won't have much time to think about me your affectionate brother Falk this letter which had arrived that morning had given Joan a great deal to think about it had touched her very deeply until now Falk had never shown that he had thought about her at all and now here he was depending on her and needing her help at the same time she had not the slightest guide as to her father's attitude Falk's name had not been mentioned in the house during these last weeks and although she realized that a new relationship was springing up between herself and her father she was still shy of him and conscious of a deep gulf between them she had to her own troubles and try as she might to beat under they came up again and again confronting her and demanding that she should answer them now she put the whole of that aside and concentrated on her father watching him during dinner he seemed to her suddenly to have become older there was a glow in her heart as she thought that at last he really needed her after all if through life she were destined to be an old maid and that in the tragic moment of her youth that was now upon her seemed her inevitable destiny here was someone for whom at last she could care she had felt before she came down to dinner that she was old and ugly and desperately unattractive across the dinner table she flung away as she imagined forever all hopes for beauty and charm she would love her father and he should love her and every other man in the world might vanish for all that she cared and had she only known it she had never before looked so pretty as she did that night this also she did not know that her mother catching a sudden picture of her under the candlelight felt a deep pang of almost agonizing Envy she making her last desperate bid for love was old and Haggard the years for her could only add to that age her gamblers throw was for doomed before she had made it after dinner Brandon as always retired into the deepest chair in the drawing-room and buried himself in yesterday's times he read a little but the words meant nothing to him jubilee jubilee jubilee he was sick of the word surely they were overdoing it when the great day itself came everyone would be so tired he pushed the paper aside and picked up punch here again that eternal word how to see the procession by one who has thought it out of course you must be out early as the traffic joke jinks don't meet you is so often as we used to banks at Pink's well no it don't run to hope Robox this season because you see we took a window for this year Jubilee then on one page the walrus and the carpenter' Jubilee version in anticipation of the naval review – to Belize on the next page and illustration of the Jubilee walrus on the next o the Jubilee on the next tobi mp's essence of parliament with a reed drawing of a naval field battery for the jubilee the paper fell from his hand during these last days he had had no time to read the paper and he had fancied as perhaps every poor castoreum was just then fancying that the Jubilee was a private affair for Paul Chester's own private benefit he felt suddenly that Paul Chester was a small out-of-the-way place of no account was there anyone in the world who cared whether Paul Chester celebrated the Jubilee or not nobody he got up and walked across to the window pulling the curtains aside and looking out at the deep purple dusk that stained the air like wine the clock behind him struck a quarter past nine to tiny stars like inquisitive mocking eyes winked at him above the high Western tower moved by an impulse that was too immediate and peremptory to be investigated he went into the hall found his hat and stick opened softly the door as though he were afraid that someone would try to stop him and was soon on the grass in front of the cathedral staring about him as though he had awakened from a bewildering dream he went across to the little side door found his key and entered the cathedral leaving the gargoyle to grin after him growing more alive and more malicious – with every fading moment of the light within the cathedral there was a strange shadowy glow as though behind the thick cold pillars lights were burning he found his way stumbling over the cane bottomed chairs that were piled in measured heaps in the side aisle into the nave even he used to it as he had been for so many years I was thrilled tonight there was a movement of preparation abroad through all the stillness there was the stir of life it seemed to him that the armored Knights and the high bosom ladies and the little Cupid's with their pursed lips and puffing cheeks and the angels with their two solid wings were watching him and breathing round him as he passed late though it was a dim light from the Great Eastern window fell in broad slabs of purple and green shadow across the gray everything was indistinct only the white marble of the rare dose was like a figured sheet hanging from wall to wall and the gilded trumpets of the angels on the choir screen stood out dimly like spider pattern he felt a longing that the place should return his love and tenderness the passion of his life was here he knew tonight as he had never before the life of its own that this place had and as he stayed there motionless in the center of the nave some doubt stole into his heart as to whether after all he and it were one and indivisible as for so long he had believed take this away and what was left to him his son had gone his wife and daughter were strange to him if this two went the sudden chill sense of loneliness was awful to him all those naked and sightless eyes staring from those embossed tombs were menacing scornful deriding he had never known such a mood and he wondered suddenly whether these last months had affected his brain he had never doubted during the last 10 years his power over this and its gratitude to him for what he had done now in this chill and green hewed air it seemed not to care for him at all he moved up into the choir and sat down in his familiar stall all that he could see his eyes seemed to be drawn by some will stronger than his own was the black bishops tomb the blue stone was black behind the gilded grating the figure was like a molded shell holding some hidden form the light died the purple and green faded from the nave the East window was dark only the white altar and the whiter shadows above it hovered thinner light against deeper gray as the light was withdrawn the Cathedral seemed to grow in height until Brandon felt himself Manute and the pillars sprang from the floor beneath em into unseen canopy distance he was cold he longed suddenly with a strange terror quite new to him for human company and stumbled up and hurried down the choir almost falling over the stone steps almost running through the long dark deserted nave he fancied that other steps echoed his own that voices whispered and that figures thronged beneath the pillars to watch him go it was as though he were expelled out in the evening air he was in his own world again he was almost tempted to return into the Cathedral to rid himself of the strange fancies that he had had so that they might not linger with him he found himself now on the farther side of the Cathedral and after walking a little way he was on the little narrow path that curved down through the green banks to the river behind him was the Cathedral to his right bodger Street and cannon jord in front of him the bending Hill the river and then the farther slips where the lights of the Gypsy encampment sparkled and shone here though air was lovely cool and soft and the stars were crowding into the summer sky in their myriads but his depression did not leave him nor his loneliness he longed for Falk with a great longing he could not hold out against the boy for very much longer but even then were the quarrel made up things would not now be the same Falk did not need him anymore he had new life new friends new work it's my nerves thought Brandon I will go and see puddi foot it seemed to him that someone and perhaps more than one had followed him from the Cathedral he turned sharply round as though he would catch somebody creeping up on em he turned round and saw Samuel Hogg standing there even an Archdeacon said Hogg Brandon said his voice shaking with anger what are you following me for following you Archdeacon yes following me I have noticed it often lately if you have anything to say to me write to me following you Lord no what makes you think of such a thing Archdeacon can't a feller enjoy the evening air on such a lovely night as this without being accused of following a gentleman you know that you are trying to annoy me Brandon had pulled himself up but his hatred of that grinning face with its purple veins its piercing eyes was working strongly upon his nerves so that his hands seemed to move towards it without his own impulsion you have been trying to annoy me for weeks now I'll stand you no longer if I have any more of this nuisance I'll put it into the hands of the police hog spat out complacently over the grass now that is an absurd thing he said smiling because a man's tired and want some air after his day's work he's accused of being a nuisance it's a bit thick that's what it is now tell Archdeacon and do you happen to have bought this here town because if so I should be glad to know it and so would a number of others too very well then said Brandon moving away if he won't go I will there's no need for temper that I can see said Hogg no call for it at all especially that we're a sort of relation now almost brothers seeing as how your son has married my daughter lower and lower lower and lower he was moving in a world now we're figures horrible obscene and foul could claim him could touch him had the right to follow him you will get nothing from me Brandon answered you are wasting your time wasting my time Hogg laughed not me I'm enjoying myself I don't want anything from you except just to see you sometime and have a little chat that's quite enough for me I've taken quite a liking to you Archdeacon which is as it should be between relations and often enough it is and so I like to see a proud gentleman like yourself mixing with such as me it's good for both of us as you might say Brandon's anger always dangerously uncontrolled Rose until it seemed to have the whole of his body in his grasp swaying at Epping and flowing with Swift powerful current through his heart into his brain now he could only see the flushed taunting face the little eyes but Hogg's hour was not yet he suddenly touched his cap smiling well good evening Archdeacon we'll be meeting again and he was gone as swiftly as the anger had flowed now it ebbs leaving him trembling shaking that strange sharp pain cutting his brain his heart seeming to leap into his head to beat there like a drum and to fall back with heavy thud into his chest again he stood waiting for calm he was humiliated desperately shamefully he could not go on here he must leave the place leave it be driven away by that scoundrel never he would face them all and show them that he was above and beyond their power but the Peace of the evening and the glory of the Stars gradually stole into his heart he had been wronged terribly wronged his pride his conceit had been destroying him with a sudden flash of revelation he saw it he had trusted in his own power put himself on a level with the God whom he served a rush of deep and sincere humility overwhelmed him he bowed his head and prayed some while later he turned up the path towards home the whole sky was now burnt with stars fires were a dull glow across the soft Gulf of grey the gypsy fires once and again a distant voice could be heard singing as he reached the corner of the Cathedral and was about to turn up to the precincts a strange sound reached his ears he stood where he was and listened at first he could not define what he heard then suddenly he realized quite close to him a man was sobbing there is something about the sounds of a man's grief that is almost indecent this sobbing was pitiful in its abandonment and in its effort to control and stifle Brandon looking more closely saw the dark shadow of a man's body pressed against the inside buttress of the corner of the cathedral wall the shadow crouched the body all drawn together as though folding in upon itself to hide its own agony Brandon endeavored to move softly up the path but his step crunched on some twigs and at the sharp noise the sobbing suddenly ceased the figure turned it was Morris the two men looked at one another for an instant then Morris still like a shadow vanished swiftly into the dusk end of book 3 chapter 2 you book 3 chapter 3 of the cathedral by Hugh Walpole this LibriVox recording is in the public domain chapter 3 Saturday June 19 the ball joan was in her bedroom preparing for the ball it was now only half past 6 and the ball was not until half past nine but mr. Mumford they'd be curled the be scented young assistant from the hairdresser's in the high street had paid his visit very early because he had so many other heads of so many other young ladies to dress in pole Chester that evening so Joan sat in front of the long looking-glass a towel still over her shoulders looking at herself in a state of ecstasy and delight it was wrong of her perhaps to feel so happy she felt that deep in her consciousness wrong with all the trouble in the house Falk gone and disgrace her father unhappy her mother so strange but tonight she could not help herself the excitement was spluttering and crackling all over the town the wonderful week upon which the whole country was entering the ball her own coming-out ball and the consciousness that he would be there and even though he did not love another would be sure to give her at least one dance these things were all too strong for her she was happy happy happy her eyes danced her toes danced her very soul danced for sheer delirious joy had anyone been behind her to look over her shoulder into the glass he would have seen the reflection in that mirror of one of the prettiest children the wide world could show especially child as she looked tonight with her dark hair piled high on her head her eyes wide with Wonder her neck and shoulders so delicately white and soft behind her on the bed was the dress on the dingy carpet a pair of shoes of silver tissue the loveliest thing she had ever had they were reflected in the mirror little blobs of silver and as she saw them the colour mounted still higher in her cheeks she had no right to them had not paid for them they were the first things that she had ever in all her life bought on credit neither her father nor her mother knew anything about them but she had seen them in Harriet's shop window and had simply not been able to resist them if after all she was to dance with him that made anything right where she sent to prison because she could not pay for them it would not matter she had done the only possible thing and so she looked into the mirror and saw the dark glitter in her hair and the red in her cheeks and the whiteness of her shoulders and the silver blobs of the little shoes and she was happy happy with an almost fearful ecstasy mrs. Brandon also was in her bedroom she was sitting on a high stiff-backed chair staring in front of her she had been sitting there now for a long time without making any movement at all she might have been a dead woman her thin hands with the sharply marked blue veins were clasped tightly on her lap she was feeding feverishly eagerly feeding upon the thought of Morris she would see him that evening they would talk together danced together their hands would burn as they touched they would say very little to one another they would long agonize for one another to be alone together to be far far away from everybody and they would be desperately unhappy she wondered in her strange kind of mouse in the trapped trance about that unhappiness was there to be no happiness for her anywhere was she always to want more than she got was all this passion now too late was it real at all was it not a fever a phantom a hallucination did she see Morris did she not rather see something that she must cease to slake her burning feverish thirst for one moment she had known happiness when her arms had gone around him and she had been able to console and comfort him but comfort him for how long was he not as unhappy as she and they not always be unhappy was he not weighed down by the sin that he had committed that he as he thought had caused her to commit at that she sprang up from the chair and paced the room murmuring aloud no no I did it my sin not his I will care for him watch over him watch over him care for him he must be glad she sank down by the bed burying her face in her hands Brandon was in his study finishing his letters but behind his application to the notes that he was writing his brain was moving like an animal stealthily investigating an unlighted house he was thinking of his wife and of himself even as he was writing and therefore it seems to me my dear royal that with regard to the actual hour of the service eight o'clock his inner consciousness was whispering to him how you miss Falk how lonely the house seems without him you thought you could get along without love didn't you or at least you were not aware that it played any very great part in your life but now that the one person whom you most sincerely loved is gone you see that it was not to be so simply taken for granted do you not love must be worked for sacrificed for cared for nourished and cherished you want someone to cherish now and you are surprised that you should so want yes there is your wife Amy Amy you had taken her also for granted but she is still with you there is time his wife was illuminated with tenderness he put down his pen and stared in front of him what he wanted and what she wanted was a holiday they had been too long here in this place that was what he needed that was the explanation of his headaches of his tempers of his obsession with Rhonda as soon as this Pippa st. Anthony affair was settled he would take his wife abroad just the two of them another honeymoon after all these years Greece Italy and who knows perhaps he would see Falk on his way through London returning Falk he had forgotten his letters staring in front of him tapping the table with his pen there was a knock on the door the maid said a lady to see you sir she says it's important and before he could ask her name someone else was in the room with him and the door was closed behind her he was puzzled for a moment as to her identity a rather seedy down at the heels looking woman she was wearing a rather crumpled white cotton dress she carried a pink parasol and on her head was a large straw hat overburdened with bright red roses ah yes of course miss Milton who was the librarian shabby she looked come down in the world he had always disliked her he resented now the way in which she had almost forced her way into his room she looked across at him through her funny half-closed eyes I beg your pardon Archdeacon Brandon she said for entering like this at what must be I fear an unseemly time my only excuse must be the urgency of my business I am very sorry miss Milton he said sternly it is quite impossible for me to see you just now on any business whatever if you will make an appointment with me in writing I will see what can be done at the sound of his voice her eyes closed still further I'm very sorry Archdeacon she said I think you would do well to listen to what I'm going to tell you he raised his head and looked at her at those words of her he had once again the sensation of being pushed down by strong heavy hands into some deep mire where he must have company with filthy crawling animals hog devrait and now this woman what do you mean he asked discussed thickening his voice what can you have to tell me she smiled she crossed the floor and came close to his desk her fingers were on the shabby bag that hung over her arm I was greatly puzzled she said as to what was the right thing to do I good and honest woman Archdeacon although I was ejected from my position most wrongfully by those that ought to have known better I have come down in the world through no fault of my own and there are thum who should be ashamed in their hearts of the way they've treated me however is not of them I've to speak today she paused Brandon drew back into his chair please tell me miss Milton your business as soon as possible I have much to do I will she breathed hard and continued certain information was placed in my hands and I found it very difficult to decide on the Justice of my course after some hesitation I went to Cannon Ronda knowing him to be a just man at the name Ron Durr the archdeacon's lips moved but he said nothing I showed him the information I had obtained I asked him what I should do he gave me advice which I followed he advised you to come to me miss Milton saw at once that a lie here would serve her well he advised me to come to you and give you this letter which in the true sense of the word belongs to you she fumbled with her bag opened it took out a piece of paper I must tell you she continued her eyes never for an instant leaving the archdeacon's face that this letter came into my hands by an accident I was in mr. Morris's house at the time and the letter was delivered to me by mistake mr. Morris Brandon repeated what has he to do with this affair miss Milton rubbed her gloved hands together mrs. Brandon she said has been very friendly with mr. Morris for a long time past the whole town has been talking of it the clock suddenly began to strike the hour no word was spoken then Brandon said very quietly leave this house miss Milton and never enter it again if I have any further trouble with you the police will be informed before I go Archdeacon said miss Milton also very quietly you should to see this letter I can assure you that I have not come here for mere words I have my conscience to satisfy like any other person I am not asking for anything in return for this information although I should be perfectly justified in such an action considering how monstrously I have been treated I give you this letter and you can destroy it at once my conscience will be satisfied if on the other hand you don't read it well there are others in the town who must see it he took the letter from her dearest I am sending this by a safe hand to tell you that I cannot possibly get down tonight I am so sorry and most dreadfully disappointed but I will explain everything when we meet tomorrow this is to prevent your waiting on when I'm not coming it was in his wife's handwriting dearest cannot possibly get down tonight in his wife's handwriting certainly yes his wife's and Rhonda had seen it he looked across at Miss Milton this is not my wife's handwriting he said you realize I hope in what a serious matter you have become involved by your hasty action he added not hasty she said poisoning her lips with her tongue not hasty Archdeacon I have taken much thought I don't know if I have already told you that I took the letter myself at the door from the hand of your own maid she has been to the library with books she is well known to me he must exercise enormous superhuman self-control that was his only thought the tide of anger was rising in him so terribly that it pressed against the skin of his forehead drawn tight and threatened to split it what he wanted to do was to rise and assault the woman standing in front of him his hands longed to take her they seemed to have life and volition of their own and to move across the table of their own accord he was aware to once more of some huge plot developing around him some supernatural plot in which all the elements – were involved Earth Sun and sky and also everyone in the town down to the smallest child there he seemed to see behind him just out of his sight a tall massive figure directing the plot a figure something like himself only with a heavy black beard cloudy without form they would catch him in their plot as in a net but he would escape them and he would escape them by wonderful calm and self-control and the absence of all emotion so that although his voice shook a little it was quietly that he repeated this is not my wife's handwriting you know the penalties for forgery then looking her full in the face he added penal servitude she smiled back at him I am sure Archdeacon that all I require is a full investigation these wicked at neces are going on in this town and those principally concerned should know I have only done what I consider my duty her eyes lingered on his face she savored now during these moments the revenge for which in all these months she had ceaselessly long he had moved but little he had not raised his voice but watching his face she had seen the agony pass like an entering guest behind his eyes that guest would remain she was satisfied I have done my duty Archdeacon and now I wish a good evening she gave a little bow and retired from the room softly closing the door behind her he sat there looking at the letter the Assembly Rooms seemed to move like a ship on a sunset sea hanging from the ceiling were the two great silver candelabra in some ways the most famous treasure that the town possessed fitted now with gas they were nevertheless so shaded that the light was soft and mellow round the room beneath the portraits of the town celebrities in their heavy gold frames the lights were hidden with shields of gold the wall were ivory white from the minstrels gallery flags with the arms of the town of the Cathedral of the saint Leith family fluttered once and again faintly in the minstrels gallery the band was playing just as it had played a hundred years ago The Shining floor was covered with moving figures everyone was there under the gallery surveying the world like Boadicea her faithful Britons was Lady Saint Leith her white hair piled high above her pink baby face that had the inquiring haughty expression of a cockatoo wondering whether it was being offered a lump of sugar or an insult on either side of her sat two of her daughters Lady Rose and Lady Mary plain and patient near her in a complacent chattering row were some of the more important of the cathedral and County set there were the Marriott's from my Mapledurham fat sixty and amiable old Colonel Wow Thurston who had fought in the Crimea Sir Henry biles with his large purple nose little major garnet the kindest bachelor in the county the Marquesas who had more pedigree than pennies mrs. Sampson and bright lilac and an especially bad attack of neuralgia mrs. Combermere sheath in cloth of gold and very jolly mrs. rile humble and gray silk Ellen Styles and cherry color mrs. Troodon and mrs. Forrester and mrs. Darcy their chins nearly touching over eager confidences dr. puddi foot still breathless from his last dance then take major tapping with his patent-leather toe the floor eager to be added again Branston the mayor and mrs. Branston uncomfortable in a kind of dog collar of diamonds mrs. Preston searching for nobility Canon Martin Denison the headmaster of the school and many others it was just then a polka and of the tune was so alluring so entrancing that the whole world rose and fell with its rhythm and where was Joan Joan was dancing with the Reverend Rex Forsyte the host incumbent of Pippa st. Anthony had anyone told her a week ago that she would dance with the elegant mr. Forsyte before a gathering of all the most notable people of pol Chester and southern cleave sure and would so dance without a tremor she would have derided her informant but what cannot excitement and Happiness do she knew that she was looking nice she knew that she was dancing as well as anyone else in the room and Johnny Saint Leith had asked her for two dances and then wanted more and wanted these with the beautiful Clare jaboney all radiant and silver standing close beside him what then could all the four sites in the world matter nevertheless he was elegant very smart indeed rather like a handsome young horse groomed for a show his voice had a little neigh in it as he talked over her shoulder he gave a little whinny of pleasure she found it very difficult to think of him as a clergyman at all you should see me dance the Polka aramta Rome tada yes she should and he should and he was very pleasant when he did not talk you danced very well miss Brandon thank you this is my first ball who would think that Toronto rum Tatara jolly tune she caught glimpses of everyone as she went around mrs. come Vermeer's cloth-of-gold lady st. lieth white hair poor Lady Mary such a pity that they could not do something for her complexion spotty Joan liked her she did much good to the poor incy town and it must be agony to her poor thing to go down there because she was so terribly shy her next dance was with Johnny she called him Johnny and why should she not secretly to herself ah there was mother all alone and there was mr. Morris coming up to speak to her kind of him but he was a kind man she liked him very shy though all the nicest people seemed to be shy except Johnny who wasn't shy at all then stopped and breathless they stayed for a moment before finding two chairs now was coming the time that she so greatly disliked whatever to say to mr. Forsyte they sat down in the long passage outside the ballroom the floor ran like a ribbon from under their feet into dem shining distance or rather Joan thought it was like a stream and on either side the dancers were sitting dabbling their toes and looking self-conscious do you like it where you are Joan asked of the shining black silk waistcoat that gleamed beside her oh you know neighed mr. Forsyte it's all right you know the old bishop's kind enough Bishop clematis said Joan yes there ain't enough to do you know but I don't expect I'll be there alone no I don't pity poor Morrison at Pibb is dying like that Joan of course at once understood the allusion she also understood that mr. Forsyte was begging her to bestow upon him any little piece of news that she might have obtained but that seemed to her mean spying spying on her own father so she only said you're very fond of writing aren't you love it said mr. Forsyte whinnying so exactly like a happy pony that Joan jumped don't you I've never been on horseback in my life said Joan I'd like to try never in your life mr. Forsyte stared why I was on a pony before I was three fact good for a clergyman writing I think it's nearly time for the next dance said Joan would you kindly take me back to my mother she was conscious as they plunged downstream of all the burning glances she held her head high her eyes flashed she was going to dance with Johnny and they could look as much as they liked mr. Forsyte delivered her to her mother and went cantering off Joan sat down smooth her dress and stared at the vast shiny lake of amber in which the silver candelabra were reflected like little islands she looked at her mother and was suddenly sorry for her it must be dull when you were as old as mother coming to these dances and especially when you had so few friends her mother had never made many friends wasn't that mr. Morris who was talking to you just now yes dear I like him he looks kind yes dear and where's father over there talking to lady st. Leif she looked across and there he was so big and tall and fine so splendid in his grand clothes her heart swelled with pride isn't he splendid mother dear who father splendid yes doesn't he look splendid tonight better-looking than all the rest of the room put together Johnny wasn't good looking better than good looking oh look splendid yes he's a very handsome man John felt once again that little chill with which she was so often familiar when she talked with her mother a sudden withdrawal of sympathy a pushing Joan away with her hand but never mind there was the music again and here oh here was Johnny someone had once called him tubby in her hearing and how indignant she had been he was perhaps a little on the fat side but strong with it she went off with him the waltz began she sank into sweet delicious waters waters that rocked and cradled her hugged her and caressed her she was conscious of his arm she did not speak nor did he years of utter happiness past he did not take her as mr. Forsyte had done into the public glare of the passage but up a crooked staircase behind the minstrels gallery into a little room cool and shaded wherein easy-chairs they were quite alone he was shy fingering his gloves she said just to make conversation how beautiful mr. Bonney is looking do you think so said Johnny I don't I'm sick of that girl she's the most awful bore mother's always shoving her at my head she's been staying with us for months she wants me to marry her because she's rich but we've got plenty and I won't marry her anyway not if we hadn't a penny because she's a bore and because his voice became suddenly loud and commanding I'm going to marry you something some lovely bird of paradise some splendid colored breeze some carpet of magic pattern came and swung Joan up to a high tree loaded with golden apples and there she swung singing her heart out Johnny's voice came up to her because I'm going to marry you what she called down to him I'm going to marry you I knew it from the very first second I saw you that day after the Cathedral from the very first moment I knew it I wanted to ask you right away at once but I thought I'd do the thing properly so I went away and I've been in Paris and Rome and all over the place and I thought of you the whole time every minute then mother made a fuss about this daubeny girl my not being here and all that so I thought I'd come home and tell you I was going to marry you oh but you can't Joan swung down from her apple tree you and me why what would your mother say it isn't a case of wood but we'll Johnny said mother will be very angry and for a considerable time but that makes no difference mother's mother and I'm myself it's impossible said Joan quickly from every point of view do you know what my brother has done I'm proud of Falk and loved him but your Lord Saint Leith and Falk has married the daughter of hog the man who keeps a public house down in Si town I heard of that said Johnny but what does that matter do you know what I did last year I crossed the Atlantic as a stoker in a Cunard boat mother never knew until I got back and wasn't she furious but the world's changing there isn't going to be any class differences soon none at all you take my word look at the Americans there the people will be like them one day but what's all this he suddenly said I'm going to marry you and you're going to marry me you love me don't you yes said Joan faintly well then I knew you did I'm going to kiss you he put his arms round her and kissed her very gently oh how I love you he said and how good I'll be to you but we must be practical said Joan wildly how can we marry everything's against it I've no money I'm nobody your mother now you must leave my mother alone leave me to manage her I know all about that I won't be engaged to you said Joan firmly not for ages and ages not for a year anyway that's all right said Johnny indifferently you can settle it any way you please but no one's going to marry you but me and no one's going to marry me but you he would have kissed her again but mrs. Preston and a young man came in now you shall come and speak to my mother he said to her as they went out there's nothing to be afraid of just say bow to her as you would to a goose and she'll answer alright you won't say anything began Joan about us alright that's a secret for the present but we shall meet every day and if there's a day we don't meet you've got to write do you agree whether she agreed or no was uncertain because they were now in a cloud of people and a moment later were face-to-face with the old countess she was pleased it at once appeared she was in a gracious mood people had been pleasant enough that is they had been obsequious and flattering also her digestion was behaving properly those new pills that old puddi foot had given her were excellent she therefore received Joan very graciously congratulated her on her appearance and asked her where her elder sister was when Joan explained that she had no sister Lady st. Leath appeared vexed with her as though it had been a piece of obvious impertinence on her part not to produce a sister instantly when she had asked for one however Lady Mary was kind and friendly and made Jones sit beside her for a little Joan thought I'd like to have you for a sister one day if if ever and allowed her thoughts to go no farther thence she passed into the company of mrs. Combermere and Ellen Styles it seemed to her but it was probably her fancy that as she came to them they were discussing something that was not for her ears it seemed to her that they swiftly changed the conversation and greeted her with quite an unusual warmth of affection for the first time that evening a sudden little chill of foreboding whence she knew not seemed to touch her and shade for an instant her marvellous happiness mrs. Combermere was very sweet to her indeed quite as though she had been but now recovering from an alarming illness her bass voice strong thick hands and stiff wiry hair went so in Congress Lee with her cloth of gold that Joan could not help smiling you look very happy My dear mrs. Combermere said of course I am said Joan how can I help it my first ball mrs. Combermere kicked her trailing garments with her foot just like a dame in a pantomime well enjoy yourself as long as you can you're looking very pretty the prettiest girl in the room I've just been saying so to Ellen haven't I Ellen Ellen Styles was at that moment making herself agreeable to the mayor s who was sitting lonely and uncomfortable weighed down with longing for sleep on a little gilt chair I was just saying to mrs. Branston miss style said turning round that the time one has to be careful with children after whooping cloth is when they seem practically well her little boy has just been ill with it and she says he's recovered but that's the time as I tell her when nine out of ten children died just when you think you're safe oh dear said mrs. Branston turning towards them her full anxious eyes you do alarm NEMA Stiles and I've been letting Tommy quite loose as you may say these last few days with his appetite back and all that there seemed no danger well if you find him feverish when you get home tonight said Ellen don't be surprised all the excitement of the Jubilee – will be very bad for him at that moment ken and Rhonda came up Joan looked and at once at the site of the round gleaming spectacles the smiling mouth the full cheeks puffed out as though he were blowing perpetual bubbles for his own amusement felt her old instinct of repulsion this man was her father's enemy and so hers all the town knew now that he was trying to ruin her father so that he might take his place that he laughed at him and mocked him so fierce did she feel that she could have scratched his cheeks he was smiling at them all and at once was engaged in a wordy duel with mrs. Gomberg mir and miss Stiles they liked him everyone in the town liked him she heard his praises sung by everyone well she would never sing them she hated him and now he was actually speaking to her he had the impertinence to ask her for a dance I'm afraid I'm engaged for the next and for the one after that cannon Rhonda she said well later on then he said smiling what about an extra her dark eyes scorned him we are going home early she said she pretended to examine her program I'm afraid I have not won before we go she spoke as coldly as she dared she felt the eyes of mrs. Combermere and Ellen Stiles upon her how stupid of her she had shown them what her feelings were and now they would chatter the more and laugh about her fighting her father's battles why had she not shown her indifference her complete indifference he was smiling still not discomforted by her rudeness he said something something polite and outrageously kind and then young Charles Darcy came up to carry her off for the Lancers an hour later her cup of happiness was completely filled she had danced during that our four times with Johnny everyone must be talking ladies ain't Leith must be furious she did not know that Boadicea had been playing whist with old colonel whether stone and Sir Henry biles for the last ever so long she would perhaps never have such an hour in all her life again this thing that he so wildly proposed was impossible utterly completely impossible but what was not impossible what was indeed certain and sure and beyond any sort of question was that she loved Johnny Saint Leith with all her heart and soul and would so love him until the day of her death life could never be purposeless nor mean nor empty for her again while she had that treasure to carry about with her in her art meanwhile she could not look at him and doubt but that for the moment at any rate he loved her and there was something simple and direct about Johnny as there was about his dog Andrew that made his words few and clumsy though they might be most strangely convincing so almost dizzy with happiness she climbed the stair behind the gallery and thought that she would escape for a moment into the little room where Johnny had proposed to her and sit there and grow calm she looked in someone was there a man sitting by himself and staring in front of him she saw at once that he was in some great trouble his hands were clenched his face puckered and set with pain then she saw that it was her father he did not move he might have been a block of stone shining and the dimness terrified she stood herself not moving then she came forward she put her hand on his shoulder Oh father father what is it she felt his body trembling beneath her touch he the proudest finest man in the country she put her arm around his neck she kissed him his forehead was damp with sweat his body was shaking from head to foot she kissed him again and again kneeling beside him then she remembered where they were someone might come no one must see him like that she whispered to him took his hands between ears let's go home Joan he said I want to go home she put her arm through his and together they went down the little stairs end of book 3 chapter 3 book 3 chapter 4 of the cathedral by Hugh Walpole this LibriVox recording is in the public domain chapter 4 Sunday June 20 in the bedroom Brandon had been talking to the presenter at the far end of the ballroom when suddenly Rhonda had appeared in their midst appeared the only word and Brandon armored he had thought for every terror that that night might bring to him had been suddenly seized with the lust of murder a lust as dominating as any other that swept upon him in a hot flaming tide lapping him from head to foot it was no matter this time of words of senses of thoughts but of his possession by some other man who filled his brain his eyes his mouth his stomach his heart one second more and he would have flung himself upon that smiling face those rounded lens he would have caught that white throat and squeezed it squeezed squeezed the room literally swam in a tide of impulse that carried him against Rhonda's body and left him there breast beating against breast he turned without a word and almost ran from the place he passed through the passages seeing no one conscious of neither voices nor eyes climbing stairs that he did not feel sheltering in that lonely little room sitting there his hands to his face shuddering the lust slowly withdrew from him leaving him icy cold then he lifted his eyes and saw his daughter and clung to her as just then he would have clung to anybody for safety had it come to this then that he was mad all that night lying on his bed he surveyed himself that was the way that men murdered no longer could he claim control or mastery of his body God had deserted him and given him over to Devils his son his wife and now God his loneliness was terrible and he could not think he must think about this letter and what he should do he could not think at all he was given over to the devil's after Matins in the cathedral next day one thought came to him he would go and see the bishop the bishop had come in from carpal tonneau Jubilee celebrations and was staying at the Deanery Brandon spoke to him for a moment after Matins and asked him whether he might see him for half an hour in the afternoon on a matter of great urgency the bishop asked him to come at three o'clock seated in the dean's library with its old-fashioned coziness its bookshelves and the familiar books the cases between the high windows of his precious butterflies Brandon felt for the first time for many days a certain calm descend upon him the bishop looking very frail and small in the big armchair received him with so warm an affection that he felt in spite of his own age like the old man's son milord he began with difficulty moving his big limbs in his chair like a restless schoolboy it isn't easy for me to come today there's no one in the world I could speak to except yourself I find it difficult even to do that my son said the bishop gently I am a very very old man I cannot have many more months to live when one is as near to death as I am one loves everything and everybody because one is going so soon you needn't be afraid and in his heart he must have wondered at the change in this man who threw so many years now had come to him with so much self-confidence and assurance I have had much trouble lately Brandon went on but I would not have bothered you with that knowing as I do all that you have to consider just now were it not that for the first time in my life I seem to have lost control and to be heading toward some great disaster that may bring scandal not only on myself but on the church as well tell me your trouble said the bishop nine months ago I seem to be at the very height of my powers my happiness my usefulness Brandon paused was it really only nine months back that other time I had no troubles I was confident in myself my health was good my family were happy I seemed to have many friends then suddenly everything changed I don't want to seem false milord and anything that I may say but it was literally as though in the course of a night all my happiness forsook me it began with my boy being sent down from Oxford I have only one boy as I think your lordship knows he was he is in spite of what has happened very dear to me Brandon paused yes I know said the bishop after that everything began to go wrong little things tiny little things one after another someone came to this town who almost at once seemed to put himself into opposition to me Brandon paused once more the bishop said again yes I know at first Brandon went on I didn't realize this I was preoccupied with my work it had never at any time in my life seemed to me healthy to consider about other people's minds what they were thinking or imagining there is quite enough work to do in the world without that but soon I was forced to consider this man's opposition to me it came before me in a thousand little ways the attitude of the chapter changed to me especially noticeable at one of the chapter meetings I don't want to make my story so long the Lord that it will tire you to cut it short a day came when my boy ran off to London with a town girl the daughter of the landlord of one of the more disreputable public houses that was a terrible devastating blow to me I have quite literally not been the same man since I was determined not to allow it to turn me from my proper work I still love the boy he had not behaved dishonorably to the girl he has now married her and is earning his living in London if that had been the only blow he stopped cleared his throat and turning excitedly towards the bishop almost shouted but it is not it is not milord my enemy has never ceased his plots for one instant it was he who advised my boy to run off with this girl he has turned the whole town against me they laugh at me and mock me and now he now he he could not for a moment find breath he exercised an impulse of almost superhuman self-control bringing his body visibly back into bounds again he went on more quietly we are in opposite camps over this matter of the Pippa's living we are in opposition over almost every question that arises here he is an able man I must do him that justice he can plot he can scheme whereas I Brandon beat his hands at desperately on his knees it is not only this man he cried not only this it is as though there were some larger conspiracy something from heaven itself God has turned his face away from me when I have served him faithfully all my days no one has served him more wholeheartedly than I he has been my only thought his glory my only purpose nine months ago I had health I had friends I had honour I had my family now my health is going my friends have forsaken me I am mocked at by the lowest men in the town my son has left me my my he broke off bending his face in his hands the bishop said my dear friend you are not alone in this we have all been tried like this tested tested brandon broke out why should I be tested what have I done in all my life that is not acceptable to God what sin have I committed what disloyalty have I shown but there is something more that I must tell you my lord the reason why I have come you today Kenan Rhonda and I you must have known of whom I have been speaking had a violent quarrel one afternoon on the way home after luncheon with you at carpal tonneau this quarrel became in one way or another the town's property Rhonda affected to like me but it was impossible now for him to hide his real intentions towards me this thing began to be an obsession with me I tried to prevent this I knew what the danger of such obsessions can be but there was something else my wife he paused went on my wife and I my lord have lived together in perfect happiness for twenty years at least it had seemed to me to be perfect happiness she began to behave strangely she was not herself undoubtedly the affair of our son disturbed her desperately she seemed to avoid me to escape from me when she could this coming with my other troubles made me feel as though I were in some horrible dream as though the very furniture of our home and the appearance of the streets were changing I began to be afraid sometimes that I might be going mad I have had bad headaches that have made it difficult for me to think then only last night a woman brought me a letter I wish you most earnestly to believe milord that I believe my wife to be absolutely loyal to me loyal in every possible sense of the word the letter purported to be in her handwriting and in this matter also Canon Rhonda had had some hand the woman admitted that she had been first to ganon Rhonda and that he had advised her to bring it to me the bishop made a movement you will of course say nothing of this milord again and Rhonda I have come privately to ask your prayers for me and to have your counsel I am making no complaint against Kannan Rhonda I must see this thing through by myself but last night when my mind was filled with this letter I found myself suddenly next to ganon Rhonda and I had a murderous impulse that was so fierce and sudden in its power that I he broke off shuddering then cried suddenly stretching out his hands oh my lord pray for me pray for me help me I don't know what to do I'm given over to the powers of Hell a long silence followed then the bishop said you have asked me to say nothing to cannon Rhonda and of course I must respect your competence but the first thing that I would say to you is that I think that what you have feared has happened that you have allowed this thought of him to become an obsession to you the ways of God are mysterious and past are finding out but all of us in our lives have known that time when everything was suddenly turned against us our work those whom we love our health even our belief in God himself my dear dear friend I myself have known that several times in my life once when I was a young man I lost an appointment on which my whole heart was set and lost it as it seemed through an extreme injustice it turned out afterwards that my losing that was one of the most fortunate things for me once my dear wife and I seemed to lose all our love for one another and I was assailed with most desperate temptation and the end of that was that we loved and understood one another as we had never done before once and that this was the most terrible period of my life and it continued over a long time I lost as it seemed completely all my faith in God I came out of that believing only in the beauty of Christ's life clinging to that and saying to myself such a friend have I then life is not all lost to me and slowly gradually I came back into touch with him and knew him as I had never known him before and through him once again God the Father and now even in my old age temptation is still with me I long to die I am tempted often to look upon men and women as shadows that have no longer in a connection with me I am very weak and feeble and I wish to sleep but the love of God continues and through Jesus Christ the love of men it is the only truth love of God love of man the rest is fantasy and unreality look up my son bear this with patience God is standing at your shoulder and will be with you to the end this is training for you to show you perhaps that all through life you have missed the most important thing you are learning through this trouble your need of others your need to love them and that they should love you the only lesson worth learning in life the bishop came over to Brandon and put his hand on his head strange peace came into Brandon's heart not from the old man's word but from the contact with him the touch of his thin trembling hand the room was filled with peace Rhonda was suddenly of little importance the cathedral faded for a time he rested for the rest of that day until evening that peace stayed with him with it still in his heart he came late that night into their bedroom mrs. Brandon was in bed awake staring in front of her not moving he sat down in the chair beside the bed stretched out his hand and took hers Amy dear he said I want us to have a little talk her little hand lay still and hot in his large cool one I've been very unhappy he went on with difficulty lately about you I have seen that you yourself are not happy I want you to be I will do anything that is in my power to make you so you would not she said without looking at him have trouble to think of me had not your own private affairs gone wrong and had not fought left us the sound of her hostility irritated him against his will he beat the irritation down he felt suddenly very tired quite exhausted he had an almost irresistible temptation to go down into his dressing room lie on his sofa there and go instantly to sleep that's not quite fair ami he said but we won't dispute about that I want to know why after are being happy for 20 years something now has come in between us or seems to have done so I want to clear that away if I can so that we can be as we were before be as they were before at the strange ludicrous irony of that phrase she turned on her elbow and looked at him stared at him as though she could not see enough of him why do you think that there is anything the matter she asked softly almost gently why of course I can see he said holding her hand more tightly as though the sudden gentleness in her voice had touched him when one has lived with someone a long time he went on rather awkwardly one notices things of course I've seen that you were not happy and Falk leaving us in that way must have made you very miserable it made me miserable too he added suddenly stroking her hand a little she could not bear that and very quietly withdrew her hand did it really hurt you Fulks going she asked still staring it in her to me he cried staring back at her in other astonishment hurt me why why then why she went on didn't you go up to London after him the question was so entirely unexpected that he could only repeat what why oh well it doesn't matter now she said wearily turning away perhaps I did wrong I think perhaps I've done wrong in many ways during these last years I am seeing many things for the first time the truth is I have been so absorbed in my work that I thought of nothing else I took it too much for granted that you were happy because I was happy and now I want to make it right I do indeed Amy tell me what's the matter she said nothing he waited for a long time her immobility always angered him he said at last more impatiently please tell me Amy what have you against me I have nothing against you then why are things wrong between us are things wrong you know they are ever since that morning when you wouldn't come down to Holy Communion I was tired that morning it is more than tiredness he said with sudden impatience beating upon the counterpane with his fists Amy you're not behaving fairly you must talk to me I insist on it she turned once more towards him what is it you want me to say why you're unhappy but if I am NOT unhappy you are but suppose I say that I am NOT you are you are you are he shouted at her very well then I am why are you who is happy really at any rate for more than a moment only very thoughtless and silly people you're putting me off he took her hand again I'm to blame Amy to blame in many ways but people are talking she snatched her hand away people talking who but as though that mattered it does matter it has gone far much farther than I thought she looked at him then quickly and turned her face away again who's talking and what are they saying they are saying he broke off what were they saying until the arrival of that horrible letter he had not realized that they were saying anything at all don't think for a single moment Amy that I pay the slightest attention to any of their talk I would not have bothered you with any of this had it not been for something else of which I'll speak in a moment if everything is right between us between you and me then it doesn't matter if the whole world talks until it's blue in the face leave it alone then she said let them talk her indifference stung him she didn't care then whether things were right between himself and her or no it was the same to her she cared so little for him that sudden realization struck him so sharply that it was as though someone had hit him in the back for many years he had taken it for granted taken something for granted that was not to be so taken very dimly someone was approaching him that dark misty gigantic figure blotting out the light from the windows that figure was becoming a day by day more closely his companion looking at her now more intently and with a new urgency he said someone brought me a letter Amy they said it was a letter of yours she did not move nor stir then after a long silence she said let me see it he felt in his pocket and produced it she stretched out her hand and took it she read it through slowly you think that I wrote this she asked no I know that you did not to whom was it supposed to be written to Morris of st. James she nodded her head oh yes we're friends that's why they chose him of course it's a forgery she added a very clever one what I don't understand he said eagerly at his heart the strangest relief that he did not dare to stop to analyze is why anyone should have troubled to do this the risk the danger you have enemies she said of course you know that people who are jealous one enemy he answered fiercely Rhonda the woman had been to him with this letter before she came to me the woman what woman the woman who brought it to me was a Miss Milton a wretched creature who was once at the library and she had been with this to Canon Ron der before she came to you yes ah then she said very quietly and what do you mean to do about the letter I will do whatever you wish me to do what I would like to do is to leave no step on taken to bring the authors of this forgery to justice no step I will know she broke in quickly it is much better to leave it alone what good can it do to follow it up it only tells everyone about it we should despise it the thing is so obviously false why you can see suddenly holding the letter towards him it isn't even like my writing my s's my M's they're not like that no no he said eagerly I see that they are not I saw that at once you knew at once that it was a forgery I knew at once I never doubted for an instant she sighed then settled back into the pillow with a little shudder this town she said the things they do Oh to get away from it to get away and we will he cried eagerly that's what we need both of us a holiday I've been thinking it over we're both tired when this Jubilee is over we'll go abroad Italy Greece we'll have a second honeymoon Oh Amy we'll begin life again I've been much to blame much to blame give me that letter I'll destroy it I know my enemy but I'll not think of him or of anyone but our two selves I'll be good to you now if you'll let me she gave him the letter look at it before you tear it up she said staring at him as though she would not miss any change in his features you're sure that it is a forgery why of course it's nothing like my handwriting nothing at all you know that I am devoted to you that I would never be untrue to you and thought word or deed why of course of course as though I didn't know and that I'll love to come abroad with you yes yes and that we'll have a second honeymoon yes yes indeed Amy we will look well at that letter you are wrong it is not a forgery I did write it he did not answer her but stayed staring at the letter like a boy detected in a theft she repeated the woman was quite right I did write that letter Brandon said staring at her don't laugh at me this is too serious I'm not laughing I wrote it I sent it down by Gladys if you recall the day to her she'll remember she watched his face it had turned suddenly gray as though someone had slipped a gray mask over the original features she thought now perhaps he'll kill me I'm not sorry he whispered leaning quite close to her as though he were afraid she would not hear you wrote that letter to Morris I did then suddenly springing up half out of bed she cried you're not to touch him do you hear you're not to touch him it's not his fault he's had nothing to do with this he's only my friend I love him but he doesn't love me do you hear he's had nothing to do with this you love him whispered Brandon I've loved him since the first moment I saw him I've wanted someone to love for years years and years and years you didn't love me so then I hoped Falk would and Falk didn't so then I found the first person anyone who would be kind to me and he was kind he is kind the kindest man in the world and he saw that I was lonely so that he let me talk to him and go to him but none of this is his doing he's only been kind he your letter says dearest said Brandon if you wrote that letter it says dearest that was my foolishness it was wrong of me he told me that I mustn't say anything affectionate he's good and I'm bad and I'm bad because you've made me Brandon took the letter and tore it into little pieces they scattered upon the counterpane you've been unfaithful to me he said to bending over her she did not shrink back although that strange unknown grey face was very close to her yes at first he wouldn't he refused anything but I would I wanted to be I hate you I've hated you for years why his hand closed on her shoulder because of your conceit and pride because you've never thought of me because I've always been a piece of furniture to you less than that because you've been so pleased with yourself and self-satisfied and stupid yes yes most because you're so stupid so stupid never seeing anything never knowing anything and always so satisfied and when the town was pleased with you and said you were so fine I've laughed knowing what you were and I thought to myself they'll come a time when they'll find him out and now they have they know what you are at last and I'm glad I'm glad I'm glad she stopped her breasts rising and falling beneath her nightdress her voice shrill almost a scream he put his hands on her thin bony shoulders and pushed her back into the bed his hands moved to her throat his whole weight he now kneeling on the bed was on top of her kill me kill me she whispered I'll be glad all the while their eyes stared at one another inquisitively as though they were strangers meeting for the first time his hands met around her throat his knees were over her he felt her thin throat between his hands and a voice in his ear whispered that's right squeeze tighter splendid splendid suddenly his eyes recognized hers his hands dropped he crawled from the bed then he felt his way blindly out of the room end of book 3 chapter 4


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