Cathedral | Hugh Walpole | Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction | Audio Book | English | 8/9

Cathedral | Hugh Walpole | Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction | Audio Book | English | 8/9

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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 5 of the cathedral by Hugh Walpole this LibriVox recording is in the public domain chapter 5 Tuesday June 22 1 the Cathedral the great day arrived escorted sumptuously with skies of burning blue how many heads looked out of how many windows the country over that morning in poll Chester it was considered as only another proof of the esteem in which that City was held by the Almighty the old lady might deserve and did unquestionably obtain divinely condescending weather for her various excursions but it was nothing to that which the old town got and deserved deserved or no the town rose to the occasion the High Street was swimming in flags and bunting even in sea town most of the grimy windows showed those little cheap flags that during the past week hawkers had been so industriously selling from quite early in the morning the squeak and scream of the roundabouts in the fair could be heard dimly penetrating the sanctities and privacies of the precincts but it was the cathedral bells pealing crashing echoing rocking as early as nine o'clock in the morning that first awoke the consciousness of most of the pole cast Rian's to the glories of the day I suppose that nearly all souls that morning subconsciously divided the order of the festival into three periods in the morning the cathedral and its service in the afternoon the social friendly man-to-man celebration and in the evening torchlight bonfire skies ablaze drink and love certain it is that many eyes turned towards the cathedral accustomed for many years to look in quite other directions there was to be a grand service they said with trumpets and schaum's and the big drum and the old Bishop preaching making in all probability his very last public appearance up from the dark mysteries of see town down from the chaste proprieties of the villas of Orange Street from the Purdue of the market from the shops of the high street sailors and merchants men traders and sea captains and from the wild fastness of the fair gypsies with silver rings in their ears and perhaps who can tell bells on their dusky toes very early were Lawrence and kabat about their duties this was in all probability Lawrence's last great day before the final and all judging won and well both he and kabat were aware of it Kabat could see himself that morning almost stepping into the old man shoes and the old man himself was not well this morning not well at all rheumatism gout what hadn't he got and above all that strange mysterious pain somewhere in his very vitals a pain that was not precisely a pain too dull and homely for that but a warning a foreboding on an ordinary day in spite of his dislike of allowing Cobb at any of those duties that were so properly his own he would have stayed in bed but today no thank you on such a day as this he would defy the devil himself and all his red hot pincers so there he was in his long purple gown with his lovely snow white beard and his gold topped staff patronizing mrs. Moffat who superintended the cleaning and her ancient servitors seeing that the places for the band just under the choir screen and for the extra members of the choir were all in order and above all that the Bishop's thrown up by the altar was guiltless of a speck of dust of a shadow of a shadow of disorder Kabat saw beyond any question or doubt death in the old man's face and suddenly to his own amazement was sorry for years now he had been waiting for the day when he should succeed the tiresome old fool for years he had cursed him for a thousand pomposity 'he's blunders tedious gorilla tease and now suddenly he was sorry what had come over him but he wasn't a bad old man plucky – you could see how he was suffering they had after all been companions together for so many years quite early in the morning arrivals began visitors from the country most likely sitting there in the back of the nave bathed in the great silence and the dim light just looking and wondering and expecting some of them wanted to move about and examine the brasses and the tombs and the windows yes move about with their families and their bags of sandwiches and their oranges but not this morning oh dear no they could come in or go out but if they came in they must stay quiet did they but subterranea Slee giggle Kabat was on their tracks in no time the light flooded in throwing great splashes and lakes of blue and gold and purple on to flag and pillar great in its strength magnificent in its beauty the cathedral prepared mrs. Combermere walked rather solemnly that morning from her house to the cathedral in spite of the lovely morning she was feeling suddenly old things like Jubilees due-date you no doubt about it nearly fifty three quarters of life behind her and what had she to show for it an unlucky marriage much physical health and fun some friends but at the last lonely lonely as perhaps every human being in this queer world was that old woman now preparing to ride in fantastic procession before her worshipping subjects she was lonely too poor little lonely old woman well then charity to all and sundry charity kind leanness the one and only thing Agee Combermere was not a sentimental woman nor did she see life falsely but she was suddenly aware walking under the blazing blue sky that she had been unkind for amusement sake more often than she need well why not she was ready to allow people to have a shy at herself anyone who liked you are old Aunt Sally three she is a penny and she was an Aunt Sally a ludicrous creature caring for her dogs more than for any living creature shoveling food into her mouth for no particular purpose doing physical exercises in the morning and nearly 50 she found then just as she reached the Arden gate that to her own immense surprise it was not of herself that all this time she had been thinking but rather of Brandon and the Brandon family the Brandon's what an extraordinary affair the town was now bursting its fat sides with excitement over at all the town was now generally aware but how it was aware no one quite knew that there was a mysterious letter that mrs. Brandon had written to Morris and that miss Milton librarian who was had obtained this letter and had taken it to Rhonda and the next move the next the next Oh tell us tell us the town stands on tiptoe its hair on end let us see let us see let us not miss the tiniest detail of this extraordinary affair and how really extraordinary first the boy runs off with that girl then mrs. Brandon the quietest dullest woman for years and years throws her cap over the mill and behaves like a mad woman and Johnny st. Leif they say is in love with the daughter and his old mother is furious and Brandon they say wants to cut Rhonda's throat Rhonda mrs. Combermere paused partly to get her breath partly to enjoy for an instant the shining glittering grass dotted with figures stretching like a carpet from the vast greyness of the cathedral Ron der there was a remarkable man mrs. Combermere was conquered by him in spite of herself how in seven short months he had conquered everybody what an amusing talker what a good preacher what a clever business head and yet she did not really like him his praises now were in everyone's mouth but she did not really like old brandon was still her favorite her old friend of 10 years but there was no doubt that he was behind the times Rhonda had shown them that no use living in the 80s any longer but she was fond of him she did not want him to be unhappy and unhappy he was that anyone could see most of all she did not want him to do anything foolish and he might his temper was strange he was not so strong as he looked he had felt his sons escapades terribly and now his wife well if I had a wife like that was mrs. Vermeer's conclusion before she joined Ellen Styles and Julia Preston I'd let her go off with anyone pay anyone to take her Ellen was of course full of it all my dear what do you think is the latest they say that the Archdeacon threatens to poison the whole of the chapter if they don't let foresight have pivots and that boded Isha has ordered Johnnie to take a voyage to the Canary Islands for his health and that he says he'll see her shot first and Miss Milton is selling the letter for a thousand pounds to the first comer miss Combermere stopped her sharply mind your own business Ellen the whole thing now is past a joke and as to Johnny Saint Leith he shows his good taste there isn't a sweeter prettier girl in England than Joan Brandon and he's lucky if he gets her I don't want to be ill-natured said Ellen Styles rather plaintively but that family would test anyone's reticence we'd better go in or old Laurence will be letting someone have our seats Joan came with her mother slowly across the grass in her dress was this letter dearest dearest dearest Joan the first thing you have thoroughly to realize is that it doesn't matter what you say or what mother says or what anyone says mother's angry of course she is she's been angry a thousand million times before and will be a thousand million times again but it doesn't mean anything mother likes to be angry it does her good and the longer she's angry with you the better she'll like you if you understand what I mean what I want to get into your head is that you can't alter anything of course if you didn't love me it would be another matter and you tried to tell me you didn't love me yesterday just for my own good but you did it so badly that you had to admit yourself that it was a failure don't talk about your brother he's a fine fellow and I'm going to look him up when I'm in London next month don't talk about not seeing me because you can't help seeing me if I'm right in front of you I know sylph the way he spelt it I'm quite ready to wait for a certain time anyway but Mary we will and happy will be forever and ever your adoring Johnny and what was she to do about it she was certainly very unmodern and inexperienced by the standards of today on the other hand she was a very long way indeed from the lilly dales and eleanor Harding's of mister trollop she had not told her father that she was resolved to do so soon as he seemed a little less worried by his affairs but say that she did not love Johnny she had found that she could not and as to damaging him by marrying him his love for her had strengthened her own pride in herself she did not understand his love it was astounding to her after the indifference with which her own family had always treated her but there it was he with all his experience of life loved her more than anyone else in the world so there must be something in her and she knew there was privately she had always known it as to his mother well so long as Johnny loved her she could face anybody so this wonderful morning she was radiantly happy child as she was she adored this excitement it was splendid of it to be this glorious time just when she was having her own glorious time splendid of the weather to be so beautiful of the bells to clash of everyone to their best clothes of the Jubilee to arrange itself so exactly at the right moment and could it be only last Saturday that he had spoken to her and it seemed centuries centuries ago she chattered eagerly smiling at Betty colander and then at the door see girls and then at mrs. Ben took major she supposed that they were all talking about her we'll let them there was nothing to be ashamed of quite the contrary she did not notice her mother silence but she had noticed before they left the house how ill her mother was looking a very bad night another of her dreadful headaches her father had not come in to breakfast at all everything had been wrong at home since that day when Faulk had been sent down from Oxford she longed to put her arms around her father's neck and hug him behind her own happiness ever since that night of the ball there had been a longing an aching urgent longing to pet him comfort him make love to him and she would too as soon as all these festivities were over and then suddenly there was Johnny and his mother and his sisters walking towards the west door what a situation and then there was Johnny breaking away from his own family and hurrying towards them lifting his hat smiling how splendid he looked and how happy and how happy she also was looking had she only known it good morning mrs. Brandon mrs. Brandon didn't appear to remember him at all then suddenly as though she had picked her conscience out of her pocket oh good morning Lord st. Leith Joan out of the corner saw Boadicea her head with a censored bonnet high striding indignantly ahead what lovely weather is it not yes aren't we lucky good morning Joan good morning isn't it a lovely day oh yes it is are you going to see the torchlight procession tonight they come through the precincts you know of course they do we're going to have five bonfires around us mother's afraid they'll set the castle on fire they both laughed much too happy to know what they were laughing at mrs. Sampson joined them Johnny and Joan walked ahead only two steps and they would be in the Cathedral did you get my letter yes I love you I love you I love you this in a hoarse whisper Johnny you mustn't you know we can't you know aren't they passed through into the Cathedral mrs. Ben Tech major came with miss Ronda slowly across the grass it was not necessary for them to hurry because they knew that their seats were reserved for them mrs. Ben tech major thought miss Ronda queer because of the clever things that she said and of the odd fashion in which she always dressed to say anything clever was with mrs. ben tech major at once to be classed as queer it is hot miss Ronda thin and spiky above her stiff white collar looked immaculately cool a lovely day she said sniffing the color and the warmth and loving it mrs. Ben take major was thinking of the Brandon scandal but it was one of her habits never to let her left-hand voice know what her right-hand brain was doing secretly she often wondered how sexual things what people really did whether they enjoyed what they did and whether she would have enjoyed the same things had life gone that way with her instead of leading her to Ben t'k major but she never never spoke of such things she was thinking now of mrs. Brandon and Morris they said that someone had found a letter a disgraceful letter how extraordinary its loneliness suddenly said miss Ronda that drives people to do the things they do mrs. Ben take major started as though someone had struck her in the small of her back was the woman at which how amazing I beg your pardon she said nervously I was speaking said miss Rhonda and her clear incisive voice of one of our maids who has suddenly engaged herself to the most unpleasing looking butchers assistant you can imagine all spots and stammer quite a pretty girl – but it's fear of loneliness that does it wanting affection dear me mrs. Benn tick major had never had very much affection from mr. bent ik major and had not very consciously missed it but then she had a dog a spaniel whom she loved most dearly we're all lonely all of us to the very end said miss Ronda as though she was thinking of someone in a special and she was she was thinking of her nephew I shouldn't wonder if the Queen isn't feeling more lonely today than she ever has felt in all her life before and then they saw that dreadful man devrait lurching along he was lonely but then he deserved to be with his drink and all wicked man mrs. Ben took major shivered she didn't know how he dared to go to church he shouldn't be allowed on such a day – what would the Queen herself think did she know the two ladies and devrait passed through the door at the same time and now everyone was inside the great Bell dropped notes like heavy weights into a liquid well for the cup of the Cathedral swam in colour the light pouring through the great Rose window and that multitude of persons seeming to sway like shadows beneath a sheet of water from amber to purple from purple to crimson from crimson to darkest green individuality was lost the Cathedral thinking nothing of kings and queens of history of movement forward and retrograde but only of itself and of the life that it had been given that it now claimed for its own with haughty confidence assumed its power the power of its own immortality that is neither man's nor God's the trumpets began they rang out the psalm that had been given them and transformed it into a cry of exultant triumph their notes rose were caught by the pillars acclaimed tossed higher caught again in the eaves and corners of the great building swinging backwards and forwards now listen to my greatness you created me for the worship of your God and now I am your God out of your forms and ceremonies you have made a new god and I thy God am a jealous God Rhonda read the first lesson that's Rhonda the town people whispered the new cannon oh he's clever you should hear him preach read beautiful gladness the Brandon's maid whispered to Annie the kitchen maid I do like a bit of fine reading by those accustomed to observe it was noticed that Rhonda read with very much more assurance than he had done three months ago it was as though he knew now where he was as though he were settled down now and had his place and it would take some very strong people to shift him from that place oh yes it would and Brandon read the second lesson as usual when he stepped down from the choir slowly impressively pausing for a moment before he turned to the lectern strangers whispered to one another that's a handsome parson that is he seemed to hesitate again before going up as though he had stumbled over a step very slowly he read the opening words slowly he continued pretty foot looking up across from his seat in the side aisle thought there's something the matter with him suddenly he paused looked about him stared over the congregation as though he were searching for somebody then slowly again went on and finished here endeth the second lesson then instead of turning he leaned forward gripping the lectern with both hands and seemed again to be searching for someone looks as though he were going to have a stroke thought pretty foot then very carefully as though he were moving in darkness he turned and groped his way downwards with bent head he walked back into the quire soon they were scattered everyone according to his or her own individuality the prayers had broken them up too many of them too long and the wooden dealer so hard mines flew like birds about the Cathedral ideas gold and silver black and gray soapy and soft hard as iron the men yawned behind their trumpets the schools played knots and crosses the old lady and her triumph stepped away into limbo and then suddenly it was time for the Bishop sermon everyone hoped that it would not be long passing clouds veiled the light behind the East window and the roses faded to ashes the organ rumbled an itch crotchety voice as the old man slowly disentangled himself from his throne and slowly slowly slowly advanced down the choir when he appeared above the nave and paused for an instant to make sure of the step all the minds in the Cathedral suddenly concentrated again the birds flew back the air was still at the site of that very old man that little bag of shaking bones all the brief history of the world was suddenly apparent greater than Alexander more beautiful than Helen of Troy wiser than Gama Lille more powerful of than artaxerxes he made the secret of immortal life visible to all his hair was white and his face was ashen gray and his hands were like birds claws like a child finding its way across its nursery floor he climbed to the pulpit being now so far distant in heaven that earth was dark to him the Lord be with you and with I spirit his voice was clear and could be heard by all he spoke for a very short time he told them about the Queen and that she had been good to her people for sixty years and that she had feared God he told them that that goodness was the only secret of happiness he told them that Jesus Christ came nearer and nearer and ever more near did one but ask him he said I suppose that I shall never speak to you in this place again I am very old some of you have thought perhaps that I was too old to do my work here others have wanted me to stay I have loved you all very much and it is lonely to go away from you our great and good Queen also is old now and perhaps she too in the middle of her triumph is feeling lonely so pray for her and then pray for me a little that when I meet God he may forgive me my sins and help me to do better work than I have done here life is sad sometimes and often it is dark but at the end it is beautiful and wonderful for which we must thank God he knelt down and prayed and everyone devrait and mrs. Combermere Ellen styles and Morris Lady Saint Leith and mrs. Brandon Joan and Laurence Rhonda and Foster prayed too and then they all all for a moment utterly United in soul and body and spirit knelt down and the old man blessed them from the pulpit then they sang now thank we all our God afterwards came the benediction end of book 3 chapter 5 book 3 chapter 6 of the cathedral by Hugh Walpole this LibriVox recording is in the public domain chapter 6 Tuesday June 22 – the fair as Brandon left the cathedral Rhonda came up to him Brandon with bowed head had turned in to the cloisters although that was not the quickest way to his home the two men were alone in the grayness lit from without by the brilliant Sun as though it had been a stage setting I beg you pardon Archdeacon I must speak to you Brandon raised his head he stared at Rhonda and then said I have nothing to say to you I do not wish to speak to you I know that you do not Rhonda face was really troubled there was an expression in his eyes that his aunt had never seen Brandon moved on looking neither to right nor left Rhonda continued I know how you feel about me but today somehow this service I feel that I can't allow our quarrel to continue without speaking it isn't easy for me he broke off Brandon's voice shook I have nothing to say to you I do not wish to say anything to you you have been my enemy since you first came to this town my work my family I am NOT your enemy indeed indeed I am NOT I won't deny that when I came here I found that you who were the most important man in the place thought differently from myself on every important question you yourself who are an honest man would not have had me back out from what I believed to be my duty I could do no other but this personal quarrel between us was most truly not of my own seeking I have liked and admired you from the beginning such a matter as the pivots living has forced us into opposition but I am convinced that there are many views that we have in common that we could be friends working together Brandon stopped did my son or did he not come to see you before he went to London Rhonda hesitated yes he said he did but did he or did he not ask your advice yes he did but did you advise him to take the course which he afterwards followed no on my honor Archdeacon I did not I did not know what his personal trouble was I did not ask him and he did not tell me we talked of generalities had you heard before he came to you gossip about my son I had heard some silly talk very well then but you shall listen to me Archdeacon I scarcely knew your son I had met him only once before at someone's house and talked to him then only for five minutes he himself asked to come and see me I could not refuse him when he asked me I did not of course wish to refuse him I liked the look of him and simply for his own sake wished to know him better when he came he was not with me for very long and our talk was entirely about religion belief faith in God the meaning of life and nothing more particular than such things did he say when he left you that what you had told him had helped him to make up his mind yes were you when he talked to you quite unconscious that he was my son and that any action that he took would at once affect my life my happiness of course I was aware that he was your son but there is another question that I wish to ask you Canon Ron dur did someone come to you not long ago with a letter that purported to be written by my wife again Rhonda hesitated yes he said did she show you that letter she did did she ask your advice as to what she should do with it she did I told her did you tell her to come with it to me no on my life Archdeacon no I told her to destroy it and that she was behaving with the utmost wickedness did you believe that that letter was written by my wife no then why if you believed that this woman was going about the town with a forged letter directed against my happiness and my family's happiness did you not come to me and tell me of it you must remember Archdeacon that we were not on good terms we had had a ridiculous quarrel that had by some means or another become public property throughout the whole town I will not deny that I felt sore about that I did not know what sort of reception I might get if I came to you very well there is a further question that I wish to ask you will you deny that from the moment that you set foot in this town you have been plotting against me in respect to the fittest living you found out on which side I was standing and at once took the other from that moment you went about the town having secret interviews with every sort of person working them by flattery and suggestion round to your side will you deny that against his will and his absolute determination Ron ders anger began to rise that I have been plotting as you call it he said I absolutely and utterly deny that is an insulting word that I have been against you in the matter of Pythias from the first has of course been known to everyone here I have been against you because of what I believe to be the future good of our church and of our work here there has been nothing personal in that matter at all you lie said Brandon suddenly raising his voice every word that you have spoken to me this morning has been a lie you are an enemy of myself and of my church and with God's help your plots and falsehoods shall yet be defeated you may take from me my wife and my children you may ruin my career here that has been built up through 10 years of unfaltering loyalty and work but God himself is stronger than your inventions and God will see to it I am your enemy Canon Ron dur to the end as you are mine you had better look to yourself you have been concerned in certain things that the law may have something to say about look to yourself look to yourself he strode off down the cloisters people came to luncheon there had been an invitation of some weeks before he scarcely recognized them one was mr. Martin another dr. Troodon and old mrs. pearly a well-established widow an ancient resident a Miss barrister he scarcely recognized them although he talked so exactly in his accustomed way that no one noticed anything at all mrs. Brandon also talked in her accustomed way that is as she scarcely spoke only that afternoon at tea at the deans doctor tooten confided to Julia Preston that he could assure her that all the rumors were false the Archdeacon had never seemed better funny for him after words to remember shadows of a shade when they left Brandon It was as though they had never been the echo of their voices died away into the ticking of the clock the movement of plates the shifting of chairs he shut himself into his study here was his stronghold his fortress he settled into his chair and the things in the room gathered around him with friendly consoling gestures we are still here we are your old friends we know you for what you truly are we do not change like the world he fell into a deep sleep he was desperately tired he had not slept at all last night he was sunk into deep fathomless unconsciousness then he arose from that climbing up up seeing before him a high black snow tipped Mountain the ascent of this he must achieve his life depended upon it he seemed to be naked the wind lashing his body icy cold so cold that his breath stabbed him he climbed the rocks cut his knees and hands then on every side his enemies appeared bent ik major and foster the Bishop's chaplain women even children laughing and behind them hog and that drunken painter their hands were on him they pulled at his flesh they beat on his face then suddenly rising like a full moon behind the hill Ron der he woke with a cry the Sun was flooding the room and at the joy of that great light and a finding himself alone he could have burst into tears of relief his thoughts came to him quickly his brain had been clarified by that sleep horrible though it had been he thought steadily now the facts all arranged before him his wife had told him almost with vindictive pride that she had been guilty of adultery he did not at present think of Morris at all to him adultery was an awful a terrible sin he himself had been physically faithful to his wife although he had perhaps never in the true sense of the word loved her because he had been a man of splendid physique and great animal spirits he had of course and especially in his earlier days known what physical temptation was but the extreme preoccupation of his time with every kind of business had saved him from that acutest lure that idleness brings nevertheless it may confidently be said that had temptation been of the sharpest and the most aggravating he would never have even for a moment dwell upon the possibility of yielding to it to him this was the sin against the holy ghost he had not indeed the purity of the saint to whom these sins are simply not realizable he had the confidence of one who had made his vows to God and having made them could not conceive that they should be broken and yet strangely enough with all the horror that his wife's confession had raised in him there was mingled against his will the strangest fear for her she had lived with him during all these years he had been her guard protector husband her immortal soul now was lost unless in some way he could save it for her and it was he who should save it she had suddenly a new poignant importance for him that she had never had before her danger was as deadly and as imminent to him as though she had been in peril from wild beasts in peril but she had fallen he could not save her nothing that he could do now could prevent her sin at that realization utter despair seized him he moaned aloud shedding out the light from his eyes with his hands there followed then wild disbelief what she had told him was untrue she had said it to anger him to spite him he sprang from his chair and moved toward the door he would find her and tell her that he knew that she had been lying to him that he did not believe Midway he stopped he knew that she had spoken the truth that last moment when they had looked at one another had been compounded bill of truth both a glass and a wall a glass to reveal absolutely a wall to divide them the one from the other forever his brain active now like a snake coiling and uncoiling within the flaming spaces of his mind darted upon Morris he must find Morris at once no delay at once at once what to do he did not know but he must be face to face with him and deal with him that wretched miserable whining crying fool that he he but the picture stopped there he saw now neither Morris nor his wife only a clerical hat a high white collar like a wall a sniggering laugh a door closing and his headache was upon him again his heart pounding and leaping no matter he must find Morris nothing else he went to the door opened it and walked cautiously into the hall as though he had intruded into someone else's house and was there to rob as he came into the hall mrs. Brandon was crossing it also furtively they saw one another and stood staring she would have spoken but something in his face terrified her terrified her so desperately that she suddenly turned and stumbled upstairs repeating some words over and over to herself he did not move but stayed there watching until she had gone something made him change his clothes he put on trousers and an old overcoat and a shabby old clerical hat he was a long time in his dressing room and he was a while before his looking-glass in his shirt and drawers staring as though he were trying to find himself while he looked he fancied that someone was behind him and he searched for his shadow in the glass but could find nothing he moved cautiously out of the house closing the heavy Hall door very softly behind him the afternoon was advanced and the faint fair shadows of the summer evening were stealing from place to place he had intended to go at – Morris's house but his head was now aching so violently that he thought he would walk a little first so that he might have more control that was what he wanted self control self control that was their plot to make him lose command of himself so that he should show to everyone that he was unfit to hold his position he must have perfect control of everything his voice his body his thoughts and that was why just now he must walk in the darker places in the smaller streets until soon he would be outwardly himself again so he chose for his walk the little dark winding path that runs steeply from the cathedral along behind Cannon and jarred and bodger Street down to the pole it was dark here even on this lovely summer evening and no one was about but sounds broke through cries and bells and the distant Bray of vans and from the hill opposite the clash of the fair at the bottom of the path he stood for a while looking down the bank to the river here the Paul runs very quietly and sweetly like a little country river he crossed it and still moving like a man in a dream started up the hill on the other side he was not now consciously thinking of anything at all he was aware only of a great pain at his heart and a terrible loneliness loneliness what an agony no one near him no one to speak to him every eye mocking him God as well far far away from him hidden by walls and Hills as he climbed upward the fair came nearer to him he did not notice it he crossed a path and was at a turnstile a man asked him for money he paid a shilling and moved forward he liked crowds he wanted crowds now either crowds or no one crowds where he would be lost and not noticed so many thousands were there but nevertheless he was noticed that was the Archdeacon who would have thought that he would come to the they're too grand but there he was yes that was the Archdeacon that tall man in a soft black hat yes some noticed him but many thousands did not the fair was packed strangers from all the county over sailors and gypsies and farmers and tramps women know better than they should be and shop girls and decent farmers wives and village girls all sorts thousands of course to whom the Archdeacon meant nothing and that was a fair the most wonderful our town had ever seen the most wonderful it ever was to see as with many other things that Jubilee ther marked a period no fairs again like the good old fairs general education has seen to that it was affair as there are still some to remember that had in at a strange element of fantasy all the accustomed accompaniments affairs were there the two fat sisters outside whose booth a notice was posted begging the public not to prod with umbrellas to discover whether the fat were fat or wadding Trixie the little lady with neither arms nor legs soles and rights with her teeth the great Albert the strongest man in Europe who will lift weights against all comers battling Edwards the champion boxer of the southern counties Hippos world circus with six monkeys two lions three tigers and a rhino all the pistol firing ball throwing coconut contrivance is conceivable and roundabouts at every turn all these were there but behind them on the outskirts of them and yet in the very heart of them there were other unaccustomed things some said that a ship from the east had arrived at dry mouth and that certain jugglers and Chinese and foreign merchants instead of going on to London as they had intended turned to pol Chester how do I know at this time of day how do we any of us know how anything gets here and what does it matter but there is at this very moment living in the magnificently renovate see town an old Chinaman who came in Jubilee here and has been there ever since doing washing and behaving with admirable propriety no sign of opium about him anywhere one element that they introduced was color our modern fares are not very strong in the element of color it is true that one of the roundabouts was ablaze with gilt and tinsel and in the center of it whence comes the music there were women with brace and faces and bosoms of gold it is true also that outside the circus and the fat sisters and battling edward's there were flaming pictures with reds and yellows thrown about like temperance tracts but the modern figures in these pictures spoiled the color the photography spoilt it too much reality where they should have been mystery too much mystery where realism was needed but here only two yards from the circus was a booth hung with strange cloths purple and yellow and crimson and behind the wooden boards a man and a woman with brown faces and busy twirling twisting brown hands were making strange sweets which they wrapped into colored packets and on the other side of the fat sisters there was a tent with Nihon above it in letters of gold and red and inside the tents boards on trestles and on the boards a long purple cloth and on the cloth little toys and figures and images all of the gayest colors and the strangest shapes and all as cheap as nothing farther down the lane of boosts was the tent of Hayakawa the juggler a little boy in Primrose colored tights turned on a board outside the tent round and round and round on his head like a teetotum and inside once every half hour Hayakawa in a lovely jacket of gold and silver gave his entertainment heating fire piercing himself with silver swords finding white mice and his toes and pulling ribbons of crimson and scarlet out of his ears farther away again there were the brothers Gomez perhaps dark magnificent and figure running on one wire across the air balancing sunshades on their noses leaping jumping standing pyramid high their muscles gleaming like billiard balls and behind and before and in and out there were strange figures moving through the fair strange voices raised against the evening sky strange smells of cooking strange songs suddenly rising dying as soon as heard only a breath away the English fields were quietly lying safe behind their hedges and the English sky changed from blue to green and from green to mother-of-pearl and from mother-of-pearl to ivory and stars stabbed like silver nails the great canopy of heaven and the cathedral bells rang peal after peal above the slowly lighting town brandon was conscious of little of this as he moved on even the thought of Morris had faded from him he could not think consecutively his mind was broken up like a mirror that had been smashed into a thousand pieces he was most truly in a dream soon he would wake up out of this noise away from these cries and lights and would find it all as he had for so many years no net he would be sitting in his drawing-room his legs stretched out his wife and daughter near to him the rumble of the organ coming through the wall to them thinking perhaps of tomorrow's duties the town quiet all around him friends and well-wishers everywhere no terrible pain in his head happily arranging how everything should be happy happy oh how happy that real life was when he awoke from his dream he would realize that and thank God for it when he awoke he stumbled over something and looking up realized that he was in a very crowded part of the fair a fire was blazing somewhere near gas-jets although the evening was bright and clear were flaming screams and cries seemed to make the very sky rock above his head where was he what was he doing here why had he come he would go home he turned he turned to face the fire that left clothes at his heel it was burning at the back of a caravan in a dark cold isaque away from the main thoroughfare to its blazing light the bare boards and ugly planking of the booth splashed here and there with torn paper that rustled a little in the evening breeze were all that offered themselves near by a horse untethered was quietly nosing at the trodden soil behind the caravan the field ran down to a ditch and thick hedging Brandon stared at the fire as though absorbed by its light what did he see their visions perhaps did he see the cathedral the precincts the quiet circle of demure old houses his own door his own bedroom did he see his wife moving hurriedly about the room opening drawers and shutting them pausing for a moment to listen then coming out closing the door listening again then stepping downstairs pausing for a moment in the hall to lay something on the table then stepping out into the green wavering evening light or did the flames make pictures for him of the deserted railway station the long platform lit only by one lamp two figures meeting exchanging almost no word pacing for a little in silence the dreary spaces stepping back as the London Express rolled in such a safe night to choose for escape then burying themselves and it's like rabbits in their burrow did his vision lead him back to the deserted house silent save for its ticking clocks black in that ring of lights and bells and shouting voices or was he conscious only of the warmth and life of the fire of some sudden companionship with the woman bending over it to stir the sticks and lift some pot from the heart of the flame he was feeling perhaps a sudden peace here and a silence and was aware of the stars breaking into Beauty one by one above his but his piece if for a moment he had found it was soon interrupted a voice that he knew came across to him from the other side of the fire why Archdeacon who would have thought to find you here he looked up and saw through the fire the face of devrait the painter he turned to go and at once devrait was at his side no don't go you're in my country now Archdeacon not your own you're not talk of this walk you know last time we met you thought you owned the place well you can't think you own this fight it out mr. Archdeacon fight it out Brandon answered I have no quarrel with you mr. d'Avray or have I anything to say to you no quarrel I like that I'd knock your face in for two pence you blasted epic rrett and I will to all free ground here devrai's voice was shrill he was swaying on his legs the woman looked up from the fire and watched them Brandon turned his back to him and saw facing him samuel Hogg and some men behind him why good evening mr. Archdeacon said Hogg taking off his hat and bowing what a delightful place for a meeting Brandon said quietly is there anything you want from me he realized at once that Hogg was drunk and nothing's said Hogg except to give you a damned good hiding I've been waiting for that these many weeks see him boys he continued to turning to the men behind him here's this parson who ruined my daughter as fine a girl as ever you've seen ruined her he did him and his blasted son what do you say boys is it right for him to be a paradin around here as proud as a peacock and nobody touching him what ESA too given him a damn good hiding the men smiled and pressed forward devrait from the other side suddenly lurched into Brandon Brandon struck out and devrait fell and lay where he fell hog cried now forum boys and at once they were upon him hogs face rose before and ins extended magnified in all its details Brandon hid out and then was conscious of blows upon his face of someone kicking him in the back of himself hitting wildly of the fire leaping mountains high behind him of a woman's cry of something trickling down into his eye of sudden contact with warm naked sweating flesh of a small pinched face the eyes almost closed rising before him and falling again of a shout then sudden silence and himself on his knees groping in darkness for his hat of his voice fought from him a murmuring to him it's alright it's my hat it's my hat I must find he wiped his forehead the back of his hand was covered with blood he saw once again the fire low now and darkly illumined by some more distant light heard the scream of the merry-go-round stared about him and saw no living soul climbed to his feet and saw the stars then very slowly like a blind man in the dark felt his way to the fields edge found a gate passed through and collapsed shuddering in the hedges darkness end of book 3 chapter 6 book 3 chapter 7 of the cathedral by Hugh Walpole this LibriVox recording is in the public domain chapter 7 Tuesday June 22 3 torch-lite Joan came home about seven o'clock that evening dinner was at half-past seven and after dinner she was going to the Deanery to watch the torchlight procession from the Deanery garden she had had the most wonderful afternoon mrs. Combermere who had been very kind to her lately had taken her up to the Flower Show in the castle grounds and there she had had the most marvelous and beautiful talk with Johnny they had talked right under his mother's nose so to speak and had settled everything yes simply everything they had told one another that their love was immortal that nothing could touch it nor lessen it nor twist it nothing Joan on her side had stated that she would never be engaged to Johnny until his mother consented and that until they were engaged they must behave exactly as though they were not engaged that is never see one another alone never write letters that might not be read by anyone but she had also asserted that no representations on the part of anybody that she was ruining Johnny or that she was a nasty little intriguer or that nice girls didn't behave so would make the slightest difference to her that she knew what she was and Johnny knew what he was and that was enough for both of them Johnny on his side has said that he would be patient for a time under this arrangement but that the time would not be a very long one and that she couldn't object to accepting a little ring that he had bought for her that she needn't wear it but just keep it beside her to remind her of him but Joan had said that to take the ring would be as good as to be engaged and that therefore she would not take it but that he could keep it ready for the day of their betrothal she had come home through the lovely evening in such a state of happiness that she was forced to tell mrs. Combermere all about it and mrs. Combermere had been a darling and assured her that she was quite right and all that she had done and that it made her mrs. Gomberg mere feel quite young again and that she would help them in every way that she could and parting at the garden-gate she had kissed Joan just as though she were her very own daughter so Joan shining with happiness came back to the house it seemed very quiet after the Sun and glitter and laughter of the Flower Show she went straight up to her room at the top of the house washed her face and hands brushed her hair and put on her white frock as she came downstairs the clock struck half-past seven in the hall she met Gladys please miss said Gladys is dinner to be kept back why said Joan is a mother in no miss she went out about 6 o'clock and she hasn't come in isn't father no miss did she say that she'd be late no miss oh well we must wait until mother comes in yes miss she saw then a letter on the hall table she picked it up it was addressed to her father a note left by somebody she thought nothing of that notes were so often left the handwriting was exactly like her mother's but of course it could not be hers she went in to the drawing room here the silence was oppressive she walked up and down looking out of the long windows at the violet dusk Gladys came in to draw the blinds didn't mother say anything about when she bien no miss she left no message for me no miss your mother seemed in a hurry like she didn't ask where I was no miss did she go out with father no miss your father went out a quarter of an hour earlier Gladys coughed Please Miss cook and Mees wanting to go out and see the procession oh of course you must but that won't be until half-past nine they come past here you know yes miss Joan picked up the new number of the Cornhill magazine and tried to settle down but she was Restless her own happiness made her so and then the house was queer it had the sense of itself waiting for some effort and holding its breath in expectation as Joan sat there trying to read the corn hill cereal and most sadly failing it seemed to her stranger and stranger that her mother was not in she had not been well lately Joan had noticed how white she had looked she had always a headache when you asked her how she was Joan had fancied that she had never been the same since Falk had been away she had a letter in her dress now from folk she took it out and read it over again as to himself it had only good news he was well and happy and he was splendid his work went on finally his only sadness was his breach with his father again and again he broke out about this and begged in lowered to Joan to do something if she did not he said he would soon come down himself and risk a row there was one sentence towards the end of the letter which read oddly to Joan just now I suppose the old man's in his proper element over all the Jubilee celebrations I can see him strutting up and down the cathedral as though he owned every stone in it bless his old heart I tell you Joan I just ached to see him I do really Annie's father hasn't been near us since we came up here funny I'd have thought he'd have bothered me long before this I'm ready for him if he comes by the way if mother shows any signs of wanting to come up to town just now do your best to prevent her father needs her and it's her place to look after him I've special reasons for saying this what a funny thing for Falk to say and the only allusion to his mother in the whole of the letter Joan smiled to herself as she read it what did Falk think her power was why her mother and father had never listened to her for a single moment nor had he Falk when he had been at home she had never counted at all to anyone save Johnny she put down the letter and tried to lose herself in the happy country of her own love but she could not her honesty prevented her it's silence was now oppressive and heavy waited where could her mother be and dinner already half an hour late in that so utterly punctual house what had Falk meant about mother going to London of course she would not go to London at any rate without father how could Falk imagine such a thing more than an hour past she began to walk about the room wondering what she should do about the dinner she must give up the Sampson's and she was very hungry she had had no tea at the Flower Show and very little luncheon she was about to go and speak to Gladys when she heard the hall door open it closed something some unexpressed fear or foreboding kept her where she was steps were in the hall but they were not her father's he always moved with determined stride to his study or the stairs these steps hesitated and faltered as though someone were there who did not know the house at last she went into the hall and saw that it was indeed her father now going slowly upstairs father she cried I'm so glad you're in dinner's been waiting for hours shall I tell them to send it up he did not answer nor look back she went to the bottom of the stairs and said again shall I father but still he did not answer she heard him close his door behind him she went back into the drawing-room terribly frightened there was something in the bowed head and slow steps that terrified her and suddenly she was aware that she had been frightened for many weeks past but that she had never owned to herself that it was so she waited for a long time wondering what she should do at last calling her courage she climbed the stairs waited and then as though compelled by the overhanging silence of the house knocked on his dressing-room door father what shall we do about dinner mother hasn't come in yet there was no answer will you have dinner now she asked again a voice suddenly answered her as though he were listening on the other side of the door no no I want no dinner she went down again told Gladys that she would eat something then sat in the lonely dining room swallowing her soup and cutlet in the utmost haste something was terribly wrong her father was covering all the rest of her view the Jubilee her mother even Johnny he was in great trouble and she must help him but she felt desperately her youth her inexperience her inadequacy she waited again when she had finished her meal wondering what she had better do oh how stupid not to know instantly the right thing and to feel this fear when it was her own father she went halfway upstairs and then stood listening no sound again she waited outside his door with trembling hands she turned the hand oh he faced her staring at her on his left temple was a big black bruise on his forehead a cut and on his left cheek a thin red mark that looked like a scratch father you're hurt yes I fell down stumbled over something coming up from the river he looked at her impatiently well well what is it nothing father only they're still keeping some dinner I don't want anything where is your mother she hasn't come back not come back why where did she go – I don't know Gladys said she went out about 6:00 he pushed past her into the passage he went down into the hall she followed him timidly from the bottom of the stairs he saw the letter on the table and he went straight to it he tore open the envelope and read I have left you forever all that I told you on Sunday night was true and you may use that information as you please whatever may come to me at least I know that I am never to live under the same roof with you again and that is happiness enough for me whatever other misery there may be in store for me now at last perhaps you will realize that loneliness is worse than any other hell and that's the hell you've made me suffer for 20 years look around you and see what your selfishness has done for you it will be useless to try to persuade me to return to you I hope to god that I may never see you again Amy he turned and said in his ordinary voice your mother has left me he came across to her suddenly caught her by the shoulders and said now you'd better go do you hear they've all left me your mother folk all of them they fallen on me and beaten me they've kicked me they've spied on me and mocked me well then you joined them do you hear what do you stay for why do you remain with me do you hear do you hear she understood nothing her terror caught her like the wind she crouched back against the banisters cover her face with her hand don't hit me father please please don't hit me he stood over her staring down at her it's a plot and you must be in it with the others well go and tell them they've won tell them to come back and kick me again I'm down now I'm beaten go and tell them to come in to come and take my house and my clothes your mother's gone follow her to London then he turned she heard him go up into the drawing room suddenly although she did not understand what had happened she knew that she must follow him and care for him he had pulled the curtain aside and thrown up the windows let them come in let them come in I I suddenly he turned towards her and held out his arms I can't I can't bear any more he fell on his knees burying his face on the shoulder of the chair and then he cried Oh God spare me spare me now I cannot bear any more thou has chastised me enough Oh God don't take my sanity from me leave me that Oh God leave me that thou hast taken everything else I have been beaten and betrayed and deserted I confess my wickedness my arrogance my pride but it was in thy service leave me my mind Oh God spare me spare me and forgive her who has send so grievously against thy laws Oh God God saved me from madness save me from madness in that moment Joan became a woman her love her own life she threw everything away she went over to him put her arms around his neck kissed him fondled him pressed her cheek against his dear dear father I love you so I love you so no one shall hurt you father dear father darling suddenly the room was blazing with light the torchlight procession tumbled into the precincts the cathedral sprang into light on all the hills the bonfires were blazing black figures scattered like Dwarfs pygmies giants about the grass the torches toss'd and whirled and danced the cathedral rose from the darkness triumphant in gold and fire end of book 3 chapter 7 book 4 chapter 1 of the cathedral by Hugh Walpole this LibriVox recording is in the public domain book 4 The Last Stand chapter 1 in Rhonda's house Ron Durr with Stan's everyone has at one time or another known the experience of watching some friend or acquaintance moved suddenly from the ordinary atmosphere of everyday into some dramatic region of crisis where he becomes for a moment far more than life-size in his struggle against the elements he is lifted like Sigmund in the Valkyrie into the clouds for his last and most desperate duel there was something of this feeling in the attitude taken in our town after the Jubilee towards Archdeacon Brandon as Miss style said not meaning it at all unkindly it really was very fortunate for everybody that the town had the excitement of the Divis appointment to follow immediately the Jubilee drama had it not been so how flat would everyone have been and by the pivot appointment she meant of course the decline and fall of Archdeacon Brandon and the issue of his contest with delightful clever cannoneer under the disappearance of mrs. Brandon and mr. Morris would have been excitement enough quite by itself for any one year as everyone said the wives of archdeacon's simply do not run away with the clergyman of their town it was not done it had never within anyone's living memory been done before whether in poll Chester or anywhere else clergymen were of course only human like anyone else and so were their wives but at least they did not make a public declaration of their feelings they remembered their positions they were and what they were in one sense there had been no public declaration mrs. Brandon had gone up to London to see about some business and mr. Morris also happened to be away and his sister-in-law was living on in the rectory exactly as though nothing had occurred however that disguise could not hold for long and everyone knew exactly what had happened well if not exactly everyone had a very good individual version of the whole story and through it all above it behind it and beyond it towered the figure of the Archdeacon he was the question he the center of the drama there were a hundred different stories running around the town as to what exactly had happened to him during those Jubilee days was it true that he had taken miss Milton by the scruff of her long neck and thrown her out of the house was it true that he had taken his coat off in the cloisters and given Rhonda two black eyes the only drawback to this story was that Rhonda showed no sign of bruises had he and mrs. Brandon fought up and down the house for the whole of a night Joan assisting and above all what occurred at the Jubilee fair had Brandon been set upon by a lot of ruffians was it true that Samuel Hogg had revenged himself for his daughter's abduction no one knew no one knew anything at all the only certain thing was that the Archdeacon had a bruise on his temple and a scratch on his cheek and that he was queer oh yes very queer indeed it was finally about this queerness that the gossip of the town most persistently clung many people said that they had watched him going queer for a long while back entirely forgetting that only a year ago he had been the most vigorous healthiest faintest man in the place old pretty foot with all sorts of nods winks and murmurs alluded to the mysterious medical secrets and how much he could tell and he would and that he had said years ago about Brandon well never mind what he had said but it was all turning out exactly for years he had expected nothing is stranger and perhaps more fortunate than the speed with which the past is forgotten Brandon might have been all his days the odd muttering i wandering figure that he now appeared where was the viking now where the finest specimen of physical health in all glebe sure where the king and crowned monarch of pole chester in the dust and debris of the broken past poor old Archdeacon a bit queer in the upper story not to be wondered at after all the trouble he's had they break up quickly these strong looking men fit too pleased with himself he was oh well he served his time what we need are more modern men that you can't deny that he was old-fashioned people were not altogether to be blamed for this sudden sense that they were stepping into a new period out of one room into another so to speak the Jubilee was responsible for that it did mark a period and looking back now after all these years one can see that that impression was a true one the jubilee of 97 the Boer War the death of Queen Victoria the end of the Victorian era for church as well as for state and there were other places besides pol Chester that could show their typical figures doomed as it were to die for their period no mean nor unworthy death after all but no poll cast rien in 97 knew that that service in the cathedral that scratch on the archdeacon's cheek that visit of mrs. Brandon to London that these things were for them the writing on the wall June 1897 and August 1914 were not happily for them linked together in immortal significance their eyes were set on the personal history of the men and women who were moving before them had Brandon in the pride of his heart not claimed God as his ally would men have died at hips can any bounds be placed to one act of love and unselfishness to a single deed of mean heart and tongue it was enough for our town that Brandon and his ways were out of date and it was a lucky thing that as modern a man as wander had come among us and yet not altogether Brandon in prosperity was one thing Brandon in misfortune quite another he had been abominably treated what had he ever done that was not actuated absolutely by zeal for the town and the cathedral and after all had that man Rhonda acted straight he was fair and genial enough outwardly but who could tell what went on behind those round spectacles there were strange stories of intrigue about had he not determined to push Brandon out of the place from the first moment of his arrival and as far as this pivoting went it was all very well to be modern and advanced but wasn't Rhonda advocating for the appointment of a man who laughed at the Gospels and said that there were no such things as snakes and apples in the Garden of Eden after all he was a foreigner and Brandon belonged to them poor old Brandon Rhonda was in his study waiting for Weston's Weston's had come to pull Chester for a night to see his friend foster it was an entirely private visit unknown to anybody safe two or three of his friends among the clergy he had asked whether Rhonda could spare him half an hour Rhonda was delighted to spare it Rhonda was in the liveliest spirits he hummed a little chat to himself as he paced his study stopping as was his habit to touch something on his table to push back a book more neatly into its row on the shelf to stare for an instant out of the window into the green garden drenched with the afternoon Sun yes he was in admirable spirits he had known some weeks of acute discomfort that phase was over his talk with Brandon in the cloisters after the cathedral service had closed it on that occasion he had put himself entirely in the right having been before that under the eye of his aunt and certain critics in the town ever-so-slightly in the wrong now he was justified he had humbled himself before Brandon when really there was no reason to do so apologized when truly there was not the slightest need for it Brandon had utterly rejected his apology turned on him as though he were a thief and a robber he had done all that he could more far more than his case demanded so his comfort his dear consoling comfort had returned to him completely and with it had returned all his affection his tenderness for Brandon poor man deserted by his wife past his work showing as he so obviously did in the Jubilee week that his brain never very agile was now quite inert poor man poor poor man Rhonda as he walked his study simply longed to do something for Brandon to give him something make him a generous present to go to London and persuade his poor weak wife to return to him anything anything to make him happy again too sad to see the poor man's pale face Restless eyes to watch his hurried uneasy walk as though he were suspicious of every man everywhere now Rhonda sang Brandon's praises what fine work he had done in the past how much the church owed him where would pol Chester have been in the past without him I assure you Rhonda said to mrs. Preston meeting her in the High Street the archdeacon's work may be over but when I think of what the church owes em to which mrs. Preston had said ah can and how you search for the beauty in human life you are a lesson to all of us after all to find beauty and even the meanest and most disappointing that is our task there was no doubt but that Rhonda had come magnificently through the Jubilee we it had in every way strengthened and confirmed his already strong position he had been everywhere had added gaiety and sunshine to the Flower Show had preached a most wonderful sermon at the evening service on the Tuesday had addressed from the steps of his house the torchlight procession in exactly the right words had patted all the children on the head at the mayor's tea for the townspeople had enchanted everywhere that for which he had worked had been accomplished and accomplished with wonderful speed he was firmly established as the leading churchmen in pol chester only now let the pithos living go in the right direction as it must do and he would have nothing more to wish for he loved the place as he looked down into the garden and thought of the years of pleasant comfort and happiness now stretching in front of him his heart swelled with love of his fellow human being he longed here and there to do something for someone to give some children pennies some poor old men a good meal to lend someone his pounds to speak a good word in public for someone maligned to mr. Weston's sir said the maid when he turned round only his exceeding politeness prevented him from a whistle of astonishment he had never seen a photograph of whist ins and the man had never been described to him from all that he had heard in read of him he had pictured him a tall lean aesthetic a kind of Dante and sovereign OVA in one a magnificent figure of protest and abjuration this man who now came towards him was little thin indeed but almost deformed seeming to have one shoulder higher than the other and to house ever so slightly on one foot his face was positively ugly redeemed only as Ron der who was no mean observer at once perceived by large and penetrating eyes the eyes indeed were beautiful of a wonderful softness and intelligence his hair was jet black and thick his hand as it gripped rounders strong and bony I'm very glad to meet you canon Ron der he said I've heard so much about you his voice as mrs. Combermere long afterwards remarked has a twinkle in it it was a jolly boys humorous generous but incisive and exceedingly clear it had a very slight accent so slight that no one could ever decide on its origin the books said that whist ins had been born in London and that his father had been rector of Lambeth for many years it was also quickly discovered by penetrating poll cast Rian's that he had a not very distant French ancestry was it cockney I expect said miss Stiles that he played with the little Lambeth children when he was small but no one really knew the two men sat down facing one another and whist ins looked strange indeed with his shoulders hunched up his thin little legs like to cross bones one over the other his black hair and pale face I feel rather like a thief in the night he said stealing down here but foster wanted me to come and I confess to a certain curiosity myself you would like to come to pit us if things go that way Ronda asked him I shall be quite glad to come on the other hand I shall not be at all sorry to stay where I am does it matter very much where one is except that the pithos living is generally considered a very important step in church preferment it leaves as a rule two great things great things yes wisten seemed to be talking to himself one thing is much like another the more power one seems to have outwardly the less very often one has in reality however if I'm called I'll come but I wanted to see you cannon Ronda for a special purpose yes a stronger of course I haven't inquired in any way into the probabilities of the pivots appointment but I understand that there is very strong opposition to myself naturally there would be I also understand that with the exception of my friend Foster you are my strongest supporter in this matter may I ask you why why repeated rounder yes why you may say and quite justly that I have no right to ask you that question it should be enough for me I know to realize that there are certain people here who want me to come it ought to be enough but it isn't it isn't I won't I can't come here under false pretenses false pretenses cried Rhonda I assure you dear mr. Weston's oh yes I know I know what you will naturally tell me but I have caught enough of the talk here Foster in his impetuous 'ti has been perhaps indiscreet to realize that there has been that there still is a battle here between the older more conservative body of opinion and the more modern school it seems to me that I have been made the figurehead of this battle to that I have no objection it is not for the first time but what I want to ask you can and Rhonda with the utmost seriousness is just this have you supported my appointment because you honestly felt that I was the best man for this particular job or because I know you will forgive me if this question sounds impertinent you wished to score a point over some personal adversary the question was impertinent there could be no doubt of it Rhonda ought at once to resent any imputation on his honesty what right had this man to dip down into Rhonda's motives the cannon stared from behind his glasses into those very bright and insistent eyes and even as he stared there came once again that cold little wind of discomfort that questioning irritating wind that had been laid so effectively he thought forever to rest what was this man about attacking him like this attacking him before even he had been appointed was it after all quite wise that Whiston should come here with that same comfort so rightly valued by Rhonda be quite assured in the future if Weston's word Pippa's wouldn't some nincompoop like foresight be perhaps after all his best choice Rhonda suddenly ceased to wish to of pennies to little children or a present to Brandon he was very justly irritated do forgive me if I am impertinent said Winston's quietly but I have to know this but of course said Rhonda I consider you the best man for this appointment I should not have stirred a finger in your support otherwise why something murmured to him are people always attributing to you unworthy motives first your art then foster now this man you are quite correct and saying that there is strong opposition to your appointment here but that is quite natural you have only to consider some of your published works to understand that a battle is being fought with the more conservative elements in the place you have heard probably that the Archdeacon is their principal leader but I think I may say that our victory is already assured there was never any real doubt of the issue Archdeacon Brandon is a splendid fellow and has done great work for the church here but he is behind the times out of date and too obstinate to change then certain family misfortunes have hit him hard lately and his health is not I fear what it was his opposition is as good as over that's a swift decline said Weston's I remember only some six months ago hearing of him as by far the strongest man in this place yes it has been Swift said Rhonda shaking his head regretfully but I think that his position here was largely based on the fact that there was no one else here strong enough to take the lead against him my coming into the diocese someone however feeble you understand coming in from outside made an already strong modern feeling yet stronger I will tell you one thing said Weston's suddenly shooting up his shoulders and darting forward his head I think all this Cathedral intrigue disgusting no I don't blame you you came into the middle of it and were doubtless forced to take the part you did but I'll have no lot or hold in it if I am to understand that I gained disappointment only through a lot of Baxter's intrigue and cabal I'll let it be known at once that I would not accept that living though it were offered me a thousand times no no cried Ron der eagerly I assure you that that is not so there has been intrigue here owing to the old politics of the party who governed the cathedral but that is I hope and pray over and done with it is because so many of us want to have no more of it that we are asking you to come here believe me believe me that is so I should not have said what I did continued with stands quietly it was arrogant and conceited perhaps you cannot avoid intrigue and party feeling among the community of any Cathedral body that is why I want you to understand Canon Ron der the kind of man I am before you propose me for this post I am afraid that you may afterwards regret your advocacy if I were invited to a Canon REE or any post immediately connected with the Cathedral I would not accept it for an instant I come if I come at all to fight the Cathedral that is to fight everything in it round and about it that prevents men from seeing clearly the figure of Christ I believe Canon Ron der that before many years are out it will become clear to the whole world that there are now two religions the religion of authority and the religion of the spirit and if in such a division I must choose I am for the religion of the spirit every time the religion of the spirit Rhonda stirred a little restlessly his fat thighs what had that to do with it they were discussing the pivots appointment the religion of the spirit well who wasn't for that as to dogma Rhonda had never laid very great stress upon it a matter of words very largely he looked out to the garden where a tree scooped now like a great green fan against the blue white sky was shading the sun's rays lovely lovely lovely like the armées downstairs lovely like the piece of red amber on his writing-table like the blind homer like a scallop of green glass holding water that washed a little from side to side the sheen on its surface changing from dark chatter to faintest dusk lovely he stared transported his comfort flowing full tide now into his soul exactly he said suddenly turning his eyes full on with stones the Christian Church has made a golden calf of its dogmas the calf is worshipped the Cathedral in shrines it wisten Scavo Swift curious stab of a glance Ron door caught it he flushed you think it's strange of me to say that he asked I can see that you do let me be frank with you it has been my trouble all my life that I can see every side of a question I am with the modernists but at the same time I can understand how dangerous it must seem to the dogmatist to abandon even an inch of the country that paul conquered for them I'm afraid with stones that I see life in terms of men and women rather than of Creed's I want men to be happy and at peace with one another and if to form a new Creed or to abandon an old one leads to men's deeper religious happiness well then he waved his hands wisten 'he's speaking again as it were to himself answered i care only for jesus christ he is overshadowed too now by all the great buildings that men have raised for him he is lost to our view we must recover him him him only him to serve him to be near him almost to feel the touch of his hand on one's head that is the whole of life to me and now he is hard to come to harder every year he got up I didn't come to say more than that it's the cathedral Rhonda that I fear don't you yourself sometimes feel that it has by now a spirit of its own a life of force that all the past years and all the worship that it has had have given it you feel that that it has become a god demanding his own rights and worshipers that it uses men for its own purposes and not for Christ's that almost it hates Christ it is so beautiful so lovely so haughty so jealous for I thy God am a jealous God he broke off I could love Christ better in that garden than in the cathedral tear it down and build it up again he turned restlessly almost savagely to Rhonda can you be happy and comfortable and at ease when you see what Christ might be to human beings and what he is who thinks of him who cares for him who loves his sweetness and charity and tenderness why is something always in the way always always always love charity doesn't such a place as this Cathedral breed hatred and malice and pride and jealousy and isn't it's very beauty a contempt and now what right have you to help my appointment to pivot Rhonda smiled you are what we need here he said you shall shake some of our comfort from us make a new life here for us wisten x' was suddenly almost timid he spoke as though he were waking from some dream goodbye goodbye no don't come down thank you so much thank you very kind of you goodbye but Rhonda insisted on coming down they shook hands at his door the figure was lost in the Evening Sun Rhonda stood there for a moment gazing at the bright grass the little houses with their shining knockers the red purple shadow of the Cathedral had he done right was Winston's the man might he not be more dangerous than no no too late now the fight with Brandon must move to its appointed end poor Brandon poor dear Brandon he looked across at the house as on the evening of his arrival from that same step he had looked poor Brandon he would like to do something for him some little kindly unexpected act he closed the door and softly padded upstairs humming happily to himself that little chant end of book for chapter one

Tags:

  1. Cathedral | Hugh Walpole | Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction | Audio Book | English | 8/9
    22: [00:00:00] – Bk 3 The Jubilee: Ch 5 Tuesday, June 22: 1 The Cathedral
    23: [00:25:57] – Bk 3 The Jubilee: Ch 6 Tuesday, June 22: 2 The Fair
    24: [00:54:50] – Bk 3 The Jubilee: Ch 7 Tuesday, June 22: 3 Torchlight
    25: [01:09:18] – Book 4 The Last Stand: Chapter 1 In Ronder's House: Ronder, Wistons

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