Read THE OUTER WORLD - CHAPTER I. of The Christian A Story, free online book, by Hall Caine, on ReadCentral.com.

On the morning of the 9th of May, 18, three persons important to this story stood among the passengers on the deck of the Isle of Man steamship Tynwald as she lay by the pier at Douglas getting up steam for the passage to Liverpool.  One of these was an old clergyman of seventy, with a sweet, mellow, childlike face; another was a young man of thirty, also a clergyman; the third was a girl of twenty.  The older clergyman wore a white neckcloth about his throat, and was dressed in rather threadbare black of a cut that had been more common twenty years before; the younger clergyman wore a Roman collar, a long clerical coat, and a stiff, broad-brimmed hat with a cord and tassel.  They stood amidships, and the captain, coming out of his room to mount the bridge, saluted them as he passed.

“Good morning, Mr. Storm.”

The young clergyman returned the salutation with a slight bow and the lifting of his hat.

“Morning to you, Parson Quayle.”

The old clergyman answered cheerily, “Oh, good morning, captain; good morning.”

There was the usual inquiry about the weather outside, and drawing up to answer it, the captain came eye to eye with the girl.

“So this is the granddaughter, is it?”

“Yes, this is Glory,” said Parson Quayle.  “She’s leaving the old grandfather at last, captain, and I’m over from Peel to set her off, you see.”

“Well, the young lady has got the world before herat her feet, I ought to say.You’re looking as bright and fresh as the morning, Miss Quayle.”

The captain carried off his compliment with a breezy laugh, and went along to the bridge.  The girl had heard him only in a momentary flash of consciousness, and she replied merely with a side glance and a smile.  Both eyes and ears, and every sense and every faculty, seemed occupied with the scene before her.

It was a beautiful spring morning, not yet nine o’clock, but the sun stood high over Douglas Head, and the sunlight was glancing in the harbour from the little waves of the flowing tide.  Oars were rattling up the pier, passengers were trooping down the gangways, and the decks fore and aft were becoming thronged.

“It’s beautiful!” she was saying, not so much to her companions as to herself, and the old parson was laughing at her bursts of rapture over the commonplace scene, and dropping out in reply little driblets of simple talksweet, pure nothingsthe innocent babble as of a mountain stream.

She was taller than the common, and had golden-red hair, and magnificent dark-gray eyes of great size.  One of her eyes had a brown spot, which gave at the first glance the effect of a squint, at the next glance a coquettish expression, and ever after a sense of tremendous power and passion.  But her most noticeable feature was her mouth, which was somewhat too large for beauty, and was always moving nervously.  When she spoke, her voice startled you with its depth, which was a kind of soft hoarseness, but capable of every shade of colour.  There was a playful and impetuous raillery in nearly all she said, and everything seemed to be expressed by mind and body at the same time.  She moved her body restlessly, and while standing in the same place her feet were always shuffling.  Her dress was homelyalmost poorand perhaps a little careless.  She appeared to smile and laugh continually, and yet there were tears in her eyes sometimes.

The young clergyman was of a good average height, but he looked taller from a certain distinction of figure.  When he raised his hat at the captain’s greeting he showed a forehead like an arched wall, and a large, close-cropped head.  He had a well-formed nose, a powerful chin, and full lipsall very strong and set for one so young.  His complexion was darkalmost swarthyand there was a certain look of the gipsy in his big golden-brown eyes with their long black lashes.  He was clean shaven, and the lower part of his face seemed heavy under the splendid fire of the eyes above it.  His manner had a sort of diffident restraint; he stood on the same spot without moving, and almost without raising his drooping head; his speech was grave and usually slow and laboured; his voice was bold and full.

The second bell had rung, and the old parson was making ready to go ashore.

“You’ll take care of this runaway, Mr. Storm, and deliver her safely at the door of the hospital?”

“I will.”

“And you’ll keep an eye on her in that big Babylon over there?”

“If she’ll let me, sir.”

“Yes, indeed, yes; I know she’s as unstable as water and as hard to hold as a puff of wind.”

The girl was laughing again.  “You might as well call me a tempest and have done with it, or,” with a glance at the younger man, “say a stormGlory St Oh!”

With a little catch of the breath she arrested the name before it was uttered by her impetuous tongue, and laughed again to cover her confusion.  The young man smiled faintly and rather painfully, but the old parson was conscious of nothing.

“Well, and why not?  A good name for you too, and you richly deserve it.But the Lord is lenient with such natures, John.  He never tries them beyond their strength.  She hasn’t much leaning to religion, you know.”

The girl recalled herself from the busy scene around and broke in again with a tone of humour and pathos mixed.

“There, call me an infidel at once, grandfather.  I know what you mean.  But just to show you that I haven’t exactly registered a vow in heaven never to go to church in London because you’ve given me such a dose of it in the Isle of Man, I’ll promise to send you a full and particular report of Mr. Storm’s first sermon.  Isn’t that charming of me?”

The third bell was ringing, the blast of the steam whistle was echoing across the bay, and the steamer was only waiting for the mails.  Taking a step nearer to the gangway, the old parson talked faster.

“Did Aunt Anna give you money enough, child?”

“Enough for my boat fare and my train.”

“No more!  Now Anna is so ”

“Don’t trouble, grandfather.  Woman wants but little here belowAunt Anna excepted.  And then a hospital nurse ”

“I’m afraid you’ll feel lonely in that great wilderness.”

“Lonely with five millions of neighbours?”

“You’ll be longing for the old island, Glory, and I half repent me already ”

“If ever I have the blue-devils, grandpa, I’ll just whip on my cape and fly home again.”

“To-morrow morning I’ll be searching all over the house for my runaway.”

Glory tried to laugh gaily.  “Upstairs, downstairs, and in my lady’s chamber.”

“‘Glory,’ I’ll be crying, ’Where’s the girl gone at all?  I haven’t heard her voice in the house to-day.  What’s come over the old place to strike it so dead?’”

The girl’s eyes were running over, but in a tone of gentle raillery and heart’s love she said severely:  “Nonsense, grandfather, you’ll forget all about Glory going to London before the day after to-morrow.  Every morning you’ll be making rubbings of your old runes, and every night you’ll be playing chess with Aunt Rachel, and every Sunday you’ll be scolding old Neilus for falling asleep in the reading desk, andand everything will go on just the same as ever.”

The mails had come aboard, one of the gangways had been drawn ashore, and the old parson, holding his big watch in his left hand, was diving into his fob-pocket with the fingers of the right.

“Here”panting audibly, as if he had been running hard“is your mother’s little pearl ring.”

The girl drew off her slack, soiled glove and took the ring in her nervous fingers.

“A wonderful talisman is the relic of a good mother, sir,” said the old parson.

The young clergyman bent his head.

“You’re like Glory herself in that thoughyou don’t remember your mother either.”

“No-no.”

“I’ll keep in touch with your father, John, trust me for that.  You and he shall be good friends yet.  A man can’t hold out against his son for nothing worse than choosing the Church against the world.  The old man didn’t mean all he said; and then it isn’t the thunder that strikes people dead, you know.  So leave him to me; and if that foolish old Chalse hasn’t been putting notions into his head ”

The throbbing in the steam funnel had ceased and in the sudden hush a voice from the bridge cried, “All ashore!”

“Good-bye, Glory!  Good-bye, John!  Good-bye both!”

“Good-bye, sir,” said the young clergyman with a long hand-clasp.

But the girl’s arms were about the old man’s neck.  “Good-bye, you dear old grandpa, and I’m ashamed II’m sorry II mean it’s a shame of me togood-bye!”

“Good-bye, my wandering gipsy, my witch, my runaway!”

“If you call me names I’ll have to stop your mouth, sir. 
Againanother ”

A voice cried, “Stand back there!”

The young clergyman drew the girl back from the bulwarks, and the steamer moved slowly away.

“I’ll go belowno, I won’t; I’ll stay on deck.  I’ll go ashoreI can’t bear it; it’s not too late yet.  No, I’ll go to the stern and see the water in the wake.”

The pier was cleared and the harbour was empty.  Over the white churning water the sea gulls were wheeling, and Douglas Head was gliding slowly back.  Down the long line of the quay the friends of the passengers were waving adieus.

“There he is, on the end of the pier!  That’s grandpa waving his handkerchief!  Don’t you see it?  The red-and-white cotton one!  God bless him!  How wae his little present made me!  He has been keeping it all these years.  But my silk handkerchief is too dampit won’t float at all.  Will you lend me Ah, thank you!  Good-bye! good-bye! good ”

The girl hung over the stern rail, leaning her breast upon it and waving the handkerchief as long as the pier and its people were in sight, and when they were gone from recognition she watched the line of the land until it began to fade into the clouds, and there was no more to be seen of what she had looked upon every day of her life until to-day.

“The dear little island!  I never thought it was so beautiful!  Perhaps I might have been happy even there, if I had tried.  Now, if I had only had somebody for company!  How silly of me!  I’ve been five years wishing and praying to get away, and now!...  It is lovely, though, isn’t it?  Just like a bird on the water!  And when you’ve been born in a place... the dear little island!  And the old folks, too!  How lonely they’ll be, after all!  I wonder if I shall ever....  I’ll go below.  The wind’s freshening, and this water in the wake is making my eyes...  Good-bye, little birdie!  I’ll come backI’ll....  Yes, never fear, I’ll ”

The laughter and impetuous talking, the gentle humour and pathos, had broken at length into a sob, and the girl had wheeled about and disappeared down the cabin stairs.  John Storm stood looking after her.  He had hardly spoken, but his great brown eyes were moist.