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

“Dear Grandfather Of Me, And Everybody At Glenfaba:  Here I am at last, dears, at the end of my Pilgrim’s Progress, and the evening and the morning’ are the first day.  It is now eleven o’clock at night, and I am about to put myself to bed in my own little room at the hospital of Martha’s Vineyard, Hyde Park, London, England.

“The captain was quite right; the morning was as fresh as his flattery, and before we got far beyond the Head most of the passengers were spread out below like the three legs of Man.  Being an old sea-doggie myself, I didn’t give it the chance to make me sick, but went downstairs and lay quiet in my berth and deliberated great things.  I didn’t go up again until we got into the Mersey, and then the passengers were on deck, looking like sour buttermilk spilt out of the churn.

“What a glorious sight!  The ships, the docks, the towers, the town!  I couldn’t breathe for excitement until we got up to the landing-stage.  Mr. Storm put me into a cab, and for the sake of experience I insisted on paying my own way.  Of course he tried to trick me, but a woman’s a woman for a’ that.  As we drove up to Lime Street station there befella porter.  He carried my big trunk on his head (like a mushroom), and when I bought my ticket he took me to the train while Mr. Storm went for a newspaper.  Being such a stranger, he was very kind, so I flung the responsibility on Providence and gave him sixpence.

“There were two old ladies in the carriage beside ourselves, and the train we travelled by was an express.  It was perfectly delightful, and for all the world like plunging into a stiff sou’wester off the rocks at Contrary.  But the first part of the journey was terrible.  That tunnel nearly made me shriek.  It was a misty day too at Liverpool, and all the way to Edge Hill they let off signals with a noise like battering-rams.  My nerves were on the rack; so taking advantage of the darkness of the carriage, I began to sing.  That calmed me, but it nearly drove the old ladies out of their wits. They screamed if I didn’t; and just as I was summoning the Almighty to attend to me a little in the middle of that inferno, out we came as innocent as a baby.  There was another of these places just before getting into London.  I suppose they are purgatories through which you have to pass to get to these wonderful cities.  Only if I had been consulted in the making of the Litany (’from sudden death, good Lord, deliver us’) I should have made an exception for people in tunnels.

“You never knew what an absolute ninny Glory is!  I was burning with such impatience to see London that when we came near it I couldn’t see anything for water under the brain.  Approaching a great and mighty city for the first time must be like going into the presence of majesty.  Only Heaven save me from such palpitation the day I become songstress to the Queen!

“Mercy! what a roar and booma deep murmur as of ten hundred million million moths humming away on a still evening in autumn!  On a nearer view it is more like a Tower-of-Babel concern, with its click and clatter.  The explosion of voices, the confused clamour, the dreadful disordercars, wagons, omnibusesit makes you feel religious and rather cold down the back.  What a needle in a haystack a poor girl must be here if there is nobody above to keep track of her!

“Tell Aunt Rachel they are wearing another kind of bonnet in Londonmore pokey in frontand say if I see the Queen I’ll be sure to tell her all about it.

“We didn’t get to the hospital until nine, so I’ve not seen much of it yet.  The housekeeper gave me tea and told me I might go over the house, as I wouldn’t be wanted to begin duty before morning.  So for an hour I went from ward to ward like a female Wandering Jew.  Such silence!  I’m afraid this hospital nursing is going to be a lockjaw business.  And now I’m going to bedwell, not homesick, you know, but just ’longing a lil bit for all.’  To-morrow morning I’ll waken up to new sounds and sights, and when I draw my blind I’ll see the streets where the cars are forever running and rattling.  Then I’ll think of Glenfaba and the birds singing and rejoicing.

“Dispense my love throughout the island.  Say that I love everybody just the same now I’m a London lady as when I was a mere provincial girl, and that when I’m a wonderful woman, and have brought the eyes of England upon me, I’ll come back and make amends.  I can hear what grandfather is saying:  ‘Gough bless me, what a girl, though!’ Glory.

“P.  S.I’ve not said much about Mr. Storm.  He left me at the door of the hospital and went on to the house of his vicar, for that is where he is to lodge, you know.  On the way up I expended much beautiful poetry upon him on the subject of love.  The old girlies having dozed off, I chanced to ask him if he liked to talk of it, but he said no, it was a profanation.  Love was too sacred, it was a kind of religion.  Sometimes it came unawares, sometimes it smouldered like fire under ashes, sometimes it was a good angel, sometimes a devil, making you do things and say things, and laying your life waste like winter.  But I told him it was just charming, and as for religion, there was nothing under heaven like the devotion of a handsome and clever man to a handsome and clever woman, when he gave up all the world for her, and his body and his soul and everything that was his.  I think he saw there was something in that, for though he said nothing, there came a wonderful light into his splendid eyes, and I thought if he wasn’t going to be a clergymanbut no matter.  So long, dear!”