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


“Oh, Lord-a-massy!  Oh, Gough bless me sowl!  Oh, my beloved grandfather!  John Storm has done for himself at last!  That man was never an author of peace and a lover of concord; but, my gracious, if you had heard his sermon in church on Sunday morning!  Being a holy and humble woman of heart myself, I altered the Litany the smallest taste possible, and muttered away from beginning to end, ‘O Lord, close thou our lips’; but the Lord didn’t heed me in the least, with the result that everybody on earth is now screaming and snarling at our poor Mr. Storm exactly as if he had been picking the pockets of the universe.

“It was all about the morality of men.  The text was as innocent as a baby:  ’Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.’  And when he began in the usual way, the dear old goodies in glasses thought he had been wound up like the musical box and had just turned on the crank, so they cuddled in comfortably for forty winks before the anthem.  There were two natures in man, and man’s body might be good or bad according as spiritual or carnal affections swayed it, and all the rest of the good old change-for-sixpence-and-a-ha’penny-out, you know.  But the lesson had been from Isaiah, where the unreasonable old prophet is indignant with the ladies of Zion because they don’t want to look like dowdies, you remember:  ’Tremble, ye women that are at ease, strip you and make you bare and gird sackcloth upon your loins.’  And off he went like a comet, with the fashionable woman for his tail.  If matrimony nowadays didn’t always mean monogamy, who was chiefly to blame?  Men were generally as pure as women required that they should be; and if the lives of men were bad it was often because women did not demand that they should be good.  Tremble, ye women, that are at ease, and say why you allow your daughters to marry men who in fact and effect are married already.  Strip you, and be ashamed for the poor women who were the first wives of your daughters’ husbands, and for the children whom such men abandon and forget!  In leading your innocent daughters to courts and receptions you are only leading them to the auction-room; and in dressing and decorating them you are preparing them for the market of base men.  Last week some titled philanthropist had hauled up a woman in the East End of London for attempting to sell her daughter.  How shocking! everybody said.  What a disgrace to the nineteenth century!  But the wretched creature had only been doing the best according to her light for the welfare of her miserable child; while herewith their eyes open, with their cultured consciencesthe wives of these same philanthropists were doing the same thing every daythe very same!

“Having gone for the mammies like this, he went for the dear girls themselves one better.  Let them gird sackcloth on their loins and hide their faces.  Why did they suffer themselves to be sold?  The woman who married a man for the sake of his title or his position or any worldly advantage whatever was no better than an outcast of the streets.  Her act was the same, and in all reason and justice her name should be the same also.

“Hey, nonny, nonny!  I told you how he broke down before; but on Sunday morning, in spite of mine own amended Litany, I had just as much hope of the breakdown of the Falls of Niagara, or a nineteen-feet spring tide.  You would have said his face was afire, and those great eyes of his were lit up like the red lamps on Peel pier.

“Pulpit oratory!  I don’t know what it is, only I never heard the like of it in all my born days.  I begin to think the real difference between preachers is the difference of the fire beneath the crust.  In some it burns so low that it doesn’t even warm the surface, and you couldn’t get up enough puff to boil the kitchen kettle; but in otherslook out!  It’s a volcano, and the lava is coming down with a rush.

“Mercy me, how I cried!  ’Oh, my daughter, oh, my child, what a ninny you are!’ I told myself; but it was no use talking.  His voice was as hoarse as a raven’s, and sometimes you would have thought his very heart was breaking.

“But the congregation!  You should have seen the transformation scene!  They had come in bowing and smiling and whispering softly until the church was a perfect sheet of sunshine, an absolute aurora borealis; but they went out like a northeast gale, with mutterings of thunder and one man overboard.

“And John Storm having put his foot in it, of course Glory Quayle had to get her toe in too.  Coming down the aisle some of the dear ladies of Zion, who looked as if they wanted to ‘swear in their wrath,’ were mumbling all the lamentations of Jeremiah.  Who was he, indeed, to talk to people like that?  Nobody had ever heard of him except his mother.  And in the porch they came upon a fat old dump in a velvet dollman who declared it was perfectly scandalous, and she had come out in the middle.  Whereupon Glory, not being delivered that day from all evil and mischief, said, ’Quite right, ma’am, and you were not the only one who had to leave the church in the middle of that sermon.’  ‘Why, who else had to go?’ said this female Pharisee.  ‘The devil, ma’am!’ said Glory, and then left her with that bone to gnaw.

“It turns out that the old girlie in the dollman is a mighty patron of this hospital, so everybody says I am in for nasty weather.  But hoot!  My heart’s in the Hielan’s, my heart is not here; my heart’s in the Hielan’s, sae what can I fear!

“John Storm is in for it too, and they say his vicar waited for him in the vestry, but he looked like forked lightning coming out of the pulpit, so the good man thought it better to keep his rod in pickle awhile.  It seems that the Lords of the Council and all the nobility were there, and it is a point of religious etiquette in London that in the hangman’s house nobody speaks of the rope; but our poor John gave them the gibbet as well.  It was a fearful thing to do, but nobody will make me believe he had not got his reasons.  He hasn’t been here since, but I am certain he has his eye on some fine folks, and, whoever they are, I’ll bet ’my bottom dollar’ they deserved all they got.

“But heigho!  I haven’t left myself breath to tell you about the ball.  I was there!  You remember I was lamenting that I hadn’t got the necessary finery.  In fact, I had put in a bit at the end of my prayers about it.  ’O God, be good to me this once and let me look nice.’  And he was.  He put it into the heads of the nabobs of this vineyard that nurses should ‘appear at the Nurses’ Ball in regulation uniform only.’  So my cloak and my bonnet and my gray dress and my apron covered a multitude of sins.

“You should have seen Glory that night, grandfather.  She was a redder young lobster than ever somehow, but she put a white rose in her carroty curls, and, Gough bless me, what a bogh [ Dear] she was, though!  Of course, she made the acquaintance of the ‘higher ranks of society,’ and danced with all the earth.  The great surgeon of something opened the ball with the matron of Bartimaeus’s, and she went round on his arm like a dolly in a dolly-tub; but he soon saw what a marvellous and miraculous being Glory was, and after I had waltzed so beautifully with the ancient personage I had the hearts of all the young men flying round at the hem of my white petticoatit was a nice new one for the occasion.

“But the strangest thing was that somebody from the Isle of Man flopped down on me there just as if he had descended from the blue.  It was that little English boy Drake, who used to come to the catechism class, only now he is one of the smartest and handsomest young men in London.  When he came up and announced himself I am sure he expected me to expire on the spot or else go crazy, and of course I was trembling all over, but I behaved like a rational person and stood my ground.  He looked at me as much as to say, ’Do you know you’ve grown to be a very fine young woman, and I admire you very much?’ Whereupon I looked back as much as to reply, ’That’s quite right, my dear young sir, and I should have a poor opinion of you if you didn’t.’  So, being of the same opinion on the only subject worth thinking about (that’s me), I behaved charmingly to him, and even forgave him when he carried off my white rose at the end.

“Mr. Drake has a friend who is always with him.  He is a willowy person who owns sixteen setters and three church livings, they say, and wears (on week days) a thunder-and-lightning suit of clothesyou know, a pattern so large that one man can’t carry the whole of it and somebody else goes about with the rest.  His name is Lord Robert Ure, and I intend to call him Lord Bob, for, since he is such a frivolous person himself, I must make a point of being severe.  I danced with him, of course, and he kept telling me what a wonderful future Mr. Drake had, and how the Promised Land was before him, and even hinting that it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be Mrs. Joshua.  Fancy Glory making a tremendous match with a leader of society!  And if I hadn’t gone to that hospital ball no doubt the history of the nineteenth century would have been different!

“They are going to take me next week to something far, far better than a ball, only I must not tell you anything about it yet, except that I keep awake all night sometimes to think of it.  But thou sure and firmest earth, hear not my steps which way they walk!

“It’s late, and I’m just going to cuddle in.  Good-night!  My kisses for the aunties, and my love to everybody!  In fact, you can serve out my love in ladles this timebeing cheap at present, and plenty more where this is coming from.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you what happened when we returned to the hospital!  It was shockingly late, and the gentlemen had brought us back, but there was our John Storm with his sad and anxious face waiting up to see us safely home.  He was angry with me, and I didn’t mind that in the least; but when I saw that he liked me well enough to be rude to the gentlemen I fell a victim to the crafts and assaults of the devil, and couldn’t help laughing out loud; and then Ward Sister Allworthy came along and lifted her lip and showed me her tusk.

“It was a wonderful night altogether, and I was never so happy in my life, but all the same I had a good cry to myself alone before going to bed.  Too much water hadst thou, poor Ophelia!  Talk about two natures in one; I’ve got two hundred and fifty, and they all want to do different things!  Ah me! the ‘ould Book’ says that woman was taken out of the rib of a man, and I feel sometimes as if I want to get back to my old quarters.  Glory.

“P.S.I’ll write you a full and particular account of the great event of next week after it is over.  Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, till thou applaud the deed.  You see I don’t want you to eat your meal in fearor your porridge either.  But I am burning with impatience for the night to come, and would like to run to it.  Oh, if it were done, when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly!  See?  I am going in for a course of Shakespeare!”