Read SANCTUARY - CHAPTER XII. of The Christian A Story, free online book, by Hall Caine, on

John Storm’s enemies had succeeded.  He was committed for sedition, and there was the probability that when brought up again he would be charged with complicity in manslaughter.  Throughout the proceedings at the police court he maintained a calm and dignified silence.  Supported by an exalted faith, he regarded even death with composure.  When the trial was over and the policeman who stood at the back of the dock tapped him on the arm, he started like a man whose mind had been occupied by other issues.


“Come,” said the policeman, and he was taken back to the cells.

Next day he was removed to Holloway, and there he observed the same calm and silent attitude.  His bearing touched and impressed the authorities, and they tried by various small kindnesses to make his imprisonment easy.  He encouraged them but little.

On the second morning an officer came to his cell and said, “Perhaps you would care to look at the newspaper, Father?”

“Thank you, no,” he answered.  “The newspapers were never much to me even when I was living in the worldthey can not be necessary now that I am going out of it.”

“Oh, come, you exaggerate your danger.  Besides, now that the papers contain so much about yourself ”

“That is a reason why I should not see them.”

“Well, to tell you the truth, Father, this morning’s paper has something about somebody else, and that was why I brought it.”


“Somebody near to youvery near and But I’ll leave it with you Nothing to complain of this morningno?”

But John Storm was already deep in the columns of the newspaper.  He found the news intended for him.  It was the death of his father.  The paragraph was cruel and merciless.  “Thus the unhappy man who was brought up at Bow Street two days ago is now a peer in his own right and the immediate heir to an earldom.”

The moment was a bitter and terrible one.  Memories of past years swept over himhalf-forgotten incidents of his boyhood when his father was his only friend and he walked with his hand in hismemories of his father’s love for him, his hopes, his aims, his ambitions, and all the vast ado of his poor delusive dreams.  And then came thoughts of the broken old man dying alone, and of himself in his prison cell.  It had been a strangely familiar thought to him of late that if he left London at seven in the morning he could speak to his father at seven the same night.  And now his father was gone, the last opportunity was lost, and he could speak to him no more.

But he tried to conquer the call of blood which he had put aside so long, and to set over against it the claims of his exalted mission and the spirit of the teaching of Christ.  What had Christ said?  “Call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father which is in heaven!”

“Yes,” he thought, “that’s it’for one is your Father which is in heaven.’”

Then he took up the newspaper again, thinking to read with a calmer mind the report of his father’s death and burial, but his eye fell on a different matter.

“ANOTHER MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE.Hardly has the public mind recovered from the perplexity attending the disappearance of a well-known clergyman from Westminster, when the news comes of a no less mysterious disappearance of a popular actress from a West-End theatre.”

It was Glory!

“Although a recent acquisition to the stage and the latest English actress to come into her heritage of fame, she was already a universal favourite, and her sudden and unaccountable disappearance is a shock as well as a surprise.  To the disappointment of the public she had not played her part for nearly a week, having excused herself on the ground of indisposition, but there was apparently nothing in the state of her health to give cause for anxiety or to prepare her friends for the step she has taken.  What has become of her appears to be entirely beyond conjecture, but her colleagues and associates are still hoping for the hest, though the tone of a letter left behind gives only too much reason to fear a sad and perhaps fatal sequel.”

When the officer entered the cell again an hour after his first visit, John Storm was pallid and thin and gray.  The sublime faith he had built up for himself had fallen to ruins, a cloud had hidden the face of the Father which was in heaven, and the death he had waited for as the crown of his life seemed to be no better than an abject end to a career that had failed.

“Cheer up,” said the officer; “I’ve some good news for you, at all events.”

The prisoner smiled sadly and shook his head.

“Bail was offered and accepted at Bow Street this morning, and you will be at liberty to leave us to-day.”

“When?” said John, and his manner changed immediately.

“Well, not just yet, you know.”

“For the love of God, sir, let me go at once!  I have something to do-somebody to look for and find.”

“Still, for your own security, Father ”

“But why?”

“Then you don’t know that the mob sent a dog out in search of you 2”

“No, I didn’t know that; but if all the dogs of Christendom ”

“There are worse dogs waiting for you than any that go on four legs, you know.”

“That’s nothing, sir, nothing at all; and if bail has been accepted, surely it is your duty to liberate me at once.  I claimI demand that you should do so!”

The officer raised his eyes in astonishment.  “You surprise me, Father. 
After your calmness and patience and submission to authority too!”

John Storm remained silent for a moment, and then he said, with a touching solemnity:  “You must forgive me, sir.  You are very goodeverybody is good to me here.  Still, I am not afraid, and if you can let me go ”

The officer left him.  It was several hours before he returned.  By this time the long summer day had closed in, and it was quite dark.

“They think you’ve gone.  You can leave now.  Come this way.”

At the door of the office some minutes afterward John Storm paused with the officer’s hand in his, and said: 

“Perhaps it is needless to ask who is my bail” (he was thinking of Mrs. Callender), “but if you can tell me ”

“Certainly.  It was Sir Francis Drake.”

John Storm bowed gravely and turned away.  As he passed out of the yard his eyes were bent on the ground and his step was slow and feeble.

At that moment Drake was on his way to the Corinthian Club.  Early in the afternoon he had seen this letter in the columns of an evening paper: 

“The Mysterious Disappearances.Is it not extraordinary that in discussing ‘the epidemic of mystery’ which now fills the air of London it has apparently never occurred to any one that the two mysterious disappearances which are the text of so many sermons may be really one disappearance only, that the ‘man of God’ and the ‘woman of the theatre’ may have acted in collusion, from the same impulse and with the same expectation, and that the rich and beneficent person who (according to the latest report) has come to the rescue of the one, and is an active agent in looking for the other, is in reality the foolish though well-meaning victim of both?R.  U.”

For three hours Drake had searched for Lord Robert with flame in his eyes and fury in his looks.  Going first to Belgrave Square, he had found the blinds down and the house shut up.  Mrs. Macrae was dead.  She had died at a lodging in the country, alone and unattended.  Her wealth had not been able to buy the devotion of one faithful servant at the end.  She had left nothing to her daughter except a remonstrance against her behaviour, but she had made Lord Robert her chief heir and sole executor.

That amiable mourner had returned to London with all possible despatch as soon as the breath was out of his mother-in-law’s body and arrangements were made for its transit.  He was now engaged in relieving the tension of so much unusual emotion by a round of his nightly pleasures.  Drake had come up with him at last.

The Corinthian Club was unusually gay that night, “Hello there!” came from every side.  The music in the ballroom was louder than ever, and, judging by the numbers of the dancers, the attraction of “Tra-la-la” was even greater than before.  There was the note of yet more reckless license everywhere, as if that little world whose life was pleasure had been under the cloud of a temporary terror and was determined to make up for it by the wildest folly.  The men chaffed and laughed and shouted comic songs and kicked their legs about; the women drank and giggled.

Lord Robert was in the supper-room with three gueststhe “three graces.”  The women were in full evening dress.  Betty was wearing the ring she had taken from Polly “just to remember her by, pore thing,” and the others were blazing in similar brilliants.  The wretched man himself was half drunk.  He had been talking of Father Storm and of his own wife in a jaunty tone, behind which there was an intensity of hatred.

“But this panic of his, don’t you know, was the funniest thing ever heard of.  Going home that night I counted seventeen people on their knees in the streets’pon my soul I did!  Eleven old women of eighty, two or three of seventy, and one or two that might be as young as sixty-nine.  Then the epidemic of piety in high life too!  Several of our millionaires gave sixpence apiece to beggarswere seen to do it, don’t you know.  One old girl gave up playing baccarat and subscribed to ‘Darkest England.’  No end of sweet little women confessed their pretty weaknesses to their husbands, and now that the world is wagging along as merrily as before, they don’t know what the devil they are to do But look here!”

Out of his trousers pockets at either side he tugged a torn and crumpled assortment of letters and proceeded to tumble them on to the table.

“These are a few of the applications I had from curates-in-charge and such beauties for the care of the living in Westminster while the other gentleman lay in jail.  It’s the Bishop’s right to appoint the creature, don’t you know, but they think a patron’s recommendation Oh, they’re a sweet team!  Listen to this:  ‘May it please your lordship ’”

And then in mock tones, flourishing one hand, the man read aloud amid the various noises of the placethe pop of champagne bottles and the rumble of the dancing in the room belowthe fulsome letters he had received from clergymen.  The wretched women in their paint and patches shrieked with laughter.

It was at that moment Drake came up, looking pale and fierce.

“Hello there!  Is it you?  Sit down and take a glass of fizz.”

“Not at this table,” said Drake.  “I prefer to drink with friends.”

Lord Robert’s eyes glistened, and he tried to smile.

“Really?  Thought I was counted in that distinguished company, don’t you know.”

“So you were, but I’ve come to see that a friend who is not a friend is always the worst enemy.”

“What do you mean?”

“What does that mean?” said Drake, throwing the paper on to the table.

“Well, what of it?”

“The initials to that letter are yours, and all the men I meet tell me that you have written it.”

“They do, do they?  Well?”

“I won’t ask you if you did or if you didn’t.”

“Don’t, dear boy.”

“But I’ll require you to disown it, publicly and at once.”

“And if I won’twhat then?”

“Then I’ll tell the public for myself that it’s a lie, a cowardly and contemptible lie, and that the man who wrote it is a cur!”

“Oho!  So it’s like that, is it?” said Lord Robert, rising to his feet as if putting himself on guard.

“Yes, it is like that, Lord Robert Ure, because the woman who is slandered in that letter is as innocent as your own wife, and ten thousand times as pure as those who are your constant company.”

Lord Robert’s angular and ugly face glistened with a hateful smile.  “Innocent!” he cried hoarsely, and then he laughed out aloud.  “Go on!  It’s rippin’ to hear you, dear boy!  Innocent, by God!  Just as innocent as any other ballet girl who is dragged through the stews of London, and then picked up at last by the born fool who keeps her for another man.”

“You liar!” cried Drake, and like a flash of light he had shot his fist across the table and struck the man full in the face.  Then laying hold of the table itself, he swept it away with all that was on it, and sprang at Lord Robert and took him by the throat.

“Take that back, will you?  Take it back!”

“I won’t!” cried Lord Robert, writhing and struggling in his grip.

“Then take thatand thatand thatdamn you!” cried Drake, showering blow after blow, and finally flinging the man into the debris of what had fallen from the table with a crash.

The women were screaming by this time and all the house was in alarm.  But Drake went out with long strides and a ferocious face, and no one attempted to stop him.