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

Returning to St. James’s Street, Drake found John Storm waiting in his rooms.  The men had changed a good deal since they last met, and the faces of both showed suffering.

“Forgive me for this visit,” said Storm.  “It was my first duty to call and thank you for what you’ve done.”

“That’s nothingnothing at all,” said Drake.

“I had also another object.  You’ll know what that is.”

Drake bowed his head.

“She is gone, it seems, and there is no trace left of her.”

“None?”

“Then you know nothing?”

“Nothing!  And you?”

“Nothing whatever!”

Drake bowed his head again.  “I knew it was a liethat she had gone after youI never believed that story.”

“Would to God she had!” said Storm fervently, and Drake flinched, but bore himself bravely.  “When did she go?”

“Two days ago, apparently.”

“Has anybody looked for her?”

I haveeverywhereeverywhere I can think of.  But this London ”

“Yes, yes; I knowI know!”

“For two days I have never rested, and all last night.”

Storm’s eyes were watching the twitchings of Drake’s face.  He had been sitting uneasily on his chair, and now he rose from it.

“Are you going already?” said Drake.

“Yes,” said Storm.  Then in a husky voice he added:  “I don’t know if we shall ever meet again, you and I. When death breaks the link that binds people ”

“For God’s sake don’t say that!”

“But it is so, isn’t it?”

“Heaven knows!  Certainly the letter she left behindthe letter to Rosa Poor child, she was such a creature of joyso bright, so brilliant!  And then to think of her I was much to blameI came between you.  But if I had once realized ”

Drake stopped, and the men fixed their eyes on each other for a moment, and then turned their heads away.

“I’m afraid I’ve done you a great injustice, sir,” said Storm.

“Me?”

“I thought she was only your toy, your plaything.  But perhaps” (his voice was breaking)“perhaps you loved her too.”

Drake answered, almost inaudibly, “With all my heart and soul!”

“Thenthen we have both lost her!”

“Both!”

There was silence for a moment.  The hands of the two men met and clasped and parted.

“I must go,” said Storm, and he moved across the room with a look of utter weariness.

“But where are you going to?”

“I don’t knowanywherenowhereit doesn’t matter now.”

“Well ”

“Good-night!”

“Good-night!”

Drake stood at the door below until the slow, uncertain footsteps had turned the corner of the street and died away.

John Storm was sure now.  Overwhelmed by his own disgrace, ashamed of his downfall, and perhaps with a sense of her own share in it, Glory had destroyed herself.

Strange contradiction!  Much as he had hated Glory’s way of life, there came to him at the moment a deep remorse at the thought that he had been the means of putting an end to it.  And then her gay and happy spirit clouded by his own disasters!  Her good name stained by association with his evil one!  Her pure soul imperilled by his sin and fall!

But it was now very late and he began to ask himself where he was to sleep.  At first he thought of his old quarters under the church, and then he told himself that Brother Andrew would be gone by this time, and that everything connected with the parish must be transferred to other keeping.  Going by a hotel in Trafalgar Square he stepped in and asked for a bed.

“Certainly, sir,” said the clerk, who was polite and deferential.

“Can I have something to eat, too?”

“Coffee-room to the left, sir.  Luggage coming, sir?”

“I have no luggage to-night,” he answered, and then he saw that the clerk looked at him doubtfully.

The coffee-room was empty and only half lit up, for dinner was long over and the business of the day was done.  John was sitting at his meal, eating his food with his eyes down and hardly conscious of what was going on around, when he became aware that from time to time people opened the room door and looked across at him, then whispered together and passed out.  At length the clerk came up to him with awkward manners and a look of constraint.

“I beg your pardon, sir, butare you Father Storm?”

John bent his head.

“Then I’m sorry to say we can not accommodate youwe dare notwe must request you to leave.”

John rose without a word, paid his bill, and left the place.

But where was he to go to?  What house would receive him?  If one hotel refused him, all other hotels in London would do the same.  Then he remembered the shelter which he had himself established for the undeserving poor.  The humiliation of that moment was terrible.  But no matter!  He would drink the cup of God’s anger to the dregs.

The lamp was burning in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, and as John passed by the corner of Palace Yard two Bishops came out in earnest conversation, and walked on in front of him.

“The State and the Church are as the body and soul,” said one, “and to separate them would be death to both.”

“Just that,” said the other, “and therefore we must fight for the Church’s temporal possessions as we should contend for her spiritual rights; and so these Benefice Bills ”

The shelter was at the point of closing, and Jupe was putting out the lamp over the door as John stepped up to him.

“Who is it?” said Jupe in the dark.

“Don’t you know me, Jupe?” said John.

“Father Jawn Storm!” cried the man in a whisper of fear.

“I want shelter for the night, Jupe.  Can you put me up anywhere?”

“You, sir?”

The man was staggered and the long rod in his hand shook like a reed.  Then he began to stammer something about the Bishop and the Archdeacon and his new orders and instructionshow the shelter had been taken over by other authorities, and he was now

“But d –­ it all!” he said, stopping suddenly, putting his foot down firmly, and wagging his head to right and left like a man making a brave resolution, “I’ll tyke ye in, sir, and heng it!”

It was the bitterest pill of all, but John swallowed it, and stepped into the house.  As he did so he was partly aware of some tumult in a neighbouring street, with the screaming of men and women and the barking of dogs.

The blankets had been served out for the night and the men in the shelter were clambering up to their bunks.  In addition to the main apartment there was a little room with a glass front which hung like a cage near to the ceiling at one end and was entered by a circular iron stair.  This was the keeper’s own sleeping place, and Jupe was making it ready for John, while John himself sat waiting with the look of a crushed and humiliated man, when the tumult in the street came nearer and at last drew up in front of the house.

“Wot’s thet?” the men asked each other, lifting their heads, and Jupe came down and went to the door.  When he returned his face was white, the sweat hung on his forehead, and a trembling shook his whole body.

“For Gawd’s sake, Father, leave the house at onct!” he whispered in great agitation.  “There’s a gang outside as’ll pull the place dahn if I keep you.”

There was silence for a moment, save for the shouting outside, and then John said, with a sigh and a look of resignation, “Very well, let me out, then,” and he turned to the door.

“Not that wy, sirthis wy,” said Jupe, and at the next moment they were stepping into a dark and narrow lane at the back.  “Turn to the left when ye get ter the bottom, Fathermind ye turn ter the left.”

But John Storm had scarcely heard him.  His heart had failed him at last.  He saw the baseness and ingratitude of the people whom he had spent himself to relieve and uplift and succour and comfort, and he repented himself of the hopes and aims and efforts which had come to this bankruptcy in the end.

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Yes, yes, that was it!  It was not this poor vile race merely, this stupid and ungrateful humanityit was God!  God used one man’s ignorance, and another man’s anger, and another man’s hatred, and another man’s spite, and worked out his own ends through it all.  And God had rejected him, refused him, turned a deaf ear to his prayer and his repentance, robbed him of friends, of affection, of love, and cast him out of the family of man!

Very well!  So be it!  What should he do?  He would go back to prison and say:  “Take me in againthere is no room left for me in the world.  I am alone, and my heart is dead within me!”

He was at the end of the dark lane by this time, and forgetting Jupe’s warning, and seeing a brightly lighted street running off to his right, he swung round to it and walked boldly along.  This was Old Pye Street, and he had come to the corner at which it opens into Brown’s Square when his absent mind became conscious of the loud baying of a dog.  At the next moment the dog was at his feet, bounding about him with frantic delight, leaping up to him as if trying to kiss him, and uttering meanwhile the most tender, the most true, the most pitiful cries of love.

It was his own dog, the bloodhound Don!

His unworthy thoughts were, chased away at the sight of this one faithful friend remaining, and he was stooping to fondle the great creature, to pull at the long drapery of its ears and the pendulous folds of its glorious forehead, when a short, sharp cry caused him to lift his head.

“Thet’s ’im!” said somebody, and then he was aware that a group of men with evil faces had gathered round.  He knew them in a moment:  the publican with his bandaged head, Sharkey, who had served his time and been released from prison, and Pincher and Hawkins, who were out on bail.  They had all been drinking.  The publican, who carried a stick, was drunk, and the “knocker-up” was staggering on a crutch.

Then came a hideous scene.  The four men began to taunt John Storm, to take off their hats and bow to him in mock honour.  “His Lordship, I believe ’” said one.  “His Reverend Lordship, if you please!” said another.

“Leave me; for God’s sake, leave me!” said John.

But their taunts became more and more menacing.  “Wot abart the end uv the world, Father?” “Didn’t ye tell me to sell my bit uv biziness?” “And didn’t ye say you’d cured me? and look at me now!”

“Don’t, I tell you, don’t!” cried John, and he moved away.

They followed and began to push him.  Then he stopped and cried in a loud voice of struggle and agony:  “Do you want to raise the devil in me?  Go home!  Go home!”

But they only laughed and renewed their torment.  His hat fell off and he snatched at it to recover it.  In doing so his hand struck somebody in the face.  “Strike a cripple, will ye?” said the publican, and he raised his stick and struck a heavy blow on John’s shoulder.  At the next moment the dog had leaped upon the man, and he was shrieking on the ground.  The “knocker-up” lifted his crutch and with the upper end of it he battered at the dog’s brains.

“Stop, man! stop, stop!Don!  Don!”

But the dog held on, and the man with the crutch continued to strike at it, until Pincher, who had run to the other side of the street, came back with a clasp knife and plunged it into the dog’s neck.  Then with a growl and a whine and a pitiful cry the creature let go its hold and rolled over, and the publican got on to his feet.

It was the beginning of the end.  John Storm looked down at the dog in its death-throes, and all the devil in his heart came up and mastered him.  There was a shop at the corner of the square, and some heavy chairs were standing on the pavement.  He took up one of these and swung it round him like a toy, and the men fell on every side.

By this time the street was in commotion, and people were coming from every court and yard and alley crying: 

“A madman!” “Police!” “Lay hold of him!” “He’ll kill somebody!” “Down with him!”

John Storm was also shouting at the top of his voice, when suddenly he felt a dull, stunning pain, without exactly knowing where.  Then he felt himself moving up, up, uphe was in a train, the train was going through a tunnel, and the guards were screaming; then it was hot and at the next moment it was cold, and still he was floating, floating; and then he saw Gloryhe heard her say somethingand then he opened his eyes, and lo! the dark sky was above him, and some women were speaking in agitated voices over his face.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Father Storm.  The brutes!  The beasts!  And the pore dog, too!”

“Oh, dear!  Where’s the p’lice?  What are we goin’ to do with ’im, Aggie?”

“Tyke ’im to my room, thet’s what.”

Then he heard Big Ben strike twelve, and then It was a long, long journey, and the tunnel seemed to go on and on.