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olate front of the galleries, the large and ugly windows filled with glass which was the colour of a ginger-beer bottle, had all a definite quality of cheerless vulgarity.
Philemon came out of the vestry door with a lighted taper. He lit two or three jets of the corona over the reading-desk. Then he sat down in a front pew close to the chancel steps and waited.
The bell outside stopped suddenly, and a tall young man in a black Inverness cape walked hurriedly up the side aisle under the gallery towards the vestry.
In less than a minute he came out again in surplice, stole, and hood,—the stole and hood were always worn at Walktown, went to the reading-desk, and began to say Evensong in a level, resonant voice.
At the end of each psalm Mr. Philemon recited the doxology with thunderous assertion and capped each prayer with an echoing "Amen."
The curate, Basil Gortre, was a young fellow with a strong, impressive face. His eyes had the clearness of youth and looked out steadily on the world under his black hair. His face was of that type men call a
thoroughly honest” face, but, unlike the generality of such faces, it was neither stubborn nor stupid. The clean-shaven jaw was full of power, the mouth was refined and, artistic, without being either sensual or weak.
During the Creed he turned towards the east, and the clerk's uncompromising voice became louder and more acid as he noticed the action ; and when the clergyman, almost imperceptibly, made the sign of the Cross at the words “ The resurrection of the body,” the old man gave a loud snort of disapprobation.
In deference to the congregation on Sundays, and at the wish of his vicar, Gortre omitted these simple signs of reverence. But alone, at Matins or Evensong, he followed his usual habit.
During the last low prayers, as dusk crept into the great church, and the clank and bells of the trams outside seemed to be more remote, a part, indeed, of that visible but not symbolic ugliness which the gloom was hiding, a note of fervour crept into the young man's praying which had only been latent there before.
He was reading the third collect when the few gas jets above his head began to whistle, burnt blue for a few seconds, and then faded out with three or four faint pops.
Some air had got into the pipes. Old Mr. Philemon rose noisily from his knees, and shuffled off to the vestry coughing and spluttering. Outside, with startling suddenness, a piano organ burst into a gay, strident melody. . After a few bars the music stopped with a jerk. A police constable had spoken to the organ-grinder and moved
Gortre's voice went on in a deep, fervent monotone, unmoved by the darkness or the dissonance
"Lighten our darkness, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and by Thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night ; for the love of Thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ."
The faithful, quiet voice, enduring through the dark, was a foreshadowing of the great cloud which was breaking over the world, big with disaster, imminent with gloom. It foreshadowed the divinely aided continuance of Truth through such a terror as men had never known before.
It meant many things, that firm and beautiful voicehope in the darkest hour for thousands of dying souls, a noble woman's happiness in time of dire stress and evil temptations and a death worse than the death Judas
died-for Mr. Schuabe the millionaire and Robert Llwellyn the scholar, taking tea together in the Athenæum Club three hundred miles away in London.
"—by Thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night."
Mr. Philemon returned with a taper, an old and wrinkled acolyte, in time with his loud and sonorous AMEN.
IN THE VICAR'S STUDY
'HE vicarage of Walktown was a new and commod.
ious house with tall chimneys, pointed windows, and a roof of red tiles.
It was more than a mile from the church, in the residential quarter of the town. Here were no shops and little traffic. The solid houses of red brick stood in their own rather dingy grounds, where, though the grass was never really green, and spring came in a veil of smoky vapour when the wind blew from the town, there was yet a rural suggestion.
The trees rose from neatly kept lawns, the gravel sweeps of the drives were carefully tended, and there was distant colour in the elaborate conservatories and palm-houses which were to be seen everywhere.
Mr. Pryde, the great Manchester solicitor, had his beautiful modern house here. Sir John Neele, the wealthy manufacturer of disinfectants, lived close by, and a large proportion of the well-to-do Manchester merchants were settled round about.
Not all of them were parishioners of Mr. Byars, the vicar of Walktown. Many attended the more fashionable church of Pendleborough, a mile away in what answered to the country"; others were leaders in the Dissenting and especially the Unitarian worlds.
Walktown was a stronghold of the Unitarians. The wealthy Jews of two generations back, men who made
vast fortunes in the black valley of the Irwell, had chosen Walktown to dwell in. Their grandsons had found it more politic to abjure their ancient faith. A few had become Christians,—at least in name, inasmuch as they rented pews at St. Thomas's,—but others had compromised by embracing a faith, or rather a dogma, which is simply Judaism without its ritual and ceremonial obligations. The Baumanns, the Hildersheimers, the Steinhardts, flourished in Walktown.
It was people of this class who supported the magnificent concerts in the Free Trade Hall at Manchester, who bought the pictures and read the books. They had brought an alien culture to the neighbourhood. The vicar had two strong elements to contend with, for his parochial life was all contention,-on the one hand the Lancashire natives, on the other the wealthy Jewish families.
The first were hard, uncultured people, hating everything that had not its origin and end in commerce. They disliked Mr. Byars because he was a gentleman, because he was educated, and because—so they considered—the renting of the pews in his church gave them the right to imagine that he was in some sense a paid servant of theirs.
The second class of parishioners were less Philistine, certainly, but even more hopeless from the parish priest's point of view. In their luxurious houses they lived an easy, selfish, and sensual life, beyond his reach, surrounded by a wall of in differentism, and contemptuous of all that was not tangible and material. At times the rector and the curate confessed to each other that these people seemed more utterly lost than any others with whom the work of the Church brought them in contact.
Mr. Byars was a widower with one son, now at Oxford,