THY SOUL SHALL
BEAR WITNESS !
FROM THE SWEDISH OF
DR. SELMA LAGERLOF
WILLIAM FREDERICK HARVEY
ODHAMS PRESS LIMITED
89 LONG ACRE, W.C. 2
: ;. ..-.-;■ ., /
Original Works issued for the first time
in" book form. .
Thy Soul shall bear Witness I Dr. Sblma Lagerlof
The Virgin of Stamboul - Louisb Jordan Miln
Bimonetta (from the Play Carnival) H. C. M. Harding*
The Auction ol Souls - Aurora Mardiganian
The Power ol the Borgias - Wm. Lb Queux
Spiritualism— The Inside Truth Stuart Cumberland
Aunt Angel ' - May Cromkrlim
The Ship that Sailed on Friday Rolf : Bennett
-i Rolf Bennett
- Arthur Seymour
Cecil H. Bullivant
Cecil H. Bullivant
Cecil H. Bullivant
Cbcil H. Bullivant
- Paul Trent
- M. E. Francis
-.: John Gabrtsl
- Charles Platt
Maris Connor Leighton
A Bachelor's Baby -
The Fall o! the Mighty -
Oarnett Bell, Detective
Hilly Lynne, Shop Investigator
A Strong Man's Way
Mysteries of Myra
The Man Who Made Good
Bosanna Dew - -
Outwitted - - - ■ '
The Last ol the Corinthians
A Prince of Sportsmen -
Famous Fights and Fighters
The Stolen Honeymoon
The Breed of the Beverleys - Sydney Horler
Seconds out of the Ring - Ladbrokb Black
How to Become a Film Artiste
Dangerfield & Howard
London : Odhams Press Limited
89 LONG ACRE, OD.C 2
' M2\ i922 . .
^ THY SOI#. SHALL
■ . .
: -.'or«" o~y
. ' ' '- V - :
Thb General Film Renting (1920) Company,
Ltd., 152-158 Wardour Street, W. i,
are the authorised dlstabutuig agents for the film
rights throughout the United Kingdom of the
Swedish Biograph Excel- Production of this story.
Telegrams : " Nunbeter, Ox, London."
Telephone No. : Regent 3000-3001.
- . . -
T. THE STORM WITHIN THE SOUL .
II. THE BIRTH OF A NEW YEAR
III. THE DEATH-CART . . .
•IV. A CALL EROM THE PAST .
V. SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH
VI. THE OLD WOMAN ON THE ROADSIDE
VII. THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL
VIII. DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON
IX. THE DRIVER'S PRAYER
• ... • "'• ■ 8
.: ■ V" "
I '• •'..""'
■ ■- -
THY SOUL SHALL BEAR
THE STORM WITHIN THE SOUL
It was a poor little Slum-Sister who lay dying.
She had contracted consumption of the rapid kind,
arid had not been. able to resist it beyond a year.
For as long as she possibly could she went about
performing her usual tasks, but when her strength
was quite exhausted she was sent to a sanatorium,
where she was nursed for several months without
getting any better. When at last the girl under-
stood that her case was hopeless she went home to
her mother, who lived in a little house of her own
in a suburban street. Now she was confined to her
bed. in a narrow room-rthe very same room she had
occupied as child and young girl— and was awaiting
Her mother sat sorrowful at her bedside, but so
anxious was she to bestow ah the care she could
. . .
— - -
— . .
10 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
on nursing her daughter, that she gave herself no
time to weep. A Sister, who had been the sick girl's
colleague in the slum work, stood by the foot of the •
bed weeping silently. Her gaze hung with tenderest
love on the face of the dying girl, and when the
tears gathered in her eyes she hastily wiped them
away. On a small uncomfortable chair, which the
invalid so much prized that she had brought it with
her when she moved, sat a stoutly^built woman,
with a big " F " embroidered on the collar of her
dress. She had been offered another chair, but she
insisted on sitting on the rickety one — as a mark
of respect, as. it were, to the sick girl.
It was no ordinary day, this, but New Year's
Eve ! The sky without hung grey and heavy, and
so long as one sat indoors one fancied that the
weather must be rough and chilly, but, once out
in the air, one found that it was surprisingly mild
and balmy.- The ground lay black — without snow ;
now and again a snowflake fell, but it melted at
once. Wind and snow seemed to think it not worth
while eetting to work to make a pother in the Old'
Year, but much preferred to husband their strength
for the New Year that was fast approaching.
It was much the same with men as with the
weather. They, too, seemed unable to set about
THE ; STORM WITHIN J THE SOUL ir
anything. There was no movement without nor
any work- within. Right opposite the house where
the woman lay dying was a plot of land where piles
were being driven in for a building. A few labourers
had come there that morning, had drawn up the
great pile-driver, accompanied by the usual noisy
song, and had let it drop again. They did not
stick long at their work, but soon tired of it, and
went their way.
It was just the same with everything else. A few
women had hurried by with their baskets to make
purchases for the holiday. The traffic had con-
tinued for a while, but soon stopped. Children
who had been out playing in the street were
summoned home to put on their best clothes—
and, after that, they had to stay indoors ! Cart-
horses were driven past, to be stabled far away in
the suburb, to rest for the next twenty-four hours.
The longer the day advanced the quieter everything
grew, and the cessation of every sort of noise was
felt as a relief..
, "--It is well that she should die thus, on a holiday, ' '
said the mother. '* Soon there will be no sounds
from without to disturb her."
The sick giri. had been lying unconscious ever
since morning,' and the three who were gathered
- f •■•'■ \ ' ■ ; , ' ■ f " ■' :•• ;•" •'"-"■
12 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS ! .
round her bed could say anything without her :
hearing them. In spite of this, however, it was
easy to perceive that she was not lying in a state of
dull torpor — her countenance had changed its
expression many times in the course of the forenoon.
It had looked astonished and anxious ; sometimes
it had an imploring; at other times a cruelly tortured
expression. Now for a long time it had been marked .
by a violent resentment, that marred and beautified
it at the same time. ■ " •
The little Slum-Sister had become so unlike
herself that her companion, who was standing at
the foot of the bed, stooped down to the other
Salvationist, and whispered : '";'•:
" Look, Captain, Sister Edith is getting so .
beautiful ; she looks like a queen:" :
The stoutly-built woman got up from the low
chair so as to get a better look at the invalid.
Assuredly never before had she seen the littje Sister
without the meek and cheerful mien which she
had retained up to the last, however tired and ill
she might feel. So surprised was the Captain at
the change in the girl's appearance that she did not
resume her seat, but remained standing.
By an impatient movement the little Sister had
thrown herself so high on the pillow that she was
■ * ■ "•-.
THE STORM: WITHIN THE SOUL 13
sitting half upright in the bed. An expression of
indescribable majesty hovered over her brow, and,
though her mouth did not move, she looked as if
words of chiding and contempt were issuing from
The mother looked up : at the two wondering
women. " She has been like this on other days as
. well," she remarked. "Was it not about this
time of day that she used to go on her rounds ? "
The Slum-Sister glanced at the patient's battered
. little watch that ticked on the table by the bedside.
' Yes," she admitted, " it was at this time she
. used to seek the outcasts."
She stopped abruptly and put her handkerchief
■•; to her eyes; whenever she tried to say something
about the invalid she found jt difficult not to burst
The mother took one of her daughter's hard little
hands into her own, and stroked it.
" She has, I suppose, had far too hard a task in
. helping them to keep their dens clean, and warning
them against their vicious habits," she said, with
suppressed resentment in her voice. " When you
•-'have a too exacting . task, it's hard to keep your
thoughts from it. She fancies she is once more on
her rounds, visiting them."
14 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
" That m^y sometimes be the case with a work
one has loved too much," remarked the Captain
They noticed how the patient's eyebrows were
raised and lowered till the wrinkle between them
became deeper and deeper, and how the upper
lip curved upwards. They waited, only for the
eyes to open and . shoot a glance of withering
" She looks like an avenging angel J " cried the
Salvationist Captain in an excited tone.
"What can they be about in the slums this
particular day ? " wondered her companion, as she
pushed past the others, so that she could stroke
the dying girl's forehead. "Sister Edith, don't
worry yourself about them any more," she went on,
and stroked her once again. "Sister Edith, you
have done enough for them."
These words seemed to have power to release
the sick girl from the vision that obsessed her ; her
features lost their look of tension, of majestic wrath.
The gentle and suffering expression, which was her
usual one since her illness, returned.
She opened her eyes, and, on seeing her companion
bending over her, she laid her hand on the latter's
arm, and tried to draw, her down to her.
THE STORM WITHIN. THE SOUL 15
The Sister could hardly guess the meaning of
this gentle touch, but she understood the imploring
look in the eyes, and bent down to the sick girl's
" David Holm I " whispered the dying girl.
The Sister shook, her head, doubting if she had
The sick girl tried her hardest to make her mean-
ing clear. She uttered the words with a pause
between each syllable.
" Send— for— Da— vid— Holm."
She gazed into the Sister's eyes until she was
certain that her friend had caught her meaning.
This done, she lay down again to rest, and a couple
of minutes afterwards she was off again, occupied
just as before, mentally present at some hideous
scene which filled her soul with wrath and
: The Sister rose from her stooping position. She
had ceased weeping, and was seized by a strong
emotion that had driven away her tears.
" She wants us to send for David Holm ! "
It seemed to be something quite awful that the
patient longed for — the big, coarse Salvationist
Captain was as much agitated as her companion.
" David Holm ! " she repeated. " That's hardly
;■ i/T^C ' ;--:.- •'-:'■■.■ r ■.,/■■ ~ "'
" M Vm : ! ! ,;,_ , i ,i i
.-■••■ .'.••■ .• •■:-,.
16 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
possible, I suppose ; nobody would allow David
Holm to approach anyone who was dying."
The girl's mother had sat down and seen how her
daughter's "countenance was working up to that
judicial expression of indignation. She now
turned to the two embarrassed women for an
" Sister Edith wants us to send for David Holm,"
explained the Salvationist Captain, " but we don't
know if that is fit and proper."
" David Holm? " asked the girl's mother doubt-
fully. "Who is he? "
" He is one of those with whom Sister Edith has
had a lot of trouble in the slums, but the Lord has
not vouchsafed to her to gain any influence over
" Perhaps it is God's purpose, Captain," said the
Sister hesitatingly, " to work upon him in these
\ her last moments."
The girl's mother looked at her indignantly.
" You have had the upper hand with my daughter,
you know, as long as she had a spark of- life left.
Let me have her to myself now that she is on the
point of death."
That settled the matter. Thg" Sister resumed
her place at the foot of the bed ; the Salvationist
THE STORM WITHIN THE SOUL 17
sat down on the little chair, shut her eyes, and was
quickly absorbed in low murmured prayer. The
' others caught a word or two — she was beseeching
God that the young Sister's soul should be suffered
to depart in peace from this life, without being
troubled and disturbed any more by the duties and
cares which belong to this world of trials and
Whilst absorbed in prayer she was aroused by
-the Sister laying a hand on her shoulder. She
opened her eyes suddenly.
The sick girl had recovered consciousness once
more, but she was not looking so meek and humble
as on the last occasion ; something of that threaten-
ing storm-cloud still lingered upon her brow.
The Sister stooped over her, and heard clearly
enough the reproachful . question :
" Sister Mary, have you sent for David
It was likely enough that the others would be
prepared to make excuses, but something *he
woman read in the poor girl's eyes silenced her^
"I will fetch him to you, Sister Edith," she promised,
and turned apologetically to the mother. " I
have never said no to anything Sister Edith has
asked me. How can I do so to-day ? "
:■ , ...
.- - I. . ■ • V' • • -- "•■■
. • ... ... .
18 THY SQUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
'■'".- ■ • ' :■-.'
The girl shut her eyes with a sigh -of relief, and
the Sister quitted the little room. " Then all was
hushed again. The dying girl's chest laboured more
painfully, and. her mother drew nearer to the bed,
as though anxious to shield her daughter from
A few seconds afterwards the girl looked up.
She had the same impatient expression as before,
■— - but when she saw that "her companion's seat was
~j- empty, she realised that her 1 wish was about to be
gratified, and her face assumed a gentler expression.
She made no attempt to speak, but, oh the : other
hand, she did not sink into a coma, but kept awake.
An outer door opened, and she sat up in bed.
Directly afterwards the Sister looked in at the
bedroom door, which she opened as narrowly as
" I dare not come in," she said, " I'm too cold.
Captain Andersson, be kind enough to come here
for a moment." She noticed at once how expect-
antly the sick girl's eyes were fixed on her. " I've
not been able to find him, yet, Edith," she added,
" but I met Gustavsson and two others of ours,
and they promised me to have him found. Sister
Edith, Gustavsson will be sure to bring him to
you if it is at all possible."
n i ii
THE STORM WITHIN THE SOUL 19
She had hardly finished speaking before the dying
girl shut her eyes and relapsed into that mood of
inward contemplation which had obsessed her all
" She sees him right enough," remarked the
Sister. Her voice had in it a ring of indignation,
but she corrected herself immediately. "Alleluia !
it's no misfortune that God's will should be
She. quietly retired into the outer room, followed
by the Salvationist Captain.
There stood a woman who could hardly have been
more than thirty years old, but who had so grey
and almost savagely lined a complexion, such
scanty hair and so shrunken a figure, that many an
old woman was not so ill-favoured in these respects.
Moreover, she was so miserably clad that you might
have fancied that she had put on some particu-
larly wretched rags for the purpose of going out
The Salvationist glanced at this woman with a
feeling of fast rising anguish. It was not her sorry
clothes or her premature old age that was the worst
point about her, but the steely rigidity of her
features. It was a human being which moved and
walked or stood, but who seemed absolutely ignorant
20 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
as to where she was. She had apparently suffered .
so dreadfully that her soul had reached a
crisis ; she might the next moment go raving :
" This," explained the Sister, " is David Holm's
wife. I found her 'like this when I reached her
house to fetch the man here. He had gone out,
and she was pacing there all alone, unable to
answer a word to my questions. I dared : not
leave her' by herself, so I brought her with me
here." • ■
" Is this David Holm's wife? " exclaimed the
Salvationist Captain. " I have certainly seen her
before, though I can't identify her. What can. have
happened to her ? "
" It's clear enough what has occurred," replied
the Sister sharply, as if seized by an impatient rage ;
"it's her husband who' is torturing the life out of
The Salvationist scrutinised the woman again and
again. Her eyes were bulging out of their sockets
and their pupils were staring fixedly before her ;
two of her fingeTs were incessantly writhing about
each other, and time after time a slight shiver ran
over her lips.
" What has he done to her ? " she wondered.
!'"• j- J, I ■ T
'~?T?*T - . ' , ' ' | . ' . '
THE STORM WITHIN THE SOUL 21
" I don't know. She could not answer my ques-
tions, but sat shivering like this when I came. The
children were out, and there was no one to ask. O
Lord God, that this should happen on this very day.
How can I manage to look after her now, when I want
to think of nobody but Sister Edith ? "
" The fellow has been beating her, I suppose."
r ' There must have been something far worse.
I've seen plenty of women who have been beaten,
but they were, never like this. No, it has been
something a great deal worse," the Sister exclaimed,
with increasing horror. " We saw, you know, from
Sister Edith's face that something terrible had
' Yes," -cried the Salvationist Captain ; " now
we can understand . what it was that worried her.
Thank and praise God that Sister Edith did see, so
:that you reached there in time, Sister Mary. Thank
the Lord and praise Him ! It is certainly His
purpose that we should succeed in saving the poor
" But what am I to-do with her ? She follows me
; when I take her hand, but does not understand a
word I say. Her soul has taken flight ; how can
. we recapture it ? I've no influence over her ; but
perhaps you will succeed better, Captain Andersson ? "
■'•-■■-••-• : • ' -V . :
_j>,;^ . i
T— ' ., ' ■ | '... .- ' ■
22 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
The heavily-built Salvationist took the poor
woman's hand, and spoke to her in a. gentle, but- at
the same time stern, voice. Not a glimmer 'of
understanding, however, was discernible on the
In the middle of these useless efforts Edith's
mother put her head in at the door.
" Edith is getting restless," she warned them ;
" you had better'come in."
Both the Salvationists hurried into the little
bedroom. Edith was tossing backwards and for-
wards on her bed ; but her restlessness seemed
rather to have been due to something weighing on.
her mind than to actual physical pain. She became
quiet directly she saw her two friends in thieir usual
places, and shut her eyes. : ■
The Salvationist gave the Sister a sign to remain
by the patient, but she herself got up, intending
to steal noiselessly out again. At that moment
the door opened and David Holm's wife walked in.
She went up to the bed, and stood there with
staring, dazed - eyes, shivering as before, and
twitching her bony fingers till the joints cracked.
It was long before anyone noticed any signs that
she was aware of what she saw, but the steeliness
of her glance gradually relaxed ; she leaned forward,
THE STORM WITHIN THE SOUL 23
and drew nearer and nearer to the face of the dying
Something defiant and awful passed over the
wretched woman ; her fingers clasped and unclasped.
The two Salvationists jumped up, in fear that she
was about to fling herself on Edith.
The little Slum- Sister opened her eyes, gazed at
the dreadful, half-insane creature before her, sat
up in bed, and flung her arms around her. She
drew the woman towards her with all the strength
which she could muster, and kissed her forehead,
cheeks, and lips, whispering meanwhile :
" Ah, poor Mrs. Holm ! Poor Mrs. Holm ! "
At first the broken victim of misfortune seemed
inclined to draw back, but all at once a shiver passed
through her body ; she burst into sobs, and fell on
her knees beside the bed, her head pressed against
" She is weeping, Sister Mary, she is weeping,"
whispered the Salvationist ; " she will not go mad
The Sister's hand clutched tightly her tear-
drenched handkerchief as she mopped her eyes in
a desperate effort to steady her voice. " Captain,
it's Sister Edith alone who can work such marvels.
Oh ! what will become of us when she is gone ? "
. __,_-_ — . — _.
24 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
The next moment they caught an imploring
glance from Edith's mother.
" Yes, certainly," said the Salvationist, with
quick understandkig ; " it would riever do for the
husband to come and find her here. No, Sister
Mary, you must remain with your friend," she went
on, when the Sister was about to leave the room.
" I will look after this other one."
' ''•' ■ "; * — — -
T r — ~ — - "" , ' -. r
THE BIRTH OF A NEW YEAR
OK this same New Year's Eve, but so late that it
: was night and quite dark, three fellows were sitting
dririking ale and Schnapps in the little shrubbery
surrounding the city church. They had thrown
themselves down on "a withered grass-plot, beneath
some lime-trees, the black branches of which
gleamed with moisture. Earlier in the evening
they had gathered together in a lap-room, but,
after closing time, they sat out-of-doors, as they
knew that it was New Year's Eve, and for that
reason they had betaken themselves to the shrubbery.
They wanted to be near the steeple-clock, so as not
to miss hearing when it was time to drink a toast
to the New Year.
They were not sitting in darkness, but had
abundance of light from the gleams thrown on the
shrubbery by the electric lamps in the surrounding
streets.. Two of them were old and down-at-heel;
26 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
a couple of unlucky tramps who had slunk into the
town to swill up the coppers they had amassed by
begging. The third was a man somewhat past
thirty. He, like the others, was very shabbily
dressed, but he was tall and well built, and seemed
to be sound of limb and stalwart.
They were afraid of being discovered and driven
off by the police, and that was the reason of their
sitting close together, so that they might talk in low
tones, almost in whispers. The younger fellow
was doing the talking, and the other two were
listening with -such rapt attention that they let the
bottles he for a long while undisturbed.
" Once upon a time I had a chum," said the
speaker, and his voice took a serious, almost eerie
tone, while a gleam of cunning lit up his eyes, " who.
was always quite unlike his usual self on New Year's
Eve. Not because he had on that day gone through
his big account books and was dissatisfied with his
year's profits, but simply because he had heard
tell of something dangerous and mysterious which
might befall anybody on that day. I assure you,
friends, that he used to sit silent and anxious from
morning to night, and would not once look at a
drink. He was not a moody man otherwise, but
it would have been as impossible to get him out on
— . :~~ _ .— - :
THE BIRTH OF A NEW YEAR
a New Year's Eve — for a little spree such as this —
. as it would be for one of you two to be hail-fellow-
well-met with the Lord Lieutenant.
" Ah, well ! I suppose you are wondering what
he was afraid of. It was something of a job to get
that out of h im, but on one occasion; however, he
: told me what it was. Perhaps you Would not care
to hear it to-night ? It does feel a bit dismal in a
shrubbery like this, which, likely enough, may have
been a graveyard in bygone days. What do you
think ? "
As the two tramps naturally protested that they
did not know what it was to be afraid of ghosts he
: proceeded to tell the story.
" He had come of a rather superior class, this
man I'm telling you about. He had been a student
at Upsala University, so he knew a little bit more
than fellows like . us, you see. And mark you,
gentlemen, he kept sober and quiet on New Year's
Eve simply so as not to get mixed up in a fight, or
expose himself to the risk of any accident, and so
come to die on that day. He did not care a rap if
he met his death on any other day whatsoever,
provided only that nothing fatal befell him on New
Year's Eve, for in that case he believed that he
would be made to drive the death-cart."
I Kk ! "..' fSj •
.. • i
.... r -
28 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
■-.... "■■' " ' . J ' • -' :
"The death-cart? " repeated his two hearers
together, in a tone of interrogation.
The tall fellow amused himself by whetting their
curiosity, asking them if they really wanted to hear
the story just where they were sitting ; but they
were eager for him. to go on with it.
" Well, this friend of mine," he continued,
" always used to assert that there is an old, old cart,
of the sort which peasants use for carrying ;< their
goods to market, but so dilapidated that it never
ought to exhibit itself on the king's highway. It
is so bespattered with mud, so dusty and dirty, that
one can hardly see what it is made of. Its shafts
are flawed, its fellies sit so loosely that they rattle,
the wheels have not seen grease within the memory
of man, and creak in a way to drive one crazy. Its
bottom is rotten, and the driver's cushion is tattered
and torn, and half : the back of the seat has been
broken off. And' this' cart has an old, old horse
that is one-eyed, lame, and grey with age in mane
and tail. It is so skinny that its spine sticks up
like a saw beneath its skin, and all its ribs can be
counted. It is stiff-legged, lazy, and ill-disposed,
and moves no faster than a young child crawls. : For
the horse there is harness that is worn out and moth-
eaten, it has lost all its buckles and clasps, and the
■ . . . ■ ■
THE BIRTH OF A NEW YEAR 29
pieces are joined together with odds and ends of
sail twine and birch twigs. It cannot boast a
single boss of brass or silver, but only a few sparse
tassels of yarn, which are a disfigurement and not
an ornament. The reins are in keeping with the
harness, for they consist solely of knot upon knot —
they have been mended so often that nobody can
make any "further use of them."
He got up and screeched out his hand for the
bottle, perhaps ; > give his audience time to reflect
on "."hat they had heard.
" Perhaps you think this sounds too much like
romancing," he said, resuming his story ; " but see,
the fact is that, besides the harness and the wretched
reins, there is a driver, who sits crooked and loath-
some on the tattered seat, and drives *he old horse.
He is blue-black on the lips and grey-blue on the
cheeks, and his eyes are as sombre as broken mirrors.
He is clad in a long black stained monkish habit,
•with a cowl which he pulls down over his face, and
in his hand he holds a blunt and rusty scythe in a
long handle* And, mark you, the man who sits
driving", with those reins tied together, is no ordinary
driver,. but is in the service of a grim master whose
name is Death. Night and day he needs must fare
on his master's errands. Directly anyone is doomed
30 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
to die — understand that, friends— it is his duty to be
on the spot. He comes rattling along in his creaking
old cart, as fast as the lame horse can drag him/'
The narrator paused, and; tried to get a glimpse of
his companions' faces. When he discovered that
they were as attentive as he could possibly desire he,
went on with his story.
" You haVe possibly seen some picture or other
of Death, and you have perhaps noticed that, for
the most part, he goes on foot. That is not Death
himself, but only his driver. Look you, one might
think that, so high and mighty a lord maybe' will
garner none but the very finest crops, and will leave
to his driver the care of the poor little straws and
weeds that grow by the wayside. But now you
must pay attention to the most curious thing in this
story. Well, the legend is that, though there is
always the same cart and the same horse to make
the rounds in this particular business, yet it is not
always the same driver. That grim figure will be the
last man or woman who dies during the year — the
one who gives up the ghost just as the clock strikes
twelve on New Year's Eve — and is foredoomed to.
become Death's driver. His corpse will be buried
like all other corpses, but his wraith must don the
monk's habit, grasp' the. scythe, and journey round
. _ - . - .
THE BIRTH OF A NEW YEAR
from one house of death to another for a whole
year, till he or she is released on the next New Year's
He ended his story, and gazed at his undersized
companions with a look of crafty expectation. He
noticed that they were looking in a fruitless effort to
see what time the church clock was pointing to.
" The clock has just struck a quarter to twelve,"
he informed them, " so you need not have the
'slightest doubt that the fateful hour has come.
Now perhaps you understand what it was that my
friend dreaded— nothing except that he might die
just when the clock struck twelve on New Year's
Eve, and that he might be compelled to become the
ghastly driver I have told you about. All that day,
I believe, he used to sit and imagine that he could
hear, the death-cart creaking and rattling. And,
mark you, gentlemen, the curious part of it is that
he is said to have died last year on that very same
New Year's Eve."
" Did he die immediately before the New Year
was ushered in ? "
" All I know is that he died on New Year's Eve,
but I've never found out the exact time. Well, well,
I might have predicted that he would die at that
very hour, because he sat worrying himself about.
' *~~ ■ ■■'.'• ,../■-.. . , ■■■:..-: ■ " •
32 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
it. If you two got that idea into your heads, likely
enough the same fate would overtake you."
The two puny fellows, as if by mutual agreement,
each clutched the neck of a bottle and took a long
pull, after which they began slowly and awkwardly
to stagger to their ..feet.
" But, friends, surely you would never dream of
going your ways before the stroke, of midnight ? "
cried the narrator, when he saw that he had suc-
ceeded all too well in frightening them. " I can
never really believe that you attach the least im-
portance to such an old wife's story as. this. Bear
in mind that my friend was rather a weakling— not
like us, of good, sound old Swedish stock. Come now,
will you take a drink and sit down again ? It will,
I think, be just as we'll," he went on, when he had
got them down on the grass, " for us to keep our seats.
This is the first place where I've had a rest since
morning. Everywhere else I was attacked by the
Salvation Army people, who want me to go to Sister
Edith, who, "so they say, is dying. But I made
excuses. Nobody for choice would let himself in ..
for such a beastly sermonising as I should get."
The two tramps, their brains clouded by their
last heavy pull at the Schnapps bottle, both bounced
up at hearing Sister Edith's name mentioned, and
Satiisk Biograph Co., UJ
I ; r \i<
SatJisk Biognph Co., Ltd.;
'■'__ :■'.. . THE BIRTH OF A NEW YEAR. 33
1' '"'" ■"'-'■ ■. : •' '-."'"
'."..' asked if she was the one who was managing the
Slum Rescue in that town.
"Yes, right enough, she's the one !"; replied
the younger man. " She has been honouring me
, with her special attentions all this year. I hope
she isn't one ..of your intimate acquaintances, in
which case your grief would be terrible."
It was not unlikely that the two tramps retained
, some "recollection of a .kindness Sister Edith had
' shown them. "They asserted with dogged deter-
mination that, according to their view of the matter,
; if Sister Edith Wanted to meet somebody, no matter
who he or she might be, it was that person's plain
duty to go to her at once.
" Ha ! that's your opinion, is it ? " said their
companion. " Well, I will go, if you, whose ac-
quaintance with me is somewhat slight, can tell
me what pleasure it would give Sister Edith to
Neither of the two vagabonds condescended to
answer" his question ; all they did was to insist on
• his taking himself off, and, when he repeatedly
refused to do so and got irritated with them, they
' flew into such a violent rage as to declare that,- if
he would not go of his own accord, they would give
him a sound thrashing. Thereupon they got on
_ - • •
34 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS ! ... .
their feet and rolled up their coat-sleeves .to attack
Their adversary, who was quite aware that 1 he
was the biggest and strongest man in the whole
town, was moved with a sudden sympathy for the
" If you must needs have it that way," he criedi.
" of jcourse I am ready whenever you please ; but
I venture to say that I think, gentlemen, that we
might as well make up this quarrel, especially if
you bear in mind what I have just told you."
The tipsy fellows hardly knew what had upset
their tempers, but their lust for battle was whetted,
and they hurled themselves on their companion
with clenched fists. So confident -was he of his
superiority that he did not trouble to stand up,
but remained sitting on the ground. He merely
stretched out his arms and warded off his adver-
saries right and left; as if they had been a pair of
puppies. But, like puppies, they returned to the
attack, and one of them managed to deal the big
man a doughty blow on the chest. The moment
afterwards the latter felt something hot rising. in
his throat and filling his mouth. As he was aware
that one of his lungs was gone, he suspected this
to be the starting of a hemorrhage. He stopped
THE BIRTH- OF A NEW YEAR
fighting and threw himself on the ground,
•a stream of blood gushed over his lips.
This was of itself a grave misfortune, but what
rendered it almost irretrievable was that his com-
panions, when they felt the warm blood spraying
over their hands and saw him sinking down, on the
ground, believed that they had murdered him, and
took to flight. He was left deserted! The
hemorrhage, it is true, gradually ceased, but directly
he made the slightest effort to rise the blood welled
It was not a particularly cold night, but the
dampness and chill began to torture him as he lay
prostrate on the ground. He had a feeling that
he was likely to perish unless someone came to his
rescue and took him to a place of shelter. To all
intents and purposes he was lying in the very heart
of. the town, and, as it was New Year's Eve, there
were multitudes of people up, and he could hear
them walking about the streets that ran round the
shrubbery— but not a soul entered it. He could
even hear the murmur of their voices! It was
hard, he thought, that he should perish for lack
of help, when help was so near at hand.
He lay waiting for a while, but the cold tortured
him worse and worse, and, when he realised that
v : . - - • .- ■;•.•■ •
36 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS \
it was impossible for him to^get on his feet, be
determined at any rate, to- I&out for assistance. .7
Just as he was uttering his cry for help the clock
in the tower above him began striking!
The human voice was so completely stifled in
that loud metallic clang that .nobody noticed his
cry of distress. The hemorrhage started afresh,
and it was now so extremely violent that he could
hardly help thinking that all the' blood in bis body
was about to leave it — if it had not, as it seemed,
already done so. .. ^
" It can't really . be possible, that I am to die
now, while the clock is actually striking midnight ! "
he thought, but he had a feeling that he was going ..
out like a burnt-out candle.
He sank down into darkness, and unconsciousness
at the very moment that the last booming stroke
of the clock died away — heralding the birth of the
. ' ; . -' 1 1 •■• ,; I I
■ V -
Directly after the clock in the church tower had
b_oomed out. twelve far-resounding strokes, a short,
sharp, creaking noise cleaved the air.
It recurred incessantly, at only momentary in-
tervals, exactly as if it arose from some ungreased
cart-wheel, but it was a much sharper and more
disagreeable sound than that which would come
from the most utterly worn-out vehicle. It had
anguish in its train ; it aroused a dread of all the
torture and suffering, imaginable.
Lucky it was that this weird sound seemed in-
audible to most of those who were waiting to see
the Old Year out. If it had been audible, all the
merry young people who wandered all night up
and down the streets round the . market-place and
church shrubbery, and who were now shouting
to each other "A happy New Year," would have
exchanged their festive greetings .for lamentations
' 37 ' .
..... ^ ... __._,„, , . _
38 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS \ Y
over all the evil that impended for themselves and
Had it been audible, the congregation which was '
keeping watch-night in the mission chapel, and had
just struck up the New Year's psalm of praise and
gratitude to God, would have fancied that they
heard mocking howls and yells from fallen spirits,
intermingled with the singing. "
Had it been audible, the orator at a merry party,
who was standing, a bumper of champagne in his .
hand, and was shouting for cheers for the New
Year, would have stopped his speech to listen to
the horrid raven-croak, with its foreboding of failure
in all for which he had hoped and longed..
Had it been audible, all those who were watching
that night in their silent homes, and examining in
the light of their consciences all their actions in the
bygone year, would have felt a keen despair at
'their own helplessness and weakness lacerating,
It was lucky that the creaking was audible only
to a single individual, and that this individual was
one whom it behoved to be brought to disquiet, to
the pangs of conscience, and, if it were possible, to
The man who had lost so much blood lay struggling
— — _ _____
to recover his senses. He thought that there was
something awakening him; that a bird with a
piercing shriek, or whatever it might have been,
was flying. over his head. He had, however, fallen
into a delicious slumber, and could not rouse himself
Immediately afterwards he was convinced that
the shrieking came from no bird — it was the old
death-cart, about which he had been talking to the
two vagabonds that was driving through the
shrubbery, creaking and squeaking so horribly that
he was unable to sleep.
But, half-conscious as he was, lying there, he
dismissed from his mind the idea that it could be
the death-cart. • It was simply because, but a little
time back, he had had it in his thoughts that he
fancied he was hearing it now. He fell again into
a trance — but once more that persistent creaking
came nearer and nearer through the air, and would
not suffer him to get any rest. At last he began to
realise that, what he heard was the creaking of a
real carriage ; it was no hallucination, but an actual
reality, and it gave no hope of any cessation.
Then he realised that he must make up his'
mind to wake ; there was no other course open to
■ - - ■"
} ; .. . -J4':-:-
:.... ._ n _ r _ , ^ _______
40 THY SOUt; SHALL OBEAR>WITNESS !
At once he observed' that he was lying on. the
same, spot, and that nobody had come to his assist-
ance. All seemed just as it had been, but a couple
of short and sharp creakings passed through the
air. They seemed to come from a long distance',
but they, were so persistent and ear-piercing that
he immediately made up his mind that these were
the sounds that had awakened Mm.
He wondered if he had been lying unconscious for
any length of time — but that did not' seem probable.
There were people so near that he had heard
them, just recently, shouting to each other "A
happy New Year." From this he concluded that
it could not be .much past midnight.
The creaking recurred again and again, and, as
the fellow had always been sensitive to strident
sounds, he decided that it .would be as well if he
ventured to get up and go his way, so as to escape
the noise — anyhow, he would make the attempt !
He felt in excellent health after waking up. It, no
longer seemed as if he had an open gaping wound
in his chest ; he was no longer chilly or tired,,
and did not feel conscious of his body, as is usually
the case when a person is in perfect health..
He was still lying on his side, just as he had
thrown himself down when the hemorrhage had
. •>':'-1 •
■ ~? .
4 - ■ •- ■' '
\ '■ -
started, and now, in the first place, he decided to
turn himself on his back to test what his far from
robust body would stand.
"Now I am going to lift myself on my elbow-
very, very carefully," he thought; "then Twill
turn round and let myself down again."
The man was accustomed— as we all are— when
his mind said : " Now I'll do this or that," to find
the thing done instantly, but this time it happened,
strangely enough, that his body remained lifeless,
. refusing to carry out the prescribed movement.
It simply lay completely inert !
Was it possible that he had lain there so long
that, he had turned to ice ? But if he were actually
frozen, then he must be dead— yet obviously he
was alive, for he both saw and heard. Besides, it
was not cold ; moisture was dripping-dropping from
the trees above him.
He had been- so busy wondering what sort of
paralysis had seized him that he forgot, for a
moment,' that excruciating creaking. But now he
• heard it again.
" Yes, David," he thought, " there is no possi-
bility now of escaping that music; you must put
up with it as best you can."
/. .It was not easy for a man who, a moment before,
42 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS 1
had felt well and hearty, and was not in the least
ill either, to be patient when lying inert. He made
incessant efforts' to move &l any rate a finger, or
raise an eyelid, but everything was equally
impossible ! He began to wonder how he acted
in former days when he could move. He fancied
that, somehow or other, he had forgotten the
Meanwhile the creaking kept coming nearer and
nearer. It was not far off now, for he could hear .
that it proceeded from a vehicle which was coming
very slowly down Long Street in the direction
of the market-place. It must be some wretched .
shandrydan that was coming, no doubt about that.
Now he could hear not only how its Wheels were
creaking, but also how the wood-work was rattling,
and the horse slipping upon the wood pavement.
It could not sound worse if the wretched death-cart
— for which his old friend had such respect — were
" We two, David," he thought, " are not as a
rule particularly partial to the police, but if they
were to turn up now and put a stop to this awful
row, we should be -grateful to them."
The man had always bragged about his strength
of mind, but now he began to fear that this creaking
' - •
music, combined with everything else that had
happened to him that night, would put a stop to
that. He had some disagreeable apprehension
of being found lying there, and, on the supposition
that he was dead, being put into a shroud and
" You will have to he and hear all that is said
around your dead body— and that is unlikely to
sound much prettier than what you are listening
Probably it was the creaking that made him, for
once, think of Sister Edith — not, however, with
any sort of remorse, but with an angry feeling that
she had, in some way, got the better of him.
The creaking filled the air and pierced his ears,
but it failed to arouse in the man any repentance
for the wrongs he had inflicted on others, but only
angry recollections of all the- disagreeable and evil
things that others had inflicted on him.
Whilst he was most bitterly bemoaning his lot,
he paused and listened intently for a whole minute.
i Yes, true as he was alive, the vehicle had passed
through Long Street, but had not turned off
towards the market-place ; the horse was not
stumbling any more upon the little round paving
stones— it was tramping on a gravel path — it was
&*-' - - '
In his joy at the thought that he could possibly
get help, the man tried hard to stand up,, but that'
effort was as ineffectual as the previous one. With
him it was only thought that seemed capable of
movement. But to make up for that he heard the
old cart coming nearer, and all the time its wood-
work was groaning, its harness was grating, and
the unlubricated wheels were painfully creaking.
It sounded so utterly decrepit that he began to
fear that it would tumble to pieces before it reached
the spot where he lay.
It moved so incredibly slowly, too> and, impatient 1
as he had been at lying helpless and alone, he
fancied that it -was taking more time to reach his
spot than it actually did. What sort of a vehicle .
it could be that was making for a shrubbery in the
dead of New Year's night was a puzzle to him.
Perhaps the driver was drunk, otherwise he would
not be taking such a course. No help could be
got from him if that were the case !
"It's the creaking that is making you so de-
spondent, David " he said to himself^ " The cart
has not turned down another alley, as you are
imagining, but is making straight for you."
The thing could not be more than a few steps
from' him now, but it was the dreadful creaking
which he could not stand, that had cooled his
" You are out of luck to-night, David," he con-
tinued. '" You will find that it is a fresh bit of ill-
luck that is coming to you. Some heavy roller is
gOirig to run over you — or something cheerful of
The next moment the man saw the thing that he
had been waiting for — though it was not a roller
coming to crush him it was frightening him out
of his wits.
As he could not move his eyes any more than
any limb of his body, he could see only what was
right in front of him. As the creaking vehicle came
from the side, it appeared in parts. The first
object to display itself to him was an old horse's
head, with a hoary foretop and blind in the eye
which was turned towards him. Next came the
fore-part of a horse, which had only one short
stump left of one foot, and carried harness mended
with bits of string and birch twigs, and adorned
with -dirty tufts of yarn.
Such was the sight presented by the whole of the
hoist, the whole of the wretched cart, with the back
. ■■ ... • . - ■• ■-••...'
. ■ ■ ' . •■:.■■•
: « :. .
46 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS 1
of its seat broken, and loose wobbling wheels— a
, common market-cart, but so- badly used by age
that no wares, it . seemed, could be- carried in
The driver occupied his seat, and his appearance
tallied accurately with the description the man
himself had/but a short time back, given of him and
his vehicle. He held in his hands a pair of reins
which consisted of a succession of knots, his cowl
was drawn over his eyes, and he sat askew, as
though bowed down by a weariness that no amount
of rest could ever cure !
The man had fainted after his second loss of blood, v
and thought that his soul had fluttered away from
him like an extinguished flame. It was not so
now— yet he thought that it was shaken and whirled
and agitated in such a manner that it could never
come right again. From all that had happened to
him before the cart came he ought to have expected
to see something supernatural, but, even if he had
for a moment entertained some thought or other of
the kind, he had attached no importance to it.
Now he beheld with his own eyes the apparition
such as he had heard described in the legend. ,
" David, this is going to send you crazy," he =
thought in his bewilderment. "It is not. enough
''? '■ •;- ■-* ■ "
•■ .■ ,
that my body is destroyed ; now my mind is
What scared him at that moment was his catching
sight of the driver's face. The horse had halted
right in front of him, and at the same time the
ddver had pulled himself together, as if he had
awakened from a dream. He had thrown back
Hs cowl with a weary movement, and was gazing
in all directions, as if looking for something.
Immediately the man on the ground met his
eyes he recognised him as an old acquaintance.
" Why, that's George," he said to himself
" Though he is strangely attired, I recognise him
— I recognise him ! "
" Can you tell me, David, where he can have
been all this time?" he continued, talking to
himself. " I don't believe we have met for a whole
year. But George is a free man — not tied with
a wife and children like you, David. He must
■ have been on a long tour — come perhaps from the
North Bole. I think he does look pale and starved
with cold/' ;
He looked very closely at the driver, for there
was something strange to him in the expression of
.the latter's face. Yet it must be George, his old
chum and boon-companion ! It could not be
48 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
anyone else. He recognised hinvby bis big head
and hawk-nose, his huge black moustaches and
his imperial. This main, who had the look about
him which any sergeant — nay ! one might say any
general— might be proud of, could hardly expect
to be recognised by an old friend.
" What are you saying, David ? " The mart
resumed his curious questioning of himself.
"Haven't you heard people say that .George died
last year in a Stockholm hospital, and , precisely
on New Year's Eve? I heard- it myself/ but this
is the first time we two have failed to recognise
each other— for this is George to the very life. Just
look at him now; as he is getting up. Can it be
anybody but George himself, "with that delicate
body all out of proportion with his corporal's head ?
Eh! what are you saying, David? Didn't you
see, when he jumped out of the cart, that he had
on a cloak that it looked as if he : was still wearing
the long coat, full of holes, that used always to hang
down to his heels? Buttoned right up to his
neck, now as always, David, and the big red necker-
chief that fluttered about his throat j but not a trace
of waistcoat or shirt. Yes ! just the same George
now as in the old days." "
The paralytic felt quite cheered up. He would -
■ : -
•-'-■■ j f ■■ . ■■■■.
' ■ ■ ■ ■
r. : . .
burst but laughing if, taking it aft together,
it had been possible for him to laugh.
*?■' Some day, if we get strong and well again —
.you and I, David — we'll pay him back for this
practical joke of this. He nearly drove me crazy
with his queer rig-out, just as if he had laid dynamite
under it. No other fellow than George would have
■dreamt of picking up such a sorry horse and cart,
and come driving in them to church ! Never once,
• David, have you had the chance of getting up such
a big bit of foolery as this. George was always a
cleverer chap than you."
' The driver walked up to the prostrate man and
eyed him intently ; : his countenance was stern and
grave, and^ evidently he did not know the man
There are two things I cannot make out in all
. this»" thought the fellow: " One is how he found
out that I and my pals were sitting on the turf
here> and so got the idea of coming here and giving
us a scare ; the other is his venturing to dress himself
up just like that Death's driver whom he was always
so frightened of."
The driver stooped over him with the
same weird look. " He won't be very cheerful,
poor "wretch, when he finds out that he must
••'•-" ' .;
50 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS I
release me," the man heard him muttering to
Leaning upon the scythe, the driver brought his
face nearer and nearer ; next moment he recognised
his friend. He bent : down towards him, threw
back his cowl abruptly, and' looked him in the
" Oh ! " he shrieked out,,," it is David Holm who
is lying here ! He was the only one I hoped would
be spared from this.
"Ah, David, it is you, it is you!" he cried,
flinging down his scythe, and kneeling before bis
friend. " All the past year," he went on, with
intense fervour and distress, " I. longed for an
opportunity to say but a.single word to you— before
it was loo late. Once I was almost able to do that,
but, you withstood me, so I could not reach you.
I thought I should have the chance one short hour
afterwards, because I am now to be discharged
from my duties, but you are already stricken down
here. Now it is too late to warn you to take heed
of yourself." '
David Holm listened with tremendous bewilder-
"What does he mean?" he wondered. "He
is talking just as if he were dead. And when was
it he was near me and I opposed him ? But, of
course," he soothed himself by saying, " he must,
you know, play up to the part he is acting."
" I know, David," began the driver again, in. a
voice trembling with emotion, " that it is my fault
that you have come to such a pass as this. If you
had n6t had the ill-luck to meet me you would have
continued leading a quiet, honest life. You and
your wife would have worked on, and in time reached
prosperity. You were young and clever, both of
you, and nothing should have prevented you. Be
sure of this, David ; not a day has passed, this
livelong year, without my calling to mind in bitter
grief that it was I who lured' you from your in-
dustrious habits and taught you my own bad ones.
Alas," he continued, passing his hand over his
friend's face, "lam afraid you have gone farther
astray than I was aware of, for how else could these
dreadful marks have been carven round your eyes :
and mouth? "
David Holm's good humour began to give way
to impatience. " Let there be a stop to this
foolery, George," he muttered. " Now, do go and
find semeone who can help you lift me into your
cart, and drive me to the hospital as fast as you
■ ■ ■ !
52 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
" David, cannot you understand what has been
my occupation during the last year? " cried the
driver. " Do you not realise what kind of cart and
horse have conveyed me here ? Do I need to tell
you who, after myself, will have to grasp the scythe
and hold the reins ?. But, David, bear in mind that
it is not I who have condemned you to this fate.
During the whole of this awful year that is
before you, don't think for a moment that I
was a free party, and could, therefore, have
avoided meeting you to-night. Be well assured
that I would have done my utmost, had it been
possible, to prevent you "'undergoing ' the same
penalty as I."
" Poor Georga must have gone mad," David
Holm decided, " else he would understand that it
is -a question ol life or death for me, and that it
will not do to dawdle in this' way/'
Whilst these thoughts were passing through his
brain, the driver gazed : on him with unutterable
"You need not worry ■ yourself , David, at not
being taken to. a hospital. When I •come .to a sick
person, it is then too late to send for any other
" It's iny firm belief that all the witches and
• •, .. ~-
■..■■• . • ■.
•• . ■
devils are abroad to-night and have got up a per-
formance among them," thought Holm. "When
at last a fellow comes to me, who really could help
me, he is either mad or malevolent, if he does not
care a. straw if I perish."
"I should like to remind you, David, of an
incident that happened to you last summer,"
remarked the driver. " It was one Sunday after-
noon, and you were trudging along the high-road
through a deep valley ; wherever you looked lay
broad fields and beautiful estates with verdant
gardens. It was one of those sweltering hot after-
noons which sometimes occur in midsummer, and
I think you noticed, in the course of your walk,
that you were the only one astir in all that country-
side. The cows were standing still in the pastures,
riot venturing beyond the shelter of the trees, and
every human being had disappeared. They must
have, betaken themselves to their homes to avoid
the heat. Is it not true, David, that this was
; "It may have happened, you know," admitted
the man, " but I've been out and about so many
urnes .in the heat and cold that I can't remember
' Just when the silence was most intense, you
54 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS I
heard a creaking behind you on the --road. You
turned your head and fancied that someone was
coming after you, but you could not discover anyone.
You looked about you several times, thinking that '
it was the weirdest experience you had ever had. • .
You heard the creaking quite distinctly— but where
could it come from ? It was broad daylight open : .
country, and the silence that reigned was such that
nothing else could confuse the sound. You could
not realise that it was possible for you distinctly
to hear the creaking of a wheel without seeing any
cart or carriage. You refused, however, to admit
that there might be something supernatural in the
incident. If only your thoughts h>d run in that
direction, I might then have made myself visible
to you — before it was too late." .
David Holm now remembered all about the
incident quite distinctly. He recollected that he
had peeped behind the fences, and had peered down
into the ditches, to find out what it was pursuing
him. At last he had become half scared, and had
gone into a farmhouse to escape from the pursuing
noise. When he had come out again, all had been
" That was the only time I saw you in the course
of the year," continued the driver. " I did all I
■"• i* 1ff ' ■ .' ~ — -
THE DEATH-CART 55
could to get you to see me, but it' did not lie in my
power to come nearer to you than was necessary
for you to hear the creaking. You were walking
. like a blind man beside me."
" It is true that I heard the creaking," thought
David Holm, " but what does he want me to under-
stand by that? Would he have me believe that
it was he who was driving after me on the road ?
I may have told the story to someone, but why
: should he tell it in turn to George ? "
The driver bent over him and spoke in the tone
of one rebuking a sick child.
" It is no use your struggling, David. It is not
desirable that you should understand what has
. happened to you. But you know more than well
that I, who am addressing you, am no living man.
- You have heard before this of my death, but you
refuse to acknowledge it. Even if you had not
heard of it, you have, you know, seen me driving
in that fateful cart. In that cart, David, no living
man is ever carried I ' '
v He pointed to the wretched vehicle, standing in
• ■ i the middle of the avenue.
"Just look at the cart, and look also at the trees,
standing beyond it."
David Holm obeyed his exhortation, and now,
■ • ' ■
56 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
: -- :
for the first time,, was forced to admit that he was
in the presence of. something which he could not
explain. He could actually see the trees, on the
other side of the avenue,, right ■ through the oU
' You have heard my voice many times,"
remarked the driver, " It cannot be possible that
you fail to notice that I speak differently than I
David Holm had to agree to that. George had
always had a beautiful voice, and so, also, had this
driver ; but it was quite another sort of voice: It
sounded thin and high-pitched, and not very audible.
It was the same performer, without doubt, but'he
was playing on another instrument.
The driver stretched out his hand, and David
saw that a drop of water, from the dripping branches
above, fell upon it— but the drop was not arrested,
but fell clean through the hand to the ground.
On the gravel- walk in front of them lay a fallen
bough. The driver took his scythe, thrust it under
the bough, and lifted it up again through it— but
the bough did not fall cleft in twain ; it remained"
as intact as before.
" Try not to misconstrue this, David," said the
driver, "but rather to understand it. You see
• '- •
me, and you thipk that I am like my old self — but
this body of mine is such that those only who are
dying or dead can see me. You, therefore, are
not to think of my body as anything. It is a home
for a soul — just as is your own body, and the bodies
of other human beings. You must not regard
it as something solid or heavy, or endowed with
strength, but you are to regard it as an image that
-you have, seen in a mirror, and then try to fancy
. that it has stepped out of the mirror and can speak
David Holm no longer cherished any thoughts
of rebellion. He looked the facts straight in the
face, and was no longer at pains to evade them.
It was, indeed, a dead man's wraith that was talking
to him ; and his own body was that of a dead man.
At the same time, however, while admitting this,
he perceived that something within him was be-
ginning to work itself up into a dreadful rage.
" I will not be dead," he told himself fiercely.
" I will not be a mere phantom and a nothing !
I will have a fist that I can fight with and a mouth
that I can eat with."
At these words, the rage within him gathered
into a dense black cloud which rolled to and fro,
sultry and loathsome, and tortured no one but
58 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
himself, nor that for long, but was ready to burst
at the first opportunity.
" There is something which I wish to ask you
about, David, because you and I were good friends
. in old days," continued the driver. " You know
as well as I do that there comes a time to every
man when his body is destroyed, or so worn out
that the soul that dwelt therein is forced to quit
it. The soul, however, trembles and shivers in.
anguish at entering an unknown country. It
stands much in the same way as a child by the sea-
shore, that shrinks at committing itself to the waves.
Before it dares to take the plunge, it must first
hear a voice from someone, already in the Infinite,
so it may understand that no peril aWaits — then
it takes the plunge.
" I have been a voice like that, David, for the
whole past year, and such a voice must you be in
the year at hand. And there is one thing I will
beg of you — do not rebel- against this your lot, but
accept it submissively ; otherwise you will bring
great suffering upon yourself, and upon me."
After saying this, the driver bent his head to
look into David Holm's eyes. It seemed almost
as if he shuddered at the defiance and rebellion
that met his gaze.
fl . -,- ■ —■:--
" You must remember, David," he persisted,
with even more insistent persuasiveness than before,
" that this is not a thing you can escape from. I
have as yet . not much knowledge of how matters
stand on the other side. I have only been taken
to -its borders, so to speak, but, so far as I have
seen, no pity, no mercy, is to be looked for — you
have to fulfil whatever is ordained, with good grace
or with ill."
Again he gazed into David Holm's eyes, but
nothing met him there but the great blackness of
a cloud charged with wrath.
" I do not ifleny, David," he exclaimed, " that
to sit in yonder cart and drive- that horse from house
to house is the most awesome occupation that could
be assigned to any man.- Wherever that driver
comes, tears and lamentations await him ! What
he has continually to see is sickness and destruction,
wounds, blood, and horror. And that is perhaps
the least' terrible part of it all. It is far worse to
see that which lies within^that which is in agony,
remorse, and dread of what may come. I have
told you that the driver stands only at the threshold
— he thinks, as men do, that he sees only acts of
injustice, disappointment, unfairness of treatment,
fruitless strivings, and confusion. He cannot peer
60 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS J
so far into the other world as to discern if there is
a meaning and a providence. He can see a glimpse
of it sometimes, but, for the most part, he has to
fight his way through darkness and doubt. And
think of this, David ; though it is only for a year
that the driver is doomed to drive the death-cart,
yet time is not reckoned there according to earthly
hours and minutes — as the driver is forced to reach
every spot which he is ordered to visit, time for
him is stretched out to such an extent that the
single year is like thousands of your human years.
Although the unfortunate driver knows that he is
doing only what he is bidden to do, it is impossible
to describe the loathing and disgust he feels for
himself, and how he looks upon himself as damned
by reason of his office. But worst, of all, David,
is that, in the course of his journeys, the driver .
also meets the consequences of such evil as he has
committed during his earthly lifeT— for how should
this be avoided I "
The driver's voice nearly rose to a shriek, and
he wrung his hands in anguish ; but he noticed that
only withering scorn was gleaming on him from
his old friend's eyes. '. He drew his cowl on, as if
he felt chill.
" But, David," he continued insistently, " I say
' - ■ i' ■
to you that, however hard that which awaits you
may be, you must not rebel against it — unless
indeed you wish to make it worse for you and for
me than it is already. For I must not leave you
to yourself ; it is my duty to teach you your work,
.and that, I fear, will be the hardest task ever im-
posed on me. You can keep me here, with my
scythe, for weeks and months — nay ! even till next
New Year's Eve. My year has expired, but I shall
not get my freedom till I have taught you how to
fulfil your Office with good grace."
All the time he was speaking, the driver remained
on his knees before David Holm, and his words
gained strength by the sincere affection with which .
he uttered them. Still on his knees, he paused for
a moment, searching for a sign that his words had
produced, some effect;' but in his former friend
there remained a fixed determination to withstand
him to the uttermost.
■i " It rhay be that I am' dead," thought the latter ;
" I can't help it if I am ; but nothing shall compel
me to have anything to do with the death-cart and the
death-horse. They must devise some other work
for me-^-I won't have anything to do with that
. The driver was about to rise from- his knees when
62 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS I
he suddenly, thought of something that he ought
" Bear in mind, David, that, up to now, it was
George who was addressing you ; but now you
have Death's driver to deal with. You remember,
I suppose, whom people have in mind when they
talk of him whose decrees are absolute.";
The next moment he stood up, scythe in hand,
his cowl pulled over his forehead.
" Come out, you prisoner from your prison ! "
he shouted in a loud and ringing voice.
Instantly David Holm rose from the ground. He
did not know how it had happened, but suddenly
he was standing upright ! He tottered, as every-
thing seemed whirling about him, both the trees
and the church wall— but he soon gained his
" Look round, David Holm," cried a stern
The man. obeyed in momentary". bewilderment.
On the ground in front of him lay outstretched a
splendidly built fellow, dressed in dirty rags.
There he lay, weltering in blood and dirt', surrounded
by empty bottles, with a red-blotched, swollen
face, the original features of which nobody could
guess. A stray beam of light from the distant
-*■■■' - •-:
. .' .
street lamps was reflected, with a baleful, malicious
gleam; in the orbits of his eyes.
Before this prostrate figure stood the man himself
a tall fellow, of handsome build, clad in the same
dirty raiment which the dead man wore. He stood
before this other as his double.
Yet he was not completely a double, for he was a
nothing— perhaps it is wrong to say a nothing ;
he was an image of the other, such h might be seen
in a mirror, an image that had stepped out of the
glass, and now lived and moved.
He turned round hurriedly. There stood George,
and he realised now that the latter, too, was nothing
—only an image of the body that he once had
" O soul which lost command of your body, the
very instant that the clock struck twelve on New
Year's Eve," cried George, " you shall relieve me of
my office ! For the space of a year . you shall
liberate the souls from their earthly tenements."
At these words David Holm became his old
aggressive self again. In a whirlwind of rage he
rushed at the driver, made a snatch at his scythe
to break it asunder— and at his cowl— to tear it to
pieces. Then he felt his hands forced down, and
. his legs snatched from under him ; something
64 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
invisible was bound round his wrists, chaining them
together, and likewise round his ankles. After
that he was lifted up and flung roughly, as a dead
thing, into the cart, and there he had to he, without
anybody caring how he had fallen.
A moment afterwards the- cart started away !
SttbHsIi Biograph Co.', LU.<
Swedish liiograph Co., Ltd
y, : ~ : ■ . ;
A CALL FROM THE PAST
It was a narrow and lofty, but fairly capacious,
room in a suburban bouse— a house so small that it
was completely taken up by this room and a smaller
one, which served for a bedroom. The room was
lighted by a lamp suspended from the ceiling, and
by its gleam one could see that it was cosy and
Not only that, it was a cheerful/ room, which
provoked a pleasant smile on the lips of the visitor.
You could see at once that those who dwelt there
had amused themselves by furnishing it in such a
way as to give the impression of its being a whole
The entrance to it was in a side wall, and hard by
the door stood a small stove. Here also was the
kitchen, and in it was gathered together all that
pertained to cooking. The middle of the room was
furnished as a living-room, with a round dining-table,
66 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
a couple of oak chairs, a tall grandfather's clock, and .
a little cupboard for -china and glass. Here, of
course, was the lamp, suspended from the ceiling,
right over the round table, which sufficed to illum-
inate the ante-chamber — the innermost portion of
the room— with its mahogany sofa and drawing-room
table, its flowery Axminster rug, its palm-tree in a
tasteful china pot, and the innumerable photographs ! .
What jokes such an arrangement of the furniture
must have occasioned. If a good friend called,
the fun would be to.take him into the ante-chamber
and then apologise for his being left to sit by him-
self whilst his hostess was obliged to shut herself up
in the kitchen. At the dinner-table— which stood
so close to the cooking department that.yoU could
feel the warmth of the stove— you may have said
many a. time with great pomposity : " Now you
may ring for the housemaid to take away the plates."
And if one of the children began to cry in the
kitchen, you might pretend to laugh at th« joke
that it should be careful not to shriek so loud, or.
papa (who was sitting in the inner " room ")' might
Thoughts akin to these usually sprang to the
minds of people .who saw the room, but to those
who entered it on New Year's Eve, shortly af^er
■*.>i — < -
A CALL FROM THE PAST
midnight, most • assuredly no such light and flippant
. fancies occurred. Those who then entered it were
two men, both so down at heel and ragged that they
might have been taken for common tramps, if one
of them had not been wearing a black robe over his
rags, and holding in his hand a rusty scythe. It
was an unusual get-up for a vagabond, and, stranger
still, was his way of entering the room— without
turning a key or opening a door ever so little, but
merely walking through it, although it was
. The second man was not wearing any alarming
symbol, but when he came into the room, not
walking, but in some queer fashion hauled and
dragged in by his companion, he seemed a much
more frightful object than the latter. Although
he was bound hands and feet, and was with the
uttermost contempt flung- down on the floor by
his companion, lying like a dark heap of rags and
wretchedness, he inspired dread through the frantic
wrath that flamed from his eyes and distorted his
. The two men did not find the room empty when
they entered. They saw, at the round table in the
living-room part, a young man with weak features
and^ a pretty babyish look about the eyes, sitting
m ?~ m ~ mmm ~ m ~^ mm
■ ■• .
:" ; .'■ .-' ' ' ". . . ' •
■■■'...•• • ■" ' • ■
68 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
with a somewhat older but small and delicate woman.
The man was wearing a jacket on which, in striking
big letters across his chest, was embroidered the
words Salvation Army. The woman was clad in
black, without any symbol except a bonnet of the
usual type affected by Slum-Sisters, which lay in
front of her on the table and testified to her
connection with the Salvationists.
Both these people were extremely distressed.
The woman sat silently weeping, again and again
drying her eyes with a moist and crumpled handker-
chief. She did this impatiently, as if the tears
embarrassed her by preventing her attending to
something else that she ought to do. The man's,
eyes were also red with weeping, but, in the presence
of another, he refrained from giving full vent to
Now and again they spoke a few words to each
other, and it was evident that their thoughts were
in another room with a sick person whom they had
quitted for a moment so that her mother might
be alone with her. They were, however, so engrossed
with the invalid, that neither of them appeared to
take the least- notice of the strangers. The latter
certainly kept quite silent and still — the one stand-
ing erect, leaning against the door-post, the other
A CALL FROM THE PAST
lying nerve-racked at his feet. But the couple at
the table ought, apparently, to have been amazed
at these guests who had entered through closed
doors and in the dead of night
At any rate, the man who was on the floor felt
astounded that these people should turn their eyes
from time to time in his and his companion's direc-
tion, without seeming to.be aware of their presence.
He, for his part, could see everything, and, when
he had passed through the town, he had noticed
that everything seemed just like he had seen it
with his human eyes— yet no one appeared able to
see him. In his frenzy, the man had nursed the
thought of trying to scare;his enemies by ^revealing
himself to them in his present state, but he was
forced to admit that he could not render himself
visible to them.
Never before had he been in this room, but he
recognised both the people sitting at the table, and,
for that reason, he had not the slightest doubt of
his whereabouts. If anything could increase his
rage, it was at being carried, against his will, to a
place which he had, all the previous day, refused
Suddenly the Salvationist at the table pushed
his chair back. " It is past midnight now," he
70 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
said; "his wife thought that he would be back
home by that time. I shall go there and ask him
Saying this, he rose slowly and reluctantly from
his chair and took up his coat, which was hanging
at the back of his chair, to put it on.
" I understand quite well, Gustavsson, that you
don't care for the job of going after him," replied
the woman, struggling hard against the insistent
weeping which threatened to stifle her voice, " but
you must bear in mind, that it is the last favour
Sister Edith asks of you."
The Salvationist paused just as he was putting
his arm into his coat-sleeve. "Sister Mary," he.
said, " it may be true that this is the last service I
can render Sister Edith, but I hope that David
Holm will not be at home, or, if at home, that he
will refuse to come with me. I have sought him
several times to-day and begged him to come, as
you and Captain Andersson told me to do, but I
was glad all the time that he said ' No,' and that
neither I nor anyone else succeeded in bringing
The prostrate figure started , when he heard his
name mentioned, and an ugly sneer spread over
A CALL FROM THE PAST
" That fellow seems to have a trifle more sense
than the others," he mumbled.
■ The Slum-Sister looked at the Salvationist, and
spoke sharply, without her voice being choked with
weeping. "Gustavsson, you had best this time
convey the message in such a way that David Holm
will be made to understand that he must come
here ! "
The Salvationist walked to the door with the air
of a man who obeyed without conviction.
" Shall I bring him here, even if he is as
drunk as drunk can be?" he asked from the
" Bring him here, Gustavsson— alive or dead, I
had almost said. At the worst he can he here and
sleep off his debauch. The only important thing
is for us to get hold of him."
The Salvationist had laid his hand on the door
handle when suddenly- he turned and walked back
to the table.
" I don't like a fellow like David Holm coming
here," he protested, and his face turned white with
emotion. "Sister Mary, you know quite as well
as I what sort of a fellow he is. Do you think,
Sister, that he is fit to be here ? Don't you think
that he is far too foul to go in there ? " he continued,
72 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS ! .
pointing to a door half -concealed in the ante-room
" Do I think " she began, but he did not let
her finish what she had to say.
" Don't you realise, Sister Mary, that he may
come only to jeer at us ? He will brag that one of
the Slum-Sisters was so fond of him, that she could
not die without getting a sight of him."
The Sister looked up suddenly and shaped her
lips for a hasty retort, but she bit them together '
again and reflected.
" I can't bear his gossiping about her — least of
all when she is dead ! " exclaimed the Salvationist.
Directly afterwards came the Sister's answer,
solemn and emphatic. " Gustavsson, are you
certain that David Holm would be far wrong if he
said that ? "
The figure that lay imprisoned on the floor started,
and was penetrated by a sudden feeling of joy. He
was utterly astounded, and glanced up to George
to see if he had noticed his emotion. The driver,
however, stood motionless, but David Holm, by
way of precaution, muttered something about it
being a pity that he had not discovered that interest-
ing fact while he was alive. It would have been
something to brag about to his boon companions.
A CALL FROM THE PAST
The Salvationist was so perturbed by what he
had heard that he clutched hold of the arm of a
chair. The walls of the room were dancing round
" Why do you speak in that way, Sister Mary ? "
he askedj " You don't want me to believe "
The S&ter was a prey to strong emotion. She
clenched her hand tightly round her handkerchief,
while she uttered words which gushed forth in a
wild torrent, as if she were in a hurry to get them
said before hesitation came to stop her.
"Whom else should she hold dear? We two,
Gustavsson, and all the rest who have learnt to
know her, have allowed ourselves to be converted
and conquered by her. We have resisted her in
nothing, even up to the last. We have never
mocked or sneered at her. She has no right to
suffer either anguish or remorse for our sake.
Neither you nor I, Gustavsson, is responsible for
her lying where she now lies."
The Salvationist seemed calmed by this out-
" I did not realise that you were speaking of love
for sinners, Sister."
" Nor do I, Gustavsson."
At this confident assurance, one of the spectres
— , , ,
74 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
was again throttled by a feeling of joy which he
could not express, but, afraid lest his anger, his
frantic desire to rebel, should in some way be dis-
pelled, he tried to choke it down at once. He had
been taken by surprise, for up to now he had
imagined that nothing but sermonising was in store
for him. In future he intended to take better heed
Sister Mary sat down and bit her lips to overcome
her emotion, y She was about to make a sudden
plunge. . '
" It does not matter my speaking to you of that,
Gustavsson," she began, " for nothing matters now
that she is about to die. If you will' sit down for a
minute, I will explain what I mean."
The Salvationist wriggled out of his coat and
resumed his seat at the table. Without uttering a
word, he sat looking expectantly at the Sister with
his fine, honest eyes.
" First of all, Gustavsson, I will tell you how we
kept last New Year's Eve, Sister Edith and I,"-
she continued. " It had been arranged at head-
quarters, in the previous, autumn, that a Slum
Refuge should be established in this town, and we
two were sent to start it. We had a fearful lot of
work, but the Brothers and Sisters had done their
. . .. ■ -i —
A CALL FROM THE PAST
utmost to help us, and by New Year's Eve we had
got so far as to be able to move in. The kitchen and
dormitories were already in order, and we had
hoped that we should open the' Refuge on New
Year's Day itself— but that diti not come off,
because the sterilising oven and the wash-house
were not ready."
At first the Sister found it hard to keep from
crying, but, as the story proceeded, and she was
carried away from the present, her voice became
" In those days you did not belong to the Army—
if you. had, you would have spent with us a very
happy New Year's Eve. Some of the Brothers and
Sisters paid us a visit, and we invited them to tea
for the first time in the new home. You cannot
imagine how happy Sister Edith wasj-at having
established a Refuge here, where she was at home,
and knew every poor person and understood what
they needed. She walked about, looking at our
coverlets and mattresses, our freshly painted walls,
our bright pots and pans, with such joy that we
could not help laughing at her. She was as
merry as a grig— as the saying goes— and when
Sister Edith is merry, then all the rest are
■— — ■ . - - - ■■ v 'r~::.t > -^i
..'■•■■■■ •..-.'. —
76 THY'SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
" Halleluia ! that I know," cried the Salvationist.
" The merriment lasted as long as our friends
stayed," the Sister went on, " but after they had
gone, a deep anguish overcame her at all the evil
that exists in the world, and she said that I was to
pray with her that it might not prevail against
us. So we went on our knees and prayed for our
Refuge, for ourselves, and for all those whom we
hoped to succour. Just as we were kneeling in
prayer, there came a ring at the front-door
" Our friends had been gone but a very short
time, so we said to each other that one of them had
perhaps forgotten something, and wanted to fetch
it ; but, by way of precaution, we both went down
to the street-door. When we opened it, we saw
none of our friends, but one of those for whom the
Refuge had been founded. There he stood in the
doorway, big and ragged, but so drunk that he
stumbled. He looked to me so awful that I was
seized with terror, and thought that we ought to
make the excuse that the Refuge was not yet
opened, and decline to receive him. But 'Sister
Edith was glad that God had sent her a guest —
she thought that He wished by that to show us
that He was looking favourably on our work. So
A CALL FROM THE PAST
she admitted the fellow. She offered him some
supper, but he swore at her and said that he only
wanted to he down. He went into a dormitory,
and, after flinging off his coat, threw himself down
on a camp-bed, and in another minute he was
" Fancy you being frightened of me ! " laughed
David Holm to himself, but not without some hope
, that the motionless figure behind him would hear
that he. was still the same David Holm as before.
"It's a' pity you cannot see me just as I am now —
then methinks- I should frighten the life out of
" Sister Edith wanted to show some exceptional
kindness to the first person who came to our Refuge,"
the woman went on, " and I noticed that she felt
disappointed when he went so promptly to sleep ;
but next moment she brightened up again, for she
had just caught sight of his coat. Gustavsson,
I don't think I have ever seen a garment so dirty,
so ragged, and in such sorry plight as that was !
It reeked so of filth and . Schnapps, Gustavsson,
that it was hard to go near it. When I saw Sister
Edith start to mend it, I could not help a dread
coming over me. I told her to let it alone, as we
had no oven or wash-house ready to disinfect it.
78 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
" You understand, Gustavssoni that this man
was to Sifter Edith from the very first as a gift from
God, and it was such a delightful task for her, to
mend onl of his garments for him, that I could not
prevent |er. Nor did I help her either: No, I
had said to myself, you know, that there might
be infection in that coat — it -could not be right for
me to touch such filth. She took the responsibility
on herself, because I was her subordinate, and she
saw that I did not undertake anything injurious
to health ; but she set herself to sew and mend that
coat the whole of New Year's Eve,"
The Salvationist on the other side of the table
lifted up his hands and pressed them in ecstasy one
against the other.
" Halleluia ! " he .cried ; " thanks be to God and
praise for Sister Edith 1 "
" Amen ! Amen ! " replied the Sister, beaming
in a sudden ecstasy. " Thanks be to God and
praise for Sister Edith — that is what we should
always say, in sorrow as in joy. Thanks be to God
and praise that she was what she was, to sit up all
night bending over that horrible coat sewing at it
as proudly and happily as if it had been a royal
He who had been . David Holm . felt a curious
• . »
A CALL FROM THE PAST
sense of rest and repose, picturing to himself the
young girl, as she sat in the calm of night mending
a poor vagabond's coat. After all that had been
irritating and exciting him, there was something
soothing and healing in this. If only old George
had not been standing glum and motionless behind
him, watching every movement of his, he would
have liked to dwell long on this thought.
. " Thanks to God and praise," continued the
woman, " that Sister Edith has never regretted
that she sat up all that night, sewing on buttons
and patching up holes, until four in the morning,
without thinking of all the infection and stench
she was inhaling. Thanks to God and praise that
she never regretted sitting in a room so penetrated
by the bitter chill of that winter's night that it
became like an ice-house before she went to bed."
" Amen ! Amen ! " replied the Salvationist.
" She was quite frozen with cold when at last
she was ready," remarked the Sister. " I heard
how she lay and tossed and turned in her bed, for
many weary hours, without being able to get warm.
She had hardly dozed off when it was time to get
up again, but I coaxed her into staying in bed and
letting me look after the guest, in case he should
get up before she had had her sleep out."
■ . •; • --■•■v..-^....r ^--!--?
80 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
" Sister Mary, you have always been a good friend
to her," replied the Salvationist.
"I know that it was a great privation for Sister
Edith," she continued, with the ghost of a smile,
" but she did it to please me. It was not long she
lay in bed, for when the man had drunk his coffee,
he asked me if it was I who had mended his coat.
When I told him that it was, not, he asked me to
fetch the Sister who had helped him.
" He was sober then, and quiet, and chose his
words better than many of his stamp usually do,
and, as I knew that it would be a great joy to Sister
Edith to hear him express his thanks, I went to
fetch her. When she came, she had not the look
of one who had been awake all night, for she had
a bright flush on her cheeks, and was so pretty in
her joyful anticipation that the man was, to a
certain extent, struck with admiration on seeing her.
He had taken his stand by the door, and was waiting
with such a baleful expression on his face that I
was afraid he meant to strike her. ' There's no
danger,' thought I, ' he won't do anything to her.
Nobody could have the heart to hurt her.'' "
" Halleluia ! Halleluia ! " chimed in the Sal-
" But the fellow's face clouded again, and, when
•''". , ',"
.'• ; - ■' ■ ■ • -•. . ■ ~^~~. r ~~- ~~
A CALL FROM THE PAST
she came up to him, he tore so violently at the pilot
coat he was wearing that the buttons— that had
just been sewn on — were lugged out. After that
he drove his hands so fiercely into his newly-mended
pockets that we heard the cotton burst ; and, last
of all, he split up the fining of his coat till it hung
in sorrier rags than when he had first come. ' You
see, miss, I'm used to having it in that state,' the
fellow jeered. ' It seems easier and most suitable
for me. It was a pity, Sister Edith, that you should
have given yourself so much trouble, but I can't
help it.' "
The spectre which lay on the floor saw before
him a face beaming with happiness, which was
suddenly clouded. He almost acknowledged to
himself that that silly monkey-trick of his had been
cruel and ungrateful, when the thought of George
again obtruded itself. " It is just as well that
George should hear what sort of fellow I am— unless
he knows it already," he decided. " David Holm
is not the man to throw up the sponge at the outset.
He is hard and wicked, and has a way of getting
irritated by silly people."
" I had not before that moment given a thought
as to how the fellow looked," continued the Sister,
" but when he stood there and deliberately tore up
82 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
what Sister Edith had sewn together with so many
beautiful thoughts., I looked closely at him, and
noticed that he was so tall and finely built that one
could not help admiring such a handiwork of nature.
He had, too, a good and easy carriage ; his head was
big and of the best shape ; his countenance at one
time must have been handsome, though then it
was so blotched and swollen that the features were
undistinguishable, and one could not form an
opinion as to how they may have looked at the
" Though he acted as he did, and, moreover, gave
a loud and wicked laugh ; though his eyes shone
yellow and ferocious ; yet I think that Sister Edith
only thought that she had met some special object
for her charity, a human wreck far on the road to
ruin. I noticed that at first she shrank back, as if
she had been struck, but after that a bright fight
illuminated her eyes, and she took a step nearer to ■
" The only thing she said was that, before he
went, she wished to invite him to- come to her
Refuge next New Year's Eve. And as he stood
gazing at her in utter astonishment, she added :
' You see, I prayed to God to-night to grant to the
first guest at this Refuge a happy New Year, so I
"'■'"■' "■ ■ ■■ ■ ~~-~ T^" ~ ~ — ~T
A CALL FROM THE PAST
want to see you again to find out if He has granted
" As soon as he understood what she meant, the
fellow broke out into oaths. ' Yes, that I promise
you ! ' he jeered. ' I will come again and show you
that He has not cared a rap for you and your namby-
pamby nonsense.' " , - *
The man who was thus reminded of a promise
that he had made and quite forgotten, but had now,
against his will, come to fulfil, felt for a moment
like a weak reed in a strong man's hand, and
wondered if his rebellion had any meaning. But
he stifled the thought— he would not submit, he
would fight until doomsday, if it was to be
The Salvationist grew more -and more excited
while Sister Mary related this meeting on New
Year's morning. He could not keep quiet any
longer, but jumped up.
" You have not told me the name of that brutal
tramp, Sister Mary— but I understand that it was
David Holm! "
Sister Mary nodded assent.
" My God, my God, Sister Mary," he cried, out-
stretching both his. hands, " why will you insist on
my fetching him here? Have you noticed any
84 THY SOUL SHALL, BEAR WITNESS !
improvement in him since that morning ? It seems
as if you would have him here, so that she should
see that her prayer to God had been made in vain.
Why do you want to inflict such distress on her ? "
The Sister looked at him impatiently, almost
" I have not finished "
But the Salvationist interrupted her.
" We must take heed, Sister Mary, of the snare
set by a lust for revenge. There is in me a being
of sinful nature, who would- like to summon David
Holm here, this very night, to show him the pure ■
woman who is dying, and tell him plainly that- it is
he alone who is responsible for her leaving us. I
take it, Sister Mary, that it is your intention to tell
David Holm that, while Sister Edith was carrying
out the work which he, in his ingratitude, tore up,
she caught a deadly infection. I have heard you
say that she has never enjoyed a day's sound health
since last New Year's Eve. - We must take heed,
Sister, we who have lived with Sister Edith and still
have her in our sight, not to yiejd to the hardness
of our hearts."
The woman bent over the table and spoke with-
out looking up, just as if she had fitted her words
to the figures on the tablecloth.
:'/"■>■'" ' "' • T ~~" " \ ~
A CALL FROM THE PAST
"Revenge?" she said. "Is it revenge to let
• a person understand that once he possessed some-
thing most glorious, but that he has lost it ? Or, if I
put a rusty iron into the fire to make it fresh and
bright— is that revenge ? "
" I knew that it was so, Sister Mary," replied the
Salvationist, with equal vehemence. " You hope
to succeed in converting David Holm by laying on
his conscience the burden of remorse. Have you
ever seriously thought whether it might not be
our own revenge that we are nursing and hugging
to our hearts? There is a dangerous snare in
that, Sister Mary. It is so easy to make a
The pale-faced Sister gazed on the man with eyes
beaming with the rapture of self-denial, which said
plainly enough : " To-night I am not seeding aught
of my own."
The Salvationist turned red, tried to reply, but
the words failed him. The next moment he flung
himself down by the table/ bid his face in his hands,
and, overcome by long-pent sorrow, began to
The Sister did. not disturb him, but over her lips
welled a prayer. " O Lord God, Jesus Christ, let
US get through this miserable night. Grant me
86 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
strength to help all my friends— I who am the
weakest and understand least ! "
The prisoner scarcely paid any attention to the
charge of having infected Sister Edith, but he
started when the Salvationist burst into tears. He
had made a discovery which affected him strongly,
and he hardly cared to hide it from the driver. It
delighted him to- realise that the girl whom that
good-looking youth had loved preferred himself.
As the Salvationist's sobs became less and less
violent, the Sister stopped praying. •
" Gustavsson, you are thinking of what I said a
little while ago about Sister Edith and David
A " Yes " was audible between his coat-sleeves,
and at the same time the man's whole body quivered
" Gustavsson, that causes you much suffering,
which I can well understand- I know another who
has loved Sister Edith with all his soul — she herself
remarked it and said that she could not understand
it. She meant that if she were to care very much
about a man, it would be one who stood higher
than herself — and you think so too, Gustavsson.
We can, I suppose, give our lives to help the wretched, -
but our purely human love we cannot give to any
— — - . _. _____
A CALL FROM THE PAST
one of them. When I tell you that Sister Edith's
love is given elsewhere, it wounds you."
The Salvationist did not move, but lay with his
head against the' surface of the table. The in-
visible figure, on the other hand, made an attempt
to get nearer, as if to hear better, but he was
immediately ordered by the driver to keep
" If you move; ■ David, I shall have to punish
you in a way you have never dreamt of," he said,
and David Holm, who now realised that the driver
kept his word, and had strange powers, remained
. " Halleluia ! " shouted the Slum-Sister, with
an excited expression on her countenance.
" Halleluia ! Who are we that we should judge
her ? Have you not observed that, when a heart is
filled with pride, it bestows its love on one of the
great and mighty of this world; but when a heart
is void of all but meekness and charity, to whom
can it give its fondest love but to one who is greatest
in cruelty and degradation, and has gone the
farthest astray ? "
David Holm felt a prick of annoyance at these
words. " You are very strange to-night," he
thought to himself. " Why bother yourself about
88 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS ! I
what those people say of you? Did you expect
that they would value you very highly ? " •
The Salvationist lifted up his head and looked
as if he were putting to her a question. " It is
not merely that, Sister Mary."
" Yes, Gustavsson, I understand what you mean
—but you must bear in mind that Sister Edith
did not know at the beginning that David Holm
was a married man, and," she continued, after a
slight hesitation, " anyhow, I think it hard to believe
otherwise — all her love aimed at his conversion.
If she had seen him standing on the platform,
confessing that he was saved, she would have been
The Salvationist grasped the Sister's hand, while
he watched her lips attentively. At her last words
he uttered a gasp of relief. " So it was not the
love that I mean," he remarked.
The woman shrugged her shoulders .slightly and
sighed at this obstinacy. " I have never received
any confidence on this point from Sister Edith,"
she explained. "It may very well be that I am
" If you have not heard anything from Sister
Edith's own lips, then, in my opinion, you are
mistaken," the young man stated very gravely.
The ghost, crouching by the door, grew gloomy ;
he did not like the turn the conversation had now
"Gustavsson, I don't assert that Sister Edith
felt anything but pity for David Holm the first time
she saw him. And there was no reason either
that she should have loved him afterwards — at
one time he often came across her, and he per-
sistently withstood her. . Wives used to come to
us and complain that their husbands had been
enticed from their work since David Holm came
to this town. And there was an increase of insolence,
violence, and vice. Wherever we turned among
the wretched we experienced it, and we fancied
that we could always trace it to David Holm. But
Sister Edith being what she is, it was quite natural
that this very fact should make her more keen to
win nim for God's sake. He was like a wild beast
which she pursued with powerful weapons — the more
the animal turned against her, the more doughtily
she attacked it, confident that in the long run she
would come off victorious, because it was she who
was the stronger of the two."
" Halleluia ! " shouted her companion. " So she
was, too, Sister Mary. Do you remember that you
and Sister Edith went one evening to a public-
go THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
house, and walked round distributing notices of the
new Slum Refuge ? On that occasion Sister Edith
saw David Holm sitting at a table in company with
a young man, who was listening to the fellow's
jokes at the Slum-Sisters, and joined in his laughter.
Sister Edith noticed that young man, and her
heart was touched for him ; she whispered a few
words to him about not letting himself be ruined.
The young man did not answer her, nor did he
follow her immediately — but he could not force a
smile. Though he stayed in the same company,
and filled his glass, he could not put it to his lips.
David Holm and the others laughed' at him and
said that he had been frightened by the Sister.
But that was not the case, Sister Mary, far 'from it ;
it was her compassion — that she could not help
warning him — which touched the young man, and
won him so that he must needs leave the others
and follow her. You know this is a fact, Sister
Mary, and you know also who the young man
" Amen I Amen ! It is true that I know who
the man is who from that day became our best
friend," replied the Sister, with a kindly nod to
the Salvationist. " I don't deny that Sister Edith,
got the better of David Holm on that occasion,
A CALL FROM THE PAST
but much more often she was worsted. She caught
a chill that New Year's Eve, and she was always
struggling with a cough that she could not get rid
of — which she has not got rid of even to this very
day. The despondency of sickness preyed on
her, and that, maybe, was the cause of her not
fighting with her usual success."
"Sister Mary," interrupted the Salvationist,
" there is nothing in what you say that indicates
that she was in love with him."
" No, Gustavsson, you are right ; nothing in-
dicated it at the beginning. I will tell you what
made me think so. We knew a poor sempstress
who had consumption, but who struggled against
her disease, and, above all, fought with superhuman
courage against spreading the infection. She had
one child whom she wanted to save from contagion.
She told us that, one day, when she was seized
with coughing in the street, a tramp went straight
up and abused her for the precautions she was
taking. ' I also have consumption,' he said, ' and
the doctor Wants me to be cautious — but not I !
I cough right into people's faces, because I hope
they will catch it and go to "Kingdom Come." Why
should they be better off than we ? That's what
I should like to know.' He said nothing else, but
92 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS ! •
the sempstress was so frightened by him that she
felt ill the whole day. She described him as tall,
and of good appearance, though he was clothed
in wretched rags. His face was indistinct to her,
but for hours at a stretch she could see before her
his eyes, which iky like two fierce yellow gleams
, between swollen eyelids. What frightened her
most was that he seemed neither drunk nor an.
utter wreck, but nevertheless spoke as he did, and
cherished such bitter hatred towards his fellow
" It was no wonder that Sister Edith recognised
David Holm at once by this description, but what
astonishes me is that she took up the cudgels for
him. She tried to make the woman believe that
he was only amusing himself by scaring her. ' It's
quite out of the question that so strong a man as
he should be in any way tuberculous,' she main-
tained. ' I think he is quite wicked enough to
enjoy frightening yOu, but he is not depraved
enough to infect people out of sheer malice, even
if he were consumptive. He is certainly not such
" We others contested this point— we believed
that he was quite as bad as he had painted himself —
but she defended him all the more warmly, and she
- : • : " ~
A CALL FROM THE PAST
was almost angry with us for thinking so badly
For the second time the driver showed signs that
he was observing what was going on around him.
He bent down and looked into his companion's
eyes. "I believe the Slum-Sister is right, David.
She who could refuse , to credit everything evil of
you must certainly have been very fond of you
" It may be, Gustavsson, that all that means
nothing," continued the Sister, " and what I noticed
two days afterwards even less. It happened one
evening when Sister Edith returned home dejected
— she was in low spirits at the woes that had befallen
her charges — that David Holm came up and began
talking to her. All he wanted was to tell her, he
said in his sneering way, that she would have a
better and a quieter time now, because he was
going right away from the town.
" I expected that Sister Edith would have been
glad at this news, but I perceived from her answer
that she was unhappy about it. She told him
straight out that she would prefer his staying — so
that she might strive with him for some time
" He said that he was sorry for this, but that he
~; ' f . _:
94 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
could not stay, however, because he was on a journey
through Sweden in search of a person whom he
absolutely must find. There would be no peace
and quiet for him until he had found that person.
' You must know, Gustavsson, that Sister Edith
inquired with such evident anxiety as to who this
person was that I was nearly whispering to her to
be careful not to give herself away to such a callous
brute. He did not notice it, however, but simply
replied that if he found the person in question she
should be informed of it. He hoped that she would,
be delighted that he need no longer tramp the wide,
wide world as a poor vagabond. '
: ' With this he departed, and he may have kept
his word, for we saw nothing further of him. I hoped
we should never have anything to do with him .
again, for he always seemed to me to bring bad
luck wherever he appeared. One day, however, it
so happened that a woman, came up to. Sister Edith
at the Refuge and inquired for David Holm. She
stated that she was Holm's wife, and had thrown
him over, not being able to stand 'his drunkenness
and bad habits. She had stolen away secretly,
and taken her children with her, and come to our
town, which lay far from their former home, and it
had never entered his head to make any serious
A CALL FROM THE PAST
attempt to find her there. She had now got work
in a factory, and was so well paid that she could
support herself and her children. She was a well-
dressed woman who commanded confidence and
respect. She was a sort of superintendent of the
factory-girls, and had earned such good money
that she was able to provide herself with a comfort-
able home, and a sufficiency of furniture and house-
hold utensils. Formerly, while she was still living
with her husband, she had not possessed enough to
feed herself and the children.
" She had now learnt that her husband had been
seen in the town, that the Slum- Sisters knew him,
and she had called on us to find out how he was
going 1 on.
" Gustavsson, had you been present then, and
heard and seen Sister Edith, you would never have
forgotten it. When the woman came and told us
who she was, Sister Edith turned pale, and looked
as if she had been stricken with mortal grief ; but
she quickly pulled herself together, and then a
heavenly light shone in her eyes. It seemed as if
she had gained a complete victory over herself, and
cared nothing, for her own part, about earthly
things. And, I must tell you, she spoke so beauti-
fully to Holm's wife- that she moved the woman to
96 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
tears. She never uttered a word of reproach to
her, yet she made her repent having deserted her
husband. I believe she even got the woman to
regard herself as a monster of harshness ! What is
more, Gustavsson, Sister Edith contrived to revive
the old love — the youthful love that the woman
had felt for her husband when they were first
married. She induced the wife to tell her about
what sort of man he had been. during their early
married days, and she got her to long for her hus-
band. You must not think, Gustavsson, that she
concealed what he was now, but she inspired the .
other woman with the same ardent desire to reform
David Holm that she herself felt."
The driver, by the door, again stooped forward
and observed his prisoner — but this time he rose
without uttering a word. Something dark and
horrible had gathered round his former friend, which
he felt that he could not endure. He stretched
himself at full length against the wall, and drew
his cowl well. over his eyes to escape seeing him.
" Certainly the wife already felt a germ of remorse
for abandoning her husband to his wickedness and
evil ways," the Sister went on. " It was whilst
talking with Sister Edith that she received this new
feeling. On this first occasion, however, there was
• . '■ '
A CALL FROM THE PAST
no question about her duty to let the man know
her address, but that was decided at the next long
conversation'. And, Gustavsson, I won't insinuate
that Sister Edith talked her over or gave her much
hope, but I do know that she wanted the wife to
invite him to her home. She thought that such an
action might rescue him, and she did not dissuade
the woman from it. I must say that that was Sister
Edith's work, and that it came off ; I must say
that it was she who united the man with those it
was in his power to ruin. I have thought and
wondered a good deal about that, and I do not
understand how she dare venture to take on herself
so grave a responsibility unless she had loved him."
The woman uttered these words in a tone of
strong conviction, but the two, who' had been
excited when she told of the sick Sister's love, now
kept still. The Salvationist sat motionless, his
hands over his eyes, and the figure prostrate at the
door resumed the expression of black hatred which
he bore when first he had been dragged into the
" None of us knew where David Holm had
wandered to," continued the woman, "but Sister
Edith sent him word by some tramps that we could
give him information about h'is wife and children
98 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
and it was not long before he came. Sister Edith
brought him and his wife together, after she had
seen to his being decently clothed, and had found
him a job with some builders in the town. She
exacted-no promise or undertakings, being aware
that nobody can bind men of his sort by promises,
but, as a good husbandman, she wanted to plant,
in good new soil, the seed that had sprouted up
amid thorns — and she was certain that she would
" Who knows if Sister Edith might not have been
successful, if a great misfortune had not happened ?
To begin with, Sister Edith was attacked by
inflammation of the lungs, and when that was
subdued, and we were hoping for a speedy con-
valescence, she languished instead, and we had
to send her to a sanatorium.
" I need not tell you how David Holm behaved
to his wife — that you know as well as we do. The
only person we have tried to keep in ignorance is
Sister Edith herself, because' we wanted to spare,
her feelings. We hoped that she would die without
hearing of it, but. now I am not so sure. I think
that she knows all. How could she have found
" The curious spiritual tie that unites her to David
• ; .v" >.
C ' *• ~ '■ •
A CALL FROM THE PAST
Holm is so strong, that I believe she may have
gained information of what concerns him by other
than the usual ways, and it is just because she
knows all that she has been anxious the whole day
to speak to him. She has brought endless misery
on his wife and children, and she has but a few
short hours in which to put things straight. And
we are so helpless that we cannot assist her even
by bringing him here."
" But what good would it do ? " demanded the
Salvationist obstinately. "She can't talk to him
— she is. far too weak."
" I can talk to him in her name," replied the
Sister confidently. " He would listen to my words,
if spoken to him beside a death-bed."
" What would you say to him, Sister Mary ?
Would you tell him that she loved him ? "
The Sister got up, clasped her hands across her
breast, and stood with upturned face and closed
" Oh, Lord God ! " she prayed, " grant that
David Holm comes here before Sister Edith dies !
Dear God ! vouchsafe that he may see her love,
and that the fire of her love may melt his soul I
Oh; God ! was not that love sent to her to melt his
heart. ? Good God, make me brave, so that I may
ioo THY SOUL SHALLfBEAR WITNESS !
not - think of sparing her, but dare to lay low his
soul in the flame of her love ! Oh, God ! let him
feel it as a gentle breeze through his soul, as the
breath from an angel's wing, as the red gleam that
is kindled at dawn in the east and drives away the
darkness of night. Let him not think that I would
have vengeance on him, but make him understand
that Sister Edith has loved the very soul in him
— that which he himself has tried to choke and-
kill. Dear God— "
The Slum-Sister started and looked up. The
Salvationist was putting on his coat once more. .
" I will go after him, Sister Mary," he said, with
a certain huskiness in his voice. " I will not come
back without him." ,
But the prone figure by the door turned to the
driver and addressed him.
" Haven't we had enough of this, George ?. When
I first came here there was ; something that gripped
me in what they talked about. In that way you
- might perhaps have softened m% but you should
have warned them — they ; should have avoided
talking about my wife." )
The driver did not answer, but with a slight
gesture pointed towards the' room. A little Old
woman had entered through the hidden door,
A CALL FROM THE PAST
farthest away in the ante-room. She walked
with silent steps to the couple who had been carry-
ing on the long conversation, and spoke in a voice
that quavered with the importance of the tidings
she was about to announce.
" She will not he there much longer. Soon she
will fly hither ! It will be over quickly now."
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH
The poor little Sister who was lying on her death-
bed felt that she was getting weaker and weaker
every morkent. She was in no pain, but lay
struggling against death, as, many a time, when
she had been watching by- a sick-bed, she had
struggled against sleep.
" Ah ! how sweet is the temptation ; but it will
never do for you to overtake me." Such words
'had she addressed to sleep ; if, at any time, it had
descended on her for a couple of minutes, she had
always jumped up quickly from it and returned
to her duties.
Now she was thinking that, in some cool room — ■
with a continual draught of pure frosted air that
it would be a delight for her lungs to breathe — a
bed, deep and broad, was spread, with pillows as
soft and puffy as fermenting dough. She knew
that this bed was arranged for her, and she longed
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 103
to sink down in it and sleep off her physical weari-
ness ; but she had a feeling that her sleep would be
so sound that she would never wake again. She
continued to resist the temptation of rest — that
cannot fall to her lot as yet.
When the little Sister gazed round the room,
there was a look of reproach in her eyes. She
looked sterner than she had ever done before.
" How cruel you are not to help me with the
only thing I long for," she seemed to explain.
" Have I not gdne out of my way many a time to
serve you when I was well, cannot you now take
the trouble to summon here the man I wish to
meet ? "
More often than not she lay with her eyes shut,
waiting and listening so intently that not a move-
ment in the little house escaped her. Suddenly
she. received the impression that a stranger had
entered the outer room, and was waiting to be
shown in to her. She opened her eyes and looked
imploringly at her mother.
"He is standing, you know, by the kitchen door.
Can't you let him in, mother ? "
Her mother got up, went to .the hidden door,
opened it, and looked into, the bigger room. She
came back, shaking her head.
104 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
"There is no one there, child," she said; "no
one but Sister Mary and- Gustavsson."
Then the sick girl sighed and shut her eyes again ;
but she had still the feeling that he was sitting
right against the door and waiting. If only her
^clothes had been lying, as usual, on a chair at the
foot of the bed, she would have put them on, and
gone herself to speak to him. But the clothes were
*ri§fc lying there, "and, besides, she feared that her
riiother would refuse permission for her to get
She wondered and wondered how she could
manage to get into the outer room. She was
certain that the man was there, but that her mother
would not let him pass in to her — probably she
thought that he looked awful, and did not want
"to have anything to say to such a creature.
" Mother thinks that it is no good my meeting,
him. She believes that it is a matter of indifference
to me now I am fated to die."
At last, she hit upon a plan which seemed to her
" I'll beg mother to let me move into the big
room and he there," she decided.. " I'll tell her
that I long to see it once agaim Mother cannot
have any objection to that."
... . ' ' .'
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 105
She expressed her wish, but could not help
wondering if her mother had seen through her
proposal of changing her room, for the elder woman
had so much to urge against it.
" Are you not lying comfortably where you are ? "
the woman asked. " You were pleased enough,
you know, to He here on other days."
• She did nothing to gratify the sick girl's wish.
The little Sister felt as if she were a child again,
and had begged her mother for something that the
latter did not .consider proper to give her ; and,
in the same way, like a little child, she now began
imploring and worrying, so as to exhaust her
" Mother, I should so dearly like to go into the
big room. Gustavsson and Sister~Mary will carry
me there, if only you will call them. It won't be
for long, mother, that my bed need remain there."
"You shall find," replied' the mother, "that
you will no sooner be there than you will want to
come back here again ! " But she got up and
: quickly returned with, the two friends.
It was fortunate that Sister Edith was lying in
the little wooden bedstead which she had slept in
as a child, so that the three— Gustavsson, Sister
Mary, and her mother — could manage to carry
106 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
her out. Directly she was in the larger room, she
cast a glance towards the kitchen-corner, and was
quite astounded at not seeing Holm there —
for this time she felt quite sure that she was
She felt cruelly disappointed, and, instead of
looking about her in the three-partitioned room
which held so many memories, she shut her eyes.
Once again she had the feeling that a stranger was
lingering by the door.
" It's impossible that I can be mistaken," she
thought ; " somebody must be there — he or someone
She opened . her eyes and examined the room
with the closest scrutiny. Then, by dint of. great
pains, she discovered that " something " was stand-
ing by the door — not so visible as a shadow, but
what she called the shadow of a shadow.
The mother bent over her affectionately. "Are
you feeling more restful now that you are in here ? "
The girl nodded, and whispered that she was
so glad to be there ; but she was not thinking of the
room, but lay all the time gazing at the door.
" What is that over there ? " she wondered, and
deemed it ' more than a matter of life and death
to find out.
i " ■- '■ ■
y . . . ^
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 107
They had placed her bed in that part of the room
which she and her mother used to call their drawing-
room, and this part was farthest from the door.
After she had been lying there for a short time she
whispered to her mother : " Now that I have seen
how it looks in the drawing-room, I should like to
go into the dining-room."
She noticed her mother exchanging a worried
glance with the other two, and the shaking of their
heads. ' This she interpreted as their fear of moving
■her nearer to that shadow which was lingering by
j, the threshold. She had now, little by little, begun
to suspect who he was, but she had no dread of
him, but only wanted to get nearer to him.
She glanced imploringly at her mother and friends,
and they obeyed her without further demur.
When she found herself in the central part that
they used to call the dining-room she was much
nearer the door, and could discern a dark form
lingering there, with some sort of implement in
his hands. It could not be David Holm, but it
was someone whom it was imperative that she
should meet, the girl decided.
She must get nearer still to him ; so, while she
tried hard to • force an apologetic smile, she also
showed by signs that she wanted to be carried into
io8 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
the " kitchen.'.' She observed that her- mother was
so saddened by this that she began to weep, and
through her mind flitted the thought that her mother
was calling to mind her sitting in the kitchen in
front of the stove, her face flushing in the fire-glow,
and herself chattering about everything that had
happened to her at school, her mother mean-
while preparing their supper. She realised that her
mother was actually thinking that she saw her child
in her usual places, and was reefing under the feeling
of emptiness that sweeps over her. But she must
not think any more about her mother now, nor fix
her attention on aught but the one important
task which she must accomplish within the little
.time that remains to her.
When she had been moved to the farthest part
of the room she could at last see quite distinctly
the invisible form by the door. It was a figure
clad in a black habit, his head and face hidden- by
a cowl. In his hand he held a long scythe. Sister
Edith did not doubt for an instant who he was.
"It is Death," she thought, and she was afraid
that he had come too soon for her ; otherwise he
did not alarm her at all.
JWhile the poor sick girl had been drawing nearer
and nearer, the prone and prisoned figure had been
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 109
crouching and trying to make itself smaller, . as if
he wished to escape her notice. He observed that
she was incessantly looking towards the door, and
it seemed' to him that she saw something there.
He did not want her to see him ! That would be
far too great a humiliation for him to suffer. Nor
did her glances meet his ; they were directed at
another ; and he realised that if she did indeed
perceive anyone, it was not he, but George.
She had hardly got as near as possible to them
before he observed that she was calling George to
her by a little sign with her head. George pulled
his cowl down lower than before, as though he were
deadly cold, and approached her. She looked up
at him with a smile.
" You see that I am not afraid of you," she whis-
pered, inaudibly to the living watchers in the room.
'' I will, willingly obey your summons, but I must
first ask if you can grant me a delay till to-morrow,
so that I may accomplish the great task for which
God sent me into this world."
Whilst she was thus occupied in talking to George,
David Holm lifted up his head so as to see her. He
noticed that the holy exaltation of her soul had
. bestowed on her a beauty she had never possessed
before-^omething lofty, unattainable, but so
no THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
irresistibly winning that . he could no longer think
of taking his eyes off her.
" Perhaps you cannot hear me?" she said to
•George. "Bend further over me. I must speak
to you without the others hearing what I say."
George bent down until his cowl nearly brushed
her face. " Speak as low as you like ; I shall even
then hear you."
She began to speak in a whisper so weak that
none of the three around her bed had an inkling
that she was saying anything at all. It was only the
driver and the other spectre who heard her.
" I don't know if you are aware of what that means
to me," she continued to George, " but I am in dire
need of a delay till to-morrow so that I may meet
someone whom I must put in the right way. You
do not know how ill I have acted. I have been
too arbitrary, too presumptuous. How can I stand
before the face of God, I who am the cause of so
dreadful a misfortune ? "
Her eyes dilated with fright, and she drew a deep
breath, but proceeded without waiting' for an
" I must, I suppose, tell you that he whom I want
to meet is the man I love. You understand me,
don't you? The man I love."
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH in
: ■ . . . ■ •
" But, Sister/' replied the driver, " the man "
But she would not hear his answer, until she had
put before him all that ought to move him.
" You understand that I am in dire need when
I say this. It is not easy for me to confess that I
love that particular man. It has shamed me to
think that I must be so abandoned as to love one
who is bound to another. I have striven and fought
against it ; I have felt that I, who should be a guide
and example to the outcasts, am become worse than
the worst among them."
One hand of the driver stroked her brow to calm
her, but he uttered not a word, and allowed her to
proceed with her, story.
" But the bitterest humiliation does not he, after
all, in my loving a married man! My lowest
degradation is that he whom I love is a wicked man.
I don't know why I should have thrown myself
away on a scoundrel. I hoped and trusted that
some good might be found in him, but I have been
•deceived again and again. I must myself be bad,
since my heart could go so far astray. Oh! can
• you not understand that it is impossible for me
to depart, before I have made yet another attempt,
without my having seen him become another and
a different man ? "
■ ••' ■
" But you have made so many attemptsalready,"
remarked Red George doubtfully.
She shut . her eyes and considered, but soon
looked up again, and now a new assurance gleamed
from her countenance. *
' You think that I am asking for my own sake,
and you believe, like the rest, that it does not
matter what becomes of him. I shall, however,-
be taken away from everything .here betaw. I beg
leave to speak to you about something which has
happened this very day, so that you may under-
stand that it is to help others that I need the delay."
Sister Edith closed her eyes, and continued
talking without opening them. "« -
" Well, it was in the forenoon. • I don't exactly
understand how it could be so, but I was out with
a basket on my arm, presumably about to take
food to some poor person. I was standing in a yard
where I know that I have never been before. There
were many tall houses round me, and they looked
respectable and in good condition, as if they were
inhabited by well-to-do people. I did not know
what I could possibly have to do in that quarter,
but I noticed that there was an outbuilding against
the wall of a house, which seemed originally meant
for a fowl-house. But somebody had tried to
— :-. , —
. * •
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 113
. transform it into a human dwelling. Bits of boards
and card were nailed on to it ; it had a few crooked
windows, and two chimneys of sheet iron on the
" Thin smoke issued from one of the chimneys,
and from that I understood that the place was
inhabited. Said I to myself : . ' It is here, of course,
that I am going.' I walked up a flight of wooden
stairs, which were as steep as a ladder, and which
more than once gave me the impression that I was
climbing to some sort of. bird's nest — and then I
put my hand to the lock. I felt that it was unlocked,
. and, on hearing voices within, I entered without
"No one turned round and looked at me when
I entered, so I withdrew to a corner by the door,
and stood waiting till I should be wanted, for I
knew, for certain, that I had come there for some
• specially important purpose. Meanwhile I stood
thinking that I had come into an outhouse, and
not into a room for human beings. There was
scarcely a stick of furniture, not even a bed. In a
corner lay some ragged mattresses which _ might
conceivably serve for beds. No chairs — at any rate,
none that any dealer would look at — and only one
clumsy unpainted table.
■ ■ * i 11
114 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS I
" Suddenly I said to myself that I knew my
whereabouts. It was David Holm's wife who was
standing in the middle of the room.. They must,
therefore, have moved whilst I was at the sana-
torium. Why were their circumstances so uncom-
fortable and wretched ? And where was their
furniture ? Where were the beautiful chiffonier and
sewing machine and— — I stopped reckoning, not
knowing what I did not miss. In fact, there was
" ' How full of despair the woman looks,' thought
I, ' and how poorly she is clad. She is not the
woman she was last spring.' I wanted to run up
and ask her, but was prevented because there were
two strange ladies in the room engaged in an
animated conversation with David Holm's wife.
They were very serious, all three, and I soon got to
know the subject of their conversation — that the
poor woman's two children were to be taken to a
children's asylum, to prevent their being infected
by the father, who had consumption.
" One thing which I could not understand was
their speaking of two children — I seemed to remem-
ber that there had been three. It was not. long
before I learnt the reason. One of the benevolent
ladies noticed that the poor woman was crying, and
— — . . ;
- ' .
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 115
said something in a kind way about the children
being as well cared for in the asylum as in any
"'Doctor, you must not mind my crying,' I
heard the wife reply ; ' I should cry worse if I had
not to send the children away. I have the youngest
of them at the hospital. When I saw how he
suffered, I said to myself that if I could get the
other two away from home I would not say a word
against it, but only be too glad and grateful.'
" When she said this, I felt profoundly depressed.
What had David Holm done to his wife, his home,
and his children — or, to put it more precisely, what
had I done ? It was I who had inflicted him on
them. I began to cry and sob in the corner where
I stood. I could not make out why the others did
not observe me, but not one of them seemed to
" I saw the wife approach the door. ' I will go
down to the street and call the children in,' she said ;
' they are not far away.' She went past me and
came so close that her poor patched clothes brushed
against my hand. Then I fell on my knees, drew
her dress to my lips, and wept, but not a word
could I utter— the wrong that I had done this
woman was far too great for that. I was astonished
n6 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
that she should not observe me, but I could well
understand her not having any wish to speak to
one who had brought such dire misfortune on her
" The poor mother, however, did not leave the
room, because one of the ladies told her that there
was a matter that must be settled before the children
were called in. She took a paper out of a handbag
and read aloud from it. It was a certificate stating
that the parents entrusted their children to her
care, for so long as their home was infected with
tuberculosis, and it had to be signed by both father
" There was a door in the opposite side of the
room ; it opened now and David came in. I could
not help thinking that he had been waiting behind
this door, so as to put in an appearance just at the
right moment. He was dressed in his old shabby
clothes, and he had a wicked gleam in his eyes. I
could not help saying to myself that he looked
about him with obvious delight, as if he were
rejoicing in all the misery round him. He began
talking about how much he loved his children, .and
how hard he felt it, after one of them had been
taken [to the hospital, to lose the two others
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH
" The two ladies scarcely troubled to listen to
him, but simply remarked that it was much more
certain that his children would be lost to him,
unless he sent them away from him. His wife had
drawn herself up against a wall, and she was look-
ing at him , so I thought, as one who had been beaten
and tortured might look at her tormentor. It
began to dawn on me that I had acted worse than
I -had hitherto thought. It seemed to me that
there mus£ be a secret hatred . of the woman in
David Holm, and that he had sought to be reconciled
with her, not from his longing for a home, but in
order to torment her.
" I heard him entertain these cultured ladies
with a speech about his paternal love. They replied
that he could best prove it by observing the doctor's
orders, and- not infecting those around him, which
would be the case, they saw clearly, if the children
were kept at home. But none of them yet had an
inkling of what he had in mind. It was I who first
understood it. ' He means to keep the children,'
thought I ; ' he does not trouble about their catching
. " The wife had just realised it. She shrieked
violently, distractedly. ' That murderer ! He
won't let me. send them away ; he means them to
f— ;■ (
■ i i i mm
■" '■ = —
n8 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS ! '
stay at home for him to give them consumption,
that they may die. In this way he has calculated
to be revenged on me.'
" David Holm .turned away from her with a
shrug of his shoulders. 'It is a fact that I will
not sign the paper,' he said to the two ladies.
There was some angry talk and attempts at
persuasion. The wife stormed at him with
words of fury, and even the faces, of the
two ladies flushed deeply ; cutting things were
" But David Holm stood there quite calmly, and
said that he could not do without his children. I
listened to this with indescribable anguish. None
of the others could suffer as I did, because notfe of
them loved the man who was committing this foul
deed. I stood there, hoping that they would find
the right words to move him to compassion. As
to myself, I wanted to rush out of my corner ; but
a curious feeling of being fastened down came over
me. I was unable to stir. ' What use is it to
dispute or try persuasion ? ' thought I. ' With a
man such as he, the only course is to frighten him.'
Neither his wife nor either of the others said a word
about God ; no one threatened him with the wrath
of God's justice. I thought that I was holding
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 119
Gqd'-s punitive thunderbolt in my hand, but was
powerless to hurl it I
" Once more there was silence in the room. The
two ladies got up to go ; they had accomplished
nothing, nor had the wife either. She had ceased
making a fight, and had collapsed in despair. I
made a superhuman effort to move and speak.
The words .burned my tongue. ' Oh, you
hypocrite ! ' I wanted to say, ' Do you think that
I do not know the purpose you have in view ? I,
who am a dying woman, summon you to meet me
before God's judgment seat ! I accuse you before
the Supreme Judge of intending, to murder your
own children. I shall bear testimony against
" But when I got up to say this I was no longer
there, in David Holm's dwelling, but at home
lying helpless in my bed ! After this I called and
called, but could not get him here."
The little Slum- Sister had lain with her eyes
shut all the while she was whispering this story.
Now she opened them wide, and looked at George
with unutterable anguish.
" You cannot really let me die without having
spoken to him ? " she implored. " Think of his
wife and children ! "
120 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS ! -
The crouching figure marvelled over George.
He could have calmed the dying girl by a single
word— told her that David Holm was out of the
game, and could no longer injure wife and children.
But he concealed this piece of news from her, and,
instead, made her even sadder than she was
"What influence could you have over David
Holm? " he asked. " He is not a man to let his
heart be softened. What you have seen to-day is
~\ nought else than the revenge he has .cherished in
^ his heart for long years."
" Oh, don't say that, don't say that ! " Sister
" I know him better than you do," replied the
driver, *' and I will tell you what it was that made
David Holm the man he is now."
*' I should like to hear that," she said ; " it would
be good for me if I could get to understand
' You must accompany me to another town,"
said the driver, "and we must stand outside a
prison cell. The time is evening, and. a man who
has been confined for a week or two for drunkenness
has just been released. . No one is waiting for him
% at the prison gates, but he stands there staring
. SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 121
about him in the hope that someone will come—
for he had been looking forward to having a jolly
time just then.
" It so happens that the man who is coming out
of prison has just been subjected to a terrible shock,
for while he was interned his younger brother
turned out very badly. He had committed man-
slaughter whilst in a state of intoxication, and
had been sent to goal for it. The elder brother
knew nothing of the affair, until the gaol chaplain
took him to the culprit's cell, and showed him the
man sitting there with his handcuffs still on him
—for he had been violent when taken to the gaol.
'■Do you see who is sitting there?' asked the
clergyman, and when the man saw that it was his
brother, he was deeply affected, because he had
always been very fond of him. ' Here is a man
who will have to remain in prison for a great many
years,' said the clergyman, ' but we all say here,
David Holm, that it is you who ought by rights to
be undergoing the punishment, instead of him, for
it is you, and nobody else, who tempted him and
led him astray, till he became such a sot as not to
know what he was about.'
" It was all David Holm could do to keep himself
calm till he returned to his cell, but then he began
_-■ ■ ■
122 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
to weep as he had never wept since he was a child.
Afterwards he said to himself that he meant to
turn away from his evil courses. He had never
realised before that he had brought great misery on
one he cared for. Then his thoughts turned from-his
brother to his wife and children, and suddenly
he realised that they, too, had had a rough time,
but now he vowed to himself that never again
should thay have cause to complain of him. That
very evening of his coming out of prison he longed
to tell his wife that he intended turning over a
" But she did not meet him at the prison gate,
nor did he meet her on the road. Even when he
reached their dwelling and knocked, she did not
open wide the door to him, as she did at othei
times when he had been away for long. He had
a suspicion of how things were, but refused to credit
it. It is impossible that this should happen now,
at the very time when he intended becoming
" His wife always used to push the key under
the door-mat when she went out. He stooped
down and found it in the usual place. He opened
the door, looked into his little honie, and wondered
if he had gone mad, because the room was quite
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 123
empty — well, not exactly empty, for most of the
furniture was still there, but not a living creature.
"Nor was there any food or fuel, or curtains
to the windows — the room was comfortless, raw,
and cold, and did not seem to have been lived in
for many days past. He went to the neighbours
and inquired if his wife had been ill while he was
away. He tried to persuade himself that she had
been taken to the hospital. ' Oh, no, there was
nothing the matter with her lately, when she went
away/ they replied. ' But where has she gone
to ? ' Ah ! nobody knew that.
" He saw that they were curious, and maliciously
glad at his discomfiture, and he recognised that
there was only one explanation — that his wife
had taken advantage of the opportunity, whilst
he was in prison, to go her own way, taking with
her the children and whatever else she chiefly
needed, and made no preparations for him, but let
him return home to all this bareness and desolation.
And he had anticipated coming to her with such
joy. He had rehearsed what he was going to say
to her, for he really meant to ask her forgiveness.
He had a chum, a young fellow who had belonged
to a cultured class of society, but was quite ruined.
He intended to promise to drop associating with
124 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS 1
him, although he was attracted to him not only,
for the evil in him, but also because he had learning
and science. On the following day he meant to
go to his old employer and ask to be taken on again.
He would have slaved for her and the children,
so that they should get nice clothes to wear, and
never have another anxious moment. And now,
when he had thought out all this, she had run away
from him !
" He grew hot and cold, by turns ; he shivered
over her heartlessness. Yes ! he could have under-
stood her going, if it had been done openly and
honourably, in which case he would have had no
right to be enraged, for she had had a hard life
with him. But she had stolen away, and let hirn^
return to an empty home without any warning,
which was heartless. Never could he forgive her
for that. . •
" He had been put to shame before all his fellows ;
he was, in fact, the laughing-stock of 'the whole
neighbourhood. But he swore that he Would put
a stop to their laughter. He would find his. wife
yet, and then he would make her as wretched as
he was himself — nay, twice as much ! He would
teach her how it felt to freeze, as he did, to the "
very heart core. ,
SISTER' EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 125
" It was the only comfort he could indulge in —
the thought of how he would punish her when he
found her. Since then he had been hunting for
her for three years, and all the time he had fostered
his hatred with the thought of what she had done
to him, till it became a crime of the highest
magnitude. He had gone alone on lonely ways,
and, as time went on, the greater grew his hate
and lust for" vengeance. He sought after her so
long that he succeeded admirably in devising how
he could torture her if ever they came together again."
The little Slum- Sister had kept silent till now,
but she had followed the story with features
betraying every emotion. Now, in an agonised
voice, she interrupted the dark figure.
" Oh, no ! Say nothing more ; it is too dreadful 1
How shall I ever be able fo answer for what I have
done ? Oh ! that I had not brought them together I
If I had not, his sin would not have been so great.''
" No, I need say nothing more," replied the
driver. " I only want you to understand that it
is useless your asking for. a delay."
" Oh, but I want it ! " she exclaimed. " I
cannot die, I cannot. Give me but a few moments.
You know that I love him, have never loved him
so. much as' I do to-day."
126 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
The spectre on the floor gave a start! All the
time Sister Edith and the driver had been conversing
he had been gazing at her. He had absorbed every
word of hers, and every expression of her
countenance, so that he might remember them
for ever. All that she had said, even when she
had been most severe against him, had been a joy
for him to hear ; her anguish, too, and her sympathy,
when George was relating his history, had healed
his wounds. He hardly knew as yet by what name
to express his feelings for her ; all he realised was
that he could bear anything from her. He knew
this — that her loving such a creature as he was,
who had brought her to death's door, was some-
thing supernaturally splendid! Every time she
stated that she loved him, his soul experienced
an ecstasy which he would never have thought
possible. He tried hard to attract the driver's
attention, but the latter never looked in his direcr
tion. He tried to rise, but tumbled back in
He noticed how restlessly and with what anguish
Sister Edith moved in her bed. She stretched
out to George her hands folded in prayer, but his
face was stern and implacable.
" I would grant you a delay, if delay could help
' '.' ■ •'•'•
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 127
you," he said to her, " but I know that you have
no influence over the man."
With. these words, the driver stooped down to
utter the words that were to release the soul from
its bodily cover.
At that very moment a dark figure crept painfully
along the floor to the dying girl. With a tremendous
effort, and at the cost of a pang the like of which
he could never have had. the slightest conception,
he had sundered his bonds in order to reach her.
Although he believed that he would be punished
by these pangs throughout eternity, nevertheless
Sister Edith should not grieve and long in vain
when he was in the same room. He stole up to
the other side, where George could not see him,
and he got far enough to be able to grasp one of
Although it was impossible for him to exert the
slightest pressure on this hand, yet, nevertheless,
she was conscious of David's presence ; and,
by a sudden movement, she turned towards him.
She saw him kneeling by her side— ah ! and
what is more, with his face pressed to the floor,
as he did not dare to look up at her, but, by
the hand that embraced hers, he endeavoured
to express to her his love, his gratitude, and
128 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
the tenderness which was springing up in his
A gleam of most blissful happiness spread over
her countenance ; she looked up at her mother and
her two friends — to whom she had not yet had time
to say a farewell word— so as to gain their sympathy
with the splendid thing that had happened to her !
She pointed her free hand to the ground, so that
they might see and share her endless joy over
David Holm, lying contrite and remorseful at her feet.
But at that instant the spectre, clad in black,
leant towards her, and spoke : " O captive,. O
beloved one, come forth from thy prison ! "
The girl threw herself back on her pillows, and
life left her in a sigh.
At the same moment David Holm was snatched
away. The bonds which he could not see, but only
feel, tightened once more round his arms, while
his feet were left free. George made him under-
stand, in an angry whisper, that he would have
been punished with eternal sufferings had it not
been for their old friendship's sake.
" Come with me hence at once," he went on ;
" we two have nothing further to do here. They
who have to receive her are come."
SISTER EDITH PLEADS WITH DEATH 129
He dragged David Holm out with extreme
. violence. The latter thought that he saw the
room suddenly filled with bright figures. He
seemed to meet them on the stairs, and in the
street— but he was whirled away at such a giddy
pace that he could not distinguish them.
. . ■ • - .....
THE OLD WOMAN ON THE ROADSIDE
DiV .D HOLM was lying nerve-racked in the death-
car, wrathful, not against the whole world, but
gainst himself. What W had lately s^ed
J m? Why had he thrown himself at Siste
Edith's fee" like a penitent and remorseful sinner ?
George must certainly he laughing at htm •
if he was deserving of that name, ought to stand
I his deeds-he knew why .he had committed
II He would not rush on and ntog every htng
he had overboard, merely because a bit of a girl
sL that she was in love with Mm. -Whaw-tt
then that had come over him? Was it love?
But he was dead-she was dead! What kind of
love could that be? t
The lame horse was moving again, jogging down
one of the streets which led out of the town The
houses became fewer and fewer, the street lamps
Lther apart. The boundary of the town was «
sight-and then these objects would cease.
THE OLD WOMAN ON THE ROADSIDE 131
As they were approaching the last lamp-post
.Holm was seized by a land of depression, a vague
anxiety to get right away from the town. He felt
that he was being taken from something which
he ought not to leave.
At the very moment that he felt this disquiet,
he heard, amid all the indescribable creaking and
rattling of the cart, a voice speaking behind him,
and he lifted his head to listen.
It was George, in conversation with someone
who seemed to be riding with them in the cart—
a passenger whom he had not noticed up to now.
"I must not accompany you farther," said a
gentle voice, so choked by pain and sorrow that it
was scarcely audible. " I had so much to tell him,
but he is lying "here angry and malicious, and I
cannot make myself either seen or heard by him.
You must please let him understand from me that
I have been to meet him, but I am being carried
away from this town, and must never again appear
to him as I am now."
" But suppose he repents and regrets ? " asked
, " You yourself have said that he can repent of
nothing," replied the voice in a sorrowful tremor.
' You must tell him from me that I thought we
- ." . * ■ * ■ .
132 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS ! •
should belong to each other for eternity, but now
from this moment he can never see me again."
" But if he can make atonement for his evil
deeds? " George queried.
" You will kindly tell him from me that I was '
not allowed to accompany him farther than here,",, '
wailed the voice, "Bid him farewell from me."
" But if he can reform and become another man ? "
" You may tell him that I shall always love
him," replied the voice, in a strain of greater
melancholy than before. " I have no other hope
to give him."
David Holm had got on his knees at the bottom
of the cart. At these words he made a violent
effort, and suddenly stood upright at full length.
He snatched at a " something " which fluttered
away from the uncertain clutch of his manacled
hands — he did not succeed in clearly distinguishing
what it was, but it left an impression of something
gleaming bright, of a beauty beyond all dreams.
He wanted to tear himself free and dash after
the fugitive,, but was prevented by something that
paralysed him more than mere fetters and bonds.
It was love — the love of spiritual beings, of which
earthly love is but a poor imitation— which once
■ - ■.
■ ' i
— - 1 — '•' - -- ■••-•■•■■■• ■ ■--■ •■■, r
: ■ ■' -. ■ ■
THE OLD WOMAN ON THE ROADSIDE 133
again overmastered him, as at the death-bed. It
had slowly burnt through him, just as a fire/whilst
it is burning up, slowly burns the wood into a glow.
Scarcely anyone notices its action, but nevertheless,
" from time to time, it sends out a sudden flame to
show that it is about to set the whole ablaze.
Such a sudden flame was that which now blazed
up within David Holm. It did not gleam in full
radiance, but its light was sufficient for him to see
the beloved one in such glorious guise that he must
needs sink down stricken by helplessness— conscious
that he dare not, that he had not the will, that he
could not endure to approach her.
The driver's cart continued its way in pitch
darkness. On either side stood a dense and tower-
ing forest ; so narrow was the road that the sky was
indistinguishable. It seemed to Holm that the
horse was moving, more slowly than ever, the
creaking of the wheels was more piercing, his own
self-examination more strict, and the forlorn
monotony, greater than in other spots. Then
George drew in the reins, for a moment the creaking
ceased, and the driver cried aloud in a high-pitched
" What is all the torture I am suffering, what are
all the . torments that await me, compared to the
— = TT.
134 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
uncertainty of the only thing which is of vital
importance to know? I thank thee, God, that
I am come from the darkness of mortal life. I
praise and glorify Thee in all my misery, because I
know that Thou hast bestowed on me the gift of
The journey was resumed with jolts and creaking,
but the driver's words long lingered in David Holm's
ears. It was the first time he had felt some little
sympathy with his old friend.
" He is a brave man," he thought ; " he does
not complain, although there is no hope of his
getting away from his occupation."
• • • • • •
It was a long journey, this ; one that seemed
never to reach an end.
' After they had journeyed so long that David
Holm supposed they had been on the road for a
day and a night they reached a wide plain which
was overshadowed by a sky no longer sullen but
clear, and then a half-moon glided up between the
Three Wise Men and the Pleiades.
With creeping slowness the lame horse jogged
over the plain, and when at last it was crossed
David Holm looked up at the moon's disk to find
out how far it had got. Then he observed that it
THE OLD WOMAN ON THE ROADSIDE 135
had not moved at all, and he began wondering at
They journeyed on and on. At long intervals
he glanced up to the sky, and saw that the moon
never stirred from her place between the Three Wise
Men and the Pleiades, but remained still. K
At last he realised that, although he had supposed
that they had been journeying for a day and a night,
yet no ehange had taken place from night till
morning nor from day to evening, and that there
had been the same night all the time.
For hours and hours, so it seemed to him, they
journeyed on, buf on heaven's great dial none of
the Wise. Men had moved— everything remained
■ in its old position.
He might have thought that the world had -
stayed its course if he had not remembered what
George had told him about time being stretched
out— stretched out so that the driver might reach
all the places he had to reach. He realised with a
shudder that what for him was drawn out to days
and days and nights and nights might not be more
than one short moment, according to man's
reckoning of time.
In his childhood he had heard speak of a man
who had visited the blessed in heaven in their
. i » , rtf- -r- - . - ..i i , ^
136 THY SOUL. SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
dwellings. When the man came back he said that
a hundred years in God's heaven had passed as
quickly as a single day on earth. But for him who
drove the death-cart perhaps a single day was as
long as hundreds of years on earth. Again he
felt a touch of sympathy for George. •
"It is no wonder that he longs to be released.
It has proved a long year to him."
Whilst driving up a steep hill, they caught sight
of a person who was travelling even slower than
themselves, and whom they would overtake.
It was an old woman, bent and decrepit, who
got along by the aid of a substantial stick, and
who, despite her feebleness, was carrying a bundle
so heavy that it quite dragged her down on one
It seemed as if the old woman had the faculty of
seeing the death-cart, for she made way for it, and
stood still by the roadside when it came right
opposite her. Afterwards she slightly quickened
her pace so that she could keep up with the cart,
and meanwhile she eyed it very closely to find out
what manner of thing it was.
In the clear moonlight it was not Jong before
she observed that the horse was an old one-eyed-
. ■ .-
THE OLD-WOMAN .ON THE ROADSIDE
crocks that the harness was fastened together with
birch twigs and bits jof string, that the cart was
worn out,. and in chronic danger of losing both
" It is extraordinary that anybody should venture
to drive about in a vehicle of that description and
with such a horse," mumbled the old woman to
herself, without thinking that the travellers might
hear her. " I was thinking of asking a lift for a
bit of the way, but that poor horse has all it can
do to get along, and the cart might break to pieces
if I stepped into it."
She had, however, hardly spoken the Words
before George leaned over his seat and began to
sing the praises of his horse and cart.
. ' " Ah I " said he, " this cart and horse are not
so bad as you think. I have driven them over
roaring seas, where the waves rose as high as horses,
and great ships sank, but they have not overturned
The old woman was somewhat dumbfounded,
but she decided that she had come across a carter
who liked to have his little joke, and she' was not
long in giving him tit for tat.
" Perhaps there are some who get on better on
the roaring seas than they do on dry land," she
. ■' ..-."
- ■ ■■
- • ■■ ;
138 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
said, "for I am inclined to think that they will
find it a bit awkward to make progress here,"
" I have driven through precipitous mine-shafts
right down into the bowels of the earth," said the
driver, " without the horse stumbling — and I have
driven through burning towns where it has been
like a blast furnace, with fire on all sides. No
fireman has ventured so far through fire and smoke
as that horse has gone without shying."
" You like making merry over an old body,
driver," retorted the old crone.
" Sometimes I have had business on the highest
mountains, where no beaten track existed," con-
tinued the driver, " but the horse has climbed up
mountain-walls and ventured over chasms, and
yet the cart has stood it — though the ground on
these places was nothing but a succession of blocks
of stone. I have journeyed over marshes where
there was no solid turf, that could bear a child,
and snow which lay in drifts as high as a man, and
it has not been able to stop me — so I don't think
I can complain of my gear."
" Well, if it is as you say, I don't wonder you
are pleased," remarked the old woman, agreeing
with him. " You are, I can see, a real swell,
you with your fine horse and carriage ! "
THE OLD WOMAN ON THE ROADSIDE 139
"I am the strong one who has might over the
children of men," replied the driver, and his voice
took a deep and solemn tone. " I bring them
under my sway, whether they dwell in lofty halls
or in wretched cellars. I bestow freedom on
slaves, and I tear down kings from their thrones.
There is no citadel so strong but I can scale its walls ;
there is no science so profound that avails to arrest
my progress. I smite the confident, however
much they bask themselves in the sun of prosperity,
and I bestow wealth and possessions on the
wretched who have languished in poverty."
" Didn't I guess," said the old woman, laughing,
" that I had come across some big-wig ? But
since you are so grand and have such a fine carriage,
perhaps you could give me a lif t ? I was off to
one of my daughters for New Year's Eve, but I
missed my way, and I believe I shall have to spend
the whole night walking on the King's highway,
unless indeed you will be good enough to help me."
" No, you must not ask me for that," cried the
driver. "You will fare better on the road than
if you were in my cart."
" Well, I dare say you are right there," said
the old woman. " I rather think your horse
would stumble if he had to carry me ; but, anyhow,
140 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS T
I'll put my bundle in the back of the cart ; I fancy
you could help so far."
Without asking further leave, she shifted her
bundle and deposited it on the bottom of the cart —
but At sank down to the ground without the
slightest stop, just as if she had put it on belching
smoke, or on driving mist.
Maybe at that very moment she lost sight of the
cart, for she remained standing in the road,
bewildered and trembling, without attempting
to resume her talk with the driver.
But this conversation made Holm more
sympathetic with George. " He has certainly
had to go through a good deal," he thought ; " I
am not surprised that he is so altered."
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL
George carried David Holm into a room with
lofty but barred windows, bare gleaming walls,
devoid of the slightest ornamentation. A few beds
were placed along a wall, of which only a single
one was occupied. A faint smell of drugs greeted
him ; a man in a gaol constable's uniform sat beside
the bed, and Holm understood that he had come to
a prison hospital.
A-small electric lamp was burning from the ceiling,
and by its gleam he. saw a youthful invalid, with
an emaciated face, lying in bed. He had hardly
cast a glance at 'the prisoner before he forgot that
he had just been feeling in better humour with
George. Now, however, he was ready to spring at
him with his old fury.
" What have you to do here ? " he exclaimed.
'-'If you do anything to the man lying in yonder
bed we are foes for eternity, so understand that."
142 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS
The driver turned towards him with a look which
was more pitiful than aggressive.
" Now I know who it is who is lying there, David.
I did not know till we came here."
" Whether you knew it or not, it is all the same
— understand "
He stopped abruptly. George had made a com-
manding gesture with his hand, and David relapsed
into silence, subjugated by an irresistible fear.
'' For you and me there is only submission and
obedience," the driver warned him. " It is not
for you to wish or ask for aught, but only to await
quietly for illumination."
With these words George pulled hjs cowl over
his face as a sign that he would not have anything
further to say "to him, and, in the silence' which
ensued, David Holm observed that the sigk prisoner
had begun to talk to his warder.
" Do you think, officer, that I shall ever be
myself again ? " he asked, in a weak but not at all
despondent or melancholy voice.
" Good gracious, Holm, of course you will," said
the warder kindly, though in a slightly uncertain
tone. " You must pull yourself together a bit,
and shake off the fever."
" I take it that you know, officer, that it was
•I - . ■-- . " .
'..'■' THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 143
not the fever I was thinking about," continued the
sick man. " I am wondering if you think I can get
out of this prison again ; it's no easy matter when
one has been condemned for manslaughter."
" You will do all right, Holm, as you have someone
to go to," replied the warder ; " at any rate, you
said that there was a place where you would be
An exquisite smile overspread the prisoner's
" How did the doctor think I was this evening ? "
" No danger, Holm, no danger. What the
doctor said was just this : ' If only I had him outside
these walls, I could soon put him on his feet again.' "
The prisoner expanded his chest and sucked in
the air between his teeth. " Outside these walls ! "
" I am only repeating what the doctor usually
says to me," the warder went on ; " but you must
not take him too literally and slip away from us,
as you did in the autumn of last year. That only
means a longer imprisonment, you understand."
" No fear, officer, . I am a wiser man now. I'm
only thinking of putting an end to this soon, and
afterwards beginning a new life."
144 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
" Ah ! you're right, it willjbe a new life," remarked
the warder, in a somewhat solemn tone.
Meanwhile David Holm was undergoing worse
' torture than the sick man.
"They have infected him with his disease in
this prison," he mumbled, as he swayed his body
to and fro in anguish. " And now he is done for, '
he who was so handsome, so strong, and so gay."
" Warder," continued the sick man, " have you
not " But at that moment he caught a slight
movement of impatience in* the warder, and ex-
claimed : " Perhaps my chattering is against the .
rules ? " ■
"No, to-night you may talk, as much as you
" To-night ! " the sick man repeated thoughtfully.
" Ah, yes ! because it ! is New Year's Eve ? "
" Yes," replied the officer, " because a good New
Year is opening for you."
" The fellow sits there, knowing that the poor
chap will die to-night," complained the prisoner's
brother in his utter helplessness. " That's why
he is so gentle with him."
" Have you noticed, officer," and the prisoner
took up the question he had broken off short, " that
there has been a change in me since I ran away?
* ~ v. ■ -
• THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 145
You have had no trouble with me since then, have
" You have been like a lamb ever since, so I
have had no cause to be annoyed ; but I say, as
I said before, don't do it again."
' "As to- that change, officer, have you ever
wondered what it was due to ? Perhaps you
thought that it was because I became worse in
health after the escape ? "
" Well, yes, we all thought something like that."
" But that's not the reason at all," the prisoner
-explained ; " it comes from something else. I
have never dared to speak about it before, but
to-night I should like to tell you about it, warder."
"I am afraid, Holm, that you are talking too
much," said the warder, but onr observing that the
man's face grew downcast, he continued in a kindly
manner : " Not that I am tired of your talking
.—it is for your own sake."
. ■ " Did not those in the prison think it strange
that I came back of my own accord ? " asked the
sick man. " Nobody had the least knowledge
as to my whereabouts, but I walked into the chief
constable's office and gave myself up voluntarily.
Why did you think I acted so queer ly ? "
" We thought, of course, that you had fared so
, ■ ■
146 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
badly outside that you thought it better to give
yourself up of your own accord."
"It is true enough that I did fare badly during
the first few days, but I had been away, you know,
full three weeks. Did you think I had been out
in the wide woods all that time— and in the winter,
" We were bound to believe it, Holm, as you
said that it was so."
The prisoner looked amused. "One had some-
times to humbug the authorities in that way, to
prevent those who have helped one from getting
into trouble. One cannot answer otherwise. Those
who have been brave enough to harbour an escaped
prisoner, and treat him well, deserve to be helped
as much as is in one J s power. You agree with that;
I take it, warder ? "
" Now, Holm, you are asking more than you
will get answered," replied the warder, with the
same patience that he had shown ail-along.
The young prisoner heaved a deep sigh of longing. '
" If I could but endure all this, till I reach there
again ! They were people who lived on the outskirts
of the wood."
He broke off and lay fighting for air. The warder
looked anxiously at him. He seized hold of a
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL
medicine bottle, but, on seeing that it was empty,
got up. "I must fetch a little more of this stuff,"
he said, and left the room.
A moment afterwards the driver took the man's
place beside the bed, after putting his scythe where
the young man could not see it — then he threw his
David Holm burst out wailing like a crying child
when he saw that awful figure so near his brother,
but the prisoner betrayed no uneasiness. Lying
where he did in high fever, he did not observe that
a new-comer had seated himself on the chair beside
him, but fancied that it was the same warder whom
he had continually facing him.
"It was a little cottage," he muttered, panting
cruelly after each word.
" Holm, you are not to exert yourself like that
with talking," commanded the driver. " The
authorities' know every detail of what you are
thinking about, but we did not want to betray that
The sick man opened his eyes wide in astonish-
" Ah ! you are staring at me, Holm," said the
driver, " but wait and you shall hear. Do you
think that we had no information about a lad who
■■ - ■
»,y.u... .,. ■ -
148 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
sneaked one afternoon into a little cottage — the
last of a row of cottages in a long village^-where
he thought there would be nobody at home ? He
had been lying in hiding, on the outskirts of the
wood, till the mistress went out — he assumed that
the master would be away at work, and he had
not caught sight of any children. When .at last
the woman went out with a milk-can on her arm,
the lad, who had watched where she hid the key,
slunk into the cottage."
"How do you know that, warder ?" the sick
man asked, and in his amazement tried to sit up
" Just you he still, Holm,"_ replied the driver
good-humouredly, " and don't be afraid for your-
friends. After all, we prison warders are human.
Now I'll tell you what I know besides. Well,
when that lad entered the cottage, he was frightened
because it was not empty, as he had believed it to
be. A sick child lay in a big bed against the opposite
wall looking at him. 1 He walked softly up to it,
but the child closed its eyes and lay as quiet as if it
were dead. ' Why are you lying there in the middle
of the day ? ' asked the lad. ' Are you ill ? ' The
child, however, did not stir. ' You mustn't be
afraid of me,' said the lad. ' Just tell me where I
■ 1 • '
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 149
can as quickly as possible get a little food, and then
HI be off.'
" As the child lay absolutely still and would not
answer, the intruder pulled a straw out of the
mattress and tickled it under the nose. The child
started sneezing, and then the lad laughed. At first
the child gazed at him with astonishment, but
soon began to laugh too. ' I thought I would
pretend to be dead,' said the child. ' I saw that,
but what would be the use of it ? ' ' You have
heard, I suppose, that if you meet a bear in the
woods, and, throw yourself down and pretend to
be already dead, the bear goes away to dig a hole
to bury you in, and, while he is doing this, you can
get away.' The man turned red in the face at these
words. ' Oh, indeed, you thought I was going to
dig a hole to cram you in ? ' he said. ' That was
mere silliness of me,' replied the child, ' for, in any
case, I can't run away. I have something the
matter .with my hips, and I can't walk.' "
The sick prisoner seemed quite beside himself
" Perhaps you would prefer my not going on
with the story ? " the driver remarked.
" Oh, no ! I like hearing it. I hke being
reminded of it I But I can't make out "
■-. - .. .
150 THY. SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
" That's not so remarkable, you know, Holm.
There was a tramp called George — possibly you
have heard speak of him, sometime or other ? He
heard the story in one of his wanderings, and passed
it on till at last it reached the prison."
A short silence now ensued, but soon the prisoner
asked in his weak voice : " What happened'
afterwards to that lad, and that child ? "
" Well, it happened that the lad again begged
for food. ' I suppose poor people sometimes call
at this cottage and ask for food ? ' he said. ' Yes,
that certainly is the case,' replied the child. ' And
your mother generally gives them something to
eat ? ' ' Yes, if she has anything in the house, she
gives them something.' ' Well, you see,' said the
lad, ' that's just the question now ; it's only a poor
chap who has come to you to ask for food. Tell
me where there is something to eat, and I won't
take more than sufficient to satisfy me.' The child
gazed at him with a funny precocious look. ' Mother
was thinking about this fugitive who is said to be
running wild in the woods, so she put all the food
away and locked the cupboard.' ' But you saw,
didn't you, where she put the key, so you might
tell .me ? Otherwise I shall be obliged to force
open the cupboard.' ' That won't be easy,' said
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL
the child ; ' because we have a strong lock to our
" The lad went all round the cottage, searching
for the; keys. He searched underneath the stove,
and in the table-drawer, but could find nothing.
Meanwhile the child was sitting up in bed, peeping
out of _;the window. ' Here come a lot of people
down the road — mother and a whole crowd of others,'
he said. The fugitive made a spring and stood
by the door. ' If you go out, you will run right
into them,' remarked the child. ' It would be
better for you to hide in our cupboard.' The lad
lingered by the door. ' That is true, but I haven't
the cupboard key.' 'Here it is, though,' said the
child, stretching out his hand, which held a big
" The fugitive took the key and rushed to the
cupboard. ' Throw the key here,' shouted the
child, after the lad had opened the door ; ' you
fasten the door from the inside.' He obeyed, and
next minute had shut himself in. Likely -enough
the lad's heart beat fast when he listened to his
pursuers. He heard the door of the outer room
open, and then a crowd of people came in. A
woman's voice Cried high and shrill : ' Has any-
body been here ? ' ' Yes, mother,' said the child ;
152 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
'a young man came- in soon after you had gone.'
' Good gracious ! Good gracious ! ' the woman
whimpered. ' It was the one they said that they
saw coming from the woods and entering this
" The fugitive swore silently to himself at what
he thought was the child's treachery. That smart -
boy had caught him, as it were, in a rat-trap. He
began pushing at the door, so as to rush out head-
long and, perhaps, contrive to break thrbugh. Then
he heard someone ask which way the man had
gone. ' He is not here now,' said the clear childish
voice; 'he was frightened when he saw you
Has he taken anything ? ' asked the mother.
' No, he wanted food, but I had none to give him.'
' But didn't he do anything to you ? ' ,' He tickled
me under the nose with a straw,' replied the child,
' and the runaway heard how I laughed.' ' Oh,
did he ? ' said the mother, who laughed now that
her anxiety had been dispelled.
'We are not, I suppose, going to stay gaping
at these walls when the fellow is not here,' said a
man's voice, and directly afterwards the people
could be heard leaving the cottage. 'You will
stay at home now, Lisa? ' someone was heard to
..- ' ■ .- ■ ■ - i
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 153
say. 'Yes, I don't mean to leave Bernard again
to-day,' answered the mother.
'The fugitive, on hearing the outer door shut,
concluded .that the mother and child were now
alone in the room. ' What will be best for me ? '
he thought. ' Shall I remain here or try to make
off? ' Just then he heard a step approaching
the cupboard. 'Don't be frightened, you who
are inside, but come out so that I may have a word
with you,' cried the mother. Whereat she put the
key into the lock and opened the door. The lad
stepped timidly put. 'It was the kid who told
me that T could hide here,' he said, pointing to
" The little boy was so excited by the adventure
that he clapped his hands in glee. ' That small
chap of mine gets so shrewd by always lying still
and thi nk i n g his own thoughts,' said the mother
proudly. ' Soon nobody will be sharp enough for
him.' The fugitive' understood that she was not
going to surrender him to the police, because the
boy had taken a fancy to him. ' You are right
there,' he replied. ' I may tell you that I walked
in here to get myself a little food, but I could not
light on any. This boy would not give me the
key. He's cleverer than many a one who can walk
_.^ * ■ . ^^^
154 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS I
on his feet.' The mother, no doubt, saw what
his drift was by his flattery,, but, all the same, she
liked hearing it. . ' I will give you something to
eat first of all,' she said. While the fugitive was
eating, the boy began asking particulars of his
escape, and the man told his story truthfully from
beginning to end. His flight had not been pre-
meditated, but he happened to find an opportunity
on an occasion when he had work in the prison-
yard — the gates had been thrown open to admit
a load of hay being carried through. The boy
questioned and questioned him insatiably as to
how he had contrived to get clear of the town and
reach the woods. Twice the lad said that he really
ought to stop, but the boy would not hear of it.
' You are quite welcome to sit here to-night and
chat with Bernard,' said the mother at last.
' There's such a lot of people on the look-out ior
you that, likely enough, you will be taken whether
you stay here or steal away.'
" The fugitive was still relating his adventures
when the master of the house arrived. It was
dark in the room, and the cottager thought at first
that it was one" of the neighbours sitting chatting
with the child. 'Is that you, Petter, telling ■
Bernard fairy tales ? ' he asked. The child began
:i ?** ! " ; -'i
■ :■• - ■•
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 155
laughing again in his excitement. ' No, father,
it isn't Petter; it's someone much better. Come
here and you shall hear.' The father went to the
bed, but he learnt nothing till he put his ears to
the child's lips. ' It's the man who escaped ! '
whispered the boy. ' Good gracious, Bernard,
what things you do say ! ' cried the father. ' Well,
it's true,' said the child. ' He has been telling me
how he stole out of the prison gates and lay for
three whole niglits in an old lumber-shed in the
woods. I know all about it ! '
" The mother had hurriedly lighted a small lamp,
and the peasant now looked at the fugitive, who
had taken his stand by the door. ' I must hear
how that tale hangs together,' said the cottager.
So they began the story, wife and child both
talking, and both equally excited. The peasant
was an oldish man, and he looked wise and
thoughtful. He eyed the runaway prisoner
narrowly, whilst the others were chattering. ' He
looks, to say the least of it, mortally ill, poor
fellow ! ' he thought. ' If he sleeps another night
in that lumber-shed, it will certainly be all up
" ' There are many people walking the streets,
whom no one thinks of arresting, but who look
156 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
more dangerous customers than you,' he said, when
the others were silent. ' I am not really dangerous,' .
said the fugitive ; ' it was someone who roused my
temper when I was drunk ! ' The peasant would
not let him say anything further on the matter, "
lest the boy should hear it. 'I can imagine that
it happened that way,' he said, interrupting.
" It was quite silent hi the room now ; the peasant
sat immersed in thought, the others watching him "
anxiously. Nobody dared say another word to
influence him in favour of the lad. At last he
turned towards his wife. ' I don't know if I am
doing wrong, but it is the same with me as with
you — since the boy has taken a fancy to him, I
can't drive him away.'
" It was therefore agreed that the fugitive should
stay the night and leave early next morning.
Before long, however, he developed so bad an
attack of fever that he could not stand on his legs,
so, because of that, they had to keep him in the
cottage for a fortnight."
It was curious to watch the two brothers who-
were listening to this story, when the driver got
to the point where the fugitive was staying with
the peasants. The sick lad had stretched himself
on his bed, and was lying at perfect ease. His
- IB -4 ■
- .' ■
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 157
■ pains seemed to have left him, and he was brooding
over happy bygones. The other was still suspicious,
surmising that behind all this some trap was hidden.
He. tried again and again to make a sign to his
brother not to be so confident, but he could not
catch the latter's eye.
"They dared not send for a doctor," said the
■driver, going on with his story, "nor could they
venture to the chemist's for physic. The sick lad
had to get well without all that. If anybody
called and seemed about to enter the cottage, the
mistress went to the entrance and said that Bernard
had such a suspicious looking rash on his body —
she was afraid it might be scarlet fever — that she
could not take the responsibility of admitting
" About a fortnight afterwards, when the fugitive
began to rally, he said to himself that it would
not do for him to stay longer with his host
and hostess— he must wander farther on. He
could not continue to be a burden to these poor
"About that time they began speaking to him
on a subject that weighed on him heavily. It so
happened that Bernard asked him one evening
. where he was going after he left them. 'I suppose
158 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS
I shall take to the woods again,'- he answered..
' But it will be precious little good your going out
into the wilds,' said the peasant's wife. ' If I were
you, I should make a clean breast of it to the police
^authorities. There cannot really be much pleasure
in roaming about like a wild animal.' ' Nor is
there any pleasure in being in gaol ! ' ' No, yet
when the thing has to be done, it is always better
to get it done sooner, than later.' 'My sentence'
had nearly expired,' the lad said, ' but 1 now I shall
probably have it increased.' ' Yes, it was a mistake,
your running away,' said the wife. ' No ! ' answered
the lad briskly ; ' it was the best thing I did in all
" In saying this, he looked aftfie boy and smiled,
and the child nodded to him and laughed. He
loved that youngster— he would have liked to lift
him out of bed and carry him away on his shoulders
when he quitted the cottage. ' It will be very
difficult for you to meet Bernard again if you
continue wandering about all your life as a poor
runaway ! ' 'It will be a sight worse if I let them
clap me into prison.'
" The peasant sat by the fire and now joined in
the conversation. ' We were beginning to get on
well together,' he said, in his grave way, ' but we
. THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 159
can't hide you any longer from the neighbours,
•now that you are able to get about. It would be
quite another matter if you had been discharged
from prison.' The fugitive felt a sudden suspicion
—they would perhaps make him give himself up,
in order to avoid future trouble with the authorities !
So he answered : ' I am so well now that I can go
my way to-morrow morning.' ' That wasn't what
I meant,' said the peasant, ' but if you had been
free, I should have invited you to stay on with us
and help in the farming.'
" The fugitive, who was well aware how hard it
was for. a convict to find a situation, was touched
by this offer, but there was much against his return-
ing to prison, and he sat silent.
" That evening the boy was worse than usual.
' Ought he not to be sent to the hospital for treat-
ment?' asked the fugitive. 'He has been there
several times, but they say that nothing will do
him any good except sea-bathing. How can we
afford that ? ' 'It would be a long journey, I
suppose ? ' said the visitor. ' It's not the journey,
but he would need money'for bed and board.' ' Ah !
then, of course, it is impossible.'
. "There was silence for a long while, but the
fugitive played with the thought that, perhaps,
i6o THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
■ —?< .- ■..--■■■. ^
some day 'he might be able to get Bernard the
money for the journey.
" He turned to the peasant and took up the
subject they had been discussing. ' It is none sp"
easy to take a convict into one's service,' he said
tentatively. ' It would work all right, I think,'
replied the peasant, ' but possibly you are one of'
those who don't feel comfortable in the country)
but must needs live in a town.' ' I never think. of
town life,' remarked the convict, ' when I am
sitting in my cell. I think of nothing but the woods
and the fields.'
'■• ' When you have completed your sentence,
you will feel as though much that now weighs on
your mind will be gone,' said the peasant. ' Yes,
that's just what I say too,' chimed in the wife.
" ' If you could sing to us, Bernard — but perhaps
you are too ill for that.' ' Oh, no ! ' said the child.
' I rather think your friend would like it,' the mother
suggested. The convict felt nervous, as if fearing
a misfortune. He wanted to ask the boy not to
sing, but the latter had already begun. He sang
in a clear, gentle voice, and he never worried so
much about his being a prisoner for life, yearning
for freedom and movement, when he sang.
" The convict hid his face in his hands, but the *
■ ■ 7
■ mi mil*
... .. ' . - •
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 161
tears dropped through his fingers. ' I myself can
never be anything worthy,' he thought ; ' but I
must do something to give that child his
" Next day he bade the family farewell. Nobody
asked him where he was going— all they said was :
' Welcome here again ! ' "
' Yes, so they did, warder," remarked the sick
man, at last interrupting the driver. " That, mark
you, is the one and only beautiful incident in my
^whole fife." He lay silent, but two tears softly
coursed down his cheeks. "lam glad that you
know all this, warder," he went on. " Now I can
-tell you about Bernard. I think that I have been
liberated— I think that I have been with him. I
couldn't have believed that I should be so happy
• "Listen to me, Holm," the driver interrupted.
" If I could so arrange it that you might visit your
( friends now and at once, but in a different way
than you ever dreamt of, what would you say ? If
I invited you to escape the long years of longing
and gave you your freedom this very night, would
you be willing ? "
Whilst uttering these words, the driver threw
back his cowl and .grasped the scythe.
162 THY SOUL SHALL, BEAR WITNESS 1 .-
The sick lad looked at him with big eyes that were
filled with longing.
"Do you understand what I mean, Holm?"
asked the driver. " Understand that I am he who
can open all prisons ; I am he who can carry you
to a height beyond the reach of any pursuers ? -".
"I understand what you mean,"' the prisoner
whispered, " but would not that be doing Bernard
a wrong ? You know that I came back .here so
that I might gain my liberty in an honourable
manner — in order that I might help him."
" You made for him the highest sacrifice in your
power, and, in reward for that,, your punishment
has been shortened, and the freedom that is beyond
all price is offered to you. You need not think of
him any more."
" Oh, but I should have taken him to the seaside,"
replied the lad. " I whispered to him When we
parted that I would come back and take him to
the sea. One ought to keep one's promise to a
child ! "
" So you don't care to accept the freedom that
I am offering you ? " said the driver, getting up.
" Oh, yes ; oh, yes ! " cried the lad, laying hold
of his garment. " Don't go. You know not what
my longing is. If only there was another who
"i 1 ■
■ • *
-■ •■-■ - ' ' : ..._■_ _ • . .. ■ ' -' , - . L-
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 163
might help him-^but he has no one except
__. The sick'lad looked wearily round his celL
"My brother David is sitting over there," he
cried, " so it is all right. I can ask him to' help
"Your brother David!" repeated the driver.
" No/ you can't ask him to take care of a child.
You should see how he treats his own."
" David," the prisoner entreated, " I see before
■ me green lawns and the free, open sea. You
understand, David— I have been a prisoner here
so long ! I cannot accept, when I am invited to
fly away to freedom, without committing a wrong
by so .doing. I must not break faith with that
child. You know, I made a promise."
"Don't be uneasy, lad," replied David Holm,
in a trembling voice. " As to that child, and those
people who helped you, I promise you that I will
help them. Go! take your freedom— go where
you will. I will look after them. Walk calmly
out of .your prison ! "
At these words ihe sick man fell suddenly back
on his pillow.
' You spoke to him, David, the words of death !
Let us hence ; it is time for us to be gone. The
164 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WItNESS
freed soul must not be met by us who live in captivity
and darkness ! "
" Were it possible to make oneself heard in this
horrible creaking and rattling," thought David
Holm, " I should like, to say a few words of thanks
to George for having helped those two — Sister
Edith and my brother— in their last moments. I
won't satisfy him by releasing him from his office,
but I should very much like to show him that I
appreciate the way in which he came to their
Hardly had these thoughts crossed his mind
before the driver pulled the reins and stopped
the horse, just as if he had anticipated these
" I am only a poor bungler of a carter," he
remarked, " but sometimes I have the luck to help
someone — though it happens quite as often that
I fail. These two were easy to carry over the
boundary, because the one longed so ardently for
God's heaven, and the other had so little to bind
him to earth. Know this, David," he went on,
assuming the old friendly tene, " that many a time
when sitting listening in this cart, I have thought
to myself that if I could but send a certain message
. THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 165
to mankind, what I should send them would certainly
be a. greeting."
" I can well imagine that to be so," said David
" You know, David, that it is no sorrow to be a
reaper when the field stands full of ripened grain ;
but if one is forced to mow down poor and only
half-grown plants, he might think that a cruel and
thankless work. ' The husbandman whom I serve
regards Himself as too good for such, and leaves
it all for me, a poor carter."
" I understood that it had to be so," remarked
" If men but knew," continued George, " how
easy it is to help across the boundary those who
have their work ready, and their duties fulfilled,
and the bonds almost broken, and how hard it is
to free him who has attempted nothing, accom-
plished nothing,, and leaves behind him all he loves,
then perhaps they would try to make the driver's
task a less irksome one."
" What do you mean, George ? "
" Think of one thing, David. All the time you
have been with me, you have hardly heard any
talk of more than one disease. I can assure you
that was the same with me all the year; c It is
166 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS J
because the disease spreads among the unripe
seeds that it falls to my lot to reap. During the
first period of my driving the death-cart, I was
always thinking that if only that disease were —
removed, my office would be Considerably lightened."
" Was that the greeting you wanted to send to
mankind ? "
" No, David. I know better now than I did •
then what man can do. Some day. the.y certainly
ought to vanquish this enemy with the weapons
of science and perseverance. They should never ..
rest till they have freed themselves from that, and
all other great diseases which, strike them down, ■
before their maturity. The matter does not depend
on this." . .
" How should they, then, lighten the driver's
" Men are so eager to arrange everything for the
best for themselves in their world," replied George,
" that I think the day will come when poverty and
drunkenness and all such wretchedness that shortens
iife will no longer exist, but that does not imply •
that the driver's occupation will be less toilsome."
" What greeting, then, would you send them,
" It will soon be New Year's morning, David, .
THE STRUGGLE OF A SOUL 167
and when men awake their first thoughts will be
upon the New Year and all that they wish and hope
. that it may give them— after that, on their future.
But the greeting I would send them is not that
they should wish for luck in love-affairs, success,
or power, or a long, or even a healthy life. I would
have them fold their hands and concentrate their
thoughts upon a single prayer :
" ' ' O God ! vouchsafe that my soul may come
to maturity ere it shah be reaped ! ' "
■ - . ■
DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON
Two women were sitting engrossed in a conversation
which had lasted many hours. It had been inter-
rupted for a time in the afternoon, when the pair
had been engaged in. holding divine service in the
Salvationists' quarters, but, at its close, the con-
versation had been resumed. During the whole
of the time one of the women had been trying Very
hard to infuse courage and confidence into the other,
but it appeared to have been labour in vain.
" Understand, Mrs. Holm," said she who was
trying to console and cheer the other, " that, strange
as it may sound, I believe there is a better time in
store for you. I believe that David has now done
his worst. That was, I take it, something he. had
set himself to do, in order to slake the vengeance he
has threatened you with ever since you came to be
reunited. But, Mrs. Holm, it is one thing for Mm
to be cruel one day and say that his children are
'■ — t ■ ' .■ ■- '•' —
DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON 169
not to be taken away, and another thing for him to
cherish in his heart such a murderous thought and
carry it out day after day. I don't believe that
anyone could persist in such a course."
" Captain, you are very good to try to console
me," replied the wife, though it was evident that
she thought in her heart that if the Salvationist
Captain did not know anyone capable of a thing like
that, she herself certainly knew one who was.
The Captain looked as if she had now reached the
limit of her power to convince, but, all of a sudden,
she determined to make a fresh effort.
"You are to bear in mind one thing, Mrs. Holm.
I don't say that it was a great sin you committed
when you ran away from your husband some years
back, but I regard it as a neglect of duty. You
left him to his own devices, and it was not long,
either, before the evil consequences became evident'.
For years, however, you have tried to make repara-
tion for it. Now you have acted as- it is God's
will that we should act, and I think that there must
be a change for the better. It was a big storm that
was raised then, and one not to be quelled in an
instant, but the work that you and Sister Edith
began is one of the good sort, and will bear the
fruits of all good works."
170 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS \
DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON 171
When the Captain was saying this, she was no
longer alone in the room with Mrs. Holm, for David
himself and his friend George — or, more precisely
put, their spectres — had found their way into the.
room while she was talking, and had taken up their
stand by the door.
David Holm was no longer bound hand and
foot ; he followed the driver without coercion ;
but when he observed where he had been carried,
a sudden resentment * arose within him. Here
surely no oije was about to die ! Why then compel
him to see his wife and children again ? He was
about to turn to George with an angry question,
when the latter made signs to him to keep qtjiet.
David Holm's wife lifted up her head as if cheered
by the other's strong conviction. "If, after all,
one could believe that . it was true I " she
" It is true," persisted the Salvationist, smiling
at her. " To-morrow there will be a change. You
will see that help will come to you with the New
" The New Year I " repeated the wife. " Yes, it
is New Year's Eve — I had forgotten it altogether.
How late can it be, Captain Ahdersson ? "
" We are well into the New Year already," came
■ i . '
* ■ ■
the reply, and she glanced at her watch. "It is
a quarter to two."
"Then you must not sit any longer with me,
Captain, but go home to bed. I am quite calm
now, you see."
The Salvationist Captain gave the woman a
" There's something, though, that seems to me not
altogether satisfactory about that calmness of
" You need have no apprehension about me,
Captain," replied the wife. " I know that I have
said some hard things to-night, but it is over now."
" Do you mean, Mrs. Holm, that you can put
everything into God's Hands and trust to Him to
arrange everything for the best?" asked the
" Yes," the wife assured her, " I can."
" I would willingly have stayed till the morning,
but I see that .you think it better that I should go.''
"It has been so nice to have you here, but David
will soon be coming now, so I ought to be by myself."
They both went out of the room after interchang-
ing a few more words. David Holm knew that his
wife was accompanying the Salvationist Captain
to the door to open it for her.
T~ ; . .- •• : — -^ .. .. —
172 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
"David," said the driver, "did you hear her?
You observe that human beings know all they need
to know ? They have only to be strengthened in
the desire, to will to live long and well."
He had scarcely said this before the wife re-
turned. It was obvious that she meant to keep her
promise and go to bed. She sat on a chair and began
unlacing a boot.
While she was doing this, the house door slammed
noisily. The woman at once got up and listened.
" Is he coming ? " she wondered. " Surely it is
She rushed to the window and tried to look down
to the dark yard. She stood thus for a couple of
minutes, scrutinising it intently. When she returned
to the chair, her face had strangely altered. It had
become grey— eyes, lips, all of her— as if covered
with ashes ; her movements were stiff and
stumbling, and a slight twitching passed over her
" I can't endure it ! " she whispered, "I can't
endure it ! "
"Yes, I will trust in God! " she cried, a few
moments later, standing in the middle of the room.
" They tell me that I must trust in God— they think
that, perhaps, I have not prayed to Him and called
DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON 173
on Him. What shall I do ? How shall I contrive
to get any help from Him ? "
She was not weeping, but her speech was a pro-
longed moan. She was under the sway of a despair
so great that she was evidently not responsible for
David Holm leant forward, eyed her sharply, and
started at a sudden thought.
The wife did not walk, but stumbled towards the
bed in the corner, where her two children were
" It is a pity," she murmured, bending over them,
" that they are so pretty."
She knelt on the floor beside them, gazing for a
while first on one and then on the other.
" But I must get away," she said, " and I can't
leave them behind me."
She stroked their heads awkwardly and as if
unused to it.
" You must not be angry with me for what I
am doing," she continued, " for it is not my
While she was kneeling on the floor, caressing the
children, the outer door banged again. The woman
jumped up again and was obviously nervous till
she realised that it was not her husband who had
174 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
come in. " I must make haste," she said to the
children, in a weird whisper. " It shall be done
quickly, provided David does not come and prevent
However, she did nothing at the moment except
pace up and down the room.
" There is something that tells me to wait till
the morning," she murmured, half-aloud, "but
what good will that be ? To-njorrow will be a day
like all the rest. Why should he be kinder to-morrow
than to-day ? "
David Holm was thinking about that corpse
which was lying in the shrubbery, and which
would soon be buried in the earth as useless for
anything else. He was longing for his wife to know
in some way that she need no longe,r be afraid of
Again a slight noise was heard. It was a door in
the house being opened and shut, and again the
wife trembled as she remembered the purpose she
had in mind. She slipped to the stove and began
putting in some wood, so as to kindle* a fire.
" It does not matter if he does come and sees me
making a fire," she said aloud, in reply to some
silent objection. " I may, I suppose, boil some
coffee on New Year's morning, so as to have
1 . -
. -. i
DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON 175
something to keep .me awake while waiting up
David Holm felt a great relief^when she said this.
Again he began to wonder what purpose George
had in mind when bringing him here. Nobody
was about to die — nobody was ill.
The driver stood motionless, with his cowl drawn
down, and so preoccupied was he that it would not
do to question him.
. " He wants me to see my wife and family for the
• last time," David decided. " I shall never be in
; their presence again. That does not make me a
whit unhappy," he continued, a moment later,
thinking that he had ho room in his heart save for
.one ; but he went to the corner where the two
, children were lying. Whilst standing there, he began
to think about the little boy whom his brother
loved so much that, for his sake, he even returned
■'■'".. to prison of his own accord — he felt, with a sense
of inferiority, that he did not love his children like
'* May it, in any case, go well for them in this
. world I " he thought with sudden tenderness.
. . " They will rejoice f o-morrow when they hear that
they need not be afraid of their father any longer.
" I wonder what sort of creatures they will turn
■'..• ' • .. .
."•-■ - -
1 1 m il 1 — — — ^1— i^^i^^^^^m
176 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
out, when they are grown up," he wondered, with
a more lively interest than he had ever before
displayed over them, and he felt at the same time a
sudden fear lest they should be such as he himself.
" I've been an exceedingly unhappy man. I don't
understand why I did not trouble myself about
them before. If there is any return for me, I will
come back and make real men of these two."
He paused and examined the state of his heart.
"It is curious that I no longer feel any hatred
towards my wife," he murmured. " I should like
her to be happy, after all that she has suffered. .'
Were it possible, I would get back all that furniture
for her, and I should like to see her go to church on
Sundays in nice clothes. But she will, of course,
get all that and more, now that I am out of her
path. I believe that George has brought me here
so that I may be glad to be among the dead ! "
At that moment he gave a sudden start. He had
been so engrossed in his thoughts as to pay no
attention to what his wife was about. Now,
however, he uttered a cry of anguish.
" It's boiling— the water's boiling ; it will soon
be ready. It must be done at once, for there is no
time to lose."
The woman took down a pot. that was standing
DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON 177
on a shelf close to the stove, and poured from it
some ground coffee into the vessel. This done, she
took from her bosom a little packet containing a
white powder, which she also put in the water.
David Holm stood staring at her, without daring
. .to put into thought the meaning of what she was
"You shall see, David, that this will do it!"
she said aloud, turning towards the room just as
if she saw him. " That will suffice for both children
and myself. I can't stand any longer seeing the
children pining away. If you only stop out another
hour or so, everything will be done as you wanted
by the time you return."
Now the man could not remain any longer
listening quietly ; he hurried to the driver.
" George ! " he" cried. " Oh, good God ! don't
you understand what is going on ? "
" Yes, David, I do," replied the driver, "I am
standing here — I am obliged to be present. I
can't evade my duty ! "
" But surely, George, you don't understand ;
it's not only my. wife, but also the children. She
means to take them with her ! "
" Yes, David," the driver admitted, " she means
to take your children with her."
" But that must not be ! It is unnecessary,
you know. Can't you make her realise that it. is
"I cannot make myself heard by her— she is
too far away."
" But can't you summon someone here, George
—someone who will tell her that it is no longer
"You are asking absurdities, David. What
power have I over the living ? "
David Holm refused to be deterred from his
purpose. He threw himself on his knees before
" Remember that you were once my friend and
companion, and do not suffer this thing to be done 1
Let not this befall me — do not suffer the poor
innocent children to die."
He looked up at George for an answer, but the
latter only shook his head in refusal:
"I will do all in my power for you, George. I
refused when you told me to take, your place as
driver, but I gladly accept that service, provided
that I escape going through this awful trial. They
are so tiny, both of them — and just now I was
wishing that I could have lived to make good men
of them. And she — she is insane to-night ; she
»T II . U ■ 11
. . ' -
DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON 179
does not know what she is doing ! Have pity on
When the driver remained motionless, he turned
a little aside from him.
" I am so lonely, so lonely ! " he cried. " I do
not know where to turn. I do not even, know
whether to pray to God or to Christ. I am a new-
comer in this world. Who is it that has the power ?
Who can tell me to Whom I can betake myself in
"Oh, I, a poor sinful man, pray to Him who is
Lord Of life and of death. I am not fit to stand
forth and pray. -• I have,, in good sooth, wrought
against all Thy laws and ordinances, but suffer
me to go into the uttermost darkness. Let nothing
remain of me: Do what Thou wilt with me, so
that these three innocents be spared."
David held his peace and listened for an
answer, but all he heard was his wife talking to
" Now that this is melted and boiled, it will only
have to stand and cool for a few moments."
Then George bent down to his companion, his
cowl thrown back and his face brightened with a
smile. " David," he said, "if you are really in
earnest, there is perhaps still a means of saving
■-:■ -'- •
„ I..',., -
180 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS
them. You yourself must let your wife know that
she need not be afraid of you."
" But I cannot make myself heard by. her, can
I, George ? "
" No, not as you are. You must return to the
David Holm who is lying in the shrubbery. Can
you do that ? "
David shuddered with fright. Human life seemed
to him something suffocating and deadly. Would
not the soul's fresh development stop, if he became
a mortal once more ? All his happiness was awaiting,
him in another world !
Nevertheless, he did not hestitate a second.
" If I can — if I am free. I. thought that I should
have to "
" Yes, you are right," replied George, and his
countenance gleamed with still greater beauty.
" You must be Death's driver for the whole of this
year, unless another undertakes to perform the
office in your stead."
" Another ? " exclaimed David Holm. " Who
would sacrifice himself for a wretch like me? "
" David, there is a man who. has never ceased to
bewail that he seduced you from the path of virtue.
Perhaps that man would perform your office gladly,
because he need never again have to grieve for you.'.
■ II J
■■*. fc — - •- '- .
. — ^ . -
• ■ '
— ; ■ _ — —
DAVID HOLM RETURNS TO PRISON 181
Without giving David time to understand fully
the purport of his words, he bent over him, gazing
with radiant eyes on his face.
." Old friend, David Holm, do the best you can.
I shall remain here till you return. You have not
a long time left."
" But you, George "
The driver checked him by that commanding
gesture of the hand which he had learnt to obey.
In a flash, he threw back his cowl, and cried in a
loud and ringing voice :
" Prisoner, return- to your prison ! "
THE DRIVER S PRAYER
David Holm leant on his elbow and looked round
about him. All the street lamps were extinguished,
but it had grown light, and the half -moon was
shining. He had no difficulty in assuring himself,
that he was still lying in the church shrubbery, on
the withered grass-plot overshadowed by the dark
branches of the lime-trees.
Without a moment's reflection, he began getting
to his feet. He felt absolutely weary; bis body
was stiff with cold and his head swam; but he
managed somehow to raise himself up from the
grass, after which he began stumbling in the
direction of the avenue. So near was he to
falling, that he was obliged to steady himself
against a tree.
—" I am not up to it," he thought. " It will be
impossible for me to be there ia time."
Not for an instant did he feel that what he had
gone through was an illusion — he had the fullest
• . ■ ' — . ■ .
THE DRIVER'S PRAYER
and most definite impressions left of the night's
"I left the driver waiting in my house," he
muttered he. "I needs must hasten."
. "He left the tree that he had been leaning against,
and took several steps forward, but he was so
pitifully weak that he sank to his knees.
Then, in this terrible moment of abandonment,
he felt something brush against his forehead. He
did not know whether it was a hand, or a pair of
lips — or, possibly, the flapping of very thin garments
—but it was enough to ravish his whole soul with
" Shehas returned to me I " he cried in jubilation ;
"she is near me again ; she is protecting me."
He stretched out his hands in ecstasy at being
encompassed by the beloved's, love, at her love
filling, his heart with gladness even at the moment
when he -had returned to the earthly sphere.
He heard footsteps behind him in the deserted
night. A small woman, whose head was covered
by a big Salvationist bonnet, came tripping
" Sister Mary 1 " he cried, as she was going past
him. "Sister Mary, help me 1"
The Slum-Sister may have recognised the voice.
184 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
She shrank away and pursued her course without
troubling about him. '
" Sister Mary, I am not drunk. I am ill ! Help
me to get home."
Well, she scarcely believed him, but, without
another word, she went to him, helped him to rise,
and supported him as he walked.
He was once more on his way home, but how slow
was the journey. All might be over by now !
The man stopped suddenly.
" Sister Mary, it would be a great boon if you
would go to my home first, and fell the wife -"
" Need I tell her that you are coming back, drunk
as usual ? Is she so unused to it ? "
David bit his lips and struggled on, striving to
the uttermost to increase his pace ; but his body,
half-paralysed by cold, refused obedience.
Soon he made another effort to induce her to
hurry forward in advance of hini. "I have been
asleep and dreaming," he said. " ^rhave seen Sister
Edith die— I saw Sister Edith on her death-bed ;
I have also seen my wife and children at home. She
is not in her right mind to-night. I tell you, Sister
Mary, if you don't hurry on before me she will do
herself a mischief."
His words came weak and broken. The Sister
THE DRIVER'S PRAYER
made no answer, as she persisted in her opinion that
she had a drunkard to deal with.
'Nevertheless she helped him on. He realised that
she had won a hard-fought victory over herself
in consenting to aid one whom she regarded
as mainly instrumental in causing Sister Edith's
Whilst David Holm was stumbling along, he
became the prey to a fresh anxiety. How was he
to get himself believed by the poor woman at home,
who was so frightened of him, unless Sister Mary
■ At last they stood before the gate of the yard in
which he lived, and the Sister helped him to open
" Now you can, I suppose, look after yourself,"
she said, preparing to go.
" It would be very kind indeed, Sister Mary, if
you would shout to my wife to come and assist
The woman shrugged her shoulders. " Under-
stand, David Holm, on another night I might
perhaps have looked better after you, but to-night
I have not the heart to do it. This, must suffice
for the present."
Her voice died away in a burst of sobs, and she
hurried away from him.
186 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR WITNESS!
As Holm made his way with difficulty up, the.
steep flight of stairs, it seemed to him that it must
be too late— and, in any case, how could he make
his wife believe in him?
Whilst he was almost sinking on the stairs from
weariness and despondency, he again felt that- soft
caress on his brow.
" She is near me ; she is watching over me ! "
and he found strength at last to toil up to the top/
When he opened the door, his wife stood right
in front of him— as if she had hurried to bolt the
door to prevent him coming in. On finding
that she was too late, she withdrew to the stove
and stood with her back to it, as though she
had something there she wanted to hide and
" She has not done it ! I have come in time I "
With a rapid glance at the children, he- assured
himself that that was actually the case. " They are
still asleep. She has not done it I I have come in
the nick of time," he said to himself.
He extended his hand to the side where the
Death-cart driver, George, had stood but a short
time back. He fancied that another hand clasped
and pressed it. " Thanks I " he whispered softly, .
- . '
and his voice trembled, a sudden mist came over his
He stumbled into the room and sank down into
a chair. He saw that his wife was watching his
movements, just as she would have done if a wild
• beast had entered the room.
" She really believes that I am drunk— she too ! "
'; A new feeling of hopelessness came over him,
because he was so unutterably weary and could not
get rest. A bed stood in the inner room, and he
longed to stretch his limbs on it and not have to
hold himself erect ; but he dared not go there— his
wife would carry out her fell purpose directly he
turned his back. He must stay up and watch
*' Sister Edith is dead," he managed to say, " and
I was with her. I promised her that I would be
good to you and to the children. You must send
them to. the Home to-morrow."
" Why are you lying ? " his wife demanded.
"Gustawson was here, and spoke to Captain
Andersson about Sister Edith being dead. He said
that you had not gone to her."
David Holm sank on to a chair, and, to his own
great astonishment, he began to weep. It was
■ }:■■ . :
-- - ' ■ I
.. ■ ■
■I I ■ • • •
188 THY SOUL SHALL BEAR -WITNESS !
fruitless his returning to the world of thoughts, . '
to the world of closed eyes, which weighed
him down. It was a paralysing conviction that >'
he would never get outside the wall which his
own ill-deeds had erected round him, a yearning —
a boundless yearning — to fuse himself with the
soul which hovered over him, a soul, however,
which was beyond his reach, which occasioned
Whilst the heavy weeping was shaking him, he
heard his wife's voice.
" David is weeping ! " she said to herself, in a
tone of indescribable astonishment ; and again,
about a minute afterwards, she repeated the words :
" He is weeping ! "
She left the stove and approached him with
" Why are you weeping, David ? " she asked.
He lifted up to her a face which was bedewed with
"I will reform," he said with clenched teeth, in •
a way which might almost have given the impression
of his being angry. "I mean to become a really
good man. But nobody will believe me. Should
I not weep then ? "
" You see, David, it is so hard to believe it," his .
THE DRIVER'S PRAYER
wife replied dubiously ; but I do believe you,
now that you are weeping. I do believe you
To give him a proof that she felt a renewed trust
in him she sat at his feet and leant her head against
his knees. She sat perfectly still for a while, but
she, too, soon began to weep.
David started. " What ! you weeping also?"
."I cannot help it ! I can't be happy until
I have wept away all the sorrow that lies in
At that moment David again felt that wonderful
cold puff on his brow. His tears ceased, and in their
place .came a mysterious inward smile from the
depths of his soul.
He had fulfilled the first duty imposed on him
by the events of the night ; it now remained to him
to succour the boy whom his brother had loved.
He must show such people as Sister Mary that Sister
Edith was not wrong in bestowing on him her love ;
he had to raise his own home from its ruins, he must
carry to. mankind the driver's greeting. Then,
when all this was done, he would go to the beloved,
to the object of his yearnings.
David sat on, feeling exceedingly old. He
had become patient and submissive, as the
SHALL BEAR WITNESS !
old are wont to be; he dared riot either hope,
He clasped his hands and whispered the Driver's -
" O God ! vouchsafe that my soul may come.
TO MATURITY ERE IT BE REAPED ! " )
Odhams Press Ltd., Long Acre, London, W.Ca