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i 









n 



BY FLORENCE L, BARCLAY 



THE WHEELS OP TIME 

THE ROSARY 

THE MISTRESS OP SHENSTONE 

THE POLLOWING OP THE STAR 

THROUGH THE POSTERN GATE 

THE UPAS TREE 

THE BROKEN HALO 

THE WALL OP PARTITION 

MY HEART'S RIGHT THERE 

IN HOC * VINCE 

THE WHITE LADIES OP WORCESTF 

RETURNED EMPTY 



Returned Empty 



i 



/ / 



') 



/ ^V ^^'^''f / / 



/- 



;• 






Returned Empty 



By 



..v\*^**''' 



Florence L. B^clay 

AuHhoT of "The Rosary, " etc 



^ 



^ 



^ * 



« »3 • 






*» » • " C 



• • ' :. '■ 



G. P. PuthaniV Sons 

New York and Ltmdon 

Q^ WxMMUndux $ceM 

1920 



THk NEW ; ;\'v 
PUBLIC LIR.^ARV 
1 






ASTOR. LEIMOX AND 

TILBEN FOUNDATIONS 

R 1 @2a L 



CoratiOBT, xgso, 

BY 

FLORENCE L. BARCLAY 



« • 


















* » 



? • • • • 



CATHERINE 



c 

c. 



O 

ut 
O 

ct 

8 

SliC 

UJ 

to. 

y> 

z 



Lord Tennyson's poem^ '^Crossing the Bar, 
is printed by kind permission of 
Messrs, Macmillan & Co. 



CONTENTS 



SCENE 

I. Glass with Care 

II. The Unexpected Welcome 

III. The Expected Guest 

IV. The Prison Bars Dissolve 
V. ** I Have Waited so Long! ** 

VI. "Sunset and Evening Star" 

VII. "And after That — ^the Dark*' 

VIII. The Dawn Breaks 

IX. The Watcher . 



X. "When That which Drew from 
OUT the Boundless Deep, 
Turns again Home" 



XL ** My Life for His ! 
XII. The Deep Well 



XIII. " Nevertheless- 



tt 



It 



XIV. " No Sadness OF Farewell 

II 



ft 



PAGE 

35 

49 

59 

65 

73 

79 

133 
149 



153 
165 

175 

193 
203 



13 



Contents 



8CBNB TAGS 

XV. "The Secrets of Our Hearts" . an 

XVL "Who Was He?" .219 

XVII. In the Pike Wood 223 

XVIII. The Home She Planned . 233 

XIX. The Great Chance -239 

XX. "Coming!" .... 243 



<^.^>^ 



'' \ » 



•'*, 



SCENE I 

Glass With Care 






4.- 



■tiJ 









SCENE I 

GLASS WITH CARS 

A LIMITLESS expanse of opal sea, 
calm and unruffled, reflecting the 
crimson and gold of the sky, as the 
sun went down behind pine woods and 
moors. 

A clear-cut line of cliffs, rising sheer 
from the stretch of golden sands. 

Whirling white wings, as the gulls, 
shrieking in hungry chorus, swooped to the 
fringe of the outgoing tide. 

A narrow path, skirting the edge of the 
cliffs, all among the pungent fragrance of 
gorse and heather and yellow bracken. 

Along this path, on a warm September 

evening, swung a solitary figure; a man 

with sad eyes, feeling himself a blot upon 

the landscape, yet drinking in every tint of 

sunset glory, every wild wonder of snowy 

15 



*1 • 



i6 Rttumed Empty 

wings^ ever}! whiff of crushed 
And, as he walked^ the water < 
seemed to caU to him in a silen 
sparkling voices: ^This is the 
City of Gold. Leap from the • 
to the waters I This, and this oi 
road for Home." 

It was the Lonely Man's thir 
day. Nobody had wished him n 
returns of the day. Nobody ki 
was his birthday. He would 
known it himself had it not be 
soiled and faded label which he 
his pocket-book^ Glass with ci 
on one side; andL on the other, 
Empty. Beneath the former w; 
in red ink : Luke siL 6, beneath 
Septetnber 12, 1883. 

This label had been tied to tl 
bundle left, thirty years before, 
step in a London suburb, one 
October night. The man-chil< 
forlornly in the calico wrapping 
viously a month-old baby. 



Glass With Care 



I fragrance, 
^own below 
It chorus of 
way to the 
cliff! Take 
^^Yf is your 

tieth birth- 
nany happy 
new that it 
1 not have 
«i for the 
carried in 
^RB printed 
Returned 
is written, 
the latter: 

e helpless 

n a door- 

nioonless 

wailing 

was ob- 



The matron of the Foundlings' L 
tion, to which a stalwart policeman c 
the bundle, after she had handed ov< 
infant to her most capaUe nurse 
washed and clothed and fed, carefull; 
ceeded to examine the wrappings ax 
label. 

The wrappings held no clue. No la 
marks were on the strips of calico she 
no fair linen or fine lace pointed 
stealthy removal from a palatial m; 
to the cold comfort of the suburban 
step. No jewelled locket held a 
mother's wistful face, or a tress of { 
hair. The lonely baby had arrived 
coarsest of unbleached calico sheeting. 
three a yard," said the matron, anc 
up the label 

" ^Returned empty/ Well, that i 
doubtedly was, bless his poor little tt 
'September the 12th/ Just over a 
ago. That must be his birthday, poor 
'Glass with care.' Well, I never! 
might at least have chosen a label n 



i8 Returned Empty 

Terishable/ And what's written here? 
'Luke xii. 6/ They had better have left the 
Bible out of their wrong-doings." 

The matron was thorough in the search 
for a possible clue. She fetched a Bible 
and looked up the reference. ^ 

"Are not five sparrows sold for two 
farthings, and not one of them is forgot- 
ten before God?" 

"Well, I never!" said the matron. "So 
they label that bonny boy a little worthless 
sparrow!" The matron waxed eloquent in 
her indignation. "This bit of flotsam on 
life's ocean, this helpless waif, flung in its 
cheap wrappings on the mercy of strangers, 
is valued by those who forsook it at less 
than the Jewish half -farthing!" 

The chaplain had preached, quite lately, 
on the fifth sparrow thrown in to make the 
bargain. So, when he came for the chris- 
tening, and names must be given to the 
nameless, remembering the sermon and the 
label, the matron "named this child," Luke 
Sparrow. 



Glass With Care 19 

Sometimes, laughing, they called him 
"Little Glass with Care,** he was so easily 
troubled, so sensitive to harsh sounds or 
roughness of touch. His baby lip quivered 
so readily ; his dark eyes became deep pools 
of silent misery. And in another sense he 
was like a glass, during his babyhood. His 
beautiful little face mirrored things not 
seen. He would turn away from toys, and 
lie gazing at the sunbeams or at as much 
as could be seen of the sky through the 
high windows; and sometimes he would 
stretch out his arms to nothingness, and, 
arching his little body, lift it almost off his 
mattress, as 'if in response to some yearn- 
ing call of love. 

The first word he spoke was "Coming.** 
He would shout: "Coming! Coming!** 
when nobody had called. He turned, im- 
patient, from kind bosoms ready to cuddle 
him; he slipped unresponsive from laps in 
which he might have nestled softly, and 
hurled himself where only hard boards re- 



20 Returned Empty 

ceived him, or a cold wall bruised his baby 
head. 



" 'Now we see as in a mirror enigmas/ " 
quoted the matron, whose minister habitu- 
ally preached from the Revised Version. 
"What are you trying to remember, you 
queer little Bundle of Mystery? Who 
calls, when you say 'Coming* ? What waiting 
breast which is not here, makes you bump 
your poor little head against the wall?" 

But, by the time he was three years old, 
he had outlived even the matron's tender- 
ness. His little heart opened to none of 
them. His grave, sweet beauty grew re- 
pellent. His solemn eyes looked past their 
most persuasive danglings. Poor little "Re- 
turned Empty"! His body throve under 
their care. His spirit seemed to yearn for 
something they could not give. He was a 
lonely baby. 

Years went by. He outgrew the nursery, 
and passed into the school. Steadily he 
worked his way to the top of each class and 



Glass With Care 21 

stayed there. He took very little account 
of his school- fellows. The cruel could not 
hurt him ; the friendly failed to reach him. 

"First Prize: Luke Sparrow/' 
He made his graceful, solemn bow, and 
took the book; but his dark eyes, tmdazzled 
by the grand, gold chain, looked past the 
portly Mayor, and failed to see the smile 
of approval on the head-master's face; his 
ears were deaf to the plaudits of assembled 
patrons and friends. He returned to his 
place, hugging his book. Nobody asked 
to see it; he shewed it to nobody. He was 
a lonely little boy. 

He preferred study, involving solitude, to 
games which hurled him among companions 
of his own age. The chaplain took an in- 
terest in the queerly brilliant little mind, 
and gave the boy constant private coach- 
ing, with the result that he won a Gram- 
mar School scholarship, carrying advan- 
tages which he could not have enjoyed at 
the Foundlings' Institution. 



22 Returned Empty 

Two passions at this time began to pos- 
sess him, giving him his only thrills of 
pleasure. The first was his love of the 
water. He swam like a fish. The first time 
he went with the other boys to the swim- 
ming baths he stood on the edge watching 
the swimmers; gazing, with brooding eyes, 
at the water, as if striving to capture an 
evasive memory. 

"Jump in, Sparrow!" shouted the young 
master in charge. "There must always be 
a beginning. Don't funk it!'* 

The lithe body quivered all over, a ripple 
of muscles under the smooth skin. He 
walked down the steps with the sudden 
alertness of one awaking from a long 
dream, slipped into the water, and, as it 
lapped around him, glided forward and 
swam from one end of the bath to the 
other, with the ease and grace of a little 
water animal. 

They called him the Frog. They called 
him the Minnow. Later on, they called him 
the Sea-lion. It mattered nothing to him 



Glass With Care 23 

what they called him. He swam for the 
sheer joy of it. He felt more alive in the 
water than on land. He seemed to come 
nearer to finding something he had been 
seeking all his short life. 

His first swim in the sea brought the 
swift resolve to eschew heaven, "Why?" 
asked another boy, to whom in an un- 
usual moment of expansiveness he con- 
fided, as they shared a towel, this momen- 
tous decision. "Because,** said Luke, "once 
we get there, the Bible says there shall be 
no more sea.'* 

His other passion was for gazing in at 
windows, from the outside, after dark, 
when firelight gleamed fitfully on shining 
furniture; when unknown people sat talk- 
ing, and smiling, and handing each other 
cups of tea; when they lighted lamps and 
candles, forgetting to draw the curtains 
and leaving the windows unshuttered. 

When he left school and was launched 
on life, a lonely youth, to fend for him- 



24 Returned Empty 

self, earning enough by his pen for his own 
modest needs, rousing himself to a few 
hours of brilliant work if he wanted new 
books, new clothes, or a complete holiday — 
this strange fascination grew. A hunger 
possessed him to look in at other people's 
windows. He would walk miles to satisfy 
this craving. Out into the country, where 
farm kitchens sent a ruddy glow across 
the fields; where cottage windows gleamed 
like friendly stars. He would draw near, 
avoiding kennels and gravel paths, and 
feast his eyes on cosy rooms ; husbands and 
wives, seated in easy chairs at the end of 
the day's work; fathers and mothers, 
among their children; comfortable cats, 
purring before the fire; faithful dogs, sud- 
denly alert, ears pricking, eyes on the win* 
dow pane. 

He had no wish to be within. His pleas- 
ure was to look in from outside, as a being 
from another world, with no personal share 
in this life's loves and joys, with an in- 
satiable desire to witness them. 



Glass With Care 25 

Sometimes the inmates of these lighted 
rooms chanced to look up and see the 
strained face and sombre eyes gazing 
through the window. Then they would 
make a movement of fear or of anger; or a 
kindly move, as if to ask him in. In either 
case he would turn away quickly and dis- 
appear in the darkness. He had no wish 
to enter, he had no desire to share their joys. 
He only asked to view them from without. 

Yet gradually the conviction grew within 
him that this passion was a quest: that 
some day he would look through a window 
and see a room which should seem to him 
that thing he had never known — Home. 

Grand interiors he saw, in London streets 
and squares ; glimpses of tasteful furniture, 
art treasures, a suitable setting for per- 
fectly gowned grace and beauty; swiftly 
concealed by the drawing of . velvet cur- 
tains. 

It angered him that tKe illusive sense of 
home drew nearer to him m these fitful 
visions of wealth and loveliness than when 



26 Returned Empty 

he looked into humbler and more simple 
houses. All his sympathies were with those 
who worked and toiled, living by the soil 
and upon it. 

He liked the farmer who drank ale from 
a brown jug, while his pleasant wife en- 
joyed her dish of tea. 

Peering through area railings into the 
basement of London houses, he liked the 
stout cook who stood before a glowing 
kitchen range, toasting-fork in hand, fling- 
ing remarks over her portly print shoulder 
to the pretty young housemaid, perched on, 
the kitchen table, swinging her feet and 
darning a stocking. 

He loved the grey parrot with a naughty 
eye, no doubt banished from the drawing- 
room on account of its language, sidling up 
and down its perch, in the cage under the 
window. He felt sure it was making val- 
uable additions to its vocabulary, what time 
the heat of the fire on one side and the 
flippant attitude of the pretty housemaid 
on the other, annoyed the stout cook. 



Glass With Care 27 

He disliked the beautiful woman in the 
room above, who reclined among silken 
cushions, giving languid orders to a defer- 
ential butler, then waved an impatient com- 
mand to the footman to draw the curtains. 
Yet the drawing of those curtains shut out 
the haunting sense of home, which had 
grown within him as he watched the 
woman among the silken cushions. 

He returned to his solitary rooms and 
spent the evening writing an article in 
which he decried the idle rich and extolled 
the humble poor. Yet, while he wrote, he 
wondered, half wistfully, who he might be 
who had the right to come in and fill the 
armchair drawn close to that couch of 
silken cushions. He wondered this; and 
wondering, ceased writing, lit his pipe and 
took to dreaming. 

He was a lonely youth. 

By degrees his gift of descriptive writing 
won him an acknowledged place in the 
world of journalism. He was trusted by 



28 Returned Empty 

an important newspaper to observe and 
record various historic scenes in the great 
metropolis — a royal funeral; a coronation; 
the city's welcome to a famous general. 

He wrote with a peculiar detachment, 
never obtruding his own personality; view- 
ing events in their larger meaning, as well 
as in careful completeness of minor detail; 
yet with no throb of human sentiment, no 
personal touch of intimate feeling. 

Later on, he went in a similar capacity 
to India, and wrote one of the finest de- 
scriptions on record of the royal Dur- 
bar. 

He moved amid scenes of varied interest ; 
he made many acquaintances, but no close 
friends. 

His distant travels accomplished, he 
would return to his comfortless rooms, and 
work in solitude. 

That within him which might have re- 
sponded to love, and leapt into intimacy, 
seemed shut away behind prison bars. 
When Love drew near, he could but look 



Glass With Care 29 

forth with haunted eyes, watching while 
Love, rebuffed, moved sadly away. 
He was a lonely man. 

When he allowed himself a holiday, he 
packed a sniall knapsack, went by the 
fastest route possible to Scotland, Corn- 
wall, Devon or Norfolk — an)rwhere where 
he could find a rugged coast ; long stretches 
of gorse and heather; villages, which he 
could reach by nightfall. 

Each morning he would be on the shore 
at sunrise, swimming, with strong, eager 
strokes, up the golden path toward the 
dazzling glory of the rising sun. Or, if 
he chanced, at close of day, to find himself 
where the coast faced westward, he would 
slip into the water at sunset and glide, with 
slow, dreamy motion and folded arms, up 
the crimson way toward the setting sun. 

No day seemed complete to him unless it 
began and ended in the sea. 

So, on this 12th of September, though 
the sun was sinking behind distant moors. 



30 Returned Empty 

when the waters called, he made his way 
down the cliff, walked half a mile or so 
along the shore until he found cover among 
rocks; then swam swiftly out to sea, re- 
capturing the crimson ball as it disappeared 
behind the pine woods. 

When he turned for a last sight of it, he 
noticed a fine old house, standing castle-like 
on the summit of the cliff, just above the 
rocks beside which he had left his clothes. 
It had not been in view when he had quitted 
the high path for the beach and the lee 
of the cliffs. 

He swam back to the shore, dressed, 
lighted his pipe, and sat among the rocks 
till twilight fell. 

The moon appeared, a huge yellow ball, 
rising out of the sea. 

He found himself humming an old song 
he had picked up the year before, while 
on a walking tour through Brittany, 

"Au clair de la lune, 
Mon ami Pierrot! 
Prete-moi ta plume 
Pour ecrire tm mot. 



Glass With Care 31 

Ma chandelle est morte, 

Je n'ai plus de feu I 
Ouvre-moi ta porte 

Pour Tamour de Dieu!" 

The pathetic words, and the melancholy 
air, seemed strangely suited to his mood 
and to the place. 

The twilight deepened. 

He rose and climbed a zigzag path lead- 
ing to the top of the cliff. 

"Ma chandelle est morte, 
Je n'ai plus de feu I" 

He reached the top, and passed through 
an iron gate. 

"Ouvre-moi ta porte. 
Pour Tamour de Dieul" 

Almost before he realised that he was 
trespassing, he was standing on the lawn 
of the house he had seen from the sea. 



SCENE II 

The Unexpected Welcome 



SCENE n 

THE UNEXPECTED WELCOBiE 

A VERANDA, overhung by rambler 
roses, ran the full length of the 
front of the house. 
Through the diamond panes of low lat- 
tice windows, the fitful glow of firelight 
gleamed. 

The Lonely Man hesitated, half turned 
away, then, drawn by an irresistible at- 
traction, stepped on to the veranda, stood 
in the shadow, and looked in at a window. 

The room was so large, and its occupants 
so far from the windows, that the silent 
intruder had small need to fear detection. 

His first furtive glance into the interior 
awakened, with a sudden throb, more 
strongly than ever before, that illusive 
sense of home. 

35 



36 Returned Empty 

He drew nearer, 

A long, low room; the many windows 
running half the length of the veranda, 
a cushioned window seat beneath them. A 
door, on his left, opened on to the veranda. 
At the opposite side of the room, another 
door, standing ajar, led into a large hall. 
At the top of the room, on his right, a log 
fire burned in the huge fireplace. The 
leaping flames illumined the oak panelling 
and played on the carved beams in the ceil- 
ing. Persian rugs, in soft tints of blue and 
rose, lay upon the polished parquet. 

A couch, on the further side of the fire- 
place, and at right-angles to it, faced the 
windows. In the centre, opposite the 
hearth, stood two large easy chairs. 

These chairs were occupied by a young 
man in tweeds and shooting-boots — ^who 
lay back luxuriously with legs outstretched, 
as if long tramping in the heather had 
earned him a welcome rest — ^and by a very 
lovely girl, whose smiles and looks of happy 
tenderness were divided between the sturdy 



The Unexpected Welcome 37 

figure in the other chair, and a very small 
boy in Highland dress, who darted to and 
fro between them, trying to intercept a 
ball as they threw it to one another ; a brave 
little figure, in tartan kilt and velvet jacket ; 
his brown curls tumbled, his dark eyes shin- 
ing, as he fell, over his father's legs, head- 
long into his mother's lap. 

One casement stood open, and the lonely 
watcher could hear their merry laughter 
and the boy's triumphant shout as he 
snatched the ball from his mother's hand. 

Holding it above his head, he danced out 
into the middle of the room, in full view of 
the windows. 

The watching eyes narrowed in puzzled 
wonder. 

Why was that leaping figure so familiar ? 
The two in the chairs awakened no mem- 
ories. The lovely woman, with her fair 
skin and coils of shining hair; the man, 
long-limbed, freckled and ruddy — total 
strangers both. Yet this child, who called 
them "Father" and "Mother," this little 



38 Returned Empty 

dark head, brown, oval face, black, level 
brows? Where had he met the imp before? 

His mind went back some twenty odd 
years to the Christmas after his eighth 
birthday. The kind Mayor had made a 
feast at the Townhall for the children 
from the Institution. They were given 
funny dresses to wear. A Highland dress 
was found for him, kilt and plaid and dirk 
complete. The little black velvet jacket had 
silver buttons with thistles on them. Some 
ladies talked about him. They said : "With 
those wonderful dark eyes and curls, he 
should have come as the Black Prince. 
Who is he?" They kissed him and gave 
him chocolates. He hated being kissed; 
but he liked the chocolates; and he liked 
being called the Black Prince. At one end 
of the hall there was a long mirror. He 
slipped away and stood before it. He had 
never before seen himself full length in a 
mirror. He held the box of chocolates 
above his head 

Why — ^yest This little boy with the ball 



The Unexpected Welcome 39 

was an exact replica of the figure he had seen 
reflected in the mirror; a replica of himself. 

He felt dizzy — shaken. 

He was turning away; but at that mo- 
ment, the hall beyond was illuminated. 

Something moved across it. 

A woman appeared in the open doorway 
— an arresting figure — a woman with snow- 
white hair, tall, stately, matronly; extraor- 
dinarily beautiful, with a calm, melancholy 
beauty; a woman well past middle age, yet 
with soft white skin, unwrinkled; upright 
carriage; a noble, gracious personality. 

"In the dark, children?*' she said; then 
put out her hand, and the room flashed 
into light. 

"Grannie!" shouted the boy, and ran to 
meet her. 

With her hand upon his shoulder, she 
moved slowly into the middle of the room. 

The young man half rose, offering his 
chair. 

"Do not move, Colin," she said, and went 
to the couch. 



40 Returned Empty 

The boy climbed up beside her, n^strJi:^ 
his dark curls into the lace at her hc^c^-m^ 
She put her arm about him with a gestLm,y^ 
infinitely tender and protective. 

The younger woman spoke. "Colin anc 
I were lazing in the firelight, mother. Ther^ 
Nigel arrived with his ball, and forced u 
to be energetic/' 

The watcher at the window pressed closer 
to the pane. In the fascination of the scene 
he forgot to fear discovery. 

By the brighter light the couple ap- 
peared older than he had at first thought 
them. She was probably his own age, even 
older; her husband, two or three years her 
senior. She had inherited her mother's re- 
markable beauty. It was good to see them 
together. The one revealed the youthful 
loveliness of the past; the other promised 
the maturer beauty yet to come; and both 
were very good to look upon. 

The man reclining in the chair between 
them, gazed intently at his own boots. He 
turned them from side to side, as the flame 



The Unexpected Welcome 41 

played upon them, and examined them crit- 
ically. Then he thrust his hands deep into 
his breeches' pockets, stretched his long 
legs to the fire, and stared at his boots with 
whole-hearted admiration. 

For the first time in all the long years, 
the Lonely Man without, yearned to be 
within. His loneliness seized and shook 
him. All his searching, all his watching, all 
his hungry, forlorn hours, seemed to have 
reached their culmination. This — ^this, at 
last, was Home! Yet he stood outside, as 
a watcher from another world; he had no 
part nor lot in the love and comfort within. 

His yearning gaze was fixed upon the 
central figure in the scene. Yes, she would 
always be the central figure in any scene. 
In court or cottage alike, she would be 
queen. 

No wonder his little double dashed for- 
ward when she said: **In the dark, chil- 
dren?" If that voice could have called 
him, when he was a lonely little boy, how 
gladly he — ^who never came when he was 



42 Returned Empty 

called — ^would have shouted "Coming 
flown to her embrace. '^ 

He looked at the dark head, so 1:^-* 
own, nestling against the softness ^^z 
breast. He could see her bosom rise 
fall, in steady, rhythmic breathing, bei 
the little olive cheek. Dark lashes \ 
the bright brown eyes. Nigel was gro 
sleepy. What wonder, in such "sweet : 
rity." 

Nigel's parents talked together. 

She — sat silent, looking down at the s.^^, 
face against her breast. 

It struck him that there was an aloofn 
about her, a loneliness which almi 
matched his own. Tragedy had laid 
mark upon that noble face ; a sorrow bor 
in patient silence; an agony unshared; ., 
grief too deep to be plumbed by huma^ 
sympathy. 

It seemed to the Lonely Man diat hi; 
loneliness would be easier to bear, for hav- 
ing looked upon her ; his "Returned Empty' 
life would hold more possibility of fulness 



The Unexpected Welcome 43 

his "Glass with care" would be less sensi- 
tively brittle, for having seen the mastered 
tragedy in that calm face, crowned by the 
silvered hair. 

One final look; then he must turn away 
and be lost again in the outer darkness. 

His face was close against the glass. His 
hungry eyes peered through. 

At that moment she raised her head, 
looked straight across to the window, and 
saw him. 

He could not move. 

He could not look away. Her eyes gazed 
into his ; right into his, and held them. 

She sat perfectly still. 

The hand stroking little Nigel's leg, 
paused. 

The boy's lashes lay upon his cheek. He 
stirred uneasily. The hand stroked again. 

Her face blanched to ashen whiteness; 
then the delicate colour flooded it once more. 

Still her eyes held him. 




44 Returned Empty 

At last her lips moved, silently, 
formed one word: "Wait." 

Presently she rose. 

Nigel rubbed his eyes, leapt from /, 
sofa, and found his ball. 

She moved toward the window. 

The man without stepped back into the 
shadow. 

Nigel had flung the ball at his mother, 
and fallen over his father's legs. The three 
were laughing and shouting together. 

She came to the open casement, pushed 
it wider, and leaned out. 

She spoke, very quietly, into the fragrant 
darkness; the faintest whisper, yet he 
heard. 

"I was expecting you" . • . Her voice 
was like the night-wind in the tops of the 
pine trees; soft as a sigh, and full of mys- 
tery. "Do not go . . . You will find a 
chair in the corner on your right. Wait 
there until I am alone." 

She drew back into the room, and closed 
the casement. 




The Unexpected Welcome 45 

He sank into the chair and sat there in 
the silence, listening to the beating of his 
heart. It sounded like heavy breakers 
pounding upon the rocks below. 



SCENE III 

The Exgected Guest 



SCENE m 

THE BXPECTBD GUBST 

HE sat very still, and waited. 
He had miles to walk before 
he could reach an inn ; but food 
and a night's lodging seemed unnecessary 
considerations in this strange hour. 

She had asked him to wait until she 
should be alone; and he waited. 

A motor came to the other side of the 
house ; panted impatiently, for five minutes ; 
then sped away into the distance. 

He stood up and looked into the room. 

It was empty. Fresh logs had been 
thrown upon the fire. The door into the 
hall was shut. 

Even as he looked, it opened. 

An elderly butler appeared, walked for- 
ward into the room, hesitated; then ad- 
vanced to the garden door, touched a 

49 



50 Returned Empty 

switch, and a couple of .hanging lanterns 
shed a soft light over the veranda. He 
stood in the doorway, as if momentarily 
uncertain; then saw the chair and its occu- 
pant in the corner on his left, came over to 
it and delivered his message, in deferential 
tones, without lifting his eyes. 

"Her ladyship bids me say, sir, that din- 
ner will be served in half an hour. If you 
will follow me, I will show you to your 
room." 



"To my room?'' 

"Yes, sir. Her ladyship understood you 
would be able to dine and sleep." 

The butler moved to the door, held it 
wide, and waited. There was nothing for 
it, but to rise and enter. 

So the man who had all his life looked 
in from without, now stepped over the 
threshold and found himself within. 

Feeling keenly alive and yet as if moving 
in a vivid dream, Luke Sparrow walked 



The Expected Guest 51 

across the room, and followed the butler 
into the brightly-lighted hall, and up a 
wide staircase. 

On a table in the hall stood a box of 
library books, addressed with a brush, in 
very black ink. Before he realised what 
he was doing he had read the name — 

Lady Tintagel. 

He repeated it to himself, as he mounted 
the stairs. It awakened memories of Came- 
lot. He had never heard of it as a family 
name; but it seemed in keeping with this 
romance of an unexpected visit, as an 
expected guest. 

At the top of the stairs the butler paused 
to say: "Her ladyship desires that you will 
please yourself, sir, as to whether you dress 
or not.'' 

Luke smiled. His knapsack held a clean 
shirt, a razor, a comb, a toothbrush, and 
half a dozen handkerchiefs. 

"I am. doing a walking tour,'' he said. 



52 Returned Empty 

"You might explain to her ladyship that I 
have nothing with me but bare necessaries 
in a small knapsack/' 

The butler opened a door, switched on the 
light and stood aside that he might enter. 

"You will find all you need here, sir. The 
door to the left leads into a bath-room. A 
gong will sound at eight. It is now half- 
past seven. If you should require anything 
more, will you be so good as to ring, sir?'* 
He retired, closing the door softly behind 
him. 

Luke looked around and laughed. He 
wondered what on earth he could find to 
ring for, which was not already there! 

He walked over to the dressing-table, on 
which were silver-backed brushes, ivory 
razors, silver-topped bottles! 

Laid out upon the bed was a complete 
suit of dress clothes. 

If this was "Colin's" room, he certainly 
did himself well! If these were "Colin's'' 
clothes, they certainly would not fit him! 

Laughing again — ^he who never laughed 



The Expected Guest 53 

— ^he turned to the bed, flung off his rough 
Norfolk jacket, and slipped on the smooth 
black coat with its silk lining. It fitted 
him perfectly; and he was fastidious about 
the cut of his clothes. 

Should he ? . . . Not he ! He would never 
wear another man's garments. He would 
never stand in another man's shoes. If 
Lady Tintagel asked him to dine, she must 
have him as he was. If the lovely daugh- 
ter looked askance at him, she must learn 
to understand that you don't carry a dress 
suit in a knapsack. 

But the bath? Yes, rather! That was 
quite another matter. His long sea swims 
had made him feel like a kipper. 

What a bath-room! Every muscle re- 
laxed in the steaming hot water. A bottle 
of fragrant aromatic stuff stood. temptingly 
handy. He poured it in, and luxuriated. 
"Colin" must feel a god, with all this at his 
command, whenever he came in fagged. He 
must descend on his admiring womenfolk, 
like a giant refreshed. 



54 Returned Empty 

A cold shower — ^and then he blessed 
heaven he had put a clean shirt in his 
knapsack. 

"Colin's" ivory-handled razors made 
shaving a positive pastime. 

One moment of indecision, as he caught 
sight of the dress suit upon the bed. Strange 
that it should fit. He remembered the 
beautiful rooms downstairs. He would be 
decidedly out of the picture in his tweeds. 
He remembered the full-length mirror at 
the Mayor's party. "He should have come 
as the Black Prince.'* How he had enjoyed 
the remark! His first lesson in vanity. 
He smiled to think how often he had re- 
peated it to himself, and postured in his 
shabby little suits. Do people realise how 
inordinately vain a small boy can be? . . • 
Should he? No! That was a fancy-dress 
masquerade; and so would this be. What- 
ever anybody said, whatever anybody 
thought, he must meet Lady Tintagel clad 
at least in the raiment of his own self- 
respect and independence. It was not as 



The Expected Guest 55 

though he had arrived soaked through and, 
had had to borrow dry things. He brushed 
his old tweeds vigorously with ''Colin's'' 
silver-backed clothes-brush. 

A gong boomed sonorously through the 
house. 

As he walked down the stairs he was 
still thinking, with dreamlike persistence, 
of the dress difficulty. "I shall say: 'Ex- 
cuse this rig. One travels light on a walk- 
ing tour.' " 

In the hall the butler waited. 

'This way, sir/' 



SCENE IV 

The Prison Bars Dissolve 



SCENE IV 

THE PRISON BARS DISSOLVE 

LADY TINTAGEL was alone. 
She stood at the far end of the 
drawing-room. 

When he entered she was leaning against 
the mantelpiece, looking down into the fire. 

She turned, still gripping the marble edge 
with her left hand. 

She wore a gown of trailing black velvet 
and stood on a white Angora rug. 

Miles of rose carpet lay between him and 
the fireplace. 

He seemed to be walking uphill, as he 
came toward her. 

When he reached the rug at last, he and 
she seemed to be standing together on the 
summit of a delectable mountain. His 
mind still ran on his unsuitable attire, but 
he forgot the sentence he had prepared. 

59 



6o Returned Empty 

"I couldn't/' was his lame apology. 

She looked at him, and smiled. ''Yot^^ 
wouldn't," she said. 

There was such complete understanding 
in the grave regard of her kind eyes, in 
the low tones of her voice, so sweet and 
full of music. 

It was all strangely intimate. As he stood 
beside her, lines he had heard years before 
flashed into his mind. 



Two misn looked out through prison bars; 
One saw mud ; the other, stars." 



Hitherto he had seen mud — always mud. 
In her presence he realised the possibility 
of seeing stars — ^undreamed of stars. 

And his prison bars themselves seemed 
vanishing. 

Something captive in him broke its chains 
and leapt out into liberty. 

And still she spoke no word; but her 
eyes dwelt on him with that all-enveloping, 
comprehending look of tenderness. 

An unspoken sentence seemed to hang 



The Prison Bars Dissolve 6i 

suspended. The silence was tense with it, 
as when a great orchestra, ready to sound 
the opening strain of a mighty symphony, 
waits, with eye, hand, and ear alert, for 
the first beat of the lifted baton. 

But, on the instant, came an anti-climax. 

"Dinner is served, my lady," announced 
a deferential voice. 

She laughed. "I suppose one must eat," 
she said; and his common sense wondered 
why she said it, and why the same thought, 
unspoken, had been in his own mind. 

She laid her hand within his arm, and 
they moved slowly down the room to- 
gether. Walking so with her, he noted that 
she was slightly taller than he. She leaned 
on him. He felt vividly alive. Where 
was his shell — ^his shell of morbid reserve, 
in which he had hidden himself since his 
babyhood ? 

He tried to ask her how it came about 
that she had been expecting him ; but some- 
thing restrained the question. 

He wanted to tell her all about himself, 



62 Returned Empty 

right from the beginning; all he had 
thought, and felt, and suffered; his shrink- 
ing from intimacy with his fellow-men; 
his loneliness ; his shameful habit — ^he knew, 
now, that it was shameful — of looking in, 
unseen, at other people's windows, his half- 
unconscious belief that some day he would 
look in, out of the darkness, and see a room 
which his spirit would acclaim as home; 
and how, to-day — at last — But he could not 
tell her that! Yes, he could! He could 
tell her anything. She would understand. 
And, when his confession was over, he 
would kneel before her — ^as a tired little 
boy might kneel at his mother's knees at 
bedtime — ^and say his prayers. Then she 
would lay her hands upon his head, and 
Divine forgiveness and benediction would 
be his. 

They were crossing the hall. The butler 
stood at the dining-room door. 

"After dinner,'' she said, "y^u must tell 
me all." 



« 



• SCENE V 
I Have Waited So Long!" 



SCENE V 

<<I HAVE WAITED SO LONGI** 

THE round table was laid for two. 
'1 thought " he said. 
"Colin and Eva? No; their 
home is twelve miles from here. They were 
spending the afternoon with me. I live 
alone.'' 

"I thought I was using your son-in- 
law's room." 

"No," she said, "oh, no ! That room " 

she paused. "The room you used — is my 
husband's dressing-room.. Since I lost him, 
it has been kept exactly as he left it. For 
over thirty years it has looked, each day, 
just as if he had used it the day before. 
It did not give you the feeling of a disused 
apartment?" 

"No," he said; "I thought " 

"You thought it was Colin's ? No ; Colin 

65 



66 Returned Empty 

has never been into that room. In fact, 
none enter there. It is a sanctuary of 
mine." 

Her beautiful eyes were on his face as 
she said the words, full of an expression 
which he failed to fathom. He wondered 
why he should have been ushered into a 
sanctuary forbidden to others. Yet was he 
not, also, prepared to admit her into the 
sanctuary of his inner life, to which none 
had ever gained admission? 

The presence of the old man-servant, who 
did not leave the room, restrained more 
intimate conversation. He found himself 
wondering what they would say when at 
last they were really alone. 

She talked of the beauty of the surround- 
ing country; the wild hills, the heather; 
the pine woods, full of health-giving fra- 
grance. 

He told her of his walking tours. 

"It is the only holiday I care for; to 
walk and walk, alone with Nature, from 
sunrise to sunset. Usually I reach an inn. 



"I Have Waited So Longl^^ 67 

by nightfall; but it does not trouble me 
if I don't. On warm nights, I would just 
as soon sleep in the open/' He looked up, 
with the rare smile which softened his face 
into extraordinary sweetness. "I am 
afraid you are harbouring a tramp. Lady 
Tintagel." 

She met the smile with her own. "Am 
I?" Her voice dropped very low. "My 
tramp has tramped a long way to reach 
harbour." 

"A long way ? I seem to have been walk- 
ing all my life, just that I might reach here 
to-night." 

With a swift movement, she leaned for- 
ward and laid her hand on his. 

"Wait !" she said. 

It was the first time she had touched his 
hand with hers. 

An unexpected emotion awoke within 
him. It was as if she had pressed an elec- 
tric switch, as he had seen her do when en- 
tering the darkening room. His inner 
being seemed flooded with light. His cold, 



68 Returned Empty 

patient apathy quickened suddenly into im- 
patience. He forgot conventions. He lost 
control of himself. He threw common 
sense to the winds. He caught the hand 
she had withdrawn, and gripped it. 

"I can't wait/' he said. "I have waited 
so long. I want to talk to you.*' 

He felt like a headstrong boy who refuses 
to be good. He felt like a lover who sud- 
denly gives way to the desire, cost what it 
may, to master his mistress. He felt like 
a drowning man catching at a rope. He 
felt like nothing he had ever felt before. 
And it soothed him to see this stately 
woman quiver and turn pale. Serve her 
right ! What was she doing to him ? Why 
did her touch go to his brain like the instant 
intoxication of champagne to a starving 
man? He felt reckless. Devil take the 
consequences! He couldn't play-act any 
more. 

She rose at once. His obvious emotion 
restored her self-control. 

"Come/* she said, quietly. Then, to the 



"I Have Waited So Long!" 69 

old man-servant, discreetly busying himself 
at the sideboard: "Serve the fruit and 
coffee in the Oak Room, Thomas." 

Even while he blindly followed her, 
Luke felt a moment of surprise that the 
order received no deferential acknowledg- 
ment. He glanced at the man. Tears were 
running down his furrowed cheeks. 

Strange — even where all was strange. 
Why should their emotion move this care- 
fully trained automaton? 

Lady Tintagel took up a wrap as they 
passed through the hall, went straight 
through the Oak Room, and out at the 
door leading on to the veranda. 



SCENE VI 

"Sunset and Evening Star" 



SCENE VI 

««SnNS£T AND EVENING STAR** 

THE moon had mounted into the 
heavens, and now cast a path of 
silver light across the sea. 
They stood together looking down upon 
it. 

"I came that way," he said. "The waters 
called me from the cliff top at sunset. I 
walked along the shore for half a mile or 
so, then found some handy rocks, stripped 
in their shelter, and swam out, far and fast, 
until the sun rose again, for me, behind 
the pine woods. As I swam back to shore 
I saw this house, for the first time. Later 
I found the zigzag path, climbed it, and 
stood upon the lawn. Twilight had fallen 
suddenly; a chill was in the air. I saw 
the fitful glow of firelight through the 
windows. The darkness came so quickly, 
I did not fear detection. I crossed the 

73 



74 Returned Empty 

lawn and stood on the veranda. I watched 
the three at play by the log fire. The room 
grew darker. I turned to go. Then you 
came in, and flashed all into light. I stayed 
— ^you bid me stay. And here I am. But I 
came to you, in the sunset, from the sea." 

"I thought as much," she said. " 'Sunset 
and evening star, and one clear call for me.' 
Do you know Tennyson's great crowning 
poem? Will you repeat it as we stand 
here? It was so strongly in my mind as I 
watched the sunset. I think that was why 
I was so sure you would come to-night." 

^*Yes, I know the lines," he answered. 
"They have always held for me an extra- 
ordinary appeal. But how came you to be 
expecting me— to-night, or any night?" 

"Repeat them. We have all the night for 
questions; but this moment will not come 
again." 

She slipped her hand within his arm. He 
laid his own upon it and did as she asked. 
And, as he repeated Tennyson's noble lines, 
the tumult within his spirit ceased. 



"Sunset and Evening Star" 75 

The stillness, all about them, was com- 
plete ; broken only by the music of his voice. 

Sunset and evening star, 

And one clear call for me. 
And may there be no moaning of the bar, 

When I put out to sea. 

But such a tide as moving seems asleep, 

Too full for sound and foam. 
When that which drew from out the boundless deep 

Turns again home. 

Twilight and evening bell, 

And after that the dark; 
And may there be no sadness of farewell. 

When I embark; 

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place 

The flood may bear me far, 
I hope to see my Pilot face to face. 

When I have crost the bar. 

A long silence. Then : "I have no pilot," 
he said. "I drift rudderless. I am bound 
to make shipwreck on the bar." 

She did not seem to hear his words. Her 
mind was far away. Her eyes were on the 
sea, gazing upon that path of shimmering 
light. 

"Nigel," she said, "there was no farewell 



i( (» 



76 Returned Empty 

— ^no farewell, beloved; but oh, the dark — 
the dark— the dark!" 

He wondered to whom she spoke. He 
tightened his hold upon her hand and stood 
silent. 

The Lord gave and the Lord hath 
taken away.' Each evening I stood here 
and said those words. If I could have 
added : ^Blessed be the Name of the Lord,' 
the darkness might have lightened. But I 
could not; and it still was dark." 

He asked himself what awful memory of 
sorrow brought that horror of anguish to 
her face. But the moment kept him silent. 
He could not speak. 

"Oh, cruel sea !" she moaned. "You took 
my All— my All." 

She shivered, and he folded her wrap 
more closely around her. 

Then she turned to him, and the look of 
anguish passed. There was gladness in her 
eyes. 

"Come in," she said. "Let us come in; 
and shut the door." 



SCENE VII 
"And After That— the Dark 




SCENE vn 

«<AND AFTER THAT— THE DARK" 

OW/' said Lady Tintagel, as he 
put down his empty coffee-cup, 
"you may talk. There is no 
further need to wait." 

"I want to tell you things from the begin- 
ning," he said. "Will it bore you if I begin 
at the beginning?" 

"You could not bore me ; and I would not 
miss one moment of the beginning. Tell 
me all." 

"My name is Luke Sparrow, so named by 
the matron of the Foundlings' Institution 
to which I was carried when a month old, 
or thereabouts, by the arm of the Law. I 
began life on a doorstep — a suburban door- 
step. I have never known home, or kith, 
or kin. Like Melchisedec of old, I am 
without father, without mother, without 

79 



8o Returned Empty 

descent; but there the resemblance ends; 
for Melchisedec was King of Salem, which 
is King of Peace, whereas I, from my in- 
fancy, have been possessed by a most rest- 
less demon. I was 'Returned Empty' and 
marked 'Glass with Care' " 

"Returned empty?" There was horror 
in her voice. "What — ^what do you mean ?" 

"The label,'' he said; "the label pinned 
to the unwanted bundle had, printed in 
bold letters, on one side : Returned Empty^ 
under which somebody who knew it, had 
written, presumably, the date of my birth. 
On the other side was printed Glass with 
Care, beneath which the same careful per- 
son had taken the trouble to write a Bible 
reference, most explicitly explaining the ex- 
act value of the said bundle: Luke xii. 6. 
'Are not five sparrows sold for two farth- 
ings?' This apt quotation inspired the ma- 
tron, on christening Sunday, to bestow up- 
on me the name of Luke Sparrow. She 
was a good woman and meant well. But 



"And After That— the Dark" 8i 

it was, ever after, a standing joke at the 
institution." 

"Not one of them is forgotten before 
God," said Lady Tintagel. 

"Yes, I know. But the close of the verse 
did not appear to be applicable, the bundle 
not containing a genuine sparrow but mere- 
ly a lonely little human child, ^Returned 
Empty.' " 

"Returned?" she said; "Empty!" There 
was tragedy in her voice. 

He laughed. "Yes; very empty — so the 
nurses said. Well, it was a bad beginning. 
The physical emptiness was soon remedied; 
but the mental and spiritual void remained 
unfilled. IVe lived an utterly lonely life; 
and the misery of it was, I didn't seem 
able to accept companionship; I had no 
capacity for friendship, no wish for home- 
life. I have always been seeking, seeking, 
seeking for something I could not find. 
Lots of people wanted to be friendly ; heaps 
of people tried to be kind; but I could not 
take their friendship, or accept their kind- 



82 Returned Empty 

ness. To misquote a well-known saying, 
I was 'in the world but not of the world/ 
And then I had a vice." 

"A vice?" Her eyes, which never left 
his face, darkened with apprehension. 

"Yes; a vice. Oh, not drink, or drugs, 
or other depravity. I have kept my body 
sane and clean, and without much effort 
either. I love the sea too well, and swim 
in it too often, for any form of moral 
squalor to have a chance." 

"Squalor!" she exclaimed, with a fine 
disdain. ''You would have had no need for 
squalor, you beautiful boy! All women 
must have loved you." 

"Boy?" He laughed "Good Lord! I 
was never a boy! I was bom with a 
grown-up soul. Yes, they were kind; but I 
wanted none of their kindness. All women 
were to me mere shadows. Love never 
called to me." 

"The vice?" she said. "What was it?" 

"A mental thing. A morbid craving to 
look on at other people's joys; to view 



"And After That— the Dark" 83 

them, without sharing them; an absolute 
hunger to see home life, though I had none 
of my own. This led me into the low-down 
practice of prowling about after dark, peer- 
ing in at lighted windows, like a lonely 
soul from another world, spying on bliss 
he might not share. I began it as quite a 
little chap, peeping and running away. The 
passion grew as I grew. When my day's 
work was over, I would walk miles to stalk 
unshuttered windows. Many a time I have 
narrowly escaped being run in as a probable 
burglar. Many a fright I have given to 
innocent people who looked up suddenly and 
surprised my uncanny face pressed against 
the glass. I know now what I was seeking. 
In some sub-conscious part of me I knew 
that somewhere in the world was a window 
through which I should look and see at last 
a room which would be home. 

"So I prowled on. I was prowling to- 
night. But I never before wanted to be 
invited to enter. I preferred to be outside. 
And — ^until to-night — ^I never realised what 



84 Returned Empty 

a low-down habit it was. To my morbid 
emptiness it seemed no wrong toward happy 
people, that I should just look upon their 
joys." 

"But why— to-night?" 

"Ah, because all is different. You have 
done something to me; I don't know what, 
or why. Something in your sub-conscious- 
ness must have reached mine. You have 
burst the bars of my prison and set my 
spirit free. I shall leave here and go back 
to the world, a man among men. Hitherto 
I have felt — do you know the weird Schu- 
bert song? — a Doppelganger. Good Lord, 
the horror of it! But you have broken 
the spell. I don't know how you did it. 
Perhaps it was because you asked me 



m. 



ir 



Why did you come in?" she whispered: 
"You, who always preferred to remain out- 
side." 

"Dare I tell you?" he asked. "Will you 
think it awful cheek? It was because — ^at 
last — at last — ^it was Home." 



"And After That— the Dark" 85 

The woman on the couch opened wide her 
arms and leaned toward him with a move- 
ment of extraordinary tenderness. Her 
face was illumined by a radiance almost 
unearthly in its sublime joy. 

"It was Home," she said. "It is Home. 
Ah, do you not remember, beloved? Never 
call yourself Luke Sparrow again. Never 
call yourself a foundling — ^you, whom I 
have found at last! I can tell you your 
name, if there be still need to tell it: Nigel 
Guido Cardross Tintagel." 

"What?" The blood leapt into his face. 
His outstretched hands almost met hers. 
"Are you — are you — ^my mother?" 

"No, beloved, no! Oh, Nigel, think 
again ! Remember ! You must remember !" 

His hands clutched his knees. He looked 
full into her eyes ; a long, steady gaze. 

At last: "I remember nothing," he said. 
"You will have to tell me. I would to God 
you were my mother. But, if that may not 
be, then — in Heaven's name — what are you 
to me?" 



86 Returned Empty 

Her voice was a paean of triumphant joy. 
*'I am your wife." 

The man in the chair sat before her, 
petrified. His hands gripped his knees. 
Twice he essayed to speak; but no sound 
would pass his lips. 

At length: "Great God T he said : "Am 
I mad, or are you ?" 

"Nigel,'* she said, "my dearest, you have 
come back to me. My boundless love, my 
desperate grief, my passionate prayers, 
have brought you back to me. My lover, 
my husband, my heart's dearest, try to 
remember !" 

"I remember nothing," he said. "This 
is the madness of a strange, wild dream. 
Presently I shall wake and find myself ly- 
ing on golden bracken, while the dawn 
breaks in the east, and the stars pale in the 
sky. I have dreamed this dream before. I 
shall wake. It will mean losing you; but I 
must wake." He leapt to his feet and 
shouted the last words; "I must wake!" 



"And After That— the Dark" 87 

"Hush, my dearest, hush!*' She spoke 
as if soothing a startled child. "Sit down, 
and I will explain. I can make all clear, 
if you will listen patiently. To you it is 
startling. But I have waited so long; I 
have known so long that you were coming. 
Sit down and listen. Striding about the 
room will not wake you, because this is no 
dream. It is blessed, blessed reality. Lis- 
ten, Nigel! Listen, beloved! I will make 
it all quite clear.*' 

She rose, poured out a glass of wine and 
brought it to him. 

"Drink this. How your hand shakes ! . . . 
No; I will not touch you; but I beg of you 
to drink it.'* 

She crossed the room, unlocked a bureau, 
took from it a despatch-box and placed it 
beside her on the couch. 

"Now help me to tell you by listening 
calmly. 

"We had three years of most perfect 
married life. No woman ever had such a 
lover, such a husband, as you were to me. 



88 Returned Empty 

No man was ever so adored by his wife 
as you were by me. We were old enough 
to understand our happiness and to take it 
to the full. I was twenty-eight and you 
were thirty when I lost you; but you were 
so glorioiisly young, so full of life and love 
and laughter. I used to say you would 
never grow up. Sometimes I felt like wife 
and mother in one, my heart overflowing 
with the tenderness of both. Yet you were 
so wise and strong and grandly good. In 
all things spiritual and mental I leaned on 
you and learned of you. 

"We had one little daughter, a year old 
on that fatal 12th of August; but, dear 
though she was to us both, you were my 
All. My whole body and soul were yours, 
wrapped up in you. And your love for me 
was such a sweet deep mystery of tender- 
ness that I scarce dared think of it, save 
when you were near me. Surely it is given 
to few to love as we loved, to experience 
what we experienced. 

"We lived much in the open; riding. 



k 



"And After That— the Dark" 89 

walking, climbing together. You were a 
magnificent swimmer and loved the sea. 
Often at dawn, on a summer morning, you 
would leave our bed, dash down to the 
shore, and swim up the golden pathway, 
straight toward the rising sun. 

"Our room is over this one. Our win- 
dows open on to a broad balcony running 
along the top of the veranda. There a 
powerful telescope is mounted. 

"My heart always failed me over these 
early swims. You were so far from the 
shore, out in the ocean; no possible help at 
hand. I used to watch you through the 
telescope, and, knowing this, you would 
turn and smile and wave to me and speak 
my name. Often you dived into the bot- 
tomless deep of waters. Then your anxious 
wife could see nothing but an expanse of 
sky and ocean. After what seemed an hour 
of suspense, you would re-appear in the 
sparkling ripples, laughing, shaking the salt 
water from your eyes, and bounding along 
with the strength and grace of a splendid 



90 Returned Empty 

sea-lion. Then I would breathe again and 
slip back to bed as you neared the shore 
and I lost you under the lee of the cHff. 

"But, when you came back to my arms, 
I used to hold you close to my beating heart 
and say : *0h, Nigel, my dearest ! Some day 
those treacherous waters will swallow you 
up, and you will come back to me no more/ 

" 1 shall always come back to you, my 
sweet,' you would make answer. If I lay 
fifty fathoms deep, and you called, I should 
hear and come back/ 

"Then you would quite suddenly fall 
asleep; but I would keep vigil, praying 
Heaven that you might never lie fifty fath- 
oms deep, and loving the salt on my lips, 
as I softly kissed your damp hair. 

"Nigel, do you remember?" 

The man in the chair put out his hand, 
groping blindly for the glass, and moistened 
his lips before he made answer. 

"I remember nothing," hei said. 

"One lovely August evening we sat to- 
gether on the shore. It was our baby's 



"And After That— the Dark" 91 

birthday. She was a year old. It had been 
a happy, merry day. We had been up to 
the nursery, where, surrounded by soft, 
furry toys, she slept. We stood together 
on either side of her crib, looking down at 
the rose-petal face with its aureola of tum- 
bled golden hair. 

"'Nothing of the Italian there,' you re- 
marked. Your dark colouring and vivid 
vitality came from an Italian grandfather 
on your mother's side, from whom you also 
took your second name. 

" 'I want a little Guido, some day,' I 
whispered, as we turned away. 

" 'All in good time,' you answered, laugh- 
ing softly, and slipped your arm through 
mine. 

"We strolled down to the beach and 
watched a blood-red sunset. 

"A sudden wind arose, gusty and fitful, 
blowing countless little white caps across 
the bay. 

"A French woman, who, with her two 
daughters, had taken a hunting lodge near 



92 Returned Empty 

by for the season, joined us on the beach. 
We found them pleasant neighbours, viva- 
cious and amusing. Madame de Villebois 
had walked along the shore. 'Mes filles^ 
were out sailing, in their little ^barquette d 
voile/ Presently it leapt into view, round- 
ing the point; a pretty picture in the sunset 
glow. 

"Seated upon the rocks just below this 
cliff, we watched the tiny skiff dancing and 
curtseying toward the middle of our bay. 

" ^Gusty for sailing,^ you remarked ; and 
the next moment we could see that they 
were in difficulties. The sail flapped loose, 
then bellied suddenly, and the boat lurched. 

" 'Oh, Sir Nigel,' cried madame, with 
clasped hands, 'bring out your rowing boat 
and go to help them !' 

"'I'm awfully sorry,' you said; 'but the 
boat is under repairs.' 

"At that instant the sail belched again; 
the girls stood up; the skiff heeled over, 
and they were flung into the water. 

"Then followed a pandemonium of 



"And After That— the Dark" 93 

screaming. Madame shrieked, and flew to 
the water's edge, crying: 'Sir Nigel, save 
them! Save them! Oh, man Dieu! Mes 
enfants!* 

"The girls screamed in the water, catch- 
ing at the bottom of the upturned boat. 
They could swim enough just to keep their 
heads above water. Their shrieks of terror 
were appalling. 

"You flung off your coat and dashed 
down the beach in your flannels. 

" 'Keep madame out of the sea, darling,^ 
you shouted out to me, as I ran behind you. 
'I will bring the girls in, one at a time/ 

"I put my arms round the frantic mother, 
and we stood together watching you. 

"Even in such a moment, my heart 
thrilled at sight of your magnificent swim- 
;ning, as you forged through the waves at al- 
most incredible speed. It did not occur to me 
to be afraid. Often, when I had misjudged 
my strength or been caught by the current, 
you had brought me safely to shore^ swim- 
ming on your back with one arm around 



94 Returned Empty 

me, while I lay on your chest in perfect 
security, hearing your voice close to my 
ear, saying: 'All right, my darling I We 
can^t sink. Breathe, and rest, and trust 
yourself to me/ These slim French girls 
would be nothing, compared with my 
height and weight. 

" 'He will save them easily, madame,^ I 
said. 'Keep calm. He will bring them in, 
one at a time.* 

"The frantic screams of the girls became 
more ear-piercing. I had never heard a 
sound so appalling. 

"'Hold on!' you shouted. 'Hold on! 
I am coming! Hold on!' 

"Just before you reached them, one lost 
her grip of the boat; it slipped away from 
her clinging fingers, and, turning, she 
swam and struggled toward you. In an in- 
stant you had her by the arm, holding 
her up. 

"I remember wondering why she did not 
cease screaming. You were evidently rea- 



"And After That— the Dark" 95 

soning with her and trying to draw her on 
to your chest. 

'*At that moment the other girl left the 
boat, swam up behind you, and clasped you 
frantically round the throat. 

"You let go of the first, in order to seize 
those throttling fingers; but she caught at 
your wrists and held them. 

"Instantly you all went under, in a churn- 
ing mass; then came to the surface — ^you 
fighting desperately— only to disappear 
again. 

"Then, for one instant I saw a brown 
hand appear, pointing heavenward; a girl's 
white fingers locked around the wrist. 

"Then that also vanished, and nothing 
remained, but the boat, drifting bottom 
upwards, and the fainting French woman 
in my arms. 

"My Man, my Life, my All, lay drown- 
ing fathoms deep in the treacherous, cruel 
sea, while I stood helpless on the shore. 



96 Returned Empty 

"When the precious body was recovered 
a week later, those gripping fingers had to 
be cut from throat and wrists, that it might 
lie alone in the graveyard on the hill. I 
was not allowed to see It; so my last 
memory of my Darling was that vision 
of him. in his glorious strength, as he 
swam through the waters, with no thought 
of personal danger, shouting to the drown- 
ing girls: 'Hold on! I am coming T 

"And, when the chill waters of my own 
despair threatened to engulf me, I seemed 
to hear again those ringing tones: 'Hold 
on! I AM Coming!" 

"Then something happened which gave 
them a new meaning, and awakened in my 
own mind a train of thought which surely 
saved my reason. 

"Your will was found, leaving all you 
possessed to me, and with it a letter ad- 
dressed: ^To my wife: for her eye alone.* 

"I had been so haunted by the remem- 
brance of that right hand, pointing sky- 
ward from the sea, and now I was to re- 



"And After That— the Dark" 97 

ceive a message, penned by those precious 
fingers, which should indeed point out a 
ray of hope in the black sky of my sunless 
future. 
"Nigel, do you remember ?" 

The man in the chair slipped his brown 
hands into the pockets of his coat. He did 
not lift his eyes from the floor. 

"I remember nothing," he said, very low. 

"Then I must shew you your letter, 
which no eye save my own has ever seen." 

She unlocked the despatch-box, took 
from it a small jewel-case, opened this with 
a gold key hanging from a chain around 
her wrist; then, from a sealed envelope, 
drew some half-dozen sheets of closely 
written manuscript. Leaning forward, she 
held them toward him. 

Slowly, with evident reluctance, the lean 
brown hand came out of the coat pocket. 

He took them from her, and let his eyes 
rest on the first page. 



98 Returned Empty 

There followed moments of tense silence. 
The tall clock, in a corner of the room, 
ticked loudly. 

Out seaward, a nightbird screeched. 
An owl in the fir wood behind the house, 

hooted thrice. 

The fire fell together, and shot up 
tongues of flame. 

At last he lifted hunted eyes to her face. 

"It is my handwriting," he said, "or 
something very like it. But it is dated Au- 
gust I2th, 1882, thirteen months before my 
birth." 

"Read it," said Lady Tintagel. 

"I cannot." 

"You must." 

She rose, placed a shaded electric lamp 
on the table at his elbow ; then switched off 
all other lights. 

Seated in shadow on the couch, she 
watched the dark face, so fine in its stern 
intentness, bending over the paper; the 
strong, nervous hand waiting to turn each 



"And After That— the Dark" 99 

page; the dark hair, from which no crop- 
ping could cut the curl. 

"God in heaven," she sighed, "he has 
come back to me in answer to the insist- 
ence of my frantic prayer; but he has re- 
turned emptied of all memory. Oh, of 
Thine infinite mercy, let there rise in his 
mind the floodtide of remembrance." 

Thus she prayed and yearned and hoped, 
while the man in the chair slowly read the 
letter, written, in his own handwriting, a 
year before his birth. 

''August I2th, 1882. 

My own sweet Wife, 
You and I are so full of happy, buoyant 
life, that it seems a strange anomaly that I 
should sit down to write to you of death: 
we are so intimately one in heart and mind, 
so wedded in each moment of our perfect 
life together, that there seems no need to 
face the possibility of parting. Yet, lately, 
there has come to me a chill presentiment 
that, in the very midst of life and joy, a 



it 
it 



^, .*^^^f^r^^^ *-v..v 






100 Returned Empty 

sudden death may come with one swift 
stroke; that you and I, beloved, counting 
on fifty blissful years together, may, in one 
fatal moment, be wrenched apart. 

^'So I have made my will, leaving every- 
thing to you. All is in order. Fergusson 
will manage the estate. Thomas and his 
wife can be wholly trusted in the house. I 
leave my wife in faithful hands. 

"So much for outward things. But what 
can I say to comfort you, my Love, my 
Own, in the utter loneliness of heart and 
soul, which will, alaS, be yours when you 
read this? 

"Try to realise that we are not lost to 
one another. 



€i € 



Nothing can untwine 
Thy life from mine.' 



"We are eternally one, beloved. Time is 
made up of uncertainties; not so Eternity. 
^Lord, Thou hast been our Dwelling Place 
in all generations/ When we pass out of 
Time, we just go home again to that safe 



"And After That— the Dark'' loi 

Dwelling Place. We are so safe in Eternity. 

"And our love, yours and mine, being 
eternal, we shall find one another again. 
Don't think of me as dead. Think of me as 
more vividly alive than ever; yours still; 
always wholly, utterly yours. 

"But, my beloved, however hard you find 
it to bear the sudden silence, however much 
you long for just one word, one sign — never 
turn to a spiritualistic medium, or to spirit- 
ualism in any form. I hold that thing to be 
a most damnable device of the Devil's for 
bamboozling the minds of men; leading 
stricken hearts to believe they are holding 
converse with their Dead, when, in reality, 
demons intervene and whisper foolish no- 
things, till they trap the soul, confuse the 
mind, and wreck the moral and spiritual 
life. Better a holy silence, than a lying 
whisper. Better a parting bravely borne in 
faith and patience, than an attempt to 
bridge the chasm by forbidden means. 

''Yet we may meet again on earth, if it 
be God's will for us, before we spend our 



102 Returned Empty 

great Eternity together. We have often 
talked of this. You know how firmly we 
believe that we have met before, in other 
times, in other climes; that we have lived 
and loved, striven together, risen together 
to God's great purposes of fresh develop- 
ment. We may yet meet again in Time; 
find each other, know each other; 'rise, on 
stepping-stones of our dead selves, to higher 
things.* Many adventures into Time may 
be necessary to our full completion for 
Eternity. Remember all we have said of 
this subject, and do not think of Death as 
the end. It is but a passing on to fuller 
life, to fresh beginnings, to greater oppor- 
tunities. 

"Of course we must bear in mind that 
all this is necessarily speculative. We can- 
not dogmatise upon uncertainties. Ideas of 
our own concerning the future state can 
be but theoretical. The only certainties 
are to be found in Divine revelation, and 
our theories, if they are worth anything. 



"And After That— the Dark" 103 

will harmonise with the Word of Gk)d. 

"However, two great certainties I leave 
you to cling to in your loneliness: — Our 
eternal Dwelling Place is in the love of 
Grod; and our own perfect love remains to 
us eternally. Wherever I may be while 
you read this, I am loving you still, with 
my whole being; I am all your own, and I 
hold you mine for ever. 

"Now I will lock away this letter with 
my will and other papers. Please Grod, it 
may be fifty years before your dear eyes 
rest upon it. The fact that I have written 
it, lifts from me the dull weight of vague 
apprehension. 

"As I sit writing in the Oak Room, you 
lie in our chamber overhead, with our lit- 
tle one in your arms. Your precious life 
has been spared, and a new life has been 
given. Heaviness endured for a night, but 
joy came in the morning. You have come 
safely through this dreaded ordeal. Why 
should I apprehend an unknown danger? 

"So I will put away all apprehension 



104 Returned Empty 

with this letter, and go up to the radiance 
of your smile and the glad certainty which 
is mine when I clasp you closely in my 
arms, my wife, my own! 

"Your lover and your husband, in Time 
and in Eternity, "Nigel Tintagel/^ 

He folded the many sheets and returned 
them to the envelope. 

A strange calm had entered into his soul, 
a quiet strength which seemed to say: 
"Knowing so much, I must know more; I 
must know all/' 

He ceased to feel hunted and haunted. 
He had been brought face to face, in these 
pages, with a great love; whether his own 
or another's seemed at that moment 
scarcely to matter. The very knowledge 
of such a love lifted him to a higher plane. 
Luke Sparrow had seen deep into the most 
sacred recesses of the heart of Nigel Tin- 
tagel. His own empty heart received this 
as a trust. A patient strength replaced his 
restive horror of resentment at a situation 



"And After That— the Dark'' 105 

so utterly beyond all human understanding. 

He laid the letter on the table beside 
him, switched off the light, turned his chair 
so that he looked into the fire and did not 
face the woman . on the couch, and said, 
very gently: **What happened next?" 

"Nigel," she said: "Do you remember?" 

"I remember nothing," he answered; but 
the harshness was gone from his voice; its 
tone was infinitely sad and tender. "I re- 
member nothing. But I am ready to listen. 
I want you to tell me all. I will try to 
understand. You need not fear any wild 
outbursts now. For the sake of what you 
believe — ^whether it be true or not — ^I would 
give my life to bring you comfort. Tell 
me aU." 

The firelight flickered on the tragic face. 
She saw a look of peace it had not held 
before. She saw a faint suggestion of the 
look of youth which, in its appeal to her 
tenderness, had made the man she loved 
so adorable. 



io6 Returned Empty 

*'0h, Nigel," she whispered; "Nigel, be- 
loved !" 

"What happened next?" 

"I read your letter many times. Your 
arms seemed to steal around me as I read. 
I turned my face against your breast, and 
wept myself to calmness. It mattered not 
that my head was buried in my pillow. Your 
letter had brought you so near; you came 
between me and all outward things. I re- 
peated again and again: ^Nothing can un- 
twine my life from thine.' 

"The warning against spiritualism 
reached me just in time. The poor French 
^Madame* was an ardent spiritualist. She 
had secured a medium, and was already in 
communication with her daughters. They 
had told her their favourite flowers and had 
reminded her that they used to prefer 
^Chocolaf to ^cafe au hit/ for breakfast. 
Also that ^Antoinette' used to darn their 
stockings. Antoinette was an old 'bonne' 
who had been with them many years. 

"These undeniable facts filled ^Madame' 



"And After That— the Dark'' 107 

with a holy rapture. She implored me to 
come and receive like comfort. I might 
have yielded, had it not been for your 
timely warning. 

"Madame*s husband, sons, another 
daughter and two cousins, had come to her 
in her sorrow. She was quickly growing 
resigned — comforted — almost elated. Her 
*deuir was infinitely becoming. 

"But I? I had been robbed of my All. 
I dreaded Madame de Villebois' frequent 
visits, yet knew my darling would not wish 
me to refuse to see her, lest she should 
think I resented the awful part her children 
had played in my life's tragedy. And, 
after all, it was madame's outpourings 
which first caused the Great Idea to formu- 
late in my mind. 

" ^Ah,' she cried one day, *the brave, the 
wonderful Sir Nigel! So full of '^joie de 
vivre^^l So life abounding! No; he cannot 
stay parmi les morts. Such as he, must live 
again. . . Quite soon, quite soon, he will 
live again. // reviendra!' 



io8 Returned Empty 



(( (i 



^Quite soon? Quite soon?' I repeated 
the words, when my visitor had departed. 
Quite soon! Ah, what it would be to know 
that my darling was on earth again ; breath- 
ing the same air ; seeing the same sunshine. 
Oh, if he came back quite soon! 

"I remembered all you had thought and 
said on this great subject. You took the 
Bible instance of the prophet Elijah reap- 
pearing in John the Baptist — 'More than a 
prophet' because a prophet twice born — ^as 
giving important data from which to draw 
conclusions. 

"Christ Himself had said, in unmistak- 
able language: 'If ye will receive it, this is 
Elijah which was for to come. . . . And 
they knew him not, but have done unto 
him whatsoever they listed.' These clear 
statements, you said, swept away all possi- 
bility of explaining John the Baptist as a 
mere type of Elijah. He was, without 
doubt, a reincarnation of the great prophet 
of fire. Elijah, caught away on the banks 
of the river Jordan, his mission incomplete. 



"And After That— the Dark'' 109 

reappearing on the same spot more than 
eight centuries later, to continue his work 
of ^turning the hearts of the disobedient to 
the wisdom of the just/ 

"It would take too long were I to en- 
deavour to remind you of the perfect work- 
ing out of every detail in the wonderful, 
inspired story — the comparatively slight 
stress laid upon the preparation of the little 
earthly body, miraculous though it was; 
the thirty years of silence and mystery in 
the deserts; then the triumphant heralding 
of the full-grown prophet : ^There was* a 
man, sent from God, whose name was 
John': his very appearance exactly corres- 
ponding to the Old Testament descriptions 
of Elijah. 

"You held that, though the actual phy- 
sical body of a child is prepared by his 
parents, according to nature's laws, his 
spirit — his ego — comes direct from God, 
entering the body, at the moment of birth, 
with the first indepeiident breath the baby 
draws. *God breathed into his nostrils 



no Returned Empty 

the breath of life; and man became a liv- 
ing soul.' This followed the forming of 
the body. Then shall the dust return to 
the earth as it was : and the spirit shall re- 
turn unto God Who gave it.' You cannot 
return to a place, unless you have been 
there before. 

"From this you argued that, though a 
certain amount of likeness to the parents 
might be inherited, the ego, being the essen- 
tial part, would mould the body into the 
appearance it had worn before. A strongly 
developed spirit, rich with many former ex- 
periences, would probably stamp its own 
likeness so strongly on the bodily develop- 
ment that very little resemblance to the 
.immediate parents would obtain. This is 
why, in brilliant, gifted children we see so 
little family likeness; whereas in families 
in which all are as alike as peas in a pod, 
you find a lack of gifts, a poverty of men- 
tal development, a want of originality, 
which point to no previous experiences. 
Having no individual ego of its own, the 



"And After That— the Dark'' in 

newly created spirit in its first existence, 
allows the body to become an exact copy 
of its parents, *Adam begat a son in his 
own likeness, after his image/ 

"With all reverence, you regarded the 
incarnation of our blessed Lord as throw- 
ing important light upon this point. From 
all eternity He had had an outward form. 
Man was created in His image. He was 
the pattern from which man was fashioned. 
In Old Testament records we find that He 
appeared many times upon earth and was 
seen of men : to Adam, to Abraham, to 
Joshua, to Gideon, to Manoah, to Daniel. 
These all knew Him, as we say in human 
parlance, by sight. The hosts of heaven 
knew Him and adored Him in His divinely 
glorious outward form. Now comes the 
time when He is to lay aside that glory 
and be born, very man, of the substance 
of an earthly mother. The little body, 
stainless and sinless, is prepared of a pure 
virgin through the operation of the Holy 
Ghost. 'A body hast Thou prepared for 



112 Returned Empty 

me/ At the moment of its birth, the great 
ego of the Son of God enters into it. Then 
*When He bringeth in the first begotten 
into the world, He saith, And let all the 
angels of God worship Him' — the scene on 
Bethlehem's hills. By degrees that body 
grows, moulded by the ego within, into the 
perfect likeness of what a body must ever 
be, indwelt by the great Ego — the Son of 
God. He is seen by angels, and recognised. 
He is seen by demons, and recognised. 
He is seen by Moses and Elijah on the 
holy mount and, undoubtedly, recognised. 
Then — ^the work of redemption accom- 
plished — raised from the grave and glori- 
fied. He takes that same body, bearing the 
actual scars of crucifixion, back into the 
Heavens. Would their King return to 
them in wholly different guise? 

"No; the ego, in its changeless consis- 
tency, has done its perfect work. Whether 
'in the beginning, with God,' or born of 
the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem's stable, or 
ascending triumphant *far above all princi- 



"And After That— the Dark" 113 

pality, and power, and might, and domi- 
nion, and every name that is named, not 
only in this world but also in that which 
is to come' — He is, in outward appearance, 
as well as in nature and character, Jesus 
Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and 
forever. 

"Prom these sacred facts you deduced 
that any reincarnation of a fully developed 
ego would probably reproduce again the 
likeness to its previous bodily appearance, 
modified to a certain extent by a diversity 
of parents, less or more, according to the 
strength and richness of the ego. 

"From this it follows that if one lived 
who still held the conscious recollection of 
a person in one incarnation, and if a second 
incarnation followed so quickly that a meet- 
ing on this earth could take place between 
the newly-arrived and the one who remem- 
bered, there would probably be recognition 
on the part of the latter. 

'^You also believed that the handwriting, 
with certain modifications, would be the 



114 Returned Empty 

same; handwriting being so closely allied 
to character, when allowed free develop- 
ment. 

"You believed that the sub-conscious mind 
is an eternal thing, and holds stored within 
it every detail of every episode in every 
incarnation, be they many or few. But the 
conscious mind and memory, being depend- 
ent upon the growth and development of 
the actual physical brain, knows and re- 
members the happenings of that body's life, 
only. The sub-conscious mind cannot be 
drawn upon consciously; but sometimes 
there springs up from it, into the conscious 
mind, a haunting memory of previous ex- 
istence: *I have been there before! I have 
done this before!' 

"Love being so largely a matter of the 
sub-consciousness, lovers are quick to find 
and to recognise one another, when they 
meet again reincarnate. This accounts for 
the sudden instinctive attraction known as 
*love at first sight.' It is, in reality, two 
faithful lovers hailing one another with joy 



"And After That— the Dark" 115 

and delight by the unconscious means of 
the sub-conscious memory. After marriage 
this sub-conscious memory may become an 
exquisite certainty, adding a richness to the 
bliss of newly-wedded love. 

"Great gifts can also be handed up to the 
new body from the sub-conscious ego. A 
born musician is one who, having become a 
great musician before by means of long 
study and practice, is re-born rich in the 
possession of the gift of musical expres- 
sion. A born orator has been a practised 
speaker in a former life, and now, without 
knowing that he does so, draws freely on 
his sub-conciousness for inspiration. 

^'Genius is the natural intellect so attuned 
to the sub-conscious mind that its fount of 
inspiration flows through it unhindered. 

*^Madness is the sub-conscious mind gain- 
ing undue control, bursting the dams of rea- 
son and restraint, and carrying all before 
it into mental chaos. A writer who, dis- 
covering that he can do more vividly ima- 
ginative work when his sub-consciousness is 



ii6 Returned Empty 

in the ascendency, puts himself under the 
influence of drugs in order to obtain this 
mental condition, may, for a time, produce 
work which will astonish the world; but, 
before long, there will come the inevitable 
fiasco — ^loss of will power, loss of mental 
and moral perspective; nerve and brain 
irritation; insanity! 

"Ah, how crudely and disjointedly I am 
repeating all this! It was your favourite 
subject, and I might give you essays of 
your own to read, with chapter and verse, 
and carefully worked out illustration. I 
have them all here. I almost know them 
by heart. But this hurried outline must 
serve to remind us of all you held and 
believed. 

"Well — to take up the thread of the hap- 
penings of those sad days — first, your let- 
ter; secondly, Madame de Villebois' re- 
mark; thirdly, my recollection of all you 
had taught and told me, awakened in me 
the passionate desire that your rebirth in- 
to the world should take place at once. 



"And After That— the Dark" 117 

In my awful loss and loneliness it seemed 
to me that such unspeakable comfort would 
come from the knowledge that my beloved 
was actually on earth again; even if, at 
first, he were but a little, helpless babe. 

"I had always loved the photographs of 
my baby Nigel so tenderly — I seemed to 
have known and loved you at every age. 
At times I saw each age in you and adored 
it as I saw it. 

"And the years would pass, and you 
would grow up. After all, when you were 
a man of twenty, I should only be forty- 
eight. We should certainly have found 
each other by then, and my darling would 
know me, and would not think me old, for 
had he not written: Wherever I may be 
I am loving you still, with my whole being. 
I am all your own, and I hold you mine for 
ever. . • . We may meet again on earth, if 
it be God's will for us.' I knew you meant 
by this, a fresh incarnation for both; but I 
could not see why I must wait during long, 
lonely years, or why death must come first. 



ii8 Returned Empty 

"I began to pray with desperate, frantic 
energy that my darling might come back 
without delay. 

"A wild, sweet joy and comfort came to 
soothe my agony. 

*1 walked along the shore and prayed 
aloud. I roamed the moors in paroxysms 
of petition. I prayed all night. I thought 
of the many little bodies there must be, 
prepared and ready, just waiting for a 
splendid, eager spirit to enter them at the 
moment of birth. Could not my darling 
bef sent to one of these and, growing up in 
it to his full beauty and stature, come and 
find his wife again? 

"At last, one night, I remembered that 
morning when you came in from a swim at 
sunrise, when I had been so fearful for 
your safety, and how I had said: 'Oh, 
Nigel, my dearest ! Some day those treach- 
erous waters will swallow you up, and you 
will come back to me no more/ But you, 
lying in my arms, had made answer: *I 
shall always come back to you, my sweet. 



"And After That— the Dark" 119 

If I lay fifty fathoms deep and you called, 
I should hear and come back/ 

"I remembered this, just before midnight, 
on the nth of September. 

*'I had begun to feel as if all my prayers 
and pleadings with heaven had been useless, 
had failed to obtain any response. 

*'Now, I would take my husband at his 
word, and call him — call him-H:all him! 

"I slipped from my bed, opened the 
French window and went out on to the 
balcony. 

"There stood the telescope through which 
I used to watch you while you swam! 

"A high wind blew, warm but boisterous. 

"The sea roared and pounded against the 
rocks at the base of the cliff. 

"I stood in the wind-swept darkness and 
lifted my eyes to the distant stars. 

" 'Nigel !' I called aloud : 'Oh, Nigel, my 
lover, my husband, come back to earth! 
Come out of Eternity, back into Time. I 
cannot live on this earth without you. You 
promised — ^you promised to come from fifty 



120 Returned Empty 

fathoms deep, if I called. NIGEL! COME! 
Ask to be bom once more. Then grow up 
quickly, and seek, and seek, and seek, be- 
loved, until you find me. Nigel, your own 
wife calls! Oh, Nigel! COME!* 

"Long I stood, with clasped hands, gaz- 
ing upward to the stars. 

*The wind moaned and shrieked through 
the pines. The sea roared in the distance. 
Behind the house, an owl hooted, like a lost 
soul in agony, and seemed to mock my 
prayer. 

"Up on the hill, the church bell tolled 
thrice. 

"Suddenly an intense drowsiness over- 
came me— I, who for a month past had 
scarcely slept. I crept back to bed and fell 
asleep as my head touched the pillow. 

"I slept until ten o'clock the next morn- 
ing, then woke with such a sense of com- 
fort and joy, that I could not understand 
what had happened. 

"Then I remembered my call to you at 
midnight. And then I knew — ^knew with 



"And After That— the Dark'' 121 

an unhesitating certainty— that my beloved 
had kept his word; that some time between 
midnight and ten o'clock, on this 12th of 
September, 1883, he had come back, for my 
sake, and was now on earth once more, 
spending his fir|St day as a little living, 
growing, beautiful man-child. 

"Oh, the wonder of those hours! My 
breasts thrilled and ached with joy and 
longing. Ah, if I could but press his baby 
lips against them! The wife in me was 
merged in the wish that I could be his 
mother! I lived again. I smiled and 
laughed. For a long, weary month I had 
trailed about. I now ran up and down 
stairs. I lifted my arms to the sun and 
blessed him, as he rose in the heavens, 
because he was shining on my little boy. 
I tried to picture his nursery, his bassinet, 
his little gowns and flannels. 

"My household evidently thought me de- 
mented; but I knew that this joy had saved 
my reason. 

"During the next few days I scanned 



122 Returned Empty 

with eager eyes the births' column in the 
'Times/ making a' list of the names and ad- 
dresses of all the parents who had had sons 
on the 1 2th of September. 

'^Oh, Nigel, Nigel! T little thought— a 
door-step t A deserted bundle! A Found- 
lings* Institution! Oh, my dear, if I could 
have flown to that door-step and found you, 
and brought you home! But— did you not 
say there was a date on the label, the date 
of your birth, written beneath 'Returned 
Empty' ?" 

"Yes,** he said. "You shall see the label. 
There is a date." 

He drew his chair near to the couch, so 
that he could reach her hands with his own. 
He took the label from his pocket-book, 
and laid it upon her lap. She lifted it and, 
bending toward him, read it by the fire- 
light 

RETURNED EMPTY 
September 12th, 1883. 



"And After That— the Dark'' 123 

"Oh, Nigel," she said, "the day— the 
very day!" 

"I know," he answered. "I was listen- 
ing for it as you talked. I felt it would 



come." 



"And it is to-day," she said. "To-day! 
This is your thirtieth birthday." 

He looked at her with a wistful smile ; a 
smile of such pathetic melancholy that it 
chilled her heart. 

"It is," he said. -"And nobody in the 
whole world knows it, save you and I." 

She stretched out her hands. 

He took them in his and held them 
firmly. They looked into each other's eyes 
in silence. 

"Speak to me," she whispered. 

"Not yet," he said. "You have more to 
tell. And it has always been my way to 
think long and steadily, and then to speak 
— ^and to speak to the point. You and I 
are facing an awful mystery; but at least 
we are facing it together." 



124 Returned Empty 

Suddenly she felt herself before a judg- 
ment-seat 

"Oh, Nigel," she whispered, "I am 
afraid/' 

"You need not be,'' he answered and, 
bending, laid his lips upon her hand "I 
have read Nigel Tintagel's letter." 

"And do you remember?" 

"I remember nothing. But my soul is 
slowly struggling up into the light. After 
long years in outer darkness, at last I am 
finding the way home to God." 

Again he laid his lips upon her hands; 
but they were cold as death, and her heart 
trembled. 

"Tell me the rest," he said. 

She steadied her voice with an effort. 

"There is not much to tell. It has been 
a long, long time of seeking and waiting. 
I kept count of each year. I made little 
clothes of the right size, and gave them 
away. In the summers I went from one 
seaside place to another and roamed about 
the shore, seeking among the little boys who 



"And After That— the Dark'' 125 

shouted and played, rode donkeys, wielded 
their wooden spades, and made sand cas- 
tles. I neglected my little daughter be- 
cause I wanted only the boy who was 
doubly my own. Then I remembered she 
was yours, and flew back to make amends. 

''When the right time came, I went to 
the public schools, Eton, Harrow, Marl- 
borough, Rugby. I watched the sports; I 
saw the prize-givings. Crowds of fine Brit- 
ish lads were there; but the face I sought 
was not among them. 

"Later, I went to Oxford and Cambridge. 

I saw degrees conferred; I viewed the 
races. I went to Lord's; you had been 
keen on cricket. But you were not there. 

"At last I knew your education must be 
over. You must have taken your place in 
the world — a, man among men. Then I 
gave up my search, and waited here — ^just 
waited. Your room was always ready. I 
felt certain you would come to me at last. 

"Eight years ago our daughter married. 



126 Returned Empty 

Then I was left alone, and I was glad. Lit- 
tle Nigel was born, and he was so like you. 
But that was no comfort to me; it was you 
I wanted, not a likeness. I never doubted 
that you would find me at last 

"And to-night — ^to-night, after thirty 
years — I looked up and saw my husband*s 
eyes gazing in at me through the window. 

"The very greatness of the moment kept 
me calm. I had just to make sure you 
would not go. I could not tell Colin and 
Eva; they would have thought me mad. 
But old Thomas knew. He recognised you 
at once." 

"Recognised me?" 

"Yes, Nigel. He had known and loved 
and served you from boyhood. He ran be- 
side your pony the first time you rode 
alone. He and his wife are the only peo- 
ple left among the household who remem- 
ber you. When I sent him to fetch you in, 
I told him you had come at last, and 
warned him to give no sign of recognition 
until I had found out how much you knew. 



"And After That— the Dark" 127 

He has shared with me the long years of 
vigil/' 

Luke Sparrow buried his face in his 
hands. 

"Good God/* he muttered; "let me keep 
my reason." 

Midnight sounded slowly from a distant 
belfry. 

The old clock in the corner whirred its 
warning, and struck the hour. 

Lady Tintagel took up her jewel-case. 

"Come and sit here beside me, and see 
why Thomas could not fail to know you." 

He rose. His knees shook. He felt 
queer and dizzy. It had been a long time 
of mental strain. 

Lady Tintagel turned on a light bdiind 
her, and moved the despatch-box. 

He took his seat beside her on the couch. 

A packet of faded photographs were in 
her hand. 

"This is the first. Your mother gave it 
to me ; my baby Nigel ; six months old. She 
used to call you her little Black Prince, 



128 Returned Empty 

because of your dark eyes and regal bearing." 
He took the faded picture and bent 
over it. 

The bright eyes of the baby had survived 
the yellowing process of sixty years. They 
held a look of baby omniscience as they 
stared into the haunted eyes of the man 
who bent and looked. The little figure sat 
erect, one finger lifted as if solemnly point- 
ing a moral. The mother, on whose lap the 
baby sat, was so much absorbed in watch- 
ing its expression, that her back was 
turned. He could see only a gracious figure 
and smoothly braided hair. 

**Aged three," said Lady Tintagel, pass- 
ing another. 

The same bright eyes, now merry with 
childish laughter, and half hidden in a mass 
of tumbled curls. Bare legs, white socks, 
strap shoes, a wooden horse. The marvel 
was that he stayed still ten seconds to 
be photographed. He must have whooped 
and run, the moment it was over. 



"And After That— the Dark'' 129 

"Aged seven," said Lady Tintagel "I 
love him in his kilt." 

A graceful little figure in full Highland 
dress; standing, as if just arrested in a 
dance, one hand above his head; his dark 
eyes shining, his curls escaping from the 
Glengarry bonnet. 

The man's hand shook, as he laid it 
down. 

"No more just now," he said, thickly. 
"I don't — see very clearly." 

"Just the last," she insisted, "the last of 
all; that you may understand how it was 
that Thomas knew you." 

She drew out a cabinet portrait and 
placed it in his hands. Beneath it was writ- 
ten: ^^ Nigel, one week before I lost him. 
August, 1883." 

A man in flannels, carrying a pair of 
sculls over his shoulder; smiling that he 
should be caught by a photographer on his 
way to the boats ; his whole face and figure 
radiating health and happiness; a look of 
well-being, of honest, genial love to all 



130 Returned Empty 

mankind; of innate goodness, purity, 
strength — ^a man made for love and for 
companionship; a man to whom a woman 
would trust herself, body and soul, and 
never regret it. 

No contrast could have been more 
marked than that between the man por- 
trayed and the man who now looked at 
the portrait; but the contrast was one of 
heart, mind, and character, not of outward 
semblance. For, as he looked, seeing only 
the portrait, in a room growing suddenly 
black, he knew he looked upon himself — 
himself, as he might have been; himself, 
as he once was. 

Lady Tintagel returned the others to 
their place of safety. She fitted them all 
in with loving care; then turned to take 
the last. 

"Can you wonder '' she began; then 

paused dismayed. 

The man beside her tried to rise, groped 
blindly for support, then swayed slowly 
forward, and fell senseless at her feet. 



SCENE VIII 
The Dawn Breaks 



SCENE vm 

THE DAWN BREAKS 

WHEN consciousness returned, he 
found himself stretched at full 
. length upon the couch. 

Lady Tintagel knelt beside him, her arms 
around him. 

He could feel the rapid beating of her 
heart; her soft, quick breathing, mingled 
with kisses, on his brow and hair. Words 
of tenderness unthinkable poured from her 
lips. 

He woke at once to vivid consciousness; 
but lay with eyes closed, waiting till he 
could gather up his strength, master him- 
self, and take hold on calm speech. 

And all the while her flood of tenderness 
poured over him. It was as if his help- 
lessness had broken down all barriers, 

his loss of consciousness had burst the 

133 



134 Returned Empty 

bonds of her reserve. The love and long- 
ing of those thirty years throbbed in her 
clasping arms. 

"My Love, my own ! Don't go from me 
again. Ah, when you wake you will remem- 
ber all! Nigel, you will remember.'* 

She held him closer to her breast. He felt 
the desperate strength in those poor cling- 
ing arms. 

"Dear God, when he awakes, he will 
remember! He will call his own wife by 
her name. He will know all at last. At 
last he will remember.'' 

Her tears and kisses rained upon his 
face. 

At length he spoke. 

"Loose me," he said. 

"Mine," she murmured, her trembling 
lips against his hair. "Mine again, at last. 
I have waited so long — so long." 

He shrank away from her. 

"Loose me," he said, "loose me and let 
me go. I do not want to hurt you." 

"You could not hurt me, Nigel. I am 



The Dawn Breaks 135 

past being hurt. My love would welcome 
pain/' Yet her lips quivered. Her eyes 
searched his. No answering light of love 
was in their sombre depths. 

"You would loose me at once," he said, 
"if you could know how much I loathe that 
you should hold and touch me." 

Her arms fell away from him.. She 
pressed her hands against her breasts, as 
if his words had been an actual blow. She 
recoiled from him, moving backwards on 
her knees, gazing at him in dumb dismay; 
then hid her stricken face in both her 
hands. 

He sprang to his feet, crossed to the win- 
dow, and flung aside a curtain. 

Dawn was breaking, in one pale silver 
streak on the horizon. 

Sea birds called to one another in the 
distance. 

A chill mist lay on the lawn. In the cor- 
ner of the veranda he could see the ghostly 
outline of the chair in which he had waited 
the night before. 



136 Returned Empty 

He turned back into the lighted room. 

The fire burned low. He stirred the em- 
bers and threw on fresh logs. 

He raised Lady Tintagel from her knees 
and led her to the couch. 

"Forgive me/* he said. "How I hate to 
give you pain! But our only hope is to be 
absolutely honest with ourselves and with» 
each other." 

She lifted sorrowful eyes, but made no 
answer. 

"Will you forgive me if that which I 
must say is hard to hear? It would help 
me if you could say: 1 will forgive you.* ** 

Her smile was sadder far than tears. 

"We never forgave one another, Nigel. 
If need for forgiveness arose, love had al- 
ready met it, and swept it away. Besides, 
I do not blame you for my pain. Say what 
you will.*' 

He stood long silent, looking into the 
heart of the red embers. 

At last he spoke. 

"It is dangerous work,** he said, "to 



The Dawn Breaks 137 

tamper with the Dead. The Dead are safe 
with God, at home in that eternal Dwelling 
Place. Do you realise the awful wrong you 
did to me and to yourself, by that insist- 
ent call which brought me back? Through 
all these years in the great Life beyond, 
the fulness of my love would have been 
yours. That letter told you of a changeless 
tie — ^you mine, I yours, for ever. But it 
also spoke of a parting bravely borne, in 
faith and patience. A sorrow thus endured 
would have kept us both safe in the Will of 
God. But you called me back, with pas- 
sionate insistence, and — it seems — ^I re- 
sponded to the passion of that appeal, and 
came. But in so doing, I put myself outside 
the supreme Will. Had I waited God's 
time for my return to earthly life, I might 
have come strong in His strength and 
grace, filled with his Holy Spirit, ready to 
overcome, to rise at His command to a 
higher level than I had before attained. 
Instead of which I am but a poor derelict, 
shipwrecked upon life's ocean, drifting rud- 



138 Returned Empty 

derless at the mercy of each wind of cir- 
cumstance. And alas, I returned empty^ — 
emptied of that Spark Divine, which is the 
very essence of the life of man; emptied 
of aspiration; emptied of the capacity for 
love. I have no assurance of the Love of 
Grod; I have no remembrance of my love 
for you; I have no power to feel love for 
others or to accept love offered me. For 
thirty wasted years I have been seeking, 
seeking, ever seeking, for earthly love, and 
now that I have found it, it is Dead Sea 
fruit — ^mere dust and ashes. I wander, 
God forsaken, like the demons of old, 
'walking through dry places, seeking rest, 
and finding none.* I have no faith, I have 
no hope; I ask only for Oblivion, 'Why 
hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?* 
You who call yourself my loving wife? 

"One sentence in that letter which you 
say is my own, wakes in me a realisation of 
all that I have lost. 'Lord, Thou hast been 
our Dwelling Place in all generations/ 
My soul remembers that divine security; 



The Dawn Breaks 139 

but I have left it, and there is no return. 
You thought, while I lay senseless I should 
remember things of Time. Not so, but in 
a lightning flash of revelation I saw again 
Eternity." 

Turning, he raised both arms, lifting his 
face with a light upon it which was not the 
dawn, nor any earthly light, but a pale re- 
flection of the light of Heaven. 

"God's Will!" he said. "When we go 
home to that great Dwelling Place, our 
holy passion is to do His Will. All earthly 
things — cloves, hopes, desires — assume their 
right proportions. The one Essential is the 
great Will of God — ^that He in us, by us, 
through us, may in all things be glorified. 
All, in our earthly lives, which made for 
this, abides, and is ours still. All else is 
dross and cannot stand the fire — ^that purity 
of motive which is the very birthright of 
each immortal soul set free from earthly 
trammels of the flesh. To know His will 
and do it — this is Life Eternal; this is the 
joy supreme." 



140 Returned Empty 

His arms dropped. The light faded from 
his countenance. 

"I left it, at the call of earthly love. I 
stand before you empty, godless, damned.'' 



"Nigel," she said; "my heart is broken." 

"I would I had a heart to break," he 
said. 

The despair in her face left him cold. 
Yet still her faithful love caught at a straw 
of comfort. 

"At least we are together in our misery." 

"I am going," he said. 

"Nigel! You will not leave me?" 

"How can I stay? A year younger than 
your own daughter, I cannot stand in my 
rightful place — ^nor would I, if I could." 
^Nigel, stay as my son." 
^How can I? I am not your son, and I 
will not be a rich woman's protege. I may 
have no capacity for love, but I have hon- 
our. I shall go, as I came, empty and 
alone. I will take nothing with me from 



ii' 



The Dawn Breaks 141 

this great house which you tell me is, in 
reality, my own." 

"Nigel, there is one thing you must take 
with you. It was your tender est gift to 
me. It has been so precious all these years ; 
but now I have forfeited the right to wear 
it.'' 

She drew her wedding-ring from her fin- 
ger. 

"I have failed you, utterly.'' 

She held it out to him. 

^'The golden circlet, emblem of a love 
which is eternal, would mock me in my 
hopeless desolation. Take it, Nigel. It is 
all you can do for me. When you placed 
it on my finger, you had just said: 'Till 
death us do part'; and death has parted 



us." 



"Not death," he said. "Life has parted 
us, not death." 

A heavy sense of sorrow and compunc- 
tion gripped him. 

'Why do you ask me to do this? It 
leaves you neither wife nor widow." 



142 Returned Empty 

"I am neither wife nor widow. I am not 
your widow, for you live. I am not your 
wife, for you loathe me, and are leaving 
me forever." 

"I do not loathe you,'' he said, in low, 
remorseful tones. "But you have shewn 
me what I was; and you have made me 
what I am." 

A spasm, of deathly agony wrung her 
heart. Could he not spare her one cruel 
stab? 

She pressed the ring upon him. 

"Take it, I implore you. And if ever 
the remembrance returns of all that this 
ring once meant to us, come back to me, 
and place it again upon my hand." 

He took it. For what had it stood when 
last he held it in his hand? The complete 
possession of a perfect love? 

He slipped it on to his little finger. 

His gnawing misery grew. Why could 
he not say one word of kindness or of com- 
fort to this stricken woman whose faith- 
ful heart was breaking? 



The Dawn Breaks 143 

His hell was within him, "where the 
worm dieth not, and the fire is not 
quenched." 

He rose abruptly. "I must go!" he 
said. 

He crossed to the garden door and flung 
it wide. 

A stream of golden sunshine poured in, 
paling the artificial light, and flooding the 
room with radiance. 

The sun had risen, a great golden ball, 
above the sea, and was slowly ascending 
from the pearly mist on the horizon. 

"I must go," he said, again; but a 
dreamy quality had come into his voice, 
and he leaned against the door post, gaz- 
ing at the sunrise. 

She came and stood beside him, and to- 
gether they looked up to the rosy sky, 
flecked with soft billowy clouds of pearly 
whiteness, and down on the wide expanse 
of opal sea, reflecting in a royal highway 
from shore to horizon, the crimson glory 
of the rising sun. 



144 Returned Empty 

The water seemed to shout, once more, 
in a silent chorus of sparkling voices: 
"This is the way to the City of Gold! 
Leap from the cliff! Take to the waters! 
This — and this only — ^is your road for 
Home." 

Suddenly a look of hope shone in his 
eyes. His whole figure sprang to alert- 
ness. He was transformed. 

"I must go!" he cried. 'There lies the 
way." He pointed to the sparkling path 
upon the waters. "It is my only chance; 
my one way Home." 

"Not that, Nigel! Oh, not that!" Her 
clinging hands caught at his coat. "You 
always said those who did that would 
lose—" 

"Lose!" he 3houted. "What have I to 
lose? Returned empty! I have nothing 
to lose." 

He wrenched himself free from her de- 
taining fingers. He gave no backward 



The Dawn Breaks 145 

glance. He sped across the lawn, like a 
hound loosed from the leash ; leapt the iron 
gate, and disappeared down the zigzag path 
leading to the beach. 



SCENE IX 

The Watcher 



SCENE IX 

THB WATCHER 

LADY TINTAGEL turned back into 
the Oak Room, switched off the pale 
lights, gathered up her treasures, 
locked the despatch-box and, taking it with 
her, crossed the hall and slowly mounted 
the stairs to her bedroom. Each step meant 
a separate effort. The mainspring of her 
life was broken. This was the end. 

Arrived at her room, she slipped off her 
velvet gown, put on a soft white wrapper, 
and laid herself down upon the bed. 

"They went away toward the sunris- 
ing,'*' she quoted. "Where is it written?" 
She repeated it, mechanically. " They went 
away toward the sunrising.' " 

Then memory returned and with it the 

shock of realisation. 

He had gone. He had gone for ever. 

149 



150 Returned Empty 

He was swimming into the sunrise, and 
never coming back. 

Dear God — ^was there no hope, no help? 

She rose from the bed. 

She must watch to the end. 

She went out on to the wide balcony, 
overlooking the sea, where stood the tele- 
scope. 



SCENE X 

"Turns Again Home" 



SCENE X 

«WHBN THAT WHICH DREW FROM OUT THE BOUND- 
LESS DEEF-TURNS AGAIN HOME'* 

WHEN Luke Sparrow reached the 
beach, he tore at his boot-laces, 
flung off his coat and, in less 
than twenty seconds, was swimming up 
the sunlit way, his eyes dazzled by the 
golden glory, his heart throbbing from his 
rapid race down the cliff. 

He seemed to have burst invisible 
shackles which hitherto had held him cap- 
tive. 

"Free!" he shouted. "Free! On to the 
sunrise! No going back!" 

Wild sea birds, flying above him, swooped 
and dipped, till their wings almost touched 
his face as they passed. 

He laughed, and echoed their wild cries. 

"God give me wings, that I may mount 
and rise!*' 

153 



154 Returned Empty 

He dived into green depths where fishes 
flopped against his face, and waving arms 
of giant sea-weed tried to catch him as he 
passed. 

He came to the surface gasping; dashed 
the water from his eyes ; then settled into a 
steady breast-stroke, swimming out to sea, 
straight to the sun. 

He swam. He swam. He swam. On, 
toward the shoreless horizon. 

His heart pounded in his ears. Still he 
swam on. 

His arms felt like lead. He folded them 
across his breast and swam without them. 

His legs could move no more. He turned 
upon his back and lay, like a bit of driftwood, 
resting. 

He grinned at the blue sky above him. 

"Flotsam and jetson,'' he remarked con- 
fidentially to a swooping gull. " 'Returned 
Empty. This side up, with care.' That's 
more to the point just now. Don't peck at 
my eyes, you greedy brute! Wait a week 
for that. • . .' Here lies a poor derelict on 



"Turns Again Home'' 155 

the ocean of Time, at the mercy of every 
wind of circumstance. . . . Swim, you fool ! 
Yonder lies your one way Home." 

He turned over, and swam on and on, 
into the dazzling glory. 

At length a dream-like sense of unreal- 
ity came over him, a strange, sweet peace; 
a wish to fall asleep. 

He heard church bells in the distance, 
growing nearer. 

At first he thought they came floating out 
to sea from the land he had left behind, and 
he ceased swimming that he might listen. 

Then they pealed louder, coming up — ^up 
— from the green depths beneath him. 

Come down and find usl 
Come down and find i4s\ 

« 

He looked down and instantly sank — 
deep, deep, deep into the cool silence. In- 
stinctively he held his breath, threw up his 
hands and rose to the surface ; gasped, took 
a long breath; raised his arms above his 
head and went down like a stone. 



156 Returned Empty 

Deeper, deeper, deeper. 

The church bells pealed so loudly, he 
thought their clanging clamour would burst 
the drums of his card. 

They lose their immortality 
They lose their immortality 

Those who do this 

Those who do this 

Those who do this 

Those who do this 
They lose their immortality. 

He was entangled in flapping sea-weed, 
but he fought himself free. It was very 
dark. 

He threw up his arms and rose slowly to 
the surface. 

The sun seemed miles above him, a pale 
phantom, luminous through the green 
waters. 

It grew brighter. He reached the sur- 
face. It blazed upon him. 

The church bells stopped suddenly. 
Everything stopped. His heart stopped. 
Therq was a great silence. 

He was too tired to breathe. He clasped 



"Turns Again Home'' 157 

his hands, lifted them slowly above his 
head, and went down for the third time. 

As he sank he heard the head-master 
say: "Luke Sparrow — first prize"; he saw 
the glitter of the Mayor's grand chain. All 
his school life rushed backward through his 
mind, and then — ^he was flinging down a 
rattle on the nursery floor, and the matron's 
voice was saying: "Poor little 'Returned 
Empty.' He won't even play with his rat- 
tle." 

"I'm really drowning now," he thought. 
"The fools are right. This is my past life." 

'What does he wantf said the matron's 
voice. ''Who is he calling^* 

Then — something burst in his brain, and 
in flaming letters of living fire a name il- 
lumined the icy blackness. 

"Miriam! My wife I Miriam, my Love, 
my life! Good God, I can't leave her I . . . 
Miriam, I'm coming! Hold on, I am com- 
ing!" 

The weeds fiad him this time, but he 
fought like 3 fiiadman. 



158 Returned Empty 

"Miriam! Beloved!" 

His lungs were bursting, but he kept 
out the water. Tons weight pressed down 
his hands, but he lifted them. 

"Miriam, my Love! I am coming!'* 

The sun reappeared, a pale disc — ^no, by 
God! a dead face! 

He was caught again. Sea-weed? No; 
white hands, catching at his throat, throt- 
tling him. Curse them ! What matter they, 
while his wife waits. He fought on. 

"My Love, I am coming !'* He broke 
free and rose — rose— rose. 

The sun— Great God! — ^the air! 

He breathed, choked, gasped, breathed 
again; lay on the surface, and panted. His 
ribs seemed jammed upon his heart; but, 
as he breathed, they lifted. His lungs ex- 
panded; his sight cleared; his heart beat 
more steadily. 

"Oh, beloved! Miriam! Miriam! Are 
you there? All else is a dream, save our 
great love, my perfect, perfect mate.'* _ 



i 



"Turns Again Home" 159 

Slowly he turned and looked toward the 
shore. 

Far away, so far away; but he could see 
the line of cliffs and the house — ^his home 
and hers — standing clear against the fir 
woods. The upper windows seemed on fire, 
as they reflected the gold of the sunrise. 

He measured the distance between him- 
self and the shore. Could he swim it? 

He started a slow breast stroke, his eyes 
upon those flaming windows. 

Then he remembered the telescope. He 
made out the balcony. 

Dear God! Was she watching? Of 
course she, was watching. 

He fancied he could see a white figure. 

He waved his arm and smiled. A glory 
of love was on his face. 

"Miriam," he said, knowing the power- 
ful lens brought him quite near and she 
would see him speak; "Miriam, you said 
I should remember all, if I remembered 
your name. And I do; oh, my beloved, I 
dor 



i6o Returned Empty 

As he swam, the sunlight caught the 
wedding-ring— her wedding-ring— upon his 
finger. He missed a stroke to hold it up, 
then press it to his lips. 

"I am coming, Sweet! I am coming!'* 

Then he swam on. 

Love, surging through his soul, gave him 
strength. 

The shore drew nearer. He could see 
her now, standing at the telescope. 

*'MiriamI Miriam!'* 

Her dear arms would be waiting. Her 
lips — ^her tenderness. 

Could he last out ? He swam feebly, 
but steadily. 

As he neared the shore, a swiftly flowing 
current caught him. It held him station- 
ary, and his strength was ebbing. 

One chance remained. He might win 
through under water. He took a deep 
breath, dived, and disappeared. 

Swift, quick strokes — "Miriam! Miriam!'' 
Desperate work; but for her dear sake! 

He rose at last. He was through the 



"Turns Again Home'* i6i 

current and under the lee of the cliff. 
He could see the house no longer, but the 
zigzag path was there. His coat and his 
boots lay under the rocks. 

He fought feebly with the water. His 
breath came in groans. 

No; he could not do it, after all. Not 
another stroke. He must sink; he must 
give up, and sink. 

He sank — and felt sand beneath his feet. 

With a great cry he struggled through 
the water, reeled up the beach, and dropped 
like a log beside the rocks. 



SCENE XI 
"My Life for His! 



99 



SCENE 21 

<<M7 LIFB FOR HISP* 

WHEN Lady Tintagel stopped out 
on to the balcony and took her 
stand beside the telescope, a 
deathly sense of faintness almost overcame 
her. She gripped the balustrade to keep 
herself from falling. 

Gradually she revived in the fresh morn- 
ing air. 

Then she adjusted the telescope and 

focussed it on the dark head in the water. 

The powerful lens brought the swimmer 

so near, that it seemed as if she had but 

to put out her hand to touch him. 

He was swimming in direct line between 
herself and the rising sun. The water 
through which he moved, sparkled and glit- 
tered. She could see every strand of his 

165 



1 66 Returned Empty 

wet hair, her wedding-ring on his brown 
finger. 

She marked the strong, quick strokes. 
Rapidly he put distance between himself 
and the shore. She had to keep adjusting 
the focus to hold him near. 

"Oh God," she prayed, "do not let him do 
this thing. Do not let him drpwn. If a life 
must be given, my life for his. Oh, by the 
mercy of Christ, my life for his!" 

She saw the wild birds swoop above him. 

After a while he began to flag. She 
watched him fold his arms, turn upon his 
back, and lie, like a tired child, upon the 
bosom of the sparkling ocean. 

Then she could see his face, ghastly in 
the sunlight. There was madness in it — 
madness. 

"O God of infinite mercy! My punish- 
ment is greater than I can bear. I bow 
to Thy Divine Will. I give up my beloved; 
I give him up, if need be, for all eternity; 
but save him from the doom of the suicide. 
My life for his, O Lord, my life for his!" 



"My Life for His!" 167 

He had turned, and was swimming on; 
but his m.ovements were vague and uncer- 
tain. He clove the water feebly, pausing 
between each stroke and raising his head. 

Suddenly he disappeared. The spark- 
ling highway held no sign of him. 

"Nigel!*' she shrieked, "Nigel!" 

The brown hands reappeared; the dark 
head rose out of the sea. But making no 
attempt to swim, he lifted his face to the 
sun, then raised his arms and went down 
again. 

"O God, have mercy!" 

Oh, mocking, vast expanse of gaily 
sparkling sea! 

She held her breath and watched. 

Ah! His hands again! His face — ^the 
eyes now wide and staring. He gasped ; his 
chest heaved. He raised his head and 
shoulders out of the water; then slowly 
clasped his hands, lifted them above his 
head, and sank instantly. 

She was silent in her agony; yet, speech- 
less, her heart still cried to God. 



i68 Returned Empty 

"Save him! Save him! My soul for 
his! O God, my soul for his!'' 

O empty, sunlit sea ! 

The floor rocked and swayed beneath her 
feet. She clung to the telescope, striving 
to keep in view the rippling surface where 
last she had seen him. 

No sign, no hope. This was the end. 

An awful calmness held her. "Fifty 
fathoms deep," and this time no return. 
She and Despair must company together 
through all the years to come, and after. 

No! O God, his hands! And now his 
head, his heaving, gasping chest! 

He fought and struck the water, then 
straightened out and lay upon his back, 
heaving, breathing ; breathing, heaving ; 
gasping with closed eyes; then quite still, 
resting; a weary child upon its m.other's 
breast; a lover in the tender arms of his 
beloved. The water rocked him gently. So 
near he seemed. She clung to the telescope, 
speaking softly to him. 

"Nigel, my dearest, God has heard my 



"My Life for His!" 169 

prayer. Rest there, dear Heart. The arms 
of Eternal Love are beneath you. Oh, if 
the wish to live returns, you will be given 
strength to reach the shore. Heart of my 
heart, my life for yours ; my soul for yours, 
if need be.'' 

His eyes were open. He was gazing 
skyward. A look of ineffable joy and peace 
was on his face. 

"Oh, what does he see? Visions of God? 
Promise of life and peace and joy restored? 
Or is he dying; dying there, before my 
eyes? Nigel, my own, what is it?*' 

Slowly he turned and looked toward the 
shore; then started swimming, a steady 
breast stroke, slow but sure. 

Her trembling fingers adjusted the focus, 
keeping pace with him. 

His eyes met hers. A glory of love was 
on his face. He waved his arm and smiled. 
His lips moved and formed a word. 

Yes, it was her name! 

''Miriam,'* he said ; and again, "Miriam !" 

"Oh, wonder beyond belief. He has re- 



lyo Returned Empty 

membered and is coming back to me; com- 
ing back a second time from the dead; but 
this time God-sent, God-given/* 

She laughed softly and whispered tender 
words. 

"Yes, darling, I know. Yes, your wife 
is here ; just waiting here, as on those dear 
mornings long ago. . . . Swim carefully, 
my dearest boy. I do so dread the sea — 
so deep and treacherous. . . . Yes, I see 
the ring. . . . Oh, is that how you love 
me? No, don't stop to answer . . . Nigel, 
it takes so long. . . . Are you exhausted, 
darling? Oh, turn again and rest. . • . 
Nigel, you make no progress. Oh, my God, 
he is swimming, but he is not moving! He 
is caught by the current! . . . Ah! . . . 
No! . . . Yes! He is gone!" 

She flew into her room and pealed the 
bell. Then back to the balcony, shriek- 
ing wildly. So near the shore, but gone. 

An empty sea; a cruel, sparkling, empty 
sea! 

The sound of hurrying feet within. She 



"My Life for His I'' 171 

staggered back into the room, clutching at 
the window-frame and curtains. 

'^Quick, Thomas, quick! Sir Nigel — 
drowning — below the cliff — a boat — a 
rope — *' 

Then she fell forward on her face. 



SCENE XII 
Jhe Deep Well 



SCENE xn 

THE DEEP WELL 

WHEN Luke Sparrow awoke from 
a long sleep, he found himself 
in bed, wrapped in softest 
blankets, in the room to which he had been 
taken on the previous evening. 

His entire being was permeated by that 
extraordinary sense of comfort which ac- 
companies returning strength after violent 
exertion. He had no desire to move, yet he 
lifted his right arm and looked with a per- 
plexed smile at the sleeve of a blue silk 
sleeping suit. Then he saw the wedding- 
ring upon his finger. 

"Miriam r' 

He let a flood of tender memory sweep 
over him. 

^'Miriam ! My wife." 

Presently he looked round the room, tak- 

175 



176 Returned Empty 

ing in every detail. It was familiar in a 
strange, double way. His conscious brain 
remembered each impression of the night 
before, when he thought it ''Colin's" dress- 
ing-room ; but a vague, dream-like memory, 
working slowly, like drawing water from 
the depths of a deep well, remembered 
it as his own. 

He studied the engravings on the walls, 
seeing them consciously for the first time; 
but when he looked away, it seemed to him 
that he had known, before looking, that 
each would be in its place. 

He looked along the row of books in the 
bookcase. His conscious mind mastered 
their titles; but, from the deep well of his 
subconsciousness he drew the knowledge 
of what, if he could open them, he would 
find written on the fly-leaves. 

This experiment soon tired him. He 
lifted his hand again and fixed his mind 
upon the wedding-ring, and upon her whose 
ring it was. 

Nothing vague here, nothing indefinite. 



The Deep Well 177 

His love for her, his memory of her love, 
flowed through him like new wine. Her 
loveliness, her tenderness, her sweet fidel- 
ity. 

He held the ring against his lips. "My 
bride" — ^what memories! "My wife, my 
perfect mate!'' 

To him, who had never loved, it came as 
an overwhelming wonder to find himself 
in sudden possession of a love full grown. 

^'Miriam! Miriam!" 

Soon he would see her. She was some- 
where quite near. 

Oh, heart of gold, beating beneath the 
garment of soft woman's flesh! 

He closed his eyes and gave himself up 
to the exquisite enchantment. The purity 
of each remembrance of her love and his, 
filled him with a sense of heavenly rap- 
ture. 

"My perfect one; my Angel of Delight!" 

The door opened softly. An elderly 
woman appeared, stout and matronly, car- 



178 Returned Empty 

rying a cup on a small tray. She advanced 
to the side of the bed. 

He had never seen her before. He 
studied the kind, homely face, the neat 
black gown, the silk apron, the cairngorm 
brooch. Then from the depths of the well 
came up an intuition and, almost before he 
knew it, he had said : "Hullo, Mary." 

The ruddy face paled. Jhe hand hold- 
ing the tray shook. 

"Yes, Sir Nigel. We thought you might 
have wakened. Sir Nigel. I have made 
bold to bring you broth." 

Broth? Yes, of course. Broth and Mary 
would go together. He sat up, took it 
from her hand, and supped it hungrily. 

She watched him, with eyes which held 
a strange mingling of love, fear, and won- 
der. The love, a life-long fidelity. The 
fear came with the remembrance of a coffin, 
beside which she had stood; of a grave in 
the churchyard on the hill side. The won- 
der was born of a mystery, unexplained, 



The Deep Well 179 

tmaccountable, but accepted with the simple 
faith of a mind ruled by the heart. 
"How did I get here, Mary ?" 
"Thomas will tell you, Sir Nigel/' 
"You tell me. I like hearing your dear 
old voice/' 

"Thomas found you by the rocks, Sir 
Nigel. He fetched the foresters, and they 
brought you up on a hurdle." 

"How did Thomas know I had been 
swimming?" 
"Her ladyship gave the alarm." 
"Ah! Who put me to bed?" 
"Thomas and the doctor." 
"The doctor? What doctor." 
"They fetched the doctor, Sir Nigel." 
"I see. Thank you, Mary ; the broth was 
very good. Now, where are my clothes? 
I want to get up.^ 
"I will send Thomas, Sir Nigel.' 
Left alone, he pondered. What had they 
told this doctor? Would he also rise, a 
familiar figure, from the well of sub-con- 
scious memory? 



9f 



i8o Returned Empty 

The door opened again. The old butler 
entered, closing it carefully behind him. 

"Thomas, come here. I have been talk- 
ing to Mary." 

"So I hear. Sir Nigel." 

"She tells me the foresters carried me 
up from the shore. Do they know me, 
Thomas ?" 

"No, Sir Nigel. They are young men, 
sons of Fergusson and Graem." 

"I see. How about this doctor?" 

"He has been her laydship's medical at- 
tendant for a matter of twenty-five years. 
Sir Nigel." 

"Twenty-five years ? Ah I What did you 
say to him? How did you explain my 
presence here?" 

"We told him you were an old friend of 
her ladyship's whom she had met abroad." 

"Abroad?" He dived into the well. "Ah, 
yes I That was true, wasn't it ? Where ^" 

"Italy, Sir Nigel." 

"Yes; Florence. Good Lord! What else 
did you tell the doctor?" 



The Deep Well i8i 

"That you dined here last evening, and 
spent the night; went for an early swim 
this morning, and got caught by the cur- 
rent/' 

"Gk)od. Who else — er — remembers, be- 
side you and Mary?*' 

"No one, Sir Nigel. We alone are left, 
of the old staff/' 

"Thomas, bring my clothes. I must get 
up. 

"See the doctor first. Sir Nigel." 

"No need. I am all right. There is 
but one person I want to see. Where is 
she, Thomas?" 

"Her ladyship is in her room, Sir Nigel." 
The old man's face worked. "The doctor 
is with her ladyship." 

"The doctor? What's up, Thomas? Is 
anything wrong?" 

"Wrong? Wrong, Sir Nigel! Merciful 
God !" He wrung his hands helplessly. "It's 
best you should hear it from me, Sir Nigel. 
Our dear lady is dying. We thought she 
was gone when we found her. But the 



i82 Returned Empty 

doctor brought remedies in his bag. He re- 
vived her. She is conscious again, and 
knows us. But he says she can't last 
through the day.'' 

He leapt from the bed, 

"Quick! My clothes." 

"For God's sake, sir, be calml For her 
ladyship's sake; for all our sakes. It will 
seem like madness. Don't do aught that 
might disturb her peace. The country side 
will ring with it. They have talked for 
years. They will say she died insane." 

"My clothes, Thomas." 

"Those you came in are soaked with sea 
water. Sir Nigel. But we have plenty here. 
Her ladyship had them all kept ready, and 
always brushed and aired." 

He went to a chest of drawers and fum- 
bled blindly. 

"Your flannels, Sir Nigel? She would 
like best to see you in what you wore that 
day. The coat you flung to her as you ran 
down the beach, she keeps in her own room. 
But here are others all complete." 



The Deep Well 183 

With trembling hands, he laid them on 
a chain "All you need is here, Sir Nigel." 

"Then leave me, Thomas. But come back 
in five minutes." 

He dressed rapidly. 

"Dying! My wife dying! She shall not 
die. By heaven, she shall not die !" 

As he slipped on the coat, there came a 
quick rap on the door. 

"Yes; come in! Now, Thomas " Ah, 

the doctor. With an effort he pulled him- 
self together. "Good morning." 

"So you're up and dressed? I thought 
you would soon be all right when that 
stupor of exhaustion passed into natural 
sleep. You'll do. I did what I could for 
you, Mr. " 

"My name is Luke Sparrow." 

"Ah, Mr. Sparrow. But my hands were 
full, from the first, with poor Lady Tin- 
tagel. Sad business, very. And the daugh- 
ter and son-in-law went off motoring early 
this morning a four days' tour, leaving no 
address. Haven't traced them yet. Stupid 



184 Returned Empty 

thing to do. Not that she wants them, poor 
lady. And the quieter she is, the better. 
But she is asking for you/' 

The little man jerked over to the window, 
and fussed with the blind cord. 
"Is there immediate danger?" 
"Danger? My dear sir, she is dying, 
would have been dead now, had I not had 
powerful restoratives handy. She can^t 
last out the day. Her heart has been dicky 
for years. Any shock might have done 
this. Thirty years ago her husband was 
drowned before her eyes — ^as you may have 
heard — down on this beach. A most de- 
voted couple, so Fm told. Wrapped up, 
etc. ; you know the sort of thing. The shock 
nearly killed her. Look at that won- 
derful white hair! It isn't age. It was as 
white as it is to-day, when they went to 
her the morning after he was drowned, and 
she only twenty-eight, and beautiful as a 
June morning. I came to these parts a 
couple of years later. Sad case! She re- 
covered physically, bar the heart trouble; 



The Deep Well 185 

but her mind has been touched on one point 
ever since. Always expecting him back. 
Sea give up its dead, I suppose. You know 
the kind of thing? I always say they 
should have let her see the corpse; might 
have cured her. But, after a week in the 
water! Not a pretty sight, you know. 
Acted for the best no doubt. Oh, she never 
speaks of it to me. But people talk you 
know ; say she always keeps his room ready, 
and so forth. Mania, of course, but harm- 
less, poor lady. Why do fine chaps such 
as he, throw away their lives for worthless 
young women; couldn't sail a boat; better 
drowned. Thousand pities. So she watches 
the sea and, I suppose, saw you in difficul- 
ties. Gave her a shock; brought back the 
scene. Thomas and his wife are very close; 
told me nothing. But her maid — nice girl 
- — said she shrieked: *Sir Nigel is drown- 
ing below the cliff; a boat! a rope!' Poor 
soul! Sane enough, now; but heart done 
for.'' 
"May I see her?" 



i86 Returned Empty 

*'Why not ? She keeps asking for you, so 
Mrs. Thomas tells me. She will be gone 
at once, if she makes any effort or sits up. 
But she can't last out the day, and she may 
as well have what she wants and die happy, 
as die, three hours later, wanting it. I had 
a patient once who was dying; apparently 
nothing could save her; and she wanted to 
go out into her garden, lovely garden it 
was, too. Nurses and relations wouldn't 
hear of it. 'Why, doctor, it might kill 
her!' 'Good Lord,' said I, 'and if it does? 
Let her die in the garden, if she wishes. 
Isn't it a sweeter place to die in than her 
bed?' So they carried her out, and blest 
if she didn't rally from that hour and get 
well! Queer things, bodies! Well, I must 
be off. There's nothing further to be done 
here; and I've a baby on hand, waiting to 
enter the world, which is, after aH, of more 
importance than a lady waiting to make her 
exit." 

"Can nothing be done to relieve " 

"She is in no pain, and won't be. I will 



The Deep Well 187 

be back in three hours. You will stay on, 
I suppose, and being an old friend, you can 
sec to things, until these motorists are 
found. A shock for them, but they deserve 
it ; going off and leaving no address ! And, 
between ourselves, they'll be pleased to 
come into the property and the money. 
They Ve not been much to her, nor she to 
them. She was what I called *a one man 
woman.' While she had him, because he 
filled her heart, it was open to all. But 
when she lost him, she lost her all, and 
her empty heart closed to others. That is 
why I curse those French girls; throttling 
that splendid fellow with their foolish fin- 
gers. Who wanted them? And at such a 
cost! Well, goodbye, for the present '* 

"Can you not leave instructions as to 
what is to be done for Lady Tintagel?" 

"The housekeeper has full instructions, 
and I have left stimulating draughts with 
her. Keep the patient quiet. Give her all 
she wants. Do, without question, every- 
thing she asks. Don't let more than one 



i88 Returned Empty 

person be in her room at the same time, 
unless help is needed. Don't attempt to 
move her. She lies where they put her at 
first, on a couch near the window, looking 
out over the sea. I wouldn't let them move 
her. It's such a silly fad always to want 
people to die in their beds. It rejoices 
my heart when I hear of a parson dying 
in the pulpit. Please God, I'll either die in 
^y g^& or on the links. Good-morning, 
Mr. Sparrow. See you later on." 

Silence at last. 

He went over to the window, and leaned 
his forehead against the glass. 

He must go to her now. She wanted 
him, and the time was short. Thank God, 
he would have her alone. Surely Divine 
interposition had given them thus to each 
other. He must just wait until he could be 
sure that the noisy little man, who had 
filled the room with babel, was clear out of 
the house. 

Mrs. Thomas tapped and entered. 



The Deep Well 189 

"Her ladyship asks for you, Sir Nigel. 
She is alone." 

"Shew me her room, Mary/' he said ; but, 
in the same moment, turning from her, 
walked across the room, drew back a cur- 
tain and found the door of communication 
behind it. He opened it. Double doors. 
Yes, of course. She had liked the abso- 
lute security of double doors to their own 
room. 

One moment he waited, took a deep 
breath, laid firm hold upon himself; then 
opened the door, and passed into the quiet 
room beyond. 



SCENE XIII 

"Nevertheless " 



'} 



SCENE xm 

*<IVEVERTH£LESS ** 

SHE lay upon the couch, near the open 
window, very white and still. 
She was gazing out across the sea ; 
but, as he closed the door, she turned her 
eyes and watched him, while he walked 
over to the couch; and those patient eyes 
were so full of unutterable love and long- 
ing, that his throat closed on the words 
he had meant to say. 

He knelt down beside her, took both 
her hands in his» and laid his lips upon 
them. 

"Miriam! Miriam T' 

"Nigel, you do remember?*' 

"Yes, my beloved, my wife, my own — 

thank God, I do remember. And I love 

you with every fibre of my being/* 

193 



194 Returned Empty 

He knew the time , was short There 
must be no delay. 

He drew her wedding-ring from his fin- 
ger, slipped it back to its rightful place, and 
laid his lips on ring and finger together. 

"I love you utterly,'* he said, "and I hold 
you mine for ever/' 

"Nigel, my husband, this time it is I who 
go, and you who remain behind. You will 
be braver than 1.'* 

"My own,'* he answered, "we shall be 
together in the place where alone true joys 
are to be found; safe within the circle of the 
Will of God. Since I left you and went out 
into the sunrise, I, who before was empty, 
have become rich beyond all human com- 
prehension in the possession of three dif- 
ferent memories. I remember the thirty 
years of this present life. I remember the 
precious love which was ours in the life 
before, and, remembering that, my heart 
has grown so rich that I care not to re- 
member aught else of that life, but just the 
utter sweetness of our wedded love. And, 



"Nevertheless " 195 

best of all, it has been granted me to re- 
member something of the wonder of that 
eternal Dwelling Place — ^that short while in 
Eternity, before our great love drew me 
back to Time — ^not in detail, but in its 
larger lines of truth." 

"Ah, tell me that,*' she whispered. "I 
know the precious past. I know much of 
the present. Tell me of the Eternity be- 
tween.*' 

"God's love," he said, "is the great Dwell- 
ing Place; God's Will, the very air we 
breathe. The passionate desire of every 
soul, freed from the earthly prison of the 
flesh, is to return that love, to do that WilL 
The Son of God, walking the earth as man 
— ^though emptied, for the time being, of 
His eternal memory — ^remembered this, and 
gave His fellow men the perfect prayer: 
'Thy will be done in earth, as it is in 
Heaven.' When that prayer finds its com- 
plete fulfilment, earth's hard perplexities 
will all be solved, earth's tears all wiped 
away. His perfect Will ensures man's per- 



196 Returned Empty 

feet joy. The next petition in the pattern 
prayer bears out this thought. 'Give us this 
day our daily bread.' What food is to the 
body, doing the Will of God is to the soul. 
He Who taught us thus to pray, was the 
one man who could say with absolute hon- 
esty: 'My meat is to do the Will of Him 
that sent me.' 

*'A11 souls know this by instinct. The 
sinner knows it in his sin, and fails to find 
in sin a lasting pleasure. The agnostic 
knows it in his search after something 
which can meet and satisfy the craving of 
his mind. The martyr knows it, and laughs 
at the cruel flame. The angels know it, 
and fly swiftly on strong wings. Christ 
knew it, in Gethsemane, and hushed the 
natural protest of his human agony, and 
summed up His life's purpose in those per- 
fect words : 'Nevertheless, not my will, but 
Thine be done.' When the last rebel soul 
has yielded and understood, then the great 
End will come; God will be All in all." 



"Nevertheless—-" 197 

He paused and laid his forehead upon 
her folded hands. 

"My wife, our sacred love must stand 
this test. This is the fire which burns up 
all the dross, but leaves us, as eternal treas- 
ure, the gold and precious stones. 

"Just now I woke, filled with the rapture 
of our love, the joy, beyond all words, of 
having found you. Almost at once, I heard 
that I must lose you. My flesh cried out: 
'I cannot let her go !' Then came the Angel 
of His love and pity, and laid a strength- 
ening hand upon my soul, and said: This 
is God's Will, His perfect way for her and 
you.' BelovM, to that Will we both must 
bow. Thus shall we find our purest joy, and 
love which has no ending." 

"Nigel," she whispered, "I brought you 
back empty, and I leave you desolate." 

He waited till his voice was steady, then 
replied : 

"Listen, sweet wife of mine! Our love 
has brought me Home. Through you there 
comes to me this chance to put myself once 



198 Returned Empty 

more within the Will of God. Together we 
accept, in faith and patience, this parting 
we are called upon to face, and thus atone 
for the mistaken past. Mine is the harder 
part, I know; but I would have it so. I 
left you to the harder part before. I shall 
be lonely, but not desolate. I owe a debt to 
life for thirty selfish, wasted years. If a 
great chance comes, I may pay it soon. 
That will be as Grod wills. But, be the part- 
ing long or short, always I shall know you 
watch and wait for me; and, thanks again 
to you, I shall not be earth-bound; for, 
where my Treasure is, there will my heart 
be also.'* 

At last he lifted his head and looked at 
her. 

Then his courage almost broke. That 
lovely face, so dear, so well-remembered. 
Those lips, parting in soft surrender. The 
tenderness his heart so hungered for, dwell- 
ing upon him in those dying eyes. 

"Oh, I can't!" he said, and hid his face 
against her breast. "My God^ give us one 



"Nevertheless " 199 

year! If it be possible, let this cup pass/' 
She laid her hands upon his head and 

held him close. 
"^Nevertheless ''' she said: "Oh, 

Nigel, finish it!'' 
And, in a voice broken by sobs, he spoke 

the sacred words which make complete a 

brave soul's sacrifice. 



SCENE XIV 

"No Sadness of Farewell" 



SCENE XIV 

<«N0 SADNESS OF FAREWELL" 

THE hours which followed seemed 
to him the nearest approach 
to heaven a man could know 
on earth. 

Sometimes she lay in his arms and gently 
slept; then roused herself to drink what 
Mary brought, and rallying a little, let her 
eyes dwell on his face, as he sat beside her 
in the sunshine, talking softly of many 
things — ^the past, the future; all their love 
had meant; would mean. 

Deep peace enveloped them. Time stood 
still and waited while they drank deeply 
of a fount of love, slaking the thirst of 
years. Words could scarce carry the ten- 
der emotion of all they had to say to one 
another. Because of her great weakness, it 

was chiefly he who spoke and she who lis- 

203 



204 Returned Empty 

tened. But sometimes she rallied, and ut- 
tered words which he knew he would carry 
in his heart for ever. 

Twice he left her; when the doctor re- 
turned amazed to find her still alive, and 
so content; and when she sent for Thomas, 
to bid the faithful old man farewell, and to 
give him last instructions. 

This time, when Luke returned, she 
beckoned to him anxiously. 

"Nigel, all this is yours; the house, the 
property; all should be yours." 

He smiled. "My dearest, no! Not this 
time. You are mine, and I want nothing 
more. I arrived with a knapsack; I shall 
depart with a knapsack. I am just a tramp, 
you know ; but a happy tramp, with a king- 
dom in my heart.'* 

"Nigel — one thing — ^you will not refuse? 
My despatch-box — full of letters — ^yours 
and mine; and the photographs. You will 
take that?" 

Yes, my beloved, I gladly will." 

'A few other things are in it — sacred to 






"No Sadness of FarewelF' 205 

us; a miniature you had done of me the 
year before — ^you went. And lately — I have 
kept — in a sealed envelope — a thousand 
pounds in bank notes, in case of just such 
an emergency as this. Nigel — ^you will? 
To please me? It is all yours, really. You 
might wish to go abroad — ^travel " 

He hesitated. ''Miriam, I have all I 
need.'* Her eyes pleaded. "All right, my 
darling. The case and all that's in it. Your 
gift to me.*' He bent and kissed her flutter- 
ing fingers. ''Don't be troubled, dear 
Heart. Such a perfect thought of yours. 
I will do beautiful things with it; things 
you would have liked to plan. They will 
be my own wife's gifts to me." 

She smiled and closed her eyes, content. 

At sunset he knew their one day was 
over. 

He gave her the draught the doctor had 
left for a last emergency, and momentarily 
she revived. 

Her eyes left his face, to gaze across the 
sea. 



2o6 Returned Empty 

" 'Sunset and evening star/ *' she whis- 
pered, " 'And one dear call for me/ Say 
it, Nigel." 

His great love made him brave. 

He repeated the lines, and the deep, sweet 
music of his voice, as it reached her, held 
no tremor. Only, he looked away across 
the sea; not at the dying face. 

" 'No sadness of farewell'," she said. 
"Nigel, is that possible?" 

Then he turned, smiling bravely. 

"All is possible, my dearest, to a perfect 
love." 

"Oh, raise me," she whispered, "and take 
me in your arms." 

He held her close. 

She lifted her face to his. 

That look of love unspeakable, broke his 
iron self-control. 

His tears fell on her face. 

"I know!" she said, and suddenly her 
voice was strong and full. "My lover and 
my husband ! But it is all joy — ^no sadness, 
really. And such a little while ^" 



SCENE XV 
"The Secrets of Our Hearts" 



SCENE XV 

(<THB SECRETS OF OUR HEARTS" 

THE stranger from the inn stood 
with the mourners at the open 
grave, in the churchyard on the 
hillside. 

The son and daughter glanced across, 
and wondered vaguely who he was, and 
why he stood so near. 

Another coffin, hidden during thirty 
years, had seen the light that day; for the 
bricked grave had been so planned that 
two might lie within it, side by side. 

Into the empty space they lowered the 
new coffin, with its bright silver fittings 
and polished wood, slipping it carefully into 
place beside the one which had rested there 
so long. 

The mourners bent and looked into the 
grave, while the new coffin slowly passed 

211 



212 Returned Empty 

from view; but the stranger kept his eyes 
lifted to the tree tops. His quiet face, so 
striking in its dark beauty, shewed no signs 
of deep emotion; yet, to many there, he 
seemed to be chief mourner. 

iKati tl^at is htrnt of a ioomati t^atb but a tfjbot t 
time to Ifbe, anti to full of mteetp. J^t ttmtify 
ufi, anti Ut tut htAsm, likt a floioet ; ttUtttb ai ft 
ioete a iBC|batipiti» anb nebet tontf nue^ in one itap. 

9ti tbt mi^sit of life toe ate in htattt : of iofiom 
map toe ittii for j?uttout» but of Wbtt, llorti» 
nbo fot our iinsi art fuj$tlp titetileatfeti? 

f^tU <^ llorb (Sob moj^t toIp» <^ Horb moj^t 
mi^tPf0 l^olp anb mo^^t inertfful i^abfour» be- 
Ifber nn not into tfie bitter painiet of eternal beatjb* 

^ou ftnobie^^tt llorb» tbe ettntsi of our 
beartis; leibut not W^p mertfful ear^? to our 
praper; but s^re nif Horb moj^t boIp» <Skib 
moj^t mfgbtp» !<^ bolp anb mertfful ^bfour, 
tSiftm nmsit toortbp 3rubge etemal» sinfUt ui not» 
at our Uit fymx, for an? palm of beatbt to fad 
from tEbee« 

As the handful of earth fell with a sud- 
den thud upon the coffin, the stranger 
started, seemed to awake to the actualities 



"The Secrets of Our Hearts" 213 

around him, took a step forward, and 
looked down into the grave. 

Yes ; side by side they lay — ^the two. One 
looked very grand and new beside the other, 
though careful hands had polished that and 
made it passable, to face the light of day. 

The inscription on the large brass plate 
was clearly legible, and left no doubt as to 
what lay beneath the lid. 

NIGEL GUroO CARDROSS TINTAGEL 

Aged 30 
Drowned August 12th, 1883. 

Greater love hath no man than this: that a 
man lay down his life for his friends. 

While he pondered these words, in solemn 
awe and silence, there fell upon his ears the 
Church's triumphant promise of Life, which 
overcomes the grave ; of faith, which changes 
death to life eternal. 

mtttitvX 4Mb, ^e ^uXf^tx of mtt Eorb 
^tsivA Cfittet, niio a tfit reiBfttnrectfon anti tj^e 



214 Returned Empty 

life; in Wfy^na totoj^oebet belfebetfi tfjball Ifbe, 
tbm^ "bt hit; attdi iofioj^oetier lihtttt, anb belieb- 
etjb in Wttif iBClban not bie etemallp. . . . V&t 
mttUp htitti^ Wbttf 0fattittf toratee ui from 
tfie beatl^ of iin unto t|^e life of ti^ttmisintsisi; 
^aU ^ttn toe sii^aU bepatt QifiS Iff e» bie map te^^t 
in J^im, ea out ^ope in tfite our iisittt hntb 

"This our sister?*' The shadow of a 
smile passed across the dark face, gazing so 
intently at the two coffins. How well he 
knew that the one, whatever its brass plate 
might say, held only a suit of clothes, spoilt 
by sea water, empty and done with. How 
easy it made it for him to realise that this 
new coffin, inscribed 

MIRIAM TINTAGEL 

also held naught save an empty gown — a 
very lovely robe, sacred and precious, be- 
cause worn by her, but nothing more. 

"Miriam, beloved! Do you smile to see 
us standing here in our trappings of woe? 
Can you look back through that open door 
by which you passed into the radiance of 



"The Secrets of Our Hearts" 215 

Eternity, and see this little patch of Time, 
and mark the pomp and ceremony with 
which your worn-out garment is laid to rest 
beside mine? Do you see your husband, 
as he stands looking down upon his own 
coffin ? And do you understand how strange 
is the experience, one through which prob- 
ably no other man has ever passed?'* 

Witt grace of mtt Horti Sftstua CbtiiU anti 
ttft lobe of (fikib, anb tbt ttXUAnsebip of tj^e Holp 
S^nit, be toitft wl all ebeonore* Amen. 

It was over at last, that tenderest of all 
the sacred services in the great Church's 
Liturgy. Living and Dead were alike dis- 
missed with those comprehensive words of 
grace, love, and fellowship; the threefold 
blessing of the Tritme God. 



SCENE XVI 
"Who Was He?" 



'SCENE ZVI 

'*WHO WAS HE?»» 

COLIN and Eva walked down the hill 
together, sympathetic friends and 
' humble dependents standing aside 
to let them pass. 

They talked in low voices, decorously; 
but the sense of relief from tension which 
follows on a funeral, shewed in their 
brightening faces, as they turned with un- 
disguised pleasure toward the beautiful 
house which was now their own possession. 

"Colin, I know why that man's face 
seemed familiar to me. You remember I 
whispered to you when we noticed him in 
the church, that I was certain I had seen 
him before?'* 

"Well? Had you?" 

"No. But — it's very curious. Just as 

we turned from the grave — ^you saw how he 

219 



220 Returned Empty 

stood gazing down at the coffins? — ^he 
looked up, and his eyes met mine. Then I 
remembered. He is extraordinarily like the 
photographs of my father.*' 

"Could he be a relation?" 

"Not that I know of. My father was an 
only child, and I never heard of cousins.'' 

"Well, we can tell Thomas to find out 
who he is. I say, dear ! Won't tea be nice ! 
Let's have it in the Oak Room. I shall 
make that my smoking-room, if you have 
no objection." 



SCENE XVII 
In the Pine Wood 



/ 



SCENE xvn 

IN THE PINE WOOD 

LUKE SPARROW strode through 
the pine woods, taking a short 
cut from the churchyard back to 
the inn. 

His train for the south, left in an hour. 

Hurrying footsteps came behind him. At 
first he took them for an echo of his own; 
then realised that he was being followed, 
and walked the faster. He had no wish 
to be accosted. 

"Sir Nigel ! Sir Nigel !" 

He stopped and turned sharply. 

Old Thomas, breathless, in deepest black, 
was hastening down the stony path. 

"Your pardon. Sir Nigel. May I speak 
with you?" 

'What is it, old friend?" 

"Sir Nigel, you are going? Don't leave 

323 



224 Returned Empty 

us behind, Mary and me. Now we have 
lost our dear lady, we cannot stay here. Al- 
ready there are changes. We shall not be 
wanted. We know too much about our 
lady's ways and wishes. Pipes in the Oak 
Room she never did allow, nor whisky and 
soda in the morning. Her ladyship's last 
word to m6 was: 'If possible, go with Sir 
Nigel, Thomas, you and Mary. You know 
his ways, and I would like to feel Mary 
was there to do his mending and airing, 
and see that he has properly cooked meals.' 
Our dear lady has left an annuity of two 
hundred a year between us, and we have 
our savings, and no enctmibrances, thank 
God. It isn't a question of wages; it's a 
question of home, and the Fam'ly — ^boy and 
man, Sir Nigel, for over fifty years." 

He paused for breath and a pocket-hand- 
kerchief. 

"Your pardon, Sir Nigel." He wiped the 
tears from his furrowed cheeks. "Boy and 
man. Sir Nigel, for half a century. I ran 



In the Pine Wood 225 

beside your pony, sir, as you may remem- 
ber/' 

"I don't remember, Thomas ; but She did ; 
and I have no doubt you do/' 

He considered. 

Was it really Her wish? 

He thought of the thousand pounds in 
bank notes in the despatch-box at the inn. 

"Of course you shall come, old friend; 
and Mary with you. But I have no home, 
as yet. We must make one together. I am 
going south by the express. Could you be 
happy in London? I will find a cosy flat. 
As soon as I have found it, I will send for 
you and Mary.'' 

The old man blew his nose. 

"Beg pardon, Sir Nigel." His relief was 
pathetic. **We felt if we lost you again, 
we lost all. It isn't a matter of money. 
It's service, and our lady's wishes, and love 
of you. Sir Nigel. Boy and man " 

"Right. Tell Mary the thing's settled. 
I'm off in an hour, Thomas. I don't want 
any awkward questions." 



226 Returned Empty 

"True, Sir Nigel. The doctor wanted to 
know why you had left the house before the 
new master and mistress arrived. He had 
counted on you to give them full particulars 
of our lady's last hours. He has been hin- 
dered from coming over tmtil to-day, by a 
very serious case. As I say to Mary, there 
are always dispensations ! But he has gone 
down to the house now. And you were 
noticed at the grave. There will be talk 
in every home by nightfall. Douglas saw 
you, and Fergusson and old Nannie Steer. 
You remember them. Sir Nigel?'' 

No. The sub-conscious well was rapidly 
growing deeper, its memories more elusive. 
Douglas, Fergusson, old Nannie Steer, con- 
veyed nothing to him. Only his Treasure 
in the heavens was inalienably his own. 
But he began to realise how largely his sub- 
consciousness had drawn from hers. With 
her departure from this earthly setting, all 
its memories were fading into dream-like 
vagueness. 

"To see you standing at the grave, Sir 



\ 



\ 



In the Pine Wood 227 



Nigel, looking down at that coffin! It was 
like the Judgment Day. It made my blood 
run cold; and Mary well-nigh swooned/' 

"It need not have, Thomas; any more 
than when I stood looking down into that 
drawer when you shewed me my old suits, 
folded and laid away by careful hands/* 

He stood, looking upwards. A shaft of 
sunlight, piercing through the pines, fell 
on his face. 

'^Neither my wife nor I are in that grave. 
There is no death, old friend. That which 
we call death is fuller life — ^life more 
abundant." 

"Speaking of clothes. Sir Nigel, and such 
like, her ladyship gave me orders to pack 
everything in the dressing-room in two 
trunks and keep them in our quarters until 
I knew where to send them. Her ladyship 
wished you to have the things she had so 
treasured. None ever went into that room, 
save her ladyship and myself; or Mary, if 
Ocir lady was away. So no questions will be 
asked when they find it bare. Her ladyship 



228 Returned Empty 

also gave me a list of furniture she has left 
to me and Mary, meaning it for you; her 
couch in the Oak Room, your pipe-rack, her 
writing-table, her easy chair, and a few 
other things. She dictated the paper and 
signed it that morning while the doctor was 
with her; but she told me, by word of 
mouth, they were left to us, for you/' 

So this was her way of making sure that 
he should have a home, filled with sweet 
memories of her. Oh, Miriam, beloved! 
Now it was for him to find that home, for 
himself and these two faithful souls. 

"Very well, .Thomas. They can come 
with you and Mary when the home is ready. 
I will try for a jolly little house, not a flat. 
It will be more home-like. Whatever she 
wished, or said, or did, is right. Only be 
careful no questions are asked. You know 
what people would say if they knew of the 
happenings of this past week? They would 
say that she, and you, and I, were mad." 

The old man smiled. "It don't matter 
what folk say. Sir Nigel. All that really 



I 



In the Pine Wood 229 

matters, is what our own hearts know; 
and that her ladyship died happy." 

As Luke Sparrow walked on alone, at a 
rapid pace, through the pine woods, he re- 
peated those words to himself. "All that 
really matters is what our own hearts 
know." Aye, how true I That, and one 
thing more. "Thou knowest. Lord, the se- 
crets of our hearts." 



SCENE XVIII 
The Home She Planned 




SCENE xvm 

THB HOME SHE PLANNED ; 

Three months later 
UKE SPARROW sat at his writing- 



table reading "proof/* 
The cosy study was filled with 
books and littered with the work he loved. 

Presently, with noiseless step, entered 
old Thomas; turned on the lights, made 
the fire blaze, stealthily tidied the room, 
moved a small table to the couch, and 
brought in the tea. 

"Take it while it's hot. Sir Nigel/' 

"All right, Thomas/' 

"Mary has made a dish of those ban- 
nocks. Sir Nigel, of which you and her 
ladyship used to be so fond." 

"Mary is a wonder, Thomas. Her mem- 
ory is as excellent as her cooking. All 

right; I'll take half an hour off. I've done 

233 



234 Returned Empty 

a good day's work already. . . . No; don't 
draw the curtains yet awhile. There may 
be some lonely soul passing by, in the cold 
and dark out there, who will enjoy the sight 
of this cosy warmth and brightness. I will 
draw them, when I get back to work/' 

As the old man left the room, closing 
the door behind him, Luke Sparrow pushed 
aside his mass of papers, rose, flung him- 
self upon the couch, stretched his limbs, 
and shook off the strain of long hours of 
concentration. 

A tempting tea tray, arranged with much 
care and thought, was at his elbow. 
Mary's golden bannocks stood for memo- 
ries — ^memories not his own; but he took 
them, on trust, from Mary. 

The room was a perfect combination of 
work and comfort; outside interests and 
home. 

He took a miniature-case from his pocket 
and opened it. Exquisitely painted on 
ivory, the lovely face looked out at him ; the 
lips smiled their message of abiding tender- 



The Home She Planned 235 

ness. It had been painted before the night 
which turned that bright hair white. Of 
all the treasures he had found in the de- 
spatch-box, this meant the most to him. 

He looked long at it now, as he sat alone 
upon that couch on which he had once lain 
with her arms wrapped around him. 

"Miriam, beloved,'' he said, "I think you 
would like this home of ours. And I be- 
lieve you would like my book. And I am 
sure you would be amused to know that 
Mary drags old Thomas out *of an evening' 
to see 'the pictures.' Mary is having the 
time of her life, and Thomas thinks it is 
bad for Mary's soul. But you and I would 
agree that Mary's soul can stand a little 
more gaiety than her life with Thomas has 
hitherto provided. 

"Now I must pour out my own tea from 
your beautiful William the Fourth silver 
teapot, so solid and embossed, and sturdy 
on its little feet, with a pair of acorns on 
the lid. 

"Miriam, do you know how lonely it is 



236 Returned Empty 

to have all this, yet not to have you ? And 
so slowly the months pass; and so many 
years are yet to come, 

"Oh, my beloved ! Send me thoughts of 
hope and patience, and strength to play the 



man/' 



SCENE XIX 

The Great Chance 



<*T^ 



SCENE XIX 

THE GREAT CHANCE 

Ten months later 

LUKE SPARROW, erect and vigor- 
I ous, in the khald uniform which 
had begun to mean so much to Eng- 
land, stood on his study hearth-rug, giving 
final instructions to his old servant. 

I'm in luck, Thomas. So early in the 
day; but I lost no time, and it's Frapce for 
me to-morrow ; and, please God, that means 
Belgium, and in the thick of it. You will 
look after things, till I get back. Don't let 
Mary fret. Give her a cheerful time. 

"If I don't return, my things will come 
back to you. My will is in that drawer. 
Everything will belong to you two faithful 
souls. That is what her ladyship would 

wish. . . . That's all right, Thomas. Yes, I 

239 



240 Returned Empty 

know all about it. Goodbye, old friend. . . . 
"And now send Mary to me. I must 
have one dear woman to hug me goodbye 
before I go!" 



. SCENE XX 

"Coming I" 



SCENE XX 

"COMING r 

Four years later 

A FOREST of white crosses on the 
battlefields of France. 
Two British soldiers moved 
among them, seeking a special name. 
At length they found it. 

Luke Sparrow 

"Ah, here it is! Here he lies. Well, 
there are many above ground, hale and 
hearty, who but for him would be lying as 
he lies to-day; and I'm one of them. 

"Brave? Good Lord, he didn't know 

what fear meant ! Each time he went over 

the top you might have thought he was 

going to his bridal. He used to call this 

bloody war the Great Chance. And such 

243 



244 Returned Empty 

a pal ! Do you mind how it kept our spirits 
up only to look at him, let alone his hand 
on your shoulder or his voice in your ear? 

"But life-saving was his passion. No 
place was too hot for him, if a helpless man 
lay there to be brought in. V.C.? He 
earned it thirty times over! And always 
came through all right. 

"But at last they got him, and no mistake 
about it. Both legs, and through the chest ; 
past operating. 

"I was with him at the end. He'd been 
lying very still, just groaning a bit on the 
quiet; when suddenly he rises up on his 
elbow and shouts, 'Coming!' clear as a 
bugle call. 'Coming!' he says, and falls 
back dead." 

The two stood looking at the simple 
white cross and the grave it marked; then 
turned to watch an old man, in sombre 
clothing, who moved among the graves, 
anxiously seeking. He carried in his hand 
a wreath of immortelles. 

At last he drew near, read Luke Spar- 



"Coming!" 245 

row's name, and, baring his head, fell upon 
his knees beside the cross, and sobbed. 

The soldiers turned away, respecting the 
old man's grief. 

After a while he rose, laid the wreath at 
the foot of the cross, and went his way. 

Luke Sparrow's comrades came back and 
stooped to read what was written on a card 
attached to the wreath. 

"Hullo!" said one, "The old chap has 
made a mistake. See here!'* 

To 
SirNigel Guido CardrossTintagel,Bart., 

in faithful and loving remembrance 

from his humble servants 

Mary and Thomas 

Greater love hath no man than this: that a 
man lay down his life for his friends. 

"Leave it alone," said the other soldier. 
"He was worth a score of barts! Let him 
keep the wreath. 



» 



246 Returned Empty 

Then they also went their way. 

And the winds of God blew gently over 
that forest of plain crosses, bearing the 
vast army of heroic names, which are not 
forgotten before God, but inscribed for 
ever in the Book of Life. 



k 



O years! And Age! Farewell: 

Behold I go, 

Where I do know 
Infinity to dwell. 

And these mine eyes shall see 

All times, how they 

Are lost i' the Sea 
Of vast Eternity. 

Where never Moon shall sway 

The Stars; but she 

And Night, shall be 
Drown'd in one endless Day. 



Robert Herrick (1629). 



-» The Author of "The Rosary"^ 

Florence L Barclay 

If sales are a criterion of popularity, Mrs. Barclay's 
novels have certainly achieved a prodigious success. 

The publication of her books has now reached 
upwards of 2,000,000 copies, with an ever growing 
demand. And aU of this is due to the author's 
extraordinarv ability in handling her theme, for her 
genius in blending material luxury and spiritual 
m3rstery, and for her skillful workmg out of well 
rounded plots. 

Here is a list of Mrs. Barclay's books : 

Returned Empty 

The Rosary 

The Mistress of Shenstone 

Through the Postern Gate 

The Upas Tree 

The Broken Halo 

The Following of the Star 

The WaU of Partition 

The White Ladies of Worcester 

Shorter Works: 

In Hoc Signo Vince 
My Heart's Right There 



New York G. P. Putliam'S SoilS London 



Ji List of Good Fiction 

Sunny DuCrOW By Henry St. John Cooper 

The story of a factory girl, a merry madcap, who by 
sheer force of character becomes stage star and successful 
businesswoman. 



The Tidal Wave 



By Ethel M. Dell 



Ethel Dell writes fiction the whole world reads. Here 
are six of her "long short " stories, each one containing 
unusual and strikingly dramatic situations. 



A Pawn in Pawn 



By BUda M. Sharp 



The romance of a young girl rescued, from a convent for 
illegitimate children, by a poet, and of her stormy but 
successful attainment. 

Jane By Anna Alloa Chapin 

A real American novel. Sentiment without sentimen- 
tality; drama without melodrama; happy but not gushing. 

The Rose 

of Jericho By Rath Holt Boaclcaalt 

A brilliant novel of stage life, with an unusual and un- 
conventional heroine. A frankly daring discussion of the 
sex problem. 



The Gate 

of Falfillment 



By Knowlea Rldsdale 



The charming, amusing, and original story of a semi- 
invalid and his secretary companion. 

Poor Dear Theodora By Florence IrwIn 

The romance of a young girl who breaks away from her 
humdrum environment to find adventure and happiness at 
tiie end of the road. 



New York G. P. Putnam*S Sons London 



Romanem 

Loom 

Mdvmnturm 

Myatmry 

intrlgum 



Ethel M. DeU 



Her Full Length Noo€ts 



Ethel DeUis 
universally 
recognised 
as one of the 
leading 
novelists cf 
the day. 
T hou g h 
each new 
booh meets 
with a wider 
popularity 
than the 
last, the 
older boohs 
are in in- 
creasingly 
popular de- 
mand also. 



The Top of the World 
The Lamp in the Desert 
Greatheart 

The Hundredth Chance 
The Keeper of the Door 
The Rocks of Valpre 
The Knave of Diamonds 
The Way of an Eagle 



Her Shorter Stories 



Ethel DeU 
writes JU- 
t io n the 
whole world 
reads, and 
almost alio/ 
her "long- 
short" sto- 
ries have 
been filmed. 



The Swindler 

The Safety Curtain 

The Tidal Wave 



New Yoric G. P. Putliam's Sons London 



1 



A List of Good Fiction 

The Cruise 

of the Scandal By victor Bridges 

Amusing and colorful stories of action, and fantastic ad- 
ventures, by the clever author of Ihe Lady from Long 
Acret A Rogue by Compulsion, etc. 

The Treasure of the 

Isle of Mist By W. W. Tam 

An exquisite fantasy contrived with delicious humor, 
with a lovable heroine who has a "warm heart and a 
largish size in shoes." 

The Substance 

of a Dream By p. w. Bain 

A gorgeously exotic story from the Hindu, in which a 
marvelously beautiful Queen amuses herself with many 
lovers until she meets one who " loves with hatred instead 
of love." 

Trallln* By Max Brand 

Hey wood Broun of the New York Tribune declares this 
one of the best Western stories he ever read. 

The Gold Girl By James B. Hendryz 

A man's size novel of the West in which a lost mine, a 
mysterious jug, and a distinctly original type of hero play 
important parts. 

A Critic in Pall Mall By Oscar wiide 

Essays and criticisms collected from the PaU Mall 
Gazette and other sources. Never before published in book 
form. This volume completes our 15-volume set of the 
works of Oscar Wilde. Semi-flexible doth or flexible 
leather. 

The Wonderful Adventures of Phra 

the Phoenician By Edwin Lester Arnold 

An Arabian Nights entertainment equal in its field to 
anything this writer's distinguished father, author of The 
Light of Asia, ever conceived. The fantastic chronicle of 
a character who existed in many eras. 



New York O. P. Putnam's Sons London 



Sheepskins and Grey 

Russet 

By 

E. Temple Thurston 

Author of ''The City of Beautiful Nontente,** ''The 
World of Wonderful Reality," "David and 

Jonathan," etc 

^. Illustrated throughout by ktnlle Verpilleux 

" Our clothing is good sheepskins 
Grey russet for our wives." 

Corridon's soog Itom the " Coa^kat Angler" 



A whimsical, wholly delightful adventurous 
assay at country life. This volume carries on 
in a delectable fashion all that ezquisiteness 
in writing that characterized an earlier book, 
The Open Window, The story progresses from 
the bujring of the old farm through all the 
humorous entangling mysteries that enhearten 
and confound the amateur householder. 



G. P. Putiiam's Sons 

New York London 



The Treasure of the 
Isle of Mist 



A Tale of the Isle of Skye 

By 

W.W.Tam 



S" 



An exquisite fantasy contrived with delicious 
hiMor with a lovable small heroine who has **a 
warm heart and a largish size in shoes '' — a tale 
of utmost charm and much of the lore of the 
East and West that has filled the story-books 
of the world. Here is a magic which calls to 
young and old alike. You will love Fiona and 
her father the Student and undoubtedly you 
will be well disposed toward the Urchin — ^but 
whether you will, care for Jeconiah — ^well you 
must decide that for yourself. 



G. P. Putnam's Sons 



New York 



London 



David and Jonathan 

By 

E. Temple Thurston 

Andior of ''The City of Beautifiil NonseoMP* 



The two friends, so different in temperament 
and physique, but one in understanding — 
last to leave the burning ship, are finally 
thrown half dead on scorching African sands. 

Six days later a ship's boat plunges through 
the breakers containing six bodies, appa- 
rently dead from hunger and thirst — ^but one 
breathes, a woman. Face to face with the 
eternal impulses of life, these three souls, 
completely isolated from the civilized world, 
work out their destiny through the instincts 
and impulses of primitive man. A fan- 
tastic tale, yet real and plausible, thrilling in 
parts, and as whimsical as The Gty of BeauH^ 
ful Nonsense, 



G. P. Putnam's Sons 



New York 



London 



The Beloved Sinner 



By 

Rachel Swete Macnamara 

Antlior of th« Tringe of the Desert,'' ^The Torch of 
Ufe^" and «*Driftiiig Waters" 



One of the very prettiest of spring- 
time romances — a tale of exuberant 
young spirits intoxicated with the 
springtime of living, of love gone ad- 
venturing on the rough road — a story, 
humorous with the gay impudences 
of a young Eve who is half-afraid and 
altogether delighted with her fairy- 
prince. 

G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York London 






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