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"How did you get to know him, Hessy?" he asked, all agog.

"I don't know him. I never saw him in my life, and I don't suppose I ever shall. But a cousin of ours turned Catholic some years ago, and we heard he had become a monk. Mamma and I were talking about him one day, and we wondered how he liked it-he was rather a harum-scarum, fellow as a lad-and I wrote to him, at Mount St. Bernard's Abbey in Leicestershire-that was the name of his monastery. The Abbot wrote back and said that Stumpy-Father Aidan-died last year, and told me all about him. He praised Stumpy very much, and said he had died quite in the odour of sanctity. So I wrote again and thanked the Abbot, and he wrote again sending a prayer book that poor Stumpy had used-we always call him Stumpy, for, of course, we never knew Father Aidan; so I had to thank him, and sent another letter, in which I said I wondered what the Cistercian dress (they're Cistercians at Mount St. Bernard's) was like. Then the Abbot wrote again, saying he was sorry he had no portrait of Father Aidan, or he would send it; but one of the monks had taken photographs of himself and he sent

two; one showed him in the plain monk's dress, the same as Stumpy wore, and the other in a cope and mitre, with a crozier in his hand. Of course I had to thank again, and he wrote back sending three or four little books that Stumpy had brought with him to the monastery.


Quite a correspondence, eh?" chuckled Hessy's mother, "but it's quite proper, for the Abbot seems old enough to be her grandfather."

Hessy went to an old bureau in a recess by the fireplace, and brought the monk's letters and books and photographs to show to Fernando.

The little portraits showed, as Mrs. Thrush had said, an old man, not at all handsome, but with a good plain face wonderfully gentle and kind-looking. It was not the face of a learned don, perhaps not that of a specially clever man, but it was exactly that of a contemplative monk; humble, patient, very sweet-of one who for long years had been listening to Him who said, “Learn of me, for I am meek amd lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls." The whole face, and the attitude, too, expressed rest and trust, a serene happiness across which the

tender shadow of the Cross lay gently and softly, and a singular rare quietness that was like a divine signature to a silent pact. "Because thou hast given me all thyself, I give Myself, who am All to thee." To look on such a face, and read it, might be a salve for the dry smart of hurt ambition.

I do not know whether the letters most interpreted the portraits or the portraits the letters. Hessy had given the occasion of the letters rather than their substance. They were all short, but that in which the old monk told of the young monk's brief and blessed life in the cloister was like a tiny faultless picture of contemplative religion. Nothing, somehow, could have been a fitter medium of conveyance for it than the handwriting small, plain and clear, without the least ornament or the least erasure or amendment. The phrases were the simplest anyone could choose, and there was hardly any epithet. Even the thin, cheap paper and the ink, not black and staring, but rather pale and gray, seemed to suit and be of a piece with the writer. Fernando had just been reading aloud, in the " Mill on the Floss," the wonderful passages where are described Maggie's reading of the Imitation, and to him it seemed

that a quiet voice, like that of its writer, was breathing still through the old monk's letters to this girl. Except in a certain unfitness for her surroundings, a sort of hopeless angry protest against them, Hessy Thrush had no likeness to Maggie Tulliver. And nothing could be less like stout, whimpering Mrs. Tulliver than Hessy's mother. Yet for all that, to Fernando it half appeared as though the "quiet voice" from the same place was trying to bring the same message : "Know that the love of thyself doth hurt thee more than anything in the world."

Certainly the world seemed remote enough in that old, faded drawing-room; hardly anything could have been more still. The window was wide open, but scarcely any sound came through it but such as might be called a ripple in the dozing silence. No voice came from the little street, no echo of a footfall. Opposite, behind a high wall, was a big garden full of fruit trees, with no wind in them. A tall laburnum close to the wall flung long golden chains over it that hung quite motionless. Inside the little room there was nothing to hear except the girl's needle as she drew her thread through the thing she was making the old, old

lady sat quite motionless; and the lad, reading, never made a sound-the paper of the letters was so thin and soft it gave no crackle in his hand. Once the hour struck, in the belfry of the church beyond the hill, and the chimes played the tune of the hymn,


Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty," but distance gave the deliberate slow music a softness as remote as that of an echo in a dream.

And yet

Motionless sat the old lady, upright, in her high-backed chair, her withered gray hands upon its arms; her shining dark eyes, exaggerated by the strong black brows, were directed outwards towards the tall pear trees in the garden over the way, and they gave the impression that inward she could not look. Forward they could not look any distance, and still see anything this world can show; backward they really looked, and not contentedly. She saw behind her, on the almost finished road, little that had been as she would have chosen to have it. Very handsome still, proud, clever, too, exquisitely dainty and refined, she made one think of an ex-queen who didn't like it; and she had never been of much consequence.


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