Winston Churchill.

Inside of the Cup, the — Volume 04 online

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Produced by David Widger


By Winston Churchill

Volume 4.





Hodder fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, awaking during the night at
occasional intervals to recall chimerical dreams in which the events of
the day before were reflected, but caricatured and distorted. Alison
Parr was talking to the woman in the flat, and both were changed, and yet
he identified both: and on another occasion he saw a familiar figure
surrounded by romping, ragged children - a figure which turned out to be
Eldon Parr's!

Finally he was aroused by what seemed a summons from the unknown - the
prolonged morning whistle of the shoe factory. For a while he lay as one
benumbed, and the gradual realization that ensued might be likened to the
straining of stiffened wounds. Little by little he reconstructed, until
the process became unbearable, and then rose from his bed with one object
in mind, - to go to Horace Bentley. At first - he seized upon the excuse
that Mr. Bentley would wish to hear the verdict of Dr. Jarvis, but
immediately abandoned it as dishonest, acknowledging the true reason,
that in all the - world the presence of this one man alone might assuage
in some degree the terror in his soul. For the first time in his life,
since childhood, he knew a sense of utter dependence upon another human
being. He felt no shame, would make no explanation for his early visit.

He turned up Tower, deliberately avoiding Dalton Street in its lower
part, reached Mr. Bentley's door. The wrinkled, hospitable old darky
actually seemed to radiate something of the personality with which he had
so long been associated, and Hodder was conscious of a surge of relief,
a return of confidence at sight of him. Yes, Mr. Bentley was at home,
in the dining room. The rector said he would wait, and not disturb him.

"He done tole me to bring you out, sah, if you come," said Sam.

"He expects me?" exclaimed Hodder, with a shock of surprise.

"That's what he done tole me, sah, to ax you kindly for to step out when
you come."

The sun was beginning to penetrate into the little back yard, where the
flowers were still glistening with the drops of their morning bath; and
Mr. Bentley sat by the window reading his newspaper, his spectacles on
his nose, and a great grey cat rubbing herself against his legs. He rose
with alacrity.

"Good morning, sir," he said, and his welcome implied that early morning
visits were the most common and natural of occurrences. "Sam, a plate
for Mr. Hodder. I was just hoping you would come and tell me what Dr.
Jarvis had said about the case."

But Hodder was not deceived. He believed that Mr. Bentley understood
perfectly why he had come, and the knowledge of the old gentleman's
comprehension curiously added to his sense of refuge. He found himself
seated once more at the mahogany table, permitting Sam to fill his cup
with coffee.

"Jarvis has given a favourable report, and he is coming this morning
himself, in an automobile, to take the boy out to the hospital."

"That is like Jarvis," was Mr. Bentley's comment. "We will go there,
together, after breakfast, if convenient for you," he added.

"I hoped you would," replied the rector. "And I was going to ask
you a favour. I have a check, given me by a young lady to use at my
discretion, and it occurred to me that Garvin might be willing to accept
some proposal from you." He thought of Nan Ferguson, and of the hope he
lead expressed of finding some one in Dalton Street.

"I have been considering the matter," Mr. Bentley said. "I have a friend
who lives on the trolley line a little beyond the hospital, a widow. It
is like the country there, you know, and I think Mrs. Bledsoe could be
induced to take the Garvins. And then something can be arranged for him.
I will find an opportunity to speak to him this morning."

Hodder sipped his coffee, and looked out at the morning-glories opening
to the sun.

"Mrs. Garvin was alone last night. He had gone out shortly after we
left, and had not waited for the doctor. She was greatly worried."

Hodder found himself discussing these matters on which, an hour before,
he had feared to permit his mind to dwell. And presently, not without
feeling, but in a manner eliminating all account of his personal
emotions, he was relating that climactic episode of the woman at the
piano. The old gentleman listened intently, and in silence.

"Yes," he said, when the rector had finished, "that is my observation.
Most of them are driven to the life, and held in it, of course, by a
remorseless civilization. Individuals may be culpable, Mr. Hodder - are
culpable. But we cannot put the whole responsibility on individuals."

"No," Hodder assented, "I can see that now." He paused a moment, and as
his mind dwelt upon the scene and he saw again the woman standing before
him in bravado, the whole terrible meaning of her life and end flashed
through him as one poignant sensation. Her dauntless determination to
accept the consequence of her acts, her willingness to look her future in
the face, cried out to him in challenge.

"She refused unconditionally," he said.

Mr. Bentley seemed to read his thought, divine his appeal.

"We must wait," he answered.

"Do you think? - " Hodder began, and stopped abruptly.

"I remember another case, somewhat similar," said Mr. Bentley. "This
woman, too, had the spirit you describe - we could do nothing with her.
We kept an eye on her - or rather Sally Grover did - she deserves credit
- and finally an occasion presented itself."

"And the woman you speak of was - rehabilitated?" Hodder asked.
He avoided the word "saved."

"Yes, sir. It was one of the fortunate cases. There are others which
are not so fortunate."

Hodder nodded.

"We are beginning to recognize that we are dealing, in, many instances,
with a disease," Mr. Bentley went on. "I am far from saying that it
cannot be cured, but sometimes we are forced to admit that the cure is
not within our power, Mr. Hodder."

Two thoughts struck the rector simultaneously, the: revelation of what
might be called a modern enlightenment in one of Mr. Bentley's age, an
indication of uninterrupted growth, of the sense of continued youth which
had impressed him from the beginning; and, secondly, an intimation from
the use of the plural pronoun we, of an association of workers (informal,
undoubtedly) behind Mr. Bentley. While he was engaged in these
speculations the door opened.

"Heah's Miss Sally, Marse Ho'ace," said Sam.

"Good morning, Sally," said Mr. Bentley, rising from the table with his
customary courtesy, "I'm glad you came in. Let me introduce Mr. Hodder,
of St. John's."

Miss Grover had capability written all over her. She was a young woman
of thirty, slim to spareness, simply dressed in a shirtwaist and a dark
blue skirt; alert, so distinctly American in type as to give a suggestion
of the Indian. Her quick, deep-set eyes searched Hodder's face as she
jerked his hand; but her greeting was cordial, and, matter-of-fact. She
stimulated curiosity.

"Well, Sally, what's the news?" Mr. Bentley asked.

"Gratz, the cabinet-maker, was on the rampage again, Mr. Bentley. His
wife was here yesterday when I got home from work, and I went over with
her. He was in a beastly state, and all the niggers and children in the
neighbourhood, including his own, around the shop. Fusel oil, labelled
whiskey," she explained, succinctly.

"What did you do?"

"Took the bottle away from him," said Miss Grower. The simplicity of
this method, Holder thought, was undeniable. "Stayed there until he came
to. Then I reckon I scared him some."

"How?" Mr. Bentley smiled.

"I told him he'd have to see you. He'd rather serve three months than do
that - said so. I reckon he would, too," she declared grimly. "He's
better than he was last year, I think." She thrust her hand in the
pocket of her skirt and produced some bills and silver, which she
counted. "Here's three thirty-five from Sue Brady. I told her she
hadn't any business bothering you, but she swears she'd spend it."

"That was wrong, Sally."

Miss Grower tossed her head.

"Oh, she knew I'd take it, well enough."

"I imagine she did," Mr. Bentley replied, and his eyes twinkled. He rose
and led the way into the library, where he opened his desk, produced a
ledger, and wrote down the amount in a fine hand.

"Susan Brady, three dollars and thirty-five cents. I'll put it in the
savings bank to-day. That makes twenty-two dollars and forty cents for
Sue. She's growing rich."

"Some man'll get it," said Sally.

"Sally," said Mr. Bentley, turning in his chair, "Mr. Holder's been
telling me about a rather unusual woman in that apartment house just
above Fourteenth Street, on the south side of Dalton."

"I think I know her - by sight," Sally corrected herself. She appealed.
to Holder. "Red hair, and lots of it - I suppose a man would call it
auburn. She must have been something of a beauty, once."

The rector assented, in some astonishment.

"Couldn't do anything with her, could you? I reckoned not. I've noticed
her up and down Dalton Street at night."

Holder was no longer deceived by her matter-of-fact tone.

"I'll tell you what, Mr. Holder," she went on, energetically, "there's
not a particle of use running after those people, and the sooner you find
it out the less worry and trouble you give yourself."

"Mr. Holder didn't run after her, Sally," said Mr. Bentley, in gentle

Holder smiled.

"Well," said Miss Grower, "I've had my eye on her. She has a history
- most of 'em have. But this one's out of the common. When they're brazen
like that, and have had good looks, you can nearly always tell. You've.
got to wait for something to happen, and trust to luck to be on the spot,
or near it. It's a toss-up, of course. One thing is sure, you can't
make friends with that kind if they get a notion you're up to anything."

"Sally, you must remember - " Mr. Bentley began.

Her tone became modified. Mr. Bentley was apparently the only human of
whom she stood in awe.

"All I meant was," she said, addressing the rector, "that you've got to
run across 'em in some natural way."

"I understood perfectly, and I agree with you," Holder replied. "I have
come, quite recently, to the same conclusion myself."

She gave him a penetrating glance, and he had to admit, inwardly, that a
certain satisfaction followed Miss Grower's approval.

"Mercy, I have to be going," she exclaimed, glancing at the black marble
clock on the mantel. "We've got a lot of invoices to put through to-day.
See you again, Mr. Holder." She jerked his hand once more. "Good
morning, Mr. Bentley."

"Good morning, Sally."

Mr. Bentley rose, and took his hat and gold-headed stick from the rack in
the hall.

"You mustn't mind Sally," he said, when they had reached the sidewalk.
"Sometimes her brusque manner is not understood. But she is a very
extraordinary woman."

"I can see that," the rector assented quickly, and with a heartiness
that dispelled all doubt of his liking for Miss Grower. Once more many
questions rose to his lips, which he suppressed, since Mr. Bentley
volunteered no information. Hodder became, in fact, so lost in
speculation concerning Mr. Bentley's establishment as to forget the
errand on which - they were bound. And Sally Grower's words, apropos of
the woman in the flat, seemed but an energetic driving home of the severe
lessons of his recent experiences. And how blind he had been, he
reflected, not to have seen the thing for himself! Not to have realized
the essential artificiality of his former method of approach! And then
it struck him that Sally Grower herself must have had a history.

Mr. Bentley, too, was preoccupied.

Presently, in the midst of these thoughts, Hodder's eyes were arrested by
a crowd barring the sidewalk on the block ahead; no unusual sight in that
neighbourhood, and yet one which aroused in him sensations of weakness
and nausea. Thus were the hidden vice and suffering of these sinister
places occasionally brought to light, exposed to the curious and morbid
stares of those whose own turn might come on the morrow. It was only by
degrees he comprehended that the people were gathered in front of the
house to which they were bound. An ambulance was seen to drive away: it
turned into the aide street in front of them.

"A city ambulance!" the rector exclaimed.

Mr. Bentley did not reply.

The murmuring group which overflowed the uneven brick pavement to the
asphalt was characteristic: women in calico, drudges, women in wrappers,
with sleepy, awestricken faces; idlers, men and boys who had run out of
the saloons, whose comments were more audible and caustic, and a fringe
of children ceaselessly moving on the outskirts. The crowd parted at
their approach, and they reached the gate, where a burly policeman, his
helmet in his hand, was standing in the morning sunlight mopping his face
with a red handkerchief. He greeted Mr. Bentley respectfully, by name,
and made way for them to pass in.

"What is the trouble, Ryan?" Mr. Bentley asked.

"Suicide, sir," the policeman replied. "Jumped off the bridge this
morning. A tug picked him up, but he never came to - the strength wasn't
in him. Sure it's all wore out he was. There was a letter on him, with
the home number, so they knew where to fetch him. It's a sad case, sir,
with the woman in there, and the child gone to the hospital not an hour

"You mean Garvin?" Mr. Bentley demanded.

"It's him I mean, sir."

"We'd like to go in," said Mr. Bentley. "We came to see them."

"You're welcome, air, and the minister too. It's only them I'm holdin'
back," and the policeman shook his stick at the people.

Mr. Bentley walked up the steps, and took off his hat as he went through
the battered doorway. Hodder followed, with a sense of curious faces
staring at them from the thresholds as they passed; they reached the
upper passage, and the room, and paused: the shutters were closed, the
little couch where the child had been was empty. On the bed lay a form
- covered with a sheet, and beside it a woman kneeling, shaken by sobs,
ceaselessly calling a name . . . .

A stout figure, hitherto unperceived, rose from a corner and came
silently toward them - Mrs. Breitmann. She beckoned to them, and they
followed her into a room on the same floor, where she told them what she
knew, heedless of the tears coursing ceaselessly down her cheeks.

It seemed that Mrs. Garvin had had a premonition which she had not wholly
confided to the rector. She had believed her husband never would come
back; and early in the morning, in spite of all that Mrs. Breitmann could
do, had insisted at intervals upon running downstairs and scanning the
street. At half past seven Dr. Jarvis had come and himself carried down
the child and put him in the back of his automobile. The doctor had had
a nurse with him, and had begged the mother to accompany them to the
hospital, saying that he would send her back. But she would not be
persuaded to leave the house. The doctor could not wait, and had finally
gone off with little. Dicky, leaving a powder with Mrs. Breitmann for
the mother. Then she had become uncontrollable.

"Ach, it was terrible!" said the kind woman. "She was crazy, yes - she
was not in her mind. I make a little coffee, but she will not touch it.
All those things about her home she would talk of, and how good he was,
and how she lofed him more again than the child.

"Und then the wheels in the street, and she makes a cry and runs to see
- I cannot hold her . . . ."

"It would be well not to disturb her for a while," said Mr. Bentley,
seating himself on one of the dilapidated chairs which formed apart of
the German woman's meagre furniture. "I will remain here if you, Mr.
Hodder, will make the necessary arrangements for the funeral. Have you
any objections, sir?"

"Not at all," replied the rector, and left the house, the occupants of
which had already returned to the daily round of their lives: the rattle
of dishes and the noise of voices were heard in the 'ci devant' parlour,
and on the steps he met the little waif with the pitcher of beer; in the
street the boys who had gathered around the ambulance were playing
baseball. Hodder glanced up, involuntarily, at the window of the woman
he had visited the night before, but it was empty. He hurried along the
littered sidewalks to the drug store, where he telephoned an undertaker;
and then, as an afterthought, telephoned the hospital. The boy had
arrived, and was seemingly no worse for the journey.

All this Hodder performed mechanically. Not until he was returning - not,
indeed, until he entered the house did the whiff of its degrading, heated
odours bring home to him the tragedy which it held, and he grasped the
banister on the stairs. The thought that shook him now was of the
cumulative misery of the city, of the world, of which this history on
which he had stumbled was but one insignificant incident. But he went on
into Mrs. Breitmann's room, and saw Mr. Bentley still seated where he had
left him. The old gentleman looked up at him.

"Mrs. Breitmann and I are agreed, Mr. Hodder, that Mrs. Garvin ought not
to remain in there. What do you think?"

"By all means, no," said the rector.

The German woman burst into a soliloquy of sympathy that became

"She will not leave him, - nein - she will not come. . . ."

They went, the three of them, to the doorway of the death chamber and
stood gazing at the huddled figure of the woman by the bedside. She had
ceased to cry out: she was as one grown numb under torture; occasionally
a convulsive shudder shook her. But when Mrs. Breitmann touched her,
spoke to her, her grief awoke again in all its violence, and it was more
by force than persuasion that she was finally removed. Mrs. Breitmann
held one arm, Mr. Bentley another, and between them they fairly carried
her out, for she was frail indeed.

As for Hodder, something held him back - some dread that he could not at
once define. And while he groped for it, he stood staring at the man on
the bed, for the hand of love had drawn back the sheet from the face.
The battle was over of this poor weakling against the world; the torments
of haunting fear and hate, of drink and despair had triumphed. The sight
of the little group of toys brought up the image of the home in Alder
Street as the wife had pictured it. Was it possible that this man, who
had gone alone to the bridge in the night, had once been happy, content
with life, grateful for it, possessed of a simple trust in his
fellow-men - in Eldon Parr? Once more, unsummoned, came the memory of that
evening of rain and thunder in the boy's room at the top of the great
horse in Park Street. He had pitied Eldon Parr then. Did he now?

He crossed the room, on tiptoe, as though he feared to wake once more
this poor wretch to his misery and hate, Gently he covered again the face
with the sheet.

Suddenly he knew the reason of his dread, - he had to face the woman!
He was a minister of Christ, it was his duty to speak to her, as he had
spoken to others in the hour of sorrow and death, of the justice and
goodness of the God to whom she had prayed in the church. What should he
say, now? In an agony of spirit, he sat down on the little couch beside
the window and buried his face in his hands. The sight of poor Garvin's
white and wasted features, the terrible contrast between this miserable
tenement and the palace with its unseen pictures and porcelains and
tapestries, brought home to him with indescribable poignancy his own
predicament. He was going to ask this woman to be comforted by faith and
trust in the God of the man who had driven her husband to death! He
beheld Eldon Parr in his pew complacently worshipping that God, who had
rewarded him with riches and success - beheld himself as another man in
his white surplice acquiescing in that God, preaching vainly . . . .

At last he got to his feet, went out of the room, reached the doorway of
that other room and looked in. Mr. Bentley sat there; and the woman,
whose tears had ceased to flow, was looking up into his face.


"The office ensuing," says the Book of Common Prayer, meaning the Burial
of the Dead, "is not to be used for any Unbaptized adult, any who die
excommunicate, or who have laid violent hands on themselves."

Hodder had bought, with a part of Nan Ferguson's money, a tiny plot in a
remote corner of Winterbourne Cemetery. And thither, the next morning,
the body of Richard Garvin was taken.

A few mourners had stolen into the house and up the threadbare stairs
into the miserable little back room, somehow dignified as it had never
been before, and laid their gifts upon the coffin. An odd and pitiful
assortment they were - mourners and gifts: men and women whose only bond
with the man in life had been the bond of misery; who had seen him as he
had fared forth morning after morning in the hopeless search for work,
and slunk home night after night bitter and dejected; many of whom had
listened, jeeringly perhaps, to his grievance against the world, though
it were in some sort their own. Death, for them, had ennobled him. The
little girl whom Hodder had met with the pitcher of beer came tiptoeing
with a wilted bunch of pansies, picked heaven knows where; stolen, maybe,
from one of the gardens of the West End. Carnations, lilies of the
valley, geraniums even - such were the offerings scattered loosely on the
lid until a woman came with a mass of white roses that filled the room
with their fragrance, - a woman with burnished red hair. Hodder started
as he recognized her; her gaze was a strange mixture of effrontery and
- something else; sorrow did not quite express it. The very lavishness of
her gift brought to him irresistibly the reminder of another offering.
. . . . She was speaking.

"I don't blame him for what he done - I'd have done it, too, if I'd been
him. But say, I felt kind of bad when I heard it, knowing about the kid,
and all. I had to bring something - "

Instinctively Hodder surmised that she was in doubt as to the acceptance
of her flowers. He took them from her hand, and laid them at the foot of
the coffin.

"Thank you," he said, simply.

She stared at him a moment with the perplexity she had shown at times on
the night he visited her, and went out. . .

Funerals, if they might be dignified by this name, were not infrequent
occurrences in Dalton Street, and why this one should have been looked
upon as of sufficient importance to collect a group of onlookers at the
gate it is difficult to say. Perhaps it was because of the seeming
interest in it of the higher powers - for suicide and consequent widows
and orphans were not unknown there. This widow and this orphan were to
be miraculously rescued, were to know Dalton Street no more. The rector
of a fashionable church, of all beings, was the agent in the miracle.
Thus the occasion was tinged with awe. As for Mr. Bentley, his was a
familiar figure, and had been remarked in Dalton Street funerals before.

They started, the three mourners, on the long drive to the cemetery,
through unfrequented streets lined with mediocre dwellings, interspersed
with groceries and saloons - short cuts known only to hearse drivers: they
traversed, for some distance, that very Wilderness road where Mr.
Bentley's old-fashioned mansion once had stood on its long green slope,
framed by ancient trees; the Wilderness road, now paved with hot blocks
of granite over which the carriage rattled; spread with car tracks,
bordered by heterogeneous buildings of all characters and descriptions,
bakeries and breweries, slaughter houses and markets, tumble-down
shanties, weedy corner lots and "refreshment-houses" that announced
"Lager Beer, Wines and Liquors." At last they came to a region which was
neither country nor city, where the road-houses were still in evidence,
where the glass roofs of greenhouses caught the burning rays of the sun,
where yards filled with marble blocks and half-finished tombstones
appeared, and then they turned into the gates of Winterbourne.

Like the city itself, there was a fashionable district in Winterbourne:
unlike the city, this district remained stationary. There was no soot
here, and if there had been, the dead would not have minded it. They
passed the Prestons and the Parrs; the lots grew smaller, the tombstones
less pretentious; and finally they came to an open grave on a slope where

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Online LibraryWinston ChurchillInside of the Cup, the — Volume 04 → online text (page 1 of 5)