"THERE IS NOTHING HIDDEN WHICH SHALL NOT BE REVEALED"
A fortnight had passed since they had come to Hamley—David, Eglington, and
Hylda—and they had all travelled a long distance in mutual understanding during
that time, too far, thought Luke Claridge, who remained neutral and silent. He
would not let Faith go to the Cloistered House, though he made no protest
against David going; because he recognised in these visits the duty of diplomacy
and the business of the nation—more particularly David's business, which, in his
eyes, swallowed all. Three times David had gone to the Cloistered House; once
Hylda and he had met in the road leading to the old mill, and once at Soolsby's
hut. Twice, also, in the garden of his old home he had seen her, when she came
to visit Faith, who had captured her heart at once. Eglington and Faith had not
met, however. He was either busy in his laboratory, or with his books, or riding
over the common and through the woods, and their courses lay apart.
But there came an afternoon when Hylda and David were a long hour together at
the Cloistered House. They talked freely of his work in Egypt. At last she said:
"And Nahoum Pasha?"
"He has kept faith."
"He is in high place again?"
"He is a good administrator."
"You put him there!"
"Thee remembers what I said to him, that night in Cairo?"
Hylda closed her eyes and drew in a long breath. Had there been a word spoken
that night when she and David and Nahoum met which had not bitten into her soul!
That David had done so much in Egypt without ruin or death was a tribute to his
power. Nevertheless, though Nahoum had not struck yet, she was certain he would
one day. All that David now told her of the vicissitudes of his plans, and
Nahoum's sympathy and help, only deepened this conviction. She could well
believe that Nahoum gave David money from his own pocket, which he replaced by
extortion from other sources, while gaining credit with David for co-operation.
Armenian Christian Nahoum might be, but he was ranged with the East against the
West, with the reactionary and corrupt against advance, against civilisation and
freedom and equality. Nahoum's Christianity was permeated with Orientalism, the
Christian belief obscured by the theism of the Muslim. David was in a deadlier
struggle than he knew. Yet it could serve no good end to attempt to warn him
now. He had outlived peril so far; might it not be that, after all, he would
So far she had avoided Nahoum's name in talks with David. She could scarcely
tell why she did, save that it opened a door better closed, as it were; but the
restraint had given way at last.
"Thee remembers what I said that night?" David repeated slowly.
"I remember—I understand. You devise your course and you never change. It is
like building on a rock. That is why nothing happens to you as bad as might
"Nothing bad ever happens to me."
"The philosophy of the desert," she commented smiling. "You are living in the
desert even when you are here. This is a dream; the desert and Egypt only are
"That is true, I think. I seem sometimes like a sojourner here, like a spirit
'revisiting the scenes of life and time.'" He laughed boyishly.
"Yet you are happy here. I understand now why and how you are what you are.
Even I that have been here so short a time feel the influence upon me. I breathe
an air that, somehow, seems a native air. The spirit of my Quaker grandmother
revives in me. Sometimes I sit hours thinking, scarcely stirring; and I believe
I know now how people might speak to each other without words. Your Uncle Benn
and you—it was so with you, was it not? You heard his voice speaking to you
sometimes; you understood what he meant to say to you? You told me so long ago."
David inclined his head. "I heard him speak as one might speak through a
closed door. Sometimes, too, in the desert I have heard Faith speak to me."
"And your grandfather?"
"Never my grandfather—never. It would seem as though, in my thoughts, I could
never reach him; as though masses of opaque things lay between. Yet he and
I—there is love between us. I don't know why I never hear him."
"Tell me of your childhood, of your mother. I have seen her grave under the
ash by the Meeting-house, but I want to know of her from you."
"Has not Faith told you?"
"We have only talked of the present. I could not ask her; but I can ask you.
I want to know of your mother and you together."
"We were never together. When I opened my eyes she closed hers. It was so
little to get for the life she gave. See, was it not a good face?" He drew from
his pocket a little locket which Faith had given him years ago, and opened it
Hylda looked long. "She was exquisite," she said, "exquisite."
"My father I never knew either. He was a captain of a merchant ship. He
married her secretly while she was staying with an aunt at Portsmouth. He sailed
away, my mother told my grandfather all, and he brought her home here. The
marriage was regular, of course, but my grandfather, after announcing it, and
bringing it before the Elders, declared that she should never see her husband
again. She never did, for she died a few months after, when I came, and my
father died very soon, also. I never saw him, and I do not know if he ever tried
to see me. I never had any feeling about it. My grandfather was the only father
I ever knew, and Faith, who was born a year before me, became like a sister to
me, though she soon made other pretensions!" He laughed again, almost happily.
"To gain an end she exercised authority as my aunt!"
"What was your father's name?"
"Fetherdon—James Fetherdon!" Involuntarily Hylda repeated the name after him.
Where had she heard the name before—or where had she seen it? It kept flashing
before her eyes. Where had she seen it? For days she had been rummaging among
old papers in the library of the Cloistered House, and in an old box full of
correspondence and papers of the late countess, who had died suddenly. Was it
among them that she had seen the name? She could not tell. It was all vague, but
that she had seen it or heard it she was sure.
"Your father's people, you never knew them?"
He shook his head. "Nor of them. Here was my home—I had no desire to discover
them. We draw in upon ourselves here."
"There is great force in such a life and such a people," she answered. "If
the same concentration of mind could be carried into the wide life of the world,
we might revolutionise civilisation; or vitalise and advance it, I mean—as you
are doing in Egypt."
"I have done nothing in Egypt. I have sounded the bugle—I have not had my
"That is true in a sense," she replied. "Your real struggle is before you. I
do not know why I say it, but I do say it; I feel it. Something here"—she
pressed her hand to her heart—"something here tells me that your day of battle
is yet to come." Her eyes were brimming and full of excitement. "We must all
help you." She gained courage with each word. "You must not fight alone. You
work for civilisation; you must have civilisation behind you." Her hands clasped
nervously; there was a catch in her throat. "You remember then, that I said I
would call to you one day, as your Uncle Benn did, and you should hear and
answer me. It shall not be that I will call. You—you will call, and I will help
you if I can. I will help, no matter what may seem to prevent, if there is
anything I can do. I, surely I, of all the world owe it to you to do what I can,
"I owe so much—you did so much. Oh, how it haunts me! Sometimes in the night
I wake with a start and see it all—all!"
The flood which had been dyked back these years past had broken loose in her
Out of the stir and sweep of social life and duty, of official and political
ambition-heart-hungry, for she had no child; heart-lonely, though she had scarce
recognised it in the duties and excitements round her—she had floated suddenly
into this backwater of a motionless life in Hamley. Its quiet had settled upon
her, the shackles of her spirit had been loosed, and dropped from her; she had
suddenly bathed her heart and soul in a freer atmosphere than they had ever
known before. And David and Hamley had come together. The old impulses,
dominated by a divine altruism, were swinging her out upon a course leading she
knew not, reeked not, whither—for the moment reeked not. This man's career, the
work he was set to do, the ideal before him, the vision of a land redeemed,
captured her, carried her panting into a resolve which, however she might modify
her speech or action, must be an influence in her life hereafter. Must the
penance and the redemption be his only? This life he lived had come from what
had happened to her and to him in Egypt. In a deep sense her life was linked
In a flash David now felt the deep significance of their relations. A curtain
seemed suddenly to have been drawn aside. He was blinded for a moment. Her
sympathy, her desire to help, gave him a new sense of hope and confidence,
but—but there was no room in his crusade for any woman; the dear egotism of a
life-dream was masterful in him, possessed him.
Yet, if ever his heart might have dwelt upon a woman with thought of the
future, this being before him—he drew himself up with a start!... He was going
to Egypt again in a few days; they might probably never meet again—would not, no
doubt—should not. He had pressed her husband to go to Egypt, but now he would
not encourage it; he must "finish his journey alone."
He looked again in her eyes, and their light and beauty held him. His own
eyes swam. The exaltation of a great idea was upon them, was a bond of fate
between them. It was a moment of peril not fully realised by either. David did
realise, however, that she was beautiful beyond all women he had ever seen—or
was he now for the first time really aware of the beauty of woman? She had an
expression, a light of eye and face, finely alluring beyond mere outline of
feature. Yet the features were there, too, regular and fine; and her brown hair
waving away from her broad, white forehead over eyes a greyish violet in colour
gave her a classic distinction. In the quietness of the face there was that
strain of the Quaker, descending to her through three generations, yet enlivened
by a mind of impulse and genius.
They stood looking at each other for a moment, in which both had taken a long
step forward in life's experience. But presently his eyes looked beyond her, as
though at something that fascinated them.
"Of what are you thinking? What do you see?" she asked.
"You, leaving the garden of my house in Cairo, I standing by the fire," he
answered, closing his eyes for an instant.
"It is what I saw also," she said breathlessly. "It is what I saw and was
thinking of that instant." When, as though she must break away from the cords of
feeling drawing her nearer and nearer to him, she said, with a little laugh,
"Tell me again of my Chicago cousin? I have not had a letter for a year."
"Lacey, he is with me always. I should have done little had it not been for
him. He has remarkable resource; he is never cast down. He has but one fault."
"What is that?"
"He is no respecter of persons. His humour cuts deep. He has a wide heart for
your sex. When leaving the court of the King of Abyssinia he said to his
Majesty: 'Well, good-bye, King. Give my love to the girls.'"
She laughed again. "How absurd and childish he is! But he is true and able.
And how glad you should be that you are able to make true friends, without an
effort. Yesterday I met neighbour Fairley, and another little old Elder who
keeps his chin in his collar and his eyes on the sky. They did little else but
sing your praises. One might have thought that you had invented the world-or
"Yet they would chafe if I were to appear among them without these." He
glanced down at the Quaker clothes he wore, and made a gesture towards the
broadbrimmed hat reposing on a footstool near by.
"It is good to see that you are not changed, not spoiled at all," she
remarked, smiling. "Though, indeed, how could you be, who always work for others
and never for yourself? All I envy you is your friends. You make them and keep
She sighed, and a shadow came into her eyes suddenly. She was thinking of
Eglington. Did he make friends—true friends? In London—was there one she knew
who would cleave to him for love of him? In England—had she ever seen one? In
Hamley, where his people had been for so many generations, had she found one?
Herself? Yes, she was his true friend. She would do what would she not do to
help him, to serve his interests? What had she not done since she married Her
fortune, it was his; her every waking hour had been filled with something
devised to help him on his way. Had he ever said to her: "Hylda, you are a help
to me"? He had admired her—but was he singular in that? Before she married there
were many—since, there had been many—who had shown, some with tact and
carefulness, others with a crudeness making her shudder, that they admired her;
and, if they might, would have given their admiration another name with other
manifestations. Had she repelled it all? She had been too sure of herself to
draw her skirts about her; she was too proud to let any man put her at any
disadvantage. She had been safe, because her heart had been untouched. The
Duchess of Snowdon, once beautiful, but now with a face like a mask, enamelled
and rouged and lifeless, had said to her once: "My dear, I ought to have died at
thirty. When I was twenty-three I wanted to squeeze the orange dry in a handful
of years, and then go out suddenly, and let the dust of forgetfulness cover my
bones. I had one child, a boy, and would have no more; and I squeezed the
orange! But I didn't go at thirty, and yet the orange was dry. My boy died; and
you see what I am—a fright, I know it; and I dress like a child of twenty; and I
can't help it."
There had been moments, once, when Hylda, too, had wished to squeeze the
orange dry, but something behind, calling to her, had held her back. She had
dropped her anchor in perilous seas, but it had never dragged.
"Tell me how to make friends—and keep them," she added gaily.
"If it be true I make friends, thee taught me how," he answered, "for thee
made me a friend, and I forget not the lesson."
She smiled. "Thee has learnt another lesson too well," she answered brightly.
"Thee must not flatter. It is not that which makes thee keep friends. Thee sees
I also am speaking as they do in Hamley—am I not bold? I love the grammarless
"Then use it freely to-day, for this is farewell," he answered, not looking
"This—is—farewell," she said slowly, vaguely. Why should it startle her so?
"You are going so soon—where?"
"To-morrow to London, next week to Egypt."
She laid a hand upon herself, for her heart was beating violently. "Thee is
not fair to give no warning—there is so much to say," she said, in so low a tone
that he could scarcely hear her. "There is the future, your work, what we are to
do here to help. What I am to do.
"Thee will always be a friend to Egypt, I know," he answered. "She needs
friends. Thee has a place where thee can help."
"Will not right be done without my voice?" she asked, her eyes half closing.
"There is the Foreign Office, and English policy, and the ministers, and—and
Eglington. What need of me?"
He saw the thought had flashed into her mind that he did not trust her
husband. "Thee knows and cares for Egypt, and knowing and caring make policy
easier to frame," he rejoined.
Suddenly a wave of feeling went over her. He whose life had been flung into
this field of labour by an act of her own, who should help him but herself?
But it all baffled her, hurt her, shook her. She was not free to help as she
wished. Her life belonged to another; and he exacted the payment of tribute to
the uttermost farthing. She was blinded by the thought. Yet she must speak. "I
will come to Egypt—we will come to Egypt," she said quickly. "Eglington shall
know, too; he shall understand. You shall have his help. You shall not work
"Thee can work here," he said. "It may not be easy for Lord Eglington to
"You pressed it on him."
Their eyes met. She suddenly saw what was in his mind.
"You know best what will help you most," she added gently.
"You will not come?" he asked.
"I will not say I will not come—not ever," she answered firmly. "It may be I
should have to come." Resolution was in her eyes. She was thinking of Nahoum. "I
may have to come," she added after a pause, "to do right by you."
He read her meaning. "Thee will never come," he continued confidently. He
held out his hand. "Perhaps I shall see you in town," she rejoined, as her hand
rested in his, and she looked away. "When do you start for Egypt?"
"To-morrow week, I think," he answered. "There is much to do."
"Perhaps we shall meet in town," she repeated. But they both knew they would
"Farewell," he said, and picked up his hat.
As he turned again, the look in her eyes brought the blood to his face, then
it became pale. A new force had come into his life.
"God be good to thee," he said, and turned away.
She watched him leave the room and pass through the garden.
"David! David!" she said softly after him.
At the other end of the room her husband, who had just entered, watched her.
He heard her voice, but did not hear what she said.
"Come, Hylda, and have some music," he said brusquely.
She scrutinised him calmly. His face showed nothing. His look was
"Chopin is the thing for me," he said, and opened the piano.