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Cathedral singer / by James Lane Allen ; with frontispiece by Sigismond de Ivanowski. Allen, James Lane, 1849-1925. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-170-30117241 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Cathedral singer / by James Lane Allen ; with frontispiece by Sigismond de Ivanowski. Allen, James Lane, 1849-1925. Century, New York : 1916. 142 p.,  leaf of plates : 1 col. ill. ; 18 cm. Coleman BAL 484 Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1994. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN04173.08 KUK) Printing Master B92-170. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. De Ivanowski, Sigismund. A Cathedral Singer This page in the original text is blank. This page in the original text is blank. --> A Cathedral Singer BY JAMES LANE ALLEN Author of "The Sword of Youth," "The Bride of the Mistletoe," "The Kentucky Car- dinal," "The Choir Invisible," etc. WITH FRONTISPIECE BY SIGISMOND DE IVANOWSKI NEW YORK THE CENTURY CO. 1916 Copyright, 1914, i916, by THE CENTURY CO. Published, March, 7916 TO PITY AND TO FAITH This page in the original text is blank. A Cathedral Singer This page in the original text is blank. A Cathedral Singer I SLOWLY on AIorningside Heights S rises the Cathedral of St. John the Divine: standing on a high rock under the Northern sky above the long wash of the untroubled sea, above the wash of the troubled waves of men. It has fit neighbors. Across the street to the north looms the many- towered gray-walled Hospital of St. Luke-cathedral of our ruins, of our sufferings and our dust, near the cathe- dral of our souls. Across the block to the south is situ- ated a shed-like two-story building with dormer-windows and a crumpled three- 3 A CATHEDRAL SINGER sided roof, the studios of the National Academy of Design; and under that low brittle skylight youth toils over the shapes and colors of the visible vanish- ing paradise of the earth in the shadow of the cathedral which promises an un- seen, an eternal one. At the rear of the cathedral, across the roadway, stands a low stone wall. Just over the wall the earth sinks like a precipice to a green valley bottom far below. Out here is a rugged slope of rock and verdure and forest growth which brings into the city an ancient presence, nature-nature, the Elysian Fields of the art school, the potter's field of the hospital, the harvest field of the church. This strip of nature fronts the dawn and is called Morningside Park. Past the foot of it a thoroughfare stretches northward and southward, level and 4 A CATHEDRAL SINGER wide and smooth. Over this thorough- fare the two opposite-moving streams of the city's traffic and travel rush head- long. Beyond the thoroughfare an em- bankment of houses shoves its mass be- fore the eyes, and beyond the embank- ment the city spreads out over flats where human beings are as thick as river reeds. Thus within small compass humanity is here: the cathedral, the hospital, the art school, and a strip of nature, and a broad highway along which, with their hearth-fires flickering fitfully under their tents of stone, are encamped life's restless, light-hearted, heavy-hearted Gipsies. It was Monday morning and it was nine o'clock. Over at the National Academy of Design, in an upper room, the members of one of the women's por- 5 A CATHEDRAL SINGER trait classes were assembled, ready to begin work. Easels had been drawn into position; a clear light from the blue sky of the last of April fell through the opened roof upon new canvases fas- tened to the frames. And it poured down bountifully upon intelligent young faces. The scene was a beautiful one, and it was complete except in one par- ticular: the teacher of the class was missing-the teacher and a model. Minutes passed without his coming, and when at last he did enter the room, he advanced two or three steps and paused as though he meant presently to go out again. After his usual quiet good-morning with his sober smile, he gave his alert listeners the clue to an unusual situation: "I told the class that to-day we should begin a fresh study. I had not myself decided what this should be. Several 6 A CATHEDRAL SINGER models were in reserve, any one of whom could have been used to advan- tage at this closing stage of the year's course. Then the unexpected hap- pened: on Saturday a stranger, a woman, came to see me and asked to be engaged. It is this model that I have been waiting for down-stairs." Their thoughts instantly passed to the model: his impressive manner, his re- spectful words, invested her with mys- tery, with fascination. His counte- nance lighted up with wonderful inter- est as he went on: "She is not a professional; she has never posed. In asking me to engage her she proffered barely the explanation which she seemed to feel due herself. I turn this explanation over to you be- cause she wished, I think, that you also should not misunderstand her. It is the fee, then, that is needed, the model's 7 A CATHEDRAL SINGER wage; she has felt the common lash of the poor. Plainly here is some one who has stepped down from her place in life, who has descended far below her incli- nations, to raise a small sum of money. Why she does so is of course her own sacred and delicate affair. But the spirit in which she does this becomes our affair, because it becomes a matter of expression with her. This self-sac- rifice, this ordeal which she voluntarily undergoes to gain her end, shows in her face; and if while she poses, you should be fortunate enough to see this look along with other fine things, great things, it will be your aim to trans- fer them all to your canvases-if you can." He smiled at them with a kind of fos- tering challenge to their over-confident impulses and immature art. But he had not yet fully brought out what he 8 A CATHEDRAL SINGER had in mind about the mysterious stranger and he continued: "We teachers of art schools in engag- ing models have to take from human material as we find it. The best we find is seldom or never what we would prefer. If I, for instance, could have my choice, my students would never be allowed to work from a model who re- pelled the student or left the student in- different. No students of mine, if I could have my way, should ever paint from a model that failed to call forth the finest feelings. Otherwise, how can your best emotions have full play in your work; and unless your best emo- tions enter into your work, what will your work be worth For if you have never before understood the truth, try to realize it now: that you will succeed in painting only through the best that is in you; just as only the best in you 9 A CATHEDRAL SINGER will ever carry you triumphantly to the end of any practical human road that is worth the travel; just as you will reach all life's best goals only through your best. And in painting remember that the best is never in the eye, for the eye can only perceive, the eye can only di- rect; and the best is never in the hand, for the hand can only measure, the hand can only move. In painting the best comes from emotion. A human being may lack eyes and be none the poorer in character; a human being may lack hands and be none the poorer in char- acter; but whenever in life a person lacks any great emotion, that person is the poorer in everything. And so in painting you can fail after the eye has gained all necessary knowledge, you can fail after your hand has received all necessary training, either because na- ture has denied you the foundations of I0 A CATHEDRAL SINGER great feeling, or because, having these foundations, you have failed to make them the foundations of your work. "But among a hundred models there might not be one to arouse such emo- tion. Actually in the world, among the thousands of people we know, how few stir in us our best, force us to our best! It is the rarest experience of our life- times that we meet a man or a woman who literally drives us to the realization of what we really are and can really do when we do our best. What we all most need in our careers is the one who can liberate within us that lifelong pris- oner whose doom it is to remain a cap- tive until another sets it free-our best. For we can never set our best free by our own hands; that must always be done by another." They were listening to him with a startled recognition of their inmost I I A CATHEDRAL SINGER selves. He went on to drive home his point about the stranger: "I am going to introduce to you, then, a model who beyond all the others you have worked with will liberate in you your finer selves. It is a rare oppor- tunity. Do not thank me. I did not find her. Life's storms have blown her violently against the walls of the art school; we must see to it at least that she be not further bruised while it becomes her shelter, her refuge. Who she is, what her life has been, where she comes from, how she happens to arrive here- these are privacies into which of course we do not intrude. Immediately behind herself she drops a curtain of silence which shuts away every such sign of her past. But there are other signs of that past which she cannot hide and which it is our privilege, our duty, the province of our art, to read. They are written 12 A CATHEDRAL SINGER on her face, on her hands, on her bear- ing; they are written all over her-the bruises of life's rudenesses, the lingering shadows of dark days, the unwounded pride once and the wounded pride now, the unconquerable will, a soaring spirit whose wings were meant for the upper air but which are broken and beat the dust. All these are sublime things to paint in any human countenance; they are the footprints of destiny on our faces. The greatest masters of the brush that the world has ever known could not have asked for anything greater. When you behold her, per- haps some of you may think of certain brief but eternal words of Pascal: 'Man is a reed that bends but does not break.' Such is your model, then, a woman with a great countenance; the fighting face of a woman at peace. Now out upon the darkened battle-field 13 A CATHEDRAL SINGER of this woman's face shines one serene sun, and it is that sun that brings out upon it its marvelous human radiance, its supreme expression: the love of the mother. Your model is the beauty of motherhood, the sacredness of mother- hood, the glory of motherhood: that is to be the portrait of her that you are to paint." He stopped. Their faces glowed; their eyes disclosed depths in their na- tures never stirred before; from out those depths youthful, tender creative forces came forth, eager to serve, to obey. He added a few particu- lars: "For a while after she is posed you will no doubt see many different expres- sions pass rapidly over her face. This will be a new and painful experience to which she will not be able to adapt her- self at once. She will be uncomfort- I4 A CATHEDRAL SINGER able, she will be awkward, she will be embarrassed, she will be without her full value. But I think from what I discovered while talking with her that she will soon grow oblivious to her sur- roundings. They will not overwhelm her; she will finally overwhelm them. She will soon forget you and me and the studio; the one ruling passion of her life will sweep back into consciousness; and then out upon her features will come again that marvelous look which has almost remodeled them to itself alone." He added, "I will go for her. By this time she must be waiting doxvn- stairs." As he turned he glanced at the screens placed at that end of the room; behind these the models made their preparations to pose. "I have arranged," he said signifi- '5 A CATHEDRAL SINGER cantly, "that she shall leave her things down-stairs." It seemed long before they heard him on the way back. He came slowly, as though concerned not to hurry his model, as though to save her from the disrespect of urgency. Even the natu- ral noise of his feet on the bare hallway was restrained. They listened for the sounds of her footsteps. In the tense silence of the studio a pin-drop might have been noticeable, a breath 'would have been audible; but they could not hear her footsteps. He might have been followed by a spirit. Those feet of hers must be very light feet, very quiet feet, the feet of the well-bred. He entered and advanced a few paces and turned as though to make way for some one of far more importance than himself; and there walked forward and stopped at a delicate distance from them i6 A CATHEDRAL SINGER all a woman, bareheaded, ungloved, slender, straight, of middle height, and in life's middle years-Rachel Trues- dale. She did not look at him or at them; she did not look at anything. It was not her role to notice. She merely waited, perfectly composed, to be told what to do. Her thoughts and emo- tions did not enter into the scene at all; she was there solely as having been hired for work. One privilege she had exercised un- sparingly-not to offer herself for this employment as becomingly dressed for it. She submitted herself to be painted in austerest fidelity to nature, plainly dressed, her hair parted and brushed severely back. Women, sometimes great women, have in history, at the hour of their supreme tragedies, thus demeaned themselves-for the hospital, I7 A CATHEDRAL SINGER for baptism, for the guillotine, for the stake, for the cross. But because she made herself poor in apparel, she became most rich in her humanity. There was nothing for the eye to rest upon but her bare self. And thus the contours of the head, the beauty of the hair, the line of it along the forehead and temples, the curvature of the brows, the chiseling of the proud nostrils and the high bridge of the nose, the molding of the mouth, the modeling of the throat, the shaping of the shoul- ders, the grace of the arms and the hands-all became conspicuous, absorb- ing. The slightest elements of phy- sique and of personality came into view powerful, unforgetable. She stood, not noticing anything, waiting for instructions. With the courtesy which was the soul of him and the secret of his genius for inspiring i8 A CATHEDRAL SINGER others to do their utmost, the master of the class glanced at her and glanced at the members of the class, and tried to draw them together with a mere smile of sympathetic introduction. It was an attempt to break the ice. For them it did break the ice; all responded with a smile for her or with other play of the features that meant gracious recogni- tion. With her the ice remained un- broken; she withheld all response to their courteous overtures. Either she may not have trusted herself to respond; or waiting there merely as a model, she declined to establish any other under- standing with them whatsoever. So that he went further in the kindness of his intention and said: "Madam, this is my class of eager, warm, generous young natures who are to have the opportunity of trying to paint you. They are mere beginners; '9 A CATHEDRAL SINGER their art is still unformed. But you may believe that they will put their best into what they are about to undertake; the loyalty of the hand, the respect of the eye, the tenderness of their mem- ories, consecration to their art, their dreams and hopes of future success. Now if you will be good enough to sit here, I will pose you." He stepped toward a circular revolv- ing-platform placed at the focus of the massed easels: it was the model's rack of patience, the mount of humiliation, the scaffold of exposure. She had perhaps not understood that this would be required of her, this in- dignity, that she must climb upon a block like an old-time slave at an auc- tion. For one instant her fighting look came back and her eyes, though they rested on vacancy, blazed on vacancy and an ugly red rushed over her face 20 A CATHEDRAL SINGER which had been whiter than colorless. Then as though she had become disci- plined through years of necessity to do the unworthy things that must be done, she stepped resolutely though unsteadily upon the platform. A long procession of men and women had climbed thither from many a motive on life's upward or downward road. He had specially chosen a chair for a three-quarter portrait, stately, richly carved; about it hung an atmosphere of Ihigh-born things. Now, the body has definite memories as the mind has definite memories, and scarcely had she seated herself before the recollections of former years re- vived in her and she yielded herself to the chair as though she had risen from it a moment before. He did not have to pose her; she had posed herself by 21 A CATHEDRAL SINGER grace of bygone luxurious ways. A few changes in the arrangement of the hands he did make. There was re- quired some separation of the fingers; excitement caused her to hold them too closely together. And he drew the en- tire hands into notice; he specially wished them to be appreciated in the portrait. They were wonderful hands: they looked eloquent with the histories of generations; their youthfulness seemed centuries old. Yet all over them, barely to be seen, were the marks of life's experience, the delicate but dread sculpture of adversity. For a while it was as he had foreseen. She was aware only of the brutality of her position; and her face, by its con- fused expressions and quick changes of color, showed what painful thoughts surged. Afterward a change came gradually. As though she could en- ,22 A CATHEDRAL SINGER dure the ordeal only by forgetting it and could forget it only by looking ahead into the happiness for which it was endured, slowly there began to shine out upon her face its ruling pas- sion-the acceptance of life and the love of the mother glinting as from a cloud- hidden sun across the world's storm. WVhen this expression had come out, it stayed there. She had forgotten her surroundings, she had forgotten herself. Poor indeed must have been the soul that would not have been touched by the spectacle of her, thrilled by her as by a great vision. There was silence in the room of young workers. Before them, on the face of the unknown, was the only look that the whole world knows-the love and self-sacrifice of the mother; perhaps the only element of our better humanity that never once in the history of man- 23 A CATHEDRAL SINGER kind has been misunderstood and ridi- culed or envied and reviled. Some of them worked with faces brightened by thoughts of devoted mothers at home; the eyes of a few were shadowed by memories of mothers alienated or dead. 24 II T HAT morning on the ledge of rock at the rear of the cathedral Na- ture hinted to passers what they would more abundantly see if fortunate enough to be with her where she was entirely at home-out in the country. The young grass along the foot of this slope was thick and green; imag- ination missed from the picture rural sheep, their fleeces wet with April rain. Along the summit of the slope trees of oak and ash and maple and chestnut and poplar lifted against the sky their united forest strength. Between the trees above and the grass below, the embank- ment spread before the eye the enchant- ment of a spring landscape, with late 25 A CATHEDRAL SINGER bare boughs and early green boughs and other boughs in blossom. The earliest blossoms on our part of the earth's surface are nearly always white. They have forced their way to the sun along a frozen path and look akin to the perils of their road: the snow-threatened lily of the valley, the chill snowdrop, the frosty snowball, the bleak hawtree, the wintry wild cherry, the wintry dogwood. As the eye swept the park expanse this morning, here and there some of these were as the last tokens of winter's mantle instead of the first tokens of summer's. There were flushes of color also, as where in deep soil, on a projection of rock, a pink hawthorn stood studded to the tips of its branches with leaf and flower. But such flushes of color were as false notes of the earth, as harmonies of summer thrust into the wrong places 26 A CATHEDRAL SINGER and become discords. The time for them was not yet. The hour called for hardy adventurous things, awakened out of their cold sleep on the rocks. The blue of the firmament was not dark summer blue but seemed the sky's first pale response to the sun. The sun was not rich summer gold but flashed silver rays. The ground scattered no odors; all was the budding youth of Nature on the rocks. Paths wind hither and thither over this park hillside. Benches are placed at different levels along the way. If you are going up, you may rest; if you are coming down, you may linger; if neither going up nor coming down, you may with a book seek out some retreat of shade and coolness and keep at a dis- tance the millions that rush and crush around the park as waters roar against some lone mid-ocean island. 27 A CATHEDRAL SINGER About eleven o'clock that morning, on one of these benches placed where rock is steepest and forest trees stand close together and vines are rank with shade, a sociable-looking little fellow of some ten hardy well-buffeted years had sat down for the moment without a com- panion. He had thrown upon the bench beside him his sun-faded, rain-faded, shapeless cap, uncovering much bronzed hair; and as though by this simple act he had cleared the way for business, lhe thrust one capable-looking hand deep into one of his pockets. The fingers closed upon what they found there, like the meshes of a deep-sea net filled with its catch, and were slowly drawn to the surface. The catch consisted of one- cent and five-cent pieces, representing the sales of his morning papers. He counted the coins one by one over into the palm of the other hand, which then 28 A CATHEDRAL SINGER closed upon the total like another net, and dropped the treasure back into the deep sea of the other pocket. His absorption in this process had been intense; his satisfaction with the result was complete. Perhaps after every act of successful banking there takes place in the mind of man, spend- thrift and miser, a momentary lull of energy, a kind of brief Pax vzobisciun, o my soul and stomach, my twin mas- ters of need and greed! And possibly, as the lad deposited his earnings, he was old enough to enter a little way into this adult and despicable joy. Be this as it may, he was not the next instant up again and busy. He caught up his cap, dropped it not on his head but on one of his ragged knees; planted a sturdy hand on it and the other sturdy hand on the other knee; and with his sturdy legs swinging under the bench, toe kicking 29 A CATHEDRAL SINGER heel and heel kicking toe, he rested briefly from life's battle. The signs of battle were thick on him, unmistakable. The palpable sign, the conqueror's sign, was the profits won in the struggle of the streets. The other signs may be set down as loss-dirt and raggedness and disorder. His hair might never have been straightened out with a comb; his hands were not politely mentionable; his coarse shoes, which seemed to have been bought with the agreement that they were never to wear out, were ill-conditioned with general dust and the special grime of melted pitch from the typical contractor's cheapened asphalt; one of his stockings had a fresh rent and old rents enlarged their grievances. A single sign of victory was better even than the money in the pocket-the whole lad himself. He was strongly 30 A CATHEDRAL SINGER built, frankly fashioned, with happy grayish eyes, which had in them some of the cold warrior blue of the sky that day; and they were set wide apart in a compact round head, which some- how suggested a bronze sphere on a column of triumph. Altogether he be- longed to that hillside of nature, him- self a human growth budding out of wintry fortunes into life's April, open- ing on the rocks hardy and all white. But to sit there swinging his legs- this did not suffice to satisfy his heart, did not enable him to celebrate his in- stincts; and suddenly from his thicket of forest trees and greening bushes he be- gan to pour forth a thrilling little tide of song, with the native sweetness of some human linnet unaware of its tran- scendent gift. Up the steep hill a man not yet of mid- dle age had mounted from the flats. He 3I A CATHEDRAL SINGER was on his way toward the parapet above. He came on slowly, hat in hand, perspiration on his forehead; that climb from base to summit stretches a healthy walker and does him good. At a turn of the road under the forest trees with shrubbery alongside he stopped sud- denly, as a naturalist might pause with half-lifted foot beside a dense copse in which some unknown species of bird sang-a young bird just finding its Ilotes. It was his vocation to discover and to train voices. His definite work in music was to help perpetually to rebuild for the world that ever-sinking bridge of sound over which Faith aids itself in walking toward the eternal. This bridge of falling notes is as Nature's bridge of falling drops: individual drops appear for an instant in the rainbow, then disappear, but century after cen- 32 A CATHEDRAL SINGER tury the great arch stands there on the sky unshaken. So throughout the ages the bridge of sacred music, in which in- dividual voices are heard a little while and then are heard no longer, remains for man as one same structure of rock by which he passes over from the mor- tal to the immortal. Such was his life-work. As he now paused and listened, you might have in- terpreted his demeanor as that of a pro- fessional musician whose ears brought tidings that greatly astonished him. The thought had at once come to him of hoxv the New York papers once in a while print a story of the accidental find- ing in it of a wonderful voice-in New York, where you can find everything that is human. He recalled throughout the history of music instances in which some one of the world's famous singers had been picked up on life's road where 33 A CATHEDRAL SINGER it was roughest. Was anything like this now to become his own experience. Falling on his ear was an unmistakable gift of song, a wandering, haunting, unidentified note under that early April blue. He had never heard anything like it. It was a singing soul. Voice alone did not suffice for his pur- pose; the singer's face, personality, manners, some unfortunate strain in the blood, might debar the voice, block its acceptance, ruin everything. He almost dreaded to walk on, to explore what was ahead. But his road led that way, and three steps brought him around the woody bend of it. There he stopped again. In an em- brasure of rock on which vines were turning green, a little fellow, seasoned by wind and sun, with a countenance open and friendly, like the sky, was pouring out his full heart. 34 A CATHEDRAL SINGER The instant the man came into view, the song was broken off. The sturdy figure started up and sprang forward with the instinct of business. WNhen any one paused and looked question- ingly at him, as this man now did, it meant papers and pennies. His inquiry was quite breathless: "Do you want a paper, Mister What paper do you want I can get you one on the avenue in a min- ute." He stood looking up at the man, alert, capable, fearless, ingratiating. The man had instantly taken note of the speaking voice, which is often a safer first criterion to go by than the singing voice itself. He pronounced it sincere, robust, true, sweet, victorious. And very quickly also he made up his mind that conditions must have been rare and fortunate with the lad at his birth: 35 A CATHEDRAL SINGER blood will tell, and blood told now even in this dirt and in these rags. His reply bore testimony to how ap- preciative he felt of all that faced him there so humanly on the rock. "Thank you," he said, "I have read the papers." Having thus disposed of some of the lad's words, he addressed a pointed question to the rest: "But how did you happen to call me mister I thought boss was what you little New-Yorkers generally said." "I'm not a New-Yorker," announced the lad, with ready courtesy and good nature. "I don't say boss. We are Southerners. I say mister." He gave the man an unfavorable look as though of a mind to take his true measure; also as being of a mind to let the man know that he had not taken the boy's measure. 36 A CATHEDRAL SINGER The man smiled at being corrected to such good purpose; but before he could speak again, the lad went on to clinch his correction: "And I only say mister when I am selling papers and am not at home." "What do you say when not selling papers and when you are at home" asked the man, forced to a smile. "I say 'sir,' if I say anything," re- torted the lad, flaring up, but still polite. The man looked at him with increas- ing interest. Another word in the lad's speech had caught his attention-South- erner. That word had been with him a good deal in recent years; he had not quite seemed able to get away from it. Nearly all classes of people in New York who were not Southerners had been increasingly reminded that the Southerners were upon them. He had 37 A CATHEDRAL SINGER satirically worked it out in his own mind that if he were ever pushed out of his own position, it would be some South- erner who pushed him. He sometimes thought of the whole New York profes- sional situation as a public wonderful awful dinner at which almost nothing was served that did not have a Southern flavor as from a kind of pepper. The guests were bound to have administered to them their shares of this pepper; there was no getting away from the table and no getting the pepper out of the dinner. There was the intrusion of the South into every delicacy. "We are Southerners," the lad had announced decisively; and there the flavor was again, though this time as from a mere pepper-box in a school basket. Thus his next remark was ad- dressed to his own thoughts as well as to the lad: 38 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "And so you are a Southerner!" he reflected audibly, looking down at the Southern plague in small form. "Why, yes, Mister, we are Southern- ers," replied the lad, with a gay and careless patriotism; and as giving the handy pepper-box a shake, he began to dust the air with its contents: "I was born on an old Southern battle-field. When Granny was born there, it had hardly stopped smoking; it was still piled with wounded and dead Northerners. Why, one of the worst batteries was planted in our front porch." This enthusiasm as to the front porch was assumed to be acceptable to the lis- tener. The battery might have been a Cherokee rose. The man had listened with a quizzi- cal light in his eyes. "In what direction did you say that battery was pointed" 39 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "I did n't say; but it was pointed up this way, of course." The man laughed outright. "And so you followed in the direction of the deadly Southern shell and came north-as a small grape-shot !" "But, Mister, that was long ago. They had their quarrel out long ago. That's the way we boys do: fight it out and make friends again. Don't you do that way " "It 's a very good way to do," said the man. "And so you sell papers" "I sell papers to people in the park, Mister, and back up on the avenue. Granny is particular. I 'm not a regu- lar newsboy." "I heard you singing. Does anybody teach you" "Granny." "And so your grandmother is your music teacher " 40 A CATHEDRAL SINGER It was the lad's turn to laugh. "Granny is n't my grandmother; Granny is my mother." Toppling over in the dust of imagina- tion went a gaunt granny image; in its place a much more vital being appeared just behind the form of the lad, guard- ing him even now while he spoke. "And so your mother takes pupils" "Only me." "Has any one heard you sing" "Only she." It had become more and more the part of the man during this colloquy to smile; he felt repeatedly in the flank of his mind a jab of the comic spur. Now he laughed at the lad's deadly prepared- ness; business competition in New York had taught him that he who hesitates a moment is lost. The boy seemed ready with his answers before he heard the man's questions. 41 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "Do you mind telling me your name" "My name is Ashby. Ashby Trues- dale. We come from an old English family. What is your name, and what kind of family do you come from, Mis- ter " "And where do you live" The lad wheeled, and strode to the edge of the rock,-the path along there is blasted out of solid rock,-and look- ing downward, he pointed to the first row of buildings in the distant flats. "We live down there. You see that house in the middle of the block, the little old one between the two big ones" The man did not feel sure. "Well, Mister, you see the statue of Washington and Lafayette " The man was certain he saw Wash- ington and Lafayette. "Well, from there you follow my fin- 42 A CATHEDRAL SINGER ger along the row of houses till you come to the littlest, oldest, dingiest one. You see it now, don't you We live up under the roof." "What is the number " "It is n't any number. It's half a number. Wie live in the half that is n't numbered; the other half gets the num- ber." "And you take your music lessons in one half " "Why, yes, Mister. Why not " "On a piano" "Why, yes, Mister; on my piano." "Oh, you have a piano, have you " "There is n't any sound in about half the keys. Granny says the time has come to rent a better one. She has gone over to the art school to-day to pose to get the money." A chill of silence fell between the talk- ers, the one looking up and the other 43 A CATHEDRAL SINGER looking down. The man's next ques- tion was put in a more guarded tone: "Does your mother pose as a model " "No, Mister, she doesn't pose as a model. She 's posing as herself. She said I must have a teacher. Mister, were you ever poor " The man looked the boy over from head to foot. "Do you think you are poor" he asked. The good-natured reply came back in a droll tone: "Well, Mister, we certainly are n't rich." "Let us see," objected the man, as though this were a point which had bet- ter not be yielded, and he began with a voice of one reckoning up items: "Two feet, each cheap at, say, five millions. Two hands-five millions apiece for hands. At least ten millions for each 44 A CATHEDRAL SINGER eye. About the same for the ears. Certainly twenty millions for your teeth. Forty millions for your stomach. On the whole, at a rough estimate you must easily be worth over one hundred mil- lions. There are quite a number of old gentlemen in New York, and a good many young ones, who would gladly pay that amount for your investments, for your securities." The lad with eager upturned counte- nance did not conceal his amusement while the man drew this picture of him as a living ragged gold-mine, as actu- ally put together and made up of pieces of fabulous treasure. A child's notion of wealth is the power to pay for what it has not. The wealth that childhood is, escapes childhood; it does not escape the old. What most concerned the lad as to these priceless feet and hands and eyes and ears was the hard-knocked-in 45 A CATHEDRAL SINGER fact that many a time he ached through- out this reputed treasury of his being for a five-cent piece, and these reputed millionaires, acting together and do- ing their level best, could not produce one. Nevertheless, this fresh and never-be- fore-imagined image of his self-riches amused him. It somehow put him over into the class of enormously opulent things; and finding himself a little lonely on that new landscape, he cast about for some object of comparison. Thus his mind was led to the richest of all near-by objects. "If I were worth a hundred million," he said, with a satisfied twinkle in his eyes, "I would be as rich as the cathe- dral." A significant silence followed. The man broke it with a grave surprised in- quiry: 46 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "How did you happen to think of the cathedral " "I didn't happen to think of it; I could n't help thinking of it." "Have you ever been in the cathe- dral" inquired the man more gravely still. "Been in it! We go there all the time. It's our church. Why, good Lord! Mister, we are descended from a bishop !" The man laughed outright long and heartily. "Thank you for telling me," he said as one who suddenly feels himself to have become a very small object through being in the neighborhood of such he- reditary beatitudes and ecclesiastical sanctities. "Are you, indeed I am glad to know. Indeed, I am!" "Why, Mister, we have been watch- ing the cathedral from our windows for 47 A CATHEDRAL SINGER years. We can see the workmen away up in the air as they finish one part and then another part. I can count the Apostles on the roof. You begin with James the Less and keep straight on around until you come out at Simon. Big Jim and Pete are in the middle of the row." He laughed. "Surely you are not going to speak of an apostle as Pete! Do you think that is showing proper respect to an apos- tle" "But he was Pete when he was little. He was n't an apostle then and did n't have any respect." "And you must n't call an apostle Big Jim! It sounds dreadful!" "Then why did he try to call himself James the Greater That sounds dreadful too. As far as size is con- cerned he is no bigger than the others: they are all nine and a half feet. The 48 A CATHEDRAL SINGER Archangel Gabriel on the roof, he's nine and a half. Everybody standing around on the outside of the roof is nine and a half. If Gabriel had been turned a little to one side, he would blow his trumpet straight over our flat. He did n't blow anywhere one night, for a big wind came up behind him and blew him down and he blew his trumpet at the gutter. But he did n't stay down," boasted the lad. Throughout his talk he was making it clear that the cathedral was a neighbor- hood affair; that its haps and mishaps possessed for him the flesh and blood in- terest of a living person. Love takes mental possession of its object and by virtue of his affection the cathedral had become his companion. "You seem rather interested in the cathedral. Very much interested," re- marked the man, strengthening his 49 A CATHEDRAL SINGER statement and with increased atten- tion. "Why, of course, Mister. I 've been passing there nearly every day since I 've been selling papers on the avenue. Sometimes I stop and watch the masons. When I went with Granny to the art school this morning, she told me to go home that way. I have just come from there. They are building another one of the chapels now, and the men are up on the scaffolding. They carried more rock up than they needed and they would walk to the edge and throw big pieces of it down with a smash. The old house they are using for the choir school is just under there. Sometimes when the class is practising, I listen from the outside. If they sing high, I sing high; if they sing low, I sing low. Why, Mister, I can sing up to-" 50 A CATHEDRAL SINGER He broke off abruptly. He had been pouring out all kinds of confidences to his new-found friend. Now he hesi- tated. The boldness of his nature de- serted him. The deadly prepared- ness failed. A shy appealing look came into his eyes as he asked his next question-a grave question in- deed: "Mister, do you love music" "Do I love music" echoed the startled musician, pierced by the spear- like sincerity of the question, which seemed to go clean through him and his knowledge and to point back to child- hood's springs of feeling. "Do I love music Yes, some music, I hope. Some kinds of music, I hope." These moderate, chastened words re- sl ored the boy's confidence and com- pletely captured his friendship. Now 5' A CATHEDRAL SINGER he felt sure of his comrade, and he put to him a more searching question: "Do You know anything about the cathedral " The man smiled guiltily. "A little. I know a little about the cathedral," he admitted. There was a moment of tense, anx- ious silence. And now the whole secret came out: "Do you know how boys get into the cathedral choir school" The man did not answer. He stood looking down at the lad, in whose eyes all at once a great baffled desire told its story. Then he pulled out his watch and merely said: "I must be going. Good morning." He turned his way across the rock. Disappointment darkened the lad's face when he saw that he was to receive no answer; withering blight dried up 52 A CATHEDRAL SINGER its joy. But he recovered himself quickly. "Well, I must be going, too," he said bravely and sweetly. "Good morning." He turned his way across the rock. But he had had a good time talking with this stranger, and, after all, he was a Southerner; and so, as his head was about to disappear below the cliff, he called back in his frank human gallant way: "I 'm glad I met you, Mister." The man went up and the boy went down. The man, having climbed to the para- pet, leaned over the stone wall. The tops of some of the tall poplar-trees, rooted far below, were on a level with his eyes. Often he stopped there to watch them swaying like upright plumes against the wind. They swayed now in the silvery April air with a ripple of 53 A CATHEDRAL SINGER silvery leaves. His eyes sought out in- timately the barely swollen buds on the boughs of other forest trees yet far from leaf. They lingered on the white blos- soms of the various shrubs. They found the pink hawthorn; in the boughs of one of those trees one night in Eng- land in mid-May he had heard the nightingale, master singer of the non- human world. Up to him rose the en- chanting hill-side picture of grass and moss and fern. It was all like a sheet of soft organ music to his nature-read- ing eyes. AAhile he gazed, he listened. Down past the shadows and the greenness, through the blossoms and the light, growing fainter and fainter, went a wandering little drift of melody, a haunting, unidentified sound under the blue cathedral dome of the sky. He re- flected again that he had never heard 54 A CATHEDRAL SINGER anything like it. It was, in truth, a singing soul. Then he saw the lad's sturdy figure bound across the valley to join friends in play on the thoroughfare that skirts the park alongside the row of houses. He himself turned and went in the direction of the cathedral. As he walked slowxly along, one thing haunted him remorsefully-the up- turned face of the lad and the look in his eyes as he asked the question which brought out the secret desire of a life: "Do you know how boys get into the cathedral choir school " Then the blight of disappointment when there was no answer. The man walked thoughtfully on, seemingly as one who was turning over and over in his mind some difficult, deli- cate matter, looking at it on all sides and in every light, as he must do. 55 A CATHEDRAL SINGER Finally he quickened his pace as though having decided what ought to be done. He looked the happier for his decision. 56 III T HAT night in an attic-like room of an old building opposite MIorn- ingside Park a tiny supper-table for two stood ready in the middle of the floor; the supper itself, the entire meal, was spread. There is a victory which hu- man nature in thousands of lives daily wins over want, that though it cannot drive poverty from the scene, it can hide its desolation by the genius of choice and of touch. A battle of that brave and desperate kind had been won in this garret. Lacking every luxury, it had the charm of tasteful bareness, of exquisite penury. The supper-table of cheap wood roughly car- pentered was hidden under a piece of 57 A CATHEDRAL SINGER fine long-used table-linen; into the gleaming damask were wrought clus- ters of snowballs. The glare of a plain glass lamp was softened by a too costly silk shade. Over the rim of a common vase hung a few daffodils, too costly daffodils. The supper, frugal to a bar- gain, tempted the eye and the appetite by the good sense with which it had been chosen and prepared. Thus the whole scene betokened human nature at bay but victorious in the presence of that xolf, whose near-by howl startles the poor out of their sleep. Into this empty room sounds pene- trated through a door. They proceeded from piano-keys evidently so old that one wondered whether possibly they had not begun to be played on in the days of Beethoven, whether they were not such as were new on the clavichord of Bach. The fingers that pressed them were un- 58 A CATHEDRAL SINGER mistakably those of a child. As the hands wandered up and down the key- board, the ear now and then took notice of a broken string. There were many of these broken strings. The instru- ment plainly announced itself to be a remote, well-nigh mythical ancestor of the modern piano, preternaturally lin- gering on amid an innumerable deafen- ing progeny. It suggested a superan- nuated human being whose loudest utterances have sunk to ghostly whis- pers in a corner. Once the wandering hands stopped and a voice was heard. It sounded as though pitched to reach some one in an inner room farther away, possibly a per- son who might just have passed from a kitchen to a bedroom to make some change of dress. It was a very affec- tionate voice, very true and sweet, very tender, very endearing. 59 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "Another string snapped to-day. There 's another key silent. There won't be any but silent keys soon." There must have been a reply. Re- sponding to it, the voice at the piano sounded again, this time very loyal and devoted to an object closer at hand: "But when we do get a better one, we won't kick the old one down-stairs. It has done its best." Whereupon the musical ancestor was encouraged to speak up again while he had a chance, being a very honored an- cestor and not by any means dead in some regions. Soon, however, the voice pleaded anew with a kind of patient im- patience: "I 'm awfully hungry. Are n't you nearly ready " The reply could not be heard. "Are you putting on the dress I like " The reply was not heard. 6o A CATHEDRAL SINGER "Don't you want me to bring you a daffodil to wear at your throat" The reply was lost. For a few min- utes the progenitor emptied his ancient lungs of some further moribund intima- tions of tone. Later came another pro- test, truly plaintive: "You could n't look any nicer! I 'm awfully hungry !" Then all at once there was a tremen- dous smash on the keys, a joyous smash, and a moment afterward the door was softlv opened. Mother and son entered the supper- room. One of his arms was around her waist, one of hers enfolded him about the neck and shoulders; they were laughing as they clung to one another. The teacher of the portrait class and his pupils would hardly have recognized their model; the stranger on the hillside might not at once have identified the 6i A CATHEDRAL SINGER newsboy. For model and newsboy, having laid aside the masks of the day which so often in New York persons find it necessary to wear,--the tragic mask, the comic mask, the callous, coarse, brutal mask, the mask of the human pack, the mask of the human sty,- model and newsboy reappeared at home with each other as nearly what in truth they were as the denials of life would allow. There entered the room a woman of high breeding, with a certain Pallas-like purity and energy of face, clasping to her side her only child, a son whom she secretly believed to be destined to great- ness. She was dressed not with the studied plainness and abnegation of the model in the studio, but out of regard for her true station and her motherly responsibilities. Her utmost wish was that in years to come, when he should 62 A CATHEDRAL SINGER look back upon his childhood, he would always remember with pride his even- ings with his mother. During the day he must see her drudge, and many a pic- ture of herself on a plane of life below her own she knew to be fastened to his growing brain; but as nearly as possible blotting these out, daily blotting them out one by one, must be the evening pic- tures when the day's work was done, its disguises dropped, its humiliations over, and she, a serving-woman of fate, reap- peared before him in the lineaments of his mother, to remain with him throughout his life as the supreme woman of the human race, his idol until death, his mother. She now looked worthy of such an ideal. But it was upon him that her heart lavished every possible extrava- gance when nightly he had laid aside the coarse half-ragged fighting clothes of 63 A CATHEDRAL SINGER the streets. In those after years when he was to gaze backward across a long distance, he must be made to realize that when he was a little fellow, it was his mother who first had seen his star while it was still low on the horizon; and that from the beginning she had so reared him that there would be stamped upon his attention the gentleness of his birth and a mother's resolve to rear him in keeping with this through the neediest hours. While he was in his bath, she, as though she were his valet, had laid out trim house shoes and black stockings; and as the spring night had a breath of summer warmth, of almost Southern summer warmth, she had put out also a suit of white linen knickerbockers. Under his broad sailor collar she herself had tied a big, soft, flowing black ribbon of the finest silk. Above this rose the 64 A CATHEDRAL SINGER solid head looking like a sphere on a col- umn of triumph, with its lustrous bronzed hair, which, as she brushed it, she had tenderly stroked with her hands; often kissing the bronzed face ardent and friendly to the world and thinking to herself of the double blue in his eyes, the old Saxon blue of battle and the old Saxon blue of the minstrel, also. It was the evening meal that always brought them together after the separa- tion of the day, and he was at once curi- ous to hear how everything had gone at the art school. With some un- sold papers under his arm he had walked with her to the entrance, a new pang in his breast about her that he did not un- derstand: for one thing she looked so plain, so common. At the door-step she had stopped and kissed him and bade him good-by. Her quiet quiver- ing words were: 65 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "Go home, dear, by way of the cathe- dral. " If he took the more convenient route, it would lead him into one of the city's main cross streets, beset with dan- gers. She would be able to sit more at peace through those hours of posing if she could know that he had gone across the cathedral grounds and then across the park as along a country road bor- dered with young grass and shrubs in bloom and forest trees in early leaf. She wished to keep all day before her eyes the picture of him as straying that April morning along such a country road -sometimes the road of faint far girl- hood memories to her. Then with a great incomprehensible look she had vanished from him. But before the doors closed, he, peering past her, had caught sight of the walls inside thickly hung with portraits of 66 A CATHEDRAL SINGER men and women in rich colors and in golden frames. Into this splendid world his mother had vanished, herself to be painted. Now as he began ravenously to eat his supper he wished to hear all about it. She told him. Part of her experience she kept back, a true part; the other, no less true, she described. With deft fin- gers she went over the somberly woven web of the hours, and plucking here a bright thread and there a bright thread, rewove these into a smaller picture, on which fell the day's far-separated sun- beams; the rays were condensed nowv and made a solid brightness. This is how she painted for him a bright picture out of things not many of which were bright. The teacher of the portrait class, to begin, had been very considerate. He had arranged that she should leave her things with the 67 A CATHEDRAL SINGER janitor's wife down-stairs, and not go up-stairs and take them off behind some screens in a corner of the room where the class was assembled. That would have been dreadful, to have to go behind the screens to take off her hat and gloves. Then instead of sending word for her to come up, he himself had come down. As he led the way past the confusing halls and studios, he had looked back over his shoulder just a little, to let her know that not for a moment did he lose thought of her. To have walked in front of her, looking straight ahead, might have meant that he esteemed her a person of no conse- quence. A master so walks before a servant, a superior before an inferior. Out of respect for her, he had even less- ened the natural noisiness of his feet on the bare floor. If you put your feet down hard in the house, it means that 68 A CATHEDRAL SINGER you are thinking of yourself and not of other people. He had mounted the stairs slowly lest she get out of breath as she climbed. When he preceded her into the presence of the class, he had turned as though he introduced to them his own mother. In everything he did he was really a nan; that is, a gentle- man. For being a gentleman is being really a man; if you are really a man, you are a gentleman. As for the members of the class, they had been beautiful in their treatment of her. Not a word had been exchanged with them, but she could feel their beau- tiful thoughts. Sometimes when she glanced at them, while they worked, such beautiful expressions rested on their faces. Unconsciously their na- tures had opened like young flowers, and as at the hearts of young flowers there is for each a clear drop of honey, so in 69 A CATHEDRAL SINGER each of their minds there must have been one same thought, the remembrance of their mothers. Altogether it was as though they were assembled there in honor of her, not to make use of her. As to posing itself, one had not a thing to do but sit perfectly still! One got such a good rest from being too much on one's feet! And they had placed for her such a splendid carved- oak chair! WVhen she took her seat, all at once she had felt as if at home again. There were immense windows; she liad had all the fresh air she wished, and she did enjoy fresh air! The whole roof was a window, and she could look out at the sky: sometimes the loveliest clouds drifted over, and sometimes the dearest little bird flew past, no doubt on its way to the park. Last, but not least, she had not been crowded. In New York it was almost impossible to secure 70 A CATHEDRAL SINGER a good seat in a public place without being nudged or bumped or crowded. But that had actually happened to her. She had had a delightful chair in a public place, with plenty of room in every direction. How fortunate at last to remember that she might pose! It would fit in perfectly at times when she did not have to go out for needlework or for the other demands. Dollars would now soon begin to be brought in like their bits of coal, by the scuttleful! And then the piano! And then the teacher and the lessons! And thtc1, and then- Her happy story ended. She had watched the play of lights on his face as sometimes he, though hungry, with fork in the air paused to listen and to ques- tion. Now as she finished and looked across the table at the picture of him under the lamplight, she wvas rewarded, 71 A CATHEDRAL SINGER she was content; while he ate his plain food, out of her misfortunes she had beautifully nourished his mind. He did not know this; but she knew it, knew by his look and by his only comment: "You had a perfectly splendid time, did n't you " She laughed to herself. "Now, then," she said, coming to what had all along been most in her consciousness-"now, then, tell me about your day. Begin at the moment you left me." He laid down his napkin,-he could eat no more, and there was nothing more to eat,-and he folded his hands quite like the head of the house at ease after a careless feast, and began his story. Well, he had had a splendid day, too. After he had left her he had gone to the dealer's on the avenue with the un- 72 A CATHEDRAL SINGER sold papers. Then he had crossed over to the cathedral, and for a while had watched the men at work up in the air. He had walked around to the choir school, but no one was there that morn- ing, not a sound came from the inside. Then he had started down across the park. As he sat down to count his money, a man who had climbed up the hill-side stopped and asked him a great many questions: who taught him music and whether any one had ever heard him sing. This stranger also liked music and he also went to the cathedral, so he claimed. From that point the story wound its way onward across the busy hours till nightfall. It was a child's story, not an older person's, Therefore it did not draw the line between pleasant and unpleasant, fair and unfair, right and wrong, which make up for each of us the history of 73 A CATHEDRAL SINGER our checkered human day. It separated life as a swimmer separates the sea: there is one water which he parts by his passage. So the child, who is still wholly a child, divides the world. But as she pondered, she discrimi- nated. Out of the long, rambling nar- rative she laid hold of one overwhelm- ing incident, forgetting the rest: a pass- ing stranger, hearing a few notes of his voice, had stopped to question him about it. To her this was the first outside evi- dence that her faith in his musical gift was not groundless. When he had ended his story she re- garded him across the table with some- thing new in her eyes-something of awe. She had never hinted to him what she believed he would some day be. She might be wrong, and thus might start him on the wrong course; or, being right, she might never have the 74 A CATHEDRAL SINGER chance to start him on the fight one. In either case she might be bringing to him disappointment, perhaps the failure of his whole life. Now she still hid the emotion his story caused. But the stranger of the park had kindled within her that night what she herself had long tended unlit-the alabaster flame of worship which the mother burns before the altar of a great son. An hour later they were in another small attic-like space next to the supper- room. Here was always the best of their evening. No matter how poor the spot, if there reach it some solitary ray of the great light of the world, let it be called your drawing-room. Where civilization sends its beams through a roof, there be your drawing-room. This part of the garret was theirs. In one corner stood a small table on 75 A CATHEDRAL SINGER which were some tantalizing books and the same lamp. Another corner was filled by the littlest, oldest imaginable of six-octave pianos, the mythical piano ancestor; on it were piled some yellowed folios, her music once. Thus two dif- ferent rays of civilization entered their garret and fell upon the twin mountain- peaks of the night-books and music. Toward these she wished regularly to lead him as darkness descended over the illimitable city and upon its weary grimy battle-fields. She liked him to fall asleep on one or the other of these mountain-tops. When he awoke, it would be as from a mountain that he would see the dawn. From there let him come down to the things that won the day; but at night back again to things that win life. They were in their drawing-room, then, as she had taught him to call it, 76 A CATHEDRAL SINGER and she was reading to him. A knock interrupted her. She interrogated the knock doubtfully to herself for a mo- ment. "Ashby," she finally said, turning her eyes toward the door, as a request that he open it. The janitor of the building handed in a card. The name on the card was strange to her, and she knew no reason why a stranger should call. Then a foolish uneasiness attacked her: per- haps this unwelcome visit bore upon her engagement at the studio. They might not wish her to return; that little door to a larger income was to be shut in their faces. Perhaps she had made herself too plain. If only she had done herself a little more justice in her appearance! She addressed the janitor with anx- ious courtesy: "Will you ask him to come up" 77 A CATHEDRAL SINGER With her hand on the half-open door, she waited. If it should be some trades- man, she would speak with him there. She listened. Up the steps, from flight to flight, she could hear the feet of a man mounting like a deliberate good walker. He reached her floor. He approached her door and she stepped out to con- front him. A gentleman stood before her with an unmistakable air of feeling himself happy in his mission. For a moment he forgot to state this mission, startled by the group of the two. His eyes passed from one to the other: the picture they made was an unlooked for revelation of life's harmony, of nature's sacredness. "Is this Mrs. Truesdale" he asked with appreciative deference. She stepped back. "I am Mrs. Truesdale," she replied in a way to remind him of his intrusion; 78 A CATHEDRAL SINGER and not discourteously she partly closed the door and waited for him to with- draw. But he was not of a mind to withdraw; on the contrary, he stood stoutly where he was and explained: "As I crossed the park this morning I happened to hear a few notes of a voice that interested me. I train the voice, Madam. I teach certain kinds of music. I took the liberty of asking the owner of the voice where he lived, and I have taken the further libertv of coming to see whether I may speak with you on that subject-about his voice." This, then, was the stranger of the park whom she believed to have gone his way after unknowingly leaving glorious words of destiny for her. Instead of vanishing, he had reappeared, following up his discovery into her very presence. She did not desire him to follow tip his 79 A CATHEDRAL SINGER discovery. She put out one hand and pressed her son back into the room and was about to close the door. "I should first have stated, of course," said the visitor, smiling quietly as with awkward self-recovery, "that I am the choir-master of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine." Stillness followed, the stillness in which painful misunderstandings dis- solve. The scene slowly changed, as when on the dark stage of a theater an invisible light is gradually turned, show- ing everything in its actual relation to everything else. In truth a shaft as of celestial light suddenly fell upon her doorway; a far-sent radiance rested on the head of her son; in her ears.began to sound old words spoken ages ago to another mother on account of him she had borne. To her it was an annuncia- tion. 80 A CATHEDRAL SINGER Her first act was to place her hand on the head of the lad and bend it back un- til his eyes looked up into hers; his mother must be the first to congratu- late him and to catch from his eyes their flash of delight as he realized all that this might mean: the fulfilment of life's dream for him. Then she threw open the door. "Will you come in" It was a marvelous welcome, a splen- dor of spiritual hospitality. The musician took up straightway the purpose of his visit and stated it. "Will you, then, send him to-morrow and let me try his voice" "Yes," she said as one who now must direct with firm responsible hand the helm of wayward genius, "I will send him." "And if his voice should prove to be what is wanted," continued the music- 8I A CATHEDRAL SINGER master, though with delicate hesitancy, "would he be-free Is there any other person whose consent-" She could not reply at once. The question brought up so much of the past, such tragedy! She spoke with com- posure at last: "He can come. He is free. He is mine-wholly mine." The choir-master looked across the small room at his pupil, who, upon the discovery of the visitor's identity, had withdrawn as far as possible from him. "And you are willing to come" lie asked, wishing to make the first ad- vance toward possible acquaintanceship on the new footing. No reply came. The mother smiled at her awe-stricken son and hastened to his rescue. "He is overwhelmed," she said, her own faith in him being merely strength- 82 A CATHEDRAL SINGER ened by this revelation of his fright. "He is overwhelmed. This means so much more to him than you can under- stand." "But you will come" the choir-mas- ter persisted in asking. " You will come" The lad stirred uneasily on his chair. "Yes, sir," he said all but inaudi- bly. His inquisitive, interesting friend of the park path, then, was himself choir- master of St. John's! And he had asked him whether he knew anything about the cathedral! Whether he liked music! Whether lie knew how bovs got into the school! lie had betrayed his habit of idly hanging about the old building where the choir practised and of singing with them to show what he could do and would do if he had the chance; and because he could not keep 83 A CATHEDRAL SINGER from singing. He had called one of the Apostles Jim! And another Apos- tle Pete! He had rejoiced that Gabriel had not been strong enough to stand up in a high wind! Thus with mortification he remem- bered the day. Then his thoughts were swept on to what now opened before him: he was to be taken into the choir, he was to sing in the cathedral. The high, blinding, stately magnificence of its scenes and processions lay before him. More than this. The thing which had long been such a torture of desire to him, the hope that had grown within him until it began to burst open, had come true; his dream was a reality: he was to begin to learn music, he was to go where it was being taught. And the master who was to take him by the hand and lead him into that world of song 84 A CATHEDRAL SINGER sat there quietly talking with his mother about the matter and looking across at him, studying him closely. No; none of this was true yet. It might never be true. First, he must be put to the test. The man smiling there was sternly going to draw out of hinm what was in him. He was going to ex- amine him and see what he amounted to. And if he amounted to nothing, then what He sat there shy, silent, afraid, all the hardy boldness and business prepared- ness and fighting capacity of the streets gone out of his mind and heart. He looked across at his mother; not even she could help him. So there settled upon him that terror of uncertainty about their gift and their fate which is known only to the children of genius. For throughout the region of art, as in the wvorld of the 85 A CATHEDRAL SINGER physical, nature brings forth all things from the seat of sensitiveness and the young of both worlds appear on the rough earth unready. "You do wish to come" the choir- master persisted in asking. "Yes, sir," he replied barely, as though the words sealed his fate. The visitor was gone, and they had talked everything over, and the evening had ended, and it was long past his bed- time, and she waited for him to come from the bedroom and say good night. Presently he ran in, climbed into her lap, threw his arms around her neck and pressed his cheek against hers. "Now on this side," he said, holding her tightly, "and now on the other side, and now on both sides and all around." She, with jealous pangs at this good- night hour, often thought already of 86 A CATHEDRAL SINGER what a lover he would be when the time came-the time for her to be pushed aside, to drop out. These last mo- ments of every night were for love; nothing lived in him but love. She said to herself that he was the born lover. As he now withdrew his arms, he sat looking into her eyes with his face close to hers. Then leaning over, he began to measure his face upon her face, start- ing with the forehead, and being very particular when he got to the long eye- lashes, then coming down past the nose. They were very silly and merry about the measuring of the noses. The noses would not fit the one upon the other, not being flat enough. He began to indulge his mischievous, teasing mood: "Suppose he does n't like my voice!" She laughed the idea to scorn. "Suppose he would n't take me!" 87 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "Ah, but he wuill take you." "If he would n't have me, you 'd never want to see me any more, would you" She strained him to her heart and rocked to and fro over him. "This is what I could most have wished in all the world," she said, hold- ing him at arm's-length with idola- try. "Not more than a fine house and serv- ants and a greenhouse and a carriage and horses and a new piano-not more than everything you used to have!" "More than anything! More than anything in this world!" He returned to the teasing. "If he does n't take me, I 'm going to run away. You won't want ever to see me any more. And then nobody will ever know what becomes of me because I could n't sing." 88 A CATHEDRAL SINGER She strained him again to herself and murmured over him: "My chorister! My minstrel! 'My life !" "Good night and pleasant dreams !" lie said, with his arms around her neck finally. "Good night and sweet sleep!" Everything was quiet. She had tipped to his bedside and stood looking at him after slumber had carried him away from her, a little distance away. "AMy heavenly guest !" she murmured. "Iy guest from the singing stars of God !" Though worn out with the strain and excitements of the day, she was not yet ready for sleep. She must have the luxuries of consciousness; she must tread the roomy spaces of reflection and be soothed in their largeness. And so she had gone to her windows and had 89 A CATHEDRAL SINGER remained there for a long time looking out upon the night. The street beneath was dimly lighted. Traffic had almost ceased. Now and then a car sped past. The thorough- fare along here is level and broad and smooth, and being skirted on one side by the park, it offers to speeding vehicles the illusive freedom of a country road. Across the street at the foot of the park a few lights gleamed scant amid the April foliage. She began at the foot of the hill and followed the line of them upward, upward over the face of the rock, leading this way and that way, but always upward. There on the height in the darkness loomed the cathedral. Often during the trouble and discour- agement of years it had seemed to her that her own life and every other life would have had more meaning if only there had been, away off somewhere in 90 A CATHEDRAL SINGER the universe, a higher evil intelligence to look on and laugh, to laugh piti- lessly at every human thing. She had held on to her faith because she must hold on to something, and she had noth- ing else. Now as she stood there, fol- lowing the winding night road over the rock, her thoughts went back and searched once more along the wander- ing pathway of her years; and she said that a Power greater than any earthly had led her with her son to the hidden goal of them both, the cathedral. The next day brought no disappoint- ment: he had rushed home and thrown himself into her arms and told her that he was accepted. He was to sing in the choir. The hope had become an actual- ity. Later that day the choir-master him- self had called again to speak to her when the pupil was not present. He 9' A CATHEDRAL SINGER was guarded in his words but could not conceal the enthusiasm of his mood. "I do not know what it may develop into," he said,-"that is something we cannot foretell,-but I believe it will be a great voice in the world. I do know that it will be a wonderful voice for the choir." She stood before him mute with emo- tion. She was as dry sand drinking a shower. "You have made no mistake," she said. "It is a great voice and he will have a great career." The choir-master was impatient to have the lessons begin. She asked for a few days to get him in readiness. She reflected that he could not make his first appearance at the choir school in white linen knickerbockers. These were the only suitable clothes he had. This school would be his first, for she 92 A CATHEDRAL SINGER had taught him at home, haunted by a sense of responsibility that he must be specially guarded. Now just as the un- safe years came on for him, he would be safe in that fold. \When natural changes followed as follow they must and his voice broke later on, and then came again or never came again, what- ever afterward befell, behind would be the memories of his childhood. And when he had grown to full manhood, when he was an old man and she no lon- ger with him, wherever on the earth he might work or might wander, always he would be going back to those years in the cathedral: they would be his safe- guard, his consecration to the end. Now a few days later she stood in the same favorite spot, at her windows; and it was her favorite hour to be there, the coming on of twilight. 93 A CATHEDRAL SINGER All day until nearly sundown a cold April rain had fallen. These contra- dictory spring days of young green and winter cold the pious folk of older lands and ages named the days of the ice saints. They really fall in May, but this had been like one of them. So raw and chill had been the atmosphere of the grateless garret that the window- frames had been fastened down, their rusty catches clamped. At the window she stood looking out and looking up toward a scene of splen- dor in the heavens. It was sunset, the rain was over, the sky had cleared. She had been tracing the retreating line of sunlight on the hillside opposite. First it crossed the street to the edge of the park, then crossed the wet grass at the foot of the slope; then it passed upward over the bowed dripping shrubbery and lingered 94 A CATHEDRAL SINGER on the tree-tops along the crest; and now the western sky was aflame behind the cathedral. It was a gorgeous spectacle. The cathedral seemed not to be situated in the city, not lodged on the rocks of the island, but to be risen out of infinite space and to be based and to abide on the eternity of light. Long she gazed into that sublime vision, full of happi- ness at last, full of peace, full of prayer. Standing thus at her windows at that hour, she stood on the pinnacle of her life's happiness. From the dark slippery street shrill familiar sounds rose to her ear and drew her attention downward and she smiled. He was down there at play with friends whose parents lived in the houses of the row. She laughed as those victorious cries reached the upper air. Leaning forward, she pressed her 95 A CATHEDRAL SINGER face against the window-pane and peered over and watched the group of them. Sometimes she could see them and sometimes not as they struggled from one side of the street to the other. No one, whether younger or older, stronger or weaker, was ever defeated down there; everybody at some time got worsted; no one was ever defeated. All the whipped remained conquerors. Unconquerable childhood! She said to herself that she must learn a lesson from it once more-to have always within herself the will and spirit of vic- tory. WVith her face still against the glass she caught sight of something approach- ing carefully up the street. It was the car of a physician who had a patient in one of the houses near by. This was his hour to make his call. He guided the car himself, and the great mass of 96 A CATHEDRAL SINGER tons in weight responded to his guidance as if it possessed intelligence, as if it en- tered into his foresight and caution: it became to her, as she watched it, almost conscious, almost human. She thought of it as being like some great characters in human life which need so little to make them go easily and make them go right. A wise touch, and their enor- mous influence is sent whither it should be sent by a pressure that would not bruise a leaf. Slhe chid herself once more that in a world where so often the great is the good she had too often been hard and bitter; that many a time she had found pleasure in setting the empty cup of her life out under its clouds and catching the showers of nature as though they were drops of gall. All at once her attention was riveted on an object up the street. Around a 97 A CATHEDRAL SINGER bend a few hundred yards away a huge wild devil of a thing swung unsteadily, recklessly, almost striking the curb and lamp-post; and then, righting itself, it came on with a rush-a mindless de- stroyer. Now on one side of the street, now in the middle, now on the other side; gliding along through the twilight, barely to be seen, creeping nearer and nearer through the shadows, now again on the wrong side of the street where it would not be looked for. A bolt of horror shot through her. She pressed her face quickly against the window-panes as closely as possible, searching for the whereabouts of the lads. As she looked, the playing strug- gling mass of them went down in the road, the others piled on one. She thought she knew which one,-he was the strongest,-then they were lost from her sight, as they rolled in nearer to the 98 A CATHEDRAL SINGER sidewalk. And straight toward them rushed that destroyer in the streets. She tried to throw up the sashes. She tried to lean out and cry down to him, to wave her hands to him with warning as she had often done with joy. She could not raise the sashes. She had not the strength left to turn the rusty bolts. Nor was there time. She looked again; she saw what was going to happen. Then with frenzy she began to beat against the window-sashes and to moan and try to stifle her own moans. And then shrill startled screams and piteous cries came up to her, and crazed now and no longer knowing what she did, she struck the window-panes in her agony until they were shat- tered and she thrust her arms out through them with a last blind instinct to wave to him, to reach him, to drag him out of the way. For some mo- 99 A CATHEDRAL SINGER ments her arms hung there outside the shattered window-glass, and a shower of crimson drops from her fingers splashed on the paving-stones below. She kept on waving her lacerated hands more and more feebly, slowly; and then they were drawn inward after her body which dropped unconscious to the gar- ret floor. I00 IV IT was a gay scene over at the art school next morning. Even before the accustomed hour the big barnlike room, with a few prize pictures of for- mer classes scattered about the walls, and with the old academy easels stand- ing about like a caravan of patient camels ever loaded with new burdens but ever traveling the same ancient sands of art-even before nine o'clock the barnlike room presented a scene of eager healthy animal spirits. On the easel of every youthful worker, nearly finished, lay the portrait of the mother. In every case it had been differently done, inadequately done; but in all cases it had been done. Hardly could any ob- IOI A CATHEDRAL SINGER server have failed to recognize what was there depicted. Beyond smearings and daubings of paint, as past the edges of concealing clouds, one caught glimpses of a serene and steadfast hu- man radiance. There one beheld the familiar image of that orb which in dark and pathless hours has through all ages been the guardian light of the world- the mother. The best in them had gone into the painting of this portrait, and the con- sciousness of our best gives us the sense of our power, and the consciousness of our power yields us our enthusiasm; hence the exhilaration and energy of the studio scene. The interest of the members of the class was not concerned solely with the portrait, however: a larger share went to the model herself. They had become strongly bound to her. All the more I02 A CATHEDRAL SINGER perhaps because she held them firmly to the understanding that her life touched theirs only at the point of the stranger in need of a small sum of money. Re- pulsed and baffled in their wish to know her better, they nevertheless became aware that she was undergoing a won- derful transformation on her own ac- count. The change had begun after the ordeal of the first morning. When she returned for the second sitting, and then at later sittings, they had remarked this change, and had spoken of it to one an- other-that she was as a person into whose life some joyous, unbelievable event has fallen, brightening the present and the future. Every day some old cloudy care seemed to loose itself from its lurking-place and drift away from her mind, leaving her face less obscured and thus the more beautifully revealed to them. Now, with the end of the sit- 103 A CATHEDRAL SINGER tings not far off, what they looked for- ward to with most regret was the last sitting, when she, leaving her portrait in their hands, would herself vanish, taking with her both the mystery of her old sorrows and the mystery of this new happiness. Promptly at nine o'clock the teacher of the class entered, greeted them, and glanced around for the model. Not see- ing her, he looked at his watch, then without comment crossed to the easels, and studied again the progress made the previous day, correcting, approving, guiding, encouraging. His demeanor showed that he entered into the mount- ing enthusiasm of his class for this par- ticular piece of work. A few minutes were thus quickly con- sumed. Then, watch in hand once more, he spoke of the absence of the model: I04 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "Something seems to detain the model this morning. But she has sent me no word and she Nvill no doubt be here in a few minutes." He went back to the other end of the studio and sat down, facing them with the impressiveness which belonged to him even without speech. They fixed their eyes on him with the usual expect- ancy. Whenever as now an unfore- seen delay occurred, he was always prompt to take advantage of the inter- val with a brief talk. To them there were never enough of these brief talks, which invariably drew human life into relationship to the art of portraiture, and set the one reality over against the other reality-the turbulence of a human life and the still image of it on the canvas. They hoped he would thus talk to them now; in truth he had the air of casting about in his 105 A CATHEDRAL SINGER mind for a theme best suited to the moment. That mother, now absent, when she had blindly found her way to him, ask- ing to pose, had fallen into good hands. He was a great teacher and he was a remarkable man, remarkable even to look at. Massively built, with a big head of black hair, olive complexion, and bluntly pointed, black beard, and with a mold of countenance grave and strong, he looked like a great Rem- brandt; like some splendid full-length portrait by Rembrandt painted as that master painted men in the prime of his power. With the Rembrandt shadows on him even in life. Even when the sun beat down upon him outdoors, even when you met him in the blaze of the city streets, he seemed not to have emerged from shadow, to bear on him- io6 A CATHEDRAL SINGER self the traces of a human night, a liv- ing darkness. There was light within him but it did not irradiate him. Once he had been a headlong art stu- dent himself, starting out to become a great painter, a great one. After years abroad under the foremost masters and other years of self-trial with every f a- vorable circumstance his, nature had one day pointed her unswerved finger at his latest canvas as at the earlier ones and had judged him to the quick: you will never be a great painter. If you cannot be content to remain less, quit, stop! Thus youth's choice and a man's half a lifetime of effort and ambition ended in abandonment of effort not because he was a failure but because the choice of a profession had been a blunder. A multitude of men topple into this chasm and crawl out nobody. Few of them 107 A CATHEDRAL SINGER at middle age in the darkness of that pit of failure can grope within themselves for some second candle and by it once more become illumined through and through. He found his second can- dle,-it should have been his first,-and he lighted it and it became the light of his later years; but it did not illumine him completely, it never dispelled the shad- ows of the flame that had burned out. What he did was this: having reached the end of his own career as a painter, he turned and made his way back to the fields of youth, and taking his stand by that ever fresh path, always, as students would rashly pass him, he halted them like a wise monitor, describing the best way to travel, warning of the difficulties of the country ahead, but insisting that the goal was worth the toil and the trouble; searching secretly among his pupils year after year for signs of what I08 A CATHEDRAL SINGER he was not, a great painter, and pouring out his sympathies on all those who, like himself, would never be one. Now he sat looking across at his class, the masterful teacher of them. They sat looking responsively at him. Then he took up his favorite theme: "Your work on this portrait is your best work, because the model, as I stated to you at the outset would be the case, has called forth your finer selves; she has caused you to feel. And she has been able to do this because her counte- nance, her whole being, radiates one of the great passions and faiths of our common humanity-the look of reverent motherhood. You recognize that look, that mood; you believe in it; you honor it; you have worked over its living eloquence. Observe, then, the result. Turn to your canvases and see how, though proceeding differently, you have lo9 A CATHEDRAL SINGER all dipped your brushes as in a common medium; how you have all drawn an identical line around that old-time hu- man landmark. You have in truth cop- ied from her one of the great beacon- lights of expression that has been burn- ing and signaling through ages upon ages of human history-the look of the mother, the angel of self-sacrifice to the earth. "While we wait, we might go a little way into this general matter, since you, in the study of portraiture, will always have to deal with it. This look of hers, which you have caught on your can- vases, and all the other great beacon- lights of human expression, stand of course for the inner energies of our lives, the leading forces of our charac- ters. But, as ages pass, human life changes; its chief elements shift their relative places, some forcing their way 110 A CATHEDRAL SINGER to the front, others being pushed to the rear; and the prominent beacon-lights change correspondingly. Ancient ones go out, new ones appear; and the art of portraiture, which is the undying his- torian of the human countenance, is subject to this shifting law of the birth and death of its material. "Perhaps more ancient lights have died out of human faces than modern lights have been kindled to replace them. Do you understand why The reason is this: throughout an immeasur- able time the aim of nature was to make the human countenance as complete an instrument of expression as it could pos- sibly be. Man, except for his gestures and wordless sounds, for ages had noth- ing else with which to speak; he must speak with his face. And thus the primitive face became the chronicle of what was going on within him as well III A CATHEDRAL SINGER as of what had taken place without. It was his earliest bulletin-board of in- telligence. It was the first parchment to bear tidings; it was the original news- paper; it was the rude, but vivid, prime- val book of the woods. The human face was all that. Ages more had to pass before spoken language began, and still other ages before written language began. Thus for an immeas- urable time nature developed the face and multiplied its expressions to enable man to make himself understood. At last this development was checked; what we may call the natural occupation of the face culminated. Civilization be- gan, and as soon as civilization began, the decline in natural expressiveness be- gan with it. Gradually civilization sup- planted primeval needs; it contrived other means for doing what the face alone had done frankly, marvelously. II2 A CATHEDRAL SINGER When you can print news on paper, you may cease to print news on the living countenance. Moreover, the aim of civilization is to develop in us the con- sciousness not to express, but to sup- press. Its aim is not to reveal, but to conceal, thought and emotion; not to make the countenance a beacon-light, but a muffler of the inner candle, what- ever that candle for the time may be. All our ruling passions, good or bad, noble or ignoble, we now try publicly to hide. This is civilization. And thus the face, having started out expression- less in nature, tends through civilization to become expressionless again. "How few faces does any one of us know that frankly radiate the great pas- sions and moods of human nature! What little is left of this ancient tre- mendous drama is the poor pantomime of the stage. Search crowds, search 113 A CATHEDRAL SINGER the streets. See everywhere masked faces, telling as little as possible to those around them of what they glory in or what they suffer. Search modern portrait galleries. Do you find por- traits of either men or women who radi- ate the overwhelming passions, the vital moods, of our galled and soaring na- ture It is not a long time since the Middle Ages. In the stretch of history centuries shrink to nothing, and the Middle Ages are as the earlier hours of our own historic day. But has there not been a change even within that short time Did not the medieval portrait- painters portray in their sitters great moods as no painter portrays them now How many painters of to-day can find great moods in the faces of their sitters "And so I come again to your model. What makes her so remarkable, so sig- II4 A CATHEDRAL SINGER nificant, so touching, so exquisite, so human, is the fact that her face seems almost a survival out of a past in which the beacon-lights of humanity did more openly appear on the features. In her case one beacon-light most of all,-the greatest that has ever shone on the faces of women,-the one which seems to be slowly vanishing from the faces of mod- ern women-the look of the mother: that transfiguration of the countenance of the mother who believed that the birth of a child was the divine event in her existence, and the emotions and energies of whose life centered about her offspring. How often does any living painter have his chance to paint that look now! Galleries are well filled with portraits of contemporary women who have borne children: how often among these is to be found the portrait of the mother of old" II5 A CATHEDRAL SINGER He rose. The talk was ended. He looked again at his watch, and said: "It does not seem worth while to wait longer. Evidently your model has been kept away to-day. Let us hope that no ill has befallen her and that she will be here to-morrow. If she is here, we shall go on with the portrait. If she should not be here, I shall have another model ready, and we shall take up another study until she returns. Bring fresh canvases." He left the room. They lingered; looking again at their canvases, under- standing their own work as they had not hitherto and more strongly than ever drawn toward their model whom that day they missed. Slowly and with disappointment and with many conjec- tures as to why she had not come, they separated. i i6 V IT was Sunday. All round St. Luke's Hospital quiet reigned. The day was very still up there on the heights under the blue curtain of the sky. When he had been hurled against the curb on the dark street, had been rolled over and tossed there and left there with no outcry, no movement, as limp and senseless as a mangled weed, the care- less crowd which somewhere in the city every day gathers about such scenes quickly gathered about him. In this throng was the physician whose car stood near by; and he, used to sights of suffering but touched by that tragedy of unconscious child and half-crazed I 17 A CATHEDRAL SINGER mother, had hurried them in his own car to St. Luke's-to St. Luke's, which is always open, always ready, and always free to those who lack means. Just before they stopped at the en- trance she had pleaded in the doctor's ear for a luxury. "To the private ward," he said to those who lifted the lad to the stretcher, speaking as though in response to her entreaty "One of the best rooms," he said be- fore the operation, speaking as though he shouldered the responsibility of the further expense. "And a room for her near by," he added. "Everything for them! Everything !" So there he was now, the lad, or what there was left of him, this quiet Sunday, in a pleasant room opposite the cathe- dral. The air was like early summer. J I8 A CATHEDRAL SINGER The windows were open. He lay on his back, not seeing anything. The skin of his forehead had been torn off; there was a bandage over his eyes. And there were bruises on his body and bruises on his face, which was horribly disfigured. The lips were swollen two or three thicknesses; it was agony for him to speak. When he realized what had happened, after the operation, his first mumbled words to her were: "They will never have me now." About the middle of the forenoon of this still Sunday morning, when the doc- tor left, she followed him into the hall as usual, and questioned him as usual with her eyes. He encouraged her and encouraged himself: "I believe he is going to get well. He has the wvill to get well, he has the brav- ery to get xvell. Ile is brave about it; he is as brave as he can be." I 19 A CATHEDRAL SINGER "Of course he is brave," she said scornfully. "Of course he is brave." "The love of such a mother would call him back to life," he added, and he laid one of his hands on her head for a moment. "Don't do that," she said, as though the least tenderness toward herself at such a moment would unnerve her, melt away all her fortitude. Everybody had said he was brave, the head nurse, the day nurse, the night nurse, the woman who brought in the meals, the woman who scrubbed the floor. All this had kept her up. If anybody paid any kind of tribute to him, realized in any way what he was, this was life to her. After the doctor left, as the nurse was with him, she walked up and down the halls, too restless to be quiet. At the end of one hall she could look I20 A CATHEDRAL SINGER down on the fragrant leafy park. Yes, summer was nigh. Where a little while before had been only white blossoms, there were fewer white now, more pink, some red, many to match the yellow of the sun. The whole hillside of sway- ing boughs seemed to quiver with hap- piness. Her eyes wandered farther down to the row of houses at the foot of the park. She could see the dread- ful spot on the street, the horrible spot. She could see her shattered win- dow-panes up above. The points of broken glass still seemed to slit the flesh of her hands within their bandages. She shrank back and walked to the end of the transverse hall. Across the road was the cathedral. The morning service was just over. People were pouring out through the temporary side doors and the temporary front doors so placidly, so contentedly! Some were 121 A CATHEDRAL SINGER evidently strangers; as they reached the outside they turned and studied the cathedral curiously as those who had never before seen it. Others turned and looked at it familiarly, with pride in its unfolding form. Some stopped and looked down at the young grass, strok- ing it with the toes of their fine shoes; they were saying how fresh and green it was. Some looked up at the sky; they were saying how blue it was. Some looked at one another keenly; they were discussing some agreeable matter, being happy to get back to it now after the service. Not one of them looked across at the hospital. Not a soul of them seemed to be even aware of its existence. Not a soul of them! Particularly her eyes became riveted upon two middle-aged ladies in black who came out through a side door of the cathedral-slow-paced women, bereft, 122 A CATHEDRAL SINGER full of pity. As they crossed the yard, a gray squirrel came jumping along in front of them on its way to the park. One stooped and coaxed it and tried to pet it: it became a vital matter with both of them to pour out upon the little creature which had no need of it their pent-up, ungratified affection. With not a glance to the window where she stood, with her mortal need of them, her need of all mothers, of every- body-her mortal need of everybody! Why were they not there at his bedside Why had they not heard Why had not all of them heard Why had any- thing else been talked of that day Why were they not all massed around the hos- pital doors, tearful with their sympa- thies How could they hold services in the cathedral-the usual services Why was it not crowded to the doors with the clergy of all faiths and the lay- 123 A CATHEDRAL SINGER men of every land, lifting one outcry against such destruction Why did they not stop building temples to God, to the God of life, to the God who gave little children, until they had stopped the massacre of children, His children in the streets! Yes; everybody had been kind. Even his little rivals who had fought with him over the sale of papers had given up some of their pennies and had bought flowers for him, and one of them had brought their gift to the main hospital entrance. Every day a shy group of them had gathered on the street while one came to inquire how he was. Kind- ness had rained on her; there was that in the sight of her that unsealed kind- ness in every heart. She had been too nearly crazed to think of this. Her bitterness and an- guish broke through the near cordon of 124 A CATHEDRAL SINGER sympathy and went out against the whole brutal and careless world that did not care-to legislatures that did not care, to magistrates that did not care, to juries that did not care, to officials that did not care, to drivers that did not care, to the whole city that did not care about the massacre in the streets. Through the doors of the cathedral the people streamed out unconcerned. Beneath her, along the street, young couples passed, flushed with their climb of the park hillside, and flushed with young love, young health. Sometimes they held each other's hands; they innocently mocked her agony with their careless joy. One last figure issued from the side door of the cathedral hurriedly and looked eagerly across at the hospital- looked straight at her, at the window, and came straight toward the entrance I25 A CATHEDRAL SINGER below-the choir-master. She had not sent word to him or to any one about the accident; but he, when his new pupil had failed to report as promised, had come down to find out why. And he, like all the others, had been kind; and he was coming now to inquire what he could do in a case where nothing could be done. She knew only too well that nothing could be done. The bright serene hours of the day passed one by one with nature's care- lessness about the human tragedy. It was afternoon and near the hour for the choral even-song across the way at the cathedral, the temporary windows of which were open. She had relieved the nurse, and was alone with him. Often during these days he had put out one of his hands and groped about with it to touch her, turn- I26 A CATHEDRAL SINGER ing his head a little toward her under his bandaged eyes, and apparently feel- ing much mystified about her, but say- ing nothing. She kept her bandaged hands out of his reach but leaned over him in response and talked ever to him, barely stroking him with the tips of her stiffened fingers. The afternoon was so quiet that by and by through the opened windows a deep note sent a thrill into the room- the awakened soul of the organ. And as the two listened to it in silence, soon there floated over to them the voices of the choir as the line moved slowly down the aisle, the blended voices of the chosen band, his school-fellows of the altar. By the bedside she suddenly rocked to and fro, and then she bent over and said with a smile in her tone: "Do youl hear Do youi hear them " He made a motion with his lips to 127 A CATHEDRAL SINGER speak but they hurt him too much. So he nodded: that he heard them. A moment later he tugged at the band- age over his eyes. She sprang toward him: "O my precious one, you must not tear the bandage off your eyes !" "I want to see you !" he mumbled. "It has been so long since I saw you! What's the matter with you Where are your hands Why don't you put your arms around me" 128 VI T HE class had been engaged with another model. Their work was forced and listless. As days passed without the mother's return, their thought and their talk concerned itself more and more with her disappearance. Why had she not come back What had befallen her What did it all mean Would they ever know One day after their luncheon-hour, as they were about to resume work, the teacher of the class entered. He looked shocked; his look shocked them; instant sympathy ran through them. He spoke with difficulty: "She has come back. She is down- stairs. Something had befallen her in- I29 A CATHEDRAL SINGER deed. She told me as briefly as possi- ble and I tell you all I know. Her son, a little fellow who had just been chosen for the cathedral choir school was run over in the street. A mention of it- the usual story-was in the papers, but who of us reads such things in the papers They bore us; they are not even news. He was taken to St. Luke's, and she has been at St. Luke's, and the end came at St. Luke's, and all the time we have been here a few yards distant and have known nothing of it. Such is New York! It was to help pay for his education in music that she first came to us, she said. And it was the news that he had been chosen for the choir school that accounts for the new happiness which we saw brighten her day by day. Now she comes again for the same small wage, but with other need, no doubt: the expenses of it all, I30 A CATHEDRAL SINGER a rose-bush for his breast. She told me this calmly as though it caused her no grief. It was not my privilege, it is not our privilege, to share her unutter- able bereavement. "She has asked to go on with the sit- tings. I have told her to come to-mor- row. But she does not realize all that this involves with the portrait. You will have to bring new canvases, it will have to be a new work. She is in mourning. Her hands will have to be left out, she has hurt them; they are bandaged. The new portrait will be of the head and face only. But the chief reason is the change of expression. The light which was in her face and which you have partly caught upon your canvases, has died out; it was brutally put out. The old look is gone. It is gone, and will never come back-the tender, brooding, reverent happiness ,3I A CATHEDRAL SINGER and peace of motherhood with the child at her knee-that great earthly beacon- light in women of ages past. It was brutally put out but it did not leave blankness behind it. There has come in its place another light, another ancient beacon-light on the faces of women of old-the look of faith in immortal things. She is not now the mother with the tenderness of this earth but the mother with the expectation of eternity. Her eyes have followed him who has left her arms and gone into a distance. Ever she follows him into that distance. Your portrait, if you can paint it, will be the mother with the look of immortal things in her face." When she entered the room next morning, at the sight of her in mourn- ing and so changed in every way, with one impulse they all rose to her. She 132 A CATHEDRAL SINGER took no notice,-perhaps it would have been unendurable to notice,-but she stepped forward as usual, and climbed to the platform without faltering, and he posed her for the head and shoul- ders. Then, to study the effect from different angles, he went behind the easels, passing from one to another. As he returned, with the thought of giving her pleasure, he brought along with him one of the sketches of herself and held it out before her. "Do you recognize it" he asked. She refused to look at first. Then arousing herself from her indifference she glanced at it. But when she beheld there what she had never seen-how great had been her love of him; when she beheld there the light now gone out and realized that it meant the end of happy days with him, she shut her eyes quickly and jerked her head to one side 133 A CATHEDRAL SINGER with a motion for him to take the pic- ture away. But she had been brought too close to her sorrow and suddenly she bent over her hands like a snapped reed and the storm of her grief came upon her. They started up to get to her. They fought one another to get to her. They crowded around the platform, and tried to hide her from one another's eyes, and knelt down, and wound their arms about her, and sobbed with her; and then they lifted her and guided her behind the screens. "Now, if you will allow them," he said, when she came out with them, one of them having lent her a veil, "some of these young friends will go home with you. And whenever you wish, whenever you feel like it, come back to us. We shall be ready. We shall be waiting. 'Ae shall all be glad." '34 A CATHEDRAL SINGER On the heights the cathedral rises- slowly, as the great houses of man's Christian faith have always risen. Years have drifted by as silently as the winds since the first rock was riven where its foundations were to be laid, and still all day on the clean air sounds the lonely clink of drill and chisel as the blasting and the shaping of the stone goes on. The snows of winters have drifted deep above its rough beginnings; the suns of many a spring have melted the snows away. Well nigh a genera- tion of human lives has already meas- ured its brief span about the corner- stones. Far-brought, many-tongued toilers, toiling on the rising walls, have dropped their work and stretched them- selves in their last sleep; others have climbed to their places; the work goes on. Upon the shoulders of the images of the Apostles, which stand about the 135 A CATHEDRAL SINGER chancel, generations of pigeons-the doves of the temple whose nests are in the niches-upon the shoulders of the Apostles generations of pigeons born in the niches have descended out of the azure as with the benediction of shim- mering wings. Generations of the wind-borne seeds of wild flowers have lodged in low crevices and have sprouted and blossomed, and as seeds again have been blown further on-har- bingers of vines and mosses already on their venerable way. A mighty shape begins to answer back to the cathedrals of other lands and ages, bespeaking for itself admit- tance into the league of the world's august sanctuaries. It begins to send its annunciation onward into ages yet to be, so remote, so strange, that we know not in what sense the men of it will even be our human brothers I36 A CATHEDRAL SINGER save as they are children of the same Father. Between this past and this future, the one of which cannot answer because it is too late and the other of which can not answer because it is too soon-be- tween this past and this future the cathe- dral stands in a present that answers back to it more and more. For a world of living men and women see kindled there the same ancient flame that has been the light of all earlier stations on that solitary road of faith which runs for a little space between the two eter- hities-a road strewn with the dust of countless wayfarers bearing each a dif- ferent cross of burden but with eyes turned toward the same Cross of hope. As on some mountain-top a tall pine- tree casts its lengthened shadow upon the valleys far below, round and round with the circuit of the sun, so the cathe- '37 A CATHEDRAL SINGER dral flings hither and thither across the whole land its spiritual shaft of light. A vast, unnumbered throng be- gin to hear of it, begin to look toward it, begin to grow familiar with its emerg- ing form. In imagination they see its chapels bathed in the glories of the morning sun; they remember its unfin- ished dome gilded at the hush of sunsets. Between the roar of the eastern and of the western ocean its organ speaks of a Divine peace above mortal storm. Pilgrims from afar, known only to themselves as pilgrims, being pilgrim- hearted but not pilgrim-clad, reach at its gates the borders of their Gethsem- ane. Bowed as penitents, they hail its lily of forgiveness and the resurrection. Slowly the cathedral rises, in what unknown years to stand finished! Crowning a city of new people, let it be hoped, of better laws. Finished and I38 A CATHEDRAL SINGER standing on its rock for the order of the streets, for order in the land and order throughout the world, for order in the secret places of the soul. XIajes- tical rebuker of the waste of lives, re- buker of a country which invites all lives into it and wastes lives most ruth- lessly-lives which it stands there to shelter and to foster and to save. So it speaks to the distant through space and time; but it speaks also to the near. Although not half risen out of the earth, encumbering it rough and shape- less, already it draws into its service many who dwell around. These seek to cast their weaknesses on its strength, to join their brief day to its innumerable years, to fall into the spiritual splendor of it as out in space small darkened wan- derers drop into the orbit of a sun. An- guished memories begin to bequeath I39 A CATHEDRAL SINGER their jewels to its shrine; dimmed eyes will their tears to its eyes, its windows. Old age with one foot in the grave drags the other resignedly about its crypt. In its choir sound the voices of children herded in from the green hillside of life's April. Rachel Truesdale! Her life became one of these near-by lives which it blesses, a darkened wanderer caught into the splendor of a spiritual sun. It gathered her into its service; it found useful work for her to do; and in this new life of hers it drew out of her na- ture the last thing that is ever born of the mother-faith that she is separated a little while from her children only be- cause they have received the gift of eternal youth. Many a proud happy thought became hers as time went on. She had had her 140 A CATHEDRAL SINGER share in its glory, for it had needed him whom she had brought into the world. It had called upon him to help give song to its message and to build that ever-falling rainbow of music over which human Hope walks into the eter- nal. Always as the line of white-clad chor- isters passed down the aisle, among them was one who brushed tenderly against her as he walked by, whom no one else saw. Rising above the actual voices and heard by her alone, up to the dome soared a voice dearer, more thrilling, than the rest. Often she was at her window, watch- ing the workmen at their toil as they brought out more and more the great shape on the heights. Often she stood looking across at the park hillside oppo- site. Whenever spring came back and the slope lived again with young leaves 14' A CATHEDRAL SINGER and white blossoms, always she thought of him. Always she saw him playing in an eternal April. When autumn re- turned and leaves withered and dropped, she thought of herself. Sometimes standing beside his piano. Having always in her face the look of immortal things. The cathedral there on its rock for ages saying: "I am the Resurrection and the Life." THE END 142