The History of David Grieve Part 120

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'How father would have liked all this crowd!' she said once to David as they passed into Market Street.

David assented with instant sympathy, and they talked a little of the vanished wanderer as they walked along, she with a yearning passion which touched him profoundly.

He and Sandy escorted her up the Ancoats High Street, and at last they turned into her own road. Instantly Dora perceived a little crowd round her door, and, as soon as she was seen, a waving of hands, and a Babel of voices.

'What is it?' she cried, paling, and began to run.

David and Sandy followed. She had already flown upstairs; but the shawled mill-girls, round the door, flushed with excitement, shouted their news into his ear.

'It's her feyther, sir, as ha coom back after aw these years--an he's sittin by the fire quite nat'ral like, Mary Styles says--and they put him in a mad-house in furrin parts, they did--an his hair's quite white--an oh! sir, yo mun just goo up an look.'

Pushed by eager hands, and still holding Sandy, David, though half unwilling, climbed the narrow stairs.

The door was half open. And there, in his old chair, sat Daddy, his snow-white hair falling on his shoulders, a childish excitement and delight on his blanched face. Dora was kneeling at his feet, her head on his knees, sobbing.

David took Sandy up in his arms.

'Be quiet, Sandy; don't say a word.'

And he carried him downstairs again, and into the midst of the eager crowd.

'I think,' he said, addressing them, 'I would go home if I were you--if you love her.'

They looked at his shining eyes and twitching lips, and understood.

'Aye, sir, aye, sir, yo're abeawt reet--we'st not trouble her, sir.'

He carried his boy home, Sandy raining questions in a tumult of excitement. Then when the child was put to bed he sat on in his lonely study, stirred to his sensitive depths by the thought of Dora's long waiting and sad sudden joy--by the realisation of the Christmas crowds and merriment--by the sharp memory of his own dead. Towards midnight, when all was still, he opened the locked drawer which held for him the few things which symbolised and summed up his past--a portrait of Lucy, by the river under the trees, taken by a travelling photographer, not more than six weeks before her death--a little collection of pictures of Sandy from babyhood onwards--Louie's breviary--his father's dying letter--a book which had belonged to Ancrum, his vanished friend. But though he took thence his wife's picture, communing awhile, in a passion of yearning, with its weary plaintive eyes, he did not allow himself to sink for long into the languor of memory and grief. He knew the perils of his own nature, and there was in him a stern sense of the difficulty of living aright, and the awfulness of the claim made by God and man on the strength and will of the individual. It seemed to him that he had been 'taught of God'

through natural affection, through repentance, through sorrow, through the constant energies of the intellect. Never had the Divine voice been clearer to him, or the Divine Fatherhood more real. Freely he had received--but only that he might freely give.

On this Christmas night he renewed every past vow of the soul, and in so doing rose once more into that state and temper which is man's pledge and earnest of immortality--since already, here and now, it is the eternal life begun.

THE END

The History of David Grieve Part 120

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The History of David Grieve Part 120 summary

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