Then in a moment a memory from the far past swept over me, and I cried, almost as if the name had been forced out of me:
The woman started, and it seemed for a moment as if she were going to run away. Then she laid hold of me by the arm and, looking searchingly into my face, said:
“Who are you? . . . I know. You are Mary O’Neill, aren’t you?”
“I knew you were. I read about your marriage to that . . . that man. And now you are wondering why I am here. Well, come home with me and see.”
It was not until afterwards that I knew by what mistake about my presence in that place Angela thought she must justify herself in my eyes (mine!); but taking me by the hand, just as she used to do when I was a child, she led, almost pulled, me down Piccadilly, and my will was so broken that I did not attempt to resist her.
We crossed Piccadilly Circus, with its white sheet of electric light, and, turning into the darker thoroughfares on the northern side of it, walked on until, in a narrow street of the Italian quarter of Soho, we stopped at a private door by the side of a cafe that had an Italian name on the window.
“This is where we live. Come in,” said Angela, and I followed her through a long empty lobby and up three flights of bare stairs.
While we ascended, there was the deadened sound, as from the cafe, of men singing (in throbbing voices to mandolines and guitars) one of the Italian songs which I remembered to have heard from the piazza outside the convent on that night when Sister Angela left me in bed while she went off to visit the chaplain:
“Oh bella Napoli,
Oh suol beato
Onde sorridere volle il creato.”
“The Italian Club,” said Angela. “Only one flight more. Come!”
At length Angela opened, with a key from her satchel, a door on the top landing, and we entered a darkened room which was partly in the roof.
As we stepped in I heard rapid breathing, which told me that we were in a sick chamber, and then a man’s voice, very husky and weak, saying:
“Is that you, Agnes?”
“It’s only me, dear,” said Angela..
After a moment she turned up the solitary gas-jet, which had been burning low, and I saw the shadowy form of a man lying in a bed that stood in a corner. He was wasted with consumption, his long bony hands were lying on the counterpane, his dark hair was matted over his forehead as from sweat, but I could not mistake the large, lively grey eyes that looked out of his long thin face. It was Father Giovanni.
Angela went up to him and kissed him, and I could see that his eyes lighted with a smile as he saw her coming into the room.
“There’s somebody with you, isn’t there?” he said.
“Yes. Who do you think it is?”