He took the boy’s hand and they passed into the church together. No one followed. Hand in hand they stood before the dismantled chancel. Taffy heard the sound of shuffling feet on the walk outside, and looked up into Mr. Raymond’s face.
“Kiss me, sonny.”
The De Imitatione Christi slipped from Taffy’s fingers and fell upon the chancel step.
So his childhood ended.
These things happened on a Friday. After breakfast next morning Taffy went to fetch his books. He did so out of habit and without thinking; but his father stopped him.
“Put them away,” he said. “Some day we’ll go back to them, but not yet.”
Instead of books Humility packed their dinner in the satchel. They reached the church and found the interior just as they had left it. Taffy was set to work to pick up and sweep together the scraps of broken glass which littered the chancel. His father examined the wreckage of the pews.
While the boy knelt at his task, his thoughts were running on the Pantomime. He had meant, last night, to recount all its wonders and the wonders of Plymouth; but somehow the words had not come. After displaying his presents he could find no more to say: and feeling his father’s hand laid on his shoulder, had burst into tears and hidden his face in his mother’s lap. He wanted to console them, and they were pitying him—why he could not say—but he knew it was so.
And now the Pantomime, Plymouth, everything, seemed to have slipped away from him into a far past. Only his father and mother had drawn nearer and become more real. He tried to tell himself one of the old stories; but it fell into pieces like the fragments of coloured glass he was handling, and presently he began to think of the glass in his hands and let the story go.
“On Monday we’ll set to work,” said his father. “I dare say Joel”— this was the carpenter down at Innis village—“will lend me a few tools to start with. But the clearing up will take us all to-day.”
They ate their dinner in the vestry. Taffy observed that his father said: “We will do this,” or “Our best plan will be so-and-so,” and spoke to him as to a grown man. On the whole, though the dusk found them still at work, this was a happy day.
“But aren’t you going to lock the door?” he asked, as they were leaving.
“No,” said Mr. Raymond. “We shall win, sonny; but not in that way.”
On the morrow Taffy rang the bell for service as usual. To his astonishment Squire Moyle was among the first-comers. He led Honoria by the hand, entered the Tredinnis pew and shut the door with a slam. It was the only pew left unmutilated. The rest of the congregation— and curiosity made it larger than usual—had to stand; but a wife of one of the miners found a hassock and passed it to Humility, who thanked her for it with brimming eyes. Mr. Raymond said afterward that this was the first success of the campaign.