He was sorely tempted now to discuss Sir Thomas’s position and to describe his own, but he perceived from her own aloofness just now that it would seem a profanity, so he preserved silence instead, knowing that it would be eloquent to her. At last she spoke again, and there was a suggestion of a tremor in her voice.
“I suppose you can do nothing for him really? He must stay in the Tower?”
Ralph threw out his hands, silently, expostulating.
“Nothing?” she said again, bending over her work.
Ralph stood up, looking down at her, but made no answer.
“I—I would do anything,” she said deliberately, “anything, I think, for the man—” and then broke off abruptly.
* * * * *
Ralph went away from Chelsea that afternoon with a whirling head and dancing heart. She had said no more than that, but he knew what she had meant, and knew, too that she would not have said as much to anyone to whom she was indifferent. Of course, it was hopeless to think of bringing about More’s release, but he could at least pretend to try, and Ralph was aware that to chivalrous souls a pathetic failure often appeals more than an excellent success.
Folks turned to look after him more than once as he strode home.
A HIGHER STEP
As Chris, on the eve of his profession, looked back over the year that had passed since his reception at the guest-house, he scarcely knew whether it seemed like a week or a century. At times it appeared as if the old life in the world were a kind of far-away picture in which he saw himself as one detached from his present personality, moving among curious scenes in which now he had no part; at other times the familiar past rushed on him fiercely, deafened him with its appeal, and claimed him as its own. In such moods the monastery was an intolerable prison, the day’s round an empty heart-breaking formality in which his soul was being stifled, and even his habit, which he had once touched so reverently, the badge of a fool.