Down in his study, the words went through his mind: “Holy, holy, holy, Merciful and Mighty!” And going to the little piano in the corner, he opened it, and began playing the hymn. He played it softly on the shabby keys of this thirty-year old friend, which had been with him since College days; and sang it softly in his worn voice.
A sound made him look up. Gratian had come in. She put her hand on his shoulder, and said:
“I know it hurts you, Dad. But we’ve got to find out for ourselves, haven’t we? All the time you and George were talking, I felt that you didn’t see that it’s I who’ve changed. It’s not what he thinks, but what I’ve come to think of my own accord. I wish you’d understand that I’ve got a mind of my own, Dad.”
Pierson looked up with amazement.
“Of course you have a mind.”
Gratian shook her head. “No, you thought my mind was yours; and now you think it’s George’s. But it’s my own. When you were my age weren’t you trying hard to find the truth yourself, and differing from your father?”
Pierson did not answer. He could not remember. It was like stirring a stick amongst a drift of last year’s leaves, to awaken but a dry rustling, a vague sense of unsubstantiality. Searched? No doubt he had searched, but the process had brought him nothing. Knowledge was all smoke! Emotional faith alone was truth—reality!
“Ah, Gracie!” he said, “search if you must, but where will you find bottom? The well is too deep for us. You will come back to God, my child, when you’re tired out; the only rest is there.”
“I don’t want to rest. Some people search all their lives, and die searching. Why shouldn’t I.
“You will be most unhappy, my child.”
“If I’m unhappy, Dad, it’ll be because the world’s unhappy. I don’t believe it ought to be; I think it only is, because it shuts its eyes.”
Pierson got up. “You think I shut my eyes?”
“If I do, it is because there is no other way to happiness.”
“Are you happy; Dad?”
“As happy as my nature will let me be. I miss your mother. If I lose you and Noel—”
“Oh, but we won’t let you!”
Pierson smiled. “My dear,” he said, “I think I have!”
Some wag, with a bit of chalk, had written the word “Peace” on three successive doors of a little street opposite Buckingham Palace.
It caught the eye of Jimmy Fort, limping home to his rooms from a very late discussion at his Club, and twisted his lean shaven lips into a sort of smile. He was one of those rolling-stone Englishmen, whose early lives are spent in all parts of the world, and in all kinds of physical conflict—a man like a hickory stick, tall, thin, bolt-upright, knotty, hard as nails, with a curved fighting back to his head