“This,” thought Courtier, “is religion!”
They were singing even on the balconies; by the lamplight he could see Lord Valleys mouth not opened quite enough, as though his voice were just a little ashamed of coming out, and Barbara with her head flung back against the pillar, pouring out her heart. No mouth in all the crowd was silent. It was as though the soul of the English people were escaping from its dungeon of reserve, on the pinions of that chant.
But suddenly, like a shot bird closing wings, the song fell silent and dived headlong back to earth. Out from under the clock-face had moved a thin dark figure. More figures came behind. Courtier could see Miltoun. A voice far away cried: “Up; Chilcox!” A huge: “Husill” followed; then such a silence, that the sound of an engine shunting a mile away could be heard plainly.
The dark figure moved forward, and a tiny square of paper gleamed out white against the black of his frock-coat.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Result of the Poll:
“Miltoun Four thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight. Chilcox Four thousand eight hundred and two.”
The silence seemed to fall to earth, and break into a thousand pieces. Through the pandemonium of cheers and groaning, Courtier with all his strength forced himself towards the balcony. He could see Lord Valleys leaning forward with a broad smile; Lady Valleys passing her hand across her eyes; Barbara with her hand in Harbinger’s, looking straight into his face. He stopped. The old Chartist was still beside him, tears rolling down his cheeks into his beard.
Courtier saw Miltoun come forward, and stand, unsmiling, deathly pale.
At three o’clock in the afternoon of the nineteenth of July little Ann Shropton commenced the ascent of the main staircase of Valleys House, London. She climbed slowly, in the very middle, an extremely small white figure on those wide and shining stairs, counting them aloud. Their number was never alike two days running, which made them attractive to one for whom novelty was the salt of life.
Coming to that spot where they branched, she paused to consider which of the two flights she had used last, and unable to remember, sat down. She was the bearer of a message. It had been new when she started, but was already comparatively old, and likely to become older, in view of a design now conceived by her of travelling the whole length of the picture gallery. And while she sat maturing this plan, sunlight flooding through a large window drove a white refulgence down into the heart of the wide polished space of wood and marble, whence she had come. The nature of little Ann habitually rejected fairies and all fantastic things, finding them quite too much in the air, and devoid of sufficient