’You mean my wife, Janey! No, no; she didn’t tell me you went to work;—an accident. But I’m delighted you and Clem are such good friends. Kind-hearted girl, isn’t she?’
Jane whispered an assent.
’No doubt your grandfather often tells you about Australia, and your uncle that died there?’
‘No, he never speaks of Australia. And I never heard of my uncle.’
Joseph continued his examination all the way to Hanover Street, often expressing surprise, but never varying from the tone of affection and geniality. When they reached the door of the house he said:
’Just let me go into the room by myself. I think it’ll be better. He’s alone, isn’t he?’
‘Yes. I’ll come up and show you the door.’
She did so, then turned aside into her own room, where she sat motionless for a long time.
THE JOKE IS COMPLETED
Michael Snowdon—to distinguish the old man by name from the son who thus unexpectedly returned to him—professed no formal religion. He attended no Sunday service, nor had ever shown a wish that Jane should do so. We have seen that he used the Bible as a source of moral instruction; Jane and he still read passages together on a Sunday morning, but only such were chosen as had a purely human significance, and the comments to which they gave occasion never had any but a human bearing. Doubtless Jane reflected on these things; it was her grandfather’s purpose to lead her to such reflection, without himself dogmatising on questions which from his own point of view were unimportant. That Jane should possess the religious spirit was a desire he never lost sight of; the single purpose of his life was involved therein; but formalism was against the bent of his nature. Born and bred amid the indifference of. the London working classes, he was one of the very numerous thinking men who have never needed to cast aside a faith of childhood; from the dawn of rationality, they simply stand apart from all religious dogmas, unable to understand the desire of such helps to conduct, untouched by spiritual trouble—as that phrase is commonly interpreted. And it seemed that Jane closely resembled him in this matter. Sensitive to every prompting of humanity, instinct with moral earnestness, she betrayed no slightest tendency to the religion of church, chapel, or street-corner. A promenade of the Salvation Army half-puzzled, half-amused her; she spoke of it altogether without intolerance, as did her grandfather, but never dreamt that it was a phenomenon which could gravely concern her. Prayers she had never said; enough that her last thought before sleeping was one of kindness to those beings amid whom she lived her life, that on awaking her mind turned most naturally to projects of duty and helpfulness.