“Another sphere,”—he caught a subtle pleasure in her enunciation. “I suppose you mean high society; but it would never be the same.”
“Not quite the same. You would have to drive to see your sinners in a carriage and pair, and you might be obliged to dine with them in—what do ladies generally dine in?—white satin and diamonds, or pearls. I think I would rather see you in pearls.” He was aware of the inexcusableness of the points he made, but he only stopped to laugh inwardly at their impression, watching the absorbed turn of her head.
“We might think it well to be a little select in our sinners—most of them would be on Government House list, just as most of your present ones are on the lists of the charitable societies or the police magistrates. But you would find just as much to do for them.”
“I should not even know how to act in such company.”
“You can go home for a year, if you like, to be taught, to some people I know; delightful people, who will understand. A year! You will learn in three months—what odds and ends there are to know. I couldn’t spare you for a year.”
Lindsay stopped. He had to. Captain Filbert was murmuring the cadences of a hymn. She went through two stanzas, and covered her eyes for a moment with her hand. When she spoke it was in a quiet, level, almost mechanical way. “Yes,” she said. “The Cross and the Crown, the Crown and the Cross. Father in heaven, I do not forget Thy will and Thy purpose, that I should bring the word of Thy love to the poor and the lowly, the outcast and those despised. And what I say to this man, who offers me the gifts and the gladness of a world that had none for Thee, is the answer Thou hast put in my heart—that the work is Thine and that I am Thine, and he has no part or lot in me, nor can ever have. Here is Crooked Lane. Good-night, Mr. Lindsay.” She had slipped into the devious darkness of the place before he could find any reply, before he quite realised, indeed, that they had reached her lodging. He could only utter a vague “Goodnight,” after her, formulating more definite statements to himself a few minutes later, in Bentinck Street.
Miss Howe was walking in the business quarter of Calcutta. It was the business quarter, yet the air was gay with the dimpling of piano notes, and looking up one saw the bright sunlight fall on yellow stuccoed flats above the shops and the offices. There the pleasant north wind blew banners of muslin curtains out of wide windows, and little gardens of palms in pots showed behind the balustrades of the flat roofs whenever a storey ran short. Everywhere was a subtle contagion of momentary well-being, a sense of lifted burden. The stucco streets were too slovenly to be purely joyous, but a warm satisfaction brooded in them, the pariahs blinked at one genially, there was a note