|Chapter Number||XXIII (Continued.) & XXIV|
|Chapter Title||The Sussex Vicarage. & A Temple Built in Music.|
|Newspaper Title||The Canberra Times|
|Trove Title||From Windjammer to Battleship|
FROM WINDJAMMER TO BATTLESHIP
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
BY S. G. FIELDING
"Just inside the big gate?" ask Jack.
"Yes; that is the very spot where the body of Queen Eleanor rested on its way to the Abbey: yonder is Trafalgar Square; the tall statue you see is the
Nelson Monument, and the large build- ing on the right is the National Gal- lery ; we must go there some day."
As they passed down Whitehall, sud- denly a magnificent edifice leapt into
"What is that stately building?" en- quired Jack.
"They are the Houses of Parliament; we will get down here," she added, as the motor 'bus stopped opposite West- minster station. Interesting though the Houses of Parliament were, and bound up with the religious and political his- tory of the British nation, the venerable ecclesiastical structure opposite at once claimed Jack's attention. There was no need for him to ask what it was. He knew at once; he had seen it in his dreams. It was the ancient church of the Empire, founded by Edward the Confessor, eight hundred and fifty
Canon Wilkinson had lent him a book on the Abbey, which he had been read- ing the night before in anticipation of his visit. He now remembered that the book stated that a church had stood on the same spot long before the Confes-_ sor's time in the reign of King Sebert
the Saxon, the place being then known as the "Isle of Thorns," so called be- cause it was covered with tangled thic- kets and thorns, among which the red deer and the wild oxen strayed. The
book further stated, as if in corrobora- tion of this tradition, that a few years ago, when the underground railway was
being constructed, the workmen found the bones and antlers of oxen and deer close to the present site of Westminster
"Do you mind if we stop just for a
few minutes?" said Jack.
"Is your foot hurting? I am so sorry, am I walking too fast for you? Mind that car!''
"My foot is quite strong again," said
Jack, touched by her evident anxiety; "but I want to try and identify the
place if I can."
"Do you know, Miss Wilkinson, that we are now standing on the ancient
'Isle of Thorns?' "
"Indeed; is that the cause of your uneasiness?" she enquired with a merry
twinkle; "seriously, how do you know?"
"Partly from a book your brother lent me, and partly from a strange feeling that has just come over me that I have been here before," he was going to say, but refrained from doing so. . . . . . . . . . "It seems to have been ages ago, long before the Abbey was built. The river in those days, must
have been nearer to the place where the church now stands; but I am keep- ing you standing; shall we cross over?"
"How interesting," said Adele, as they crossed the street, and entered St. Mar- garet's Church yard, and passed under the shadow of the grey Abbey; arch and buttress, tower and pinnacle rising over a hundred feet above their heads. For a few moments they paused before the North transport, to gaze at the statue of Christ with hands outstretched to bless two converging lines of figures representing Kings and Queens, Clergy and Statesmen, warriors and men of let- ters, whose services to God and man are commemorated within the sacred building itself. Then Jack quietly held open a plain, leather covered door, to allow Adele to pass into the church. He followed, and next moment, he felt that they two were again lone, as they had been on the little raft, away from the noisy world.
The rush and roar of the great city was left behind them, and only a vague sound like the beating of the surf on some rockbound coast reached their ears. 'A feeling akin to awe stole over
them. They trod softly and spoke in whispers; for were they not treading on the dust of the great and good of past I
ages? Men whose words and deeds had filled the earth with their fame, and whose names had been handed down from generation to generation.
Jack was at first somewhat bewilder- ed by the statutes and memorials
which lined the transepts on either side, and he looked round at his companion
"Let us walk round to the west end." said Adele, remembering her former visits, and the directions given to her brother. "Tom told me that was the
best way of getting a view of the
Abbey as a whole.
They, therefore, walked past the
great choir screen in the centre of the building until they reached the west- ern door; then turned and looked back. In a moment, the vast dimensions, the splendid proportions, and matchless symmetry of the great building broke upon them. The soaring roof stretched dimly and mysteriously into space,
while far away in the east they could just catch a glimpse of Henry VII.'s
Chapel, the delicate tracery of its un- rivalled roof almost hidden by the mists and shadows that hung about it.
For some minutes they stood in sil- ence, which was broken by Jack say- ing: "It makes one think of eternity; of the untold generations that have come and gone, and of the fleetingness of human life compared with the Etern- ity of God; Lord thu hast been our refuge from one generation to an- other," he quoted, "before the moun- tains were brought forth; or ever the earth or the world were made, Thou art God from everlasting and world
without end.' "
"And there to our right," said Adele, "is the ancient baptistery, the outward and visible sign, that we belong to that Divine life, that always has been, and ever will be. As a child for several years, I attended the annual children's service here on Innocent's Day; and before leaving for Australia I used to bring my class of girls. Dean Stanley was alive then, he used to call the Abbey "the most loveable thing in
Christendom," and occasionally he would show us over it himself after the service and explain everything in his own delightful manner; so I ought to
know something about it," she added,
with a smile. "I remember the Dean on one occasion calling the Baptistery 'the little poet's corner.' "
"Why?" enquired Jack,
"Because it contains the busts and monuments of Wordsworth, Charles
Kingsley, John Keble, Matthew Arnold, Arnold of Rugby, and others."
Jack gazed with intense interest at
the monuments, and as the calm face of Wordsworth looked upon him, the solemn grandeur of the building took possession of his soul, and for a few moments he caught the swift vision and glory of a temple infinitely grander and more beautiful than the one in which they stood—a temple not made with hands—"A temple built."
In music, therefore, never built at all. And, therefore, "built for ever."
As they walked slowly back towards the choir screen, with its beautiful oaken carvings, Adele said:—
"We are now treading over the graves
of some of the greatest Englishmen ;
this is the tomb of David Livingstone,
the greatest missionary and African ex plorer."
Jack looked down, and read on the brass tablet at his feet, "All I can say in my solitude is, may Heaven's rich blessing come down on every one, American, English, Turk, who will help me to heal this open sore of the world."
"To what did he refer?" asked Jack. "To the slave trade," responded Adele, repeating the familiar story of the great missionary's death, so far as she could remember, in the Dean's own words. As she spoke with his vivid imagina- tion, Jack pictured to himself the brave man breathing his last in a rude hut in central Africa, with no white man near him, no love of wife or sister to cool his burning brow, and no hand of son or brother to close his glazing eyes. He could see his native followers looking anxiously into that lonely hut in the morning, wondering why their master tarried there so long, at last venturing in they found him kneeling by his bed- side dead; he had died praying for the dark land for which he had given his
"And how did they get the body here?" enquired Jack. "His faithful fol- lowers carried it for nine months, across flooded rivers, through tangled forests, among hostile tribes, until they at last handed their sacred charge into the hands of the British Consul at Zanzibar," said Adele, again quoting what she remembered of the Dean's de- scription.
Somehow Jack thought of Tommy who had given his life to save himself, Jack Grenville, and the girl by his side
"These," said Adele, pointing to seve- ral graves close to that of the great Missionary, "are the tombs of some of
our great Indian soldiers, the heroes of Lucknow and Delhi. Lawrence and Outram, and those tattered banners you see yonder, are, I believe, the flags their followers carried on the battle- ships, when they fought and died for Queen and Country."
"Thank you," said Jack, gazing rever- ently at them, "Look," he suddenly ex- claimed as they moved eastward, "New- ton, Huxley, Herchel, Darwin Chand Kaur used to say, "they were the men who had drawn aside the veil from nature, and enabled us to see God at
His wonderful work of creation." He stood for some minutes gazing at the tombs of those men who had clothed with a new significance the sublime yet simple words of Moses, 'In the begin- ning God created the heaven and the
(To be Continued.)