All Roads Lead to Calvary

Jerome K. Jerome
All Roads Lead to Calvary

The Project Gutenberg eBook, All Roads Lead to Calvary, by Jerome
K. Jerome
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Title: All Roads Lead to Calvary
Author: Jerome K. Jerome
Release Date: March 24, 2005 [eBook #2231]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)

Transcribed from the 1919 Hutchinson & Co. edition by David Price,
email [email protected]


She had not meant to stay for the service. The door had stood invitingly
open, and a glimpse of the interior had suggested to her the idea that it
would make good copy. "Old London Churches: Their Social and
Historical Associations." It would be easy to collect anecdotes of the
famous people who had attended them. She might fix up a series for
one of the religious papers. It promised quite exceptional material, this
particular specimen, rich in tombs and monuments. There was character
about it, a scent of bygone days. She pictured the vanished

congregations in their powdered wigs and stiff brocades. How
picturesque must have been the marriages that had taken place there,
say in the reign of Queen Anne or of the early Georges. The church
would have been ancient even then. With its air of faded grandeur, its
sculptured recesses and dark niches, the tattered banners hanging from
its roof, it must have made an admirable background. Perhaps an
historical novel in the Thackeray vein? She could see her heroine
walking up the aisle on the arm of her proud old soldier father. Later on,
when her journalistic position was more established, she might think of
it. It was still quite early. There would be nearly half an hour before the
first worshippers would be likely to arrive: just time enough to jot
down a few notes. If she did ever take to literature it would be the
realistic school, she felt, that would appeal to her. The rest, too, would
be pleasant after her long walk from Westminster. She would find a
secluded seat in one of the high, stiff pews, and let the atmosphere of
the place sink into her.
And then the pew-opener had stolen up unobserved, and had taken it so
for granted that she would like to be shown round, and had seemed so
pleased and eager, that she had not the heart to repel her. A curious
little old party with a smooth, peach-like complexion and white soft
hair that the fading twilight, stealing through the yellow glass, turned to
gold. So that at first sight Joan took her for a child. The voice, too, was
so absurdly childish--appealing, and yet confident. Not until they were
crossing the aisle, where the clearer light streamed in through the open
doors, did Joan see that she was very old and feeble, with about her
figure that curious patient droop that comes to the work-worn. She
proved to be most interesting and full of helpful information. Mary
Stopperton was her name. She had lived in the neighbourhood all her
life; had as a girl worked for the Leigh Hunts and had "assisted" Mrs.
Carlyle. She had been very frightened of the great man himself, and
had always hidden herself behind doors or squeezed herself into
corners and stopped breathing whenever there had been any fear of
meeting him upon the stairs. Until one day having darted into a
cupboard to escape from him and drawn the door to after her, it turned
out to be the cupboard in which Carlyle was used to keep his boots. So
that there was quite a struggle between them; she holding grimly on to

the door inside and Carlyle equally determined to open it and get his
boots. It had ended in her exposure, with trembling knees and scarlet
face, and Carlyle had addressed her as "woman," and had insisted on
knowing what she was doing there. And after that she had lost all terror
of him. And he had even allowed her with a grim smile to enter
occasionally the sacred study with her broom and pan. It had evidently
made a lasting impression upon her, that privilege.
"They didn't get on very well together, Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle?" Joan
queried, scenting the opportunity of obtaining first-class evidence.
"There wasn't much difference, so far as I could see, between them and
most of us," answered the little old lady. "You're not married, dear,"
she continued, glancing at Joan's ungloved hand, "but people must have
a deal
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