"Yes, yes," said Hilary; "it's all right."
"I don't care what he thinks; I won't go again so long as I can come here."
"Well, well," he said, and opened the front door.
The little model, tremulous, like' a flower kissed by the sun after rain, went out with a light in her eyes.
The master of the house returned to Mr. Stone. Long he sat looking at the old man's slumber. "A thinker meditating upon action!" So might Hilary's figure, with its thin face resting on its hand, a furrow between the brows, and that painful smile, have been entitled in any catalogue of statues.
Following out the instinct planted so deeply in human nature for treating with the utmost care and at great expense when dead those, who, when alive, have been served with careless parsimony, there started from the door of No. 1 in Hound Street a funeral procession of three four-wheeled cabs. The first bore the little coffin, on which lay a great white wreath (gift of Cecilia and Thyme). The second bore Mrs. Hughs, her son Stanley, and Joshua Creed. The third bore Martin Stone. In the first cab Silence was presiding with the scent of lilies over him who in his short life had made so little noise, the small grey shadow which had crept so quietly into being, and, taking his chance when he was not noticed, had crept so quietly out again. Never had he felt so restful, so much at home, as in that little common coffin, washed as he was to an unnatural whiteness, and wrapped in his mother's only spare sheet. Away from all the strife of men he was Journeying to a greater peace. His little aloe-plant had flowered; and, between the open windows of the only carriage he had ever been inside, the wind--which, who knows? he had perhaps become--stirred the fronds of fern and the flowers of his funeral wreath. Thus he was going from that world where all men were his brothers.
>From the second cab the same wind was rigidly excluded, and there was silence, broken by the aged butler's breathing. Dressed in his Newmarket coat, he was recalling with a certain sense of luxury past, journeys in four-wheeled cabs--occasions when, seated beside a box corded and secured with sealing-wax, he had taken his master's plate for safety to the bank; occasions when, under a roof piled up with guns and boxes, he had sat holding the "Honorable Bateson's" dog; occasions when, with some young person by his side, he had driven at the tail of a baptismal, nuptial, or funeral cortege. These memories of past grandeur came back to him with curious poignancy, and for some reason the words kept rising in his mind: 'For richer or poorer, for better or worser, in health and in sick places, till death do us part.' But in the midst of the exaltation of these recollections the old heart beneath his old red flannel chest-protector--that companion of his exile--twittering faintly at short intervals, made him look at the woman by his side. He longed to convey to her some little of the satisfaction he felt in the fact that this was by no means the low class of funeral it might have been. He doubted whether, with her woman's mind, she was getting all the comfort she could out of three four-wheeled cabs and a wreath of lilies. The seamstress's thin face, with its pinched, passive look, was indeed thinner, quieter, than ever. What she was thinking of he could not tell. There were so many things she might be thinking of. She, too, no doubt, had seen her grandeur, if but in the solitary drive away from the church where, eight years ago, she and Hughs had listened to the words now haunting Creed. Was she thinking of that; of her lost youth and comeliness, and her man's dead love; of the long descent to shadowland; of the other children she had buried; of Hughs in prison; of the girl that had "put a spell on him"; or only of the last precious tugs the tiny lips at rest in the first four-wheeled cab had given at her breast? Or was she, with a nicer feeling for proportion, reflecting that, had not people been so kind, she might have had to walk behind a funeral provided by the parish?
The old butler could not tell, but he--whose one desire now, coupled with the wish to die outside a workhouse, was to save enough to bury his own body without the interference of other people--was inclined to think she must be dwelling on the brighter side of things; and, designing to encourage her, he said: "Wonderful improvement in these 'ere four-wheel cabs! Oh dear, yes! I remember of them when they were the shadders of what they are at the present time of speakin'."