Miriam paid her first visit to a German church the next day, her third Sunday. Of the first Sunday, now so far off, she could remember nothing but sitting in a low-backed chair in the Saal trying to read Les Travailleurs de la Mer⁠ ⁠… seas⁠ ⁠… and a sunburnt youth striding down a desolate lane in a storm⁠ ⁠… and the beginning of teatime. They had been kept indoors all day by the rain.

The second Sunday they had all gone in the evening to the English church with Fräulein Pfaff⁠ ⁠… rush-seated chairs with a ledge for books, placed very close together and scrooping on the stone floor with the movements of the congregation⁠ ⁠… a little gathering of English people. They seemed very dear for a moment⁠ ⁠… what was it about them that was so attractive⁠ ⁠… that gave them their air of “refinement”?⁠ ⁠…

Then as she watched their faces as they sang she felt that she knew all these women, the way, with little personal differences, they would talk, the way they would smile and take things for granted.

And the men, standing there in their overcoats.⁠ ⁠… Why were they there? What were they doing? What were their thoughts?

She pressed as against a barrier. Nothing came to her from these unconscious forms.

They seemed so untroubled.⁠ ⁠… Probably they were all Conservatives.⁠ ⁠… That was part of their “refinement.” They would all disapprove of Mr. Gladstone.⁠ ⁠… Get up into the pulpit and say “Gladstone” very loud⁠ ⁠… and watch the result. Gladstone was a Radical⁠ ⁠… “pull everything up by the roots.”⁠ ⁠… Pater was always angry and sneery about him.⁠ ⁠… Where were the Radicals? Somewhere very far away⁠ ⁠… tub-thumping⁠ ⁠… the Conservatives made them thump tubs⁠ ⁠… no wonder.

She decided she must be a Radical. Certainly she did not belong to these “refined” English⁠—women or men. She was quite sure of that, seeing them gathered together, English Church-people in this foreign town.

But then Radicals were probably chapel?

It would be best to stay with the Germans. Yes⁠ ⁠… she would stay. There was a woman sitting in the endmost chair just across the aisle in line with them. She had a pale face and looked worn and middle-aged. The effect of “refinement” made on Miriam by the congregation seemed to radiate from her. There was a large ostrich feather fastened by a gleaming buckle against the side of her silky beaver hat. It swept, Miriam found the word during the Psalms, back over her hair. Miriam glancing at her again and again felt that she would like to be near her, watch her and touch her and find out the secret of her effect. But not talk to her, never talk to her.

She, too, sad and alone though Miriam knew her to be, would have her way of smiling and taking things for granted. The sermon came. Miriam sat, chafing, through it. One angry glance towards the pulpit had shown her a pale, black-moustached face. She checked her thoughts. She felt they would be too savage; would rend her unendurably. She tried not to listen. She felt the preacher was dealing out “pastoral platitudes.” She tried to give her mind elsewhere; but the sound of the voice, unconvinced and unconvincing threatened her again and again with a tide of furious resentment. She fidgeted and felt for thoughts and tried to compose her face to a semblance of serenity. It would not do to sit scowling here amongst her pupils with Fräulein Pfaff’s eye commanding her profile from the end of the pew just behind.⁠ ⁠… The air was gassy and close, her feet were cold. The gentle figure across the aisle was sitting very still, with folded hands and grave eyes fixed in the direction of the pulpit. Of course. Miriam had known it. She would “think over” the sermon afterwards.⁠ ⁠… The voice in the pulpit had dropped. Miriam glanced up. The figure faced about and intoned rapidly, the congregation rose for a moment rustling, and rustling subsided again. A hymn was given out. They rose again and sang. It was “Lead, Kindly Light.” Chilly and feverish and weary Miriam listened⁠ ⁠… “the encircling glooo‑om”⁠ ⁠… Cardinal Newman coming back from Italy in a ship⁠ ⁠… in the end he had gone over to Rome⁠ ⁠… high altars⁠ ⁠… candles⁠ ⁠… incense⁠ ⁠… safety and warmth.⁠ ⁠… From far away a radiance seemed to approach and to send out a breath that touched and stirred the stuffy air⁠ ⁠… the imploring voices sang on⁠ ⁠… poor dears⁠ ⁠… poor cold English things⁠ ⁠… Miriam suddenly became aware of Emma Bergmann standing at her side with open hymnbook shaking with laughter. She glanced sternly at her, mastering a sympathetic convulsion.

Emma looked so sweet standing there shaking and suffused. Her blue eyes were full of tears. Miriam wanted to giggle too. She longed to know what had amused her⁠ ⁠… just the fact of their all standing suddenly there together. She dared not join her⁠ ⁠… no more giggling as she and Harriett had giggled. She would not even be able afterwards to ask her what it was.

Sitting on this third Sunday morning in the dim Schlosskirche⁠—the Waldstraße pew was in one of its darkest spaces and immediately under the shadow of a deeply overhanging gallery⁠—Miriam understood poor Emma’s confessed hysteria over the abruptly alternating kneelings and standings, risings and sittings of an Anglican congregation. Here, there was no need to be on the watch for the next move. The service droned quietly and slowly on. Miriam paid no heed to it. She sat in the comforting darkness. The unobserving Germans were all round her, the English girls tailed away invisibly into the distant obscurity. Fräulein Pfaff was not there, nor Mademoiselle. She was alone with the school. She felt safe for a while and derived solace from the reflection that there would always be church. If she were a governess all her life there would be church. There was a little sting of guilt in the thought. It would be practising deception.⁠ ⁠… To despise it all, to hate the minister and the choir and the congregation and yet to come⁠—running⁠—she could imagine herself all her life running, at least in her mind, weekly to some church⁠—working her fingers into their gloves and pretending to take everything for granted and to be just like everybody else and really thinking only of getting into a quiet pew and ceasing to pretend. It was wrong to use church like that. She was wrong⁠—all wrong. It couldn’t be helped. Who was there who could help her? She imagined herself going to a clergyman and saying she was bad and wanted to be good⁠—even crying. He would be kind and would pray and smile⁠—and she would be told to listen to sermons in the right spirit. She could never do that.⁠ ⁠… There she felt she was on solid ground. Listening to sermons was wrong⁠ ⁠… people ought to refuse to be preached at by these men. Trying to listen to them made her more furious than anything she could think of, more base in submitting⁠ ⁠… those men’s sermons were worse than women’s smiles⁠ ⁠… just as insincere at any rate⁠ ⁠… and you could get away from the smiles, make it plain you did not agree and that things were not simple and settled⁠ ⁠… but you could not stop a sermon. It was so unfair. The service might be lovely, if you did not listen to the words; and then the man got up and went on and on from unsound premises until your brain was sick⁠ ⁠… droning on and on and getting more and more pleased with himself and emphatic⁠ ⁠… and nothing behind it. As often as not you could pick out the logical fallacy if you took the trouble.⁠ ⁠… Preachers knew no more than anyone else⁠ ⁠… you could see by their faces⁠ ⁠… sheeps’ faces.⁠ ⁠… What a terrible life⁠ ⁠… and wives and children in the homes taking them for granted.⁠ ⁠…

Certainly it was wrong to listen to sermons⁠ ⁠… stultifying⁠ ⁠… unless they were intellectual⁠ ⁠… lectures like Mr. Brough’s⁠ ⁠… that was as bad, because they were not sermons.⁠ ⁠… Either kind was bad and ought not to be allowed⁠ ⁠… a homily⁠ ⁠… sermons⁠ ⁠… homilies⁠ ⁠… a quiet homily might be something rather nice⁠ ⁠… and have not Charity⁠—sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.⁠ ⁠… Caritas⁠ ⁠… I have none I am sure.⁠ ⁠… Fräulein Pfaff would listen. She would smile afterwards and talk about a “schöne Predigt”⁠—certainly.⁠ ⁠… If she should ask about the sermon? Everything would come out then.

What would be the good? Fräulein would not understand. It would be better to pretend. She could not think of any woman who would understand. And she would be obliged to live somewhere. She must pretend to somebody. She wanted to go on, to see the spring. But must she always be pretending? Would it always be that⁠ ⁠… living with exasperating women who did not understand⁠ ⁠… pretending⁠ ⁠… grimacing?⁠ ⁠… Were German women the same? She wished she could tell Eve the things she was beginning to feel about women. These English girls were just the same. Millie⁠ ⁠… sweet lovely Millie.⁠ ⁠… How she wished she had never spoken to her. Never said, “Are you fond of crochet?”⁠ ⁠… Millie saying, “You must know all my people,” and then telling her a list of names and describing all her family. She had been so pleased for the first moment. It had made her feel suddenly happy to hear an English voice talking familiarly to her in the Saal. And then at the end of a few moments she had known she never wanted to hear anything more of Millie and her people. It seemed strange that this girl talking about her brothers’ hobbies and the colour of her sister’s hair was the Millie she had first seen the night of the Vorspielen with the “Madonna” face and no feet. Millie was smug. Millie would smile when she was a little older⁠—and she would go respectfully to church all her life⁠—Miriam had felt a horror even of the workbasket Millie had been tidying during their conversation⁠—and Millie had gone upstairs, she knew, feeling that they had “begun to be friends” and would be different the next time they met. It was her own fault. What had made her speak to her? She was like that.⁠ ⁠… Eve had told her. She got excited and interested in people and then wanted to throw them up. It was not true. She did not want to throw them up. She wanted them to leave her alone.⁠ ⁠… She had not been excited about Millie. It was Ulrica, Ulrica⁠ ⁠… Ulrica⁠ ⁠… Ulrica⁠ ⁠… sitting up at breakfast with her lovely head and her great eyes⁠—her thin fingers peeling an egg.⁠ ⁠… She had made them all look so “common.” Ulrica was different. Was she? Yes, Ulrica was different⁠ ⁠… Ulrica peeling an egg and she, afterwards like a mad thing had gone into the Saal and talked to Millie in a vulgar, familiar way, no doubt.

And that had led to that dreadful talk with Gertrude. Gertrude’s voice sounding suddenly behind her as she stood looking out of the Saal window and their talk. She wished Gertrude had not told her about Hugo Wieland and the skating. She was sure she would not have liked Erica Wieland. She was glad she had left. “She was my chum,” Gertrude had said, “and he taught us all the outside edge and taught me figure-skating.”

It was funny⁠—improper⁠—that these schoolgirls should go skating with other girls’ brothers. She had been so afraid of Gertrude that she had pretended to be interested and had joked with her⁠—she, Miss Henderson, the governess had said⁠—knowingly, “Let’s see, he’s the clean-shaven one, isn’t he?”

Rather,” Gertrude had said with a sort of winking grimace.⁠ ⁠…

They were singing a hymn. The people near her had not moved. Nobody had moved. The whole church was sitting down, singing a hymn. What wonderful people.⁠ ⁠… Like a sort of tea party⁠ ⁠… everybody sitting about⁠—not sitting up to the table⁠ ⁠… happy and comfortable.

Emma had found her place and handed her a big hymnbook with the score.

There was time for Miriam to read the first line and recognise the original of “Now Thank We All Our God” before the singing had reached the third syllable. She hung over the book. “Nun⁠—dank⁠—et⁠—Al⁠—le⁠—Gott.” Now⁠—thank⁠—all⁠—God. She read that first line again and felt how much better the thing was without the “we” and the “our.” What a perfect phrase.⁠ ⁠… The hymn rolled on and she recognised that it was the tune she knew⁠—the hard square tune she and Eve had called it⁠—and Harriett used to mark time to it in jerks, a jerk to each syllable, with a twisted glove-finger tip just under the book ledge with her left hand, towards Miriam. But sung as these Germans sang it, it did not jerk at all. It did not sound like a “proclamation” or an order. It was⁠ ⁠… somehow⁠ ⁠… everyday. The notes seemed to hold her up. This was⁠—Luther⁠—Germany⁠—the Reformation⁠—solid and quiet. She glanced up and then hung more closely over her book. It was the stained-glass windows that made the Schlosskirche so dark. One movement of her head showed her that all the windows within sight were dark with rich colour, and there was oak everywhere⁠—great shelves and galleries and juttings of dark wood, great carved masses and a high dim roof and strange spaces of light; twilight, and light like moonlight and people, not many people, a troop, a little army under the high roof, with the great shadows all about them. “Nun danket alle Gott.” There was nothing to object to in that. Everybody could say that. Everybody⁠—Fräulein, Gertrude, all these little figures in the church, the whole world. “Now thank, all, God!”⁠ ⁠… Emma and Marie were chanting on either side of her. Immediately behind her sounded the quavering voice of an old woman. They all felt it. She must remember that.⁠ ⁠… Think of it every day.