The Horizon Widens

Jean Caillaud, shoemaker, whom we have met before, commonly called John Kaylow, friend of the Major and member of the Society of the Friends of the People, was by birth a Frenchman. He had originally come to this country in 1795, bringing with him a daughter, Pauline, about four or five years old. Why he came nobody knew, nor did anybody know who was the mother of the child. He soon obtained plenty of employment, for he was an admirable workman, and learned to speak English well. Pauline naturally spoke both English and French. Her education was accomplished with some difficulty, though it was not such a task as it might have been, because Jean’s occupation kept him at home; his house being in one of the streets in that complication of little alleys and thoroughfares to most Londoners utterly unknown; within the sound of St. Bride’s nevertheless, and lying about a hundred yards north of Fleet Street. If the explorer goes up a court nearly opposite Bouverie Street, he will emerge from a covered ditch into one that is opened, about six feet wide. Presently the ditch ends in another and wider ditch running east and west. The western one turns northward, and then westward again, roofs itself over, squeezes itself till it becomes little less than a rectangular pipe, and finally discharges itself under an oil and colourman’s house in Fetter Lane. The eastern arm, strange to say, suddenly expands, and one side of it, for no earthly reason, is set back with an open space in front of it, partitioned by low palings. Immediately beyond, as if in a fit of sudden contrition for such extravagance, the passage or gutter contracts itself to its very narrowest and, diving under a printing-office shows itself in Shoe Lane. The houses in these trenches were not by any means of the worst kind. In the aforesaid expansion they were even genteel, or at any rate aspired to be so, and each had its own brass knocker and kept its front-door shut with decent sobriety and reticence. On the top floor of one of these tenements lodged Jean Caillaud and Pauline. They had three rooms between them; one was Jean’s bedchamber, one Pauline’s, and one was workroom and living-room, where Jean made ball-slippers and light goods⁠—this being his branch of the trade⁠—and Pauline helped him. The workroom faced the north, and was exactly on a level with an innumerable multitude of red chimney-pots pouring forth stinking smoke which, for the six winter months, generally darkened the air during the whole day. But occasionally Nature resumed her rights, and it was possible to feel that sky, stars, sun, and moon still existed, and were not blotted out by the obscurations of what is called civilised life. There came, occasionally, wild nights in October or November, with a gale from the southwest and then, when almost everybody had gone to bed and the fires were out, the clouds, illuminated by the moon, rushed across the heavens, and the Great Bear hung over the dismal waste of smutty tiles with the same solemnity with which it hangs over the mountains, the sea, or the desert. Early in the morning, too, in summer, between three and four o’clock in June, there were sights to be seen worth seeing. The distance was clear for miles, and the heights of Highgate were visible, proclaiming the gospel of a beyond and beyond even to Kent’s Court, and that its immediate surroundings were mercifully not infinite. The light made even the nearest bit of soot-grimed, twisted, rotten brickwork beautiful, and occasionally, but at very rare intervals, the odour of London was vanquished, and a genuine breath from the Brixton fields was able to find its way uncontaminated across the river. Jean and Pauline were, on the whole, fond of the court. They often thought they would prefer the country, and talked about it; but it is very much to be doubted, if they had been placed in Devonshire, whether they would not have turned back uneasily after a time to their garret. They both liked the excitement of the city, and the feeling that they were so near to everything that was stirring in men’s minds. The long stretch of lonely seashore is all very well, very beautiful, and, maybe, very instructive to many people; but to most persons half-an-hour’s rational conversation is much more profitable. Pauline was not a particularly beautiful girl. Her hair was black, and, although there was a great deal of it, it was coarse and untidy. Her complexion was sallow⁠—not as clear as it might be⁠—and underneath the cheekbones there were slight depressions. She had grown up without an attachment, so far as her father knew, and indeed so far as she knew. She had one redeeming virtue⁠—redeeming especially to Jean, who was with her alone so much. She had an intellect, and it was one which sought for constant expression; consequently she was never dull. If she was dull, she was ill. She had none of that horrible mental constriction which makes some English women so insupportably tedious. The last thing she read, the last thing she thought, came out with vivacity and force, and she did not need the stimulus of a great excitement to reveal what was in her. Living as she did at work side by side with her father all day, she knew all his thoughts and read all his books. Neither of them ever went to church. They were not atheists, nor had they entirely pushed aside the religious questions which torment men’s minds. They believed in what they called a Supreme Being, whom they thought to be just and good; but they went no further. They were revolutionary, and when Jean joined the Friends of the People, he and the Major and one other man became a kind of interior secret committee, which really directed the affairs of the branch. Companions they had none, except the Major and one or two compatriots; but they were drawn to Zachariah, and Zachariah was drawn to them, very soon after he became a member of the Society. The first time he went to Kent’s Court with Jean was one night after a meeting. The two walked home together, and Zachariah turned in for an hour, as it was but ten o’clock. There had been a grand thanksgiving at St. Paul’s that day. The Prince Regent had returned thanks to Almighty God for the restoration of peace. The Houses of Parliament were there, with the Foreign Ambassadors, the City Corporation, the Duke of Wellington, Field-Marshal Blucher, peeresses, and society generally. The Royal Dukes, Sussex, Kent, York, and Gloucester, were each drawn by six horses and escorted by a separate party of the Guards. It took eight horses to drag the Prince himself to divine service, and he, too, was encompassed by soldiers. Arrived at the cathedral, he was marshalled to a kind of pew surmounted by a lofty crimson-and-gold canopy. There he sat alone, worshipped his Creator, and listened to a sermon by the Bishop of Chester. Neither Jean nor Pauline troubled themselves to go out, and indeed it would not have been of much use if they had tried; for it was by no means certain that Almighty God, who had been so kind as to get rid of Napoleon, would not permit a row in the streets. Consequently, every avenue which led to the line of the procession was strictly blocked. They heard the music from a distance, and although they both hated Bonaparte, it had not a pleasant sound in their ears. It was the sound of triumph over Frenchmen, and, furthermore, with all their dislike to the tyrant, they were proud of his genius.

Walking towards Clerkenwell that evening, the streets being clear, save for a number of drunken men and women, who were testifying to the orthodoxy of their religious and political faith by rolling about the kennel in various stages of intoxication, Jean pressed Zachariah to go upstairs with him. Pauline had prepared supper for herself and her father, and a very frugal meal it was, for neither of them could drink beer nor spirits, and they could not afford wine. Pauline and Zachariah were duly introduced, and Zachariah looked around him. The room was not dirty, but it was extremely unlike his own. Shoemaking implements and unfinished jobs lay here and there without being “put away.” An old sofa served as a seat, and on it were a pair of lasts, a bit of a French newspaper, and a plateful of small onions and lettuce, which could not find a place on the little table. Zachariah, upstairs in Rosoman Street, had often felt just as if he were in his Sunday clothes and new boots. He never could make out what was the reason for it. There are some houses in which we are always uncomfortable. Our freedom is fettered, and we can no more take our ease in them than in a glass and china shop. We breathe with a sense of oppression, and the surroundings are like repellant chevaux de frise. Zachariah had no such feelings here. There was disorder, it is true; but, on the other hand, there was no polished tea-caddy to stare at him and claim equal rights against him, defying him to disturb it. He was asked to sit upon the sofa, and in so doing upset the plateful of salad upon the floor. Pauline smiled, was down upon her knees in an instant, before he could prevent her, picked up the vegetables and put them back again. To tell the truth, they were rather dirty; and she, therefore, washed them in a hand-basin. Zachariah asked her if she had been out that day.

“I?⁠—to go with the Lord Mayor and bless the good God for giving us back Louis Bourbon? No Mr. Coleman; if the good God did give us Louis back again, I wouldn’t bless Him for it, and I don’t think He had much to do with it. So there were two reasons why I didn’t go.”

Zachariah was a little puzzled, a little shocked, and a little out of his element.

“I thought you might have gone to see the procession and hear the music.”

“I hate processions. Whenever I see one, and am squeezed and trampled on just because those fine people may ride by, I am humiliated and miserable. As for the music, I hate that too. It is all alike, and might as well be done by machinery. Come, you are eating nothing. What conspiracy have you and my father hatched tonight?”

“Conspiracy!” said Jean. “Who are the conspirators? Not we. The conspirators are those thieves who have been to St. Paul’s.”

“To give thanks,” said Pauline. “If I were up there in the sky, shouldn’t I laugh at them. How comical it is! Did they give thanks for Austerlitz or Jena?”

“That’s about the worst of it,” replied Jean. “It is one vast plot to make the people believe lies. I shouldn’t so much mind their robbing the country of its money to keep themselves comfortable, but what is the meaning of their Te Deums? I tell you again,”⁠—and he repeated the words with much emphasis⁠—“it is a vast plot to make men believe a lie. I abhor them for that ten times more than for taking my money to replace Louis.”

“Oh,” resumed Pauline, “if I were only up in the sky for an hour, I would have thundered and lightened on them just as they got to the top of Ludgate Hill, and scattered a score or so of them. I wonder if they would have thanked Providence for their escape? O father, such a joke! The Major told me the other day of an old gentleman he knew who was riding along in his carriage. A fireball fell and killed the coachman. The old gentleman, talking about it afterwards, said that ‘providentially it struck the box-seat.’ ”

Zachariah, although a firm believer in his faith, and not a coward, was tempted to be silent. He was heavy and slow in action, and this kind of company was strange to him. Furthermore, Pauline was not an open enemy, and notwithstanding her little blasphemies, she was attractive. But then he remembered with shame that he was ordered to testify to the truth wherever he might be, and unable to find anything of his own by which he could express himself, a text of the Bible came into his mind, and, half to himself, he repeated it aloud:

“I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.”

“What is that?” said Jean. “Repeat it.”

Zachariah slowly repeated it. He had intended to add to it something which might satisfy his conscience and rebuke Pauline, but he could not.

“Whence is that?” said Jean.

“From the Bible; give me one and I will show it to you.”

There was no English Bible in the house. It was a book not much used; but Pauline presently produced a French version, and Jean read the passage⁠—“Qui forme la lumière, et qui crée les ténèbres; qui fait la paix, et qui crée l’adversité; c’est moi, l’Eternel, qui fais toutes les choses là.

Pauline bent over her father and read it again.

Qui crée l’adversité,” she said. “Do you believe that?”

“If it is there I do,” said Zachariah.

“Well, I don’t.”

“What’s adversity to hell fire? If He made hellfire, why not adversity? Besides, if He did not, who did?”

“Don’t know a bit, and don’t mean to bother myself about it.”

“Right!” broke in Jean⁠—“right, my child; bother⁠—that is a good word. Don’t bother yourself about anything when⁠—bothering will not benefit. There is so much in the world which will⁠—bear a botheration out of which some profit will arise. Now, then, clear the room, and let Zachariah see your art.”

The plates and dishes were all put in a heap and the table pushed aside. Pauline retired for a few moments, and presently came back in a short dress of black velvet, which reached about halfway down from the knee to the ankle. It was trimmed with red; she had stuck a red artificial flower in her hair, and had on a pair of red stockings with dancing slippers, probably of her own make. Over her shoulders was a light gauzy shawl. Her father took his station in a corner, and motioned to Zachariah to compress himself into another. By dint of some little management and piling up the chairs an unoccupied space of about twelve feet square was obtained. Pauline began dancing, her father accompanying her with an oboe. It was a very curious performance. It was nothing like ordinary opera-dancing, and equally unlike any movement ever seen at a ball. It was a series of graceful evolutions with the shawl which was flung, now on one shoulder and now on the other, each movement exquisitely resolving itself, with the most perfect ease, into the one following, and designed apparently to show the capacity of a beautiful figure for poetic expression. Wave fell into wave along every line of her body, and occasionally a posture was arrested, to pass away in an instant into some new combination. There was no definite character in the dance beyond mere beauty. It was melody for melody’s sake. A remarkable change, too, came over the face of the performer. She looked serious; but it was not a seriousness produced by any strain. It was rather the calm which is found on the face of the statue of a goddess. In none of her attitudes was there a trace of coquettishness, although some were most attractive. One in particular was so. She held a corner of the shawl high above her with her right hand, and her right foot was advanced so as to show her whole frame extended excepting the neck; the head being bent downward and sideways.

Suddenly Jean ceased; Pauline threw the shawl over both her shoulders, made a profound curtsey, and retired; but in five minutes she was back again in her ordinary clothes. Zachariah was in sore confusion. He had never seen anything of the kind before.

He had been brought up in a school which would have considered such an exhibition as the work of the devil. He was distressed too to find that the old Adam was still so strong within him that he detected a secret pleasure in what he had seen. He would have liked to have got up and denounced Jean and Pauline, but somehow he could not. His great great grandfather would have done it, beyond a doubt, but Zachariah sat still.

“Did you ever perform in public?” he asked.

“No. I was taught when I was very young; but I have never danced except to please father and his friends.”

This was a relief, and some kind of an excuse. He felt not quite such a reprobate; but again he reflected that when he was looking at her he did not know that she was not in a theatre every night in the week. He expected that Jean would offer some further explanation of the unusual accomplishment which his daughter had acquired; but he was silent, and Zachariah rose to depart, for it was eleven o’clock. Jean apparently was a little restless at the absence of approval on Zachariah’s part, and at last he said abruptly:

“What do you think of her?”

Zachariah hesitated, and Pauline came to the rescue. “Father, what a shame! Don’t put him in such an awkward position.”

“It was very wonderful,” stammered Zachariah, “but we are not used to that kind of thing.”

“Who are the ‘we’?” said Pauline. “Ah, of course you are Puritans. I am a⁠—what do you call it?⁠—a daughter, no, that isn’t it⁠—a child of the devil. I won’t have that though. My father isn’t the devil. Even you wouldn’t say that, Mr. Coleman. Ah, I have no business to joke, you look so solemn; you think my tricks are satanic; but what was it in your book, ‘C’est moi, l’Eternel, qui fais toutes les choses là’?” and as Zachariah advanced to the doors she made him a bow with a grace which no lady of quality could have surpassed.

He walked home with many unusual thoughts. It was the first time he had ever been in the company of a woman of any liveliness of temperament, and with an intellect which was on equal terms with that of a man. In his own Calvinistic Dissenting society the pious women who were members of the church took little or no interest in the mental life of their husband. They read no books, knew nothing of politics, were astonishingly ignorant, and lived in their household duties. To be with a woman who could stand up against him was a new experience. Here was a girl to whom every thought her father possessed was familiar!

But there was another experience. From his youth upwards he had been trained with every weapon in the chapel armoury, and yet he now found himself as powerless as the merest novice to prevent the very sinful occupation of dwelling upon every attitude of Pauline, and outlining every one of her limbs. Do what he might, her image was forever before his eyes, and reconstructed itself after every attempt to abolish it, just as a reflected image in a pool slowly but inevitably gathers itself together again after each disturbance of the water. When he got home, he found, to his surprise, that his wife was still sitting up. She had been to the weekly prayer-meeting, and was not in a very pleasant temper. She was not spiteful, but unusually frigid. She felt herself to be better than her husband, and she asked him if he could not arrange in future that his political meetings might not interfere with his religious duties.

“Your absence, too, was noticed, and Mrs. Carver asked me how it was that Mr. Coleman could let me go home alone. She offered to tell Mr. Carver to come home with me; but I refused.”

Delightfully generous of Mrs. Carver! That was the sort of kindness for which she and many of her Pike Street friends were so distinguished; and Mrs. Coleman not only felt it deeply, but was glad of the opportunity of letting Mr. Coleman know how good the Carvers were.

It was late, but Mrs. Coleman produced the Bible. Zachariah opened it rather mechanically. They were going regularly through it at family worship, and had got into Numbers. The portion for that evening was part of the 26th chapter: “And these are they that were numbered of the Levites after their families: of Gershon, the family of the Gershonites: of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites: of Merari, the family of the Merarites,” etc., etc. Zachariah, having read about a dozen verses, knelt down and prayed; but, alas, even in his prayer he saw Pauline’s red stockings.

The next morning his wife was more pleasant, and even talkative⁠—talkative, that is to say, for her. Something had struck her.

“My dear,” quoth she, as they sat at breakfast, “what a pity it is that the Major is not a converted character!”

Zachariah could not but think so too.

“I have been wondering if we could get him to attend our chapel. Who knows?⁠—some word might go to his heart which might be as the seed sown on good ground.”

“Have you tried to convert him yourself?”

“Oh no, Zachariah! I don’t think that would be quite proper.”

She screwed up her lips a little, and then, looking down at her knees very demurely, smoothed her apron.

“Why not, my dear? Surely it is our duty to testify to the belief that is in us. Poor Christiana, left alone, says, as you will remember, ‘O neighbour, knew you but as much as I do, I doubt not but that you would go with me.’ ”

“Ah, yes, that was all very well then.” She again smoothed her apron. “Besides, you know,” she added suddenly, “there were no public means of grace in the City of Destruction. Have you said anything to the Major?”


She did not push her advantage, and the unpleasant fact again stood before Zachariah’s eyes, as it had stood a hundred times before them lately, that when he had been with sinners he had been just what they were, barring the use of profane language. What had he done for his master with the Major, with Jean, and with Pauline?⁠—and the awful figure of the Crucified seemed to rise before him and rebuke him. He was wretched: he had resolved over and over again to break out against those who belonged to the world, to abjure them and all their works. Somehow or other, though, he had not done it.

“Suppose,” said Mrs. Zachariah, “we were to ask the Major here on Sunday afternoon to tea, and to chapel afterwards.”

“Certainly.” He was rather pleased with the proposition. He would be able to bear witness in this way at any rate to the truth.

“Perhaps we might at the same time ask Jean Caillaud, his friend. Would to God”⁠—his wife started⁠—“would to God,” he exclaimed fervently, “that these men could be brought into the Church of Christ!”

“To be sure. Ask Mr. Caillaud, then, too.”

“If we do, we must ask his daughter also; he would not go out without her.”

“I was not aware he had a daughter. You never told me anything about her.”

“I never saw her till the other evening.”

“I don’t know anything of her. She is a foreigner too. I hope she is a respectable young person.”

“I know very little; but she is more English than foreign. Jean has been here a good many years, and she came over when she was quite young. I think she must come.”

“Very well.” And so it was settled.

Zachariah that night vowed to his Redeemer that, come what might, he would never again give Him occasion to look at him with averted face and ask if he was ashamed of Him. The text ran in his ears: “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”