St. Andrew's Church, of yellow bricks with free-stone dressings, a blue slat_oof, and a red coping, was designed and erected in the brilliant reign o_illiam IV, whose Government, under Lord Grey, had a pious habit, since los_y governments, of building additional churches in populous parishes at it_wn expense. Unfortunately its taste in architecture was less laudable tha_ts practical interest in the inculcation among the lowly of the Christia_octrine about the wisdom and propriety of turning the other cheek. St.
Andrew's, of a considerably mixed Gothic character, had architecturall_othing whatever to recommend it. Its general proportions, its arched windows,
its mullions, its finials, its crosses, its spire, and its buttresses, wer_ll and in every detail utterly silly and offensive. The eye could not res_nywhere upon its surface without pain. And time, which is supposed to softe_nd dignify all things, had been content in malice to cover St. Andrew's wit_ilth and ridicule. Out of the heights of the ignoble temple came persistent,
monotonous, loud sounds, fantastic and nerve-racking, to match it_rchitecture. The churchyard was a garden flanked by iron rails and by plan_rees, upon which brutal, terrifying surgical operations had been performed.
In the garden were to be seen the withering and melancholy but still beautifu_lossoms of asters and tulips, a quantity of cultivated vegetables,
dishevelled grass, some heaps of rubble, and patches of unproductive brow_arth. Nobody might walk in the garden, whose gates were most securel_adlocked.
Riceyman Square had been built round St. Andrew's in the hungry 'forties. I_ad been built all at once, according to plan; it had form. The three-stor_ouses (with areas and basements) were all alike, and were grouped together i_ections by triangular pediments with ornamentations thereon in a degenerat_egency style. These pediments and the window-facings and the whole walls u_o the beginning of the first floor were stuccoed and painted. In many place_he paint was peeling off and the stucco crumbling. The fronts of th_oorsteps were green with vegetable growth. Some of the front-doors an_indow-frames could not have been painted for fifteen or twenty years. All th_orizontal lines in the architecture had become curved. Long cracks showed i_he brickwork where two dwellings me? The fanlights and some of the iron wor_eebly recalled the traditions of the eighteenth century. The areas, excep_ne or two, were obscene. The Square had once been genteel; it ought now t_ave been picturesque, but was not. It was merely decrepit, foul an_latternly. It had no attractiveness of any sort. Evolution had swirled roun_t, missed it, and left it. Neither electricity nor telephones had eve_nvaded it, and scores of windows still had venetian blinds. All men excep_ts inhabitants and the tax-collector, the rate-collector, and the schoo_ttendance officer had forgotten Riceyman Square.
It lay now frowsily supine in a needed Sunday indolence after the week's har_abour. All the upper windows were shut and curtained, and most of the ground-
floor windows. The rare glimpses of forlorn interiors were desolating. Not _hild played in the roadways. But here and there a housewife had hung he_oormats and canaries on the railings to take the holy Sabbath air; an_ewspapers, fresh as newly gathered fruit, waited folded on doorsteps fo_tudents of crime and passion to awake from their beds in darkened an_tifling rooms. Also little milk-cans with tarnished brass handles had bee_uspended in clusters on the railings. Cats only, in their elegance and thei_etached disdain, rose superior to the terrific environment. The determine_hurch bells ceaselessly jangled.
"The church is rather nice," said Mrs. Arb. "But what did I tell you about th_quare?"
"Wait a moment! Wait a moment," replied Mr. Earlforward. "Let us walk round,
They began to walk round. Presently Mr. Earlforward stopped in front of _ouse which had just been painted, to remind the spectator of the origina_entility of the hungry 'forties.
"No broken panes there, I think," he remarked triumphantly.
Mrs. Arb's glance searched the façade for even a cracked pane, and found none.
She owed him a shilling.
"Well," she said, somewhat dashed, but still briskly. "Of course there wa_ound to be one house that was all right. Don't they say it's the exceptio_roves the rule?"
He understood that he would not receive his shilling, and he admired her th_ore for her genial feminine unscrupulousness.
At the corner of Gilbert Street Mrs. Arb suddenly burst out laughing.
"I hadn't noticed we had any Savoys up here!" she said.
Painted over the door of the corner house were the words "Percy's Hotel."
The house differed in no other detail from the rest of the Square.
"I wonder if they have any self-contained suites?"
Mr. Earlforward was about to furnish the history of this singular histori_urvival, when they both, almost simultaneously, through a large interstice o_he curtains, noticed Elsie sitting and rocking gently by the ground-floo_indow of a house near to Percy's Hotel. Her pale face was half turned withi_he room, and its details obscure in the twilight of the curtained interior;
but there could be no mistake about her identity.
"Is it here she lives?" said Mrs. Arb.
"I suppose so. I know she lives somewhere in the Square, but I never knew th_umber."
The front-door of the house opened and Dr. Raste emerged, fresh, dapper, prim,
correct, busy, speeding without haste, the incarnation of the professional.
You felt that he would have emerged from Buckingham Palace in just the sam_anner. To mark the Sabbath, which his ceaseless duties forbade him to honou_therwise, he wore a silk hat. This hat he raised on perceiving Mr.
Earlforward and a lady; and he raised also, though scarcely perceptibly, hi_yebrows.
"You been to see my charwoman, doctor?" Mr. Earlforward urbanely stopped him.
Dr. Raste hesitated a moment.
"Your charwoman? Ah, yes. I did happen to see her. Yes."
"Ah! Then she _is_ unwell. Nothing serious, I hope?"
"No, no!" said the doctor, his voice rather higher than usual. "She'll be al_ight to-morrow. A mere nothing. An excellent constitution, I should imagine."
A strictly formal reply, if very courteous. Probably nobody in Clerkenwell,
except perhaps his man Joe, knew how Dr. Raste talked and looked when he wa_ot talking and looking professionally. Dr. Raste would sometimes say with _ry, brief laugh, "we medicoes," thereby proclaiming a caste, an order, _lan, separated by awful, invisible, impregnable barriers from the commo_emainder of mankind; and he never stepped beyond the barriers into humanity.
In his case the secret life of the brain was indeed secret, and the mask o_he face, tongue and demeanour made an everlasting privacy. He cleared hi_hroat.
"Yes, yes… . By the way, I've been reading that Shakspere. Very fine, ver_ine. I shall read it all one of these days. Good morning." He raised his ha_gain and departed.
"I shall go in and see her, poor thing!" said Mrs. Arb with compassion.
"Well, I'm here. I think it would be nice if I did, don't you?"