SISTER TERESA I
As soon as Mother Philippa came into the parlour Evelyn guessed there must be serious trouble in the convent.
"But what is the matter, Mother Philippa?"
"Well, my dear, to tell you the truth, we have no money at all."
"None at all! You must have some money."
"As a matter of fact we have none, and Mother Prioress won't let us order anything from the tradespeople."
"She will not run into debt; and she's quite right; so we have to manage with what we've got in the convent. Of course there are some vegetables and some flour in the house; but we can't go on like this for long. We don't mind so much for ourselves, but we are so anxious about Mother Prioress; you know how weak her heart is, and all this anxiety may kill her. Then there are the invalid sisters, who ought to have fresh meat."
"I suppose so," and Evelyn thought of driving to the Wimbledon butcher and bringing back some joints.
"But, Mother, why didn't you let me know before? Of course I'll help you."
"The worst of it is, Evelyn, we want a great deal of help."
"Well, never mind; I'm ready to give you a great deal of help… as much as I can. And here is the Prioress."
The Prioress stood resting, leaning on the door-handle, and Evelyn was by her side in an instant.
"Thank you, my child, thank you," and she took Evelyn's arm.
"I've heard of your trouble, dear Mother, and am determined to help you; so you must sit down and tell me about it."
"Reverend Mother ought not to be about," said Mother Philippa. "OnMonday night she was so ill we had to get up to pray for her."
"I'm better to-day. If it hadn't been for this new trouble—" As the Prioress was about to explain she paused for breath, and Evelyn said:
"Another time. What does it matter to whom you owe the money? You owe it to somebody, and he is pressing you for it—isn't that so? Of course it is, dear Mother. Well, I've come to bring you good news. You remember my promise to arrange a concert tour as soon as I was free? Everything has been arranged; we start next Thursday, and with fair hope of success."
"How good of you!"
"You will succeed, Evelyn; and as Mother Philippa says, it is very good of you."
The Prioress spoke with hesitation, and Evelyn guessed that the nuns were thinking of their present necessities.
"I can let you have a hundred pounds easily, and I could let you have more if it were not—" The pause was sufficiently dramatic to cause the nuns to press her to go on speaking, saying that they must know they were not taking money which she needed for herself. "I wasn't thinking of myself, but of my poor people; they're so dependent upon me, and I am so dependent upon them, even more than they are upon me, for without them there would be no interest in my life, and nothing for me to do except to sit in my drawing-room and look at the wall paper and play the piano."
"We couldn't think of taking money which belongs to others. We shall put our confidence in God. No, Evelyn, pray don't say any more."
But Evelyn insisted, saying she would manage in such a way that her poor people should lack nothing....