The only man who never moved was the servant. There he stood, his eyes still fastened on the flames in a changeless, vacant stare. I spoke to him, I shook him by the arm. He was past rousing. He only whispered once more, "Where is he?"
In ten minutes the engine was in position, the well at the back of the church was feeding it, and the hose was carried to the doorway of the vestry. If help had been wanted from me I could not have afforded it now. My energy of will was gone—my strength was exhausted—the turmoil of my thoughts was fearfully and suddenly stilled, now I knew that he was dead.
I stood useless and helpless—looking, looking, looking into the burning room.
I saw the fire slowly conquered. The brightness of the glare faded—the steam rose in white clouds, and the smouldering heaps of embers showed red and black through it on the floor. There was a pause—then an advance all together of the firemen and the police which blocked up the doorway—then a consultation in low voices—and then two men were detached from the rest, and sent out of the churchyard through the crowd. The crowd drew back on either side in dead silence to let them pass.
After a while a great shudder ran through the people, and the living lane widened slowly. The men came back along it with a door from one of the empty houses. They carried it to the vestry and went in. The police closed again round the doorway, and men stole out from among the crowd by twos and threes and stood behind them to be the first to see. Others waited near to be the first to hear. Women and children were among these last.
The tidings from the vestry began to flow out among the crowd— they dropped slowly from mouth to mouth till they reached the place where I was standing. I heard the questions and answers repeated again and again in low, eager tones all round me.
"Have they found him?" "Yes."—"Where?" "Against the door, on his face."—"Which door?" "The door that goes into the church. His head was against it—he was down on his face."—"Is his face burnt?" "No." "Yes, it is." "No, scorched, not burnt—he lay on his face, I tell you."—"Who was he? A lord, they say." "No, not a lord. SIR Something; Sir means Knight." "And Baronight, too." "No." "Yes, it does."—"What did he want in there?" "No good, you may depend on it."—"Did he do it on purpose?"—"Burn himself on purpose!"—"I don't mean himself, I mean the vestry."—"