The Complete Collection
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The Complete Collection


Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne
En savoir plus
3264 pages

Vous pourrez modifier la taille du texte de cet ouvrage


This ebook comprises the complete writings of English writer George Eliot.
The collection is sorted chronologically by book (or magazine) publication. There are the usual inline tables of contents and links after each text/chapter to get back to the respective tables. The dates of first publication are noted whenever available.
Scenes of Clerical Life. (1858): The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton, Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story, Janet’s Repentance.
Adam Bede. (1859)
The Lifted Veil. (1859)
The Mill on the Floss. (1860)
Silas Marner, the Weaver of Raveloe. (1861)
Romola. (1863)
Brother Jacob. (1864)
Felix Holt, the Radical. (1866)
The Spanish Gypsy. (1868)
Middlemarch. (1871/72)
The Legend of Jubal, and Other Poems. (1874): The Legend of Jubal, Agatha, Armgart, How Lisa Loved the King, A Minor Prophet, Brother and Sister, Stradivarius, A College Breakfast-Party, Two Lovers, Self and Life, “Sweet Endings Come and Go, Love,” The Death of Moses, Arion, “O May I Join the Choir Invisible.”
Daniel Deronda. (1876)
Impressions of Theophrastus Such. (1879)
The Essays: From the Note-Book of an Eccentric, How to Avoid Disappointment, The Wisdom of the Child, A Little Fable with a Great Moral, Hints on Snubbing, Carlyle’s Life of Sterling, Margaret Fuller, Woman in France: Madame de Sablé, Three Months in Weimar, Evangelical Teaching: Dr. Cumming, German Wit: Henry Heine, The Natural History of German Life, Silly Novels by Lady Novelists, George Forster, Worldliness and Other-Worldliness: The Poet Young, The Influence of Rationalism, The Grammar of Ornament, Address to Working Men, by Felix Holt, Leaves from a Note-Book.
Miscellaneous Poems: On Being Called a Saint, Farewell, Sonnet, Question and Answer, “’Mid my Gold-Brown Curls,” “’Mid the Rich Store,” “As Tu Va la Lune se Lever,” In A London Drawing Room, Arms! To Arms!, Ex Oriente Lux, In the South, Will Ladislaw’s Song, Erinna, I Grant you Ample Leave, Mordecai’s Hebrew Verses, Count that Day Lost.



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the complete works of
George eliot.

Scenes of Clerical Life. (1858)
Adam Bede. (1859)
The Lifted Veil. (1859)
The Mill on the Floss. (1860)
Silas Marner, the Weaver of Raveloe. (1861)
Romola. (1863)
Brother Jacob. (1864)
Felix Holt, the Radical. (1866)
The Spanish Gypsy. (1868)
Middlemarch. (1871/72)
The Legend of Jubal, and Other Poems (1874)
Daniel Deronda. (1876)
Impressions of Theophrastus Such. (1879)
The Essays.
Miscellaneous eliot
Scenes of Clerical Life.
William Blackwood & Sons,William Blackwood & Sons,
Edinburgh and London 1858
[The text follows the first edition.]clerical life.

The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton.
I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. Conclusion.
Mr Gilfil’s Love Story.
XIX. XX. XXI. Epilogue.
Janet’s Repentance.
XIX. XX. XXI. XXII. XXIII. XXIV. XXV. XXVI. XXVII. XXVIII.The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton.Chapter I.
hepperton Chur was a very different-looking building five-and-twenty years ago. To
be sure, its substantial stone tower looks at you through its intelligent eye, the clo, withS
the friendly expression of former days; but in everything else what anges! Now there is a
wide span of slated roof flanking the old steeple; the windows are tall and symmetrical; the
outer doors are resplendent with oak-graining, the inner doors reverentially noiseless with a
garment of red baize; and the walls, you are convinced, no lien will ever again effect a
selement on—they are smooth and innutrient as the summit of the Rev. Amos Barton’s
head, aer ten years of baldness and supererogatory soap. Pass through the baize doors and
you will see the nave filled with well-shaped benes, understood to be free seats; while in
certain eligible corners, less directly under the fire of the clergyman’s eye, there are pews
reserved for the Shepperton gentility. Ample galleries are supported on iron pillars, and in
one of them stands the crowning glory, the very clasp or aigree of Shepperton
uradornment—namely, an organ, not very mu out of repair, on whi a collector of small
rents, differentiated by the force of circumstances into an organist, will accompany the
alacrity of your departure after the blessing, by a sacred minuet or an easy “Gloria.”
Immense improvement! says the well-regulated mind, whi unintermiingly rejoices in
the New Police, the Tithe Commutation Act, the penny-post, and all guarantees of human
advancement, and has no moments when conservative-reforming intellect takes a nap, while
imagination does a lile Toryism by the sly, revelling in regret that dear, old, brown,
crumbling, picturesque inefficiency is everywhere giving place to spi-and-span
newpainted, new-varnished efficiency, whi will yield endless diagrams, plans, elevations, and
sections, but alas! no picture. Mine, I fear, is not a well-regulated mind: it has an occasional
tenderness for old abuses; it lingers with a certain fondness over the days of nasal clerks and
top-booted parsons, and has a sigh for the departed shades of vulgar errors. So it is not
surprising that I recall with a fond sadness Shepperton Chur as it was in the old days, with
its outer coat of rough stucco, its red-tiled roof, its heterogeneous windows pated with
desultory bits of painted glass, and its lile flight of steps with their wooden rail running up
the outer wall, and leading to the school-children’s gallery.
en inside, what dear old quaintnesses! whi I began to look at with delight, even when
I was so crude a member of the congregation, that my nurse found it necessary to provide for
the reinforcement of my devotional patience by smuggling bread-and-buer into the sacred
edifice. ere was the ancel, guarded by two lile erubims looking uncomfortably
squeezed between ar and wall, and adorned with the escuteons of the Oldinport family,
whi showed me inexhaustible possibilities of meaning in their blood-red hands, their
death’s-heads and cross-bones, their leopards’ paws, and Maltese crosses. ere were
inscriptions on the panels of the singing-gallery, telling of benefactions to the poor of
Shepperton, with an involuted elegance of capitals and final flourishes, whi my alphabetic
erudition traced with ever-new delight. No benes in those days; but huge roomy pews,
round which devout church-goers sat during “lessons,” trying to look anywhere else than into
ea other’s eyes. No low partitions allowing you, with a dreary absence of contrast and
mystery, to see everything at all moments; but tall dark panels, under whose shadow I sank
with a sense of retirement through the Litany, only to feel with more intensity my burst into
the conspicuousness of public life when I was made to stand up on the seat during the psalms
or the singing.
And the singing was no meanical affair of official routine; it had a drama. As the
moment of psalmody approaed, by some process to me as mysterious and untraceable asthe opening of the flowers or the breaking-out of the stars, a slate appeared in front of the
gallery, advertising in bold aracters the psalm about to be sung, lest the sonorous
announcement of the clerk should still leave the bucolic mind in doubt on that head. en
followed the migration of the clerk to the gallery, where, in company with a bassoon, two
key-bugles, a carpenter understood to have an amazing power of singing “counter,” and two
lesser musical stars, he formed the complement of a oir regarded in Shepperton as one of
distinguished araction, occasionally known to draw hearers from the next parish. e
innovation of hymn-books was as yet undreamed of; even the New Version was regarded
with a sort of melanoly tolerance, as part of the common degeneracy in a time when prices
had dwindled, and a coon gown was no longer stout enough to last a lifetime; for the lyrical
taste of the best heads in Shepperton had been formed on Sternhold and Hopkins. But the
greatest triumphs of the Shepperton oir were reserved for the Sundays when the slate
announced an Anthem, with a dignified abstinence from particularisation, both words and
music lying far beyond the rea of the most ambitious amateur in the congregation:—an
anthem in whi the key-bugles always ran away at a great pace, while the bassoon every
now and then boomed a flying shot after them.
As for the clergyman, Mr Gilfil, an excellent old gentleman, who smoked very long pipes
and preaed very short sermons, I must not speak of him, or I might be tempted to tell the
story of his life, whi had its lile romance, as most lives have between the ages of teetotum
and tobacco. And at present I am concerned with quite another sort of clergyman—the Rev.
Amos Barton, who did not come to Shepperton until long aer Mr Gilfil had departed this
life—until aer an interval in whi Evangelicalism and the Catholic estion had begun to
agitate the rustic mind with controversial debates. A Popish blasmith had produced a
strong Protestant reaction by declaring that, as soon as the Emancipation Bill was passed, he
should do a great stroke of business in gridirons; and the disinclination of the Shepperton
parishioners generally to dim the unique glory of St Lawrence, rendered the Chur and
Constitution an affair of their business and bosoms. A zealous evangelical preaer had made
the old sounding-board vibrate with quite a different sort of elocution from Mr Gilfil’s; the
hymn-book had almost superseded the Old and New Versions; and the great square pews
were crowded with new faces from distant corners of the parish—perhaps from dissenting
You are not imagining, I hope, that Amos Barton was the incumbent of Shepperton. He
was no su thing. ose were days when a man could hold three small livings, starve a
curate a-piece on two of them, and live badly himself on the third. It was so with the Vicar of
Shepperton; a vicar given to bris and mortar, and thereby running into debt far away in a
northern county—who executed his vicarial functions towards Shepperton by poeting the
sum of thirty-five pounds ten per annum, the net surplus remaining to him from the proceeds
of that living, aer the disbursement of eighty pounds as the annual stipend of his curate.
And now, pray, can you solve me the following problem? Given a man with a wife and six
ildren: let him be obliged always to exhibit himself when outside his own door in a suit of
bla broadcloth, su as will not undermine the foundations of the Establishment by a paltry
plebeian glossiness or an unseemly whiteness at the edges; in a snowy cravat, whi is a
serious investment of labour in the hemming, staring, and ironing departments; and in a
hat whi shows no symptom of taking to the hideous doctrine of expediency, and shaping
itself according to circumstances; let him have a parish large enough to create an external
necessity for abundant shoe-leather, and an internal necessity for abundant beef and muon,
as well as poor enough to require frequent priestly consolation in the shape of shillings and
sixpences; and, lastly, let him be compelled, by his own pride and other people’s, to dress his
wife and ildren with gentility from bonnet-strings to shoe-strings. By what process of
division can the sum of eighty pounds per annum be made to yield a quotient whi will
cover that man’s weekly expenses? is was the problem presented by the position of theRev. Amos Barton, as curate of Shepperton, rather more than twenty years ago.
What was thought of this problem, and of the man who had to work it out, by some of the
well-to-do inhabitants of Shepperton, two years or more aer Mr Barton’s arrival among
them, you shall hear, if you will accompany me to Cross Farm, and to the fireside of Mrs
Paen, a ildless old lady, who had got ri iefly by the negative process of spending
nothing. Mrs Paen’s passive accumulation of wealth, through all sorts of “bad times,” on the
farm of whi she had been sole tenant since her husband’s death, her epigrammatic
neighbour, Mrs Hait, sarcastically accounted for by supposing that “sixpences grew on the
bents of Cross Farm;” while Mr Hait, expressing his views more literally, reminded his wife
that “money breeds money.” Mr and Mrs Hait, from the neighbouring farm, are Mrs
Paen’s guests this evening; so is Mr Pilgrim, the doctor from the nearest market-town, who,
though occasionally affecting aristocratic airs, and giving late dinners with enigmatic
sidedishes and poisonous port, is never so comfortable as when he is relaxing his professional legs
in one of those excellent farmhouses where the mice are sleek and the mistress sily. And he
is at this moment in clover.
For the fliering of Mrs Paen’s bright fire is reflected in her bright copper tea-kele, the
home-made muffins glisten with an inviting succulence, and Mrs Paen’s niece, a single lady
of fiy, who has refused the most ineligible offers out of devotion to her aged aunt, is
pouring the rich cream into the fragrant tea with a discreet liberality.
Reader! did you ever taste su a cup of tea as Miss Gibbs is this moment handing to Mr
Pilgrim? Do you know the dulcet strength, the animating blandness of tea sufficiently
blended with real farmhouse cream? No—most likely you are a miserable town-bred reader,
who think of cream as a thinnish white fluid, delivered in infinitesimal pennyworths down
area steps; or perhaps, from a presentiment of calves’ brains, you refrain from any lacteal
addition, and rasp your tongue with unmitigated bohea. You have a vague idea of a mil
cow as probably a white-plaster animal standing in a buerman’s window, and you know
nothing of the sweet history of genuine cream, su as Miss Gibbs’s: how it was this morning
in the udders of the large sleek beasts, as they stood lowing a patient entreaty under the
milking-shed; how it fell with a pleasant rhythm into Bey’s pail, sending a delicious incense
into the cool air; how it was carried into that temple of moist cleanliness, the dairy, where it
quietly separated itself from the meaner elements of milk, and lay in mellowed whiteness,
ready for the skimming-dish whi transferred it to Miss Gibbs’s glass cream-jug. If I am
right in my conjecture, you are unacquainted with the highest possibilities of tea; and Mr
Pilgrim, who is holding that cup in his hand, has an idea beyond you.
Mrs Hait declines cream; she has so long abstained from it with an eye to the weekly
buer-money, that abstinence, wedded to habit, has begoen aversion. She is a thin woman
with a ronic liver-complaint, whi would have secured her Mr Pilgrim’s entire regard and
unreserved good word, even if he had not been in awe of her tongue, whi was as sharp as
his own lancet. She has brought her kniing—no frivolous fancy kniing, but a substantial
woollen stoing; the cli-cli of her kniing-needles is the running accompaniment to all
her conversation, and in her utmost enjoyment of spoiling a friend’s self-satisfaction, she was
never known to spoil a stocking.
Mrs Paen does not admire this excessive cli-cliing activity. iescence in an
easyair, under the sense of compound interest perpetually accumulating, has long seemed an
ample function to her, and she does her malevolence gently. She is a prey lile old woman
of eighty, with a close cap and tiny flat white curls round her face, as nay and unsoiled and
invariable as the waxen image of a lile old lady under a glass-case; once a lady’s-maid, and
married for her beauty. She used to adore her husband, and now she adores her money,
erishing a quiet blood-relation’s hatred for her niece, Janet Gibbs, who, she knows, expects
a large legacy, and whom she is determined to disappoint. Her money shall all go in a lump
to a distant relation of her husband’s, and Janet shall be saved the trouble of pretending tocry, by finding that she is left with a miserable pittance.
Mrs Paen has more respect for her neighbour Mr Hait than for most people. Mr Hait
is a shrewd substantial man, whose advice about crops is always worth listening to, and who
is too well off to want to borrow money.
And now that we are snug and warm with this lile tea-party, while it is freezing with
February bitterness outside, we will listen to what they are talking about.
“So,” said Mr Pilgrim, with his mouth only half empty of muffin, “you had a row in
Shepperton ur last Sunday. I was at Jem Hood’s, the bassoon-man’s, this morning,
aending his wife, and he swears he’ll be revenged on the parson—a confounded,
methodistical, meddlesome ap, who must be puing his finger in every pie. What was it all
“O, a passill o’ nonsense,” said Mr Hait, stiing one thumb between the buons of his
capacious waistcoat, and retaining a pin of snuff with the other—for he was but moderately
given to “the cups that eer but not inebriate,” and had already finished his tea; “they began
to sing the wedding psalm for a new-married couple, as prey a psalm an’ as prey a tune as
any’s in the prayer-book. It’s been sung for every new-married couple since I was a boy. And
what can be beer?” Here Mr Hait streted out his le arm, threw ba his head, and
broke into melody—
“‘O what a happy thing it is,
And joyful for to see,
Brethren to dwell together in
Friendship and unity.’
But Mr Barton is all for th’ hymns, and a sort o’ music as I can’t join in at all.”
“And so,” said Mr Pilgrim, recalling Mr Hait from lyrical reminiscences to narrative, “he
called out Silence! did he? when he got into the pulpit; and gave a hymn out himself to some
meeting-house tune?”
“Yes,” said Mrs Hait, stooping towards the candle to pi up a stit, “and turned as red
as a turkey-co. I oen say, when he preaes about meekness, he gives himself a slap in the
face. He’s like me—he’s got a temper of his own.”
“Rather a low-bred fellow, I think, Barton,” said Mr Pilgrim, who hated the Reverend
Amos for two reasons—because he had called in a new doctor, recently seled in Shepperton;
and because, being himself a dabbler in drugs, he had the credit of having cured a patient of
Mr Pilgrim’s. “ey say his father was a dissenting shoemaker; and he’s half a dissenter
himself. Why, doesn’t he preach extempore in that cottage up here, of a Sunday evening?”
“Taw!”—this was Mr Hait’s favourite interjection—“that preaing without book’s no
good, only when a man has a gi, and has the Bible at his fingers’ ends. It was all very well
for Parry—he’d a gi; and in my youth I’ve heard the Ranters out o’ doors in Yorkshire go on
for an hour or two on end, without ever stiing fast a minute. ere was one clever ap, I
remember, as used to say, ‘You’re like the woodpigeon; it says do, do, do all day, and never
sets about any work itself.’ at’s bringing it home to people. But our parson’s no gi at all
that way; he can prea as good a sermon as need be heard when he writes it down. But
when he tries to prea wi’out book, he rambles about, and doesn’t sti to ’s text; and every
now and then he flounders about like a sheep as has cast itself, and can’t get on’ts legs again.
You wouldn’t like that, Mrs Patten, if you was to go to church now?”
“Eh, dear,” said Mrs Paen, falling ba in her air, and liing up her lile withered
hands, “what ’ud Mr Gilfil say, if he was worthy to know the anges as have come about i’
the ur these last ten years? I don’t understand these new sort o’ doctrines. When Mr
Barton comes to see me, he talks about nothing but my sins and my need o’ marcy. Now, Mr
Hait, I’ve never been a sinner. From the fust beginning, when I went into service, I al’ys
did my duty by my emplyers. I was a good wife as any’s in the county—never aggravated my
husband. e eese-factor used to say my eese was al’ys to be depended on. I’ve knownwomen, as their eeses swelled a shame to be seen, when their husbands had counted on the
eese-money to make up their rent; and yet they’d three gowns to my one. If I’m not to be
saved, I know a many as are in a bad way. But it’s well for me as I can’t go to ur any
longer, for if th’ old singers are to be done away with, there’ll be nothing le as it was in Mr
Paen’s time; and what’s more, I hear you’ve seled to pull the ur down and build it up
Now the fact was that the Rev. Amos Barton, on his last visit to Mrs Paen, had urged her
to enlarge her promised subscription of twenty pounds, representing to her that she was only
a steward of her ries, and that she could not spend them more for the glory of God than by
giving a heavy subscription towards the rebuilding of Shepperton ur—a practical precept
whi was not likely to smooth the way to her acceptance of his theological doctrine. Mr
Hait, who had more doctrinal enlightenment than Mrs Paen, had been a lile shoed by
the heathenism of her spee, and was glad of the new turn given to the subject by this
question, addressed to him as church-warden and an authority in all parochial matters.
“Ah,” he answered, “the parson’s boddered us into it at last, and we’re to begin pulling
down this spring. But we haven’t got money enough yet. I was for waiting till we’d made up
the sum, and, for my part, I think the congregation’s fell off o’ late; though Mr Barton says
that’s because there’s been no room for the people when they’ve come. You see, the
congregation got so large in Parry’s time, the people stood in th’ aisles; but there’s never any
crowd now, as I can see.”
“Well,” said Mrs Hait, whose good-nature began to act now that it was a lile in
contradiction with the dominant tone of the conversation, “ I like Mr Barton. I think he’s a
good sort o’ man, for all he’s not overburthen’d i’ th’ upper story; and his wife’s as nice a
lady-like woman as I’d wish to see. How nice she keeps her ildren! and lile enough
money to do’t with; and a delicate creatur’—six ildren, and another a-coming. I don’t know
how they make both ends meet, I’m sure, now her aunt has le ’em. But I sent ’em a eese
and a sack o’ potatoes last week; that’s something towards filling the little mouths.”
“Ah!” said Mr Hait, “and my wife makes Mr Barton a good stiff glass o’
brandy-andwater, when he comes in to supper aer his coage preaing. e parson likes it; it puts a bit
o’ colour into ’s face, and makes him look a deal handsomer.”
is allusion to brandy-and-water suggested to Miss Gibbs the introduction of the liquor
decanters, now that the tea was cleared away; for in bucolic society five-and-twenty years
ago, the human animal of the male sex was understood to be perpetually athirst, and
“something to drink” was as necessary a “condition of thought” as Time and Space.
“Now, that coage preaing,” said Mr Pilgrim, mixing himself a strong glass of ‘cold
without,’ “I was talking about it to our Parson Ely the other day, and he doesn’t approve of it
at all. He said it did as mu harm as good to give a too familiar aspect to religious teaing.
at was what Ely said—it does as mu harm as good to give a too familiar aspect to
religious teaching.”
Mr Pilgrim generally spoke with an intermient kind of spluer; indeed, one of his
patients had observed that it was a pity su a clever man had a “’pediment” in his spee.
But when he came to what he conceived the pith of his argument or the point of his joke, he
mouthed out his words with slow emphasis; as a hen, when advertising her accouement,
passes at irregular intervals from pianissimo semiquavers to fortissimo crotets. He thought
this spee of Mr Ely’s particularly metaphysical and profound, and the more decisive of the
question because it was a generality which represented no particulars to his mind.
“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Mrs Hait, who had always the courage of her
opinion, “but I know, some of our labourers and stoingers as used never to come to ur,
come to the coage, and that’s beer than never hearing anything good from week’s end to
week’s end. And there’s that Tra Society as Mr Barton has begun—I’ve seen more o’ the
poor people with going traing, than all the time I’ve lived in the parish before. And there’dneed be something done among ’em; for the drinking at them Benefit Clubs is shameful.
There’s hardly a steady man or steady woman either, but what’s a dissenter.”
During this spee of Mrs Hait’s, Mr Pilgrim had emied a succession of lile snorts,
something like the treble grunts of a guinea-pig, whi were always with him the sign of
suppressed disapproval. But he never contradicted Mrs Hait—a woman whose “pot lu”
was always to be relied on, and who on her side had unlimited reliance on bleeding,
blistering, and draughts.
Mrs Patten, however, felt equal disapprobation, and had no reasons for suppressing it.
“Well,” she remarked, “I’ve heared of no good from interfering with one’s neighbours, poor
or ri. And I hate the sight o’ women going about trapesing from house to house in all
weathers, wet or dry, and coming in with their peicoats dagged and their shoes all over
mud. Janet wanted to join in the traing, but I told her I’d have nobody traing out o’ my
house; when I’m gone, she may do as she likes. I never dagged my peicoats in my life, and
I’ve no opinion o’ that sort o’ religion.”
“No,” said Mr Hait, who was fond of soothing the acerbities of the feminine mind with a
jocose compliment, “you held your peicoats so high, to show your tight ankles: it isn’t
everybody as likes to show her ankles.”
is joke met with general acceptance, even from the snubbed Janet, whose ankles were
only tight in the sense of looking extremely squeezed by her boots. But Janet seemed always
to identify herself with her aunt’s personality, holding her own under protest.
Under cover of the general laughter, the gentlemen replenished their glasses, Mr Pilgrim
aempting to give his the aracter of a stirrup-cup by observing that he “must be going.”
Miss Gibbs seized this opportunity of telling Mrs Hait that she suspected Bey, the
dairymaid, of frying the best bacon for the shepherd, when he sat up with her to “help brew;”
whereupon Mrs Hait replied, that she had always thought Bey false; and Mrs Paen said,
there was no bacon stolen when she was able to manage. Mr Hait, who oen complained
that he “never saw the like to women with their maids—he never had any trouble with his
men,” avoided listening to this discussion, by raising the question of vetes with Mr Pilgrim.
e stream of conversation had thus diverged; and no more was said about the Rev. Amos
Barton, who is the main object of interest to us just now. So we may leave Cross Farm
without waiting till Mrs Hait, resolutely donning her clogs and wrappings, renders it
incumbent on Mr Pilgrim also to fulfil his frequent threat of going.
 Chapter II.
It was happy for the Rev. Amos Barton that he did not, like us, overhear the conversation
recorded in the last apter. Indeed, what mortal is there of us, who would find his
satisfaction enhanced by an opportunity of comparing the picture he presents to himself of his
own doings, with the picture they make on the mental retina of his neighbours? We are poor
plants buoyed up by the air-vessels of our own conceit: alas for us, if we get a few pines
that empty us of that windy self-subsistence! e very capacity for good would go out of us.
For, tell the most impassioned orator, suddenly, that his wig is awry, or his shirt-lap hanging
out, and that he is tiling people by the oddity of his person, instead of thrilling them by the
energy of his periods, and you would infallibly dry up the spring of his eloquence. at is a
deep and wide saying, that no miracle can be wrought without faith—without the worker’s
faith in himself, as well as the recipient’s faith in him. And the greater part of the worker’s
faith in himself is made up of the faith that others believe in him.
Let me be persuaded that my neighbour Jenkins considers me a blohead, and I shall
never shine in conversation with him any more. Let me discover that the lovely Phœbe
thinks my squint intolerable, and I shall never be able to fix her blandly with my disengaged
eye again.
ank heaven, then, that a lile illusion is le to us, to enable us to be useful and
agreeable—that we don’t know exactly what our friends think of us—that the world is not
made of looking-glass, to show us just the figure we are making, and just what is going on
behind our bas! By the help of dear friendly illusion, we are able to dream that we are
arming—and our faces wear a becoming air of self-possession; we are able to dream that
other men admire our talents—and our benignity is undisturbed; we are able to dream that
we are doing much good—and we do a little.
us it was with Amos Barton on that very ursday evening, when he was the subject of
the conversation at Cross Farm. He had been dining at Mr Farquhar’s, the secondary squire of
the parish, and, stimulated by unwonted gravies and port wine, had been delivering his
opinion on affairs paroial and otherwise with considerable animation. And he was now
returning home in the moonlight—a lile ill, it is true, for he had just now no greatcoat
compatible with clerical dignity, and a fur boa round one’s ne, with a waterproof cape over
one’s shoulders, doesn’t frighten away the cold from one’s legs; but entirely unsuspicious, not
only of Mr Hait’s estimate of his oratorical powers, but also of the critical remarks passed
on him by the Misses Farquhar as soon as the drawing-room door had closed behind him.
Miss Julia had observed that she never heard any one sniff so frightfully as Mr Barton did—
she had a great mind to offer him her poet-handkerief; and Miss Arabella wondered why
he always said he was going for to do a thing. He, excellent man! was meditating fresh
pastoral exertions on the morrow; he would set on foot his lending library, in whi he had
introduced some books that would be a prey sharp blow to the dissenters—one especially,
purporting to be wrien by a working man who, out of pure zeal for the welfare of his class,
took the trouble to warn them in this way against those hypocritical thieves, the dissenting
preaers. e Rev. Amos Barton profoundly believed in the existence of that working man,
and had thoughts of writing to him. Dissent, he considered, would have its head bruised in
Shepperton, for did he not aa it in two ways? He preaed Low-Chur doctrine—as
evangelical as anything to be heard in the Independent Chapel; and he made a High-Chur
assertion of ecclesiastical powers and functions. Clearly, the Dissenters would feel that “the
parson” was too many for them. Nothing like a man who combines shrewdness with energy.
The wisdom of the serpent, Mr Barton considered, was one of his strong points.Look at him as he winds through the lile uryard! e silver light that falls aslant on
ur and tomb, enables you to see his slim bla figure, made all the slimmer by tight
pantaloons, as it flits past the pale gravestones. He walks with a qui step, and is now
rapping with sharp decision at the vicarage door. It is opened without delay by the nurse,
cook, and housemaid, all at once—that is to say, by the robust maid-of-all-work, Nanny; and
as Mr Barton hangs up his hat in the passage, you see that a narrow face of no particular
complexion—even the small-pox that has aaed it seems to have been of a mongrel,
indefinite kind—with features of no particular shape, and an eye of no particular expression,
is surmounted by a slope of baldness gently rising from brow to crown. You judge him,
rightly, to be about forty. e house is quiet, for it is half-past ten, and the ildren have long
been gone to bed. He opens the siing-room door, but instead of seeing his wife, as he
expected, stiting with the nimblest of fingers by the light of one candle, he finds her
dispensing with the light of a candle altogether. She is soly pacing up and down by the red
firelight, holding in her arms lile Walter, the year-old baby, who looks over her shoulder
with large wide-open eyes, while the patient mother pats his ba with her so hand, and
glances with a sigh at the heap of large and small stockings lying unmended on the table.
She was a lovely woman—Mrs Amos Barton; a large, fair, gentle Madonna, with thi,
close estnut curls beside her well-rounded eeks, and with large, tender, short-sighted
eyes. e flowing lines of her tall figure made the limpest dress look graceful, and her old
frayed bla silk seemed to repose on her bust and limbs with a placid elegance and sense of
distinction, in strong contrast with the uneasy sense of being no fit, that seemed to express
itself in the rustling of Mrs Farquhar’s gros de Naples. e caps she wore would have been
pronounced, when off her head, uerly heavy and hideous—for in those days even
fashionable caps were large and floppy; but surmounting her long ared ne, and mingling
their borders of eap lace and ribbon with her estnut curls, they seemed miracles of
successful millinery. Among strangers she was shy and tremulous as a girl of fieen; she
blushed crimson if any one appealed to her opinion; yet that tall, graceful, substantial
presence was so imposing in its mildness, that men spoke to her with an agreeable sensation
of timidity.
Soothing, unspeakable arm of gentle womanhood! whi supersedes all acquisitions, all
accomplishments. You would never have asked, at any period of Mrs Amos Barton’s life, if
she sketched or played the piano. You would even perhaps have been rather scandalised if she
had descended from the serene dignity of being to the assiduous unrest of doing. Happy the
man, you would have thought, whose eye will rest on her in the pauses of his fireside reading
—whose hot aing forehead will be soothed by the contact of her cool so hand—who will
recover himself from dejection at his mistakes and failures in the loving light of her
unreproaing eyes! You would not, perhaps, have anticipated that this bliss would fall to the
share of precisely su a man as Amos Barton, whom you have already surmised not to have
the refined sensibilities for whi you might have imagined Mrs Barton’s qualities to be
destined by pre-established harmony. But I, for one, do not grudge Amos Barton this sweet
wife. I have all my life had a sympathy for mongrel ungainly dogs, who are nobody’s pets;
and I would rather surprise one of them by a pat and a pleasant morsel, than meet the
condescending advances of the loveliest Skye-terrier who has his cushion by my lady’s air.
at, to be sure, is not the way of the world: if it happens to see a fellow of fine proportions
and aristocratic mien, who makes no faux pas, and wins golden opinions from all sorts of
men, it straightway pis out for him the loveliest of unmarried women, and says, There
would be a proper mat! Not at all, say I: let that successful, well-shapen, discreet and able
gentleman put up with something less than the best in the matrimonial department; and let
the sweet woman go to make sunshine and a so pillow for the poor devil whose legs are not
models, whose efforts are oen blunders, and who in general gets more kis than halfpence.
She—the sweet woman—will like it as well; for her sublime capacity of loving will have allthe more scope; and I venture to say, Mrs Barton’s nature would never have grown half so
angelic if she had married the man you would perhaps have had in your eye for her—a man
with sufficient income and abundant personal éclat. Besides, Amos was an affectionate
husband, and, in his way, valued his wife as his best treasure.
But now he has shut the door behind him, and said, “Well, Milly!”
“Well, dear!” was the corresponding greeting, made eloquent by a smile.
“So that young rascal won’t go to sleep! Can’t you give him to Nanny?”
“Why, Nanny has been busy ironing this evening; but I think I’ll take him to her now.”
And Mrs Barton glided towards the kiten, while her husband ran up-stairs to put on his
maize-coloured dressing-gown, in whi costume he was quietly filling his long pipe when
his wife returned to the siing-room. Maize is a colour that decidedly did not suit his
complexion, and it is one that soon soils; why, then, did Mr Barton select it for domestic
wear? Perhaps because he had a kna of hiing on the wrong thing in garb as well as in
Mrs Barton now lighted her candle, and seated herself before her heap of stoings. She
had something disagreeable to tell her husband, but she would not enter on it at once.
“Have you had a nice evening, dear?”
“Yes, prey well. Ely was there to dinner, but went away rather early. Miss Arabella is
seing her cap at him with a vengeance. But I don’t think he’s mu smien. I’ve a notion
Ely’s engaged to some one at a distance, and will astonish all the ladies who are languishing
for him here, by bringing home his bride one of these days. Ely’s a sly dog; he’ll like that.”
“Did the Farquhars say anything about the singing last Sunday?”
“Yes; Farquhar said he thought it was time there was some improvement in the oir. But
he was rather scandalised at my seing the tune of ‘Lydia.’ He says he’s always hearing it as
he passes the Independent meeting.” Here Mr Barton laughed—he had a way of laughing at
criticisms that other people thought damaging—and thereby showed the remainder of a set of
teeth whi, like the remnants of the Old Guard, were few in number, and very mu the
worse for wear. “But,” he continued, “Mrs Farquhar talked the most about Mr Bridmain and
the Countess. She has taken up all the gossip about them, and wanted to convert me to her
opinion, but I told her pretty strongly what I thought.”
“Dear me! why will people take so mu pains to find out evil about others? I have had a
note from the Countess since you went, asking us to dine with them on Friday.”
Here Mrs Barton reaed the note from the mantelpiece, and gave it to her husband. We
will look over his shoulder while he reads it:—
“Sweetest Milly,—Bring your lovely face with your husband to dine with us on Friday at seven
—do. If not, I will be sulky with you till Sunday, when I shall be obliged to see you, and shall long to
kiss you that very moment—Yours, according to your answer,
“Caroline Czerlaski.”
“Just like her, isn’t it?” said Mrs Barton. “I suppose we can go?”
“Yes; I have no engagement. The Clerical Meeting is to-morrow, you know.”
“And, dear, Woods the buter called, to say he must have some money next week. He has
a payment to make up.”
is announcement made Mr Barton thoughtful. He puffed more rapidly, and looked at
the fire.
“I think I must ask Hait to lend me twenty pounds, for it is nearly two months till
Ladyday, and we can’t give Woods our last shilling.”
“I hardly like you to ask Mr Hait, dear—he and Mrs Hait have been so very kind to us;
they have sent us so many things lately.”
“en I must ask Oldinport. I’m going to write to him to-morrow morning, for to tell him
the arrangement I’ve been thinking of about having service in the workhouse while the
ur is being enlarged. If he agrees to aend service there once or twice, the other peoplewill come. Net the large fish, and you’re sure to have the small fry.”
“I wish we could do without borrowing money, and yet I don’t see how we can. Poor Fred
must have some new shoes; I couldn’t let him go to Mrs Bond’s yesterday because his toes
were peeping out, dear ild! and I can’t let him walk anywhere except in the garden. He
must have a pair before Sunday. Really, boots and shoes are the greatest trouble of my life.
Everything else one can turn and turn about, and make old look like new; but there’s no
coaxing boots and shoes to look better than they are.”
Mrs Barton was playfully undervaluing her skill in metamorphosing boots and shoes. She
had at that moment on her feet a pair of slippers whi had long ago lived through the
prunella phase of their existence, and were now running a respectable career as bla silk
slippers, having been neatly covered with that material by Mrs Barton’s own neat fingers.
Wonderful fingers those! they were never empty; for if she went to spend a few hours with a
friendly parishioner, out came her thimble and a piece of calico or muslin, whi, before she
le, had become a mysterious lile garment with all sorts of hemmed ins and outs. She was
even trying to persuade her husband to leave off tight pantaloons, because if he would wear
the ordinary gun-cases, she knew she could make them so well that no one would suspect the
sex of the tailor.
But by this time Mr Barton has finished his pipe, the candle begins to burn low, and Mrs
Barton goes to see if Nanny has succeeded in lulling Walter to sleep. Nanny is that moment
putting him in the little cot by his mother’s bedside; the head, with its thin wavelets of brown
hair, indents the lile pillow; and a tiny, waxen, dimpled fist hides the rosy lips, for baby is
given to the infantine peccadillo of thumb-sucking.
So Nanny could now join in the short evening prayer, and all could go to bed.
Mrs Barton carried up-stairs the remainder of her heap of stoings, and laid them on a
table close to her bedside, where also she placed a warm shawl, removing her candle, before
she put it out, to a tin soet fixed at the head of her bed. Her body was very weary, but her
heart was not heavy, in spite of Mr Woods the buter, and the transitory nature of
shoeleather; for her heart so overflowed with love, she felt sure she was near a fountain of love
that would care for husband and babes beer than she could foresee; so she was soon asleep.
But about half-past five o’clo in the morning, if there were any angels wating round her
bed—and angels might be glad of su an office—they saw Mrs Barton rise up quietly, careful
not to disturb the slumbering Amos, who was snoring the snore of the just, light her candle,
prop herself upright with the pillows, throw the warm shawl round her shoulders, and renew
her aa on the heap of undarned stoings. She darned away until she heard Nanny
stirring, and then drowsiness came with the dawn; the candle was put out, and she sank into
a doze. But at nine o’clo she was at the breakfast-table, busy cuing bread-and-buer for
five hungry mouths, while Nanny, baby on one arm, in rosy eeks, fat ne, and
nightgown, brought in a jug of hot milk-and-water. Nearest her mother sits the nine-year-old
Pay, the eldest ild, whose sweet fair face is already rather grave sometimes, and who
always wants to run up-stairs to save mamma’s legs, whi get so tired of an evening. en
there are four other blond heads—two boys and two girls, gradually decreasing in size down
to Chubby, who is making a round O of her mouth to receive a bit of papa’s “baton.” Papa’s
aention was divided between peing Chubby, rebuking the noisy Fred, whi he did with a
somewhat excessive sharpness, and eating his own breakfast. He had not yet looked at
Mamma, and did not know that her eek was paler than usual. But Pay whispered,
“Mamma, have you the headache?”
Happily, coal was eap in the neighbourhood of Shepperton, and Mr Hait would any
time let his horses draw a load for “the parson” without arge; so there was a blazing fire in
the siing-room, and not without need, for the vicarage garden, as they looked out on it from
the bow-window, was hard with bla frost, and the sky had the white woolly look that
portends snow.Breakfast over, Mr Barton mounted to his study, and occupied himself in the first place
with his leer to Mr Oldinport. It was very mu the same sort of leer as most clergymen
would have wrien under the same circumstances, except that instead of perambulate, the
Rev. Amos wrote preambulate, and instead of “if haply,” “if happily,” the contingency
indicated being the reverse of happy. Mr Barton had not the gi of perfect accuracy in
English orthography and syntax; whi was unfortunate, as he was known not to be a
Hebrew solar, and not in the least suspected of being an accomplished Grecian. ese
lapses, in a man who had gone through the Eleusinian mysteries of a university education,
surprised the young ladies of his parish extremely; especially the Misses Farquhar, whom he
had once addressed in a leer as Dear Mads., apparently an abbreviation for Madams. e
persons least surprised at the Rev. Amos’s deficiencies were his clerical brethren, who had
gone through the mysteries themselves.
At eleven o’clo, Mr Barton walked forth in cape and boa, with the sleet driving in his
face, to read prayers at the workhouse, euphuistically called the “College.” e College was a
huge square stone building, standing on the best apology for an elevation of ground that
could be seen for about ten miles round Shepperton. A flat ugly district this; depressing
enough to look at, even on the brightest days. e roads are bla with coal-dust, the bri
houses dingy with smoke; and at that time—the time of handloom weavers—every other
coage had a loom at its window, where you might see a pale, sily-looking man or woman
pressing a narrow est against a board, and doing a sort of tread-mill work with legs and
arms. A troublesome district for a clergyman; at least to one who, like Amos Barton,
understood the “cure of souls” in something more than an official sense; for over and above
the rustic stupidity furnished by the farm-labourers, the miners brought obstreperous
animalism, and the weavers an acrid Radicalism and Dissent. Indeed, Mrs Hait oen
observed that the colliers, who many of them earned beer wages than Mr Barton, “passed
their time in doing nothing but swilling ale and smoking, like the beasts that perish”
(speaking, we may presume, in a remotely analogical sense); and in some of the alehouse
corners the drink was flavoured by a dingy kind of infidelity, something like rinsings of Tom
Paine in dit-water. A certain amount of religious excitement, created by the popular
preaing of Mr Parry, Amos’s predecessor, had nearly died out, and the religious life of
Shepperton was falling ba towards low-water mark. Here, you perceive, was a terrible
stronghold of Satan; and you may well pity the Rev. Amos Barton, who had to stand
singlehanded and summon it to surrender. We read, indeed, that the walls of Jerio fell down
before the sound of trumpets; but we nowhere hear that those trumpets were hoarse and
feeble. Doubtless they were trumpets that gave forth clear ringing tones, and sent a mighty
vibration through bri and mortar. But the oratory of the Rev. Amos resembled rather a
Belgian railway-horn, whi shows praiseworthy intentions inadequately fulfilled. He oen
missed the right note both in public and private exhortation, and got a lile angry in
consequence. For though Amos thought himself strong, he did not feel himself strong. Nature
had given him the opinion, but not the sensation. Without that opinion he would probably
never have worn cambric bands, but would have been an excellent cabinetmaker and deacon
of an Independent ur, as his father was before him (he was not a shoemaker, as Mr
Pilgrim had reported). He might then have sniffed long and loud in the corner of his pew in
Gun Street apel; he might have indulged in halting rhetoric at prayer-meetings, and have
spoken faulty English in private life; and these lile infirmities would not have prevented
him, honest faithful man that he was, from being a shining light in the dissenting circle of
Bridgeport. A tallow dip, of the long-eight description, is an excellent thing in the kiten
candlesti, and Bey’s nose and eye are not sensitive to the difference between it and the
finest wax; it is only when you sti it in the silver candlesti, and introduce it into the
drawing-room, that it seems plebeian, dim, and ineffectual. Alas for the worthy man who,
like that candle, gets himself into the wrong place! It is only the very largest souls who willbe able to appreciate and pity him—who will discern and love sincerity of purpose amid all
the bungling feebleness of achievement.
But now Amos Barton has made his way through the sleet as far as the College, has
thrown off his hat, cape, and boa, and is reading, in the dreary stone-floored dining-room, a
portion of the morning service to the inmates seated on the benes before him. Remember,
the New Poor-law had not yet come into operation, and Mr Barton was not acting as paid
aplain of the Union, but as the pastor who had the cure of all souls in his parish, pauper as
well as other. Aer the prayers he always addressed to them a short discourse on some
subject suggested by the lesson for the day, striving if by this means some edifying maer
might find its way into the pauper mind and conscience—perhaps a task as trying as you
could well imagine to the faith and patience of any honest clergyman. For, on the very first
ben, these were the faces on whi his eye had to rest, wating whether there was any
stirring under the stagnant surface.
Right in front of him—probably because he was stone-deaf, and it was deemed more
edifying to hear nothing at a short distance than at a long one—sat “Old Maxum,” as he was
familiarly called, his real patronymic remaining a mystery to most persons. A fine
philological sense discerns in this cognomen an indication that the pauper patriar had once
been considered pithy and sententious in his spee; but now the weight of ninety-five years
lay heavy on his tongue as well as in his ears, and he sat before the clergyman with
protruded chin, and munching mouth, and eyes that seemed to look at emptiness.
Next to him sat Poll Fodge—known to the magistracy of her country as Mary Higgins—a
one-eyed woman, with a scarred and seamy face, the most notorious rebel in the workhouse,
said to have once thrown her broth over the master’s coat-tails, and who, in spite of nature’s
apparent safeguards against that contingency, had contributed to the perpetuation of the
Fodge aracteristics in the person of a small boy, who was behaving naughtily on one of the
back benches. Miss Fodge fixed her one sore eye on Mr Barton with a sort of hardy defiance.
Beyond this member of the soer sex, at the end of the ben, sat “Silly Jim,” a young man
afflicted with hydrocephalus, who rolled his head from side to side, and gazed at the point of
his nose. These were the supporters of Old Maxum on his right.
On his le sat Mr Fite, a tall fellow, who had once been a footman in the Oldinport
family, and in that giddy elevation had enunciated a contemptuous opinion of boiled beef,
whi had been traditionally handed down in Shepperton as the direct cause of his ultimate
reduction to pauper commons. His calves were now shrunken, and his hair was grey without
the aid of powder; but he still carried his in as if he were conscious of a stiff cravat; he set
his dilapidated hat on with a knowing inclination towards the le ear; and when he was on
field-work, he carted and uncarted the manure with a sort of flunkey grace, the ghost of that
jaunty demeanour with whi he used to usher in my lady’s morning visitors. e flunkey
nature was nowhere completely subdued but in his stoma, and he still divided society into
gentry, gentry’s flunkeys, and the people who provided for them. A clergyman without a
flunkey was an anomaly, belonging to neither of these classes. Mr Fite had an
irrepressible tendency to drowsiness under spiritual instruction, and in the recurrent
regularity with whi he dozed off until he nodded and awaked himself, he looked not
unlike a piece of meanism, ingeniously contrived for measuring the length of Mr Barton’s
Perfectly wide-awake, on the contrary, was his le-hand neighbour, Mrs Bri, one of
those hard undying old women, to whom age seems to have given a network of wrinkles, as
a coat of magic armour against the aas of winters, warm or cold. e point on whi Mrs
Bri was still sensitive—the theme on whi you might possibly excite her hope and fear—
was snuff. It seemed to be an enbalming powder, helping her soul to do the office of salt.
And now, eke out an audience of whi this front benful was a sample, with a certain
number of refractory ildren, over whom Mr Spra, the master of the workhouse, exercisedan irate surveillance, and I think you will admit that the university-taught clergyman, whose
office it is to bring home the gospel to a handful of su souls, has a sufficiently hard task.
For, to have any ance of success, short of miraculous intervention, he must bring his
geographical, ronological, exegetical mind prey nearly to the pauper point of view, or of
no view; he must have some approximate conception of the mode in whi the doctrines that
have so mu vitality in the plenum of his own brain will comport themselves in vacuo—that
is to say, in a brain that is neither geographical, ronological, nor exegetical. It is a flexible
imagination that can take su a leap as that, and an adroit tongue that can adapt its spee
to so unfamiliar a position. e Rev. Amos Barton had neither that flexible imagination, nor
that adroit tongue. He talked of Israel and its sins, of osen vessels, of the Pasal lamb, of
blood as a medium of reconciliation; and he strove in this way to convey religious truth
within rea of the Fodge and Fite mind. is very morning, the first lesson was the
twelh apter of Exodus, and Mr Barton’s exposition turned on unleavened bread. Nothing
in the world more suited to the simple understanding than instruction through familiar types
and symbols! But there is always this danger aending it, that the interest or comprehension
of your hearers may stop short precisely at the point where your spiritual interpretation
begins. And Mr Barton this morning succeeded in carrying the pauper imagination to the
dough-tub, but unfortunately was not able to carry it upwards from that well-known object
to the unknown truths which it was intended to shadow forth.
Alas! a natural incapacity for teaing, finished by keeping “terms” at Cambridge, where
there are able mathematicians, and buer is sold by the yard, is not apparently the medium
through which Christian doctrine will distil as welcome dew on withered souls.
And so, while the sleet outside was turning to unquestionable snow, and the stony
diningroom looked darker and drearier, and Mr Fite was nodding his lowest, and Mr Spra was
boxing the boys’ ears with a constant rinforzando, as he felt more keenly the approa of
dinner-time, Mr Barton wound up his exhortation with something of the February ill at his
heart as well as his feet. Mr Fite, thoroughly roused now the instruction was at an end,
obsequiously and gracefully advanced to help Mr Barton in puing on his cape, while Mrs
Bri rubbed her withered forefinger round and round her lile shoe-shaped snuff-box,
vainly seeking for the fraction of a pin. I can’t help thinking that if Mr Barton had shaken
into that lile box a small portion of Scot high-dried, he might have produced something
more like an amiable emotion in Mrs Bri’s mind than anything she had felt under his
morning’s exposition of the unleavened bread. But our good Amos laboured under a
deficiency of small tact as well as of small cash; and when he observed the action of the old
woman’s forefinger, he said, in his brusque way, “So your snuff is all gone, eh?”
Mrs Bri’s eyes twinkled with the visionary hope that the parson might be intending to
replenish her box, at least mediately, through the present of a small copper.
“Ah, well! you’ll soon be going where there is no more snuff. You’ll be in need of mercy
then. You must remember that you may have to seek for mercy and not find it, just as you’re
seeking for snuff.”
At the first sentence of this admonition, the twinkle subsided from Mrs Bri’s eyes. e
lid of her box went “click!” and her heart was shut up at the same moment.
But now Mr Barton’s aention was called for by Mr Spra, who was dragging a small and
unwilling boy from the rear. Mr Spra was a small-featured, small-statured man, with a
remarkable power of language, mitigated by hesitation, who piqued himself on expressing
unexceptionable sentiments in unexceptionable language on all occasions.
“Mr Barton, sir—aw—aw—excuse my trespassing on your time—aw—to beg that you will
administer a rebuke to this boy; he is—aw—aw—most inveterate in ill-behaviour during
e inveterate culprit was a boy of seven, vainly contending against “candles” at his nose
by feeble sniffing. But no sooner had Mr Spra uered his impeament, than Miss Fodgerushed forward and placed herself between Mr Barton and the accused.
“That’s my ild, Muster Barton,” she exclaimed, further manifesting her maternal instincts
by applying her apron to her offspring’s nose. “He’s al’ys a-findin’ faut wi’ him, an’
apoundin’ him for nothin’. Let him goo an’ eat his roost goose as is a-smellin’ up in our noses
while we’re a-swallering them greasy broth, an’ let my boy allooan.”
Mr Spra’s small eyes flashed, and he was in danger of uering sentiments not
unexceptionable before the clergyman; but Mr Barton, foreseeing that a prolongation of this
episode would not be to edification, said “Silence!” in his severest tones.
“Let me hear no abuse. Your boy is not likely to behave well, if you set him the example of
being saucy.” en stooping down to Master Fodge, and taking him by the shoulder, “Do you
like being beaten?”
“en what a silly boy you are to be naughty. If you were not naughty, you wouldn’t be
beaten. But if you are naughty, God will be angry, as well as Mr Spra; and God can burn
you for ever. That will be worse than being beaten.”
Master Fodge’s countenance was neither affirmative nor negative of this proposition.
“But,” continued Mr Barton, “if you will be a good boy, God will love you, and you will
grow up to be a good man. Now, let me hear next Thursday that you have been a good boy.”
Master Fodge had no distinct vision of the benefit that would accrue to him from this
ange of courses. But Mr Barton, being aware that Miss Fodge had toued on a delicate
subject in alluding to the roast goose, was determined to witness no more polemics between
her and Mr Spratt, so, saying good morning to the latter, he hastily left the College.
e snow was falling in thier and thier flakes, and already the vicarage-garden was
cloaked in white as he passed through the gate. Mrs Barton heard him open the door, and ran
out of the sitting-room to meet him.
“I’m afraid your feet are very wet, dear. What a terrible morning! Let me take your hat.
Your slippers are at the fire.”
Mr Barton was feeling a lile cold and cross. It is difficult, when you have been doing
disagreeable duties, without praise, on a snowy day, to aend to the very minor morals. So
he showed no recognition of Milly’s aentions, but sniffed and said, “Fet me my
dressinggown, will you?”
“It is down, dear. I thought you wouldn’t go into the study, because you said you would
leer and number the books for the Lending Library. Pay and I have been covering them,
and they are all ready in the sitting-room.”
“O, I can’t do those this morning,” said Mr Barton, as he took off his boots and put his feet
into the slippers Milly had brought him; “you must put them away into the parlour.”
e siing-room was also the day-nursery and soolroom; and while Mamma’s ba was
turned, Diey, the second boy, had insisted on superseding Chubby in the guidance of a
headless horse, of the red-wafered species, whi she was drawing round the room, so that
when Papa opened the door Chubby was giving tongue energetically.
“Milly, some of these children must go away. I want to be quiet.”
“Yes, dear. Hush, Chubby; go with Pay, and see what Nanny is geing for our dinner.
Now, Fred and Sophy and Diey, help me to carry these books into the parlour. ere are
three for Dickey. Carry them steadily.”
Papa meanwhile seled himself in his easy-air, and took up a work on Episcopacy,
whi he had from the Clerical Book Society; thinking he would finish it and return it this
aernoon, as he was going to the Clerical Meeting at Milby Vicarage, where the Book Society
had its headquarters.
e Clerical Meetings and Book Society, whi had been founded some eight or ten
months, had had a noticeable effect on the Rev. Amos Barton. When he first came to
Shepperton, he was simply an evangelical clergyman, whose Christian experiences hadcommenced under the teaing of the Rev. Mr Johns, of Gun Street Chapel, and had been
consolidated at Cambridge under the influence of Mr Simeon. John Newton and omas
Sco were his doctrinal ideals; he would have taken in the Christian Observer and the
Record, if he could have afforded it; his anecdotes were iefly of the pious-jocose kind,
current in dissenting circles; and he thought an Episcopalian Establishment unobjectionable.
But by this time the effect of the Tractarian agitation was beginning to be felt in baward
provincial regions, and the Tractarian satire on the Low-Chur party was beginning to tell
even on those who disavowed or resisted Tractarian doctrines. e vibration of an intellectual
movement was felt from the golden head to the miry toes of the Establishment; and so it
came to pass that, in the district round Milby, the market-town close to Shepperton, the
clergy had agreed to have a clerical meeting every month, wherein they would exercise their
intellects by discussing theological and ecclesiastical questions, and cement their brotherly
love by discussing a good dinner. A Book Society naturally suggested itself as an adjunct of
this agreeable plan; and thus, you perceive, there was provision made for ample friction of the
clerical mind.
Now, the Rev. Amos Barton was one of those men who have a decided will and opinion of
their own; he held himself bolt upright, and had no self-distrust. He would mar very
determinedly along the road he thought best; but then it was wonderfully easy to convince
him whi was the best road. And so a very lile unwonted reading and unwonted
discussion made him see that an Episcopalian Establishment was mu more than
unobjectionable, and on many other points he began to feel that he held opinions a lile too
far-sighted and profound to be crudely and suddenly communicated to ordinary minds. He
was like an onion that has been rubbed with spices; the strong original odour was blended
with something new and foreign. e Low-Chur onion still offended refined High-Chur
nostrils, and the new spice was unwelcome to the palate of the genuine onion-eater.
We will not accompany him to the Clerical Meeting to-day, because we shall probably
want to go thither some day when he will be absent. And just now I am bent on introducing
you to Mr Bridmain and the Countess Czerlaski, with whom Mr and Mrs Barton are invited
to dine to-morrow.
 Chapter III.
Outside, the moon is shedding its cold light on the cold snow, and the white-bearded
firtrees round Camp Villa are casting a blue shadow across the white ground, while the Rev.
Amos Barton and his wife are audibly crushing the crisp snow beneath their feet, as, about
seven o’clo on Friday evening, they approa the door of the above-named desirable
country residence, containing dining, breakfast, and drawing rooms, &c., situated only half a
mile from the market-town of Milby.
Inside, there is a bright fire in the drawing-room, casting a pleasant but uncertain light on
the delicate silk dress of a lady who is reclining behind a screen in the corner of the sofa, and
allowing you to discern that the hair of the gentleman who is seated in the arm-air
opposite, with a newspaper over his knees, is becoming decidedly grey. A lile “King
Charles,” with a crimson ribbon round his ne, who has been lying curled up in the very
middle of the hearth-rug, has just discovered that that zone is too hot for him, and is jumping
on the sofa, evidently with the intention of accommodating his person on the silk gown. On
the table there are two wax-candles, whi will be lighted as soon as the expected kno is
heard at the door.
e kno is heard, the candles are lighted, and presently Mr and Mrs Barton are ushered
in—Mr Barton erect and clerical, in a faultless tie and shining cranium; Mrs Barton graceful in
a newly-turned black silk.
“Now this is arming of you,” said the Countess Czerlaski, advancing to meet them, and
embracing Milly with careful elegance. “I am really ashamed of my selfishness in asking my
friends to come and see me in this frightful weather.” en, giving her hand to Amos, “And
you, Mr Barton, whose time is so precious! But I am doing a good deed in drawing you away
from your labours. I have a plot to prevent you from martyrising yourself.”
While this greeting was going forward, Mr Bridmain, and Jet the spaniel, looked on with
the air of actors who had no idea of by-play. Mr Bridmain, a stiff and rather thi-set man,
gave his welcome with a laboured cordiality. It was astonishing how very lile he resembled
his beautiful sister.
For the Countess Czerlaski was undeniably beautiful. As she seated herself by Mrs Barton
on the sofa, Milly’s eyes, indeed, rested—must it be confessed?—iefly on the details of the
tasteful dress, the ri silk of a pinkish lilac hue (the Countess always wore delicate colours in
an evening), the bla lace pelerine, and the bla lace veil falling at the ba of the small
closely-braided head. For Milly had one weakness—don’t love her any the less for it, it was a
prey woman’s weakness—she was fond of dress; and oen when she was making up her
own economical millinery, she had romantic visions how nice it would be to put on really
handsome stylish things—to have very stiff balloon sleeves, for example, without whi a
woman’s dress was nought in those days. You and I, too, reader, have our weakness, have we
not? whi makes us think foolish things now and then. Perhaps it may lie in an excessive
admiration for small hands and feet, a tall lithe figure, large dark eyes, and dark silken
braided hair. All these the Countess possessed, and she had, moreover, a delicately-formed
nose, the least bit curved, and a clear brunee complexion. Her mouth, it must be admied,
receded too mu from her nose and in, and to a prophetic eye threatened “nut-craers”
in advanced age. But by the light of fire and wax-candles that age seemed very far off indeed,
and you would have said that the Countess was not more than thirty.
Look at the two women on the sofa together! e large, fair, mild-eyed Milly is timid even
in friendship: it is not easy to her to speak of the affection of whi her heart is full. e lithe,
dark, thin-lipped Countess is raing her small brain for caressing words and armingexaggerations.
“And how are all the erubs at home?” said the Countess, stooping to pi up Jet, and
without waiting for an answer. “I have been kept in-doors by a cold ever since Sunday, or I
should not have rested without seeing you. What have you done with those wreted
singers, Mr Barton?”
“O, we have got a new oir together, whi will go on very well with a lile practice. I
was quite determined that the old set of singers should be dismissed. I had given orders that
they should not sing the wedding psalm, as they call it, again, to make a new-married couple
look ridiculous, and they sang it in defiance of me. I could put them into the Ecclesiastical
Court, if I ose for to do so, for liing up their voices in ur in opposition to the
“And a most wholesome discipline that would be,” said the Countess; “indeed, you are too
patient and forbearing, Mr Barton. For my part, I lose my temper when I see how far you are
from being appreciated in that miserable Shepperton.”
If, as is probable, Mr Barton felt at a loss what to say in reply to the insinuated compliment,
it was a relief to him that dinner was announced just then, and that he had to offer his arm to
the Countess.
As Mr Bridmain was leading Mrs Barton to the dining-room, he observed, “e weather is
very severe.”
“Very, indeed,” said Milly.
Mr Bridmain studied conversation as an art. To ladies he spoke of the weather, and was
accustomed to consider it under three points of view: as a question of climate in general,
comparing England with other countries in this respect; as a personal question, inquiring how
it affected his lady interlocutor in particular; and as a question of probabilities, discussing
whether there would be a ange or a continuance of the present atmospheric conditions. To
gentlemen he talked politics, and he read two daily papers expressly to qualify himself for
this function. Mr Barton thought him a man of considerable political information, but not of
lively parts.
“And so you are always to hold your Clerical Meetings at Mr Ely’s?” said the Countess
between her spoonfuls of soup. (e soup was a lile over-spiced. Mrs Short, of Camp Villa,
who was in the habit of letting her best apartments, gave only moderate wages to her cook.)
“Yes,” said Mr Barton, “Milby is a central place, and there are many conveniences in having
only one point of meeting.”
“Well,” continued the Countess, “every one seems to agree in giving the precedence to Mr
Ely. For my part I cannot admire him. His preaing is too cold for me. It has no fervour—no
heart. I oen say to my brother, it is a great comfort to me that Shepperton ur is not too
far off for us to go to; don’t I, Edmund?”
“Yes,” answered Mr Bridmain, “they show us into su a bad pew at Milby—just where
there is a draught from that door. I caught a stiff neck the first time I went there.”
“O, it is the cold in the pulpit that affects me, not the cold in the pew. I was writing to my
friend Lady Porter this morning, and telling her all about my feelings. She and I think alike
on su maers. She is most anxious that when Sir William has an opportunity of giving
away the living at their place, Dippley, they should have a thoroughly zealous clever man
there. I have been describing a certain friend of mine to her, who, I think, would be just to
her mind. And there is su a prey rectory, Milly; shouldn’t I like to see you the mistress of
Milly smiled and blushed slightly. e Rev. Amos blushed very red, and gave a lile
embarrassed laugh—he could rarely keep his muscles within the limits of a smile.
At this moment John, the man-servant, approaed Mrs Barton with a gravy-tureen, and
also with a slight odour of the stable, whi usually adhered to him throughout his in-door
functions. John was rather nervous; and the Countess happening to speak to him at thisinopportune moment, the tureen slipped and emptied itself on Mrs Barton’s newly-turned
black silk.
“O, horror! Tell Alice to come directly and rub Mrs Barton’s dress,” said the Countess to
the trembling John, carefully abstaining from approaing the gravy-sprinkled spot on the
floor with her own lilac silk. But Mr Bridmain, who had a strictly private interest in silks,
good-naturedly jumped up and applied his napkin at once to Mrs Barton’s gown.
Milly felt a lile inward anguish, but no ill-temper, and tried to make light of the maer
for the sake of John as well as others. e Countess felt inwardly thankful that her own
delicate silk had escaped, but threw out lavish interjections of distress and indignation.
“Dear saint that you are,” she said, when Milly laughed, and suggested that, as her silk was
not very glossy to begin with, the dim pat would not be mu seen; “you don’t mind about
these things, I know. Just the same sort of thing happened to me at the Princess Wengstein’s
one day, on a pink satin. I was in an agony. But you are so indifferent to dress; and well you
may be. It is you who make dress pretty, and not dress that makes you pretty.”
Alice, the buxom lady’s-maid, wearing a mu beer dress than Mrs Barton’s, now
appeared to take Mr Bridmain’s place in retrieving the misief, and aer a great amount of
supplementary rubbing, composure was restored, and the business of dining was continued.
When John was recounting his accident to the cook in the kiten, he observed, “Mrs
Barton’s a hamable woman; I’d a deal sooner ha’ throwed the gravy o’er the Countess’s fine
gownd. But laws! what tantrums she’d ha’ been in arter the visitors was gone.”
“You’d a deal sooner not ha’ throwed it down at all, I should think,” responded the
unsympathetic cook, to whom John did not make love. “Who d’you think’s to mek gravy
anuff, if you’re to baste people’s gownds wi’ it?”
“Well,” suggested John, humbly, “you should wet the boom of the duree a bit, to hold it
from slippin’.”
“Wet your granny!” returned the cook; a retort whi she probably regarded in the light of
a reductio ad absurdum, and which in fact reduced John to silence.
Later on in the evening, while John was removing the tea-things from the drawing-room,
and brushing the crumbs from the table-cloth with an accompanying hiss, su as he was
wont to encourage himself with in rubbing down Mr Bridmain’s horse, the Rev. Amos Barton
drew from his poet a thin green-covered pamphlet, and, presenting it to the Countess, said,

“You were pleased, I think, with my sermon on Christmas Day. It has been printed in The
Pulpit, and I thought you might like a copy.”
“at indeed I shall. I shall quite value the opportunity of reading that sermon. ere was
su depth in it!—su argument! It was not a sermon to be heard only once. I am delighted
that it should become generally known, as it will be, now it is printed in The Pulpit.”
“Yes,” said Milly innocently, “I was so pleased with the editor’s leer.” And she drew out
her lile poet-book, where she carefully treasured the editorial autograph, while Mr Barton
laughed and blushed, and said, “Nonsense, Milly!”
“You see,” she said, giving the leer to the Countess, “I am very proud of the praise my
husband gets.”
e sermon in question, by the by, was an extremely argumentative one on the
Incarnation; whi, as it was preaed to a congregation not one of whom had any doubt of
that doctrine, and to whom the Socinians therein confuted were as unknown as the
Arimaspians, was exceedingly well adapted to trouble and confuse the Sheppertonian mind.
“Ah,” said the Countess, returning the editor’s leer, “he may well say he will be glad of
other sermons from the same source. But I would rather you should publish your sermons in
an independent volume, Mr Barton; it would be so desirable to have them in that shape. For
instance, I could send a copy to the Dean of Radborough. And there is Lord Blarney, whom I
knew before he was ancellor. I was a special favourite of his, and you can’t think whatsweet things he used to say to me. I shall not resist the temptation to write to him one of
these days sans façon, and tell him how he ought to dispose of the next vacant living in his
Whether Jet the spaniel, being a mu more knowing dog than was suspected, wished to
express his disapproval of the Countess’s last spee, as not accordant with his ideas of
wisdom and veracity, I cannot say; but at this moment he jumped off her lap, and turning his
ba upon her, placed one paw on the fender, and held the other up to warm, as if affecting
to abstract himself from the current of conversation.
But now Mr Bridmain brought out the ess-board, and Mr Barton accepted his allenge
to play a game, with immense satisfaction. e Rev. Amos was very fond of ess, as most
people are who can continue through many years to create interesting vicissitudes in the
game, by taking long-meditated moves with their knights, and subsequently discovering that
they have thereby exposed their queen.
Chess is a silent game; and the Countess’s at with Milly is in quite an under-tone—
probably relating to women’s maers that it would be impertinent for us to listen to; so we
will leave Camp Villa, and proceed to Milby Vicarage, where Mr Farquhar has sat out two
other guests with whom he has been dining at Mr Ely’s, and is now rather wearying that
reverend gentleman by his protracted small-talk.
Mr Ely was a tall, dark-haired, distinguished-looking man of three-and-thirty. By the laity
of Milby and its neighbourhood he was regarded as a man of quite remarkable powers and
learning, who must make a considerable sensation in London pulpits and drawing-rooms on
his occasional visits to the metropolis; and by his brother clergy he was regarded as a discreet
and agreeable fellow. Mr Ely never got into a warm discussion; he suggested what might be
thought, but rarely said what he thought himself; he never let either men or women see that
he was laughing at them, and he never gave any one an opportunity of laughing at him. In
one thing only he was injudicious. He parted his dark wavy hair down the middle; and as his
head was rather flat than otherwise, that style of coiffure was not advantageous to him.
Mr Farquhar, though not a parishioner of Mr Ely’s, was one of his warmest admirers, and
thought he would make an unexceptionable son-in-law, in spite of his being of no particular
“family.” Mr Farquhar was susceptible on the point of “blood,”—his own circulating fluid,
whi animated a short and somewhat flabby person, being, he considered, of very superior
“By the by,” he said, with a certain pomposity counteracted by a lisp, “what an ath Barton
makth of himthelf, about that Bridmain and the Counteth, ath she callth herthelf. Aer you
were gone the other evening, Mithith Farquhar wath telling him the general opinion about
them in the neighbourhood, and he got quite red and angry. Bleth your thoul, he believth the
whole thtory about her Polish huthband and hith wonderful ethcapeth; and ath for her—why,
he thinkth her perfection, a woman of motht refined fellingth, and no end of thtuff.”
Mr Ely smiled. “Some people would say our friend Barton was not the best judge of
refinement. Perhaps the lady flaers him a lile, and we men are susceptible. She goes to
Shepperton church every Sunday—drawn there, let us suppose, by Mr Barton’s eloquence.”
“Pshaw,” said Mr Farquhar: “Now, to my mind, you have only to look at that woman to
thee what she ith—throwing her eyth about when she comth into ur, and drething in a
way to aract aention. I should thay, she’th tired of her brother Bridmain, and looking out
for another brother with a thtronger family likeneth. Mithith Farquhar ith very fond of
Mithith Barton, and ith quite dithtrethed that she should athothiate with thu a woman, tho
she aaed him on the thubject purpothly. But I tell her it’th of no uthe, with a pig-headed
fellow like him. Barton’th well-meaning enough, but tho contheited. I’ve le off giving him
my advithe.”
Mr Ely smiled inwardly and said to himself, “What a punishment!” But to Mr Farquhar he
said, “Barton might be more judicious, it must be confessed.” He was geing tired, and didnot want to develop the subject.
“Why, nobody vithit-th them but the Bartonth,” continued Mr Farquhar, “and why should
thu people come here, unleth they had particular reathonth for preferring a neighbourhood
where they are not known? Pooh! it lookth bad on the very fathe of it. You called on them,
now; how did you find them?”
“O!—Mr Bridmain strikes me as a common sort of man, who is making an effort to seem
wise and well-bred. He comes down on one tremendously with political information, and
seems knowing about the king of the Fren. e Countess is certainly a handsome woman,
but she puts on the grand air a lile too powerfully. Woodco was immensely taken with
her, and insisted on his wife’s calling on her, and asking her to dinner; but I think Mrs
Woodcock turned restive after the first visit, and wouldn’t invite her again.”
“Ha, ha! Woodco hath alwayth a tho place in hith heart for a prey fathe. It’th odd
how he came to marry that plain woman, and no fortune either.”
“Mysteries of the tender passion,” said Mr Ely. “I am not initiated yet, you know.”
Here Mr Farquhar’s carriage was announced, and as we have not found his conversation
particularly brilliant under the stimulus of Mr Ely’s exceptionable presence, we will not
accompany him home to the less exciting atmosphere of domestic life.
Mr Ely threw himself with a sense of relief into his easiest air, set his feet on the hobs,
and in this attitude of bachelor enjoyment began to read Bishop Jebb’s Memoirs.
 Chapter IV.
I am by no means sure that if the good people of Milby had known the truth about the
Countess Czerlaski, they would not have been considerably disappointed to find that it was
very far from being as bad as they imagined. Nice distinctions are troublesome. It is so mu
easier to say that a thing is bla, than to discriminate the particular shade of brown, blue, or
green, to whi it really belongs. It is so mu easier to make up your mind that your
neighbour is good for nothing, than to enter into all the circumstances that would oblige you
to modify that opinion.
Besides, think of all the virtuous declamation, all the penetrating observation, whi had
been built up entirely on the fundamental position that the Countess was a very objectionable
person indeed, and whi would be uerly overturned and nullified by the destruction of
that premiss. Mrs Phipps, the banker’s wife, and Mrs Landor, the aorney’s wife, had
invested part of their reputation for acuteness in the supposition that Mr Bridmain was not
the Countess’s brother. Moreover, Miss Phipps was conscious that if the Countess was not a
disreputable person, she, Miss Phipps, had no compensating superiority in virtue to set against
the other lady’s manifest superiority in personal arms. Miss Phipps’s stumpy figure and
unsuccessful aire, instead of looking down from a mount of virtue with an auréole round its
head, would then be seen on the same level and in the same light as the Countess Czerlaski’s
Diana-like form and well-osen drapery. Miss Phipps, for her part, didn’t like dressing for
effect—she had always avoided that style of appearance whi was calculated to create a
en what amusing inuendoes of the Milby gentlemen over their wine would be entirely
frustrated and reduced to nought, if you had told them that the Countess had really been
guilty of no misdemeanours which need exclude her from strictly respectable society; that her
husband had been the veritable Count Czerlaski, who had had wonderful escapes, as she said,
and who, as she did not say, but as was said in certain circulars once folded by her fair hands,
had subsequently given dancing lessons in the metropolis; that Mr Bridmain was neither
more nor less than her half-brother, who, by unimpeaed integrity and industry, had won a
partnership in a silk manufactory, and thereby a moderate fortune, that enabled him to retire,
as you see, to study politics, the weather, and the art of conversation, at his leisure. Mr
Bridmain, in fact, quadragenarian baelor as he was, felt extremely well pleased to receive
his sister in her widowhood, and to shine in the reflected light of her beauty and title. Every
man who is not a monster, a mathematician, or a mad philosopher, is the slave of some
woman or other. Mr Bridmain had put his ne under the yoke of his handsome sister, and
though his soul was a very lile one—of the smallest description indeed—he would not have
ventured to call it his own. He might be slightly recalcitrant now and then, as is the habit of
long-eared pachyderms, under the thong of the fair Countess’s tongue; but there seemed little
probability that he would ever get his ne loose. Still, a baelor’s heart is an outlying
fortress that some fair enemy may any day take either by storm or stratagem; and there was
always the possibility that Mr Bridmain’s first nuptials might occur before the Countess was
quite sure of her second. As it was, however, he submied to all his sister’s caprices, never
grumbled because her dress and her maid formed a considerable item beyond her own lile
income of sixty pounds per annum, and consented to lead with her a migratory life, as
personages on the debatable ground between aristocracy and commonalty, instead of seling
in some spot where his five hundred a-year might have won him the definite dignity of a
parochial magnate.
e Countess had her views in oosing a quiet provincial place like Milby. Aer threeyears of widowhood, she had brought her feelings to contemplate giving a successor to her
lamented Czerlaski, whose fine whiskers, fine air, and romantic fortunes had won her heart
ten years ago, when, as prey Caroline Bridmain, in the full bloom of five-and-twenty, she
was governess to Lady Porter’s daughters, whom he initiated into the mysteries of the pas de
bas, and the lancer’s quadrilles. She had had seven years of sufficiently happy matrimony
with Czerlaski, who had taken her to Paris and Germany, and introduced her there to many
of his old friends with large titles and small fortunes. So that the fair Caroline had had
considerable experience of life, and had gathered therefrom, not, indeed, any very ripe and
comprehensive wisdom, but mu external polish, and certain practical conclusions of a very
decided kind. One of these conclusions was, that there were things more solid in life than fine
whiskers and a title, and that, in accepting a second husband, she would regard these items as
quite subordinate to a carriage and a selement. Now she had ascertained, by tentative
residences, that the kind of bite she was angling for was difficult to be met with at
wateringplaces, whi were already preoccupied with abundance of angling beauties, and were iefly
stoed with men whose whiskers might be dyed, and whose incomes were still more
problematic; so she had determined on trying a neighbourhood where people were extremely
well acquainted with ea other’s affairs, and where the women were mostly ill-dressed and
ugly. Mr Bridmain’s slow brain had adopted his sister’s views, and it seemed to him that a
woman so handsome and distinguished as the Countess must certainly make a mat that
might li himself into the region of county celebrities, and give him at least a sort of
cousinship to the quarter-sessions.
All this, whi was the simple truth, would have seemed extremely flat to the gossips of
Milby, who had made up their minds to something mu more exciting. ere was nothing
here so very detestable. It is true, the Countess was a lile vain, a lile ambitious, a lile
selfish, a lile shallow and frivolous, a lile given to white lies. But who considers su slight
blemishes, su moral pimples as these, disqualifications for entering into the most
respectable society! Indeed, the severest ladies in Milby would have been perfectly aware that
these aracteristics would have created no wide distinction between the Countess Czerlaski
and themselves; and since it was clear there was a wide distinction—why, it must lie in the
possession of some vices from which they were undeniably free.
Hence it came to pass, that Milby respectability refused to recognise the Countess
Czerlaski, in spite of her assiduous ur-going, and the deep disgust she was known to
have expressed at the extreme paucity of the congregations on Ash-Wednesdays. So she
began to feel that she had miscalculated the advantages of a neighbourhood where people are
well acquainted with each other’s private affairs. Under these circumstances, you will imagine
how welcome was the perfect credence and admiration she met with from Mr and Mrs
Barton. She had been especially irritated by Mr Ely’s behaviour to her; she felt sure that he
was not in the least stru with her beauty, that he quizzed her conversation, and that he
spoke of her with a sneer. A woman always knows where she is uerly powerless, and shuns
a coldly satirical eye as she would shun a gorgon. And she was especially eager for clerical
notice and friendship, not merely because that is quite the most respectable countenance to be
obtained in society, but because she really cared about religious maers, and had an uneasy
sense that she was not altogether safe in that quarter. She had serious intentions of becoming
quite pious—without any reserves—when she had once got her carriage and selement. Let us
do this one sly tri, says Ulysses to Neoptolemus, and we will be perfectly honest ever aer

ἀλλ’ ἡδὺ γάρ τοι κτῆμα τῆς νίκης λαβεῖν,
τόλμα δίκαιοι δ’ αὗθις ἐκϕανούμεθα.
e Countess did not quote Sophocles, but she said to herself, “Only this lile bit of
pretence and vanity, and then I will be quite good, and make myself quite safe for another
world.”And as she had by no means su fine taste and insight in theological teaing as in
costume, the Rev. Amos Barton seemed to her a man not only of learning—that is always
understood with a clergyman—but of mu power as a spiritual director. As for Milly, the
Countess really loved her as well as the preoccupied state of her affections would allow. For
you have already perceived that there was one being to whom the Countess was absorbingly
devoted, and to whose desires she made everything else subservient—namely, Caroline
Czerlaski, née Bridmain.
us there was really not mu affectation in her sweet speees and aentions to Mr and
Mrs Barton. Still, their friendship by no means adequately represented the object she had in
view when she came to Milby, and it had been for some time clear to her that she must
suggest a new change of residence to her brother.
e thing we look forward to oen comes to pass, but never precisely in the way we have
imagined to ourselves. e Countess did actually leave Camp Villa before many months were
past, but under circumstances which had not at all entered into her contemplation.
 Chapter V.
The Rev. Amos Barton, whose sad fortunes I have undertaken to relate, was, you perceive, in
no respect an ideal or exceptional aracter, and perhaps I am doing a bold thing to bespeak
your sympathy on behalf of a man who was so very far from remarkable,—a man whose
virtues were not heroic, and who had no undetected crime within his breast; who had not the
slightest mystery hanging about him, but was palpably and unmistakably commonplace; who
was not even in love, but had had that complaint favourably many years ago. “An uerly
uninteresting aracter!” I think I hear a lady reader exclaim—Mrs Farthingale, for example,
who prefers the ideal in fiction; to whom tragedy means ermine tippets, adultery, and
murder; and comedy, the adventures of some personage who is quite a “character.”
But, my dear madam, it is so very large a majority of your fellow-countrymen that are of
this insignificant stamp. At least eighty out of a hundred of your adult male fellow-Britons
returned in the last census, are neither extraordinarily silly, nor extraordinarily wied, nor
extraordinarily wise; their eyes are neither deep and liquid with sentiment, nor sparkling
with suppressed wiicisms; they have probably had no hairbreadth escapes or thrilling
adventures; their brains are certainly not pregnant with genius, and their passions have not
manifested themselves at all aer the fashion of a volcano. ey are simply men of
complexions more or less muddy, whose conversation is more or less bald and disjointed. Yet
these commonplace people—many of them—bear a conscience, and have felt the sublime
prompting to do the painful right; they have their unspoken sorrows, and their sacred joys;
their hearts have perhaps gone out towards their first-born, and they have mourned over the
irreclaimable dead. Nay, is there not a pathos in their very insignificance,—in our comparison
of their dim and narrow existence with the glorious possibilities of that human nature whi
they share?
Depend upon it, you would gain unspeakably if you would learn with me to see some of
the poetry and the pathos, the tragedy and the comedy, lying in the experience of a human
soul that looks out through dull grey eyes, and that speaks in a voice of quite ordinary tones.
In that case, I should have no fear of your not caring to know what farther befell the Rev.
Amos Barton, or of your thinking the homely details I have to tell at all beneath your
aention. As it is, you can, if you please, decline to pursue my story farther; and you will
easily find reading more to your taste, since I learn from the newspapers that many
remarkable novels, full of striking situations, thrilling incidents, and eloquent writing, have
appeared only within the last season.
Meanwhile, readers who have begun to feel an interest in the Rev. Amos Barton and his
wife, will be glad to learn that Mr Oldinport lent the twenty pounds. But twenty pounds are
soon exhausted when twelve are due as ba payment to the buter, and when the
possession of eight extra sovereigns in February weather is an irresistible temptation to order
a new greatcoat. And though Mr Bridmain so far departed from the necessary economy
entailed on him by the Countess’s elegant toilee and expensive maid, as to oose a
handsome bla silk, stiff, as his experienced eye discerned, with the genuine strength of its
own texture, and not with the factitious strength of gum, and present it to Mrs Barton, in
retrieval of the accident that had occurred at his table, yet, dear me—as every husband has
heard—what is the present of a gown, when you are deficiently furnished with the et-ceteras
of apparel, and when, moreover, there are six ildren whose wear and tear of clothes is
something incredible to the non-maternal mind?
Indeed, the equation of income and expenditure was offering new and constantly
accumulating difficulties to Mr and Mrs Barton; for shortly aer the birth of lile Walter,Milly’s aunt, who had lived with her ever since her marriage, had withdrawn herself, her
furniture, and her yearly income, to the household of another niece; prompted to that step,
very probably, by a slight “tiff” with the Rev. Amos, whi occurred while Milly was
upstairs, and proved one too many for the elderly lady’s patience and magnanimity. Mr
Barton’s temper was a lile warm, but, on the other hand, elderly maiden ladies are known
to be susceptible; so we will not suppose that all the blame lay on his side—the less so, as he
had every motive for humouring an inmate whose presence kept the wolf from the door. It
was now nearly a year since Miss Jason’s departure, and, to a fine ear, the howl of the wolf
was audibly approaching.
It was a sad thing, too, that when the last snow had melted, when the purple and yellow
crocuses were coming up in the garden, and the old ur was already half pulled down,
Milly had an illness whi made her lips look pale, and rendered it absolutely necessary that
she should not exert herself for some time. Mr Brand, the Shepperton doctor so obnoxious to
Mr Pilgrim, ordered her to drink port-wine, and it was quite necessary to have a ar-woman
very often, to assist Nanny in all the extra work that fell upon her.
Mrs Hait, who hardly ever paid a visit to any one but her oldest and nearest neighbour,
Mrs Paen, now took the unusual step of calling at the vicarage one morning; and the tears
came into her unsentimental eyes as she saw Milly seated pale and feeble in the parlour,
unable to persevere in sewing the pinafore that lay on the table beside her. Lile Diey, a
boisterous boy of five, with large pink eeks and sturdy legs, was having his turn to sit with
Mamma, and was squaing quiet as a mouse at her knee, holding her so white hand
between his lile red, bla-nailed fists. He was a boy whom Mrs Hait, in a severe mood,
had pronounced “stoy” (a word that etymologically in all probability, conveys some
allusion to an instrument of punishment for the refractory); but seeing him thus subdued into
goodness, she smiled at him with her kindest smile, and, stooping down, suggested a kiss—a
favour which Dickey resolutely declined.
“Now do you take nourishing things anuff?” was one of Mrs Hait’s first questions, and
Milly endeavoured to make it appear that no woman was ever so mu in danger of being
over-fed and led into self-indulgent habits as herself. But Mrs Hait gathered one fact from
her replies, namely, that Mr Brand had ordered port-wine.
While this conversation was going forward, Diey had been furtively stroking and kissing
the so white hand; so that at last, when a pause came, his mother said, smilingly, “Why are
you kissing my hand, Dickey?”
“It id to yovely,” answered Diey, who, you observe, was decidedly baward in his
Mrs Hait remembered this lile scene in aer days, and thought with peculiar
tenderness and pity of the “stocky boy.”
e next day there came a hamper with Mrs Hait’s respects; and on being opened, it was
found to contain half-a-dozen of port-wine and two couples of fowls. Mrs Farquhar, too, was
very kind; insisted on Mrs Barton’s rejecting all arrowroot but hers, whi was genuine
Indian, and carried away Sophy and Fred to stay with her a fortnight. ese and other
goodnatured aentions made the trouble of Milly’s illness more bearable; but they could not
prevent it from swelling expenses, and Mr Barton began to have serious thoughts of
representing his case to a certain charity for the relief of needy curates.
Altogether, as maers stood in Shepperton, the parishioners were more likely to have a
strong sense that the clergyman needed their material aid, than that they needed his spiritual
aid,—not the best state of things in this age and country, where faith in men solely on the
ground of their spiritual gis has considerably diminished, and especially unfavourable to the
influence of the Rev. Amos, whose spiritual gis would not have had a very commanding
power even in an age of faith.
But, you ask, did not the Countess Czerlaski pay any aention to her friends all this time?To be sure she did. She was indefatigable in visiting her “sweet Milly,” and siing with her
for hours together; and it may seem remarkable to you that she neither thought of taking
away any of the ildren, nor of providing for any of Milly’s probable wants; but ladies of
rank and of luxurious habits, you know, cannot be expected to surmise the details of poverty.
She put a great deal of eau-de-Cologne on Mrs Barton’s poet-handkerief, rearranged her
pillow and footstool, kissed her eeks, wrapped her in a so warm shawl from her own
shoulders, and amused her with stories of the life she had seen abroad. When Mr Barton
joined them, she talked of Tractarianism, of her determination not to re-enter the vortex of
fashionable life, and of her anxiety to see him in a sphere large enough for his talents. Milly
thought her sprightliness and affectionate warmth quite arming, and was very fond of her;
while the Rev. Amos had a vague consciousness that he had risen into aristocratic life, and
only associated with his middle-class parishioners in a pastoral and parenthetic manner.
However, as the days brightened, Milly’s eeks and lips brightened too; and in a few
weeks she was almost as active as ever, though watful eyes might have seen that activity
was not easy to her. Mrs Hait’s eyes were of that kind, and one day when Mr and Mrs
Barton had been dining with her for the first time since Milly’s illness, she observed to her
husband—“at poor thing’s dreadful weak an’ dilicate; she won’t stan’ havin’ many more
Mr Barton, meanwhile, had been indefatigable in his vocation. He had preaed two
extemporary sermons every Sunday at the workhouse, where a room had been fied up for
divine service, pending the alterations in the ur; and had walked the same evening to a
coage at one or other extremity of his parish to deliver another sermon, still more
extemporary, in an atmosphere impregnated with spring-flowers and perspiration. Aer all
these labours you will easily conceive that he was considerably exhausted by half-past nine
o’clo in the evening, and that a supper at a friendly parishioner’s, with a glass, or even two
glasses, of brandy-and-water aer it, was a welcome reinforcement. Mr Barton was not at all
an ascetic: he thought the benefits of fasting were entirely confined to the Old Testament
dispensation; he was fond of relaxing himself with a lile gossip; indeed, Miss Bond, and
other ladies of enthusiastic views, sometimes regreed that Mr Barton did not more
uninterruptedly exhibit a superiority to the things of the flesh. in ladies, who take lile
exercise, and whose livers are not strong enough to bear stimulants, are so extremely critical
about one’s personal habits! And, aer all, the Rev. Amos never came near the borders of a
vice. His very faults were middling—he was not very ungrammatical. It was not in his nature
to be superlative in anything; unless, indeed, he was superlatively middling, the
quintessential extract of mediocrity. If there was any one point on whi he showed an
inclination to be excessive, it was confidence in his own shrewdness and ability in practical
maers, so that he was very full of plans whi were something like his moves in ess—
admirably well calculated, supposing the state of the case were otherwise. For example, that
notable plan of introducing anti-dissenting books into his Lending Library did not in the least
appear to have bruised the head of Dissent, though it had certainly made Dissent strongly
inclined to bite the Rev. Amos’s heel. Again, he vexed the souls of his ur-wardens and
influential parishioners by his fertile suggestiveness as to what it would be well for them to
do in the matter of the church repairs, and other ecclesiastical secularities.
“I never see the like to parsons,” Mr Hait said one day in conversation with his brother
urwarden, Mr Bond; “they’re al’ys for meddlin’ wi’ business, an’ they know no moor
about it than my black filly.”
“Ah,” said Mr Bond, “they’re too high learnt to have much common-sense.”
“Well,” remarked Mr Hait, in a modest and dubious tone, as if throwing out a hypothesis
whi might be considered bold, “I should say that’s a bad sort o’ eddication as makes folks
So that, you perceive, Mr Barton’s popularity was in that precarious condition, in thattoppling and contingent state, in whi a very slight push from a malignant destiny would
utterly upset it. That push was not long in being given, as you shall hear.
One fine May morning, when Amos was out on his paroial visits, and the sunlight was
streaming through the bow-window of the siing-room, where Milly was seated at her
sewing, occasionally looking up to glance at the ildren playing in the garden, there came a
loud rap at the door, whi she at once recognised as the Countess’s, and that well-dressed
lady presently entered the siing-room, with her veil drawn over her face. Milly was not at
all surprised or sorry to see her; but when the Countess threw up her veil, and showed that
her eyes were red and swollen, she was both surprised and sorry.
“What can be the matter, dear Caroline?”
Caroline threw down Jet, who gave a lile yelp; then she threw her arms round Milly’s
ne, and began to sob; then she threw herself on the sofa, and begged for a glass of water;
then she threw off her bonnet and shawl; and, by the time Milly’s imagination had exhausted
itself in conjuring up calamities, she said,—
“Dear, how shall I tell you? I am the most wreted woman. To be deceived by a brother
to whom I have been so devoted—to see him degrading himself—giving himself uerly to the
“What can it be?” said Milly, who began to picture to herself the sober Mr Bridmain taking
to brandy and betting.
“He is going to be married—to marry my own maid, that deceitful Alice, to whom I have
been the most indulgent mistress. Did you ever hear of anything so disgraceful? so
mortifying? so disreputable?”
“And has he only just told you of it?” said Milly, who, having really heard of worse
conduct, even in her innocent life, avoided a direct answer.
“Told me of it! he had not even the grace to do that. I went into the dining-room suddenly
and found him kissing her—disgusting at his time of life, is it not?—and when I reproved her
for allowing su liberties, she turned round saucily, and said she was engaged to be married
to my brother, and she saw no shame in allowing him to kiss her. Edmund is a miserable
coward, you know, and looked frightened; but when she asked him to say whether it was not
so, he tried to summon up courage and say yes. I le the room in disgust, and this morning I
have been questioning Edmund, and find that he is bent on marrying this woman, and that
he has been puing off telling me—because he was ashamed of himself, I suppose. I couldn’t
possibly stay in the house aer this, with my own maid turned mistress. And now, Milly, I
am come to throw myself on your charity for a week or two. Will you take me in?”
“at we will,” said Milly, “if you will only put up with our poor rooms and way of living.
It will be delightful to have you!”
“It will soothe me to be with you and Mr Barton a lile while. I feel quite unable to go
among my other friends just at present. What those two wreted people will do I don’t
know—leave the neighbourhood at once, I hope. I entreated my brother to do so, before he
disgraced himself.”
When Amos came home, he joined his cordial welcome and sympathy to Milly’s.
By-andby the Countess’s formidable boxes, whi she had carefully paed before her indignation
drove her away from Camp Villa, arrived at the vicarage, and were deposited in the spare
bedroom, and in two closets, not spare, whi Milly emptied for their reception. A week
aerwards, the excellent apartments at Camp Villa, comprising dining and drawing rooms,
three bedrooms and a dressing-room, were again to let, and Mr Bridmain’s sudden departure,
together with the Countess Czerlaski’s installation as a visitor at Shepperton Vicarage, became
a topic of general conversation in the neighbourhood. e keen-sighted virtue of Milby and
Shepperton saw in all this a confirmation of its worst suspicions, and pitied the Rev. Amos
Barton’s gullibility.
But when week aer week, and month aer month, slipped by without witnessing theCountess’s departure—when summer and harvest had fled, and still le her behind them
occupying the spare bedroom and the closets, and also a large proportion of Mrs Barton’s time
and aention, new surmises of a very evil kind were added to the old rumours, and began to
take the form of seled convictions in the minds even of Mr Barton’s most friendly
And now, here is an opportunity for an accomplished writer to apostrophise calumny, to
quote Virgil, and to show that he is acquainted with the most ingenious things whi have
been said on that subject in polite literature.
But what is opportunity to the man who can’t use it? An unfecundated egg, whi the
waves of time wash away into nonentity. So, as my memory is ill-furnished, and my
notebook still worse, I am unable to show myself either erudite or eloquent apropos of the
calumny whereof the Rev. Amos Barton was the victim. I can only ask my reader, did you
ever upset your ink-bole, and wat, in helpless agony, the rapid spread of Stygian
blaness over your fair manuscript or fairer table-cover? With a like inky swiness did
gossip now blaen the reputation of the Rev. Amos Barton, causing the unfriendly to scorn
and even the friendly to stand aloof, at a time when difficulties of another kind were fast
thickening around him.
 Chapter VI.
One November morning, at least six months aer the Countess Czerlaski had taken up her
residence at the vicarage, Mrs Hait heard that her neighbour Mrs Paen had an aa of
her old complaint, vaguely called “the spasms.” Accordingly, about eleven o’clo, she put on
her velvet bonnet and cloth cloak, with a long boa and a muff large enough to stow a prize
baby in; for Mrs Hait regulated her costume by the calendar, and brought out her furs on
the first of November, whatever might be the temperature. She was not a woman weakly to
accommodate herself to shilly-shally proceedings. If the season didn’t know what it ought to
do, Mrs Hait did. In her best days, it was always sharp weather at “Gunpowder Plot,” and
she didn’t like new fashions.
And this morning the weather was very rationally in accordance with her costume, for as
she made her way through the fields to Cross Farm, the yellow leaves on the hedge-girt elms,
whi showed bright and golden against the low-hanging purple clouds, were being scaered
across the grassy path by the coldest of November winds. “Ah,” Mrs Hait thought to
herself, “I dare say we shall have a sharp pin this winter, and if we do, I shouldn’t wonder
if it takes the old lady off. ey say a green Yule makes a fat uryard; but so does a white
Yule too, for that matter. When the stool’s rotten enough, no matter who sits on’t.”
However, on her arrival at Cross Farm, the prospect of Mrs Paen’s decease was again
thrown into the dim distance in her imagination, for Miss Janet Gibbs met her with the news
that Mrs Paen was mu beer, and led her, without any preliminary announcement, to the
old lady’s bedroom. Janet had scarcely reaed the end of her circumstantial narrative how
the aa came on and what were her aunt’s sensations—a narrative to whi Mrs Paen, in
her neatly-plaited nightcap, seemed to listen with a contemptuous resignation to her niece’s
historical inaccuracy, contenting herself with occasionally confounding Janet by a shake of
the head—when the claer of a horse’s hoofs on the yard pavement announced the arrival of
Mr Pilgrim, whose large, top-booted person presently made its appearance up-stairs. He found
Mrs Paen going on so well that there was no need to look solemn. He might glide from
condolence into gossip without offence, and the temptation of having Mrs Hait’s ear was
“What a disgraceful business this is turning out of your parson’s,” was the remark with
whi he made this agreeable transition, throwing himself ba in the air from whi he
had been leaning towards the patient.
“Eh, dear me!” said Mrs Hait, “disgraceful enough. I stu to Mr Barton as long as I
could, for his wife’s sake; but I can’t countenance su goings on. It’s hateful to see that
woman coming with ’em to service of a Sunday, and if Mr Hait wasn’t urwarden and I
didn’t think it wrong to forsake one’s own parish, I should go to Knebley ur. ere’s a
many parish’ners as do.”
“I used to think Barton was only a fool,” observed Mr Pilgrim, in a tone whi implied that
he was conscious of having been weakly aritable. “I thought he was imposed upon and led
away by those people when they first came. But that’s impossible now.”
“O, it’s as plain as the nose in your face,” said Mrs Hait, unreflectingly, not perceiving
the equivoque in her comparison,—“comin’ to Milby, like a sparrow perin’ on a bough, as I
may say, with her brother, as she called him; and then, all on a sudden, the brother goes off
wi’ himself, and she throws herself on the Bartons. ough what could make her take up wi’
a poor notomise of a parson, as hasn’t got enough to keep wife and ildren, there’s one
above knows—I don’t.”
“Mr Barton may have aractions we don’t know of,” said Mr Pilgrim, who piqued himselfon a talent for sarcasm. “e Countess has no maid now, and they say Mr Barton is handy in
assisting at her toilette—laces her boots, and so forth.”
“Tilee, be fiddled!” said Mrs Hait, with indignant boldness of metaphor; “an’ there’s
that poor thing a-sewing her fingers to the bone for them ildren—an’ another comin’ on.
What she must have to go through! It goes to my heart to turn my ba on her. But she’s i’
the wrong to let herself be put upon a’ that manner.”
“Ah! I was talking to Mrs Farquhar about that the other day. She said, ‘I think Mrs Barton a
v-e-r-y w-e-a-k w-o-m-a-n.’” (Mr Pilgrim gave this quotation with slow emphasis, as if he
thought Mrs Farquhar had uered a remarkable sentiment.) “ey find it impossible to invite
her to their house while she has that equivocal person staying with her.”
“Well!” remarked Miss Gibbs, “if I was a wife, nothing should induce me to bear what Mrs
Barton does.”
“Yes, it’s fine talking,” said Mrs Paen, from her pillow; “old maids’ husbands are al’ys
well-managed. If you was a wife you’d be as foolish as your betters, belike.”
“All my wonder is,” observed Mrs Hait, “how the Bartons make both ends meet. You
may depend on’t she’s got nothing to give ’em; for I understand as he’s been havin’ money
from some clergy arity. ey said at fust as she stuffed Mr Barton wi’ notions about her
writing to the Chancellor an’ her fine friends, to give him a living. Howiver, I don’t know
what’s true an’ what’s false. Mr Barton keeps away from our house now, for I gev him a bit o’
my mind one day. Maybe he’s ashamed of himself. He seems to me to look dreadful thin an’
harassed of a Sunday.”
“O, he must be aware he’s geing into bad odour everywhere. e clergy are quite
disgusted with his folly. ey say Carpe would be glad to get Barton out of the curacy if he
could; but he can’t do that without coming to Shepperton himself, as Barton’s a licensed
curate; and he wouldn’t like that, I suppose.”
At this moment Mrs Paen showed signs of uneasiness, whi recalled Mr Pilgrim to
professional aentions; and Mrs Hait, observing that it was ursday, and she must see
after the butter, said good-by, promising to look in again soon, and bring her knitting.
is ursday, by the by, is the first in the month—the day on whi the Clerical Meeting
is held at Milby Vicarage; and as the Rev. Amos Barton has reasons for not aending, he will
very likely be a subject of conversation amongst his clerical brethren Suppose we go there,
and hear whether Mr Pilgrim has reported their opinion correctly.
ere is not a numerous party to-day, for it is a season of sore throats and catarrhs; so that
the exegetical and theological discussions, whi are the preliminary of dining, have not been
quite so spirited as usual; and although a question relative to the Epistle of Jude has not been
quite cleared up, the striking of six by the ur clo, and the simultaneous announcement
of dinner, are sounds that no one feels to be importunate.
Pleasant (when one is not in the least bilious) to enter a comfortable dining-room, where
the closely-drawn red curtains glow with the double light of fire and candle, where glass and
silver are gliering on the pure damask, and a soup-tureen gives a hint of the fragrance that
will presently rush out to inundate your hungry senses, and prepare them, by the delicate
visitation of atoms, for the keen gusto of ampler contact! Especially if you have confidence in
the dinner-giving capacity of your host—if you know that he is not a man who entertains
grovelling views of eating and drinking as a mere satisfaction of hunger and thirst, and, dead
to all the finer influences of the palate, expects his guest to be brilliant on ill-flavoured gravies
and the eapest Marsala. Mr Ely was particularly worthy of su confidence, and his virtues
as an Amphitryon had probably contributed quite as mu as the central situation of Milby to
the selection of his house as a clerical rendezvous. He looks particularly graceful at the head
of his table, and, indeed, on all occasions where he acts as president or moderator—a man
who seems to listen well, and is an excellent amalgam of dissimilar ingredients.
At the other end of the table, as “Vice,” sits Mr Fellowes, rector and magistrate, a man ofimposing appearance, with a mellifluous voice and the readiest of tongues. Mr Fellowes once
obtained a living by the persuasive charms of his conversation, and the fluency with which he
interpreted the opinions of an obese and stammering baronet, so as to give that elderly
gentleman a very pleasing perception of his own wisdom. Mr Fellowes is a very successful
man, and has the highest aracter everywhere except in his own parish, where, doubtless
because his parishioners happen to be quarrelsome people, he is always at fierce feud with a
farmer or two, a colliery proprietor, a grocer who was once urwarden, and a tailor who
formerly officiated as clerk.
At Mr Ely’s right hand you see a very small man with a sallow and somewhat puffy face,
whose hair is brushed straight up, evidently with the intention of giving him a height
somewhat less disproportionate to his sense of his own importance than the measure of five
feet three accorded him by an oversight of nature. is is the Rev. Aribald Duke, a very
dyspeptic and evangelical man, who takes the gloomiest view of mankind and their prospects,
and thinks the immense sale of the “Piwi Papers,” recently completed, one of the
strongest proofs of original sin. Unfortunately, though Mr Duke was not burdened with a
family, his yearly expenditure was apt considerably to exceed his income; and the unpleasant
circumstances resulting from this, together with heavy meat breakfasts, may probably have
contributed to his desponding views of the world generally.
Next to him is seated Mr Furness, a tall young man, with blond hair and whiskers, who
was plued at Cambridge entirely owing to his genius; at least, I know that he soon
aerwards published a volume of poems, whi were considered remarkably beautiful by
many young ladies of his acquaintance. Mr Furness preaed his own sermons, as any one of
tolerable critical acumen might have certified by comparing them with his poems: in both,
there was an exuberance of metaphor and simile entirely original, and not in the least
borrowed from any resemblance in the things compared.
On Mr Furness’s le you see Mr Pugh, another young curate, of mu less marked
aracteristics. He had not published any poems; he had not even been plued; he had neat
bla whiskers and a pale complexion; read prayers and a sermon twice every Sunday, and
might be seen any day sallying forth on his paroial duties in a white tie, a well-brushed
hat, a perfect suit of bla, and well-polished boots—an equipment whi he probably
supposed hieroglyphically to represent the spirit of Christianity to the parishioners of
Mr Pugh’s vis-à-vis is the Rev. Martin Cleves, a man about forty—middle-sized,
broadshouldered, with a negligently-tied cravat, large irregular features, and a large head, thily
covered with lanky brown hair. To a superficial glance, Mr Cleves is the plainest and least
clerical-looking of the party; yet, strange to say, there is the true parish priest, the pastor
beloved, consulted, relied on by his flo; a clergyman who is not associated with the
undertaker, but thought of as the surest helper under a difficulty, as a monitor who is
encouraging rather than severe. Mr Cleves has the wonderful art of preaing sermons whi
the wheelwright and the blasmith can understand; not because he talks condescending
twaddle, but because he can call a spade a spade, and knows how to disencumber ideas of
their wordy frippery. Look at him more aentively, and you will see that his face is a very
interesting one—that there is a great deal of humour and feeling playing in his grey eyes, and
about the corners of his roughly cut mouth:—a man, you observe, who has most likely sprung
from the harder-working section of the middle class, and has hereditary sympathies with the
eered life of the people. He gets together the working men in his parish on a Monday
evening, and gives them a sort of conversational lecture on useful practical maers, telling
them stories, or reading some select passages from an agreeable book, and commenting on
them; and if you were to ask the first labourer or artisan in Tripplegate what sort of man the
parson was, he would say,—“a uncommon knowin’, sensable, free-spoken gentleman; very
kind an’ good-natur’d too.” Yet for all this, he is perhaps the best Grecian of the party, if weexcept Mr Baird, the young man on his left.
Mr Baird has since gained considerable celebrity as an original writer and metropolitan
lecturer, but at that time he used to prea in a lile ur something like a barn, to a
congregation consisting of three ri farmers and their servants, about fieen labourers, and
the due proportion of women and children. The rich farmers understood him to be “very high
learnt;” but if you had interrogated them for a more precise description, they would have said
that he was “a thinnish-faced man, with a sort o’ cast in his eye, like.”
Seven, altogether: a delightful number for a dinner-party, supposing the units to be
delightful, but everything depends on that. During dinner Mr Fellowes took the lead in the
conversation, whi set strongly in the direction of mangold-wurzel and the rotation of crops;
for Mr Fellowes and Mr Cleves cultivated their own glebes. Mr Ely, too, had some
agricultural notions, and even the Rev. Aribald Duke was made alive to that class of
mundane subjects by the possession of some potato-ground. e two young curates talked a
lile aside during these discussions, whi had imperfect interest for their unbeneficed
minds; and the transcendental and near-sighted Mr Baird seemed to listen somewhat
abstractedly, knowing lile more of potatoes and mangold-wurzel than that they were some
form of the “Conditioned.”
“What a hobby farming is with Lord Watling!” said Mr Fellowes, when the cloth was being
drawn. “I went over his farm at Teerley with him last summer. It is really a model farm;
first-rate dairy, grazing and wheat land, and su splendid farm-buildings! An expensive
hobby, though. He sinks a good deal of money there, I fancy. He has a great whim for bla
cale, and he sends that drunken old Scot bailiff of his to Scotland every year, with
hundreds in his pocket, to buy these beasts.”
“By the by,” said Mr Ely, “do you know who is the man to whom Lord Watling has given
the Bramhill living?”
“A man named Sargent. I knew him at Oxford. His brother is a lawyer, and was very
useful to Lord Watling in that ugly Brounsell affair. That’s why Sargent got the living.”
“Sargent,” said Mr Ely. “I know him. Isn’t he a showy talkative fellow; has wrien travels
in Mesopotamia, or something of that sort?”
“That’s the man.”
“He was at Witherington once, as Bagshawe’s curate. He got into rather bad odour there,
through some scandal about a flirtation, I think.”
“Talking of scandal,” returned Mr Fellowes, “have you heard the last story about Barton?
Nisbe was telling me the other day that he dines alone with the Countess at six, while Mrs
Barton is in the kitchen acting as cook.”
“Rather an apocryphal authority, Nisbett,” said Mr Ely.
“Ah,” said Mr Cleves, with good-natured humour twinkling in his eyes, “depend upon it,
that is a corrupt version. e original text is, that they all dined together with six—meaning
six children—and that Mrs Barton is an excellent cook.”
“I wish dining alone together may be the worst of that sad business,” said the Rev.
Archibald Duke, in a tone implying that his wish was a strong figure of speech.
“Well,” said Mr Fellowes, filling his glass and looking jocose, “Barton is certainly either the
greatest gull in existence, or he has some cunning secret,—some philtre or other to make
himself charming in the eyes of a fair lady. It isn’t all of us that can make conquests when our
ugliness is past its bloom.”
“e lady seemed to have made a conquest of him at the very outset,” said Mr Ely. “I was
immensely amused one night at Granby’s, when he was telling us her story about her
husband’s adventures. He said, ‘When she told me the tale, I felt I don’t know how,—I felt it
from the crown of my head to the sole of my feet.’”
Mr Ely gave these words dramatically, imitating the Rev. Amos’s fervour and symbolic
action, and every one laughed except Mr Duke, whose aer-dinner view of things was notapt to be jovial. He said,—
“I think some of us ought to remonstrate with Mr Barton on the scandal he is causing. He
is not only imperilling his own soul, but the souls of his flock.”
“Depend upon it,” said Mr Cleves, “there is some simple explanation of the whole affair, if
we only happened to know it. Barton has always impressed me as a right-minded man, who
has the knack of doing himself injustice by his manner.”
“Now I never liked Barton,” said Mr Fellowes. “He’s not a gentleman. Why, he used to be
on terms of intimacy with that canting Prior, who died a lile while ago;—a fellow who
soaked himself with spirits, and talked of the Gospel through an inflamed nose.”
“The Countess has given him more refined tastes, I dare say,” said Mr Ely.
“Well,” observed Mr Cleves, “the poor fellow must have a hard pull to get along, with his
small income and large family. Let us hope the Countess does something towards making the
pot boil.”
“Not she,” said Mr Duke; “there are greater signs of poverty about them than ever.”
“Well, come,” returned Mr Cleves, who could be caustic sometimes, and who was not at all
fond of his reverend brother, Mr Duke, “that’s something in Barton’s favour at all events. He
might be poor without showing signs of poverty.”
Mr Duke turned rather yellow, whi was his way of blushing, and Mr Ely came to his
relief by observing,—
“ey’re making a very good piece of work of Shepperton Chur. Dolby, the aritect,
who has it in hand, is a very clever fellow.”
“It’s he who has been doing Coppleton Chur,” said Mr Furness. “ey’ve got it in
excellent order for the visitation.”
is mention of the visitation suggested the Bishop, and thus opened a wide duct, whi
entirely diverted the stream of animadversion from that small pipe—that capillary vessel, the
Rev. Amos Barton.
e talk of the clergy about their Bishop belongs to the esoteric part of their profession; so
we will at once quit the dining-room at Milby Vicarage, lest we should happen to overhear
remarks unsuited to the lay understanding, and perhaps dangerous to our repose of mind.
 Chapter VII.
I dare say the long residence of the Countess Czerlaski at Shepperton Vicarage is very
puzzling to you also, dear reader, as well as to Mr Barton’s clerical brethren; the more so, as I
hope you are not in the least inclined to put that very evil interpretation on it whi
evidently found acceptance with the sallow and dyspeptic Mr Duke, and with the florid and
highly peptic Mr Fellowes. You have seen enough, I trust, of the Rev. Amos Barton, to be
convinced that he was more apt to fall into a blunder than into a sin—more apt to be deceived
than to incur a necessity for being deceitful: and if you have a keen eye for physiognomy,
you will have detected that the Countess Czerlaski loved herself far too well to get entangled
in an unprofitable vice.
How, then, you will say, could this fine lady oose to quarter herself on the establishment
of a poor curate, where the carpets were probably falling into holes, where the aendance
was limited to a maid of all work, and where six ildren were running loose from eight
o’clo in the morning till eight o’clo in the evening? Surely you must be misrepresenting
the facts.
Heaven forbid! For not having a fertile imagination, as you perceive, and being unable to
invent thrilling incidents for your amusement, my only merit must lie in the faithfulness
with whi I represent to you the humble experience of an ordinary fellow-mortal. I wish to
stir your sympathy with commonplace troubles—to win your tears for real sorrow: sorrow
su as may live next door to you—su as walks neither in rags nor in velvet, but in very
ordinary decent apparel.
erefore, that you may dismiss your suspicions of my veracity, I will beg you to consider,
that at the time the Countess Czerlaski le Camp Villa in dudgeon, she had only twenty
pounds in her poet, being about one-third of the income she possessed independently of
her brother. You will then perceive that she was in the extremely inconvenient predicament
of having quarrelled, not indeed with her bread and eese, but certainly with her ien
and tart—a predicament all the more inconvenient to her, because the habit of idleness had
quite unfied her for earning those necessary superfluities, and because, with all her
fascinations, she had not secured any enthusiastic friends whose houses were open to her, and
who were dying to see her. us she had completely emated herself, unless she could
resolve on one unpleasant move—namely, to humble herself to her brother, and recognise his
wife. is seemed quite impossible to her as long she entertained the hope that he would
make the first advances; and in this flaering hope she remained month aer month at
Shepperton Vicarage, gracefully overlooking the deficiencies of accommodation, and feeling
that she was really behaving armingly. “Who, indeed,” she thought to herself, “could do
otherwise, with a lovely, gentle creature like Milly? I shall really be sorry to leave the poor
So, though she lay in bed till ten, and came down to a separate breakfast at eleven, she
kindly consented to dine as early as five, when a hot joint was prepared, whi coldly
furnished forth the ildren’s table the next day; she considerately prevented Milly from
devoting herself too closely to the ildren, by insisting on reading, talking, and walking with
her; and she even began to embroider a cap for the next baby, whi must certainly be a girl,
and be named Caroline.
Aer the first month or two of her residence at the Vicarage, the Rev. Amos Barton
became aware—as, indeed, it was unavoidable that he should—of the strong disapprobation it
drew upon him, and the ange of feeling towards him whi it was producing in his kindest
parishioners. But, in the first place, he still believed in the Countess as a arming andinfluential woman, disposed to befriend him, and, in any case, he could hardly hint departure
to a lady guest who had been kind to him and his, and who might any day spontaneously
announce the termination of her visit; in the second place, he was conscious of his own
innocence, and felt some contemptuous indignation towards people who were ready to
imagine evil of him; and, lastly, he had, as I have already intimated, a strong will of his own,
so that a certain obstinacy and defiance mingled itself with his other feelings on the subject.
e one unpleasant consequence whi was not to be evaded or counteracted by any mere
mental state, was the increasing drain on his slender purse for household expenses, to meet
whi the remiance he had received from the clerical arity threatened to be quite
inadequate. Slander may be defeated by equanimity; but courageous thoughts will not pay
your baker’s bill, and fortitude is nowhere considered legal tender for beef. Month aer
month the financial aspect of the Rev. Amos’s affairs became more and more serious to him,
and month aer month, too, wore away more and more of that armour of indignation and
defiance with whi he had at first defended himself from the harsh looks of faces that were
once the friendliest.
But quite the heaviest pressure of the trouble fell on Milly—on gentle, uncomplaining Milly
—whose delicate body was becoming daily less fit for all the many things that had to be done
between rising up and lying down. At first, she thought the Countess’s visit would not last
long, and she was quite glad to incur extra exertion for the sake of making her friend
comfortable. I can hardly bear to think of all the rough work she did with those lovely hands
—all by the sly, without leing her husband know anything about it, and husbands are not
clairvoyant: how she salted bacon, ironed shirts and cravats, put pates on pates, and
redarned darns. en there was the task of mending and eking out baby linen in prospect, and
the problem perpetually suggesting itself how she and Nanny should manage when there was
another baby, as there would be before very many months were past.
When time glided on, and the Countess’s visit did not end, Milly was not blind to any
phase of their position. She knew of the slander; she was aware of the keeping aloof of old
friends; but these she felt almost entirely on her husband’s account. A loving woman’s world
lies within the four walls of her own home; and it is only through her husband that she is in
any electric communication with the world beyond. Mrs Simpkins may have looked
scornfully at her, but baby crows and holds out his lile arms none the less blithely; Mrs
Tomkins may have le off calling on her, but her husband comes home none the less to
receive her care and caresses; it has been wet and gloomy out of doors to-day, but she has
looked well aer the shirt buons, has cut out baby’s pinafores, and half finished Willy’s
So it was with Milly. She was only vexed that her husband should be vexed—only
wounded because he was misconceived. But the difficulty about ways and means she felt in
quite a different manner. Her rectitude was alarmed lest they should have to make tradesmen
wait for their money; her motherly love dreaded the diminution of comforts for the ildren;
and the sense of her own failing health gave exaggerated force to these fears.
Milly could no longer shut her eyes to the fact, that the Countess was inconsiderate, if she
did not allow herself to entertain severer thoughts; and she began to feel that it would soon
be a duty to tell her frankly that they really could not afford to have her visit farther
prolonged. But a process was going forward in two other minds, whi ultimately saved
Milly from having to perform this painful task.
In the first place, the Countess was geing weary of Shepperton—weary of waiting for her
brother’s overtures whi never came; so, one fine morning, she reflected that forgiveness
was a Christian duty, that a sister should be placable, that Mr Bridmain must feel the need of
her advice, to whi he had been accustomed for three years, and that very likely “that
woman” didn’t make the poor man happy. In this amiable frame of mind she wrote a very
affectionate appeal, and addressed it to Mr Bridmain, through his banker.Another mind that was being wrought up to a climax was Nanny’s, the maid-of-all-work,
who had a warm heart and a still warmer temper. Nanny adored her mistress: she had been
heard to say, that she was “ready to kiss the ground as the missis trod on;” and Walter, she
considered, was her baby, of whom she was as jealous as a lover. But she had from the first
very slight admiration for the Countess Czerlaski. at lady, from Nanny’s point of view,
was a personage always “drawed out i’ fine clothes,” the ief result of whose existence was
to cause additional bed-making, carrying of hot water, laying of table-cloths and cooking of
dinners. It was a perpetually heightening “aggravation” to Nanny that she and her mistress
had to “slave” more than ever, because there was this fine lady in the house.
“An’ she pays nothin’ for’t neither,” observed Nanny to Mr Jacob Tomms, a young
gentleman in the tailoring line, who occasionally—simply out of a taste for dialogue—looked
into the vicarage kiten of an evening. “I know the master’s shorter o’ money than iver, an’
it meks no end o’ difference i’ th’ housekeepin’—her bein’ here, besides bein’ obliged to have
a charwoman constant.”
“There’s fine stories i’ the village about her,” said Mr Tomms. “They say as Muster Barton’s
great wi’ her, or else she’d niver stop here.”
“en they say a passill o’ lies, an’ you ought to be ashamed to goo an’ tell ’em o’er again.
Do you think as the master, as has got a wife like the missis, ’ud goo runnin’ arter a stu-up
piece o’ goods like that Countess, as isn’t fit to bla the missis’s shoes? I’m none so fond o’
the master, but I know better on him nor that.”
“Well, I didn’t b’lieve it,” said Mr Tomms, humbly.
“B’lieve it? you’d ha’ been a ninny if yer did. An’ she’s a nasty, stingy thing, that
Countess. She’s niver giv me a sixpence or an old rag neither, sin’ here she’s been. A-lyin’ a
bed an’ a-comin’ down to breakfast when other folks wants their dinner!”
If su was the state of Nanny’s mind as early as the end of August, when this dialogue
with Mr Tomms occurred, you may imagine what it must have been by the beginning of
November, and that at that time a very slight spark might any day cause the long
smouldering anger to flame forth in open indignation.
at spark happened to fall the very morning that Mrs Hait paid the visit to Mrs Paen,
recorded in the last apter. Nanny’s dislike of the Countess extended to the innocent dog
Jet, whom she “couldn’t a-bear to see made a fuss wi’ like a Christian. An’ the lile ouzle
must be washed, too, ivery Saturday, as if there wasn’t ildren enoo to wash, wi’out washin’
Now this particular morning it happened that Milly was quite too poorly to get up, and Mr
Barton observed to Nanny, on going out, that he would call and tell Mr Brand to come. ese
circumstances were already enough to make Nanny anxious and susceptible. But the
Countess, comfortably ignorant of them, came down as usual about eleven o’clo to her
separate breakfast, whi stood ready for her at that hour in the parlour; the kele singing on
the hob that she might make her own tea. ere was a lile jug of cream, taken according to
custom from last night’s milk, and specially saved for the Countess’s breakfast. Jet always
awaited his mistress at her bedroom door, and it was her habit to carry him down stairs.
“Now, my lile Jet,” she said, puing him down gently on the hearth-rug, “you shall have
a nice, nice breakfast.”
Jet indicated that he thought that observation extremely pertinent and well-timed, by
immediately raising himself on his hind-legs, and the Countess emptied the cream-jug into
the saucer. Now there was usually a small jug of milk standing on the tray by the side of the
cream, and destined for Jet’s breakfast, but this morning Nanny, being “moithered,” had
forgoen that part of the arrangements, so that when the Countess had made her tea, she
perceived there was no second jug, and rang the bell. Nanny appeared, looking very red and
heated—the fact was, she had been “doing up” the kiten fire, and that is a sort of work
which by no means conduces to blandness of temper.“Nanny, you have forgotten Jet’s milk; will you bring me some more cream, please?”
This was just a little too much for Nanny’s forbearance.
“Yes, I dare say. Here am I wi’ my hands full o’ the ildren an’ the dinner, and missis ill
a-bed, and Mr Brand a-comin’; and I must run o’er the village to get more cream, ’cause
you’ve giv it to that nasty little blackamoor.”
“Is Mrs Barton ill?”
“Ill—yes—I should think she is ill, an’ mu you care. She’s likely to be ill, moithered as
she is from mornin’ to night, wi’ folks as had better be elsewhere.”
“What do you mean by behaving in this way?”
“Mean? Why, I mean as the missis is a slavin’ her life out an’ a-siin’ up o’ nights, for folks
as are beer able to wait of her, i’stid o’ lyin’ a-bed an’ doin’ nothin’ all the blessed day, but
mek work.”
“Leave the room, and don’t be insolent.”
“Insolent! I’d beer be insolent than like what some folks is,—a-livin’ on other folks, an’
bringin’ a bad name on ’em into the bargain.”
Here Nanny flung out of the room, leaving the lady to digest this unexpected breakfast at
her leisure.
e Countess was stunned for a few minutes, but when she began to recall Nanny’s words,
there was no possibility of avoiding very unpleasant conclusions from them, or of failing to
see her position at the Vicarage in an entirely new light. e interpretation too of Nanny’s
allusion to a “bad name” did not lie out of the rea of the Countess’s imagination, and she
saw the necessity of quiing Shepperton without delay. Still, she would like to wait for her
brother’s leer—no—she would ask Milly to forward it to her—still beer, she would go at
once to London, inquire her brother’s address at his banker’s, and go to see him without
She went up to Milly’s room, and, aer kisses and inquiries, said—“I find, on consideration,
dear Milly, from the leer I had yesterday, that I must bid you good-by and go up to London
at once. But you must not let me leave you ill, you naughty thing.”
“Oh no,” said Milly, who felt as if a load had been taken off her ba, “I shall be very well
in an hour or two. Indeed, I’m mu beer now. You will want me to help you to pa. But
you won’t go for two or three days?”
“Yes, I must go to-morrow. But I shall not let you help me pa, so don’t entertain any
unreasonable projects, but lie still. Mr Brand is coming, Nanny says.”
e news was not an unpleasant surprise to Mr Barton when he came home, though he
was able to express more regret at the idea of parting than Milly could summon to her lips.
He retained more of his original feeling for the Countess than Milly did, for women never
betray themselves to men as they do to each other; and the Rev. Amos had not a keen instinct
for aracter. But he felt that he was being relieved from a difficulty, and in the way that was
easiest for him. Neither he nor Milly suspected that it was Nanny who had cut the knot for
them, for the Countess took care to give no sign on that subject. As for Nanny, she was
perfectly aware of the relation between cause and effect in the affair, and secretly uled
over her outburst of “sauce,” as the best morning’s work she had ever done.
So, on Friday morning, a fly was seen standing at the Vicarage gate, with the Countess’s
boxes paed upon it; and presently that lady herself was seen geing into the vehicle. Aer
a last shake of the hand to Mr Barton, and last kisses to Milly and the ildren, the door was
closed; and as the fly rolled off, the lile party at the Vicarage gate caught a last glimpse of
the handsome Countess leaning and waving kisses from the carriage window. Jet’s lile bla
phiz was also seen, and doubtless he had his thoughts and feelings on the occasion, but he
kept them strictly within his own bosom.
e soolmistress opposite witnessed this departure, and lost no time in telling it to the
soolmaster, who again communicated the news to the landlord of “e Jolly Colliers,” atthe close of the morning sool-hours. Nanny poured the joyful tidings into the ear of Mr
Farquhar’s footman, who happened to call with a leer, and Mr Brand carried them to all the
patients he visited that morning, aer calling on Mrs Barton. So that before Sunday, it was
very generally known in Shepperton parish, that the Countess Czerlaski had left the Vicarage.
e Countess had le, but alas! the bills she had contributed to swell still remained; so did
the exiguity of the ildren’s clothing, whi also was partly an indirect consequence of her
presence; and so, too, did the coolness and alienation in the parishioners, whi could not at
once vanish before the fact of her departure. e Rev. Amos was not exculpated—the past
was not expunged. But, what was worse than all, Milly’s health gave frequent cause for
alarm, and the prospect of baby’s birth was overshadowed by more than the usual fears. e
birth came prematurely, about six weeks aer the Countess’s departure, but Mr Brand gave
favourable reports to all inquirers on the following day, whi was Saturday. On Sunday,
aer morning service, Mrs Hait called at the Vicarage to inquire how Mrs Barton was, and
was invited up-stairs to see her. Milly lay placid and lovely in her feebleness, and held out
her hand to Mrs Hackit with a beaming smile. It was very pleasant to her to see her old friend
unreserved and cordial once more. e seven months’ baby was very tiny and very red, but
“handsome is that handsome does,”—he was pronounced to be “doing well,” and Mrs Hait
went home gladdened at heart to think that the perilous hour was over.
 Chapter VIII.
The following Wednesday, when Mr and Mrs Hait were seated comfortably by their bright
hearth, enjoying the long afternoon afforded by an early dinner, Rachel, the housemaid, came
in and said,—
“If you please ’m, the shepherd says, have you heard as Mrs Barton’s wuss, and not
expected to live?”
Mrs Hait turned pale, and hurried out to question the shepherd, who, she found, had
heard the sad news at an alehouse in the village. Mr Hait followed her out and said,
“Thee’dst better have the pony-chaise, and go directly.”
“Yes,” said Mrs Hait, too mu overcome to uer any exclamations. “Rael, come an’
help me on wi’ my things.”
When her husband was wrapping her cloak round her feet in the pony-chaise, she said,—
“If I don’t come home to-night, I shall send ba the pony-aise, and you’ll know I’m
wanted there.”
“Yes, yes.”
It was a bright frosty day, and by the time Mrs Hait arrived at the Vicarage, the sun was
near its seing. ere was a carriage and pair standing at the gate, whi she recognised as
Dr Madeley’s, the physician from Rotherby. She entered at the kiten door, that she might
avoid knoing, and quietly question Nanny. No one was in the kiten, but, passing on, she
saw the siing-room door open, and Nanny, with Walter in her arms, removing the knives
and forks, which had been laid for dinner three hours ago.
“Master says he can’t eat no dinner,” was Nanny’s first word. “He’s never tasted nothin’
sin’ yesterday mornin’, but a cup o’ tea.”
“When was your missis took worse?”
“O’ Monday night. ey sent for Dr Madeley i’ the middle o’ the day yisterday, an’ he’s
here again now.”
“Is the baby alive?”
“No, it died last night.” e ildren’s all at Mrs Bond’s. She come and took ’em away last
night, but the master says they must be fetched soon. He’s up-stairs now, wi’ Dr Madeley and
Mr Brand.”
At this moment Mrs Hait heard the sound of a heavy, slow foot, in the passage; and
presently Amos Barton entered, with dry despairing eyes, haggard and unshaven. He
expected to find the sitting-room as he left it, with nothing to meet his eyes but Milly’s
workbasket in the corner of the sofa, and the ildren’s toys overturned in the bow-window. But
when he saw Mrs Hait come towards him with answering sorrow in her face, the pent-up
fountain of tears was opened; he threw himself on the sofa, hid his face, and sobbed aloud.
“Bear up, Mr Barton,” Mrs Hait ventured to say at last, “bear up, for the sake o’ them
dear children.”
“e ildren,” said Amos, starting up. “ey must be sent for. Some one must fet them.
Milly will want to …..”
He couldn’t finish the sentence, but Mrs Hait understood him, and said, “I’ll send the
man with the pony-carriage for ’em.”
She went out to give the order, and encountered Dr Madeley and Mr Brand, who were just
Mr Brand said: “I am very glad to see you are here, Mrs Hait. No time must be lost in
sending for the children. Mrs Barton wants to see them.”
“Do you quite give her up, then?”“She can hardly live through the night. She begged us to tell her how long she had to live;
and then asked for the children.”
e pony-carriage was sent; and Mrs Hait, returning to Mr Barton, said she should like
to go up-stairs now. He went up-stairs with her and opened the door. e amber fronted
the west; the sun was just seing, and the red light fell full upon the bed, where Milly lay
with the hand of death visibly upon her. e feather-bed had been removed, and she lay low
on a maress with her head slightly raised by pillows. Her long fair ne seemed to be
struggling with a painful effort; her features were pallid and pined, and her eyes were
closed. ere was no one in the room but the nurse, and the mistress of the free sool, who
had come to give her help from the beginning of the change.
Amos and Mrs Hackit stood beside the bed, and Milly opened her eyes.
“My darling, Mrs Hackit is come to see you.”
Milly smiled and looked at her with that strange, far-off look which belongs to ebbing life.
“Are the children coming?” she said, painfully.
“Yes, they will be here directly.”
She closed her eyes again.
Presently the pony-carriage was heard; and Amos, motioning to Mrs Hait to follow him,
le the room. On their way down stairs, she suggested that the carriage should remain to
take them away again afterwards, and Amos assented.
ere they stood in the melanoly siing-room—the five sweet ildren, from Pay to
Chubby—all, with their mother’s eyes—all, except Pay, looking up with a vague fear at their
father as he entered. Pay understood the great sorrow that was come upon them, and tried
to check her sobs as she heard her papa’s footsteps.
“My ildren,” said Amos, taking Chubby in his arms, “God is going to take away your
dear mamma from us. She wants to see you to say good-by. You must try to be very good
and not cry.”
He could say no more, but turned round to see if Nanny was there with Walter, and then
led the way up-stairs, leading Diey with the other hand. Mrs Hait followed with Sophy
and Patty, and then came Nanny with Walter and Fred.
It seemed as if Milly had heard the little footsteps on the stairs, for when Amos entered her
eyes were wide open, eagerly looking towards the door. ey all stood by the bedside—Amos
nearest to her, holding Chubby and Diey. But she motioned for Pay to come first, and
clasping the poor pale child by the hand, said,—
“Pay, I’m going away from you. Love your papa. Comfort him; and take care of your
little brothers and sisters. God will help you.”
Patty stood perfectly quiet, and said, “Yes, mamma.”
e mother motioned with her pallid lips for the dear ild to lean towards her and kiss
her; and then Pay’s great anguish overcame her, and she burst into sobs. Amos drew her
towards him and pressed her head gently to him, while Milly beoned Fred and Sophy, and
said to them more faintly,—
“Pay will try to be your mamma when I am gone, my darlings. You will be good, and not
vex her.”
ey leaned towards her, and she stroked their fair heads, and kissed their tear-stained
eeks. ey cried because mamma was ill and papa looked so unhappy; but they thought,
perhaps next week things would be as they used to be again.
e lile ones were lied on the bed to kiss her. Lile Walter said, “Mamma, mamma,”
and streted out his fat arms and smiled; and Chubby seemed gravely wondering; but
Diey, who had been looking fixedly at her, with lip hanging down, ever since he came into
the room, now seemed suddenly pierced with the idea that mamma was going away
somewhere; his little heart swelled and he cried aloud.
en Mrs Hait and Nanny took them all away. Pay at first begged to stay at home andnot go to Mrs Bond’s again; but when Nanny reminded her that she had beer go to take
care of the younger ones, she submied at once, and they were all paed in the
ponycarriage once more.
Milly kept her eyes shut for some time aer the ildren were gone. Amos had sunk on his
knees, and was holding her hand while he wated her face. By-and-by she opened her eyes,
and, drawing him close to her, whispered slowly,—“My dear—dear—husband—you have been
—very—good to me. You—have—made me—very—happy.”
She spoke no more for many hours. ey wated her breathing becoming more and more
difficult, until evening deepened into night, and until midnight was past. About half-past
twelve she seemed to be trying to speak, and they leaned to catch her words.
“Music—music—didn’t you hear it?”
Amos knelt by the bed and held her hand in his. He did not believe in his sorrow. It was a
bad dream. He did not know when she was gone. But Mr Brand, whom Mrs Hait had sent
for before twelve o’clo, thinking that Mr Barton might probably need his help, now came
up to him and said,—
“She feels no more pain now. Come, my dear sir, come with me.”
“She isn’t dead?” shrieked the poor desolate man, struggling to shake off Mr Brand, who
had taken him by the arm. But his weary, weakened frame was not equal to resistance, and
he was dragged out of the room.
 Chapter IX.
They laid her in the grave—the sweet mother with her baby in her arms—while the
Christmas snow lay thi upon the graves. It was Mr Cleves who buried her. On the first
news of Mr Barton’s calamity, he had ridden over from Tripplegate to beg that he might be
made of some use, and his silent grasp of Amos’s hand had penetrated like the painful thrill
of life-recovering warmth to the poor benumbed heart of the stricken man.
e snow lay thi upon the graves, and the day was cold and dreary; but there was many
a sad eye wating that bla procession as it passed from the vicarage to the ur, and
from the ur to the open grave. ere were men and women standing in that uryard
who had bandied vulgar jests about their pastor, and who had lightly arged him with sin;
but now, when they saw him following the coffin, pale and haggard, he was consecrated
anew by his great sorrow, and they looked at him with respectful pity.
All the ildren were there, for Amos had willed it so, thinking that some dim memory of
that sacred moment might remain even with lile Walter, and link itself with what he would
hear of his sweet mother in aer years. He himself led Pay and Diey; then came Sophy
and Fred; Mr Brand had begged to carry Chubby, and Nanny followed with Walter. ey
made a circle round the grave while the coffin was being lowered. Pay alone of all the
ildren felt that mamma was in that coffin, and that a new and sadder life had begun for
papa and herself. She was pale and trembling, but she clasped his hand more firmly as the
coffin went down, and gave no sob. Fred and Sophy, though they were only two and three
years younger, and though they had seen mamma in her coffin, seemed to themselves to be
looking at some strange show. ey had not learned to decipher that terrible handwriting of
human destiny, illness and death. Diey had rebelled against his bla clothes, until he was
told that it would be naughty to mamma not to put them on, when he at once submied; and
now, though he had heard Nanny say that mamma was in heaven, he had a vague notion
that she would come home again to-morrow, and say he had been a good boy, and let him
empty her work-box. He stood close to his father, with great rosy eeks, and wide open blue
eyes, looking first up at Mr Cleves and then down at the coffin, and thinking he and Chubby
would play at that, when they got home.
e burial was over, and Amos turned with his ildren to re-enter the house—the house
where, an hour ago, Milly’s dear body lay, where the windows were half-darkened, and
sorrow seemed to have a hallowed precinct for itself, shut out from the world. But now she
was gone; the broad snow-reflected daylight was in all the rooms; the Vicarage again seemed
part of the common working-day world, and Amos, for the first time, felt that he was alone—
that day aer day, month aer month, year aer year, would have to be lived through
without Milly’s love. Spring would come, and she would not be there; summer, and she
would not be there; and he would never have her again with him by the fireside in the long
evenings. e seasons all seemed irksome to his thoughts; and how dreary the sunshiny days
that would be sure to come! She was gone from him; and he could never show her his love
any more, never make up for omissions in the past by filling future days with tenderness.
O the anguish of that thought, that we can never atone to our dead for the stinted affection
we gave them, for the light answers we returned to their plaints or their pleadings, for the
lile reverence we showed to that sacred human soul that lived so close to us, and was the
divinest thing God had given us to know.
Amos Barton had been an affectionate husband, and while Milly was with him, he was
never visited by the thought that perhaps his sympathy with her was not qui and watful
enough; but now he re-lived all their life together, with that terrible keenness of memory andimagination whi bereavement gives, and he felt as if his very love needed a pardon for its
poverty and selfishness.
No outward solace could counteract the bierness of this inward woe. But outward solace
came. Cold faces looked kind again, and parishioners turned over in their minds what they
could best do to help their pastor. Mr Oldinport wrote to express his sympathy, and enclosed
another twenty-pound note, begging that he might be permied to contribute in this way to
the relief of Mr Barton’s mind from pecuniary anxieties, under the pressure of a grief whi
all his parishioners must share; and offering his interest towards placing the two eldest girls
in a sool expressly founded for clergymen’s daughters. Mr Cleves succeeded in collecting
thirty pounds among his rier clerical brethren, and, adding ten pounds himself, sent the
sum to Amos, with the kindest and most delicate words of Christian fellowship and manly
friendship. Miss Jason forgot old grievances, and came to stay some months with Milly’s
ildren, bringing su material aid as she could spare from her small income. ese were
substantial helps, whi relieved Amos from the pressure of his money difficulties; and the
friendly aentions, the kind pressure of the hand, the cordial looks he met with everywhere
in his parish, made him feel that the fatal frost whi had seled on his pastoral duties,
during the Countess’s residence at the Vicarage, was completely thawed, and that the hearts
of his parishioners were once more open to him.
No one breathed the Countess’s name now; for Milly’s memory hallowed her husband, as
of old the place was hallowed on which an angel from God had alighted.
When the spring came, Mrs Hait begged that she might have Diey to stay with her,
and great was the enlargement of Diey’s experience from that visit. Every morning he was
allowed—being well wrapt up as to his est, by Mrs Hait’s own hands, but very bare and
red as to his legs—to run loose in the cow and poultry yard, to persecute the turkey-co by
satirical imitations of his gobble-gobble, and to put difficult questions to the groom as to the
reasons why horses had four legs, and other transcendental maers. en Mr Hait would
take Diey up on horseba when he rode round his farm, and Mrs Hait had a large
plumcake in cut, ready to meet incidental aas of hunger. So that Diey had considerably
modified his views as to the desirability of Mrs Hackit’s kisses.
e Miss Farquhars made particular pets of Fred and Sophy, to whom they undertook to
give lessons twice a-week in writing and geography; and Mrs Farquhar devised many treats
for the lile ones. Pay’s treat was to stay at home, or walk about with her papa; and when
he sat by the fire in an evening, aer the other ildren were gone to bed, she would bring a
stool, and placing it against his feet, would sit down upon it and lean her head against his
knee. en his hand would rest on that fair head, and he would feel that Milly’s love was not
quite gone out of his life.
So the time wore on till it was May again, and the ur was quite finished and reopened
in all its new splendour, and Mr Barton was devoting himself with more vigour than ever to
his paroial duties. But one morning—it was a very bright morning, and evil tidings
sometimes like to fly in the finest weather—there came a leer for Mr Barton, addressed in
the Vicar’s handwriting. Amos opened it with some anxiety—somehow or other he had a
presentiment of evil. e leer contained the announcement that Mr Carpe had resolved on
coming to reside at Shepperton, and that, consequently, in six months from that time Mr
Barton’s duties as curate in that parish would be closed.
O, it was hard! Just when Shepperton had become the place where he most wished to stay
—where he had friends who knew his sorrows—where he lived close to Milly’s grave. To part
from that grave seemed like parting with Milly a second time; for Amos was one who clung
to all the material links between his mind and the past. His imagination was not vivid, and
required the stimulus of actual perception.
It roused some bier feeling, too, to think that Mr Carpe’s wish to reside at Shepperton
was merely a pretext for removing Mr Barton, in order that he might ultimately give thecuracy of Shepperton to his own brother-in-law, who was known to be wanting a new
Still, it must be borne; and the painful business of seeking another curacy must be set about
without loss of time. Aer the lapse of some months, Amos was obliged to renounce the hope
of geing one at all near Shepperton, and he at length resigned himself to accepting one in a
distant county. e parish was in a large manufacturing town, where his walks would lie
among noisy streets and dingy alleys, and where the ildren would have no garden to play
in, no pleasant farmhouses to visit.
It was another blow inflicted on the bruised man.
 Chapter X.
At length the dreaded week was come, when Amos and his ildren must leave Shepperton.
ere was general regret among the parishioners at his departure: not that any one of them
thought his spiritual gis pre-eminent, or was conscious of great edification from his
ministry. But his recent troubles had called out their beer sympathies, and that is always a
source of love. Amos failed to tou the spring of goodness by his sermons, but he toued it
effectually by his sorrows; and there was now a real bond between him and his flock.
“My heart aes for them poor motherless ildren,” said Mrs Hait to her husband,
“agoin’ among strangers, an’ into a nasty town, where there’s no good victuals to be had, and
you must pay dear to get bad ’uns.”
Mrs Hait had a vague notion of a town life as a combination of dirty bayards, measly
pork, and dingy linen.
e same sort of sympathy was strong among the poorer class of parishioners. Old
stiffjointed Mr Tozer, who was still able to earn a lile by gardening “jobs,” stopped Mrs Cramp,
the arwoman, on her way home from the Vicarage, where she had been helping Nanny to
pa up the day before the departure, and inquired very particularly into Mr Barton’s
“Ah, poor mon,” he was heard to say, “I’m surry fur ’un. He hedn’t mu here, but he’ll be
wuss off theer. Half a loaf’s better nor ne’er ’un.”
e sad good-byes had all been said before that last evening; and aer all the paing was
done and all the arrangements were made, Amos felt the oppression of that blank interval in
whi one has nothing le to think of but the dreary future—the separation from the loved
and familiar, and the illing entrance on the new and strange. In every parting there is an
image of death.
Soon aer ten o’clo, when he had sent Nanny to bed, that she might have a good night’s
rest before the fatigues of the morrow, he stole soly out to pay a last visit to Milly’s grave. It
was a moonless night, but the sky was thi with stars, and their light was enough to show
that the grass had grown long on the grave, and that there was a tombstone telling in bright
leers, on a dark ground, that beneath were deposited the remains of Amelia, the beloved
wife of Amos Barton, who died in the thirty-fih year of her age, leaving a husband and six
children to lament her loss. The final words of the inscription were, “Thy will be done.”
e husband was now advancing towards the dear mound from whi he was so soon to
be parted, perhaps for ever. He stood a few minutes reading over and over again the words
on the tombstone, as if to assure himself that all the happy and unhappy past was a reality.
For love is frightened at the intervals of insensibility and callousness that encroa by lile
and lile on the dominion of grief, and it makes efforts to recall the keenness of the first
Gradually, as his eye dwelt on the words, “Amelia, the beloved wife,” the waves of feeling
swelled within his soul, and he threw himself on the grave, clasping it with his arms, and
kissing the cold turf.
“Milly, Milly, dost thou hear me? I didn’t love thee enough—I wasn’t tender enough to
thee—but I think of it all now.”
The sobs came and choked his utterance, and the warm tears fell.
 Conclusion.
Only once again in his life has Amos Barton visited Milly’s grave. It was in the calm and
soened light of an autumnal aernoon, and he was not alone. He held on his arm a young
woman, with a sweet, grave face, whi strongly recalled the expression of Mrs Barton’s, but
was less lovely in form and colour. She was about thirty, but there were some premature
lines round her mouth and eyes, which told of early anxiety.
Amos himself was mu anged. His thin circlet of hair was nearly white, and his walk
was no longer firm and upright. But his glance was calm, and even eerful, and his neat
linen told of a woman’s care. Milly did not take all her love from the earth when she died.
She had left some of it in Patty’s heart.
All the other ildren were now grown up, and had gone their several ways. Diey, you
will be glad to hear, had shown remarkable talents as an engineer. His eeks are still ruddy,
in spite of mixed mathematics, and his eyes are still large and blue; but in other respects his
person would present no marks of identification for his friend Mrs Hait, if she were to see
him; especially now that her eyes must be grown very dim, with the wear of more than
twenty additional years. He is nearly six feet high, and has a proportionately broad est; he
wears spectacles, and rubs his large white hands through a mass of shaggy brown hair. But I
am sure you have no doubt that Mr Riard Barton is a thoroughly good fellow, as well as a
man of talent, and you will be glad any day to shake hands with him, for his own sake as
well as his mother’s.
Patty alone remains by her father’s side, and makes the evening sunshine of his life.
The End
 Mr Gilfil’s Love Story.Chapter I.
hen old Mr Gilfil died, thirty years ago, there was general sorrow in Shepperton; and
if bla cloth had not been hung round the pulpit and reading-desk, by order of hisW
nephew and principal legatee, the parishioners would certainly have subscribed the necessary
sum out of their own poets, rather than allow su a tribute of respect to be wanting. All
the farmers’ wives brought out their bla bombasines; and Mrs Jennings, at the Wharf, by
appearing the first Sunday aer Mr Gilfil’s death in her salmon-coloured ribbons and green
shawl, excited the severest remark. To be sure, Mrs Jennings was a new-comer, and
townbred, so that she could hardly be expected to have very clear notions of what was proper; but,
as Mrs Higgins observed in an under-tone to Mrs Parrot when they were coming out of
ur, “Her husband, who’d been born i’ the parish, might ha’ told her beer.” An
unreadiness to put on bla on all available occasions, or too great an alacrity in puing it off,
argued, in Mrs Higgins’s opinion, a dangerous levity of aracter, and an unnatural
insensibility to the essential fitness of things.
“Some folks can’t a-bear to put off their colours,” she remarked; “but that was never the
way i’ my family. Why, Mrs Parrot, from the time I was married till Mr Higgins died, nine
year ago come Candlemas, I niver was out o’ black two year together!”
“Ah,” said Mrs Parrot, who was conscious of inferiority in this respect, “there isn’t many
families as have had so many deaths as yours, Mrs Higgins.”
Mrs Higgins, who was an elderly widow “well le,” reflected with complacency that Mrs
Parrot’s observation was no more than just, and that Mrs Jennings very likely belonged to a
family which had had no funerals to speak of.
Even dirty Dame Fripp, who was a very rare ur-goer, had been to Mrs Hait to beg a
bit of old crape, and with this sign of grief pinned on her lile coal-scule bonnet, was seen
dropping her curtsy opposite the reading-desk. is manifestation of respect towards Mr
Gilfil’s memory on the part of Dame Fripp had no theological bearing whatever. It was due to
an event whi had occurred some years ba, and whi, I am sorry to say, had le that
grimy old lady as indifferent to the means of grace as ever. Dame Fripp kept leees, and was
understood to have su remarkable influence over those wilful animals in inducing them to
bite under the most unpromising circumstances, that though her own leees were usually
rejected, from a suspicion that they had lost their appetite, she herself was constantly called
in to apply the more lively individuals furnished from Mr Pilgrim’s surgery, when, as was
very oen the case, one of that clever man’s paying patients was aaed with inflammation.
us Dame Fripp, in addition to “property” supposed to yield her no less than half-a-crown
a-week, was in the receipt of professional fees, the gross amount of whi was vaguely
estimated by her neighbours as “pouns an’ pouns.” Moreover, she drove a brisk trade in
lollipop with epicurean urins, who relessly purased that luxury at the rate of two
hundred per cent. Nevertheless, with all these notorious sources of income, the shameless old
woman constantly pleaded poverty, and begged for scraps at Mrs Hait’s, who, though she
always said Mrs Fripp was “as false as two folks,” and no beer than a miser and a heathen,
had yet a leaning towards her as an old neighbour.
“ere’s that case-hardened old Judy a-coming aer the tea-leaves again,” Mrs Hait
would say; “an’ I’m fool enough to give ’em her, though Sally wants ’em all the while to
sweep the floors with!”
Su was Dame Fripp, whom Mr Gilfil, riding leisurely in top-boots and spurs from doing
duty at Knebley one warm Sunday aernoon, observed siing in the dry dit near her
coage, and by her side a large pig, who, with that ease and confidence belonging to perfectfriendship, was lying with his head in her lap, and making no effort to play the agreeable
beyond an occasional grunt.
“Why, Mistress Fripp,” said the Vicar, “I didn’t know you had su a fine pig. You’ll have
some rare flitches at Christmas!”
“Eh, God forbid! My son gev him me two ’ear ago, an’ he’s been company to me iver sin’. I
couldn’t find i’ my heart to part wi’m, if I niver knowed the taste o’ bacon-fat again.”
“Why, he’ll eat his head off, and yours too. How can you go on keeping a pig, and making
nothing by him?”
“O, he pis a bit hisself wi’ rootin’, and I dooant mind doin’ wi’out to gie him summat. A
bit o’ coompany’s meat an’ drink too, an’ he follers me about, an’ grunts when I spake to’m,
just like a Christian.”
Mr Gilfil laughed, and I am obliged to admit that he said good-by to Dame Fripp without
asking her why she had not been to ur, or making the slightest effort for her spiritual
edification. But the next day he ordered his man David to take her a great piece of bacon,
with a message, saying, the parson wanted to make sure that Mrs Fripp would know the taste
of bacon-fat again. So, when Mr Gilfil died, Dame Fripp manifested her gratitude and
reverence in the simple dingy fashion I have mentioned.
You already suspect that the Vicar did not shine in the more spiritual functions of his
office; and indeed, the utmost I can say for him in this respect is, that he performed those
functions with undeviating aention to brevity and despat. He had a large heap of short
sermons, rather yellow and worn at the edges, from whi he took two every Sunday,
securing perfect impartiality in the selection by taking them as they came without reference
to topics; and having preaed one of these sermons at Shepperton in the morning, he
mounted his horse and rode hastily with the other in his poet to Knebley, where he
officiated in a wonderful lile ur, with a eered pavement whi had once rung to
the iron tread of military monks, with coats of arms in clusters on the loy roof, marble
warriors and their wives without noses occupying a large proportion of the area, and the
twelve apostles, with their heads very mu on one side, holding didactic ribbons, painted in
fresco on the walls. Here, in an absence of mind to whi he was prone, Mr Gilfil would
sometimes forget to take off his spurs before puing on his surplice, and only become aware
of the omission by feeling something mysteriously tugging at the skirts of that garment as he
stepped into the reading-desk. But the Knebley farmers would as soon have thought of
criticising the moon as their pastor. He belonged to the course of nature, like markets and
toll-gates and dirty bank-notes; and being a vicar, his claim on their veneration had never
been counteracted by an exasperating claim on their poets. Some of them, who did not
indulge in the superfluity of a covered cart without springs, had dined half an hour earlier
than usual—that is to say, at twelve o’clo—in order to have time for their long walk
through miry lanes, and present themselves duly in their places at two o’clo, when Mr
Oldinport and Lady Felicia, to whom Knebley Chur was a sort of family temple, made
their way among the bows and curtsies of their dependants to a carved and canopied pew in
the ancel, diffusing as they went a delicate odour of Indian roses on the unsusceptible
nostrils of the congregation.
e farmers’ wives and ildren sate on the dark oaken benes, but the husbands usually
ose the distinctive dignity of a stall under one of the twelve apostles, where, when the
alternation of prayers and responses had given place to the agreeable monotony of the
sermon, Paterfamilias might be seen or heard sinking into a pleasant doze, from whi he
infallibly woke up at the sound of the concluding doxology. And then they made their way
ba again through the miry lanes, perhaps almost as mu the beer for this simple weekly
tribute to what they knew of good and right, as many a more wakeful and critical
congregation of the present day.
Mr Gilfil, too, used to make his way home in the later years of his life, for he had given upthe habit of dining at Knebley Abbey on a Sunday, having, I am sorry to say, had a very
bier quarrel with Mr Oldinport, the cousin and predecessor of the Mr Oldinport who
flourished in the Rev. Amos Barton’s time. at quarrel was a sad pity, for the two had had
many a good day’s hunting together when they were younger, and in those friendly times
not a few members of the hunt envied Mr Oldinport the excellent terms he was on with his
Vicar; for, as Sir Jasper Sitwell observed, “next to a man’s wife, there’s nobody can be su an
infernal plague to you as a parson, always under your nose on your own estate.”
I fancy the original difference whi led to the rupture was very slight; but Mr Gilfil was
of an extremely caustic turn, his satire having a flavour of originality whi was quite
wanting in his sermons; and as Mr Oldinport’s armour of conscious virtue presented some
considerable and conspicuous gaps, the Vicar’s keen-edged retorts probably made a few
incisions too deep to be forgiven. Su, at least, was the view of the case presented by Mr
Hait, who knew as mu of the maer as any third person. For, the very week aer the
quarrel, when presiding at the annual dinner of the Association for the Prosecution of Felons,
held at the Oldinport Arms, he contributed an additional zest to the conviviality on that
occasion by informing the company that “the parson had given the squire a li with the
rough side of his tongue.” e detection of the person or persons who had driven off Mr
Parrot’s heifer, could hardly have been more welcome news to the Shepperton tenantry, with
whom Mr Oldinport was in the worst odour as a landlord, having kept up his rents in spite of
falling prices, and not being in the least stung to emulation by paragraphs in the provincial
newspapers, stating that the Honourable Augustus Purwell, or Viscount Blethers, had made a
return of ten per cent on their last rent-day. e fact was, Mr Oldinport had not the slightest
intention of standing for Parliament, whereas he had the strongest intention of adding to his
unentailed estate. Hence, to the Shepperton farmers it was as good as lemon with their grog
to know that the Vicar had thrown out sarcasms against the Squire’s arities, as lile beer
than those of the man who stole a goose, and gave away the giblets in alms. For Shepperton,
you observe, was in a state of Aic culture compared with Knebley; it had turnpike roads and
a public opinion, whereas, in the Boeotian Knebley, men’s minds and waggons alike moved
in the deepest of ruts, and the landlord was only grumbled at as a necessary and unalterable
evil, like the weather, the weevils, and the turnip-fly.
us in Shepperton this brea with Mr Oldinport tended only to heighten that good
understanding whi the Vicar had always enjoyed with the rest of his parishioners, from the
generation whose ildren he had ristened a quarter of a century before, down to that
hopeful generation represented by lile Tommy Bond, who had recently quied fros and
trousers for the severe simplicity of a tight suit of corduroys, relieved by numerous brass
buons. Tommy was a saucy boy, impervious to all impressions of reverence, and excessively
addicted to humming-tops and marbles, with whi recreative resources he was in the habit
of immoderately distending the poets of his corduroys. One day, spinning his top on the
garden-walk, and seeing the Vicar advance directly towards it, at that exciting moment when
it was beginning to “sleep” magnificently, he shouted out with all the force of his lungs
—“Stop! don’t kno my top down, now!” From that day “lile Corduroys” had been an
especial favourite with Mr Gilfil, who delighted to provoke his ready scorn and wonder by
putting questions which gave Tommy the meanest opinion of his intellect.
“Well, little Corduroys, have they milked the geese to-day?”
“Milked the geese! why, they don’t milk the geese; ye’r silly!”
“No! dear heart! why, how do the goslings live, then?”
e nutriment of goslings rather transcending Tommy’s observations in natural history, he
feigned to understand this question in an exclamatory rather than an interrogatory sense, and
became absorbed in winding up his top.
“Ah, I see you don’t know how the goslings live! But did you notice how it rained
sugarplums yesterday?” (Here Tommy became aentive.) “Why, they fell into my poet as I rodealong. You look in my pocket and see if they didn’t.”
Tommy, without waiting to discuss the alleged antecedent, lost no time in ascertaining the
presence of the agreeable consequent, for he had a well-founded belief in the advantages of
diving into the Vicar’s poet. Mr Gilfil called it his wonderful poet, because, as he
delighted to tell the “young shavers” and “two-shoes”—so he called all lile boys and girls—
whenever he put pennies into it, they turned into sugar-plums or gingerbread, or some other
nice thing. Indeed, lile Bessie Parrot, a flaxen-headed “two-shoes,” very white and fat as to
her ne, always had the admirable directness and sincerity to salute him with the question
—“What zoo dot in zoo pottet?”
You can imagine, then, that the ristening dinners were none the less merry for the
presence of the parson. e farmers relished his society particularly, for he could not only
smoke his pipe, and season the details of parish affairs with abundance of caustic jokes and
proverbs, but, as Mr Bond oen said, no man knew more than the Vicar about the breed of
cows and horses. He had grazing-land of his own about five miles off, whi a bailiff,
ostensibly a tenant, farmed under his direction; and to ride bawards and forwards, and look
aer the buying and selling of sto, was the old gentleman’s ief relaxation, now his
hunting days were over. To hear him discussing the respective merits of the Devonshire
breed and the short-horns, or the last foolish decision of the magistrates about a pauper, a
superficial observer might have seen lile difference, beyond his superior shrewdness,
between the Vicar and his bucolic parishioners; for it was his habit to approximate his accent
and mode of spee to theirs, doubtless because he thought it a mere frustration of the
purposes of language to talk of “shear-hogs” and “ewes” to men who habitually said
“sharrags” and “yowes.” Nevertheless the farmers themselves were perfectly aware of the
distinction between them and the parson, and had not at all the less belief in him as a
gentleman and a clergyman for his easy spee and familiar manners. Mrs Parrot smoothed
her apron and set her cap right with the utmost solicitude when she saw the Vicar coming,
made him her deepest curtsy, and every Christmas had a fat turkey ready to send him with
her “duty.” And in the most gossiping colloquies with Mr Gilfil, you might have observed
that both men and women “minded their words,” and never became indifferent to his
e same respect aended him in his strictly clerical functions. e benefits of baptism
were supposed to be somehow bound up with Mr Gilfil’s personality, so metaphysical a
distinction as that between a man and his office being, as yet, quite foreign to the mind of a
good Shepperton urman, savouring, he would have thought, of Dissent on the very face
of it. Miss Selina Parrot put off her marriage a whole month when Mr Gilfil had an aa of
rheumatism, rather than be married in a makeshift manner by the Milby curate.
“We’ve had a very good sermon this morning,” was the frequent remark, aer hearing one
of the old yellow series, heard with all the more satisfaction because it had been heard for the
twentieth time; for to minds on the Shepperton level it is repetition, not novelty, that
produces the strongest effect; and phrases, like tunes, are a long time making themselves at
home in the brain.
Mr Gilfil’s sermons, as you may imagine, were not of a highly doctrinal, still less of a
polemical, cast. ey perhaps did not sear the conscience very powerfully; for you
remember that to Mrs Paen, who had listened to them thirty years, the announcement that
she was a sinner appeared an uncivil heresy; but, on the other hand, they made no
unreasonable demand on the Shepperton intellect—amounting, indeed, to lile more than an
expansion of the concise thesis, that those who do wrong will find it the worse for them, and
those who do well will find it the beer for them; the nature of wrong-doing being exposed
in special sermons against lying, babiting, anger, slothfulness, and the like; and well-doing
being interpreted as honesty, truthfulness, arity, industry, and other common virtues, lying
quite on the surface of life, and having very lile to do with deep spiritual doctrine. MrsPaen understood that if she turned out ill-crushed eeses, a just retribution awaited her;
though, I fear, she made no particular application of the sermon on babiting. Mrs Hait
expressed herself greatly edified by the sermon on honesty, the allusion to the unjust weight
and deceitful balance having a peculiar lucidity for her, owing to a recent dispute with her
grocer; but I am not aware that she ever appeared to be much struck by the sermon on anger.
As to any suspicion that Mr Gilfil did not dispense the pure Gospel, or any strictures on his
doctrine and mode of delivery, su thoughts never visited the minds of the Shepperton
parishioners—of those very parishioners who, ten or fieen years later, showed themselves
extremely critical of Mr Barton’s discourses and demeanour. But in the interim they had
tasted that dangerous fruit of the tree of knowledge—innovation, whi is well known to
open the eyes, oen in an uncomfortable manner. At present, to find fault with the sermon
was regarded as almost equivalent to finding fault with religion itself. One Sunday, Mr
Hait’s nephew, Master Tom Stokes, a flippant town youth, greatly scandalised his excellent
relatives by declaring that he could write as good a sermon as Mr Gilfil’s; whereupon Mr
Hait sought to reduce the presumptuous youth to uer confusion, by offering him a
sovereign if he would fulfil his vaunt. e sermon was wrien, however; and though it was
not admied to be anywhere within rea of Mr Gilfil’s, it was yet so astonishingly like a
sermon, having a text, three divisions, and a concluding exhortation beginning “and now, my
brethren,” that the sovereign, though denied formally, was bestowed informally, and the
sermon was pronounced, when Master Stokes’s ba was turned, to be “an uncommon cliver
e Rev. Mr Piard, indeed, of the Independent Meeting, had stated, in a sermon
preaed at Rotherby, for the reduction of a debt on New Zion, built, with an exuberance of
faith and a deficiency of funds, by seceders from the original Zion, that he lived in a parish
where the Vicar was very “dark;” and in the prayers he addressed to his own congregation,
he was in the habit of comprehensively alluding to the parishioners outside the apel walls,
as those who, “Gallio-like, cared for none of these things.” But I need hardly say that no
church-goer ever came within earshot of Mr Pickard.
It was not to the Shepperton farmers only that Mr Gilfil’s society was acceptable; he was a
welcome guest at some of the best houses in that part of the country. Old Sir Jasper Sitwell
would have been glad to see him every week; and if you had seen him conducting Lady
Sitwell in to dinner, or had heard him talking to her with quaint yet graceful gallantry, you
would have inferred that the earlier period of his life had been passed in more stately society
than could be found in Shepperton, and that his slipshod at and homely manners were but
like weather-stains on a fine old blo of marble, allowing you still to see here and there the
fineness of the grain, and the delicacy of the original tint. But in his later years these visits
became a lile too troublesome to the old gentleman, and he was rarely to be found
anywhere of an evening beyond the bounds of his own parish—most frequently, indeed, by
the side of his own siing-room fire, smoking his pipe, and maintaining the pleasing
antithesis of dryness and moisture by an occasional sip of gin-and-water.
Here I am aware that I have run the risk of alienating all my refined lady readers, and
uerly annihilating any curiosity they may have felt to know the details of Mr Gilfil’s
lovestory. Gin-and-water! foh! you may as well ask us to interest ourselves in the romance of a
tallow-chandler, who mingles the image of his beloved with short dips and moulds.
But in the first place, dear ladies, allow me to plead that gin-and-water, like obesity, or
baldness, or the gout, does not exclude a vast amount of antecedent romance, any more than
the neatly executed “fronts” whi you may some day wear, will exclude your present
possession of less expensive braids. Alas, alas! we poor mortals are oen lile beer than
wood-ashes—there is small sign of the sap, and the leafy freshness, and the bursting buds that
were once there; but wherever we see wood-ashes, we know that all that early fulness of life
must have been. I, at least, hardly ever look at a bent old man, or a wizened old woman, but Isee also, with my mind’s eye, that Past of whi they are the shrunken remnant, and the
unfinished romance of rosy eeks and bright eyes seems sometimes of feeble interest and
significance, compared with that drama of hope and love whi has long ago reaed its
catastrophe, and le the poor soul, like a dim and dusty stage, with all its sweet
gardenscenes and fair perspectives, overturned and thrust out of sight.
In the second place, let me assure you that Mr Gilfil’s potations of gin-and-water were
quite moderate. His nose was not rubicund; on the contrary, his white hair hung around a
pale and venerable face. He drank it iefly, I believe, because it was eap; and here I find
myself alighting on another of the Vicar’s weaknesses, whi, if I cared to paint a flaering
portrait rather than a faithful one, I might have osen to suppress. It is undeniable that, as
the years advanced, Mr Gilfil became, as Mr Hait observed, more and more “close-fisted,”
though the growing propensity showed itself rather in the parsimony of his personal habits,
than in withholding help from the needy. He was saving—so he represented the maer to
himself—for a nephew, the only son of a sister who had been the dearest object, all but one,
in his life. “e lad,” he thought, “will have a nice lile fortune to begin life with, and will
bring his prey young wife some day to see the spot where his old uncle lies. It will perhaps
be all the better for his hearth that mine was lonely.”
Mr Gilfil was a bachelor, then?
at is the conclusion to whi you would probably have come if you had entered his
siing-room, where the bare tables, the large old-fashioned horse-hair airs, and the
threadbare Turkey carpet perpetually fumigated with tobacco, seemed to tell a story of
wifeless existence that was contradicted by no portrait, no piece of embroidery, no faded bit
of prey triviality, hinting of taper-fingers and small feminine ambitions. And it was here
that Mr Gilfil passed his evenings, seldom with other society than that of Ponto, his old
brown seer, who, streted out at full length on the rug with his nose between his
forepaws, would wrinkle his brows and li up his eyelids every now and then, to exange a
glance of mutual understanding with his master. But there was a amber in Shepperton
Vicarage whi told a different story from that bare and eerless dining-room—a amber
never entered by any one besides Mr Gilfil and old Martha the housekeeper, who, with David
her husband as groom and gardener, formed the Vicar’s entire establishment. e blinds of
this amber were always down, except once a-quarter, when Martha entered that she might
air and clean it. She always asked Mr Gilfil for the key, whi he kept loed up in his
bureau, and returned it to him when she had finished her task.
It was a touing sight that the daylight streamed in upon, as Martha drew aside the blinds
and thi curtains, and opened the Gothic casement of the oriel window! On the lile
dressing-table there was a dainty looking-glass in a carved and gilt frame; bits of wax-candle
were still in the branched sockets at the sides, and on one of these branches hung a little black
lace kerief; a faded satin pin-cushion, with the pins rusted in it, a scent-bole, and a large
green fan, lay on the table; and on a dressing-box by the side of the glass was a work-basket,
and an unfinished baby-cap, yellow with age, lying in it. Two gowns, of a fashion long
forgoen, were hanging on nails against the door, and a pair of tiny red slippers, with a bit of
tarnished silver embroidery on them, were standing at the foot of the bed. Two or three
water-colour drawings, views of Naples, hung upon the walls; and over the mantelpiece,
above some bits of rare old ina, two miniatures in oval frames. One of these miniatures
represented a young man about seven-and-twenty, with a sanguine complexion, full lips, and
clear candid grey eyes. e other was the likeness of a girl, probably not more than eighteen,
with small features, thin eeks, a pale southern-looking complexion, and large dark eyes.
e gentleman wore powder; the lady had her dark hair gathered away from her face, and a
lile cap, with a erry-coloured bow, set on the top of her head—a coqueish head-dress,
but the eyes spoke of sadness rather than of coquetry.
Su were the things that Martha had dusted and let the air upon, four times a-year, eversince she was a blooming lass of twenty; and she was now, in this last decade of Mr Gilfil’s
life, unquestionably on the wrong side of fiy. Su was the loed-up amber in Mr Gilfil’s
house: a sort of visible symbol of the secret amber in his heart, where he had long turned
the key on early hopes and early sorrows, shuing up for ever all the passion and the poetry
of his life.
ere were not many people in the parish, besides Martha, who had any very distinct
remembrance of Mr Gilfil’s wife, or indeed who knew anything of her, beyond the fact that
there was a marble tablet, with a Latin inscription in memory of her, over the vicarage pew.
e parishioners who were old enough to remember her arrival were not generally gied
with descriptive powers, and the utmost you could gather from them was, that Mrs Gilfil
looked like a “furriner, wi’ su eyes, you can’t think, an’ a voice as went through you when
she sung at ur.” e one exception was Mrs Paen, whose strong memory and taste for
personal narrative made her a great source of oral tradition in Shepperton. Mr Hait, who
had not come into the parish until ten years aer Mrs Gilfil’s death, would oen put old
questions to Mrs Paen for the sake of geing the old answers, whi pleased him in the
same way as passages from a favourite book, or the scenes of a familiar play, please more
accomplished people.
“Ah, you remember well the Sunday as Mrs Gilfil first come to church, eh, Mrs Patten?”
“To be sure I do. It was a fine bright Sunday as ever was seen, just at the beginnin’ o’ hay
harvest. Mr Tarbe preaed that day, and Mr Gilfil sat i’ the pew wi’ his wife. I think I see
him now, a-leadin’ her up th’ aisle, an’ her head not reain’ mu above his elber: a lile
pale woman, wi’ eyes as bla as sloes, an’ yet lookin’ blank-like, as if she see’d nothin’ wi’
“I warrant she had her weddin’ clothes on?” said Mr Hackit.
“Nothin’ partiler smart—on’y a white hat tied down under her in, an’ a white Indy
muslin gown. But you don’t know what Mr Gilfil was in those times. He was fine an’ altered
afore you come into the parish. He’d a fresh colour then, an’ a bright look wi’ his eyes, as did
your heart good to see. He looked rare an’ happy that Sunday, but somehow, I’d a feelin’ as it
wouldn’t last long. I’ve no opinion o’ furriners, Mr Hait, for I’ve travelled i’ their country
wi’ my lady in my time, an’ seen anuff o’ their victuals an’ their nasty ways.”
“Mrs Gilfil come from It’ly, didn’t she?”
“I reon she did, but I niver could rightly hear about that. Mr Gilfil was niver to be spoke
to about her, and nobody else hereabout knowed anythin’. Howiver, she must ha’ come over
prey young, for she spoke English as well as you an’ me. It’s them Italians as has su fine
voices, an’ Mrs Gilfil sung, you never heared the like. He brought her here to have tea wi’ me
one aernoon, and says he, in his jovial way, ‘Now, Mrs Paen, I want Mrs Gilfil to see the
neatest house, and drink the best cup o’ tea, in all Shepperton; you must show her your dairy
and your eese-room, and then she shall sing you a song.’ An’ so she did; an’ her voice
seemed sometimes to fill the room; an’ then it went low an’ so, as if it was whisperin’ close
to your heart like.”
“You never heared her again, I reckon?”
“No; she was sily then, an’ she died in a few months aer. She wasn’t in the parish mu
more nor half a year altogether. She didn’t seem lively that aernoon, an’ I could see she
didn’t care about the dairy, nor the eeses, on’y she pretended, to please him. As for him, I
niver see’d a man so wrapt up in a woman. He looked at her as if he was worshippin’ her, an’
as if he wanted to li her off the ground ivery minute, to save her the trouble o’ walkin’.
Poor man, poor man! It had like to ha’ killed him when she died, though he niver gev way,
but went on ridin’ about and preain’. But he was wore to a shadder, an’ his eyes used to
look as dead—you wouldn’t ha’ knowed ’em.”
“She brought him no fortin?”
“Not she. All Mr Gilfil’s property come by his mother’s side. ere was blood an’ moneytoo, there. It’s a thousand pities as he married a’ that way—a fine man like him, as might ha’
had the pi o’ the county, an’ had his grandildren about him now. An’ him so fond o’
children, too.”
In this manner Mrs Paen usually wound up her reminiscences of the Vicar’s wife, of
whom, you perceive, she knew but lile. It was clear that the communicative old lady had
nothing to tell of Mrs Gilfil’s history previous to her arrival in Shepperton, and that she was
unacquainted with Mr Gilfil’s love-story.
But I, dear reader, am quite as communicative as Mrs Paen, and mu beer informed; so
that if you care to know more about the Vicar’s courtship and marriage, you need only carry
your imagination ba to the laer end of the last century, and your aention forward into
the next chapter.
 Chapter II.
It is the evening of the 21st of June 1788. e day has been bright and sultry, and the sun
will still be more than an hour above the horizon, but his rays, broken by the leafy fretwork
of the elms that border the park, no longer prevent two ladies from carrying out their
cushions and embroidery, and seating themselves to work on the lawn in front of Cheverel
Manor. e so turf gives way even under the fairy tread of the younger lady, whose small
stature and slim figure rest on the tiniest of full-grown feet. She trips along before the elder,
carrying the cushions, whi she places in the favourite spot, just on the slope by a clump of
laurels, where they can see the sunbeams sparkling among the water-lilies, and can be
themselves seen from the dining-room windows. She has deposited the cushions, and now
turns round, so that you may have a full view of her as she stands waiting the slower
advance of the elder lady. You are at once arrested by her large dark eyes, whi, in their
inexpressive unconscious beauty, resemble the eyes of a fawn; and it is only by an effort of
aention that you notice the absence of bloom on her young eek, and the southern
yellowish tint of her small ne and face, rising above the lile bla lace kerief whi
prevents the too immediate comparison of her skin with her white muslin gown. Her large
eyes seem all the more striking because the dark hair is gathered away from her face, under a
little cap set at the top of her head, with a cherry-coloured bow on one side.
e elder lady, who is advancing towards the cushions, is cast in a very different mould of
womanhood. She is tall, and looks the taller because her powdered hair is turned baward
over a toupee, and surmounted by lace and ribbons. She is nearly fiy, but her complexion is
still fresh and beautiful, with the beauty of an auburn blond; her proud pouting lips, and her
head thrown a lile baward as she walks, give an expression of hauteur whi is not
contradicted by the cold grey eye. e tued-in kerief, rising full over the low tight
boddice of her blue dress, sets off the majestic form of her bust, and she treads the lawn as if
she were one of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s stately ladies, who had suddenly stepped from her
frame to enjoy the evening cool.
“Put the cushions lower, Caterina, that we may not have so mu sun upon us,” she called
out, in a tone of authority, when still at some distance.
Caterina obeyed, and they sat down, making two bright pates of red and white and blue
on the green baground of the laurels and the lawn, whi would look none the less prey
in a picture because one of the women’s hearts was rather cold and the other rather sad.
And a arming picture Cheverel Manor would have made that evening, if some English
Waeau had been there to paint it: the castellated house of grey-tinted stone, with the
fliering sunbeams sending dashes of golden light across the many-shaped panes in the
mullioned windows, and a great bee leaning athwart one of the flanking towers, and
breaking, with its dark flaened boughs, the too formal symmetry of the front; the broad
gravel-walk winding on the right, by a row of tall pines, alongside the pool—on the le
braning out among swelling grassy mounds, surmounted by clumps of trees, where the red
trunk of the Scot fir glows in the descending sunlight against the bright green of limes and
acacias; the great pool, where a pair of swans are swimming lazily with one leg tued under
a wing, and where the open water-lilies lie calmly accepting the kisses of the fluering
lightsparkles; the lawn, with its smooth emerald greenness, sloping down to the rougher and
browner herbage of the park, from whi it is invisibly fenced by a lile stream that winds
away from the pool, and disappears under a wooden bridge in the distant pleasure-ground;
and on this lawn our two ladies, whose part in the landscape the painter, standing at a
favourable point of view in the park, would represent with a few lile dabs of red and whiteand blue.
Seen from the great Gothic windows of the dining-room, they had mu more definiteness
of outline, and were distinctly visible to the three gentlemen sipping their claret there, as two
fair women, in whom all three had a personal interest. ese gentlemen were a group worth
considering aentively; but any one entering that dining-room for the first time, would
perhaps have had his aention even more strongly arrested by the room itself, whi was so
bare of furniture that it impressed one with its aritectural beauty like a cathedral. A piece
of maing streted from door to door, a bit of worn carpet under the dining-table, and a
sideboard in a deep recess, did not detain the eye for a moment from the loy groined
ceiling, with its rily-carved pendants, all of creamy white, relieved here and there by
toues of gold. On one side, this loy ceiling was supported by pillars and ares, beyond
whi a lower ceiling, a miniature copy of the higher one, covered the square projection
whi, with its three large pointed windows, formed the central feature of the building. e
room looked less like a place to dine in than a piece of space enclosed simply for the sake of
beautiful outline; and the small-dining table, with the party round it, seemed an odd and
insignificant accident, rather than anything connected with the original purpose of the
But, examined closely, that group was far from insignificant; for the eldest, who was
reading in the newspaper the last portentous proceedings of the Fren parliaments, and
turning with occasional comments to his young companions, was as fine a specimen of the
old English gentleman as could well have been found in those venerable days of coed-hats
and pigtails. His dark eyes sparkled under projecting brows, made more prominent by bushy
grizzled eyebrows; but any apprehension of severity excited by these penetrating eyes, and
by a somewhat aquiline nose, was allayed by the good-natured lines about the mouth, whi
retained all its teeth and its vigour of expression in spite of sixty winters. e forehead sloped
a lile from the projecting brows, and its peaked outline was made conspicuous by the
arrangement of the profusely-powdered hair, drawn baward and gathered into a pigtail. He
sat in a small hard air, whi did not admit the slightest approa to a lounge, and whi
showed to advantage the flatness of his ba and the breadth of his est. In fact, Sir
Christopher Cheverel was a splendid old gentleman, as any one may see who enters the
saloon at Cheverel Manor, where his full-length portrait, taken when he was fiy, hangs side
by side with that of his wife, the stately lady seated on the lawn.
Looking at Sir Christopher, you would at once have been inclined to hope that he had a
full-grown son and heir; but perhaps you would have wished that it might not prove to be
the young man on his right hand, in whom a certain resemblance to the Baronet, in the
contour of the nose and brow, seemed to indicate a family relationship. If this young man
had been less elegant in his person, he would have been remarked for the elegance of his
dress. But the perfections of his slim well-proportioned figure were so striking that no one but
a tailor could notice the perfections of his velvet coat; and his small white hands, with their
blue veins and taper fingers, quite eclipsed the beauty of his lace ruffles. e face, however—
it was difficult to say why—was certainly not pleasing. Nothing could be more delicate than
the blond complexion—its bloom set off by the powdered hair—than the veined overhanging
eye-lids, whi gave an indolent expression to the hazel eyes; nothing more finely cut than
the transparent nostril and the short upper-lip. Perhaps the chin and lower jaw were too small
for an irreproaable profile, but the defect was on the side of that delicacy and finesse whi
was the distinctive aracteristic of the whole person, and whi was carried out in the clear
brown ar of the eyebrows, and the marble smoothness of the sloping forehead. Impossible
to say that this face was not eminently handsome; yet, for the majority both of men and
women, it was destitute of arm. Women disliked eyes that seemed to be indolently
accepting admiration instead of rendering it; and men, especially if they had a tendency to
clumsiness in the nose and ankles, were inclined to think this Antinous in a pigtail a“confounded puppy.” I fancy that was frequently the inward interjection of the Rev. Maynard
Gilfil, who was seated on the opposite side of the dining-table, though Mr Gilfil’s legs and
profile were not at all of a kind to make him peculiarly alive to the impertinence and frivolity
of personal advantages. His healthy open face and robust limbs were aer an excellent
paern for everyday wear, and in the opinion of Mr Bates, the north-country gardener,
would have become regimentals “a fain saight” beer than the “peaky” features and slight
form of Captain Wybrow, notwithstanding that this young gentleman, as Sir Christopher’s
nephew and destined heir, had the strongest hereditary claim on the gardener’s respect, and
was undeniably “clean-limbed.” But alas! human longings are perversely obstinate; and to the
man whose mouth is watering for a pea, it is of no use to offer the largest vegetable
marrow. Mr Gilfil was not sensitive to Mr Bates’s opinion, whereas he was sensitive to the
opinion of another person, who by no means shared Mr Bates’s preference.
Who the other person was it would not have required a very keen observer to guess, from
a certain eagerness in Mr Gilfil’s glance as that lile figure in white tripped along the lawn
with the cushions. Captain Wybrow, too, was looking in the same direction, but his
handsome face remained handsome—and nothing more.
“Ah,” said Sir Christopher, looking up from his paper, “there’s my lady. Ring for coffee,
Anthony; we’ll go and join her, and the little monkey Tina shall give us a song.”
e coffee presently appeared, brought not as usual by the footman, in scarlet and drab,
but by the old butler, in threadbare but well-brushed bla, who, as he was placing it on the
table, said—
“If you please, Sir Christopher, there’s the widow Hartopp a-crying i’ the still-room, and
begs leave to see your honour.”
“I have given Markham full orders about the widow Hartopp,” said Sir Christopher, in a
sharp decided tone. “I have nothing to say to her.”
“Your honour,” pleaded the butler, rubbing his hands, and puing on an additional coating
of humility, “the poor woman’s dreadful overcome, and says she can’t sleep a wink this
blessed night without seeing your honour, and she begs you to pardon the great freedom
she’s took to come at this time. She cries fit to break her heart.”
“Ay, ay; water pays no tax. Well, show her into the library.”
Coffee despated, the two young men walked out through the open window, and joined
the ladies on the lawn, while Sir Christopher made his way to the library, solemnly followed
by Rupert, his pet bloodhound, who, in his habitual place at the Baronet’s right hand,
behaved with great urbanity during dinner; but when the cloth was drawn, invariably
disappeared under the table, apparently regarding the claret-jug as a mere human weakness,
which he winked at, but refused to sanction.
e library lay but three steps from the dining-room, on the other side of a cloistered and
maed passage. e oriel window was overshadowed by the great bee, and this, with the
flat heavily-carved ceiling and the dark hue of the old books that lined the walls, made the
room look sombre, especially on entering it from the dining-room, with its aerial curves and
cream-coloured fretwork toued with gold. As Sir Christopher opened the door, a jet of
brighter light fell on a woman in a widow’s dress, who stood in the middle of the room, and
made the deepest of curtsies as he entered. She was a buxom woman approaing forty, her
eyes red with the tears whi had evidently been absorbed by the handkerief gathered into
a damp ball in her right hand.
“Now, Mrs Hartopp,” said Sir Christopher, taking out his gold snuff-box and tapping the
lid, “what have you to say to me? Markham has delivered you a notice to quit, I suppose?”
“O yis, your honour, an’ that’s the reason why I’ve come. I hope your honour ’ll think
beer on it, an’ not turn me an’ my poor ildren out o’ the farm, where my husband al’ys
paid his rent as reglar as the day come.”
“Nonsense! I should like to know what good it will do you and your ildren to stay on afarm and lose every farthing your husband has le you, instead of selling your sto and
going into some lile place where you can keep your money together. It is very well known
to every tenant of mine that I never allow widows to stay on their husbands’ farms.”
“O, Sir Christifer, if you would consider—when I’ve sold the hay, an’ corn, an’ all the live
things, an’ paid the debts, an’ put the money out to use, I shall have hardly anuff to keep wer
souls an’ bodies together. An’ how can I rear my boys and put ’em ’prentice? ey must goo
for dey-labourers, an’ their father a man wi’ as good belongings as any on your honour’s
estate, an’ niver threshed his wheat afore it was well i’ the ri, nor sold the straw off his
farm, nor nothin’. Ask all the farmers round if there was a stiddier, soberer man than my
husband as aended Ripstone market. An’ he says, ‘Bessie,’ says he—them was his last words
—‘you’ll mek a shift to manage the farm, if Sir Christifer ’ull let you stay on.’”
“Pooh, pooh!” said Sir Christopher, Mrs Hartopp’s sobs having interrupted her pleadings,
“now listen to me, and try to understand a lile common sense. You are about as able to
manage the farm as your best mil cow. You’ll be obliged to have some managing man, who
will either cheat you out of your money or wheedle you into marrying him.”
“O, your honour, I was never that sort o’ woman, an’ nobody has known it on me.”
“Very likely not, because you were never a widow before. A woman’s always silly enough,
but she’s never quite as great a fool as she can be until she puts on a widow’s cap. Now, just
ask yourself how mu the beer you will be for staying on your farm at the end of four
years, when you’ve got through your money, and let your farm run down, and are in arrears
for half your rent; or perhaps, have got some great hulky fellow for a husband, who swears at
you and kicks your children.”
“Indeed, Sir Christifer, I know a deal o’ farmin’, an’ was brought up i’ the thi on it, as
you may say. An’ there was my husband’s great-aunt managed a farm for twenty year, an’
le legacies to all her nephys an’ nieces, an’ even to my husband, as was then a babe
“Psha! a woman six feet high, with a squint and sharp elbows, I dare say—a man in
petticoats. Not a rosy-cheeked widow like you, Mrs Hartopp.”
“Indeed, your honour, I never heard on her squintin’, an’ they said as she might ha’ been
married o’er and o’er again, to people as had no call to hanker after her money.”
“Ay, ay, that’s what you all think. Every man that looks at you wants to marry you, and
would like you the beer the more ildren you have and the less money. But it is useless to
talk and cry. I have good reasons for my plans, and never alter them. What you have to do is
to make the best of your sto, and to look out for some lile place to go to, when you leave
The Hollows. Now, go back to Mrs Bellamy’s room, and ask her to give you a dish of tea.”
Mrs Hartopp, understanding from Sir Christopher’s tone that he was not to be shaken,
curtsied low and le the library, while the Baronet, seating himself at his desk in the oriel
window, wrote the following letter:—
Mr Markham,—Take no steps about leing Crowsfoot Coage, as I intend to put in the widow
Hartopp when she leaves her farm; and if you will be here at eleven on Saturday morning, I will ride
round with you, and sele about making some repairs, and see about adding a bit of land to the take,
as she will want to keep a cow and some pigs.—Yours faithfully,
“Christopher Cheverel.”
Aer ringing the bell and ordering this leer to be sent, Sir Christopher walked out to join
the party on the lawn. But finding the cushions deserted, he walked on to the eastern front of
the building, where, by the side of the grand entrance, was the large bow-window of the
saloon, opening on to the gravel-sweep, and looking towards a long vista of undulating turf,
bordered by tall trees, whi, seeming to unite itself with the green of the meadows and a
grassy road through a plantation, only terminated with the Gothic ar of a gateway in the
far distance. e bow-window was open, and Sir Christopher, stepping in, found the group
he sought, examining the progress of the unfinished ceiling. It was in the same style of floridpointed Gothic as the dining-room, but more elaborate in its tracery, whi was like petrified
lacework pied out with delicate and varied colouring. About a fourth of it still remained
uncoloured, and under this part were scaffolding, ladders, and tools; otherwise the spacious
saloon was empty of furniture, and seemed to be a grand Gothic canopy for the group of five
human figures standing in the centre.
“Francesco has been geing on a lile beer the last day or two,” said Sir Christopher, as
he joined the party: “he’s a sad lazy dog, and I fancy he has a kna of sleeping as he stands,
with his brushes in his hands. But I must spur him on, or we may not have the scaffolding
cleared away before the bride comes, if you show dexterous generalship in your wooing, eh,
Anthony? and take your Magdeburg quickly.”
“Ah, sir, a siege is known to be one of the most tedious operations in war,” said Captain
Wybrow, with an easy smile.
“Not when there’s a traitor within the walls in the shape of a so heart. And that there
will be, if Beatrice has her mother’s tenderness as well as her mother’s beauty.”
“What do you think, Sir Christopher,” said Lady Cheverel, who seemed to wince a lile
under her husband’s reminiscences, “of hanging Guercino’s ‘Sibyl’ over that door when we
put up the pictures? It is rather lost in my sitting-room.”
“Very good, my love,” answered Sir Christopher, in a tone of punctiliously polite affection;
“if you like to part with the ornament from your own room, it will show admirably here. Our
portraits, by Sir Joshua, will hang opposite the window, and the ‘Transfiguration’ at that end.
You see, Anthony, I am leaving no good places on the walls for you and your wife. We shall
turn you with your faces to the wall in the gallery, and you may take your revenge on us
While this conversation was going on, Mr Gilfil turned to Caterina and said,—
“I like the view from this window better than any other in the house.”
She made no answer, and he saw that her eyes were filling with tears; so he added,
“Suppose we walk out a little; Sir Christopher and my lady seem to be occupied.”
Caterina complied silently, and they turned down one of the gravel walks that led, aer
many windings under tall trees and among grassy openings, to a large enclosed
flowergarden. eir walk was perfectly silent, for Maynard Gilfil knew that Caterina’s thoughts
were not with him, and she had been long used to make him endure the weight of those
moods which she carefully hid from others.
ey reaed the flower-garden, and turned meanically in at the gate that opened,
through a high thi hedge, on an expanse of brilliant colour, whi, aer the green shades
they had passed through, startled the eye like flames. e effect was assisted by an
undulation of the ground, whi gradually descended from the entrance-gate, and then rose
again towards the opposite end, crowned by an orangery. e flowers were glowing with
their evening splendours; verbenas and heliotropes were sending up their finest incense. It
seemed a gala where all was happiness and brilliancy, and misery could find no sympathy.
is was the effect it had on Caterina. As she wound among the beds of gold and blue and
pink, where the flowers seemed to be looking at her with wondering elf-like eyes, knowing
nothing of sorrow, the feeling of isolation in her wretedness overcame her, and the tears,
whi had been before triling slowly down her pale eeks, now gushed forth accompanied
with sobs. And yet there was a loving human being close beside her, whose heart was aing
for hers, who was possessed by the feeling that she was miserable, and that he was helpless to
soothe her. But she was too mu irritated by the idea that his wishes were different from
hers, that he rather regreed the folly of her hopes than the probability of their
disappointment, to take any comfort in his sympathy. Caterina, like the rest of us, turned
away from sympathy whi she suspected to be mingled with criticism, as the ild turns
away from the sweetmeat in which it suspects imperceptible medicine.
“Dear Caterina, I think I hear voices,” said Mr Gilfil; “they may be coming this way.”She eed herself like one accustomed to conceal her emotions, and ran rapidly to the
other end of the garden, where she seemed occupied in selecting a rose. Presently Lady
Cheverel entered, leaning on the arm of Captain Wybrow, and followed by Sir Christopher.
e party stopped to admire the tiers of geraniums near the gate; and in the mean time
Caterina tripped ba with a moss rose-bud in her hand, and going up to Sir Christopher, said
—“There, Padroncello—there is a nice rose for your button-hole.”
“Ah, you bla-eyed monkey,” he said, fondly stroking her eek; “so you have been
running off with Maynard, either to torment or coax him an in or two deeper into love.
Come, come, I want you to sing us ‘ Ho perduto’ before we sit down to picquet. Anthony goes
to-morrow, you know; you must warble him into the right sentimental lover’s mood, that he
may acquit himself well at Bath.” He put her lile arm under his, and calling to Lady
Cheverel, “Come Henrietta!” led the way towards the house.
e party entered the drawing-room, whi, with its oriel window, corresponded to the
library in the other wing, and had also a flat ceiling heavy with carving and blazonry; but the
window being unshaded, and the walls hung with full-length portraits of knights and dames
in scarlet, white, and gold, it had not the sombre effect of the library. Here hung the portrait
of Sir Anthony Cheverel, who in the reign of Charles II. was the renovator of the family
splendour, whi had suffered some declension from the early brilliancy of that Chevreuil
who came over with the Conqueror. A very imposing personage was this Sir Anthony,
standing with one arm akimbo, and one fine leg and foot advanced, evidently with a view to
the gratification of his contemporaries and posterity. You might have taken off his splendid
peruke, and his scarlet cloak, whi was thrown baward from his shoulders, without
annihilating the dignity of his appearance. And he had known how to oose a wife, too, for
his lady, hanging opposite to him, with her sunny brown hair drawn away in bands from her
mild grave face, and falling in two large ri curls on her snowy gently-sloping ne, whi
shamed the harsher hue and outline of her white satin robe, was a fit mother of “large-acred”
In this room tea was served; and here, every evening, as regularly as the great clo in the
courtyard with deliberate bass tones stru nine, Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel sat down
to picquet until half-past ten, when Mr Gilfil read prayers to the assembled household in the
But now it was not near nine, and Caterina must sit down to the harpsiord and sing Sir
Christopher’s favourite airs from Glu’s Orfeo, an opera whi, for the happiness of that
generation, was then to be heard on the London stage. It happened this evening that the
sentiment of these airs, “Che farò senza Eurydice?” and “Ho perduto il bel sembiante,” in both
of whi Orpheus pours out his yearning aer his lost love, came very close to Caterina’s
own feeling. But her emotion, instead of being a hindrance to her singing, gave her additional
power. Her singing was what she could do best; it was her one point of superiority, in whi
it was probable she would excel the highborn beauty whom Anthony was to woo; and her
love, her jealousy, her pride, her rebellion against her destiny, made one stream of passion
whi welled forth in the deep ri tones of her voice. She had a rare contralto, whi Lady
Cheverel, who had high musical taste, had been careful to preserve her from straining.
“Excellent, Caterina,” said Lady Cheverel, as there was a pause aer the wonderful linked
sweetness of “Che farò.” “I never heard you sing that so well. Once more!”
It was repeated; and then came “ Ho perduto,” whi Sir Christopher encored, in spite of
the clock, just striking nine. When the last note was dying out, he said—
“There’s a clever black-eyed monkey. Now bring out the table for picquet.”
Caterina drew out the table, and placed the cards; then, with her rapid fairy suddenness of
motion, threw herself on her knees, and clasped Sir Christopher’s knee. He bent down,
stroked her cheek, and smiled.
“Caterina, that is foolish,” said Lady Cheverel. “I wish you would leave off those stage-players’ antics.”
She jumped up, arranged the music on the harpsiord, and then, seeing the Baronet and
his lady seated at picquet, quietly glided out of the room.
Captain Wybrow had been leaning near the harpsiord during the singing, and the
chaplain had thrown himself on a sofa at the end of the room. They both now took up a book.
Mr Gilfil ose the last number of the Gentleman’s Magazine; Captain Wybrow, streted on
an ooman near the door, opened Faublas; and there was perfect silence in the room whi,
ten minutes before, was vibrating to the passionate tones of Caterina.
She had made her way along the cloistered passages, now lighted here and there by a
small oil-lamp, to the grand-staircase, whi led directly to a gallery running along the whole
eastern side of the building, where it was her habit to walk when she wished to be alone. e
bright moonlight was streaming through the windows, throwing into strange light and
shadow the heterogeneous objects that lined the long walls. Greek statues, and busts of
Roman emperors; low cabinets filled with curiosities, natural and antiquarian; tropical birds,
and huge horns of beasts; Hindoo gods and strange shells; swords and daggers, and bits of
ain-armour; Roman lamps, and tiny models of Greek temples; and, above all these, queer
old family portraits—of lile boys and girls, once the hope of the Cheverels, with
closeshaven heads imprisoned in stiff ruffs—of faded, pink-faced ladies, with rudimentary features
and highly-developed head-dresses—of gallant gentlemen, with high hips, high shoulders,
and red pointed beards.
Here, on rainy days, Sir Christopher and his lady took their promenade, and here billiards
were played; but, in the evening, it was forsaken by all except Caterina—and, sometimes, one
other person.
She paced up and down in the moonlight, her pale face and thin white-robed form making
her look like the ghost of some former Lady Cheverel come to revisit the glimpses of the
By-and-by she paused opposite the broad window above the portico, and looked out on the
long vista of turf and trees now stretching chill and saddened in the moonlight.
Suddenly a breath of warmth and roses seemed to float towards her, and an arm stole
gently round her waist, while a so hand took up her tiny fingers. Caterina felt an electric
thrill, and was motionless for one long moment; then she pushed away the arm and hand,
and, turning round, lied up to the face that hung over her, eyes full of tenderness and
reproa. e fawn-like unconsciousness was gone, and in that one look were the ground
tones of poor little Caterina’s nature—intense love and fierce jealousy.
“Why do you push me away, Tina?” said Captain Wybrow in a half-whisper; “are you
angry with me for what a hard fate puts upon me? Would you have me cross my uncle—who
has done so mu for us both—in his dearest wish? You know I have duties—we both have
duties—before which feeling must be sacrificed.”
“Yes, yes,” said Caterina, stamping her foot, and turning away her head; “don’t tell me
what I know already.”
ere was a voice speaking in Caterina’s mind, to whi she had never yet given vent.
at voice said continually, “Why did he make me love him—why did he let me know he
loved me, if he knew all the while that he couldn’t brave everything for my sake?” en love
answered, “He was led on by the feeling of the moment, as you have been, Caterina; and
now you ought to help him to do what is right.” en the voice rejoined, “It was a slight
matter to him. He doesn’t much mind giving you up. He will soon love that beautiful woman,
and forget a poor little pale thing like you.”
Thus love, anger, and jealousy were struggling in that young soul.
“Besides, Tina,” continued Captain Wybrow in still gentler tones, “I shall not succeed. Miss
Assher very likely prefers some one else; and you know I have the best will in the world to
fail. I shall come ba a hapless baelor—perhaps to find you already married to the good-looking aplain, who is over head and ears in love with you. Poor Sir Christopher has made
up his mind that you’re to have Gilfil.”
“Why will you speak so? You speak from your own want of feeling. Go away from me.”
“Don’t let us part in anger, Tina. All this may pass away. It’s as likely as not that I may
never marry any one at all. ese palpitations may carry me off, and you may have the
satisfaction of knowing that I shall never be anybody’s bridegroom. Who knows what may
happen? I may be my own master before I get into the bonds of holy matrimony, and be able
to choose my little singing-bird. Why should we distress ourselves before the time?”
“It is easy to talk so when you are not feeling,” said Caterina, the tears flowing fast. “It is
bad to bear now, whatever may come after. But you don’t care about my misery.”
“Don’t I, Tina?” said Anthony in his tenderest tones, again stealing his arm round her
waist, and drawing her towards him. Poor Tina was the slave of this voice and tou. Grief
and resentment, retrospect and foreboding, vanished—all life before and aer melted away in
the bliss of that moment, as Anthony pressed his lips to hers.
Captain Wybrow thought, “Poor lile Tina! it would make her very happy to have me. But
she is a mad little thing.”
At that moment a loud bell startled Caterina from her trance of bliss. It was the summons
to prayers in the chapel, and she hastened away, leaving Captain Wybrow to follow slowly.
It was a prey sight, that family assembled to worship in the lile apel, where a couple
of wax-candles threw a mild faint light on the figures kneeling there. In the desk was Mr
Gilfil, with his face a shade graver than usual. On his right hand, kneeling on their red velvet
cushions, were the master and mistress of the household, in their elderly dignified beauty. On
his le, the youthful grace of Anthony and Caterina, in all the striking contrast of their
colouring—he, with his exquisite outline and rounded fairness, like an Olympian god; she,
dark and tiny, like a gypsy angeling. en there were the domestics kneeling on
redcovered forms,—the women headed by Mrs Bellamy, the nay lile old housekeeper, in
snowy cap and apron, and Mrs Sharp, my lady’s maid, of somewhat vinegar aspect and
flaunting aire; the men by Mr Bellamy the butler, and Mr Warren, Sir Christopher’s
venerable valet.
A few collects from the Evening Service was what Mr Gilfil habitually read, ending with
the simple petition, “Lighten our darkness.”
And then they all rose, the servants turning to curtsy and bow as they went out. e
family returned to the drawing-room, said good-night to ea other, and dispersed—all to
speedy slumber except two. Caterina only cried herself to sleep aer the clo had stru
twelve. Mr Gilfil lay awake still longer, thinking that very likely Caterina was crying.
Captain Wybrow, having dismissed his valet at eleven, was soon in a so slumber, his face
looking like a fine cameo in high relief on the slightly-indented pillow.
 Chapter III.
The last apter has given the discerning reader sufficient insight into the state of things at
Cheverel Manor in the summer of 1788. In that summer, we know, the great nation of France
was agitated by conflicting thoughts and passions, whi were but the beginning of sorrows.
And in our Caterina’s lile breast, too, there were terrible struggles. e poor bird was
beginning to fluer and vainly dash its so breast against the hard iron bars of the inevitable,
and we see too plainly the danger, if that anguish should go on heightening instead of being
allayed, that the palpitating heart may be fatally bruised.
Meanwhile, if, as I hope, you feel some interest in Caterina and her friends at Cheverel
Manor, you are perhaps asking, How came she to be there? How was it that this tiny,
darkeyed ild of the south, whose face was immediately suggestive of olive-covered hills, and
taper-lit shrines, came to have her home in that stately English manor-house, by the side of
the blonde matron, Lady Cheverel—almost as if a humming-bird were found pered on one
of the elm-trees in the park, by the side of her ladyship’s handsomest pouter-pigeon?
Speaking good English, too, and joining in Protestant prayers. Surely she must have been
adopted and brought over to England at a very early age? She was.
During Sir Christopher’s last visit to Italy with his lady, fieen years before, they resided
for some time at Milan, where Sir Christopher, who was an enthusiast for Gothic architecture,
and was then entertaining the project of metamorphosing his plain bri family mansion into
the model of a Gothic manor-house, was bent on studying the details of that marble miracle,
the Cathedral. Here Lady Cheverel, as at other Italian cities where she made any protracted
stay, engaged a maestro to give her lessons in singing, for she had then not only fine musical
taste, but a fine soprano voice. ose were days when very ri people used manuscript
music, and many a man who resembled Jean Jacques in nothing else, resembled him in
geing a livelihood “à copier la musique à tant la page.” Lady Cheverel having need of this
service, Maestro Albani told her he would send her a poveraccio of his acquaintance, whose
manuscript was the neatest and most correct he knew of. Unhappily, the poveraccio was not
always in his best wits, and was sometimes rather slow in consequence; but it would be a
work of Christian charity worthy of the beautiful Signora to employ poor Sarti.
e next morning, Mrs Sharp, then a blooming abigail of three-and-thirty, entered her
lady’s private room, and said, “If you please, my lady, there’s the frowiest, shabbiest man you
ever saw outside, and he’s told Mr Warren as the singing-master sent him to see your
ladyship. But I think you’ll hardly like him to come in here. Belike he’s only a beggar.”
“O yes, show him in immediately.”
Mrs Sharp retired, muering something about “fleas and worse.” She had the smallest
possible admiration for fair Ausonia and its natives, and even her profound deference for Sir
Christopher and her lady could not prevent her from expressing her amazement at the
infatuation of gentlefolks in oosing to sojourn among “Papises, in countries where there
was no geing to air a bit o’ linen, and where the people smelt o’ garli fit to kno you
However, she presently reappeared, ushering in a small meagre man, sallow and dingy,
with a restless wandering look in his dull eyes, and an excessive timidity about his deep
reverences, whi gave him the air of a man who had been long a solitary prisoner. Yet
through all this squalor and wretedness there were some traces discernible of comparative
youth and former good looks. Lady Cheverel, though not very tender-hearted, still less
sentimental, was essentially kind, and liked to dispense benefits like a goddess, who looks
down benignly on the halt, the maimed, and the blind that approa her shrine. She wassmien with some compassion at the sight of poor Sarti, who stru her as the mere baered
wre of a vessel that might have once floated gaily enough on its outward voyage, to the
sound of pipes and tabors. She spoke gently as she pointed out to him the operatic selections
she wished him to copy, and he seemed to sun himself in her auburn, radiant presence, so
that when he made his exit with the music-books under his arm, his bow, though not less
reverent, was less timid.
It was ten years at least since Sarti had seen anything so bright and stately and beautiful as
Lady Cheverel. For the time was far off in whi he had trod the stage in satin and feathers,
the primo tenore of one short season. Alas! he had completely lost his voice in the following
winter, and had ever since been lile beer than a craed fiddle, whi is good for nothing
but firewood. For, like many Italian singers, he was too ignorant to tea, and if it had not
been for his one talent of penmanship, he and his young helpless wife might have starved.
en, just aer their third ild was born, fever came, swept away the sily mother and the
two eldest ildren, and aaed Sarti himself, who rose from his si-bed with enfeebled
brain and muscle, and a tiny baby on his hands, scarcely four months old. He lodged over a
fruit-shop kept by a stout virago, loud of tongue and irate in temper, but who had had
ildren born to her, and so had taken care of the tiny yellow, bla-eyed bambinetto, and
tended Sarti himself through his siness. Here he continued to live, earning a meagre
subsistence for himself and his lile one by the work of copying music, put into his hands
iefly by Maestro Albani. He seemed to exist for nothing but the ild: he tended it, he
dandled it, he aed to it, living with it alone in his one room above the fruit-shop, only
asking his landlady to take care of the marmoset during his short absences in feting and
carrying home work. Customers frequenting that fruit-shop might oen see the tiny Caterina
seated on the floor with her legs in a heap of pease, whi it was her delight to ki about; or
perhaps deposited, like a kitten, in a large basket out of harm’s way.
Sometimes, however, Sarti le his lile one with another kind of protectress. He was very
regular in his devotions, which he paid thrice a-week in the great cathedral, carrying Caterina
with him. Here, when the high morning sun was warming the myriad gliering pinnacles
without, and struggling against the massive gloom within the shadow of a man with a ild
on his arm might be seen fliing across the more stationary shadows of pillar and mullion,
and making its way towards a lile tinsel Madonna hanging in a retired spot near the oir.
Amid all the sublimities of the mighty cathedral, poor Sarti had fixed on this tinsel Madonna
as the symbol of Divine mercy and protection,—just as a ild, in the presence of a great
landscape, sees none of the glories of wood and sky, but sets its heart on a floating feather or
insect that happens to be on a level with its eye. Here, then, Sarti worshipped and prayed,
seing Caterina on the floor by his side; and now and then, when the cathedral lay near
some place where he had to call, and did not like to take her, he would leave her there in
front of the tinsel Madonna, where she would sit, perfectly good, amusing herself with low
crowing noises and see-sawings of her tiny body. And when Sarti came ba, he always
found that the Blessed Mother had taken good care of Caterina.
at was briefly the history of Sarti, who fulfilled so well the orders Lady Cheverel gave
him, that she sent him away again with a sto of new work. But this time, week aer week
passed, and he neither reappeared nor sent home the music intrusted to him. Lady Cheverel
began to be anxious, and was thinking of sending Warren to inquire at the address Sarti had
given her, when one day, as she was equipped for driving out, the valet brought in a small
piece of paper whi he said had been le for her ladyship by a man who was carrying fruit.
The paper contained only three tremulous lines, in Italian:—
“Will the Eccelentissima, for the love of God, have pity on a dying man, and come to
Lady Cheverel recognised the handwriting as Sarti’s in spite of its tremulousness, and,
going down to her carriage, ordered the Milanese coaman to drive to Stradainquagesima, Numero 10. e coa stopped in a dirty narrow street opposite La Pazzini’s
fruit-shop, and that large specimen of womanhood immediately presented herself at the door,
to the extreme disgust of Mrs Sharp, who remarked privately to Mr Warren that La Pazzini
was a “hijeous porpis.” e fruit-woman, however, was all smiles and deep curtsies to the
Eccelentissima, who, not very well understanding her Milanese dialect, abbreviated the
conversation by asking to be shown at once to Signor Sarti. La Pazzini preceded her up the
dark narrow stairs, and opened a door through whi she begged her ladyship to enter.
Directly opposite the door lay Sarti, on a low miserable bed. His eyes were glazed, and no
movement indicated that he was conscious of their entrance.
On the foot of the bed was seated a tiny ild, apparently not three years old, her head
covered by a linen cap, her feet clothed with leather boots, above whi her lile yellow legs
showed thin and naked. A fro, made of what had once been a gay flowered silk, was her
only other garment. Her large dark eyes shone from out her queer lile face, like two
precious stones in a grotesque image carved in old ivory. She held an empty medicine-bole
in her hand, and was amusing herself with puing the cork in and drawing it out again, to
hear how it would pop.
La Pazzini went up to the bed, and said, “Ecco la nobilissima donna!” but directly aer
screamed out, “Holy mother! he is dead!”
It was so. e entreaty had not been sent in time for Sarti to carry out his project of asking
the great English lady to take care of his Caterina. at was the thought whi haunted his
feeble brain as soon as he began to fear that his illness would end in death. She had wealth—
she was kind—she would surely do something for the poor orphan. And so, at last, he sent
that scrap of paper, whi won the fulfilment of his prayer, though he did not live to uer it.
Lady Cheverel gave La Pazzini money that the last decencies might be paid to the dead man,
and carried away Caterina, meaning to consult Sir Christopher as to what should be done
with her. Even Mrs Sharp had been so smien with pity by the scene she had witnessed
when she was summoned up-stairs to fet Caterina, as to shed a small tear, though she was
not at all subject to that weakness; indeed, she abstained from it on principle, because, as she
often said, it was known to be the worst thing in the world for the eyes.
On the way ba to her hotel, Lady Cheverel turned over various projects in her mind
regarding Caterina, but at last one gained the preference over all the rest. Why should they
not take the ild to England, and bring her up there? ey had been married twelve years,
yet Cheverel Manor was eered by no ildren’s voices, and the old house would be all the
beer for a lile of that music. Besides, it would be a Christian work to train this lile Papist
into a good Protestant, and graft as much English fruit as possible on the Italian stem.
Sir Christopher listened to this plan with hearty acquiescence. He loved ildren, and took
at once to the lile bla-eyed monkey—his name for Caterina all through her short life. But
neither he nor Lady Cheverel had any idea of adopting her as their daughter, and giving her
their own rank in life. ey were mu too English and aristocratic to think of anything so
romantic. No! e ild would be brought up at Cheverel Manor as a protegée, to be
ultimately useful, perhaps, in sorting worsteds, keeping accounts, reading aloud, and
otherwise supplying the place of spectacles when her ladyship’s eyes should wax dim.
So Mrs Sharp had to procure new clothes, to replace the linen cap, flowered fro, and
leathern boots; and now, strange to say, lile Caterina, who had suffered many unconscious
evils in her existence of thirty moons, first began to know conscious troubles. “Ignorance,”
says Ajax, “is a painless evil;” so, I should think, is dirt, considering the merry faces that go
along with it. At any rate, cleanliness is sometimes a painful good, as any one can vou who
has had his face washed the wrong way, by a pitiless hand with a gold ring on the third
finger. If you, reader, have not known that initiatory anguish, it is idle to expect that you will
form any approximate conception of what Caterina endured under Mrs Sharp’s new
dispensation of soap-and-water. Happily, this purgatory came presently to be associated inher tiny brain with a passage straightway to a seat of bliss—the sofa in Lady Cheverel’s
siing-room, where there were toys to be broken, a ride was to be had on Sir Christopher’s
knee, and a spaniel of resigned temper was prepared to undergo small tortures without
 Chapter IV.
In three months from the time of Caterina’s adoption—namely, in the late autumn of 1763—
the imneys of Cheverel Manor were sending up unwonted smoke, and the servants were
awaiting in excitement the return of their master and mistress aer a two years’ absence.
Great was the astonishment of Mrs Bellamy, the housekeeper, when Mr Warren lied a lile
bla-eyed ild out of the carriage, and great was Mrs Sharp’s sense of superior information
and experience, as she detailed Caterina’s history, interspersed with copious comments, to the
rest of the upper servants that evening, as they were taking a comfortable glass of grog
together in the housekeeper’s room.
A pleasant room it was, as any party need desire to muster in on a cold November evening.
e fireplace alone was a picture: a wide and deep recess with a low bri altar in the middle,
where great logs of dry wood sent myriad sparks up the dark imney-throat; and over the
front of this recess a large wooden entablature bearing this moo, finely carved in old
English leers, “Fear God and honour the King.” And beyond the party, who formed a
halfmoon with their airs and well-furnished table round this bright fireplace, what a space of
iaroscuro for the imagination to revel in! Streting across the far end of the room, what an
oak table, high enough surely for Homer’s gods, standing on four massive legs, bossed and
bulging like sculptured urns! and, lining the distant wall, what vast cupboards, suggestive of
inexhaustible apricot jam and promiscuous butler’s perquisites! A stray picture or two had
found their way down there, and made agreeable pates of dark brown on the buff-coloured
walls. High over the loud-resounding double door hung one whi, from some indications of
a face looming out of blaness, might, by a great synthetic effort, be pronounced a
Magdalen. Considerably lower down hung the similitude of a hat and feathers, with portions
of a ruff, stated by Mrs Bellamy to represent Sir Francis Bacon, who invented gunpowder,
and, in her opinion, “might ha’ been better emplyed.”
But this evening the mind is but slightly arrested by the great Verulam, and is in the
humour to think a dead philosopher less interesting than a living gardener, who sits
conspicuous in the half-circle round the fireplace. Mr Bates is habitually a guest in the
housekeeper’s room of an evening, preferring the social pleasures there—the feast of gossip
and the flow of grog—to a baelor’s air in his arming thated coage on a lile island,
where every sound is remote but the cawing of rooks and the screaming of wild geese: poetic
sounds, doubtless, but, humanly speaking, not convivial.
Mr Bates was by no means an average person, to be passed without special notice. He was a
sturdy Yorkshireman, approaing forty, whose face Nature seemed to have coloured when
she was in a hurry, and had no time to aend to nuances, for every in of him visible above
his necloth was of one impartial redness; so that when he was at some distance your
imagination was at liberty to place his lips anywhere between his nose and in. Seen closer,
his lips were discerned to be of a peculiar cut, and I fancy this had something to do with the
peculiarity of his dialect, whi, as we shall see, was individual rather than provincial. Mr
Bates was further distinguished from the common herd by a perpetual blinking of the eyes;
and this, together with the red-rose tint of his complexion, and a way he had of hanging his
head forward, and rolling it from side to side as he walked, gave him the air of a Bacus in a
blue apron, who, in the present reduced circumstances of Olympus, had taken to the
management of his own vines. Yet, as gluons are oen thin, so sober men are oen
rubicund; and Mr Bates was sober, with that manly, British, urman-like sobriety whi
can carry a few glasses of grog without any perceptible clarification of ideas.
“Dang my booens!” observed Mr Bates, who, at the conclusion of Mrs Sharp’s narrative,felt himself urged to his strongest interjection, “it’s what I shouldn’t ha’ looked for from Sir
Cristhifer an’ my ledy, to bring a furrin ild into the coonthry; an’ depend on’t, whether
you an’ me lives to see’t or noo, it’ll coom to soom harm. e first sitiation iver I held—it was
a hold, hancient habbey, wi’ the biggest orard o’ apples an’ pears you ever see—there was a
Fren valet, an’ he stool silk stooins, an’ shirts, an’ rings, an’ iverythin’ he could ley his
hans on, an’ run awey at last wi’ th’ missis’s jewl-box. ey’re all alaike, them furriners. It
roons i’ th’ blood.”
“Well,” said Mrs Sharp, with the air of a person who held liberal views, but knew where to
draw the line, “I’m not a-going to defend the furriners, for I’ve as good reason to know what
they are as most folks, an’ nobody ’ll iver hear me say but what they’re next door to
heathens, and the hile they eat wi’ their victuals is enough to turn any Christian’s stoma.
But for all that—an’ for all as the trouble in respect o’ washin’ an’ managin’ has fell upo’ me
through the journey—I can’t say but what I think as my Lady an’ Sir Cristifer’s done a right
thing by a hinnicent ild as doesn’t know its right han’ from its le, i’ bringing it where it’ll
learn to speak summat beer nor gibberish, and be brought up i’ the true religion. For as for
them furrin ures as Sir Cristifer is so unaccountable mad aer, wi’ picturs o’ men an’
women a-showin’ therselves just for all the world as God made ’em, I think, for my part, as
it’s welly a sin to go into ’em.”
“You’re likely to have more foreigners, however,” said Mr Warren, who liked to provoke
the gardener, “for Sir Christopher has engaged some Italian workmen to help in the
alterations in the house.”
“Olterations!” exclaimed Mrs Bellamy, in alarm. “What olterations?”
“Why,” answered Mr Warren, “Sir Christopher, as I understand, is going to make a clean
new thing of the old Manor-house, both inside and out. And he’s got portfolios full of plans
and pictures coming. It is to be cased with stone, in the Gothic style—prey near like the
ures, you know, as far as I can make out; and the ceilings are to be beyond anything as
has been seen in the country. Sir Christopher’s been giving a deal of study to it.”
“Dear heart alive!” said Mrs Bellamy, “we shall be pisined wi’ lime an’ plaster, an’ hev the
house full o’ workmen colloguing wi’ the maids, an’ meckin’ no end o’ mischief.”
“at ye may ley your life on, Mrs Bellamy,” said Mr Bates. “Howiver, I’ll noot denay that
the Goothic stayle’s prithy anoof, an’ it’s woonderful how near them stoon-carvers cuts oot
the shapes o’ the pine apples, an’ shamrus, an’ rooses. I dare sey Sir Cristhifer ’ll me a
naice thing o’ the Manor, an’ there woont be many gentlemen’s houses i’ the coonthry as ’ll
coom up to’t, wi’ si a garden an’ pleasure-groons an’ wall-fruit as King George maight be
prood on.”
“Well, I can’t think as th’ house can be beer nor it is, Gothic or no Gothic,” said Mrs
Bellamy; “an’ I’ve done the pilin’ an’ preservin’ in it fourteen year Miaelmas was a three
weeks. But what does my lady say to’t?”
“My lady knows beer than cross Sir Cristifer in what he’s set his mind on,” said Mr
Bellamy, who objected to the critical tone of the conversation. “Sir Cristifer ’ll hev his own
way, that you may tek your oath. An’ i’ the right on’t too. He’s a gentleman born, an’s got
the money. But come, Mester Bates, fill your glass, an’ we’ll drink health an’ happiness to his
honour an’ my lady, an’ then you shall give us a sung. Sir Cristifer doesn’t come hum from
Italy ivery night.”
is demonstrable position was accepted without hesitation as ground for a toast; but Mr
Bates, apparently thinking that his song was not an equally reasonable sequence, ignored the
second part of Mr Bellamy’s proposal. So Mrs Sharp, who had been heard to say that she had
no thoughts at all of marrying Mr Bates, though he was “a sensable fresh-coloured man as
many a woman ’ud snap at for a husband,” enforced Mr Bellamy’s appeal.
“Come, Mr Bates, let us hear ‘Roy’s Wife.’ I’d rether hear a good old sung like that, nor all
the fine ’talian toodlin’.”Mr Bates, urged thus flaeringly, stu his thumbs into the armholes of his waistcoat,
threw himself ba in his air with his head in that position in whi he could look directly
towards the zenith, and stru up a remarkably staccato rendering of “Roy’s Wife of
Aldivallo.” is melody may certainly be taxed with excessive iteration, but that was
precisely its highest recommendation to the present audience, who found it all the easier to
swell the orus. Nor did it at all diminish their pleasure that the only particular concerning
“Roy’s Wife” whi Mr Bates’s enunciation allowed them to gather, was that she “ated”
him,—whether in the maer of garden stuff or of some other commodity, or why her name
should, in consequence, be repeatedly reiterated with exultation, remaining an agreeable
Mr Bates’s song formed the climax of the evening’s good-fellowship, and the party soon
aer dispersed—Mrs Bellamy, perhaps, to dream of quilime flying among her
preservingpans, or of love-si housemaids reless of unswept corners—and Mrs Sharp to sink into
pleasant visions of independent housekeeping in Mr Bates’s coage, with no bells to answer,
and with fruit and vegetables ad libitum.
Caterina soon conquered all prejudices against her foreign blood; for what prejudices will
hold out against helplessness and broken prale? She became the pet of the household,
thrusting Sir Christopher’s favourite bloodhound of that day, Mrs Bellamy’s two canaries,
and Mr Bates’s largest Dorking hen, into a merely secondary position. e consequence was,
that in the space of a summer’s day she went through a great cycle of experiences,
commencing with the somewhat acidulated goodwill of Mrs Sharp’s nursery discipline. en
came the grave luxury of her ladyship’s siing-room, and, perhaps, the dignity of a ride on
Sir Christopher’s knee, sometimes followed by a visit with him to the stables, where Caterina
soon learned to hear without crying the baying of the ained bloodhounds, and to say, with
ostentatious bravery, clinging to Sir Christopher’s leg all the while, “Dey not hurt Tina.”
en Mrs Bellamy would perhaps be going out to gather the rose-leaves and lavender, and
Tina was made proud and happy by being allowed to carry a handful in her pinafore; happier
still, when they were spread out on sheets to dry, so that she could sit down like a frog
among them, and have them poured over her in fragrant showers. Another frequent pleasure
was to take a journey with Mr Bates through the kiten-gardens and the hot-houses, where
the ri bunes of green and purple grapes hung from the roof, far out of rea of the tiny
yellow hand that couldn’t help streting itself out towards them; though the hand was sure
at last to be satisfied with some delicate-flavoured fruit or sweet-scented flower. Indeed, in
the long monotonous leisure of that great country-house, you may be sure there was always
some one who had nothing beer to do than to play with Tina. So that the lile southern
bird had its northern nest lined with tenderness, and caresses, and prey things. A loving
sensitive nature was too likely, under su nurture, to have its susceptibility heightened into
unfitness for an encounter with any harder experience; all the more, because there were
gleams of fierce resistance to any discipline that had a harsh or unloving aspect. For the only
thing in whi Caterina showed any precocity was a certain ingenuity in vindictiveness.
When she was five years old she had revenged herself for an unpleasant prohibition by
pouring the ink into Mrs Sharp’s workbasket; and once, when Lady Cheverel took her doll
from her, because she was affectionately liing the paint off its face, the lile minx
straightway climbed on a air and threw down a flower-vase that stood on a braet. is
was almost the only instance in whi her anger overcame her awe of Lady Cheverel, who
had the ascendancy always belonging to kindness that never melts into caresses, and is
severely but uniformly beneficent.
By-and-by the happy monotony of Cheverel Manor was broken in upon in the way Mr
Warren had announced. e roads through the park were cut up by waggons carrying loads
of stone from a neighbouring quarry, the green courtyard became dusty with lime, and the
peaceful house rang with the sound of tools. For the next ten years Sir Christopher wasoccupied with the aritectural metamorphosis of his old family mansion; thus anticipating,
through the prompting of his individual taste, that general reaction from the insipid imitation
of the Palladian style, towards a restoration of the Gothic, whi marked the close of the
eighteenth century. is was the object he had set his heart on, with a singleness of
determination whi was regarded with not a lile contempt by his fox-hunting neighbours,
who wondered greatly that a man with some of the best blood in England in his veins,
should be mean enough to economise in his cellar, and reduce his stud to two old
coahorses and a ha, for the sake of riding a hobby, and playing the aritect. eir wives did
not see so mu to blame in the maer of the cellar and stables, but they were eloquent in
pity for poor Lady Cheverel, who had to live in no more than three rooms at once, and who
must be distracted with noises, and have her constitution undermined by unhealthy smells. It
was as bad as having a husband with an asthma. Why did not Sir Christopher take a house
for her at Bath, or, at least, if he must spend his time in overlooking workmen, somewhere in
the neighbourhood of the Manor? is pity was quite gratuitous, as the most plentiful pity
always is; for though Lady Cheverel did not share her husband’s aritectural enthusiasm,
she had too rigorous a view of a wife’s duties, and too profound a deference for Sir
Christopher, to regard submission as a grievance. As for Sir Christopher, he was perfectly
indifferent to criticism. “An obstinate, crotety man,” said his neighbours. But I, who have
seen Cheverel Manor as he bequeathed it to his heirs, rather aribute that unswerving
aritectural purpose of his, conceived and carried out through long years of systematic
personal exertion, to something of the fervour of genius, as well as inflexibility of will; and in
walking through those rooms, with their splendid ceilings and their meagre furniture, whi
tell how all the spare money had been absorbed before personal comfort was thought of, I
have felt that there dwelt in this old English baronet some of that sublime spirit whi
distinguishes art from luxury, and worships beauty apart from self-indulgence.
While Cheverel Manor was growing from ugliness into beauty, Caterina too was growing
from a lile yellow bantling into a whiter maiden, with no positive beauty indeed, but with a
certain light airy grace, whi, with her large appealing dark eyes, and a voice that, in its
low-toned tenderness, recalled the love-notes of the sto-dove, gave her a more than usual
arm. Unlike the building, however, Caterina’s development was the result of no systematic
or careful appliances. She grew up very mu like the primroses, whi the gardener is not
sorry to see within his enclosure, but takes no pains to cultivate. Lady Cheverel taught her to
read and write, and say her cateism; Mr Warren, being a good accountant, gave her lessons
in arithmetic, by her ladyship’s desire; and Mrs Sharp initiated her in all the mysteries of the
needle. But, for a long time, there was no thought of giving her any more elaborate
education. It is very likely that to her dying day Caterina thought the earth stood still, and
that the sun and stars moved round it; but so, for the maer of that, did Helen, and Dido, and
Desdemona, and Juliet; whence I hope you will not think my Caterina less worthy to be a
heroine on that account. e truth is, that, with one exception, her only talent lay in loving;
and there, it is probable, the most astronomical of women could not have surpassed her.
Orphan and protegée though she was, this supreme talent of hers found plenty of exercise at
Cheverel Manor, and Caterina had more people to love than many a small lady and
gentleman affluent in silver mugs and blood relations. I think the first place in her ildish
heart was given to Sir Christopher, for lile girls are apt to aa themselves to the
finestlooking gentleman at hand, especially as he seldom has anything to do with discipline. Next
to the Baronet came Dorcas, the merry rosy-eeked damsel who was Mrs Sharp’s lieutenant
in the nursery, and thus played the part of the raisins in a dose of senna. It was a bla day
for Caterina when Dorcas married the coaman, and went, with a great sense of elevation in
the world, to preside over a “public” in the noisy town of Sloppeter. A lile ina box,
bearing the moo “ough lost to sight, to memory dear,” whi Dorcas sent her as a
remembrance, was among Caterina’s treasures ten years after.e one other exceptional talent, you already guess, was music. When the fact that
Caterina had a remarkable ear for music, and a still more remarkable voice, aracted Lady
Cheverel’s notice, the discovery was very welcome both to her and Sir Christopher. Her
musical education became at once an object of interest. Lady Cheverel devoted mu time to
it; and the rapidity of Tina’s progress surpassing all hopes, an Italian singing-master was
engaged, for several years, to spend some months together at Cheverel Manor. is
unexpected gi made a great alteration in Caterina’s position. Aer those first years in whi
lile girls are peed like puppies and kiens, there comes a time when it seems less obvious
what they can be good for, especially when, like Caterina, they give no particular promise of
cleverness or beauty; and it is not surprising that in that uninteresting period there was no
particular plan formed as to her future position. She could always help Mrs Sharp, supposing
she were fit for nothing else, as she grew up; but now, this rare gi of song endeared her to
Lady Cheverel, who loved music above all things, and it associated her at once with the
pleasures of the drawing-room. Insensibly she came to be regarded as one of the family, and
the servants began to understand that Miss Sarti was to be a lady after all.
“And the raight on’t too,” said Mr Bates, “for she hasn’t the cut of a gell as must work for
her bread; she’s as nesh an’ dilicate as a pai-blossom—welly laike a linnet, wi’ on’y joost
body anoof to hold her voice.”
But long before Tina had reaed this stage of her history, a new era had begun for her, in
the arrival of a younger companion than any she had hitherto known. When she was no
more than seven, a ward of Sir Christopher’s—a lad of fieen, Maynard Gilfil by name—
began to spend his vacations at Cheverel Manor, and found there no playfellow so mu to
his mind as Caterina. Maynard was an affectionate lad, who retained a propensity to white
rabbits, pet squirrels, and guinea-pigs, perhaps a lile beyond the age at whi young
gentlemen usually look down on su pleasures as puerile. He was also mu given to
fishing, and to carpentry, considered as a fine art, without any base view to utility. And in all
these pleasures it was his delight to have Caterina as his companion, to call her lile pet
names, answer her wondering questions, and have her toddling aer him as you may have
seen a Blenheim spaniel troing aer a large seer. Whenever Maynard went ba to sool,
there was a little scene of parting.
“You won’t forget me, Tina, before I come ba again? I shall leave you all the whip-cord
we’ve made; and don’t you let Guinea die. Come, give me a kiss, and promise not to forget
As the years wore on, and Maynard passed from sool to college, and from a slim lad to a
stalwart young man, their companionship in the vacations necessarily took a different form,
but it retained a brotherly and sisterly familiarity. With Maynard the boyish affection had
insensibly grown into ardent love. Among all the many kinds of first love, that whi begins
in ildish companionship is the strongest and most enduring: when passion comes to unite
its force to long affection, love is at its spring-tide. And Maynard Gilfil’s love was of a kind to
make him prefer being tormented by Caterina to any pleasure, apart from her, whi the
most benevolent magician could have devised for him. It is the way with those tall
largelimbed men, from Samson downwards. As for Tina, the lile minx was perfectly well aware
that Maynard was her slave; he was the one person in the world whom she did as she pleased
with; and I need not tell you that this was a symptom of her being perfectly heart-whole so
far as he was concerned: for a passionate woman’s love is always overshadowed by fear.
Maynard Gilfil did not deceive himself in his interpretation of Caterina’s feelings, but he
nursed the hope that some time or other she would at least care enough for him to accept his
love. So he waited patiently for the day when he might venture to say, “Caterina, I love you!”
You see, he would have been content with very lile, being one of those men who pass
through life without making the least clamour about themselves; thinking neither the cut of
his coat, nor the flavour of his soup, nor the precise depth of a servant’s bow, at allmomentous. He thought—foolishly enough, as lovers will think—that it was a good augury
for him when he came to be domesticated at Cheverel Manor in the quality of aplain there,
and curate of a neighbouring parish; judging falsely, from his own case, that habit and
affection were the likeliest avenues to love. Sir Christopher satisfied several feelings in
installing Maynard as aplain in his house. He liked the old-fashioned dignity of that
domestic appendage; he liked his ward’s companionship; and, as Maynard had some private
fortune, he might take life easily in that agreeable home, keeping his hunter, and observing a
mild regimen of clerical duty, until the Cumbermoor living should fall in, when he might be
seled for life in the neighbourhood of the manor. “With Caterina for a wife, too,” Sir
Christopher soon began to think; for though the good Baronet was not at all qui to suspect
what was unpleasant and opposed to his views of fitness, he was qui to see what would
dovetail with his own plans; and he had first guessed, and then ascertained by direct inquiry,
the state of Maynard’s feelings. He at once leaped to the conclusion that Caterina was of the
same mind, or at least would be, when she was old enough. But these were too early days for
anything definite to be said or done.
Meanwhile, new circumstances were arising, whi, though they made no ange in Sir
Christopher’s plans and prospects, converted Mr Gilfil’s hopes into anxieties, and made it
clear to him not only that Caterina’s heart was never likely to be his, but that it was given
entirely to another.
Once or twice in Caterina’s ildhood, there had been another boy-visitor at the manor,
younger than Maynard Gilfil—a beautiful boy with brown curls and splendid clothes, on
whom Caterina had looked with shy admiration. is was Anthony Wybrow, the son of Sir
Christopher’s younger sister, and osen heir of Cheverel Manor. e Baronet had sacrificed
a large sum, and even straitened the resources by whi he was to carry out his aritectural
semes, for the sake of removing the entail from his estate, and making this boy his heir—
moved to the step, I am sorry to say, by an implacable quarrel with his elder sister; for a
power of forgiveness was not among Sir Christopher’s virtues. At length, on the death of
Anthony’s mother, when he was no longer a curly-headed boy, but a tall young man, with a
captain’s commission, Cheverel Manor became his home too, whenever he was absent from
his regiment. Caterina was then a lile woman, between sixteen and seventeen, and I need
not spend many words in explaining what you perceive to be the most natural thing in the
ere was lile company kept at the Manor, and Captain Wybrow would have been mu
duller if Caterina had not been there. It was pleasant to pay her aentions—to speak to her in
gentle tones, to see her lile fluer of pleasure, the blush that just lit up her pale eek, and
the momentary timid glance of her dark eyes, when he praised her singing, leaning at her
side over the piano. Pleasant, too, to cut out that aplain, with his large calves! What idle
man can withstand the temptation of a woman to fascinate, and another man to eclipse?—
especially when it is quite clear to himself that he means no misief, and shall leave
everything to come right again by-and-by. At the end of eighteen months, however, during
whi Captain Wybrow had spent mu of his time at the Manor, he found that maers had
reaed a point whi he had not at all contemplated. Gentle tones had led to tender words,
and tender words had called forth a response of looks whi made it impossible not to carry
on the crescendo of love-making. To find oneself adored by a lile, graceful, dark-eyed,
sweet-singing woman, whom no one need despise, is an agreeable sensation, comparable to
smoking the finest Latakia, and also imposes some return of tenderness as a duty.
Perhaps you think that Captain Wybrow, who knew that it would be ridiculous to dream
of his marrying Caterina, must have been a reless libertine to win her affections in this
manner! Not at all. He was a young man of calm passions, who was rarely led into any
conduct of whi he could not give a plausible account to himself; and the tiny fragile
Caterina was a woman who toued the imagination and the affections rather than thesenses. He really felt very kindly towards her, and would very likely have loved her—if he
had been able to love any one. But nature had not endowed him with that capability. She had
given him an admirable figure, the whitest of hands, the most delicate of nostrils, and a large
amount of serene self-satisfaction; but, as if to save su a delicate piece of work from any
risk of being shattered, she had guarded him from the liability to a strong emotion. There was
no list of youthful misdemeanours on record against him, and Sir Christopher and Lady
Cheverel thought him the best of nephews, the most satisfactory of heirs, full of grateful
deference to themselves, and, above all things, guided by a sense of duty. Captain Wybrow
always did the thing easiest and most agreeable to him from a sense of duty: he dressed
expensively, because it was a duty he owed to his position; from a sense of duty he adapted
himself to Sir Christopher’s inflexible will, whi it would have been troublesome as well as
useless to resist; and, being of a delicate constitution, he took care of his health from a sense
of duty. His health was the only point on whi he gave anxiety to his friends; and it was
owing to this that Sir Christopher wished to see his nephew early married, the more so as a
mat aer the Baronet’s own heart appeared immediately aainable. Anthony had seen and
admired Miss Assher, the only ild of a lady who had been Sir Christopher’s earliest love,
but who, as things will happen in this world, had married another baronet instead of him.
Miss Assher’s father was now dead, and she was in possession of a prey estate. If, as was
probable, she should prove susceptible to the merits of Anthony’s person and aracter,
nothing could make Sir Christopher so happy as to see a marriage whi might be expected
to secure the inheritance of Cheverel Manor from getting into the wrong hands. Anthony had
already been kindly received by Lady Assher as the nephew of her early friend; why should
he not go to Bath, where she and her daughter were then residing, follow up the
acquaintance, and win a handsome, well-born, and sufficiently wealthy bride?
Sir Christopher’s wishes were communicated to his nephew, who at once intimated his
willingness to comply with them—from a sense of duty. Caterina was tenderly informed by
her lover of the sacrifice demanded from them both; and three days aerwards occurred the
parting scene you have witnessed in the gallery, on the eve of Captain Wybrow’s departure
for Bath.
 Chapter V.
The inexorable tiing of the clo is like the throb of pain to sensations made keen by a
siening fear. And so it is with the great clowork of nature. Daisies and buercups give
way to the brown waving grasses, tinged with the warm red sorrel; the waving grasses are
swept away, and the meadows lie like emeralds set in the bushy hedgerows; the
tawnytipped corn begins to bow with the weight of the full ear; the reapers are bending amongst it,
and it soon stands in sheaves; then, presently, the pates of yellow stubble lie side by side
with streaks of dark red earth, whi the plough is turning up in preparation for the
newthrashed seed. And this passage from beauty to beauty, whi to the happy is like the flow of
a melody, measures for many a human heart the approa of foreseen anguish—seems
hurrying on the moment when the shadow of dread will be followed up by the reality of
How cruelly hasty that summer of 1788 seemed to Caterina! Surely the roses vanished
earlier, and the berries on the mountain-ash were more impatient to redden, and bring on the
autumn, when she would be face to face with her misery, and witness Anthony giving all his
gentle tones, tender words, and soft looks to another.
Before the end of July, Captain Wybrow had wrien word that Lady Assher and her
daughter were about to fly from the heat and gaiety of Bath to the shady quiet of their place
at Farleigh, and that he was invited to join the party there. His leers implied that he was on
an excellent footing with both the ladies, and gave no hint of a rival; so that Sir Christopher
was more than usually bright and eerful aer reading them. At length, towards the close of
August, came the announcement that Captain Wybrow was an accepted lover, and aer
mu complimentary and congratulatory correspondence between the two families, it was
understood that in September Lady Assher and her daughter would pay a visit to Cheverel
Manor, when Beatrice would make the acquaintance of her future relatives, and all needful
arrangements could be discussed. Captain Wybrow would remain at Farleigh till then, and
accompany the ladies on their journey.
In the interval, every one at Cheverel Manor had something to do by way of preparing for
the visitors. Sir Christopher was occupied in consultations with his steward and lawyer, and
in giving orders to every one else, especially in spurring on Francesco to finish the saloon. Mr
Gilfil had the responsibility of procuring a lady’s horse, Miss Assher being a great rider. Lady
Cheverel had unwonted calls to make and invitations to deliver. Mr Bates’s turf, and gravel,
and flower-beds were always at su a point of neatness and finish that nothing
extraordinary could be done in the garden, except a lile extraordinary scolding of the
under-gardener, and this addition Mr Bates did not neglect.
Happily for Caterina, she too had her task, to fill up the long dreary day-time: it was to
finish a air cushion whi would complete the set of embroidered covers for the
drawingroom, Lady Cheverel’s year-long work, and the only noteworthy bit of furniture in the
Manor. Over this embroidery she sat with cold lips and a palpitating heart, thankful that this
miserable sensation throughout the day-time seemed to counteract the tendency to tears
whi returned with night and solitude. She was most frightened when Sir Christopher
approaed her. e Baronet’s eye was brighter and his step more elastic than ever, and it
seemed to him that only the most leaden or urlish souls could be otherwise than brisk and
exulting in a world where everything went so well. Dear old gentleman! he had gone
through life a lile flushed with the power of his will, and now his latest plan was
succeeding, and Cheverel Manor would be inherited by a grand-nephew, whom he might
even yet live to see a fine young fellow with at least the down on his in. Why not? one isstill young at sixty.
Sir Christopher had always something playful to say to Caterina.
“Now, lile monkey, you must be in your best voice; you’re the minstrel of the Manor,
you know, and be sure you have a pretty gown and a new ribbon. You must not be dressed in
russet, though you are a singing-bird.” Or perhaps, “It is your turn to be courted next, Tina.
But don’t you learn any naughty proud airs. I must have Maynard let off easily.”
Caterina’s affection for the old Baronet helped her to summon up a smile as he stroked her
eek and looked at her kindly, but that was the moment at whi she felt it most difficult
not to burst out crying. Lady Cheverel’s conversation and presence were less trying; for her
ladyship felt no more than calm satisfaction in this family event; and besides, she was further
sobered by a lile jealousy at Sir Christopher’s anticipation of pleasure in seeing Lady Assher,
enshrined in his memory as a mild-eyed beauty of sixteen, with whom he had exanged
los before he went on his first travels. Lady Cheverel would have died rather than confess
it, but she couldn’t help hoping that he would be disappointed in Lady Assher, and rather
ashamed of having called her so charming.
Mr Gilfil wated Caterina through these days with mixed feelings. Her suffering went to
his heart; but, even for her sake, he was glad that a love whi could never come to good
should be no longer fed by false hopes; and how could he help saying to himself, “Perhaps,
after a while, Caterina will be tired of fretting about that cold-hearted puppy, and then….”
At length the mu-expected day arrived, and the brightest of September’s suns was
lighting up the yellowing lime-trees, as about five o’clo Lady Assher’s carriage drove under
the portico. Caterina, seated at work in her own room, heard the rolling of the wheels,
followed presently by the opening and shuing of doors, and the sound of voices in the
corridors. Remembering that the dinner-hour was six, and that Lady Cheverel had desired
her to be in the drawing-room early, she started up to dress, and was delighted to find herself
feeling suddenly brave and strong. Curiosity to see Miss Assher—the thought that Anthony
was in the house—the wish not to look unaractive, were feelings that brought some colour
to her lips, and made it easy to attend to her toilette. They would ask her to sing this evening,
and she would sing well. Miss Assher should not think her uerly insignificant. So she put on
her grey silk gown and her erry-coloured ribbon with as mu care as if she had been
herself the betrothed; not forgeing the pair of round pearl earrings whi Sir Christopher
had told Lady Cheverel to give her, because Tina’s little ears were so pretty.
i as she had been, she found Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel in the drawing-room,
aing with Mr Gilfil, and telling him how handsome Miss Assher was, but how entirely
unlike her mother—apparently resembling her father only.
“Aha!” said Sir Christopher, as he turned to look at Caterina, “what do you think of this,
Maynard? Did you ever see Tina look so prey before? Why, that lile grey gown has been
made out of a bit of my lady’s, hasn’t it? It doesn’t take anything mu larger than a
poethandkerchief to dress the little monkey.”
Lady Cheverel, too, serenely radiant in the assurance a single glance had given her of Lady
Assher’s inferiority, smiled approval, and Caterina was in one of those moods of
selfpossession and indifference whi come as the ebb-tide between the struggles of passion. She
retired to the piano, and busied herself with arranging her music, not at all insensible to the
pleasure of being looked at with admiration the while, and thinking that, the next time the
door opened, Captain Wybrow would enter, and she would speak to him quite eerfully.
But when she heard him come in, and the scent of roses floated towards her, her heart gave
one great leap. She knew nothing till he was pressing her hand, and saying, in the old easy
way, “Well, Caterina, how do you do? You look quite blooming.”
She felt her eeks reddening with anger that he could speak and look with su perfect
nonalance. Ah! he was too deeply in love with some one else to remember anything he had
felt for her. But the next moment she was conscious of her folly;—“as if he could show anyfeeling then!” is conflict of emotions streted into a long interval the few moments that
elapsed before the door opened again, and her own aention, as well as that of all the rest,
was absorbed by the entrance of the two ladies.
e daughter was the more striking, from the contrast she presented to her mother, a
round-shouldered, middle-sized woman, who had once had the transient pink-and-white
beauty of a blonde, with ill-defined features and early embonpoint. Miss Assher was tall, and
gracefully though substantially formed, carrying herself with an air of mingled graciousness
and self-confidence; her dark brown hair, untoued by powder, hanging in bushy curls
round her face, and falling behind in long thi ringlets nearly to her waist. e brilliant
carmine tint of her well-rounded eeks, and the finely-cut outline of her straight nose,
produced an impression of splendid beauty, in spite of commonplace brown eyes, a narrow
forehead, and thin lips. She was in mourning, and the dead bla of her crape dress, relieved
here and there by jet ornaments, gave the fullest effect to her complexion, and to the rounded
whiteness of her arms, bare from the elbow. e first coup d’œil was dazzling, and as she
stood looking down with a gracious smile on Caterina, whom Lady Cheverel was presenting
to her, the poor lile thing seemed to herself to feel, for the first time, all the folly of her
former dream.
“We are enanted with your place, Sir Christopher,” said Lady Assher, with a feeble kind
of pompousness, whi she seemed to be copying from some one else; “I’m sure your nephew
must have thought Farleigh wretedly out of order. Poor Sir John was so very careless about
keeping up the house and grounds. I oen talked to him about it, but he said, ‘Pooh, pooh! as
long as my friends find a good dinner and a good bole of wine, they won’t care about my
ceilings being rather smoky.’ He was so very hospitable, was Sir John.”
“I think the view of the house from the park, just aer we passed the bridge, particularly
fine,” said Miss Assher, interposing rather eagerly, as if she feared her mother might be
making infelicitous speees, “and the pleasure of the first glimpse was all the greater because
Anthony would describe nothing to us beforehand. He would not spoil our first impressions
by raising false ideas. I long to go over the house, Sir Christopher, and learn the history of all
your architectural designs, which Anthony says have cost you so much time and study.”
“Take care how you set an old man talking about the past, my dear,” said the Baronet; “I
hope we shall find something pleasanter for you to do than turning over my old plans and
pictures. Our friend Mr Gilfil here has found a beautiful mare for you, and you can scour the
country to your heart’s content. Anthony has sent us word what a horsewoman you are.”
Miss Assher turned to Mr Gilfil with her most beaming smile, and expressed her thanks
with the elaborate graciousness of a person who means to be thought arming, and is sure of
“Pray do not thank me,” said Mr Gilfil, “till you have tried the mare. She has been ridden
by Lady Sara Linter for the last two years; but one lady’s taste may not be like another’s in
horses, any more than in other matters.”
While this conversation was passing, Captain Wybrow was leaning against the
mantelpiece, contenting himself with responding from under his indolent eyelids to the
glances Miss Assher was constantly directing towards him as she spoke. “She is very mu in
love with him,” thought Caterina. But she was relieved that Anthony remained passive in his
aentions. She thought, too, that he was looking paler and more languid than usual. “If he
didn’t love her very mu—if he sometimes thought of the past with regret, I think I could
bear it all, and be glad to see Sir Christopher made happy.”
During dinner there was a lile incident whi confirmed these thoughts. When the
sweets were on the table, there was a mould of jelly just opposite Captain Wybrow, and
being inclined to take some himself, he first invited Miss Assher, who coloured, and said, in
rather a sharper key than usual, “Have you not learned by this time that I never take jelly?”
“Don’t you?” said Captain Wybrow, whose perceptions were not acute enough for him tonotice the difference of a semitone. “I should have thought you were fond of it. ere was
always some on the table at Farleigh, I think.”
“You don’t seem to take much interest in my likes and dislikes.”
“I’m too mu possessed by the happy thought that you like me,” was the ex officio reply,
in silvery tones.
is lile episode was unnoticed by every one but Caterina. Sir Christopher was listening
with polite aention to Lady Assher’s history of her last man-cook, who was first-rate at
gravies, and for that reason pleased Sir John—he was so particular about his gravies, was Sir
John: and so they kept the man six years in spite of his bad pastry. Lady Cheverel and Mr
Gilfil were smiling at Rupert the bloodhound, who had pushed his great head under his
master’s arm, and was taking a survey of the dishes, aer snuffing at the contents of the
Baronet’s plate.
When the ladies were in the drawing-room again, Lady Assher was soon deep in a
statement to Lady Cheverel of her views about burying people in woollen.
“To be sure, you must have a woollen dress, because it’s the law, you know; but that need
hinder no one from puing linen underneath. I always used to say, ‘If Sir John died
tomorrow, I would bury him in his shirt;’ and I did. And let me advise you to do so by Sir
Christopher. You never saw Sir John, Lady Cheverel. He was a large tall man, with a nose
just like Beatrice, and so very particular about his shirts.”
Miss Assher, meanwhile, had seated herself by Caterina, and with that smiling affability
which seems to say, “I am really not at all proud, though you might expect it of me,” said,—
“Anthony tells me you sing so very beautifully. I hope we shall hear you this evening.”
“O yes,” said Caterina, quietly, without smiling; “I always sing when I am wanted to sing.”
“I envy you such a charming talent. Do you know, I have no ear; I cannot hum the smallest
tune, and I delight in music so. Is it not unfortunate? But I shall have quite a treat while I am
here; Captain Wybrow says you will give us some music every day.”
“I should have thought you wouldn’t care about music if you had no ear,” said Caterina,
becoming epigrammatic by force of grave simplicity.
“O, I assure you, I doat on it; and Anthony is so fond of it; it would be so delightful if I
could play and sing to him; though he says he likes me best not to sing, because it doesn’t
belong to his idea of me. What style of music do you like best?”
“I don’t know. I like all beautiful music.”
“And are you as fond of riding as of music?”
“No; I never ride. I think I should be very frightened.”
“O no! indeed you would not, aer a lile practice. I have never been in the least timid. I
think Anthony is more afraid for me than I am for myself; and since I have been riding with
him, I have been obliged to be more careful, because he is so nervous about me.”
Caterina made no reply; but she said to herself, “I wish she would go away, and not talk to
me. She only wants me to admire her good-nature, and to talk about Anthony.”
Miss Assher was thinking at the same time, “is Miss Sarti seems a stupid lile thing.
ose musical people oen are. But she is preier than I expected; Anthony said she was not
Happily at this moment Lady Assher called her daughter’s aention to the embroidered
cushions, and Miss Assher, walking to the opposite sofa, was soon in conversation with Lady
Cheverel about tapestry and embroidery in general, while her mother, feeling herself
superseded there, came and placed herself beside Caterina.
“I hear you are the most beautiful singer,” was of course the opening remark. “All Italians
sing so beautifully. I travelled in Italy with Sir John when we were first married, and we
went to Venice, where they go about in gondolas, you know. You don’t wear powder, I see.
No more will Beatrice; though many people think her curls would look all the beer for
powder. She has so mu hair, hasn’t she? Our last maid dressed it mu beer than this; but,do you know, she wore Beatrice’s stoings before they went to the wash, and we couldn’t
keep her after that, could we?”
Caterina, accepting the question as a mere bit of rhetorical effect, thought it superfluous to
reply, till Lady Assher repeated, “Could we, now?” as if Tina’s sanction were essential to her
repose of mind. After a faint “No,” she went on.
“Maids are so very troublesome, and Beatrice is so particular, you can’t imagine. I oen say
to her, ‘My dear, you can’t have perfection.’ at very gown she has on—to be sure, it fits her
beautifully now—but it has been unmade and made up again twice. But she is like poor Sir
John—he was so very particular about his own things, was Sir John. Is Lady Cheverel
“Rather. But Mrs Sharp has been her maid twenty years.”
“I wish there was any ance of our keeping Griffin twenty years. But I am afraid we shall
have to part with her because her health is so delicate; and she is so obstinate, she will not
take biers as I want her. You look delicate, now. Let me recommend you to take camomile
tea in a morning, fasting. Beatrice is so strong and healthy, she never takes any medicine; but
if I had had twenty girls, and they had been delicate, I should have given them all camomile
tea. It strengthens the constitution beyond anything. Now, will you promise me to take
camomile tea?”
“Thank you; I’m not at all ill,” said Caterina. “I’ve always been pale and thin.”
Lady Assher was sure camomile tea would make all the difference in the world—Caterina
must see if it wouldn’t—and then went dribbling on like a leaky shower-bath, until the early
entrance of the gentlemen created a diversion, and she fastened on Sir Christopher, who
probably began to think that, for poetical purposes, it would be beer not to meet one’s first
love again, after a lapse of forty years.
Captain Wybrow, of course, joined his aunt and Miss Assher, and Mr Gilfil tried to relieve
Caterina from the awkwardness of siing aloof and dumb, by telling her how a friend of his
had broken his arm and staked his horse that morning, not at all appearing to heed that she
hardly listened, and was looking towards the other side of the room. One of the tortures of
jealousy is, that it can never turn away its eyes from the thing that pains it.
By-and-by every one felt the need of a relief from it-at—Sir Christopher perhaps the
most of all—and it was he who made the acceptable proposition—
“Come, Tina, are we to have no music to-night before we sit down to cards? Your ladyship
plays at cards, I think?” he added, recollecting himself, and turning to Lady Assher.
“O yes! Poor dear Sir John would have a whist-table every night.”
Caterina sat down to the harpsiord at once, and had no sooner begun to sing than she
perceived with delight that Captain Wybrow was gliding towards the harpsiord, and soon
standing in the old place. is consciousness gave fresh strength to her voice; and when she
noticed that Miss Assher presently followed him with that air of ostentatious admiration
whi belongs to the absence of real enjoyment, her closing bravura was none the worse for
being animated by a little triumphant contempt.
“Why, you are in beer voice than ever, Caterina,” said Captain Wybrow, when she had
ended. “is is rather different from Miss Hibbert’s small piping that we used to be glad of at
Farleigh, is it not, Beatrice?”
“Indeed it is. You are a most enviable creature, Miss Sarti—Caterina—may I not call you
Caterina? for I have heard Anthony speak of you so oen, I seem to know you quite well.
You will let me call you Caterina?”
“O yes, every one calls me Caterina, only when they call me Tina.”
“Come, come, more singing, more singing, lile monkey,” Sir Christopher called out from
the other side of the room. “We have not had half enough yet.”
Caterina was ready enough to obey, for while she was singing she was queen of the room,
and Miss Assher was reduced to grimacing admiration. Alas! you see what jealousy wasdoing in this poor young soul. Caterina, who had passed her life as a lile unobtrusive
singing-bird, nestling so fondly under the wings that were outstreted for her, her heart
beating only to the peaceful rhythm of love, or fluering with some easily stifled fear, had
begun to know the fierce palpitations of triumph and hatred.
When the singing was over, Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel sat down to whist with
Lady Assher and Mr Gilfil, and Caterina placed herself at the Baronet’s elbow, as if to wat
the game, that she might not appear to thrust herself on the pair of lovers. At first she was
glowing with her lile triumph, and felt the strength of pride; but her eye would steal to the
opposite side of the fireplace, where Captain Wybrow had seated himself close to Miss
Assher, and was leaning with his arm over the ba of the air, in the most lover-like
position. Caterina began to feel a oking sensation. She could see, almost without looking,
that he was taking up her arm to examine her bracelet; their heads were bending close
together, her curls touing his eek—now he was puing his lips to her hand. Caterina felt
her eeks burn—she could sit no longer. She got up, pretended to be gliding about in sear
of something, and at length slipped out of the room.
Outside, she took a candle, and, hurrying along the passages and up the stairs to her own
room, locked the door.
“O, I cannot bear it, I cannot bear it!” the poor thing burst out aloud, clasping her lile
fingers, and pressing them back against her forehead, as if she wanted to break them.
Then she walked hurriedly up and down the room.
“And this must go on for days and days, and I must see it.”
She looked about nervously for something to clut. ere was a muslin kerief lying on
the table; she took it up and tore it into shreds as she walked up and down, and then pressed
it into hard balls in her hand.
“And Anthony,” she thought, “he can do this without caring for what I feel. O, he can
forget everything: how he used to say he loved me—how he used to take my hand in his as
we walked—how he used to stand near me in the evenings for the sake of looking into my
“Oh, it is cruel, it is cruel!” she burst out again aloud, as all those love-moments in the past
returned upon her. en the tears gushed forth, she threw herself on her knees by the bed,
and sobbed bitterly.
She did not know how long she had been there, till she was startled by the prayer-bell;
when, thinking Lady Cheverel might perhaps send some one to inquire aer her, she rose,
and began hastily to undress, that there might be no possibility of her going down again. She
had hardly unfastened her hair, and thrown a loose gown about her, before there was a
kno at the door, and Mrs Sharp’s voice said—“Miss Tina, my lady wants to know if you’re
Caterina opened the door and said, “ank you, dear Mrs Sharp; I have a bad headae;
please tell my lady I felt it come on after singing.”
“en, goodness me! why arn’t you in bed, istid o’ standing shivering there, fit to cat
your death? Come, let me fasten up your hair and tuck you up warm.”
“O no, thank you; I shall really be in bed very soon. Good-night, dear Sharpy; don’t scold; I
will be good, and get into bed.”
Caterina kissed her old friend coaxingly, but Mrs Sharp was not to be “come over” in that
way, and insisted on seeing her former arge in bed, taking away the candle whi the poor
child had wanted to keep as a companion.
But it was impossible to lie there long with that beating heart; and the lile white figure
was soon out of bed again, seeking relief in the very sense of ill and uncomfort. It was light
enough for her to see about her room, for the moon, nearly at full, was riding high in the
heavens among scaered hurrying clouds. Caterina drew aside the window-curtain; and,
siing with her forehead pressed against the cold pane, looked out on the wide stret ofpark and lawn.
How dreary the moonlight is! robbed of all its tenderness and repose by the hard driving
wind. e trees are harassed by that tossing motion, when they would like to be at rest; the
shivering grass makes her quake with sympathetic cold; and the willows by the pool, bent
low and white under that invisible harshness, seem agitated and helpless like herself. But she
loves the scene the beer for its sadness: there is some pity in it. It is not like that hard
unfeeling happiness of lovers, flaunting in the eyes of misery.
She set her teeth tight against the window-frame, and the tears fell thi and fast. She was
so thankful she could cry, for the mad passion she had felt when her eyes were dry,
frightened her. If that dreadful feeling were to come on when Lady Cheverel was present,
she should never be able to contain herself.
en there was Sir Christopher—so good to her—so happy about Anthony’s marriage; and
all the while she had these wicked feelings.
“O, I cannot help it, I cannot help it!” she said in a loud whisper between her sobs. “O God,
have pity upon me!”
In this way Tina wore out the long hours of the windy moonlight, till at last, with weary
aching limbs, she lay down in bed again, and slept from mere exhaustion.
While this poor lile heart was being bruised with a weight too heavy for it, Nature was
holding on her calm inexorable way, in unmoved and terrible beauty. e stars were rushing
in their eternal courses; the tides swelled to the level of the last expectant weed; the sun was
making brilliant day to busy nations on the other side of the swi earth. e stream of
human thought and deed was hurrying and broadening onward. e astronomer was at his
telescope; the great ships were labouring over the waves; the toiling eagerness of commerce,
the fierce spirit of revolution, were only ebbing in brief rest; and sleepless statesmen were
dreading the possible crisis of the morrow. What were our lile Tina and her trouble in this
mighty torrent, rushing from one awful unknown to another? Lighter than the smallest
centre of quivering life in the water-drop, hidden and uncared for as the pulse of anguish in
the breast of the tiniest bird that has fluered down to its nest with the long-sought food,
and has found the nest torn and empty.
 Chapter VI.
The next morning, when Caterina was waked from her heavy sleep by Martha bringing in
the warm water, the sun was shining, the wind had abated, and those hours of suffering in
the night seemed unreal and dreamlike, in spite of weary limbs and aing eyes. She got up
and began to dress with a strange feeling of insensibility, as if nothing could make her cry
again; and she even felt a sort of longing to be down stairs in the midst of company, that she
might get rid of this benumbed condition by contact.
ere are few of us that are not rather ashamed of our sins and follies as we look out on
the blessed morning sunlight, whi comes to us like a bright-winged angel beoning us to
quit the old path of vanity that stretes its dreary length behind us; and Tina, lile as she
knew about doctrines and theories, seemed to herself to have been both foolish and wied
yesterday. To-day she would try to be good; and when she knelt down to say her short
prayer—the very form she had learned by heart when she was ten years old—she added, “O
God, help me to bear it!”
at day the prayer seemed to be answered, for aer some remarks on her pale looks at
breakfast, Caterina passed the morning quietly, Miss Assher and Captain Wybrow being out
on a riding excursion. In the evening there was a dinner-party, and aer Caterina had sung a
lile, Lady Cheverel, remembering that she was ailing, sent her to bed, where she soon sank
into a deep sleep. Body and mind must renew their force to suffer as well as to enjoy.
On the morrow, however, it was rainy, and every one must stay in-doors; so it was
resolved that the guests should be taken over the house by Sir Christopher, to hear the story
of the aritectural alterations, the family portraits, and the family relics. All the party, except
Mr Gilfil, were in the drawing-room when the proposition was made; and when Miss Assher
rose to go, she looked towards Captain Wybrow, expecting to see him rise too; but he kept his
seat near the fire, turning his eyes towards the newspaper whi he had been holding unread
in his hand.
“Are you not coming, Anthony?” said Lady Cheverel, noticing Miss Assher’s look of
“I think not, if you’ll excuse me,” he answered, rising and opening the door; “I feel a lile
chilled this morning, and I am afraid of the cold rooms and draughts.”
Miss Assher reddened, but said nothing, and passed on, Lady Cheverel accompanying her.
Caterina was seated at work in the oriel window. It was the first time she and Anthony
had been alone together, and she had thought before that he wished to avoid her. But now,
surely, he wanted to speak to her—he wanted to say something kind. Presently he rose from
his seat near the fire, and placed himself on the ottoman opposite to her.
“Well, Tina, and how have you been all this long time?”
Both the tone and the words were an offence to her; the tone was so different from the old
one, the words were so cold and unmeaning. She answered, with a little bitterness,—
“I think you needn’t ask. It doesn’t make much difference to you.”
“Is that the kindest thing you have to say to me after my long absence?”
“I don’t know why you should expect me to say kind things.”
Captain Wybrow was silent. He wished very mu to avoid allusions to the past or
comments on the present. And yet he wished to be well with Caterina. He would have liked
to caress her, make her presents, and have her think him very kind to her. But these women
are so plaguy perverse! ere’s no bringing them to look rationally at anything. At last he
said, “I hoped you would think all the beer of me, Tina, for doing as I have done, instead of
bearing malice towards me. I hoped you would see that it is the best thing for every one—thebest for your happiness too.”
“O pray don’t make love to Miss Assher for the sake of my happiness,” answered Tina.
At this moment the door opened, and Miss Assher entered, to fet her reticule, whi lay
on the harpsiord. She gave a keen glance at Caterina, whose face was flushed, and saying
to Captain Wybrow with a slight sneer, “Since you are so ill, I wonder you like to sit in the
window,” left the room again immediately.
e lover did not appear mu discomposed, but sat quiet a lile longer, and then, seating
himself on the music-stool, drew it near to Caterina, and, taking her hand, said, “Come, Tina,
look kindly at me, and let us be friends. I shall always be your friend.”
“ank you,” said Caterina, drawing away her hand. “You are very generous. But pray
move away. Miss Assher may come in again.”
“Miss Assher be hanged!” said Anthony, feeling the fascination of old habit returning on
him in his proximity to Caterina. He put his arm round her waist, and leaned his eek down
to hers. e lips couldn’t help meeting aer that; but the next moment, with heart swelling
and tears rising, Caterina burst away from him, and rushed out of the room.
 Chapter VII.
Caterina tore herself from Anthony with the desperate effort of one who has just
selfrecollection enough le to be conscious that the fumes of arcoal will master his senses
unless he bursts a way for himself to the fresh air; but when she reaed her own room, she
was still too intoxicated with that momentary revival of old emotions, too mu agitated by
the sudden return of tenderness in her lover, to know whether pain or pleasure
predominated. It was as if a miracle had happened in her lile world of feeling, and made the
future all vague—a dim morning haze of possibilities, instead of the sombre wintry daylight
and clear rigid outline of painful certainty.
She felt the need of rapid movement. She must walk out in spite of the rain. Happily, there
was a thin place in the curtain of clouds whi seemed to promise that now, about noon, the
day had a mind to clear up. Caterina thought to herself, “I will walk to the Mosslands, and
carry Mr Bates the comforter I have made for him, and then Lady Cheverel will not wonder
so mu at my going out.” At the hall door she found Rupert, the old bloodhound, stationed
on the mat, with the determination that the first person who was sensible enough to take a
walk that morning should have the honour of his approbation and society. As he thrust his
great bla and tawny head under her hand, and wagged his tail with vigorous eloquence,
and reaed the climax of his welcome by jumping up to li her face, whi was at a
convenient liing height for him, Caterina felt quite grateful to the old dog for his
friendliness. Animals are su agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no
e “Mosslands” was a remote part of the grounds, encircled by the lile stream issuing
from the pool; and certainly, for a wet day, Caterina could hardly have osen a less suitable
walk, for though the rain was abating, and presently ceased altogether, there was still a smart
shower falling from the trees whi ared over the greater part of her way. But she found
just the desired relief from her feverish excitement in labouring along the wet paths with an
umbrella that made her arm ae. is amount of exertion was to her tiny body what a day’s
hunting oen was to Mr Gilfil, who at times had his fits of jealousy and sadness to get rid of,
and wisely had recourse to nature’s innocent opium—fatigue.
When Caterina reaed the prey ared wooden bridge whi formed the only entrance
to the Mosslands for any but webbed feet, the sun had mastered the clouds, and was shining
through the boughs of the tall elms that made a deep nest for the gardener’s coage—turning
the raindrops into diamonds, and inviting the nasturtium flowers creeping over the por and
low-thated roof to li up their flame-coloured heads once more. e rooks were cawing
with many-voiced monotony, apparently—by a remarkable approximation to human
intelligence—finding great conversational resources in the ange of weather. e mossy turf,
studded with the broad blades of marsh-loving plants, told that Mr Bates’s nest was rather
damp in the best of weather; but he was of opinion that a lile external moisture would hurt
no man who was not perversely neglectful of that obvious and providential antidote,
Caterina loved this nest. Every object in it, every sound that haunted it, had been familiar
to her from the days when she had been carried thither on Mr Bates’s arm, making lile
cawing noises to imitate the rooks, clapping her hands at the green frogs leaping in the moist
grass, and fixing grave eyes on the gardener’s fowls clu-cluing under their pens. And
now the spot looked preier to her than ever; it was so out of the way of Miss Assher, with
her brilliant beauty, and personal claims, and small civil remarks. She thought Mr Bates
would not be come in to his dinner yet, so she would sit down and wait for him.But she was mistaken. Mr Bates was seated in his arm-air, with his poet-handkerief
thrown over his face, as the most eligible mode of passing away those superfluous hours
between meals when the weather drives a man in-doors. Roused by the furious barking of his
ained bulldog, he descried his lile favourite approaing, and forthwith presented himself
at the doorway, looking disproportionately tall compared with the height of his coage. e
bulldog, meanwhile, unbent from the severity of his official demeanour, and commenced a
friendly interchange of ideas with Rupert.
Mr Bates’s hair was now grey, but his frame was none the less stalwart, and his face looked
all the redder, making an artistic contrast with the deep blue of his coon neerief, and of
his linen apron twisted into a girdle round his waist.
“Why, dang my booons, Miss Tiny,” he exclaimed, “hoo coom ye to coom oot dabblin’
your faet laike a lile Muscovy du, si a day as this? Not but what ai’m delaighted to sae
ye. Here Hesther,” he called to his old humpbaed housekeeper, “tek the yoong ledy’s
oombrella an’ spread it oot to dray. Coom, coom in, Miss Tiny, an’ set ye doon by the faire
an’ dray yer faet, an’ hev summat warm to kape ye from ketchin’ coold.”
Mr Bates led the way, stooping under the door-places, into his small siing-room, and,
shaking the pat-work cushion in his arm-air, moved it to within a good roasting distance
of the blazing fire.
“ank you, uncle Bates” (Caterina kept up her ildish epithets for her friends, and this
was one of them); “not quite so close to the fire, for I am warm with walking.”
“Eh, but yer shoes are faine an’ wet, an’ ye must put up yer faet on the finder. Rare big
faet, baint ’em?—aboot the saize of a good big spoon. I woonder ye can mek a shi to stan’ on
’em. Now, what’ll ye hev to warm yer insaide? a drop o’ hot elder-wain, now?”
“No, not anything to drink, thank you; it isn’t very long since breakfast,” said Caterina,
drawing out the comforter from her deep poet. Poets were capacious in those days. “Look
here, uncle Bates; here is what I came to bring you. I made it on purpose for you. You must
wear it this winter, and give your red one to old Brooks.”
“Eh, Miss Tiny, this is a beauty. An’ ye made it all wi’ yer lile fingers for an old feller
laike mae! I tek it very kaind on ye, an’ I belave ye I’ll wear it, and be prood on’t too. ese
sthraipes, blue an’ whaite, now, they mek it uncommon pritty.”
“Yes, that will suit your complexion, you know, beer than the old scarlet one. I know Mrs
Sharp will be more in love with you than ever when she sees you in the new one.”
“My complexion, ye lile roogue! ye’re a-laughin’ at me. But talkin’ o’ complexions, what
a beautiful cooler the bride as is to be hes on her eeks! Dang my booons! she looks faine
an’ handsome o’ hossba—sits as upraight as a dart, wi’ a figure like a stay! Misthress Sharp
has promised to put me behaind one o’ the doors when the ladies are comin’ doon to dinner,
so as I may sae the young un i’ full dress, wi’ all her curls an’ that. Misthress Sharp says she’s
a’most beautifuller nor my ledy was when she was yoong; an’ I think ye’ll noot faind many i’
the counthry as’ll coom up to that.”
“Yes, Miss Assher is very handsome,” said Caterina, rather faintly, feeling the sense of her
own insignificance returning at this picture of the impression Miss Assher made on others.
“Well, an’ I hope she’s good too, an’ll mek a good naice to Sir Cristhifer an’ my ledy.
Misthress Griffin, the maid, says as she’s rether taty and find-fautin’ aboot her cloothes,
laike. But she’s yoong—she’s yoong; that’ll wear off when she’s got a hoosband, an’ ildren,
an’ summat else to think on. Sir Cristhifer’s fain an’ delaighted, I can see. He says to me th’
other mornin’, says he, ‘Well, Bates, what do you think of your young misthress as is to be?’
An’ I says, ‘Whay, yer honour, I think she’s as fain a lass as iver I set eyes on; an’ I wish the
Captain lu in a fain family, an’ your honour laife an’ health to see’t.’ Mr Warren says as the
masther’s all for forrardin’ the weddin’, an’ it’ll very laike be afore the autumn’s oot.”
As Mr Bates ran on, Caterina felt something like a painful contraction at her heart. “Yes,”
she said, rising, “I dare say it will. Sir Christopher is very anxious for it. But I must go, uncleBates; Lady Cheverel will be wanting me, and it is your dinner-time.”
“Nay, my dinner doont sinnify a bit; but I moosn’t kaep ye if my ledy wants ye. ough I
hevn’t thanked ye half anoof for the comfiter—the wrap-raskil, as they call’t. My feins, it’s
a beauty. But ye look very whaite and sadly, Miss Tiny; I doubt ye’re poorly; an’ this walkin’
i’ th’ wet isn’t good for ye.”
“O yes, it is indeed,” said Caterina, hastening out, and taking up her umbrella from the
kitchen floor. “I must really go now; so good-by.”
She tripped off, calling Rupert, while the good gardener, his hands thrust deep in his
pockets, stood looking after her and shaking his head with rather a melancholy air.
“She gets moor nesh and dillicat than iver,” he said, half to himself and half to Hester. “I
shouldn’t woonder if she fades away, laike them cyclamens as I transplanted. She puts me i’
maind on ’em somehow, hangin’ on their little thin stalks, so whaite an’ tinder.”
e poor lile thing made her way ba, no longer hungering for the cold moist air as a
counteractive of inward excitement, but with a ill at her heart whi made the outward
ill only depressing. e golden sunlight beamed through the dripping boughs like a
Sheinah, or visible divine presence, and the birds were irping and trilling their new
autumnal songs so sweetly, it seemed as if their throats, as well as the air, were all the clearer
for the rain; but Caterina moved through all this joy and beauty like a poor wounded leveret
painfully dragging its lile body through the sweet clover-tus—for it, sweet in vain. Mr
Bates’s words about Sir Christopher’s joy, Miss Assher’s beauty, and the nearness of the
wedding, had come upon her like the pressure of a cold hand, rousing her from confused
dozing to a perception of hard, familiar realities. It is so with emotional natures, whose
thoughts are no more than the fleeting shadows cast by feeling: to them words are facts, and,
even when known to be false, have a mastery over their smiles and tears. Caterina entered
her own room again, with no other ange from her former state of despondency and
wretedness than an additional sense of injury from Anthony. His behaviour towards her in
the morning was a new wrong. To snat a caress when she justly claimed an expression of
penitence, of regret, of sympathy, was to make more light of her than ever.
 Chapter VIII.
That evening Miss Assher seemed to carry herself with unusual haughtiness, and was coldly
observant of Caterina. ere was unmistakably thunder in the air. Captain Wybrow appeared
to take the maer very easily, and was inclined to brave it out by paying more than ordinary
aention to Caterina. Mr Gilfil had induced her to play a game at draughts with him, Lady
Assher being seated at picquet with Sir Christopher, and Miss Assher in determined
conversation with Lady Cheverel. Anthony, thus le as an odd unit, sauntered up to
Caterina’s air, and leaned behind her, wating the game. Tina, with all the remembrances
of the morning thi upon her, felt her eeks becoming more and more crimson, and at last
said impatiently, “I wish you would go away.”
is happened directly under the view of Miss Assher, who saw Caterina’s reddening
eeks, saw that she said something impatiently, and that Captain Wybrow moved away in
consequence. ere was another person, too, who had noticed this incident with strong
interest, and who was moreover aware that Miss Assher not only saw, but keenly observed
what was passing. at other person was Mr Gilfil, and he drew some painful conclusions
which heightened his anxiety for Caterina.
e next morning, in spite of the fine weather, Miss Assher declined riding, and Lady
Cheverel, perceiving that there was something wrong between the lovers, took care that they
should be le together in the drawing-room. Miss Assher, seated on the sofa near the fire,
was busy with some fancy-work, in whi she seemed bent on making great progress this
morning. Captain Wybrow sat opposite with a newspaper in his hand, from whi he
obligingly read extracts with an elaborately easy air, wilfully unconscious of the
contemptuous silence with whi she pursued her filigree work. At length he put down the
paper, which he could no longer pretend not to have exhausted, and Miss Assher then said,—
“You seem to be on very intimate terms with Miss Sarti.”
“With Tina? oh yes; she has always been the pet of the house, you know. We have been
quite brother and sister together.”
“Sisters don’t generally colour so very deeply when their brothers approach them.”
“Does she colour? I never noticed it. But she’s a timid little thing.”
“It would be mu beer if you would not be so hypocritical, Captain Wybrow. I am
confident there has been some flirtation between you. Miss Sarti, in her position, would never
speak to you with the petulance she did last night, if you had not given her some kind of
claim on you.”
“My dear Beatrice, now do be reasonable; do ask yourself what earthly probability there is
that I should think of flirting with poor lile Tina. Is there anything about her to aract that
sort of aention? She is more ild than woman. One thinks of her as a lile girl to be peed
and played with.”
“Pray, what were you playing at with her yesterday morning, when I came in
unexpectedly, and her cheeks were flushed, and her hands trembling?”
“Yesterday morning?—O, I remember. You know I always tease her about Gilfil, who is
over head and ears in love with her; and she is angry at that,—perhaps, because she likes him.
ey were old playfellows years before I came here, and Sir Christopher has set his heart on
their marrying.”
“Captain Wybrow, you are very false. It had nothing to do with Mr Gilfil that she coloured
last night when you leaned over her air. You might just as well be candid. If your own
mind is not made up, pray do no violence to yourself. I am quite ready to give way to Miss
Sarti’s superior aractions. Understand that, so far as I am concerned, you are perfectly atliberty. I decline any share in the affection of a man who forfeits my respect by duplicity.”
In saying this, Miss Assher rose, and was sweeping haughtily out of the room, when
Captain Wybrow placed himself before her, and took her hand.
“Dear, dear Beatrice, be patient; do not judge me so rashly. Sit down again, sweet,” he
added in a pleading voice, pressing both her hands between his, and leading her ba to the
sofa, where he sat down beside her. Miss Assher was not unwilling to be led ba or to listen,
but she retained her cold and haughty expression.
“Can you not trust me, Beatrice? Can you not believe me, although there may be things I
am unable to explain?”
“Why should there be anything you are unable to explain? An honourable man will not be
placed in circumstances whi he cannot explain to the woman he seeks to make his wife. He
will not ask her to believe that he acts properly; he will let her know that he does so. Let me
go, sir.”
She attempted to rise, but he passed his hand round her waist and detained her.
“Now, Beatrice dear,” he said imploringly, “can you not understand that there are things a
man doesn’t like to talk about—secrets that he must keep for the sake of others, and not for
his own sake? Everything that relates to myself you may ask me, but do not ask me to tell
other people’s secrets. Don’t you understand me?”
“O yes,” said Miss Assher scornfully, “I understand. Whenever you make love to a woman
—that is her secret, whi you are bound to keep for her. But it is folly to be talking in this
way, Captain Wybrow. It is very plain that there is some relation more than friendship
between you and Miss Sarti. Since you cannot explain that relation, there is no more to be
said between us.”
“Confound it, Beatrice! you’ll drive me mad. Can a fellow help a girl’s falling in love with
him? Su things are always happening, but men don’t talk of them. ese fancies will spring
up without the slightest foundation, especially when a woman sees few people; they die out
again when there is no encouragement. If you could like me, you ought not to be surprised
that other people can; you ought to think the better of them for it.”
“You mean to say, then, that Miss Sarti is in love with you, without your ever having made
love to her.”
“Do not press me to say su things, dearest. It is enough that you know I love you—that I
am devoted to you. You naughty queen you, you know there is no ance for any one else
where you are. You are only tormenting me, to prove your power over me. But don’t be too
cruel; for you know they say I have another heart-disease besides love, and these scenes bring
on terrible palpitations.”
“But I must have an answer to this one question,” said Miss Assher, a lile soened: “Has
there been, or is there, any love on your side towards Miss Sarti? I have nothing to do with
her feelings, but I have a right to know yours.”
“I like Tina very mu; who would not like su a lile simple thing? You would not wish
me not to like her? But love—that is a very different affair. One has a brotherly affection for
such a woman as Tina; but it is another sort of woman that one loves.”
ese last words were made doubly significant by a look of tenderness, and a kiss
imprinted on the hand Captain Wybrow held in his. Miss Assher was conquered. It was so far
from probable that Anthony should love that pale insignificant lile thing—so highly
probable that he should adore the beautiful Miss Assher. On the whole, it was rather
gratifying that other women should be languishing for her handsome lover; he really was an
exquisite creature. Poor Miss Sarti! Well, she would get over it.
Captain Wybrow saw his advantage. “Come, sweet love,” he continued, “let us talk no
more about unpleasant things. You will keep Tina’s secret, and be very kind to her—won’t
you?—for my sake. But you will ride out now? See what a glorious day it is for riding. Let me
order the horses. I’m terribly in want of the air. Come, give me one forgiving kiss, and sayyou will go.”
Miss Assher complied with the double request, and then went to equip herself for the ride,
while her lover walked to the stables.
 Chapter IX.
Meanwhile Mr Gilfil, who had a heavy weight on his mind, had wated for the moment
when, the two elder ladies having driven out, Caterina would probably be alone in Lady
Cheverel’s sitting-room. He went up and knocked at the door.
“Come in,” said the sweet mellow voice, always thrilling to him as the sound of rippling
water to the thirsty.
He entered and found Caterina standing in some confusion, as if she had been startled
from a reverie. She felt relieved when she saw it was Maynard, but, the next moment, felt a
little pettish that he should have come to interrupt and frighten her.
“Oh, it is you, Maynard! Do you want Lady Cheverel?”
“No, Caterina,” he answered gravely; “I want you. I have something very particular to say
to you. Will you let me sit down with you for half an hour?”
“Yes, dear old preacher,” said Caterina, sitting down with an air of weariness; “what is it?”
Mr Gilfil placed himself opposite to her, and said, “I hope you will not be hurt, Caterina,
by what I am going to say to you. I do not speak from any other feelings than real affection
and anxiety for you. I put everything else out of the question. You know you are more to me
than all the world; but I will not thrust before you a feeling whi you are unable to return. I
speak to you as a brother—the old Maynard that used to scold you for geing your
fishingline tangled ten years ago. You will not believe that I have any mean, selfish motive in
mentioning things that are painful to you?”
“No; I know you are very good,” said Caterina abstractedly.
“From what I saw yesterday evening,” Mr Gilfil went on, hesitating and colouring slightly,
“I am led to fear—pray forgive me if I am wrong, Caterina—that you—that Captain Wybrow
is base enough still to trifle with your feelings, that he still allows himself to behave to you as
no man ought who is the declared lover of another woman.”
“What do you mean, Maynard?” said Caterina, with anger flashing from her eyes. “Do you
mean that I let him make love to me? What right have you to think that of me? What do you
mean that you saw yesterday evening?”
“Do not be angry, Caterina. I don’t suspect you of doing wrong. I only suspect that
heartless puppy of behaving so as to keep awake feelings in you that not only destroy your
own peace of mind, but may lead to very bad consequences with regard to others. I want to
warn you that Miss Assher has her eyes open on what passes between you and Captain
Wybrow, and I feel sure she is geing jealous of you. Pray be very careful, Caterina, and try
to behave with politeness and indifference to him. You must see by this time that he is not
worth the feeling you have given him. He’s more disturbed at his pulse beating one too many
in a minute, than at all the misery he has caused you by his foolish trifling.”
“You ought not to speak so of him, Maynard,” said Caterina, passionately. “He is not what
you think. He did care for me; he did love me; only he wanted to do what his uncle wished.”
“O to be sure! I know it is only from the most virtuous motives that he does what is
convenient to himself.”
Mr Gilfil paused. He felt that he was geing irritated, and defeating his own object.
Presently he continued in a calm and affectionate tone.
“I will say no more about what I think of him, Caterina. But whether he loved you or not,
his position now with Miss Assher is su that any love you may erish for him can bring
nothing but misery. God knows, I don’t expect you to leave off loving him at a moment’s
notice. Time and absence, and trying to do what is right, are the only cures. If it were not
that Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel would be displeased and puzzled at your wishing toleave home just now, I would beg you to pay a visit to my sister. She and her husband are
good creatures, and would make their house a home to you. But I could not urge the thing
just now without giving a special reason; and what is most of all to be dreaded is the raising
of any suspicion in Sir Christopher’s mind of what has happened in the past, or of your
present feelings. You think so too, don’t you, Tina?”
Mr Gilfil paused again, but Caterina said nothing. She was looking away from him, out of
the window, and her eyes were filling with tears. He rose, and, advancing a lile towards
her, held out his hand and said,—
“Forgive me, Caterina, for intruding on your feelings in this way. I was so afraid you
might not be aware how Miss Assher wated you. Remember, I entreat you, that the peace
of the whole family depends on your power of governing yourself. Only say you forgive me
before I go.”
“Dear, good Maynard,” she said, streting out her lile hand, and taking two of his large
fingers in her grasp, while her tears flowed fast; “I am very cross to you. But my heart is
breaking. I don’t know what I do. Good-by.”
He stooped down, kissed the little hand, and then left the room.
“e cursed scoundrel!” he muered between his teeth, as he closed the door behind him.
“If it were not for Sir Christopher, I should like to pound him into paste to poison puppies like
 Chapter X.
That evening Captain Wybrow, returning from a long ride with Miss Assher, went up to his
dressing-room, and seated himself with an air of considerable lassitude before his mirror. e
reflection there presented of his exquisite self was certainly paler and more worn than usual,
and might excuse the anxiety with whi he first felt his pulse, and then laid his hand on his
“It’s a devil of a position this for a man to be in,” was the train of his thought, as he kept
his eyes fixed on the glass, while he leaned back in his chair, and crossed his hands behind his
head; “between two jealous women, and both of them as ready to take fire as tinder. And in
my state of health too! I should be glad enough to run away from the whole affair, and go off
to some lotos-eating place or other where there are no women, or only women who are too
sleepy to be jealous. Here am I, doing nothing to please myself, trying to do the best thing for
everybody else, and all the comfort I get is to have fire shot at me from women’s eyes, and
venom spirted at me from women’s tongues. If Beatrice takes another jealous fit into her head
—and it’s likely enough, Tina is so unmanageable—I don’t know what storm she may raise.
And any hit in this marriage, especially of that sort, might be a fatal business for the old
gentleman. I wouldn’t have su a blow fall upon him for a great deal. Besides, a man must
be married some time in his life, and I could hardly do beer than marry Beatrice. She’s an
uncommonly fine woman, and I’m really very fond of her; and as I shall let her have her own
way, her temper won’t signify mu. I wish the wedding was over and done with, for this
fuss doesn’t suit me at all. I haven’t been half so well lately. at scene about Tina this
morning quite upset me. Poor lile Tina! What a lile simpleton it was, to set her heart on
me in that way! But she ought to see how impossible it is that things should be different. If
she would but understand how kindly I feel towards her, and make up her mind to look on
me as a friend;—but that is what one never can get a woman to do. Beatrice is very
goodnatured; I’m sure she would be kind to the lile thing. It would be a great comfort if Tina
would take to Gilfil, if it were only in anger against me. He’d make her a capital husband,
and I should like to see the lile grasshopper happy. If I had been in a different position, I
would certainly have married her myself; but that was out of the question with my
responsibilities to Sir Christopher. I think a lile persuasion from my uncle would bring her
to accept Gilfil; I know she would never be able to oppose my uncle’s wishes. And if they
were once married, she’s su a loving lile thing, she would soon be billing and cooing with
him as if she had never known me. It would certainly be the best thing for her happiness if
that marriage were hastened. Heigho! ose are luy fellows that have no women falling in
love with them. It’s a confounded responsibility.”
At this point in his meditations he turned his head a lile, so as to get a three-quarter view
of his face. Clearly it was the “dono infelice della bellezza” that laid these onerous duties upon
him—an idea which naturally suggested that he should ring for his valet.
For the next few days, however, there was su a cessation of threatening symptoms as to
allay the anxiety both of Captain Wybrow and Mr Gilfil. All earthly things have their lull:
even on nights when the most unappeasable wind is raging, there will be a moment of
stillness before it crashes among the boughs again, and storms against the windows, and
howls like a thousand lost demons through the key-holes.
Miss Assher appeared to be in the highest good-humour; Captain Wybrow was more
assiduous than usual, and was very circumspect in his behaviour to Caterina, on whom Miss
Assher bestowed unwonted aentions. e weather was brilliant; there were riding
excursions in the mornings and dinner-parties in the evenings. Consultations in the librarybetween Sir Christopher and Lady Assher seemed to be leading to a satisfactory result; and it
was understood that this visit at Cheverel Manor would terminate in another fortnight, when
the preparations for the wedding would be carried forward with all despat at Farleigh. e
Baronet seemed every day more radiant. Accustomed to view people who entered into his
plans by the pleasant light whi his own strong will and bright hopefulness were always
casting on the future, he saw nothing but personal arms and promising domestic qualities
in Miss Assher, whose quiness of eye and taste in externals formed a real ground of
sympathy between her and Sir Christopher. Lady Cheverel’s enthusiasm never rose above the
temperate mark of calm satisfaction, and having quite her share of the critical acumen whi
aracterises the mutual estimates of the fair sex, she had a more moderate opinion of Miss
Assher’s qualities. She suspected that the fair Beatrice had a sharp and imperious temper; and
being herself, on principle and by habitual self-command, the most deferential of wives, she
noticed with disapproval Miss Assher’s occasional air of authority towards Captain Wybrow.
A proud woman who has learned to submit, carries all her pride to the reinforcement of her
submission, and looks down with severe superiority on all feminine assumption as
“unbecoming.” Lady Cheverel, however, confined her criticisms to the privacy of her own
thoughts, and, with a reticence whi I fear may seem incredible, did not use them as a
means of disturbing her husband’s complacency.
And Caterina? How did she pass these sunny autumn days, in whi the skies seemed to
be smiling on the family gladness? To her the ange in Miss Assher’s manner was
unaccountable. ose compassionate aentions, those smiling condescensions, were torture to
Caterina, who was constantly tempted to repulse them with anger. She thought, “Perhaps
Anthony has told her to be kind to poor Tina. is was an insult. He ought to have known
that the mere presence of Miss Assher was painful to her, that Miss Assher’s smiles scored
her, that Miss Assher’s kind words were like poison stings inflaming her to madness. And he
—Anthony—he was evidently repenting of the tenderness he had been betrayed into that
morning in the drawing-room. He was cold and distant and civil to her, to ward off Beatrice’s
suspicions, and Beatrice could be so gracious now, because she was sure of Anthony’s entire
devotion. Well! and so it ought to be—and she ought not to wish it otherwise. And yet—oh,
he was cruel to her. She could never have behaved so to him. To make her love him so—to
speak su tender words—to give her su caresses, and then to behave as if su things had
never been. He had given her the poison that seemed so sweet while she was drinking it, and
now it was in her blood, and she was helpless.”
With this tempest pent up in her bosom, the poor ild went up to her room every night,
and there it all burst forth. ere, with loud whispers and sobs, restlessly pacing up and
down, lying on the hard floor, courting cold and weariness, she told to the pitiful listening
night the anguish whi she could pour into no mortal ear. But always sleep came at last, and
always in the morning the reactive calm that enabled her to live through the day.
It is amazing how long a young frame will go on baling with this sort of secret
wretedness, and yet show no traces of the conflict for any but sympathetic eyes. e very
delicacy of Caterina’s usual appearance, her natural paleness and habitually quiet mouse-like
ways, made any symptoms of fatigue and suffering less noticeable. And her singing—the one
thing in whi she ceased to be passive, and became prominent—lost none of its energy. She
sometimes wondered herself how it was that, whether she felt sad or angry, crushed with the
sense of Anthony’s indifference, or burning with impatience under Miss Assher’s aentions,
it was always a relief to her to sing. ose full deep notes she sent forth seemed to be liing
the pain from her heart—seemed to be carrying away the madness from her brain.
us Lady Cheverel noticed no ange in Caterina, and it was only Mr Gilfil who
discerned with anxiety the feverish spot that sometimes rose on her eek, the deepening
violet tint under her eyes, and the strange absent glance, the unhealthy glitter of the beautiful
eyes themselves.But, alas! those agitated nights were producing a more fatal effect than was represented by
these slight outward changes.
 Chapter XI.
The following Sunday, the morning being rainy, it was determined that the family should
not go to Cumbermoor Chur as usual, but that Mr Gilfil, who had only an aernoon
service at his curacy, should conduct the morning service in the chapel.
Just before the appointed hour of eleven, Caterina came down into the drawing-room,
looking so unusually ill as to call forth an anxious inquiry from Lady Cheverel, who, on
learning that she had a severe headae, insisted that she should not aend service, and at
once paed her up comfortably on a sofa near the fire, puing a volume of Tillotson’s
Sermons into her hands, as appropriate reading, if Caterina should feel equal to that means of
Excellent medicine for the mind are the good arbishop’s sermons, but a medicine,
unhappily, not suited to Tina’s case. She sat with the book open on her knees, her dark eyes
fixed vacantly on the portrait of that handsome Lady Cheverel, wife of the notable Sir
Anthony. She gazed at the picture without thinking of it, and the fair blonde dame seemed to
look down on her with that benignant unconcern, that mild wonder, with whi happy
selfpossessed women are apt to look down on their agitated and weaker sisters.
Caterina was thinking of the near future—of the wedding that was so soon to come—of all
she would have to live through in the next months.
“I wish I could be very ill, and die before then,” she thought. “When people get very ill,
they don’t mind about things. Poor Pay Riards looked so happy when she was in a
decline. She didn’t seem to care any more about her lover that she was engaged to be married
to, and she liked the smell of the flowers so that I used to take her. O, if I could but like
anything—if I could but think about anything else! If these dreadful feelings would go away,
I wouldn’t mind about not being happy. I wouldn’t want anything—and I could do what
would please Sir Christopher and Lady Cheverel. But when that rage and anger comes into
me, I don’t know what to do. I don’t feel the ground under me; I only feel my head and heart
beating, and it seems as if I must do something dreadful. O! I wonder if any one ever felt like
me before. I must be very wied. But God will have pity on me; He knows all I have to
In this way the time wore on till Tina heard the sound of voices along the passage, and
became conscious that the volume of Tillotson had slipped on the floor. She had only just
pied it up, and seen with alarm that the pages were bent, when Lady Assher, Beatrice, and
Captain Wybrow entered, all with that brisk and eerful air whi a sermon is oen
observed to produce when it is quite finished.
Lady Assher at once came and seated herself by Caterina. Her ladyship had been
considerably refreshed by a doze, and was in great force for monologue.
“Well, my dear Miss Sarti, and how do you feel now?—a lile beer, I see. I thought you
would be, siing quietly here. ese headaes, now, are all from weakness. You must not
over-exert yourself, and you must take biers. I used to have just the same sort of headaes
when I was your age, and old Dr Samson used to say to my mother, ‘Madam, what your
daughter suffers from is weakness.’ He was su a curious old man, was Dr Samson. But I
wish you could have heard the sermon this morning. Su an excellent sermon! It was about
the ten virgins: five of them were foolish, and five were clever, you know; and Mr Gilfil
explained all that. What a very pleasant young man he is!—so very quiet and agreeable, and
su a good hand at whist. I wish we had him at Farleigh. Sir John would have liked him
beyond anything; he is so good-tempered at cards, and he was su a man for cards, was Sir
John. And our rector is a very irritable man; he can’t bear to lose his money at cards. I don’tthink a clergyman ought to mind about losing his money; do you?—do you now?”
“O pray, Lady Assher,” interposed Beatrice, in her usual tone of superiority, “do not weary
poor Caterina with su uninteresting questions. Your head seems very bad still, dear,” she
continued, in a condoling tone, to Caterina; “do take my vinaigree, and keep it in your
pocket. It will perhaps refresh you now and then.”
“No, thank you,” answered Caterina; “I will not take it away from you.”
“Indeed, dear, I never use it; you must take it,” Miss Assher persisted, holding it close to
Tina’s hand. She coloured deeply, pushed the vinaigree away with some impatience, and
said, “Thank you, I never use those things. I don’t like vinaigrettes.”
Miss Assher returned the vinaigree to her poet in surprised and haughty silence, and
Captain Wybrow, who had looked on in some alarm, said hastily, “See! it is quite bright out
of doors now. ere is time for a walk before luneon. Come, Beatrice, put on your hat and
cloak, and let us have half an hour’s walk on the gravel.”
“Yes, do, my dear,” said Lady Assher, “and I will go and see if Sir Christopher is having his
walk in the gallery.”
As soon as the door had closed behind the two ladies, Captain Wybrow, standing with his
ba to the fire, turned towards Caterina, and said in a tone of earnest remonstrance, “My
dear Caterina, let me beg of you to exercise more control over your feelings; you are really
rude to Miss Assher, and I can see that she is quite hurt. Consider how strange your
behaviour must appear to her. She will wonder what can be the cause of it. Come, dear Tina,”
he added, approaing her, and aempting to take her hand; “for your own sake, let me
entreat you to receive her aentions politely. She really feels very kindly towards you, and I
should be so happy to see you friends.”
Caterina was already in su a state of diseased susceptibility that the most innocent words
from Captain Wybrow would have been irritating to her, as the whirr of the most delicate
wing will afflict a nervous patient. But this tone of benevolent remonstrance was intolerable.
He had inflicted a great and unrepented injury on her, and now he assumed an air of
benevolence towards her. This was a new outrage. His profession of goodwill was insolence.
Caterina snated away her hand and said indignantly, “Leave me to myself, Captain
Wybrow! I do not disturb you.”
“Caterina, why will you be so violent—so unjust to me? It is for you that I feel anxious.
Miss Assher has already noticed how strange your behaviour is both to her and me, and it
puts me into a very difficult position. What can I say to her?”
“Say?” Caterina burst forth, with intense bierness, rising, and moving towards the door;
“say that I am a poor silly girl, and have fallen in love with you, and am jealous of her; but
that you have never had any feeling but pity for me—you have never behaved with anything
more than friendliness to me. Tell her that, and she will think all the better of you.”
Tina uered this as the bierest sarcasm her ideas would furnish her with, not having the
faintest suspicion that the sarcasm derived any of its bierness from truth. Underneath all her
sense of wrong, whi was rather instinctive than reflective—underneath all the madness of
her jealousy, and her ungovernable impulses of resentment and vindictiveness—underneath
all this scoring passion there were still le some hidden crystal dews of trust, of
selfreproof, of belief that Anthony was trying to do the right. Love had not all gone to feed the
fires of hatred. Tina still trusted that Anthony felt more for her than he seemed to feel; she
was still far from suspecting him of a wrong whi a woman resents even more than
inconstancy. And she threw out this taunt simply as the most intense expression she could
find for the anger of the moment.
As she stood nearly in the middle of the room, her lile body trembling under the sho of
passions too strong for it, her very lips pale, and her eyes gleaming, the door opened, and
Miss Assher appeared, tall, blooming, and splendid, in her walking costume. As she entered,
her face wore the smile appropriate to the exits and entrances of a young lady who feels thather presence is an interesting fact; but the next moment she looked at Caterina with grave
surprise, and then threw a glance of angry suspicion at Captain Wybrow, who wore an air of
weariness and vexation.
“Perhaps you are too much engaged to walk out, Captain Wybrow? I will go alone.”
“No, no, I am coming,” he answered, hurrying towards her, and leading her out of the
room; leaving poor Caterina to feel all the reaction of shame and self-reproa aer her
outburst of passion.
 Chapter XII.
“Pray, what is likely to be the next scene in the drama between you and Miss Sarti?” said
Miss Assher to Captain Wybrow as soon as they were out on the gravel. “It would be
agreeable to have some idea of what is coming.”
Captain Wybrow was silent. He felt out of humour, wearied, annoyed. ere come
moments when one almost determines never again to oppose anything but dead silence to an
angry woman. “Now then, confound it,” he said to himself, “I’m going to be baered on the
other flank.” He looked resolutely at the horizon, with something more like a frown on his
face than Beatrice had ever seen there.
Aer a pause of two or three minutes, she continued in a still haughtier tone, “I suppose
you are aware, Captain Wybrow, that I expect an explanation of what I have just seen.”
“I have no explanation, my dear Beatrice,” he answered at last, making a strong effort over
himself, “except what I have already given you. I hoped you would never recur to the
“Your explanation, however, is very far from satisfactory. I can only say that the airs Miss
Sarti thinks herself entitled to put on towards you, are quite incompatible with your position
as regards me. And her behaviour to me is most insulting. I shall certainly not stay in the
house under such circumstances, and mamma must state the reasons to Sir Christopher.”
“Beatrice,” said Captain Wybrow, his irritation giving way to alarm, “I besee you to be
patient, and exercise your good feelings in this affair. It is very painful, I know, but I am sure
you would be grieved to injure poor Caterina—to bring down my uncle’s anger upon her.
Consider what a poor little dependent thing she is.”
“It is very adroit of you to make these evasions, but do not suppose that they deceive me.
Miss Sarti would never dare to behave to you as she does, if you had not flirted with her, or
made love to her. I suppose she considers your engagement to me a brea of faith to her. I
am mu obliged to you, certainly, for making me Miss Sarti’s rival. You have told me a
falsehood, Captain Wybrow.”
“Beatrice, I solemnly declare to you that Caterina is nothing more to me than a girl I
naturally feel kindly to—as a favourite of my uncle’s, and a nice lile thing enough. I should
be glad to see her married to Gilfil to-morrow; that’s a good proof that I’m not in love with
her, I should think. As to the past, I may have shown her lile aentions, whi she has
exaggerated and misinterpreted. What man is not liable to that sort of thing?”
“But what can she found her behaviour on? What had she been saying to you this morning
to make her tremble and turn pale in that way?”
“O, I don’t know. I just said something about her behaving peevishly. With that Italian
blood of hers, there’s no knowing how she may take what one says. She’s a fierce lile thing,
though she seems so quiet generally.”
“But she ought to be made to know how unbecoming and indelicate her conduct is. For my
part, I wonder Lady Cheverel has not noticed her short answers and the airs she puts on.”
“Let me beg of you, Beatrice, not to hint anything of the kind to Lady Cheverel. You must
have observed how strict my aunt is. It never enters her head that a girl can be in love with a
man who has not made her an offer.”
“Well, I shall let Miss Sarti know myself that I have observed her conduct. It will be only a
charity to her.”
“Nay, dear, that will be doing nothing but harm. Caterina’s temper is peculiar. e best
thing you can do will be to leave her to herself as mu as possible. It will all wear off. I’ve
no doubt she’ll be married to Gilfil before long. Girls’ fancies are easily diverted from oneobject to another. By Jove, what a rate my heart is galloping at! ese confounded
palpitations get worse instead of better.”
us ended the conversation, so far as it concerned Caterina, not without leaving a distinct
resolution in Captain Wybrow’s mind—a resolution carried into effect the next day, when he
was in the library with Sir Christopher for the purpose of discussing some arrangements
about the approaching marriage.
“By the by,” he said carelessly, when the business came to a pause, and he was sauntering
round the room with his hands in his coat-poets, surveying the bas of the books that
lined the walls, “when is the wedding between Gilfil and Caterina to come off, sir? I’ve a
fellow-feeling for a poor devil so many fathoms deep in love as Maynard. Why shouldn’t
their marriage happen as soon as ours? I suppose he has come to an understanding with
“Why,” said Sir Christopher, “I did think of leing the thing be until old Criley died; he
can’t hold out very long, poor fellow; and then Maynard might have entered into matrimony
and the Rectory both at once. But, aer all, that really is no good reason for waiting. ere is
no need for them to leave the Manor when they are married. e lile monkey is quite old
enough. It would be prey to see her a matron, with a baby about the size of a kien in her
“I think that system of waiting is always bad. And if I can further any selement you
would like to make on Caterina, I shall be delighted to carry out your wishes.”
“My dear boy, that’s very good of you; but Maynard will have enough; and from what I
know of him—and I know him well—I think he would rather provide for Caterina himself.
However, now you have put this maer into my head, I begin to blame myself for not having
thought of it before. I’ve been so wrapt up in Beatrice and you, you rascal, that I had really
forgoen poor Maynard. And he’s older than you—it’s high time he was seled in life as a
family man.”
Sir Christopher paused, took snuff in a meditative manner, and presently said, more to
himself than to Anthony, who was humming a tune at the far end of the room, “Yes, yes. It
will be a capital plan to finish off all our family business at once.”
Riding out with Miss Assher the same morning, Captain Wybrow mentioned to her
incidentally, that Sir Christopher was anxious to bring about the wedding between Gilfil and
Caterina as soon as possible, and that he, for his part, should do all he could to further the
affair. It would be the best thing in the world for Tina, in whose welfare he was really
With Sir Christopher there was never any long interval between purpose and execution.
He made up his mind promptly, and he acted promptly. On rising from luneon, he said to
Mr Gilfil, “Come with me into the library, Maynard. I want to have a word with you.”
“Maynard, my boy,” he began, as soon as they were seated, tapping his snuff-box, and
looking radiant at the idea of the unexpected pleasure he was about to give, “why shouldn’t
we have two happy couples instead of one, before the autumn is over, eh?”
“Eh?” he repeated, aer a moment’s pause, lengthening out the monosyllable, taking a
slow pinch, and looking up at Maynard with a sly smile.
“I’m not quite sure that I understand you, sir,” answered Mr Gilfil, who felt annoyed at the
consciousness that he was turning pale.
“Not understand me, you rogue? You know very well whose happiness lies nearest to my
heart aer Anthony’s. You know you let me into your secrets long ago, so there’s no
confession to make. Tina’s quite old enough to be a grave lile wife now; and though the
Rectory’s not ready for you, that’s no maer. My lady and I shall feel all the more
comfortable for having you with us. We should miss our little singing-bird if we lost her all at
Mr Gilfil felt himself in a painfully difficult position. He dreaded that Sir Christophershould surmise or discover the true state of Caterina’s feelings, and yet he was obliged to
make those feelings the ground of his reply.
“My dear sir,” he at last said with some effort, “you will not suppose that I am not alive to
your goodness—that I am not grateful for your fatherly interest in my happiness; but I fear
that Caterina’s feelings towards me are not su as to warrant the hope that she would accept
a proposal of marriage from me.”
“Have you ever asked her?”
“No, sir. But we often know these things too well without asking.”
“Pooh, pooh! e lile monkey must love you. Why, you were her first playfellow; and I
remember she used to cry if you cut your finger. Besides, she has always silently admied
that you were her lover. You know I have always spoken of you to her in that light. I took it
for granted you had seled the business between yourselves; so did Anthony. Anthony
thinks she’s in love with you, and he has young eyes, whi are apt enough to see clearly in
these maers. He was talking to me about it this morning, and pleased me very mu by the
friendly interest he showed in you and Tina.”
e blood—more than was wanted—rushed ba to Mr Gilfil’s face; he set his teeth and
clened his hands in the effort to repress a burst of indignation. Sir Christopher noticed the
flush, but thought it indicated the fluctuation of hope and fear about Caterina. He went on:—
“You’re too modest by half, Maynard. A fellow who can take a five-barred gate as you can,
ought not to be so faint-hearted. If you can’t speak to her yourself, leave me to talk to her.”
“Sir Christopher,” said poor Maynard earnestly, “I shall really feel it the greatest kindness
you can possibly show me, not to mention this subject to Caterina at present. I think su a
proposal, made prematurely, might only alienate her from me.”
Sir Christopher was geing a lile displeased at this contradiction. His tone became a lile
sharper as he said, “Have you any grounds to state for this opinion, beyond your general
notion that Tina is not enough in love with you?”
“I can state none beyond my own very strong impression that she does not love me well
enough to marry me.”
“en I think that ground is worth nothing at all. I am tolerably correct in my judgment of
people; and if I am not very mu deceived in Tina, she looks forward to nothing else but to
your being her husband. Leave me to manage the maer as I think best. You may rely on me
that I shall do no harm to your cause, Maynard.”
Mr Gilfil, afraid to say more, yet wreted in the prospect of what might result from Sir
Christopher’s determination, quied the library in a state of mingled indignation against
Captain Wybrow, and distress for himself and Caterina. What would she think of him? She
might suppose that he had instigated or sanctioned Sir Christopher’s proceeding. He should
perhaps not have an opportunity of speaking to her on the subject in time; he would write her
a note, and carry it up to her room aer the dressing-bell had rung. No; that would agitate
her, and unfit her for appearing at dinner, and passing the evening calmly. He would defer it
till bedtime. Aer prayers, he contrived to lead her ba to the drawing-room, and to put a
letter in her hand. She carried it up to her own room, wondering, and there read,—
“Dear Caterina,—Do not suspect for a moment that anything Sir Christopher may say to you
about our marriage has been prompted by me. I have done all I dare do to dissuade him from urging
the subject, and have only been prevented from speaking more strongly by the dread of provoking
questions whi I could not answer without causing you fresh misery. I write this, both to prepare
you for anything Sir Christopher may say, and to assure you—but I hope you already believe it—that
your feelings are sacred to me. I would rather part with the dearest hope of my life than be the means
of adding to your trouble.
“It is Captain Wybrow who has prompted Sir Christopher to take up the subject at this moment. I
tell you this, to save you from hearing it suddenly when you are with Sir Christopher. You see now
what sort of stuff that dastard’s heart is made of. Trust in me always, dearest Caterina, as—whatever
may come—your faithful friend and brother,“Maynard Gilfil.”
Caterina was at first too terribly stung by the words about Captain Wybrow to think of the
difficulty whi threatened her—to think either of what Sir Christopher would say to her, or
of what she could say in reply. Bier sense of injury, fierce resentment, le no room for fear.
With the poisoned garment upon him, the victim writhes under the torture—he has no
thought of the coming death.
Anthony could do this!—Of this there could be no explanation but the coolest contempt for
her feelings, the basest sacrifice of all the consideration and tenderness he owed her to the
ease of his position with Miss Assher. No. It was worse than that; it was deliberate, gratuitous
cruelty. He wanted to show her how he despised her; he wanted to make her feel her folly in
having ever believed that he loved her.
e last crystal drops of trust and tenderness, she thought, were dried up; all was pared,
fiery hatred. Now she need no longer e her resentment by the fear of doing him an
injustice; he had trifled with her, as Maynard had said; he had been reless of her; and now
he was base and cruel. She had cause enough for her bierness and anger; they were not so
wicked as they had seemed to her.
As these thoughts were hurrying aer ea other like so many sharp throbs of fevered
pain, she shed no tear. She paced restlessly to and fro, as her habit was—her hands clened,
her eyes gleaming fiercely and wandering uneasily, as if in sear of something on whi she
might throw herself like a tigress.
“If I could speak to him,” she whispered, “and tell him I hate him, I despise him, I loathe
Suddenly, as if a new thought had stru her, she drew a key from her poet, and
unloing an inlaid desk where she stored up her keepsakes, took from it a small miniature. It
was in a very slight gold frame, with a ring to it, as if intended to be worn on a ain; and
under the glass at the ba were two los of hair, one dark and the other auburn, arranged
in a fantastic knot. It was Anthony’s secret present to her a year ago—a copy he had had
made specially for her. For the last month she had not taken it from its hiding-place: there
was no need to heighten the vividness of the past. But now she cluted it fiercely, and
dashed it across the room against the bare hearthstone.
Will she crush it under her feet, and grind it under her high-heeled shoe, till every trace of
those false cruel features is gone?
Ah, no! She rushed across the room; but when she saw the lile treasure she had erished
so fondly, so oen smothered with kisses, so oen laid under her pillow, and remembered
with the first return of consciousness in the morning—when she saw this one visible relic of
the too happy past lying with the glass shivered, the hair fallen out, the thin ivory craed,
there was a revulsion of the overstrained feeling: relenting came, and she burst into tears.
Look at her stooping down to gather up her treasure, searing for the hair and replacing
it, and then mournfully examining the cra that disfigures the once-loved image. Alas! there
is no glass now to guard either the hair or the portrait; but see how carefully she wraps
delicate paper round it, and los it up again in its old place. Poor ild! God send the
relenting may always come before the worst irrevocable deed!
is action had quieted her, and she sat down to read Maynard’s leer again. She read it
two or three times without seeming to take in the sense; her apprehension was dulled by the
passion of the last hour, and she found it difficult to call up the ideas suggested by the words.
At last she began to have a distinct conception of the impending interview with Sir
Christopher. e idea of displeasing the Baronet, of whom every one at the Manor stood in
awe, frightened her so mu that she thought it would be impossible to resist his wish. He
believed that she loved Maynard; he had always spoken as if he were quite sure of it. How
could she tell him he was deceived—and what if he were to ask her whether she loved
anybody else? To have Sir Christopher looking angrily at her, was more than she could bear,even in imagination. He had always been so good to her! en she began to think of the pain
she might give him, and the more selfish distress of fear gave way to the distress of affection.
Unselfish tears began to flow, and sorrowful gratitude to Sir Christopher helped to awaken
her sensibility to Mr Gilfil’s tenderness and generosity.
“Dear, good Maynard!—what a poor return I make him! If I could but have loved him
instead—but I can never love or care for anything again. My heart is broken.”
 Chapter XIII.
The next morning the dreaded moment came. Caterina, stupified by the suffering of the
previous night, with that dull mental aing whi follows on acute anguish, was in Lady
Cheverel’s siing-room, copying out some arity lists, when her ladyship came in, and said,

“Tina, Sir Christopher wants you; go down into the library.”
She went down trembling. As soon as she entered, Sir Christopher, who was seated near
his writing-table, said, “Now, lile monkey, come and sit down by me; I have something to
tell you.”
Caterina took a footstool, and seated herself on it at the Baronet’s feet. It was her habit to
sit on these low stools, and in this way she could hide her face beer. She put her lile arm
round his leg, and leaned her cheek against his knee.
“Why, you seem out of spirits this morning, Tina. What’s the matter, eh?”
“Nothing, Padroncello, only my head is bad.”
“Poor monkey! Well, now wouldn’t it do the head good if I were to promise you a good
husband, and smart lile wedding-gowns, and by-and-by a house of your own, where you
would be a little mistress, and Padroncello would come and see you sometimes?”
“O no, no! I shouldn’t like ever to be married. Let me always stay with you!”
“Pooh, pooh, lile simpleton. I shall get old and tiresome, and there will be Anthony’s
ildren puing your nose out of joint. You will want some one to love you best of all, and
you must have ildren of your own to love. I can’t have you withering away into an old
maid. I hate old maids. ey make me dismal to look at them. I never see Sharp without
shuddering. My lile bla-eyed monkey was never meant for anything so ugly. And there’s
Maynard Gilfil, the best man in the county, worth his weight in gold, heavy as he is; he loves
you beer than his eyes. And you love him too, you silly monkey, whatever you may say
about not being married.”
“No, no, dear Padroncello, do not say so; I could not marry him.”
“Why not, you foolish ild? You don’t know your own mind. Why, it is plain to
everybody that you love him. My lady has all along said she was sure you loved him—she
has seen what lile princess airs you put on to him; and Anthony too, he thinks you are in
love with Gilfil. Come, what has made you take it into your head that you wouldn’t like to
marry him?”
Caterina was now sobbing too deeply to make any answer. Sir Christopher paed her on
the ba and said, “Come, come; why, Tina, you are not well this morning. Go and rest, lile
one. You will see things in quite another light when you are well. ink over what I have
said, and remember there is nothing, aer Anthony’s marriage, that I have set my heart on so
mu as seeing you and Maynard seled for life. I must have no whims and follies—no
nonsense.” is was said with a slight severity; but he presently added, in a soothing tone,
“There, there, stop crying, and be a good little monkey. Go and lie down and get to sleep.”
Caterina slipped from the stool on to her knees, took the old Baronet’s hand, covered it
with tears and kisses, and then ran out of the room.
Before the evening, Captain Wybrow had heard from his uncle the result of the interview
with Caterina. He thought, “If I could have a long quiet talk with her, I could perhaps
persuade her to look more reasonably at things. But there’s no speaking to her in the house
without being interrupted, and I can hardly see her anywhere else without Beatrice’s finding
it out.” At last he determined to make it a maer of confidence with Miss Assher—to tell her
that he wished to talk to Caterina quietly for the sake of bringing her to a calmer state ofmind, and persuade her to listen to Gilfil’s affection. He was very mu pleased with this
judicious and candid plan, and in the course of the evening he had arranged with himself the
time and place of meeting, and had communicated his purpose to Miss Assher, who gave her
entire approval. Anthony, she thought, would do well to speak plainly and seriously to Miss
Sarti. He was really very patient and kind to her, considering how she behaved.
Tina had kept her room all that day, and had been carefully tended as an invalid, Sir
Christopher having told her ladyship how maers stood. is tendance was so irksome to
Caterina, she felt so uneasy under aentions and kindness that were based on a
misconception, that she exerted herself to appear at breakfast the next morning, and declared
herself well, though head and heart were throbbing. To be confined in her own room was
intolerable; it was wreted enough to be looked at and spoken to, but it was more wreted
to be le alone. She was frightened at her own sensations: she was frightened at the
imperious vividness with whi pictures of the past and future thrust themselves on her
imagination. And there was another feeling, too, whi made her want to be down stairs and
moving about. Perhaps she might have an opportunity of speaking to Captain Wybrow alone
—of speaking those words of hatred and scorn that burned on her tongue. at opportunity
offered itself in a very unexpected manner.
Lady Cheverel having sent Caterina out of the drawing-room to fet some paerns of
embroidery from her siing-room, Captain Wybrow presently walked out aer her, and met
her as she was returning down stairs.
“Caterina,” he said, laying his hand on her arm as she was hurrying on without looking at
him, “will you meet me in the Rookery at twelve o’clo? I must speak to you, and we shall
be in privacy there. I cannot speak to you in the house.”
To his surprise, there was a flash of pleasure across her face; she answered shortly and
decidedly, “Yes,” then snatched her arm away from him, and passed down stairs.
Miss Assher was this morning busy winding silks, being bent on emulating Lady
Cheverel’s embroidery, and Lady Assher ose the passive amusement of holding the skeins.
Lady Cheverel had now all her working apparatus about her, and Caterina, thinking she was
not wanted, went away and sat down to the harpsiord in the siing-room. It seemed as if
playing massive ords—bringing out volumes of sound, would be the easiest way of passing
the long feverish moments before twelve o’clo. Handel’s “Messiah” stood open on the desk,
at the orus “All we like sheep,” and Caterina threw herself at once into the impetuous
intricacies of that magnificent fugue. In her happiest moments she could never have played it
so well; for now all the passion that made her misery was hurled by a convulsive effort into
her music, just as pain gives new force to the clut of the sinking wrestler, and as terror
gives far-sounding intensity to the shriek of the feeble.
But at half-past eleven she was interrupted by Lady Cheverel, who said, “Tina, go down,
will you, and hold Miss Assher’s silks for her. Lady Assher and I have decided on having our
drive before luncheon.”
Caterina went down, wondering how she should escape from the drawing-room in time to
be in the Rookery at twelve. Nothing should prevent her from going; nothing should rob her
of this one precious moment—perhaps the last—when she could speak out the thoughts that
were in her. After that, she would be passive; she would bear anything.
But she had scarcely sat down with a skein of yellow silk on her hands, when Miss Assher
said, graciously,—
“I know you have an engagement with Captain Wybrow this morning. You must not let
me detain you beyond the time.”
“So he has been talking to her about me,” thought Caterina. Her hands began to tremble as
she held the skein.
Miss Assher continued, in the same gracious tone: “It is tedious work holding these skeins.
I am sure I am very much obliged to you.”“No, you are not obliged to me,” said Caterina, completely mastered by her irritation; “I
have only done it because Lady Cheverel told me.”
e moment was come when Miss Assher could no longer suppress her long latent desire
to “let Miss Sarti know the impropriety of her conduct.” With the malicious anger that
assumes the tone of compassion, she said,—
“Miss Sarti, I am really sorry for you, that you are not able to control yourself beer. is
giving way to unwarrantable feelings is lowering you—it is indeed.”
“What unwarrantable feelings?” said Caterina, leing her hands fall, and fixing her great
dark eyes steadily on Miss Assher.
“It is quite unnecessary for me to say more. You must be conscious what I mean. Only
summon a sense of duty to your aid. You are paining Captain Wybrow extremely by your
want of self-control.”
“Did he tell you I pained him?”
“Yes, indeed, he did. He is very mu hurt that you should behave to me as if you had a
sort of enmity towards me. He would like you to make a friend of me. I assure you we both
feel very kindly towards you, and are sorry you should cherish such feelings.”
“He is very good,” said Caterina, bitterly. “What feelings did he say I cherished?”
is bier tone increased Miss Assher’s irritation. ere was still a lurking suspicion in her
mind, though she would not admit it to herself, that Captain Wybrow had told her a
falsehood about his conduct and feelings towards Caterina. It was this suspicion, more even
than the anger of the moment, whi urged her to say something that would test the truth of
his statement. at she would be humiliating Caterina at the same time, was only an
additional temptation.
“ese are things I do not like to talk of, Miss Sarti. I cannot even understand how a
woman can indulge a passion for a man who has never given her the least ground for it, as
Captain Wybrow assures me is the case.”
“He told you that, did he?” said Caterina, in clear low tones, her lips turning white as she
rose from her chair.
“Yes, indeed, he did. He was bound to tell it me after your strange behaviour.”
Caterina said nothing, but turned round suddenly and left the room.
See how she rushes noiselessly, like a pale meteor, along the passages and up the gallery
stairs! ose gleaming eyes, those bloodless lips, that swi silent tread, make her look like the
incarnation of a fierce purpose, rather than a woman. e mid-day sun is shining on the
armour in the gallery, making mimic suns on bossed sword-hilts and the angles of polished
breastplates. Yes, there are sharp weapons in the gallery. ere is a dagger in that cabinet; she
knows it well. And as a dragon-fly wheels in its flight to alight for an instant on a leaf, she
darts to the cabinet, takes out the dagger, and thrusts it into her poet. In three minutes
more she is out, in hat and cloak, on the gravel-walk, hurrying along towards the thi
shades of the distant Rookery. She threads the windings of the plantations, not feeling the
golden leaves that rain upon her, not feeling the earth beneath her feet. Her hand is in her
pocket, clenching the handle of the dagger, which she holds half out of its sheath.
She has reaed the Rookery, and is under the gloom of the interlacing boughs. Her heart
throbs as if it would burst her bosom—as if every next leap must be its last. Wait, wait, O
heart! till she has done this one deed. He will be there—he will be before her in a moment. He
will come towards her with that false smile, thinking she does not know his baseness—she
will plunge that dagger into his heart.
Poor ild! poor ild! she who used to cry to have the fish put ba into the water—who
never willingly killed the smallest living thing—dreams now, in the madness of her passion,
that she can kill the man whose very voice unnerves her.
But what is that lying among the dank leaves on the path three yards before her?
Good God! it is he—lying motionless—his hat fallen off. He is ill, then—he has fainted. Herhand lets go the dagger, and she rushes towards him. His eyes are fixed; he does not see her.
She sinks down on her knees, takes the dear head in her arms, and kisses the cold forehead.
“Anthony, Anthony! speak to me—it is Tina—speak to me! O God, he is dead!”
 Chapter XIV.
“Yes, Maynard,” said Sir Christopher, aing with Mr Gilfil in the library, “it really is a
remarkable thing that I never in my life laid a plan, and failed to carry it out. I lay my plans
well, and I never swerve from them—that’s it. A strong will is the only magic. And next to
striking out one’s plans, the pleasantest thing in the world is to see them well accomplished.
is year, now, will be the happiest of my life, all but the year ’53, when I came into
possession of the Manor, and married Henriea. e last tou is given to the old house;
Anthony’s marriage—the thing I had nearest my heart—is seled to my entire satisfaction;
and by-and-by you will be buying a lile wedding-ring for Tina’s finger. Don’t shake your
head in that forlorn way;—when I make prophecies, they generally come to pass. But there’s a
quarter aer twelve striking. I must be riding to the High Ash to meet Markham about felling
some timber. My old oaks will have to groan for this wedding, but”—
e door burst open, and Caterina, ghastly and panting, her eyes distended with terror,
rushed in, threw her arms round Sir Christopher’s ne, and gasping out—“Anthony … the
Rookery … dead … in the Rookery,” fell fainting on the floor.
In a moment Sir Christopher was out of the room, and Mr Gilfil was bending to raise
Caterina in his arms. As he lied her from the ground he felt something hard and heavy in
her poet. What could it be? e weight of it would be enough to hurt her as she lay. He
carried her to the sofa, put his hand in her pocket, and drew forth the dagger.
Maynard shuddered. Did she mean to kill herself, then, or … or … a horrible suspicion
forced itself upon him. “Dead—in the Rookery.” He hated himself for the thought that
prompted him to draw the dagger from its sheath. No! there was no trace of blood, and he
was ready to kiss the good steel for its innocence. He thrust the weapon into his own poet;
he would restore it as soon as possible to its well-known place in the gallery. Yet, why had
Caterina taken this dagger? What was it that had happened in the Rookery? Was it only a
delirious vision of hers?
He was afraid to ring—afraid to summon any one to Caterina’s assistance. What might she
not say when she awoke from this fainting fit? She might be raving. He could not leave her,
and yet he felt as if he were guilty for not following Sir Christopher to see what was the
truth. It took but a moment to think and feel all this, but that moment seemed su a long
agony to him, that he began to reproa himself for leing it pass without seeking some
means of reviving Caterina. Happily the decanter of water on Sir Christopher’s table was
untoued. He would at least try the effect of throwing that water over her. She might revive
without his needing to call any one else.
Meanwhile Sir Christopher was hurrying at his utmost speed towards the Rookery; his
face, so lately bright and confident, now agitated by a vague dread. e deep alarmed bark of
Rupert, who ran by his side, had stru the ear of Mr Bates, then on his way homeward, as
something unwonted, and, hastening in the direction of the sound, he met the Baronet just as
he was approaing the entrance of the Rookery. Sir Christopher’s look was enough. Mr Bates
said nothing, but hurried along by his side, while Rupert dashed forward among the dead
leaves with his nose to the ground. ey had scarcely lost sight of him a minute, when a
ange in the tone of his bark told them that he had found something, and in another instant
he was leaping ba over one of the large planted mounds. ey turned aside to ascend the
mound, Rupert leading them; the tumultuous cawing of the rooks, the very rustling of the
leaves, as their feet plunged among them, falling like an evil omen on the Baronet’s ear.
ey have reaed the summit of the mound, and have begun to descend. Sir Christopher
sees something purple down on the path below among the yellow leaves. Rupert is alreadybeside it, but Sir Christopher cannot move faster. A tremor has taken hold of the firm limbs.
Rupert comes ba and lis the trembling hand, as if to say “Courage!” and then is down
again snuffing the body. Yes, it is a body … Anthony’s body. ere is the white hand with its
diamond ring cluting the dark leaves. His eyes are half open, but do not heed the gleam of
sunlight that darts itself directly on them from between the boughs.
Still he might only have fainted; it might only be a fit. Sir Christopher knelt down,
unfastened the cravat, unfastened the waistcoat, and laid his hand on the heart. It might be
syncope; it might not—it could not be death. No! that thought must be kept far off.
“Go, Bates, get help; we’ll carry him to your coage. Send some one to the house to tell Mr
Gilfil and Warren. Bid them send off for Doctor Hart, and break it to my lady and Miss
Assher that Anthony is ill.”
Mr Bates hastened away, and the Baronet was le alone kneeling beside the body. e
young and supple limbs, the rounded eeks, the delicate ripe lips, the smooth white hands,
were lying cold and rigid; and the aged face was bending over them in silent anguish; the
aged deep-veined hands were seeking with tremulous inquiring toues for some symptom
that life was not irrevocably gone.
Rupert was there too, waiting and wating; liing first the dead and then the living
hands; then running off on Mr Bates’s tra as if he would follow and hasten his return, but
in a moment turning back again, unable to quit the scene of his master’s sorrow.
 Chapter XV.
It is a wonderful moment, the first time we stand by one who has fainted, and witness the
fresh birth of consciousness spreading itself over the blank features, like the rising sunlight on
the alpine summits that lay ghastly and dead under the leaden twilight. A slight shudder,
and the frost-bound eyes recover their liquid light; for an instant they show the inward
semiconsciousness of an infant’s; then, with a lile start, they open wider and begin to look; the
present is visible, but only as a strange writing, and the interpreter Memory is not yet there.
Mr Gilfil felt a trembling joy as this ange passed over Caterina’s face. He bent over her,
rubbing her ill hands, and looking at her with tender pity as her dark eyes opened on him
wonderingly. He thought there might be some wine in the dining-room close by. He le the
room, and Caterina’s eyes turned towards the window—towards Sir Christopher’s air.
There was the link at whi the ain of consciousness had snapped, and the events of the
morning were beginning to recur dimly like a half-remembered dream, when Maynard
returned with some wine. He raised her, and she drank it; but still she was silent, seeming
lost in the aempt to recover the past, when the door opened, and Mr Warren appeared with
looks that announced terrible tidings. Mr Gilfil, dreading lest he should tell them in
Caterina’s presence, hurried towards him with his finger on his lips, and drew him away into
the dining-room on the opposite side of the passage.
Caterina, revived by the stimulant, was now recovering the full consciousness of the scene
in the Rookery. Anthony was lying there dead; she had le him to tell Sir Christopher; she
must go and see what they were doing with him; perhaps he was not really dead—only in a
trance; people did fall into trances sometimes. While Mr Gilfil was telling Warren how it
would be best to break the news to Lady Cheverel and Miss Assher, anxious himself to return
to Caterina, the poor ild had made her way feebly to the great entrance-door, whi stood
open. Her strength increased as she moved and breathed the fresh air, and with every
increase of strength came increased vividness of emotion, increased yearning to be where her
thought was—in the Rookery with Anthony. She walked more and more swily, and at last,
gathering the artificial strength of passionate excitement, began to run.
But soon she hears the tread of heavy steps, and under the yellow shade near the wooden
bridge, she sees men slowly carrying something. Now she is face to face with them. Anthony
is no longer in the Rookery: they are carrying him streted on a door, and there behind him
is Sir Christopher, with the firmly-set mouth, the deathly paleness, and the concentrated
expression of suffering in the eye, whi mark the suppressed grief of the strong man. e
sight of this face, on whi Caterina had never before beheld the signs of anguish, caused a
rush of new feeling whi for the moment submerged all the rest. She went gently up to him,
put her lile hand in his, and walked in silence by his side. Sir Christopher could not tell her
to leave him, and so she went on with that sad procession to Mr Bates’s coage in the
Mosslands, and sat there in silence, waiting and wating to know if Anthony were really
She had not yet missed the dagger from her poet; she had not yet even thought of it. At
the sight of Anthony lying dead, her nature had rebounded from its new bias of resentment
and hatred to the old sweet habit of love. e earliest and the longest has still the mastery
over us; and the only past that linked itself with those glazed unconscious eyes, was the past
when they beamed on her with tenderness. She forgot the interval of wrong and jealousy and
hatred—all his cruelty, and all her thoughts of revenge—as the exile forgets the stormy
passage that lay between home and happiness, and the dreary land in whi he finds himself
desolate.  Chapter XVI.
Before night all hope was gone. Dr Hart had said it was death; Anthony’s body had been
carried to the house, and every one there knew the calamity that had fallen on them.
Caterina had been questioned by Dr Hart, and had answered briefly that she found
Anthony lying in the Rookery. at she should have been walking there just at that time was
not a coincidence to raise conjectures in any one besides Mr Gilfil. Except in answering this
question, she had not broken her silence. She sat mute in a corner of the gardener’s kiten,
shaking her head when Maynard entreated her to return with him, and apparently unable to
think of anything but the possibility that Anthony might revive, until she saw them carrying
away the body to the house. en she followed by Sir Christopher’s side again, so quietly,
that even Dr Hart did not object to her presence.
It was decided to lay the body in the library until aer the coroner’s inquest to-morrow;
and when Caterina saw the door finally closed, she turned up the gallery stairs on her way to
her own room, the place where she felt at home with her sorrows. It was the first time she
had been in the gallery since that terrible moment in the morning, and now the spot and the
objects around began to reawaken her half-stunned memory. e armour was no longer
gliering in the sunlight, but there it hung dead and sombre above the cabinet from whi
she had taken the dagger. Yes! now it all came ba to her—all the wretedness and all the
sin. But where was the dagger now? She felt in her poet; it was not there. Could it have
been her fancy—all that about the dagger? She looked in the cabinet; it was not there. Alas!
no; it could not have been her fancy, and she was guilty of that wiedness. But where could
the dagger be now? Could it have fallen out of her poet? She heard steps ascending the
stairs, and hurried on to her room, where, kneeling by the bed, and burying her face to shut
out the hateful light, she tried to recall every feeling and incident of the morning.
It all came ba; everything Anthony had done, and everything she had felt for the last
month—for many months—ever since that June evening when he had last spoken to her in
the gallery. She looked ba on her storms of passion, her jealousy and hatred of Miss Assher,
her thoughts of revenge on Anthony. O how wied she had been! It was she who had been
sinning; it was she who had driven him to do and say those things that had made her so
angry. And if he had wronged her, what had she been on the verge of doing to him? She was
too wied ever to be pardoned. She would like to confess how wied she had been, that
they might punish her; she would like to humble herself to the dust before every one—before
Miss Assher even. Sir Christopher would send her away—would never see her again, if he
knew all; and she would be happier to be punished and frowned on, than to be treated
tenderly while she had that guilty secret in her breast. But then, if Sir Christopher were to
know all, it would add to his sorrow, and make him more wreted than ever. No! she could
not confess it—she should have to tell about Anthony. But she could not stay at the Manor;
she must go away; she could not bear Sir Christopher’s eye, could not bear the sight of all
these things that reminded her of Anthony and of her sin. Perhaps she should die soon; she
felt very feeble; there could not be mu life in her. She would go away and live humbly,
and pray to God to pardon her, and let her die.
e poor ild never thought of suicide. No sooner was the storm of anger passed than the
tenderness and timidity of her nature returned, and she could do nothing but love and
mourn. Her inexperience prevented her from imagining the consequences of her
disappearance from the Manor; she foresaw none of the terrible details of alarm and distress
and sear that must ensue. “ey will think I am dead,” she said to herself, “and by-and-by
they will forget me, and Maynard will get happy again, and love some one else.”She was roused from her absorption by a kno at the door. Mrs Bellamy was there. She
had come by Mr Gilfil’s request to see how Miss Sarti was, and to bring her some food and
“You look sadly, my dear,” said the old housekeeper, “an’ you’re all of a quake wi’ cold.
Get you to bed, now do. Martha shall come an’ warm it, an’ light your fire. See now, here’s
some nice arrowroot, wi’ a drop o’ wine in it. Tek that, an’ it’ll warm you. I must go down
again, for I can’t awhile to stay. ere’s so many things to see to; an’ Miss Assher’s in
hysterics constant, an’ her maid’s ill i’ bed—a poor creay thing—an’ Mrs Sharp’s wanted
every minute. But I’ll send Martha up, an’ do you get ready to go to bed, there’s a dear ild,
an’ tek care o’ yourself.”
“ank you, dear mammy,” said Tina, kissing the lile old woman’s wrinkled eek; “I
shall eat the arrowroot, and don’t trouble about me any more to-night. I shall do very well
when Martha has lighted my fire. Tell Mr Gilfil I’m beer. I shall go to bed by-and-by, so
don’t you come up again, because you may only disturb me.”
“Well, well, tek care o’ yourself, there’s a good child, an’ God send you may sleep.”
Caterina took the arrowroot quite eagerly, while Martha was lighting her fire. She wanted
to get strength for her journey, and she kept the plate of biscuits by her that she might put
some in her poet. Her whole mind was now bent on going away from the Manor, and she
was thinking of all the ways and means her little life’s experience could suggest.
It was dusk now; she must wait till early dawn, for she was too timid to go away in the
dark, but she must make her escape before any one was up in the house. ere would be
people wating Anthony in the library, but she could make her way out of a small door
leading into the garden, against the drawing-room on the other side of the house.
She laid her cloak, bonnet, and veil ready; then she lighted a candle, opened her desk, and
took out the broken portrait wrapped in paper. She folded it again in two lile notes of
Anthony’s, wrien in pencil, and placed it in her bosom. ere was the lile ina box, too—
Dorcas’s present, the pearl earrings, and a silk purse, with fieen seven-shilling pieces in it,
the presents Sir Christopher had made her on her birthday, ever since she had been at the
Manor. Should she take the earrings and the seven-shilling pieces? She could not bear to part
with them; it seemed as if they had some of Sir Christopher’s love in them. She would like
them to be buried with her. She fastened the lile round earrings in her ears, and put the
purse with Dorcas’s box in her poet. She had another purse there, and she took it out to
count her money, for she would never spend her seven-shilling pieces. She had a guinea and
eight shillings; that would be plenty.
So now she sat down to wait for the morning, afraid to lay herself on the bed lest she
should sleep too long. If she could but see Anthony once more, and kiss his cold forehead!
But that could not be. She did not deserve it. She must go away from him, away from Sir
Christopher, and Lady Cheverel, and Maynard, and everybody who had been kind to her,
and thought her good while she was so wicked.
 Chapter XVII.
Some of Mrs Sharp’s earliest thoughts, the next morning, were given to Caterina, whom she
had not been able to visit the evening before, and whom, from a nearly equal mixture of
affection and self-importance, she did not at all like resigning to Mrs Bellamy’s care. At
halfpast eight o’clo she went up to Tina’s room, bent on benevolent dictation as to doses and
diet and lying in bed. But on opening the door she found the bed smooth and empty.
Evidently it had not been slept in. What could this mean? Had she sat up all night, and was
she gone out to walk? e poor thing’s head might be toued by what had happened
yesterday; it was su a sho—finding Captain Wybrow in that way; she was perhaps gone
out of her mind. Mrs Sharp looked anxiously in the place where Tina kept her hat and cloak;
they were not there, so that she had had at least the presence of mind to put them on. Still
the good woman felt greatly alarmed, and hastened away to tell Mr Gilfil, who, she knew,
was in his study.
“Mr Gilfil,” she said, as soon as she had closed the door behind her, “my mind misgives me
dreadful about Miss Sarti.”
“What is it?” said poor Maynard, with a horrible fear that Caterina had betrayed
something about the dagger.
“She’s not in her room, an’ her bed’s not been slept in this night, an’ her hat an’ cloak’s
For a minute or two Mr Gilfil was unable to speak. He felt sure the worst had come:
Caterina had destroyed herself. e strong man suddenly looked so ill and helpless that Mrs
Sharp began to be frightened at the effect of her abruptness.
“O, sir, I’m grieved to my heart to shock you so; but I didn’t know who else to go to.”
“No, no, you were quite right.”
He gathered some strength from his very despair. It was all over, and he had nothing now
to do but to suffer and to help the suffering. He went on in a firmer voice:
“Be sure not to breathe a word about it to any one. We must not alarm Lady Cheverel and
Sir Christopher. Miss Sarti may be only walking in the garden. She was terribly excited by
what she saw yesterday, and perhaps was unable to lie down from restlessness. Just go
quietly through the empty rooms, and see whether she is in the house. I will go and look for
her in the grounds.”
He went down, and, to avoid giving any alarm in the house, walked at once towards the
Mosslands in sear of Mr Bates, whom he met returning from his breakfast. To the gardener
he confided his fear about Caterina, assigning as a reason for this fear the probability that the
sho she had undergone yesterday had unhinged her mind, and begging him to send men in
sear of her through the gardens and park, and inquire if she had been seen at the lodges;
and if she were not found or heard of in this way, to lose no time in dragging the waters
round the Manor.
“God forbid it should be so, Bates, but we shall be the easier for having seared
“Troost to mae, troost to mae, Mr Gilfil. Eh! but I’d ha’ worked for day-wage all the rest o’
my life, rether than anythin’ should ha’ happened to her.”
e good gardener, in deep distress, strode away to the stables that he might send the
grooms on horseback through the park.
Mr Gilfil’s next thought was to sear the Rookery: she might be haunting the scene of
Captain Wybrow’s death. He went hastily over every mound, looked round every large tree,
and followed every winding of the walks. In reality he had lile hope of finding her there;but the bare possibility fenced off for a time the fatal conviction that Caterina’s body would
be found in the water. When the Rookery had been seared in vain, he walked fast to the
border of the lile stream that bounded one side of the grounds. e stream was almost
everywhere hidden among trees, and there was one place where it was broader and deeper
than elsewhere—she would be more likely to come to that spot than to the pool. He hurried
along with strained eyes, his imagination continually creating what he dreaded to see.
ere is something white behind that overhanging bough. His knees tremble under him.
He seems to see part of her dress caught on a bran, and her dear dead face upturned. O
God, give strength to thy creature, on whom thou hast laid this great agony! He is nearly up
to the bough, and the white object is moving. It is a waterfowl, that spreads its wings and
flies away screaming. He hardly knows whether it is a relief or a disappointment that she is
not there. e conviction that she is dead presses its cold weight upon him none the less
As he reaed the great pool in front of the Manor, he saw Mr Bates, with a group of men
already there, preparing for the dreadful sear whi could only displace his vague despair
by a definite horror; for the gardener, in his restless anxiety, had been unable to defer this
until other means of sear had proved vain. e pool was not now laughing with sparkles
among the water-lilies. It looked bla and cruel under the sombre sky, as if its cold depths
held relentlessly all the murdered hope and joy of Maynard Gilfil’s life.
oughts of the sad consequences for others as well as himself were crowding on his mind.
e blinds and shuers were all closed in front of the Manor, and it was not likely that Sir
Christopher would be aware of anything that was passing outside; but Mr Gilfil felt that
Caterina’s disappearance could not long be concealed from him. e coroner’s inquest would
be held shortly; she would be inquired for, and then it would be inevitable that the Baronet
should know all.
 Chapter XVIII.
At twelve o’clo, when all sear and inquiry had been in vain, and the coroner was
expected every moment, Mr Gilfil could no longer defer the hard duty of revealing this fresh
calamity to Sir Christopher, who must otherwise have it discovered to him abruptly.
e Baronet was seated in his dressing-room, where the dark window-curtains were
drawn so as to admit only a sombre light. It was the first time Mr Gilfil had had an interview
with him this morning, and he was stru to see how a single day and night of grief had aged
the fine old man. e lines in his brow and about his mouth were deepened; his complexion
looked dull and withered; there was a swollen ridge under his eyes; and the eyes themselves,
whi used to cast so keen a glance on the present, had the vacant expression whi tells that
vision is no longer a sense, but a memory.
He held out his hand to Maynard, who pressed it, and sat down beside him in silence. Sir
Christopher’s heart began to swell at this unspoken sympathy; the tears would rise, would roll
in great drops down his cheeks. The first tears he had shed since boyhood were for Anthony.
Maynard felt as if his tongue were glued to the roof of his mouth. He could not speak first:
he must wait until Sir Christopher said something whi might lead on to the cruel words
that must be spoken.
At last the Baronet mastered himself enough to say, “I’m very weak, Maynard—God help
me! I didn’t think anything would unman me in this way; but I’d built everything on that
lad. Perhaps I’ve been wrong in not forgiving my sister. She lost one of her sons a lile while
ago. I’ve been too proud and obstinate.”
“We can hardly learn humility and tenderness enough except by suffering,” said Maynard;
“and God sees we are in need of suffering, for it is falling more and more heavily on us. We
have a new trouble this morning.”
“Tina?” said Sir Christopher, looking up anxiously—“is Tina ill?”
“I am in dreadful uncertainty about her. She was very mu agitated yesterday—and with
her delicate health—I am afraid to think what turn the agitation may have taken.”
“Is she delirious, poor dear little one?”
“God only knows how she is. We are unable to find her. When Mrs Sharp went up to her
room this morning, it was empty. She had not been in bed. Her hat and cloak were gone. I
have had sear made for her everywhere—in the house and garden, in the park, and—in the
water. No one has seen her since Martha went up to light her fire at seven o’clo in the
While Mr Gilfil was speaking, Sir Christopher’s eyes, whi were eagerly turned on him,
recovered some of their old keenness, and some sudden painful emotion, as at a new thought,
flied rapidly across his already agitated face, like the shadow of a dark cloud over the
waves. When the pause came, he laid his hand on Mr Gilfil’s arm, and said in a lower voice,—
“Maynard, did that poor thing love Anthony?”
“She did.”
Maynard hesitated aer these words, struggling between his reluctance to inflict a yet
deeper wound on Sir Christopher, and his determination that no injustice should be done to
Caterina. Sir Christopher’s eyes were still fixed on him in solemn inquiry, and his own sunk
towards the ground, while he tried to find the words that would tell the truth least cruelly.
“You must not have any wrong thoughts about Tina,” he said at length. “I must tell you
now, for her sake, what nothing but this should ever have caused to pass my lips. Captain
Wybrow won her affections by aentions whi, in his position, he was bound not to show
her. Before his marriage was talked of, he had behaved to her like a lover.”Sir Christopher relaxed his hold of Maynard’s arm, and looked away from him. He was
silent for some minutes, evidently aempting to master himself, so as to be able to speak
“I must see Henriea immediately,” he said at last, with something of his old sharp
decision; “she must know all; but we must keep it from every one else as far as possible. My
dear boy,” he continued in a kinder tone, “the heaviest burthen has fallen on you. But we
may find her yet; we must not despair: there has not been time enough for us to be certain.
Poor dear lile one! God help me! I thought I saw everything, and was stone-blind all the
 Chapter XIX.
The sad slow week was gone by at last. At the coroner’s inquest a verdict of sudden death
had been pronounced. Dr Hart, acquainted with Captain Wybrow’s previous state of health,
had given his opinion that death had been imminent from long-established disease of the
heart, though it had probably been accelerated by some unusual emotion. Miss Assher was
the only person who positively knew the motive that had led Captain Wybrow to the
Rookery; but she had not mentioned Caterina’s name, and all painful details or inquiries were
studiously kept from her. Mr Gilfil and Sir Christopher, however, knew enough to conjecture
that the fatal agitation was due to an appointed meeting with Caterina.
All sear and inquiry aer her had been fruitless, and were the more likely to be so
because they were carried on under the prepossession that she had committed suicide. No one
noticed the absence of the trifles she had taken from her desk; no one knew of the likeness, or
that she had hoarded her seven-shilling pieces, and it was not remarkable that she should
have happened to be wearing the pearl earrings. She had le the house, they thought, taking
nothing with her; it seemed impossible she could have gone far; and she must have been in a
state of mental excitement, that made it too probable she had only gone to seek relief in
death. e same places within three or four miles of the Manor were seared again and
again—every pond, every ditch in the neighbourhood was examined.
Sometimes Maynard thought that death might have come on unsought, from cold and
exhaustion; and not a day passed but he wandered through the neighbouring woods, turning
up the heaps of dead leaves, as if it were possible her dear body could be hidden there. en
another horrible thought recurred, and before ea night came he had been again through all
the uninhabited rooms of the house, to satisfy himself once more that she was not hidden
behind some cabinet, or door, or curtain—that he should not find her there with madness in
her eyes, looking and looking, and yet not seeing him.
But at last those five long days and nights were at an end, the funeral was over, and the
carriages were returning through the park. When they had set out, a heavy rain was falling;
but now the clouds were breaking up, and a gleam of sunshine was sparkling among the
dripping boughs under whi they were passing. is gleam fell upon a man on horseba
who was jogging slowly along, and whom Mr Gilfil recognised, in spite of diminished
rotundity, as Daniel Kno, the coaman who had married the rosy-eeked Dorcas ten
years before.
Every new incident suggested the same thought to Mr Gilfil; and his eye no sooner fell on
Kno than he said to himself, “Can he be come to tell us anything about Caterina?” en he
remembered that Caterina had been very fond of Dorcas, and that she always had some
present ready to send her when Kno paid an occasional visit to the Manor. Could Tina have
gone to Dorcas? But his heart sank again as he thought, very likely Kno had only come
because he had heard of Captain Wybrow’s death, and wanted to know how his old master
had borne the blow.
As soon as the carriage reaed the house, he went up to his study and walked about
nervously, longing, but afraid, to go down and speak to Kno, lest his faint hope should be
dissipated. Any one looking at that face, usually so full of calm goodwill, would have seen
that the last week’s suffering had le deep traces. By day he had been riding or wandering
incessantly, either searing for Caterina himself, or directing inquiries to be made by others.
By night he had not known sleep—only intermient dozing, in whi he seemed to be
finding Caterina dead, and woke up with a start from this unreal agony to the real anguish of
believing that he should see her no more. e clear grey eyes looked sunken and restless, thefull careless lips had a strange tension about them, and the brow, formerly so smooth and
open, was contracted as if with pain. He had not lost the object of a few months’ passion; he
had lost the being who was bound up with his power of loving, as the brook we played by or
the flowers we gathered in ildhood are bound up with our sense of beauty. Love meant
nothing for him but to love Caterina. For years, the thought of her had been present in
everything, like the air and the light; and now she was gone, it seemed as if all pleasure had
lost its vehicle: the sky, the earth, the daily ride, the daily talk might be there, but the
loveliness and the joy that were in them had gone for ever.
Presently, as he still paced bawards and forwards, he heard steps along the corridor, and
there was a kno at his door. His voice trembled as he said, “Come in,” and the rush of
renewed hope was hardly distinguishable from pain when he saw Warren enter with Daniel
Knott behind him.
“Knott is come, sir, with news of Miss Sarti. I thought it best to bring him to you first.”
Mr Gilfil could not help going up to the old coaman and wringing his hand; but he was
unable to speak, and only motioned to him to take a air, while Warren le the room. He
hung upon Daniel’s moon-face, and listened to his small piping voice, with the same solemn
yearning expectation with whi he would have given ear to the most awful messenger from
the land of shades.
“It war Dorkis, sir, would hev me come; but we knowed nothin’ o’ what’s happened at the
Manor. She’s frightened out on her wits about Miss Sarti, an’ she would hev me saddle
Blabird this mornin’, an leave the ploughin’, to come an’ let Sir Christifer an’ my lady
know. P’raps you’ve heared, sir, we don’t keep the Cross Keys at Sloppeter now; a uncle o’
mine died three ’ear ago, an’ le me a leggicy. He was bailiff to Squire Ramble, as hed them
there big farms on his hans; an’ so we took a lile farm o’ forty acres or thereabouts, becos
Dorkis didn’t like the public when she got moithered wi’ ildren. As priy a place as iver
you see, sir, wi’ water at the back convenent for the cattle.”
“For God’s sake,” said Maynard, “tell me what it is about Miss Sarti. Don’t stay to tell me
anything else now.”
“Well, sir,” said Kno, rather frightened by the parson’s vehemence, “she come t’ our
house i’ the carrier’s cart o’ Wednesday, when it was welly nine o’clo at night; and Dorkis
run out, for she heared the cart stop, an’ Miss Sarti throwed her arms roun’ Dorkis’s ne an’
says, ‘Tek me in, Dorkis, tek me in,’ an’ went off into a swoond, like. An’ Dorkis calls out to
me,—‘Dannel,’ she calls—an’ I run out and carried the young miss in, an’ she come roun’ arter
a bit, an’ opened her eyes, and Dorkis got her to drink a spoonful o’ rum-an’-water—we’ve
got some capital rum as we brought from the Cross Keys, an’ Dorkis won’t let nobody drink
it. She says she keeps it for siness; but for my part, I think it’s a pity to drink good rum
when your mouth’s out o’ taste; you may just as well hev doctor’s stuff. Howiver, Dorkis got
her to bed, an’ there she’s lay iver sin’, stoopid like, an niver speaks, an’ on’y teks lile bits
an’ sups when Dorkis coaxes her. An’ we begun to be frightened, and couldn’t think what
had made her come away from the Manor, and Dorkis was afeard there was summat wrong.
So this mornin’ she could hold no longer, an’ would hev no nay but I must come an’ see; an’
so I’ve rode twenty mile upo’ Blabird, as thinks all the while he’s a ploughin’, an’ turns
sharp roun, ivery thirty yards, as if he was at the end of a furrow. I’ve hed a sore time wi’
him, I can tell you, sir.”
“God bless you, Kno, for coming!” said Mr Gilfil, wringing the old coaman’s hand
again. “Now go down and have something and rest yourself. You will stay here to-night, and
by-and-by I shall come to you to learn the nearest way to your house. I shall get ready to
ride there immediately, when I have spoken to Sir Christopher.”
In an hour from that time Mr Gilfil was galloping on a stout mare towards the little muddy
village of Callam, five miles beyond Sloppeter. Once more he saw some gladness in the
aernoon sunlight; once more it was a pleasure to see the hedgerow trees flying past him,and to be conscious of a “good seat” while his bla Kiy bounded beneath him, and the air
whistled to the rhythm of her pace. Caterina was not dead; he had found her; his love and
tenderness and long-suffering seemed so strong, they must recall her to life and happiness.
Aer that week of despair, the rebound was so violent that it carried his hopes at once as far
as the utmost mark they had ever reaed. Caterina would come to love him at last; she
would be his. ey had been carried through all that dark and weary way that she might
know the depth of his love. How he would erish her—his lile bird with the timid bright
eye, and the sweet throat that trembled with love and music! She would nestle against him,
and the poor lile breast whi had been so ruffled and bruised should be safe for evermore.
In the love of a brave and faithful man there is always a strain of maternal tenderness; he
gives out again those beams of protecting fondness whi were shed on him as he lay on his
mother’s knee.
It was twilight as he entered the village of Callam, and, asking a home-bound labourer the
way to Daniel Kno’s, learned that it was by the ur, whi showed its stumpy ivy-clad
spire on a slight elevation of ground; a useful addition to the means of identifying that
desirable homestead afforded by Daniel’s description—“the priiest place iver you see”—
though a small cow-yard full of excellent manure, and leading right up to the door, without
any frivolous interruption from garden or railing, might perhaps have been enough to make
that description unmistakably specific.
Mr Gilfil had no sooner reaed the gate leading into the cow-yard, than he was descried
by a flaxen-haired lad of nine, prematurely invested with the toga virilis, or smo-fro,
who ran forward to let in the unusual visitor. In a moment Dorcas was at the door, the roses
on her eeks apparently all the redder for the three pair of eeks whi formed a group
round her, and for the very fat baby who stared in her arms, and sued a long crust with
calm relish.
“Is it Mr Gilfil, sir?” said Dorcas, curtsying low as he made his way through the damp
straw, after tying up his horse.
“Yes, Dorcas; I’m grown out of your knowledge. How is Miss Sarti?”
“Just for all the world the same, sir, as I suppose Dannel’s told you; for I reon you’ve
come from the Manor, though you’re come uncommon quick, to be sure.”
“Yes, he got to the Manor about one o’clo, and I set off as soon as I could. She’s not
worse, is she?”
“No ange, sir, for beer or wuss. Will you please to walk in, sir? She lies there tein’ no
notice o’ nothin’, no more nor a baby as is on’y a wi old, an’ looks at me as blank as if she
didn’t know me. O what can it be, Mr Gilfil? How come she to leave the Manor? How’s his
honour an’ my lady?”
“In great trouble, Dorcas. Captain Wybrow, Sir Christopher’s nephew, you know, has died
suddenly. Miss Sarti found him lying dead, and I think the shock has affected her mind.”
“Eh, dear! that fine young gentleman as was to be th’ heir, as Dannel told me about. I
remember seein’ him when he was a lile un, a visitin’ at the Manor. Well-a-day, what a
grief to his honour and my lady. But that poor Miss Tina—an’ she found him a-lyin’ dead? O
dear, O dear!”
Dorcas had led the way into the best kiten, as arming a room as best kitens used to
be in farmhouses whi had no parlours—the fire reflected in a bright row of pewter plates
and dishes; the sand-scoured deal tables so clean you longed to stroke them; the salt-coffer in
one imney-corner, and a three-cornered air in the other, the walls behind handsomely
tapestried with flitches of bacon, and the ceiling ornamented with pendent hams.
“Sit ye down, sir—do,” said Dorcas, moving the three-cornered air, “an’ let me get you
somethin’ after your long journey. Here, Becky, come an’ tek the baby.”
Bey, a red-armed damsel, emerged from the adjoining ba-kiten, and possessed
herself of baby, whose feelings or fat made him conveniently apathetic under thetransference.
“What’ll you please to tek, sir, as I can give you? I’ll get you a rasher o’ bacon i’ no time,
an’ I’ve got some tea, or belike you’d tek a glass o’ rum-an’-water. I know we’ve got nothin’
as you’re used t’ eat and drink; but such as I hev, sir, I shall be proud to give you.”
“ank you, Dorcas; I can’t eat or drink anything. I’m not hungry or tired. Let us talk
about Tina. Has she spoken at all?”
“Niver since the fust words. ‘Dear Dorkis,’ says she, ‘tek me in;’ an’ then went off into a
faint, an’ not a word has she spoke since. I get her t’ eat lile bits an’ sups o’ things, but she
teks no notice o’ nothin’. I’ve took up Bessie wi’ me now an’ then”—here Dorcas lied to her
lap a curly-headed lile girl of three, who was twisting a corner of her mother’s apron, and
opening round eyes at the gentleman—“folks ’ll tek notice o’ ildren sometimes when they
won’t o’ nothin’ else. An’ we gethered th’ autumn crocuses out o’ th’ orard, an’ Bessie
carried ’em up in her hand, an’ put ’em on the bed. I knowed how fond Miss Tina was o’
flowers an’ them things, when she was a lile un. But she looked at Bessie an’ the flowers
just the same as if she didn’t see ’em. It cuts me to th’ heart to look at them eyes o’ hers: I
think they’re bigger nor iver, an’ they look like my poor baby’s as died, when it got so thin—
O dear, its lile hands, you could see thro’ ’em. But I’ve great hopes if she was to see you, sir,
as come from the Manor, it might bring back her mind, like.”
Maynard had that hope too, but he felt cold mists of fear gathering round him aer the
few bright warm hours of joyful confidence whi had passed since he first heard that
Caterina was alive. e thought would urge itself upon him that her mind and body might
never recover the strain that had been put upon them—that her delicate thread of life had
already nearly spun itself out.
“Go now, Dorcas, and see how she is, but don’t say anything about my being here. Perhaps
it would be beer for me to wait till daylight before I see her, and yet it would be very hard
to pass another night in this way.”
Dorcas set down lile Bessie, and went away. e three other ildren, including young
Daniel in his smo-fro, were standing opposite to Mr Gilfil, wating him still more shyly
now they were without their mother’s countenance. He drew lile Bessie towards him, and
set her on his knee. She shook her yellow curls out of her eyes, and looked up at him as she
“Zoo tome to tee ze yady? Zoo mek her peak? What zoo do to her? Tiss her?”
“Do you like to be kissed, Bessie?”
“Det,” said Bessie, immediately duing down her head very low, in resistance to the
expected rejoinder.
“We’ve got two pups,” said young Daniel, emboldened by observing the gentleman’s
amenities towards Bessie. “Shall I show ’em yer? One’s got white spots.”
“Yes, let me see them.”
Daniel ran out, and presently reappeared with two blind puppies, eagerly followed by the
mother, affectionate though mongrel, and an exciting scene was beginning when Dorcas
returned and said,—
“ere’s niver any difference in her hardly. I think you needn’t wait, sir. She lies very still,
as she al’ys does. I’ve put two candles i’ the room, so as she may see you well. You’ll please t’
excuse the room, sir, an’ the cap as she hes on; it’s one o’ mine.”
Mr Gilfil nodded silently, and rose to follow her up-stairs. ey turned in at the first door,
their footsteps making lile noise on the plaster floor. e red-eered linen curtains were
drawn at the head of the bed, and Dorcas had placed the candles on this side of the room, so
that the light might not fall oppressively on Caterina’s eyes. When she had opened the door,
Dorcas whispered, “I’d better leave you, sir, I think?”
Mr Gilfil motioned assent, and advanced beyond the curtain. Caterina lay with her eyes
turned the other way, and seemed unconscious that any one had entered. Her eyes, as Dorcashad said, looked larger than ever, perhaps because her face was thinner and paler, and her
hair quite gathered away under one of Dorcas’s thi caps. e small hands, too, that lay
listlessly on the outside of the bed-clothes, were thinner than ever. She looked younger than
she really was, and any one seeing the tiny face and hands for the first time, might have
thought they belonged to a lile girl of twelve, who was being taken away from coming
instead of past sorrow.
When Mr Gilfil advanced and stood opposite to her, the light fell full upon his face. A
slight startled expression came over Caterina’s eyes; she looked at him earnestly for a few
moments, then lied up her hand as if to beon him to stoop down towards her, and
whispered “Maynard!”
He seated himself on the bed, and stooped down towards her. She whispered again—
“Maynard, did you see the dagger?”
He followed his first impulse in answering her, and it was a wise one.
“Yes,” he whispered, “I found it in your pocket, and put it back again in the cabinet.”
He took her hand in his and held it gently, waiting what she would say next. His heart
swelled so with thankfulness that she had recognised him, he could hardly repress a sob.
Gradually her eyes became soer and less intense in their gaze. e tears were slowly
gathering, and presently some large hot drops rolled down her eek. en the flood-gates
were opened, and the heart-easing stream gushed forth; deep sobs came; and for nearly an
hour she lay without speaking, while the heavy icy pressure that withheld her misery from
uerance was thus melting away. How precious these tears were to Maynard, who day aer
day had been shuddering at the continually recurring image of Tina with the dry scoring
stare of insanity!
By degrees the sobs subsided, she began to breathe calmly, and lay quiet with her eyes
shut. Patiently Maynard sat, not heeding the flight of the hours, not heeding the old clo
that tied loudly on the landing. But when it was nearly ten, Dorcas, impatiently anxious to
know the result of Mr Gilfil’s appearance, could not help stepping in on tip-toe. Without
moving, he whispered in her ear to supply him with candles, see that the cow-boy had
shaken down his mare, and go to bed—he would wat with Caterina—a great ange had
come over her.
Before long, Tina’s lips began to move. “Maynard,” she whispered again. He leaned
towards her, and she went on.
“You know how wicked I am, then? You know what I meant to do with the dagger?”
“Did you mean to kill yourself, Tina?”
She shook her head slowly, and then was silent for a long while. At last, looking at him
with solemn eyes, she whispered, “To kill him.”
“Tina, my loved one, you would never have done it. God saw your whole heart; He knows
you would never harm a living thing. He wates over His ildren, and will not let them do
things they would pray with their whole hearts not to do. It was the angry thought of a
moment, and He forgives you.”
She sank into silence again till it was nearly midnight. e weary enfeebled spirit seemed
to be making its slow way with difficulty through the windings of thought; and when she
began to whisper again, it was in reply to Maynard’s words.
“But I had had su wied feelings for a long while. I was so angry, and I hated Miss
Assher so, and I didn’t care what came to anybody, because I was so miserable myself. I was
full of bad passions. No one else was ever so wicked.”
“Yes, Tina, many are just as wied. I oen have very wied feelings, and am tempted to
do wrong things; but then my body is stronger than yours, and I can hide my feelings, and
resist them beer. ey do not master me so. You have seen the lile birds when they are
very young and just begin to fly, how all their feathers are ruffled when they are frightened
or angry; they have no power over themselves le, and might fall into a pit from mere fright.You were like one of those lile birds. Your sorrow and suffering had taken su hold of you,
you hardly knew what you did.”
He would not speak long, lest he should tiro her, and oppress her with too many thoughts.
Long pauses seemed needful for her before she could concentrate her feelings in short words.
“But when I meant to do it,” was the next thing she whispered, “it was as bad as if I had
done it.”
“No, my Tina,” answered Maynard slowly, waiting a lile between ea sentence; “we
mean to do wied things that we never could do, just as we mean to do good or clever
things that we never could do. Our thoughts are oen worse than we are, just as they are
oen beer than we are. And God sees us as we are altogether, not in separate feelings or
actions, as our fellow-men see us. We are always doing ea other injustice, and thinking
beer or worse of ea other than we deserve, because we only hear and see separate words
and actions. We don’t see ea other’s whole nature. But God sees that you could not have
committed that crime.”
Caterina shook her head slowly, and was silent. After a while,
“I don’t know,” she said; “I seemed to see him coming towards me, just as he would really
have looked, and I meant—I meant to do it.”
“But when you saw him—tell me how it was, Tina?”
“I saw him lying on the ground, and thought he was ill. I don’t know how it was then; I
forgot everything. I knelt down and spoke to him, and—and he took no notice of me, and his
eyes were fixed, and I began to think he was dead.”
“And you have never felt angry since?”
“O no, no; it is I who have been more wied than any one; it is I who have been wrong all
“No, my Tina; the fault has not all been yours; he was wrong; he gave you provocation.
And wrong makes wrong. When people use us ill, we can hardly help having ill feeling
towards them. But that second wrong is more excusable. I am more sinful than you, Tina; I
have oen had very bad feelings towards Captain Wybrow; and if he had provoked me as he
did you, I should perhaps have done something more wicked.”
“O, it was not so wrong in him; he didn’t know how he hurt me. How was it likely he
could love me as I loved him? And how could he marry a poor little thing like me?”
Maynard made no reply to this, and there was again silence, till Tina said, “en I was so
deceitful; they didn’t know how wied I was. Padroncello didn’t know; his good lile
monkey he used to call me; and if he had known, O how naughty he would have thought
“My Tina, we have all our secret sins; and if we knew ourselves, we should not judge ea
other harshly. Sir Christopher himself has felt, since this trouble came upon him, that he has
been too severe and obstinate.”
In this way—in these broken confessions and answering words of comfort—the hours wore
on, from the deep bla night to the ill early twilight, and from early twilight to the first
yellow streak of morning parting the purple cloud. Mr Gilfil felt as if in the long hours of that
night the bond that united his love for ever and alone to Caterina had acquired fresh strength
and sanctity. It is so with the human relations that rest on the deep emotional sympathy of
affection: every new day and night of joy or sorrow is a new ground, a new consecration, for
the love that is nourished by memories as well as hopes—the love to whi perpetual
repetition is not a weariness but a want, and to which a separate joy is the beginning of pain.
e cos began to crow; the gate swung; there was a tramp of footsteps in the yard, and
Mr Gilfil heard Dorcas stirring. ese sounds seemed to affect Caterina, for she looked
anxiously at him and said, “Maynard, are you going away?”
“No, I shall stay here at Callam until you are better, and then you will go away too.”
“Never to the Manor again, O no! I shall live poorly, and get my own bread.”“Well, dearest, you shall do what you would like best. But I wish you could go to sleep
now. Try to rest quietly, and by-and-by you will perhaps sit up a lile. God has kept you in
life in spite of all this sorrow; it will be sinful not to try and make the best of His gi. Dear
Tina, you will try;—and lile Bessie brought you some crocuses once; you didn’t notice the
poor little thing; but you will notice her when she comes again, will you not?”
“I will try,” whispered Tina humbly, and then closed her eyes.
By the time the sun was above the horizon, scaering the clouds, and shining with
pleasant morning warmth through the lile leaded window, Caterina was asleep. Maynard
gently loosed the tiny hand, eered Dorcas with the good news, and made his way to the
village inn, with a thankful heart that Tina had been so far herself again. Evidently the sight
of him had blended naturally with the memories in whi her mind was absorbed, and she
had been led on to an unburthening of herself that might be the beginning of a complete
restoration. But her body was so enfeebled—her soul so bruised—that the utmost tenderness
and care would be necessary. e next thing to be done was to send tidings to Sir
Christopher and Lady Cheverel; then to write and summon his sister, under whose care he
had determined to place Caterina. e Manor, even if she had been wishing to return thither,
would, he knew, be the most undesirable home for her at present: every scene, every object
there, was associated with still unallayed anguish. If she were domesticated for a time with
his mild gentle sister, who had a peaceful home and a praling lile boy, Tina might aa
herself anew to life, and recover, partly at least, the sho that had been given to her
constitution. When he had wrien his leers and taken a hasty breakfast, he was soon in his
saddle again, on his way to Sloppeter, where he would post them, and seek out a medical
man, to whom he might confide the moral causes of Caterina’s enfeebled condition.
 Chapter XX.
In less than a week from that time, Caterina was persuaded to travel in a comfortable
carriage, under the care of Mr Gilfil and his sister, Mrs Heron, whose so blue eyes and mild
manners were very soothing to the poor bruised ild—the more so as they had an air of
sisterly equality, whi was quite new to her. Under Lady Cheverel’s uncaressing
authoritative goodwill, Tina had always retained a certain constraint and awe; and there was
a sweetness before unknown in having a young and gentle woman, like an elder sister,
bending over her caressingly, and speaking in low loving tones.
Maynard was almost angry with himself for feeling happy while Tina’s mind and body
were still trembling on the verge of irrecoverable decline; but the new delight of acting as her
guardian angel, of being with her every hour of the day, of devising everything for her
comfort, of wating for a ray of returning interest in her eyes, was too absorbing to leave
room for alarm or regret.
On the third day the carriage drove up to the door of Foxholm Parsonage, where the Rev.
Arthur Heron presented himself on the door-step, eager to greet his returning Lucy, and
holding by the hand a broad-ested tawny-haired boy of five, who was smaing a
miniature hunting-whip with great vigour.
Nowhere was there a lawn more smooth-shaven, walks beer swept, or a por more
preily festooned with creepers, than at Foxholm Parsonage, standing snugly sheltered by
beees and estnuts half-way down the prey green hill whi was surmounted by the
ur, and overlooking a village that straggled at its ease among pastures and meadows,
surrounded by wild hedgerows and broad shadowing trees, as yet unthreatened by improved
methods of farming.
Brightly the fire shone in the great parlour, and brightly in the lile pink bedroom, whi
was to be Caterina’s, because it looked away from the uryard, and on to a farm
homestead, with its lile cluster of beehive ris, and placid groups of cows, and eerful
matin sounds of healthy labour. Mrs Heron, with the instinct of an impressionable woman,
had wrien to her husband to have this room prepared for Caterina. Contented speled
hens, industriously scrating for the rarely-found corn, may sometimes do more for a si
heart than a grove of nightingales; there is something irresistibly calming in the
unsentimental eeriness of top-knoed pullets, unpeed sheep-dogs, and patient cart-horses
enjoying a drink of muddy water.
In su a home as this parsonage, a nest of comfort, without any of the stateliness that
would carry a suggestion of Cheverel Manor, Mr Gilfil was not unreasonable in hoping that
Caterina might gradually shake off the haunting vision of the past, and recover from the
languor and feebleness whi were the physical sign of that vision’s blighting presence. e
next thing to be done was to arrange an exange of duties with Mr Heron’s curate, that
Maynard might be constantly near Caterina, and wat over her progress. She seemed to like
him to be with her, to look uneasily for his return; and though she seldom spoke to him, she
was most contented when he sat by her, and held her tiny hand in his large protecting grasp.
But Oswald, alias Ozzy, the broad-ested boy, was perhaps her most beneficial companion.
With something of his uncle’s person, he had inherited also his uncle’s early taste for a
domestic menagerie, and was very imperative in demanding Tina’s sympathy in the welfare
of his guinea-pigs, squirrels, and dormice. With him she seemed now and then to have
gleams of her ildhood coming athwart the leaden clouds, and many hours of winter went
by the more easily for being spent in Ozzy’s nursery.
Mrs Heron was not musical, and had no instrument; but one of Mr Gilfil’s cares was toprocure a harpsiord, and have it placed in the drawing-room, always open, in the hope that
some day the spirit of music would be reawakened in Caterina, and she would be aracted
towards the instrument. But the winter was almost gone by, and he had waited in vain. e
utmost improvement in Tina had not gone beyond passiveness and acquiescence—a quiet
grateful smile, compliance with Oswald’s whims, and an increasing consciousness of what
was being said and done around her. Sometimes she would take up a bit of woman’s work,
but she seemed too languid to persevere in it; her fingers soon dropped, and she relapsed into
motionless reverie.
At last—it was one of those bright days in the end of February, when the sun is shining
with a promise of approaing spring. Maynard had been walking with her and Oswald
round the garden to look at the snowdrops, and she was resting on the sofa aer the walk.
Ozzy, roaming about the room in quest of a forbidden pleasure, came to the harpsiord, and
struck the handle of his whip on a deep bass note.
e vibration rushed through Caterina like an electric sho: it seemed as if at that instant
a new soul were entering into her, and filling her with a deeper, more significant life. She
looked round, rose from the sofa, and walked to the harpsiord. In a moment her fingers
were wandering with their old sweet method among the keys, and her soul was floating in its
true familiar element of delicious sound, as the water-plant that lies withered and shrunken
on the ground expands into freedom and beauty when once more bathed in its native flood.
Maynard thanked God. An active power was reawakened, and must make a new epo in
Caterina’s recovery.
Presently there were low liquid notes blending themselves with the harder tones of the
instrument, and gradually the pure voice swelled into predominance. Lile Ozzy stood in the
middle of the room, with his mouth open and his legs very wide apart, stru with something
like awe at this new power in “Tin-Tin,” as he called her, whom he had been accustomed to
think of as a playfellow not at all clever, and very mu in need of his instruction on many
subjects. A genie soaring with broad wings out of his milk-jug would not have been more
Caterina was singing the very air from the Orfeo whi we heard her singing so many
months ago at the beginning of her sorrows. It was Ho perduto, Sir Christopher’s favourite,
and its notes seemed to carry on their wings all the tenderest memories of her life, when
Cheverel Manor was still an untroubled home. e long happy days of ildhood and
girlhood recovered all their rightful predominance over the short interval of sin and sorrow.
She paused, and burst into tears—the first tears she had shed since she had been at
Foxholm. Maynard could not help hurrying towards her, puing his arm round her, and
leaning down to kiss her hair. She nestled to him, and put up her little mouth to be kissed.
The delicate-tendrilled plant must have something to cling to. The soul that was born anew
to music was born anew to love.
 Chapter XXI.
On the 30th of May 1790, a very prey sight was seen by the villagers assembled near the
door of Foxholm ur. e sun was bright upon the dewy grass, the air was alive with the
murmur of bees and the trilling of birds, the bushy blossoming estnuts and the foamy
flowering hedgerows seemed to be crowding round to learn why the ur-bells were
ringing so merrily, as Maynard Gilfil, his face bright with happiness, walked out of the old
Gothic doorway with Tina on his arm. e lile face was still pale, and there was a subdued
melanoly in it, as of one who sups with friends for the last time, and has his ear open for
the signal that will call him away. But the tiny hand rested with the pressure of contented
affection on Maynard’s arm, and the dark eyes met his downward glance with timid
answering love.
ere was no train of bridesmaids; only prey Mrs Heron leaning on the arm of a
darkhaired young man hitherto unknown in Foxholm, and holding by the other hand lile Ozzy,
who exulted less in his new velvet cap and tunic, than in the notion that he was bridesman to
Last of all came a couple whom the villagers eyed yet more eagerly than the bride and
bridegroom: a fine old gentleman, who looked round with keen glances that cowed the
conscious scapegraces among them, and a stately lady in blue-and-white silk robes, who must
surely be like Queen Charlotte.
“Well, that theer’s whut I coal a pictur,” said old “Mester” Ford, a true Staffordshire
patriar, who leaned on a sti and held his head very mu on one side, with the air of a
man who had lile hope of the present generation, but would at all events give it the benefit
of his criticism. “Th’ yoong men noo-a-deys, the’r poor squashy things—the’ looke well anoof,
but the’ woon’t wear, the’ woon’t wear. eer’s neer un ’ll carry his ’ears like that Sir Cris’fer
“’Ull bet ye two pots,” said another of the seniors, “as that yoongster a-walkin’ wi’ th’
parson’s wife ’ll be Sir Cris’fer’s son—he fevours him.”
“Nay, yae’ll bet that wi’ as big a fule as yersen; hae’s noo son at oall. As I oonderstan’,
hae’s the nevey as is t’ heir th’ esteate. e cooman as puts oop at th’ White Hoss tellt me
as theer war another nevey, a dell finer ap t’ looke at nor this un, as died in a fit, oall on a
soodden, an’ soo this here yoong un’s got upo’ th’ perch istid.”
At the ur gate Mr Bates was standing in a new suit, ready to speak words of good
omen as the bride and bridegroom approaed. He had come all the way from Cheverel
Manor on purpose to see Miss Tina happy once more, and would have been in a state of
unmixed joy but for the inferiority of the wedding nosegays to what he could have furnished
from the garden at the Manor.
“God A’maighty bless ye both, an’ send ye long laife an’ happiness,” were the good
gardener’s rather tremulous words.
“ank you, uncle Bates; always remember Tina,” said the sweet low voice, whi fell on
Mr Bates’s ear for the last time.
e wedding journey was to be a circuitous route to Shepperton, where Mr Gilfil had been
for several months inducted as vicar. is small living had been given him through the
interest of an old friend who had some claim on the gratitude of the Oldinport family; and it
was a satisfaction both to Maynard and Sir Christopher that a home to whi he might take
Caterina had thus readily presented itself at a distance from Cheverel Manor. For it had never
yet been thought safe that she should revisit the scene of her sufferings, her health continuing
too delicate to encourage the slightest risk of painful excitement. In a year or two, perhaps, bythe time old Mr Criley, the rector of Cumbermoor, should have le a world of gout, and
when Caterina would very likely be a happy mother, Maynard might safely take up his
abode at Cumbermoor, and Tina would feel nothing but content at seeing a new “lile
blaeyed monkey” running up and down the gallery and gardens of the Manor. A mother dreads
no memories—those shadows have all melted away in the dawn of baby’s smile.
In these hopes, and in the enjoyment of Tina’s nestling affection, Mr Gilfil tasted a few
months of perfect happiness. She had come to lean entirely on his love, and to find life sweet
for his sake. Her continual languor and want of active interest was a natural consequence of
bodily feebleness, and the prospect of her becoming a mother was a new ground for hoping
the best.
But the delicate plant had been too deeply bruised, and in the struggle to put forth a
blossom it died.
Tina died, and Maynard Gilfil’s love went with her into deep silence for evermore.
 Epilogue.
This was Mr Gilfil’s love-story, whi lay far ba from the time when he sat, worn and
grey, by his lonely fireside in Shepperton Vicarage. Ri brown los, passionate love, and
deep early sorrow, strangely different as they seem from the scanty white hairs, the apathetic
content, and the unexpectant acquiescence of old age, are but part of the same life’s journey;
as the bright Italian plains, with the sweet Addio of their beoning maidens, are part of the
same day’s travel that brings us to the other side of the mountain, between the sombre roy
walls and among the guttural voices of the Valais.
To those who were familiar only with the grey-haired Vicar, jogging leisurely along on his
old estnut cob, it would perhaps have been hard to believe that he had ever been the
Maynard Gilfil who, with a heart full of passion and tenderness, had urged his bla Kiy to
her swiest gallop on the way to Callam, or that the old gentleman of caustic tongue, and
bucolic tastes, and sparing habits, had known all the deep secrets of devoted love, had
struggled through its days and nights of anguish, and trembled under its unspeakable joys.
And indeed the Mr Gilfil of those late Shepperton days had more of the knots and
ruggednesses of poor human nature than there lay any clear hint of in the open-eyed loving
Maynard. But it is with men as with trees: if you lop off their finest branches, into which they
were pouring their young life-juice, the wounds will be healed over with some rough boss,
some odd excrescence; and what might have been a grand tree expanding into liberal shade,
is but a whimsical misshapen trunk. Many an irritating fault, many an unlovely oddity, has
come of a hard sorrow, whi has crushed and maimed the nature just when it was
expanding into plenteous beauty; and the trivial erring life whi we visit with our harsh
blame, may be but as the unsteady motion of a man whose best limb is withered.
And so the dear old Vicar, though he had something of the knoed whimsical aracter of
the poor lopped oak, had yet been sketed out by nature as a noble tree. e heart of him
was sound, the grain was of the finest, and in the grey-haired man who filled his poet with
sugar-plums for the lile ildren, whose most biting words were directed against the
evildoing of the ri man, and who, with all his social pipes and slipshod talk, never sank below
the highest level of his parishioners’ respect, there was the main trunk of the same brave,
faithful, tender nature that had poured out the finest, freshest forces of its life-current in a
first and only love—the love of Tina.
 Janet’s Repentance.Chapter I.
o!” said lawyer Dempster, in a loud, rasping, oratorical tone, struggling against
ronic huskiness, “as long as my Maker grants me power of voice and power of“N
intellect, I will take every legal means to resist the introduction of demoralising,
methodistical doctrine into this parish; I will not supinely suffer an insult to be inflicted on
our venerable pastor, who has given us sound instruction for half a century.”
It was very warm everywhere that evening, but especially in the bar of the Red Lion at
Milby, where Mr Dempster was seated mixing his third glass of brandy-and-water. He was a
tall and rather massive man, and the front half of his large surface was so well dredged with
snuff, that the cat, having inadvertently come near him, had been seized with a severe fit of
sneezing—an accident whi, being cruelly misunderstood, had caused her to be driven
contumeliously from the bar. Mr Dempster habitually held his in tued in, and his head
hanging forward, weighed down, perhaps, by a preponderant occiput and a bulging forehead,
between whi his closely-clipped coronal surface lay like a flat and new-mown table-land.
e only other observable features were puffy eeks and a protruding yet lipless mouth. Of
his nose I can only say that it was snuffy, and as Mr Dempster was never caught in the act of
looking at anything in particular, it would have been difficult to swear to the colour of his
“Well! I’ll not sti at giving myself trouble to put down su hypocritical cant,” said Mr
Tomlinson, the ri miller. “I know well enough what your Sunday-evening lectures are
good for—for wenes to meet their sweethearts, and brew misief. ere’s work enough
with the servant-maids as it is—su as I never heared the like of in my mother’s time, and
it’s all along o’ your sooling and newfangled plans. Give me a servant as can nayther read
nor write, I say, and doesn’t know the year o’ the Lord as she was born in. I should like to
know what good those Sunday sools have done, now. Why, the boys used to go a
birds’nesting of a Sunday morning; and a capital thing, too—ask any farmer; and very priy it was
to see the strings o’ heggs hanging up in poor people’s houses. You’ll not see ’em nowhere
“Pooh!” said Mr Luke Byles, who piqued himself on his reading, and was in the habit of
asking casual acquaintances if they knew anything of Hobbes; “it is right enough that the
lower orders should be instructed. But this sectarianism within the Chur ought to be put
down. In point of fact, these Evangelicals are not Churmen at all; they’re no beer than
“Presbyterans? what are they?” inquired Mr Tomlinson, who oen said his father had
given him “no eddication, and he didn’t care who knowed it; he could buy up most o’ th’
eddicated men he’d ever come across.”
“e Presbyterians,” said Mr Dempster, in rather a louder tone than before, holding that
every appeal for information must naturally be addressed to him, “are a sect founded in the
reign of Charles I., by a man named John Presbyter, who hated all the brood of dissenting
vermin that crawl about in dirty alleys, and circumvent the lord of the manor in order to get
a few yards of ground for their pigeon-house conventicles.”
“No, no, Dempster,” said Mr Luke Byles, “you’re out there. Presbyterianism is derived from
the word presbyter, meaning an elder.”
“Don’t contradict me, sir!” stormed Dempster. “I say the word presbyterian is derived from
John Presbyter, a miserable fanatic who wore a suit of leather, and went about from town to
village, and from village to hamlet, inoculating the vulgar with the asinine virus of dissent.”
“Come, Byles, that seems a deal more liker,” said Mr Tomlinson, in a conciliatory tone,apparently of opinion that history was a process of ingenious guessing.
“It’s not a question of likelihood; it’s a known fact. I could fet you my Encyclopædia,
and show it you this moment.”
“I don’t care a straw, sir, either for you or your Encyclopædia,” said Mr Dempster; “a
farrago of false information, of whi you pied up an imperfect copy in a cargo of waste
paper. Will you tell me, sir, that I don’t know the origin of Presbyterianism? I, sir, a man
known through the county, intrusted with the affairs of half a score parishes; while you, sir,
are ignored by the very fleas that infest the miserable alley in which you were bred.”
A loud and general laugh, with “You’d beer let him alone, Byles;” “you’ll not get the
beer of Dempster in a hurry,” drowned the retort of the too well-informed Mr Byles, who,
white with rage, rose and walked out of the bar.
“A meddlesome, upstart, Jacobinical fellow, gentlemen,” continued Mr Dempster. “I was
determined to be rid of him. What does he mean by thrusting himself into our company? A
man with about as mu principle as he has property, whi, to my knowledge, is
considerably less than none. An insolvent atheist, gentlemen. A deistical prater, fit to sit in
the imney-corner of a pot-house, and make blasphemous comments on the one greasy
newspaper fingered by beer-swilling tinkers. I will not suffer in my company a man who
speaks lightly of religion. The signature of a fellow like Byles would be a blot on our protest.”
“And how do you get on with your signatures?” said Mr Pilgrim, the doctor, who had
presented his large top-booted person within the bar while Mr Dempster was speaking. Mr
Pilgrim had just returned from one of his long day’s rounds among the farmhouses, in the
course of whi he had sat down to two hearty meals that might have been mistaken for
dinners, if he had not declared them to be ‘snaps;’ and as ea snap had been followed by a
few glasses of ‘mixture,’ containing a less liberal proportion of water than the articles he
himself labelled with that broadly generic name, he was in that condition whi his groom
indicated with poetic ambiguity, by saying that “master had been in the sunshine.” Under
these circumstances, after a hard day, in which he had really had no regular meal, it seemed a
natural relaxation to step into the bar of the Red Lion, where, as it was Saturday evening, he
should be sure to find Dempster, and hear the latest news about the protest against the
evening lecture.
“Have you hooked Ben Landor yet?” he continued, as he took two airs, one for his body,
and the other for his right leg.
“No,” said Mr Budd, the urwarden, shaking his head, “Ben Landor has a way of
keeping himself neutral in everything, and he doesn’t like to oppose his father. Old Landor is
a regular Tryanite. But we haven’t got your name yet, Pilgrim.”
“Tut tut, Budd,” said Mr Dempster sarcastically, “you don’t expect Pilgrim to sign? He’s got
a dozen Tryanite livers under his treatment. Nothing like cant and methodism for producing
a superfluity of bile.”
“O, I thought, as Pra had declared himself a Tryanite, we should be sure to get Pilgrim on
our side.”
Mr Pilgrim was not a man to sit quiet under a sarcasm, nature having endowed him with a
considerable share of self-defensive wit. In his most sober moments he had an impediment in
his spee, and as copious gin-and-water stimulated not the spee but the impediment, he
had time to make his retort sufficiently bitter.
“Why, to tell you the truth, Budd,” he spluered. “ere’s a report all over the town that
Deb Traunter swears you shall take her with you as one of the delegates, and they say there’s
to be a fine crowd at your door the morning you start, to see the row. Knowing your
tenderness for that member of the fair sex, I thought you might find it impossible to deny
her. I hang ba a lile from signing on that account, as Prendergast might not take the
protest well if Deb Traunter went with you.”
Mr Budd was a small, sleek-headed baelor of five-and-forty, whose scandalous life hadlong furnished his more moral neighbours with an aer-dinner joke. He had no other striking
aracteristic, except that he was a currier of oleric temperament, so that you might
wonder why he had been osen as clergyman’s urwarden, if I did not tell you that he
had recently been elected through Mr Dempster’s exertions, in order that his zeal against the
threatened evening lecture might be backed by the dignity of office.
“Come, come, Pilgrim,” said Mr Tomlinson, covering Mr Budd’s retreat, “you know you
like to wear the crier’s coat, green o’ one side and red o’ the other. You’ve been to hear Tryan
preach at Paddiford Common—you know you have.”
“To be sure I have; and a capital sermon too. It’s a pity you were not there. It was
addressed to those ‘void of understanding.’”
“No, no, you’ll never cat me there,” returned Mr Tomlinson, not in the least stung, “he
preaes without book, they say, just like a Dissenter. It must be a rambling sort of a
“at’s not the worst,” said Mr Dempster, “he preaes against good works; says good
works are not necessary to salvation—a sectarian, antinomian, anabaptist doctrine. Tell a man
he is not to be saved by his works, and you open the flood-gates of all immorality. You see it
in all these canting innovators; they’re all bad ones by the sly; smooth-faced, drawling,
hypocritical fellows, who pretend ginger isn’t hot in their mouths, and cry down all innocent
pleasures; their hearts are all the blaer for their sanctimonious outsides. Haven’t we been
warned against those who make clean the outside of the cup and the plaer? ere’s this
Tryan, now, he goes about praying with old women, and singing with arity ildren; but
what has he really got his eye on all the while? A domineering ambitious Jesuit, gentlemen;
all he wants is to get his foot far enough into the parish to step into Crewe’s shoes when the
old gentleman dies. Depend upon it, whenever you see a man pretending to be beer than
his neighbours, that man has either some cunning end to serve, or his heart is roen with
spiritual pride.”
As if to guarantee himself against this awful sin, Mr Dempster seized the brandy bole,
and poured out a larger quantity than usual.
“Have you fixed on your third delegate yet?” said Mr Pilgrim, whose taste was for detail
rather than for dissertation.
“at’s the man,” answered Dempster, pointing to Mr Tomlinson. “We start for Elmstoke
Rectory on Tuesday morning; so, if you mean to give us your signature, you must make up
your mind pretty quickly, Pilgrim.”
Mr Pilgrim did not in the least mean it, so he only said, “I shouldn’t wonder if Tryan turns
out too many for you, aer all. He’s got a well-oiled tongue of his own, and has perhaps
talked over Prendergast into a determination to stand by him.”
“Ve-ry lile fear of that,” said Dempster, in a confident tone. “I’ll soon bring him round.
Tryan has got his match. I’ve plenty of rods in pickle for Tryan.”
At this moment Boots entered the bar, and put a leer into the lawyer’s hands, saying,
“There’s Trower’s man just come into the yard wi’ a gig, sir, an’ he’s brought this here letter.”
Mr Dempster read the leer and said, “Tell him to turn the gig—I’ll be with him in a
minute. Here, run to Gruby’s and get this snuff-box filled—quick!”
“Trower’s worse, I suppose; eh, Dempster? Wants you to alter his will, eh?” said Mr
“Business—business—business—I don’t know exactly what,” answered the cautious
Dempster, rising deliberately from his air, thrusting on his low-crowned hat, and walking
with a slow but not unsteady step out of the bar.
“I never see Dempster’s equal; if I did I’ll be shot,” said Mr Tomlinson, looking aer the
lawyer admiringly. “Why, he’s drunk the best part of a bole o’ brandy since here we’ve
been siing, and I’ll bet a guinea, when he’s got to Trower’s his head ’ll be as clear as mine.
He knows more about law when he’s drunk than all the rest on ’em when they’re sober.”“Ay, and other things too besides law,” said Mr Budd. “Did you notice how he took up
Byles about the Presbyterians? Bless your heart, he knows everything, Dempster does. He
studied very hard when he was a young man.”
 Chapter II.
The conversation just recorded is not, I am aware, remarkably refined or wiy; but if it had
been, it could hardly have taken place in Milby when Mr Dempster flourished there, and old
Mr Crewe, the curate, was yet alive.
More than a quarter of a century has slipped by since then, and in the interval Milby has
advanced at as rapid a pace as other market-towns in her Majesty’s dominions. By this time it
has a handsome railway station, where the drowsy London traveller may look out by the
brilliant gas-light and see perfectly sober papas and husbands alighting with their
leatherbags aer transacting their day’s business at the county town. ere is a resident rector, who
appeals to the consciences of his hearers with all the immense advantages of a divine who
keeps his own carriage; the ur is enlarged by at least five hundred siings; and the
grammar-sool, conducted on reformed principles, has its upper forms crowded with the
genteel youth of Milby. e gentlemen there fall into no other excess at dinner-parties than
the perfectly well-bred and virtuous excess of stupidity; and though the ladies are still said
sometimes to take too mu upon themselves, they are never known to take too mu in any
other way. e conversation is sometimes quite literary, for there is a flourishing book-club,
and many of the younger ladies have carried their studies so far as to have forgoen a lile
German. In short, Milby is now a refined, moral, and enlightened town; no more resembling
the Milby of former days than the huge, long-skirted, drab greatcoat that embarrassed the
ankles of our grandfathers resembled the light paletot in whi we tread jauntily through the
muddiest streets, or than the bole-nosed Britons, rejoicing over a tankard, in the old sign of
the Two Travellers at Milby, resembled the severe-looking gentlemen in straps and high
collars whom a modern artist has represented as sipping the imaginary port of that
wellknown commercial house.
But pray, reader, dismiss from your mind all the refined and fashionable ideas associated
with this advanced state of things, and transport your imagination to a time when Milby had
no gas-lights; when the mail drove up dusty or bespaered to the door of the Red Lion; when
old Mr Crewe, the curate, in a brown Brutus wig, delivered inaudible sermons on a Sunday,
and on a week-day imparted the education of a gentleman—that is to say, an arduous
inacquaintance with Latin through the medium of the Eton grammar—to three pupils in the
upper grammar-school.
If you had passed through Milby on the coa at that time, you would have had no idea
what important people lived there, and how very high a sense of rank was prevalent among
them. It was a dingy-looking town, with a strong smell of tanning up one street, and a great
shaking of hand-looms up another; and even in that focus of aristocracy, Friar’s Gate, the
houses would not have seemed very imposing to the hasty and superficial glance of a
passenger. You might still less have suspected that the figure in light fustian and large grey
whiskers, leaning against the grocer’s door-post in High Street, was no less a person than Mr
Lowme, one of the most aristocratic men in Milby, said to have been “brought up a
gentleman,” and to have had the gay habits accordant with that station, keeping his harriers
and other expensive animals. He was now quite an elderly Lothario, reduced to the most
economical sins; the prominent form of his gaiety being this of lounging at Mr Gruby’s door,
embarrassing the servant-maids who came for grocery, and talking scandal with the rare
passers-by. Still, it was generally understood that Mr Lowme belonged to the highest circle of
Milby society; his sons and daughters held up their heads very high indeed; and in spite of
his condescending way of aing and drinking with inferior people, he would himself have
scorned any closer identification with them. It must be admied that he was of some serviceto the town in this station at Mr Gruby’s door, for he and Mr Landor’s Newfoundland dog,
who streted himself and gaped on the opposite causeway, took something from the lifeless
air that belonged to the High Street on every day except Saturday.
Certainly, in spite of three assemblies and a arity ball in the winter, the occasional
advent of a ventriloquist, or a company of itinerant players, some of whom were very highly
thought of in London, and the annual three-days’ fair in June, Milby might be considered
dull by people of a hypoondriacal temperament, and perhaps this was one reason why
many of the middle-aged inhabitants, male and female, oen found it impossible to keep up
their spirits without a very abundant supply of stimulants. It is true there were several
substantial men who had a reputation for exceptional sobriety; so that Milby habits were
really not as bad as possible; and no one is warranted in saying that old Mr Crewe’s flo
could not have been worse without any clergyman at all.
e well-dressed parishioners generally were very regular ur-goers, and to the
younger ladies and gentlemen I am inclined to think that the Sunday morning service was
the most exciting event of the week; for few places could present a more brilliant show of
out-door toilees than might be seen issuing from Milby ur at one o’clo. ere were
the four tall Miss Pimans, old Lawyer Piman’s daughters, with cannon curls surmounted
by large hats, and long, drooping ostri feathers of parrot green. ere was Miss Phipps,
with a crimson bonnet, very mu tilted up behind, and a coade of stiff feathers on the
summit. ere was Miss Landor, the belle of Milby, clad regally in purple and ermine, with a
plume of feathers neither drooping nor erect, but maintaining a discreet medium. ere were
the three Miss Tomlinsons, who imitated Miss Landor, and also wore ermine and feathers;
but their beauty was considered of a coarse order, and their square forms were quite unsuited
to the round tippet whi fell with su remarkable grace on Miss Landor’s sloping shoulders.
Looking at this plumed procession of ladies, you would have formed rather a high idea of
Milby wealth; yet there was only one close carriage in the place, and that was old Mr
Landor’s, the banker, who, I think, never drove more than one horse. ese
sumptuouslyaired ladies flashed past the vulgar eye in one-horse aises, by no means of a superior
e young gentlemen, too, were not without their lile Sunday displays of costume, of a
limited masculine kind. Mr Eustace Landor, being nearly of age, had recently acquired a
diamond ring, together with the habit of rubbing his hand through his hair. He was tall and
dark, and thus had an advantage whi Mr Alfred Phipps, who, like his sister, was blond and
stumpy, found it difficult to overtake, even by the severest aention to shirt studs, and the
particular shade of brown that was best relieved by gilt buttons.
e respect for the Sabbath, manifested in this aention to costume, was unhappily
counterbalanced by considerable levity of behaviour during the prayers and sermon; for the
young ladies and gentlemen of Milby were of a very satirical turn, Miss Landor especially
being considered remarkably clever, and a terrible quiz; and the large congregation
necessarily containing many persons inferior in dress and demeanour to the distinguished
aristocratic minority, divine service offered irresistible temptations to joking, through the
medium of telegraphic communications from the galleries to the aisles and ba again. I
remember blushing very mu, and thinking Miss Landor was laughing at me, because I was
appearing in coat-tails for the first time, when I saw her look down slyly towards where I sat,
and then turn with a tier to handsome Mr Bob Lowme, who had su beautiful whiskers
meeting under his in. But perhaps she was not thinking of me aer all; for our pew was
near the pulpit, and there was almost always something funny about old Mr Crewe. His
brown wig was hardly ever put on quite right, and he had a way of raising his voice for three
or four words, and lowering it again to a mumble, so that we could scarcely make out a word
he said; though, as my mother observed, that was of no consequence in the prayers, since
every one had a prayer-book; and as for the sermon, she continued with some causticity, weall of us heard more of it than we could remember when we got home.
is youthful generation was not particularly literary. e young ladies who frizzed their
hair, and gathered it all into large barricades in front of their heads, leaving their occipital
region exposed without ornament, as if that, being a ba view, was of no consequence,
dreamed as lile that their daughters would read a selection of German poetry, and be able
to express an admiration for Siller, as that they would turn all their hair the other way—
that instead of threatening us with barricades in front, they would be most killing in retreat,
“And, like the Parthian, wound us as they fly.”
ose arming well-frizzed ladies spoke Fren indeed with considerable facility,
unshaled by any timid regard to idiom, and were in the habit of conducting conversations
in that language in the presence of their less instructed elders; for according to the standard
of those baward days, their education had been very lavish, su young ladies as Miss
Landor, Miss Phipps, and the Miss Pimans, having been “finished” at distant and expensive
Old lawyer Piman had once been a very important person indeed, having in his earlier
days managed the affairs of several gentlemen in those parts, who had subsequently been
obliged to sell everything and leave the country, in whi crisis Mr Piman
accommodatingly stepped in as a puraser of their estates, taking on himself the risk and
trouble of a more leisurely sale; whi, however, happened to turn out very mu to his
advantage. Su opportunities occur quite unexpectedly in the way of business. But I think
Mr Piman must have been unluy in his later speculations, for now, in his old age, he had
not the reputation of being very ri; and though he rode slowly to his office in Milby every
morning on an old white haney, he had to resign the ief profits, as well as the active
business of the firm, to his younger partner, Dempster. No one in Milby considered old
Piman a virtuous man, and the elder townspeople were not at all baward in narrating the
least advantageous portions of his biography in a very round unvarnished manner. Yet I
could never observe that they trusted him any the less, or liked him any the worse. Indeed,
Piman and Dempster were the popular lawyers of Milby and its neighbourhood, and Mr
Benjamin Landor, whom no one had anything particular to say against, had a very meagre
business in comparison. Hardly a landholder, hardly a farmer, hardly a parish within ten
miles of Milby, whose affairs were not under the legal guardianship of Piman and
Dempster, and I think the clients were proud of their lawyers’ unscrupulousness, as the
patrons of the fancy are proud of their ampion’s “condition.” It was not, to be sure, the
thing for ordinary life, but it was the thing to bet on in a lawyer. Dempster’s talent in
“bringing through” a client was a very common topic of conversation with the farmers, over
an incidental glass of grog at the Red Lion. “He’s a long-headed feller, Dempster; why, it
shows yer what a headpiece Dempster has, as he can drink a bole o’ brandy at a siin’, an’
yit see further through a stone wall when he’s done, than other folks ’ll see through a glass
winder.” Even Mr Jerome, ief member of the congregation at Salem Chapel, an elderly man
of very strict life, was one of Dempster’s clients, and had quite an exceptional indulgence for
his aorney’s foibles, perhaps aributing them to the inevitable incompatibility of law and
e standard of morality at Milby, you perceive, was not inconveniently high in those
good old times, and an ingenuous vice or two was what every man expected of his
neighbour. Old Mr Crewe, the curate, for example, was allowed to enjoy his avarice in
comfort, without fear of sarcastic parish demagogues; and his flo liked him all the beer for
having scraped together a large fortune out of his sool and curacy, and the proceeds of the
three thousand pounds he had with his lile deaf wife. It was clear he must be a learned
man, for he had once had a large private sool in connection with the grammar sool, and
had even numbered a young nobleman or two among his pupils. e fact that he read
nothing at all now, and that his mind seemed absorbed in the commonest maers, wasdoubtless due to his having exhausted the resources of erudition earlier in life. It is true he
was not spoken of in terms of high respect, and old Crewe’s stingy housekeeping was a
frequent subject of jesting; but this was a good old-fashioned aracteristic in a parson who
had been part of Milby life for half a century: it was like the dents and disfigurements in an
old family tankard, whi no one would like to part with for a smart new piece of plate fresh
from Birmingham. e parishioners saw no reason at all why it should be desirable to
venerate the parson or any one else: they were mu more comfortable to look down a lile
on their fellow-creatures.
Even the Dissent in Milby was then of a lax and indifferent kind. e doctrine of adult
baptism, struggling under a heavy load of debt, had let off half its apel area as a
ribbonshop; and Methodism was only to be detected, as you detect curious larvæ, by diligent sear
in dirty corners. e Independents were the only Dissenters of whose existence Milby
gentility was at all conscious, and it had a vague idea that the salient points of their creed
were prayer without book, red bri, and hypocrisy. e Independent apel, known as
Salem, stood red and conspicuous in a broad street; more than one pewholder kept a
brassbound gig; and Mr Jerome, a retired corn-factor, and the most eminent member of the
congregation, was one of the riest men in the parish. But in spite of this apparent
prosperity, together with the usual amount of extemporaneous preaing mitigated by furtive
notes, Salem belied its name, and was not always the abode of peace. For some reason or
other, it was unfortunate in the oice of its ministers. e Rev. Mr Horner, elected with
brilliant hopes, was discovered to be given to tippling and quarrelling with his wife; the Rev.
Mr Rose’s doctrine was a lile too “high,” verging on Antinomianism; the Rev. Mr Stiney’s
gift as a preacher was found to be less striking on a more extended acquaintance; and the Rev.
Mr Smith, a distinguished minister mu sought aer in the iron districts, with a talent for
poetry, became objectionable from an inclination to exange verses with the young ladies of
his congregation. It was reasonably argued that su verses as Mr Smith’s must take a long
time for their composition, and the habit alluded to might intren seriously on his pastoral
duties. ese reverend gentlemen, one and all, gave it as their opinion that the Salem ur
members were among the least enlightened of the Lord’s people, and that Milby was a low
place, where they would have found it a severe lot to have their lines fall for any long period;
though, to see the smart and crowded congregation assembled on occasion of the annual
charity sermon, any one might have supposed that the minister of Salem had rather a brilliant
position in the ranks of Dissent. Several Chur families used to aend on that occasion, for
Milby, in those uninstructed days, had not yet heard that the sismatic ministers of Salem
were obviously typified by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and many Chur people there were
of opinion that Dissent might be a weakness, but, aer all, had no great harm in it. ese lax
Episcopalians were, I believe, iefly tradespeople, who held that, inasmu as
Congregationalism consumed candles, it ought to be supported, and accordingly made a point
of presenting themselves at Salem for the aernoon arity sermon, with the expectation of
being asked to hold a plate. Mr Pilgrim, too, was always there with his half-sovereign; for as
there was no Dissenting doctor in Milby, Mr Pilgrim looked with great tolerance on all shades
of religious opinion that did not include a belief in cures by miracle.
On this point he had the concurrence of Mr Pra, the only other medical man of the same
standing in Milby. Otherwise, it was remarkable how strongly these two clever men were
contrasted. Pra was middle-sized, insinuating, and silvery-voiced; Pilgrim was tall, heavy,
rough-mannered, and spluering. Both were considered to have great powers of
conversation, but Pra’s anecdotes were of the fine old crusted quality to be procured only of
Joe Miller; Pilgrim’s had the full fruity flavour of the most recent scandal. Pra elegantly
referred all diseases to debility, and with a proper contempt for symptomatic treatment, went
to the root of the maer with port wine and bark; Pilgrim was persuaded that the evil
principle in the human system was plethora, and he made war against it with cupping,blistering, and cathartics. ey had both been long established in Milby, and as ea had a
sufficient practice, there was no very malignant rivalry between them; on the contrary, they
had that sort of friendly contempt for ea other whi is always conducive to a good
understanding between professional men; and when any new surgeon aempted, in an
illadvised hour, to sele himself in the town, it was strikingly demonstrated how slight and
trivial are theoretic differences compared with the broad basis of common human feeling.
ere was the most perfect unanimity between Pra and Pilgrim in the determination to
drive away the obnoxious and too probably unqualified intruder as soon as possible. Whether
the first wonderful cure he effected was on a patient of Pra’s or of Pilgrim’s, one was as
ready as the other to pull the interloper by the nose, and both alike directed their remarkable
powers of conversation towards making the town too hot for him. But by their respective
patients these two distinguished men were pied against ea other with great virulence. Mrs
Lowme could not conceal her amazement that Mrs Phipps should trust her life in the hands
of Pra, who let her feed herself up to that degree, it was really shoing to hear how short
her breath was; and Mrs Phipps had no patience with Mrs Lowme, living, as she did, on tea
and broth, and looking as yellow as any crow-flower, and yet letting Pilgrim bleed and blister
her and give her lowering medicine till her clothes hung on her like a scarecrow’s. On the
whole, perhaps, Mr Pilgrim’s reputation was at the higher pit, and when any lady under
Mr Pra’s care was doing ill, she was half disposed to think that a lile more “active
treatment” might suit her beer. But without very definite provocation no one would take so
serious a step as to part with the family doctor, for in those remote days there were few
varieties of human hatred more formidable than the medical. e doctor’s estimate, even of a
confiding patient, was apt to rise and fall with the entries in the day-book; and I have known
Mr Pilgrim discover the most unexpected virtues in a patient seized with a promising illness.
At su times you might have been glad to perceive that there were some of Mr Pilgrim’s
fellow-creatures of whom he entertained a high opinion, and that he was liable to the
amiable weakness of a too admiring estimate. A good inflammation fired his enthusiasm, and
a lingering dropsy dissolved him into arity. Doubtless this crescendo of benevolence was
partly due to feelings not at all represented by the entries in the day-book; for in Mr Pilgrim’s
heart, too, there was a latent store of tenderness and pity whi flowed forth at the sight of
suffering. Gradually, however, as his patients became convalescent, his view of their
aracters became more dispassionate; when they could relish muon-ops, he began to
admit that they had foibles, and by the time they had swallowed their last dose of tonic, he
was alive to their most inexcusable faults. Aer this, the thermometer of his regard rested at
the moderate point of friendly babiting, whi sufficed to make him agreeable in his
morning visits to the amiable and worthy persons who were yet far from convalescent.
Pra’s patients were profoundly uninteresting to Pilgrim: their very diseases were
despicable, and he would hardly have thought their bodies worth dissecting. But of all Pra’s
patients, Mr Jerome was the one on whom Mr Pilgrim heaped the most unmitigated
contempt. In spite of the surgeon’s wise tolerance, Dissent became odious to him in the
person of Mr Jerome. Perhaps it was because that old gentleman, being ri, and having very
large yearly bills for medical aendance on himself and his wife, nevertheless employed Pra
—neglected all the advantages of “active treatment,” and paid away his money without
geing his system lowered. On any other ground it is hard to explain a feeling of hostility to
Mr Jerome, who was an excellent old gentleman, expressing a great deal of goodwill towards
his neighbours, not only in imperfect English, but in loans of money to the ostensibly ri,
and in sacks of potatoes to the obviously poor.
Assuredly Milby had that salt of goodness whi keeps the world together, in greater
abundance than was visible on the surface: innocent babes were born there, sweetening their
parents’ hearts with simple joys; men and women withering in disappointed worldliness, or
bloated with sensual ease, had beer moments in whi they pressed the hand of sufferingwith sympathy, and were moved to deeds of neighbourly kindness. In ur and in apel
there were honest-hearted worshippers who strove to keep a conscience void of offence; and
even up the dimmest alleys you might have found here and there a Wesleyan to whom
Methodism was the vehicle of peace on earth, and goodwill to men. To a superficial glance,
Milby was nothing but dreary prose: a dingy town, surrounded by flat fields, lopped elms,
and sprawling manufacturing villages, whi crept on and on with their weaving-shops, till
they threatened to gra themselves on the town. But the sweet spring came to Milby
notwithstanding: the elm-tops were red with buds; the uryard was starred with daisies;
the lark showered his love-music on the flat fields; the rainbows hung over the dingy town,
clothing the very roofs and imneys in a strange transfiguring beauty. And so it was with
the human life there, whi at first seemed a dismal mixture of griping worldliness, vanity,
ostri feathers, and the fumes of brandy: looking closer, you found some purity, gentleness,
and unselfishness, as you may have observed a scented geranium giving forth its wholesome
odours amidst blasphemy and gin in a noisy pot-house. Lile deaf Mrs Crewe would oen
carry half her own spare dinner to the si and hungry; Miss Phipps, with her coade of red
feathers, had a filial heart, and lighted her father’s pipe with a pleasant smile; and there were
grey-haired men in drab gaiters, not at all noticeable as you passed them in the street, whose
integrity had been the basis of their rich neighbour’s wealth.
Su as the place was, the people there were entirely contented with it. ey fancied life
must be but a dull affair for that large portion of mankind who were necessarily shut out
from an acquaintance with Milby families, and that it must be an advantage to London and
Liverpool, that Milby gentlemen occasionally visited those places on business. But the
inhabitants became more intensely conscious of the value they set upon all their advantages,
when innovation made its appearance in the person of the Rev. Mr Tryan, the new curate at
the apel-of-ease on Paddiford Common. It was soon notorious in Milby that Mr Tryan held
peculiar opinions; that he preaed extempore; that he was founding a religious lending
library in his remote corner of the parish; that he expounded the Scriptures in coages; and
that his preaing was aracting the Dissenters, and filling the very aisles of his ur. e
rumour sprang up that Evangelicalism had invaded Milby parish;—a murrain or blight all the
more terrible, because its nature was but dimly conjectured. Perhaps Milby was one of the
last spots to be reaed by the wave of a new movement; and it was only now, when the tide
was just on the turn, that the limpets there got a sprinkling. Mr Tryan was the first
Evangelical clergyman who had risen above the Milby horizon: hitherto that obnoxious
adjective had been unknown to the towns-people of any gentility; and there were even many
Dissenters who considered “evangelical” simply a sort of baptismal name to the magazine
whi circulated among the congregation of Salem Chapel. But now, at length, the disease
had been imported, when the parishioners were expecting it as lile as the innocent Red
Indians expected small-pox. As long as Mr Tryan’s hearers were confined to Paddiford
Common—whi, by the by, was hardly recognisable as a common at all, but was a dismal
district where you heard the rale of the hand-loom, and breathed the smoke of coal-pits—
the “canting parson” could be treated as a joke. Not so when a number of single ladies in the
town appeared to be infected, and even one or two men of substantial property, with old Mr
Landor, the banker, at their head, seemed to be “giving in” to the new movement—when Mr
Tryan was known to be well received in several good houses, where he was in the habit of
finishing the evening with exhortation and prayer. Evangelicalism was no longer a nuisance
existing merely in by-corners, whi any well-clad person could avoid; it was invading the
very drawing-rooms, mingling itself with the comfortable fumes of port-wine and brandy,
threatening to deaden with its murky breath all the splendour of the ostri feathers, and to
stifle Milby ingenuousness, not pretending to be beer than its neighbours, with a cloud of
cant and lugubrious hypocrisy. e alarm reaed its climax when it was reported that Mr
Tryan was endeavouring to obtain authority from Mr Prendergast, the non-resident rector, toestablish a Sunday evening lecture in the parish ur, on the ground that old Mr Crewe did
not preach the Gospel.
It now first appeared how surprisingly high a value Milby in general set on the
ministrations of Mr Crewe; how convinced it was that Mr Crewe was the model of a parish
priest, and his sermons the soundest and most edifying that had ever remained unheard by a
ur-going population. All allusions to his brown wig were suppressed, and by a rhetorical
figure his name was associated with venerable grey hairs; the aempted intrusion of Mr
Tryan was an insult to a man deep in years and learning; moreover, it was an insolent effort
to thrust himself forward in a parish where he was clearly distasteful to the superior portion
of its inhabitants. e town was divided into two zealous parties, the Tryanites and
antiTryanites; and by the exertions of the eloquent Dempster, the anti-Tyranite virulence was
soon developed into an organised opposition. A protest against the meditated evening lecture
was framed by that orthodox aorney, and aer being numerously signed, was to be carried
to Mr Prendergast by three delegates representing the intellect, morality, and wealth of
Milby. e intellect, you perceive, was to be personified in Mr Dempster, the morality in Mr
Budd, and the wealth in Mr Tomlinson; and the distinguished triad was to set out on its great
mission, as we have seen, on the third day from that warm Saturday evening when the
conversation recorded in the previous chapter took place in the bar of the Red Lion.
 Chapter III.
It was quite as warm on the following ursday evening, when Mr Dempster and his
colleagues were to return from their mission to Elmstoke Rectory; but it was mu pleasanter
in Mrs Linnet’s parlour than in the bar of the Red Lion. rough the open window came the
scent of mignonee and honeysule; the grass-plot in front of the house was shaded by a
lile plantation of Gueldres roses, syringas, and laburnums; the noise of looms and carts and
unmelodious voices reaed the ear simply as an agreeable murmur, for Mrs Linnet’s house
was situated quite on the outskirts of Paddiford Common; and the only sound likely to
disturb the serenity of the feminine party assembled there, was the occasional buzz of
intrusive wasps, apparently mistaking ea lady’s head for a sugar-basin. No sugar-basin was
visible in Mrs Linnet’s parlour, for the time of tea was not yet, and the round table was
liered with books whi the ladies were covering with bla canvass as a reinforcement of
the new Paddiford Lending Library. Miss Linnet, whose manuscript was the neatest type of
zigzag, was seated at a small table apart, writing on green paper tiets, whi were to be
pasted on the covers. Miss Linnet had other accomplishments besides that of a neat
manuscript, and an index to some of them might be found in the ornaments of the room. She
had always combined a love of serious and poetical reading with her skill in fancy-work, and
the neatly-bound copies of Dryden’s Virgil, Hannah More’s Sacred Dramas, Falconer’s
Shipwreck, Mason On Self-Knowledge, Rasselas, and Burke On the Sublime and Beautiful,
whi were the ief ornaments of the book-case, were all inscribed with her name, and had
been bought with her poet-money when she was in her teens. It must have been at least
fieen years since the latest of those purases, but Miss Linnet’s skill in fancy-work
appeared to have gone through more numerous phases than her literary taste; for the
japanned boxes, the alum and sealing-wax baskets, the fan-dolls, the “transferred” landscapes
on the fire-screens, and the recent bouquets of wax-flowers, showed a disparity in freshness
whi made them referable to widely different periods. Wax-flowers presuppose delicate
fingers and robust patience, but there are still many points of mind and person whi they
leave vague and problematic; so I must tell you that Miss Linnet had dark ringlets, a sallow
complexion, and an amiable disposition. As to her features, there was not mu to criticise in
them, for she had lile nose, less lip, and no eyebrow; and as to her intellect, her friend Mrs
Peifer oen said: “She didn’t know a more sensible person to talk to than Mary Linnet.
ere was no one she liked beer to come and take a quiet cup of tea with her, and read a
lile of Klopsto’s Messiah. Mary Linnet had oen told her a great deal of her mind when
they were siing together: she said there were many things to bear in every condition of life,
and nothing should induce her to marry without a prospect of happiness. Once, when Mrs
Peifer admired her wax-flowers, she said, ‘Ah, Mrs Peifer, think of the beauties of nature!’
She always spoke very prettily, did Mary Linnet; very different, indeed, from Rebecca.”
Miss Rebecca Linnet, indeed, was not a general favourite. While most people thought it a
pity that a sensible woman like Mary had not found a good husband—and even her female
friends said nothing more ill-natured of her, than that her face was like a piece of puy with
two Scot pebbles stu in it—Rebecca was always spoken of sarcastically, and it was a
customary kind of banter with young ladies to recommend her as a wife to any gentleman
they happened to be flirting with—her fat, her finery, and her thi ankles, sufficing to give
piquancy to the joke, notwithstanding the absence of novelty. Miss Rebecca, however,
possessed the accomplishment of music, and her singing of “Oh no, we never mention her,”
and “e Soldier’s Tear,” was so desirable an accession to the pleasures of a tea-party, that no
one cared to offend her, especially as Rebecca had a high spirit of her own, and in spite of herexpansively rounded contour, had a particularly sharp tongue. Her reading had been more
extensive than her sister’s, embracing most of the fiction in Mr Procter’s circulating library,
and nothing but an acquaintance with the course of her studies could afford a clue to the
rapid transitions in her dress, whi were suggested by the style of beauty, whether
sentimental, sprightly, or severe, possessed by the heroine of the three volumes actually in
perusal. A piece of lace, whi drooped round the edge of her white bonnet one week, had
been rejected by the next; and her eeks, whi, on Whitsunday, loomed through a
Turnerian haze of net-work, were, on Trinity Sunday, seen reposing in distinct red outline on
her shelving bust, like the sun on a fog-bank. e bla velvet, meeting with a crystal clasp,
whi one evening encircled her head, had on another descended to her ne, and on a third
to her wrist, suggesting to an active imagination, either a magical contraction of the
ornament, or a fearful ratio of expansion in Miss Rebecca’s person. With this constant
application of art to dress, she could have had lile time for fancy-work, even if she had not
been destitute of her sister’s taste for that delightful and truly feminine occupation. And here,
at least, you perceive the justice of the Milby opinion as to the relative suitability of the two
Miss Linnets for matrimony. When a man is happy enough to win the affections of a sweet
girl, who can soothe his cares with crochet, and respond to all his most erished ideas with
beaded urn-rugs and air-covers in German wool, he has, at least, a guarantee of domestic
comfort, whatever trials may await him out of doors. What a resource it is under fatigue and
irritation to have your drawing-room well supplied with small mats, whi would always be
ready if you ever wanted to set anything on them! And what styptic for a bleeding heart can
equal copious squares of crochet, whi are useful for slipping down the moment you tou
them? How our fathers managed without crochet is the wonder; but I believe some small and
feeble substitute existed in their time under the name of “taing.” Rebecca Linnet, however,
had neglected taing as well as other forms of fancy-work. At sool, to be sure, she had
spent a great deal of time in acquiring flower-painting, according to the ingenious method
then fashionable, of applying the shapes of leaves and flowers cut out in cardboard, and
scrubbing a brush over the surface thus conveniently marked out; but even the spill-cases and
hand-screens whi were her last half-year’s performances in that way, were not considered
eminently successful, and had long been consigned to the retirement of the best bedroom.
us, there was a good deal of family unlikeness between Rebecca and her sister, and I am
afraid there was also a lile family dislike; but Mary’s disapproval had usually been kept
imprisoned behind her thin lips, for Rebecca was not only of a headstrong disposition, but
was her mother’s pet; the old lady being herself stout, and preferring a more showy style of
cap than she could prevail on her daughter Mary to make up for her.
But I have been describing Miss Rebecca as she was in former days only, for her
appearance this evening, as she sits pasting on the green tiets, is in striking contrast with
what it was three or four months ago. Her plain grey gingham dress and plain white collar
could never have belonged to her wardrobe before that date; and though she is not reduced
in size, and her brown hair will do nothing but hang in crisp ringlets down her large eeks,
there is a ange in her air and expression whi seems to shed a soened light over her
person, and make her look like a peony in the shade, instead of the same flower flaunting in a
parterre in the hot sunlight.
No one could deny that Evangelicalism had wrought a ange for the beer in Rebecca
Linnet’s person—not even Miss Pra, the thin, stiff lady in spectacles, seated opposite to her,
who always had a peculiar repulsion for “females with a gross habit of body.” Miss Pra was
an old maid; but that is a no more definite description than if I had said she was in the
autumn of life. Was it autumn when the orards are fragrant with apples, or autumn when
the oaks are brown, or autumn when the last yellow leaves are fluering in the ill breeze?
e young ladies in Milby would have told you that the Miss Linnets were old maids; but the
Miss Linnets were to Miss Pratt what the apple-scented September is to the bare, nipping daysof late November. e Miss Linnets were in that temperate zone of old-maidism, when a
woman will not say but that if a man of suitable years and aracter were to offer himself,
she might be induced to tread the remainder of life’s vale in company with him; Miss Pra
was in that arctic region where a woman is confident that at no time of life would she have
consented to give up her liberty, and that she has never seen the man whom she would
engage to honour and obey. If the Miss Linnets were old maids, they were old maids with
natural ringlets and embonpoint, not to say obesity; Miss Pra was an old maid with a cap, a
braided “front,” a babone and appendages. Miss Pra was the one blue-stoing of Milby,
possessing, she said, no less than five hundred volumes, competent, as her brother the doctor
oen observed, to conduct a conversation on any topic whatever, and occasionally dabbling a
lile in authorship, though it was understood that she had never put forth the full powers of
her mind in print. Her Leers to a Young Man on his Entrance into Life, and De Courcy, or
the Rash Promise, a Tale for Youth , were mere trifles whi she had been induced to publish
because they were calculated for popular utility, but they were nothing to what she had for
years had by her in manuscript. Her latest production had been Six Stanzas, addressed to the
Rev. Edgar Tryan, printed on glazed paper with a neat border, and beginning, “Forward,
young wrestler for the truth!”
Miss Pra having kept her brother’s house during his long widowhood, his daughter, Miss
Eliza, had had the advantage of being educated by her aunt, and thus of imbibing a very
strong antipathy to all that remarkable woman’s tastes and opinions. e silent handsome girl
of two-and-twenty, who is covering the Memoirs of Felix Neff, is Miss Eliza Pra; and the
small elderly lady in dowdy clothing, who is also working diligently, is Mrs Peifer, a
superior-minded widow, mu valued in Milby, being su a very respectable person to have
in the house in case of illness, and of quite too good a family to receive any money-payment
—you could always send her garden-stuff that would make her ample amends. Miss Pra has
enough to do in commenting on the heap of volumes before her, feeling it a responsibility
entailed on her by her great powers of mind to leave nothing without the advantage of her
opinion. Whatever was good must be sprinkled with the rism of her approval; whatever
was evil must be blighted by her condemnation.
“Upon my word,” she said, in a deliberate high voice, as if she were dictating to an
amanuensis, “it is a most admirable selection of works for popular reading, this that our
excellent Mr Tryan has made. I do not know whether, if the task had been confided to me, I
could have made a selection, combining in a higher degree religious instruction and
edification, with a due admixture of the purer species of amusement. is story of Father
Clement is a library in itself on the errors of Romanism. I have ever considered fiction a
suitable form for conveying moral and religious instruction, as I have shown in my little work
De Courcy, whi, as a very clever writer in the Crompton Argus said at the time of its
appearance, is the light vehicle of a weighty moral.”
“One ’ud think,” said Mrs Linnet, who also had her spectacles on, but iefly for the
purpose of seeing what the others were doing, “there didn’t want mu to drive people away
from a religion as makes ’em walk barefoot over stone floors, like that girl in Father
Clement—sending the blood up to the head frightful. Anybody might see that was an
unnat’ral creed.”
“Yes,” said Miss Pra, “but asceticism is not the root of the error, as Mr Tryan was telling
us the other evening—it is the denial of the great doctrine of justification by faith. Mu as I
had reflected on all subjects in the course of my life, I am indebted to Mr Tryan for opening
my eyes to the full importance of that cardinal doctrine of the Reformation. From a ild I
had a deep sense of religion, but in my early days the Gospel light was obscured in the
English Chur, notwithstanding the possession of our incomparable Liturgy, than whi I
know no human composition more faultless and sublime. As I tell Eliza, I was not blest as she
is at the age of two-and-twenty, in knowing a clergyman who unites all that is great andadmirable in intellect with the highest spiritual gis. I am no contemptible judge of a man’s
acquirements, and I assure you I have tested Mr Tryan’s by questions whi are a prey
severe toustone. It is true, I sometimes carry him a lile beyond the depth of the other
listeners. Profound learning,” continued Miss Pra, shuing her spectacles, and tapping them
on the book before her, “has not many to estimate it in Milby.”
“Miss Pra,” said Rebecca, “will you please give me Sco’s Force of Truth ? ere—that
small book lying against the Life of Legh Richmond.”
“at’s a book I’m very fond of—the Life of Legh Rimond,” said Mrs Linnet. “He found
out all about that woman at Tutbury as pretended to live without eating. Stuff and
Mrs Linnet had become a reader of religious books since Mr Tryan’s advent, and as she was
in the habit of confining her perusal to the purely secular portions, whi bore a very small
proportion to the whole, she could make rapid progress through a large number of volumes.
On taking up the biography of a celebrated preaer, she immediately turned to the end to
see what disease he died of; and if his legs swelled, as her own occasionally did, she felt a
stronger interest in ascertaining any earlier facts in the history of the dropsical divine—
whether he had ever fallen off a stage coa, whether he had married more than one wife,
and, in general, any adventures or repartees recorded of him previous to the epo of his
conversion. She then glanced over the leers and diary, and wherever there was a
predominance of Zion, the River of Life, and notes of exclamation, she turned over to the
next page; but any passage in whi she saw su promising nouns as “small-pox,” “pony,” or
“boots and shoes,” at once arrested her.
“It is half-past six now,” said Miss Linnet, looking at her wat as the servant appeared
with the tea-tray. “I suppose the delegates are come ba by this time. If Mr Tryan had not so
kindly promised to call and let us know, I should hardly rest without walking to Milby
myself to know what answer they have brought ba. It is a great privilege for us, Mr Tryan
living at Mrs Wagstaff’s, for he is oen able to take us on his way bawards and forwards
into the town.”
“I wonder if there’s another man in the world who has been brought up as Mr Tryan has,
that would oose to live in those small close rooms on the common, among heaps of dirty
coages, for the sake of being near the poor people,” said Mrs Peifer. “I’m afraid he hurts his
health by it; he looks to me far from strong.”
“Ah,” said Miss Pra, “I understand he is of a highly respectable family indeed, in
Huntingdonshire. I heard him myself speak of his father’s carriage—quite incidentally you
know—and Eliza tells me what very fine cambric handkeriefs he uses. My eyes are not
good enough to see su things, but I know what breeding is as well as most people, and it is
easy to see that Mr Tryan is quite comme il faw, to use a French expression.”
“I should like to tell him beer nor use fine cambric i’ this place, where there’s su
washing, it’s a shame to be seen,” said Mrs Linnet; “he’ll get ’em tore to pieces. Good lawn
’ud be far beer. I saw what a colour his linen looked at the sacrament last Sunday. Mary’s
making him a bla silk case to hold his bands, but I told her she’d more need wash ’em for
“O mother!” said Rebecca, with solemn severity, “pray don’t think of poet-handkeriefs
and linen, when we are talking of su a man. And at this moment, too, when he is perhaps
having to bear a heavy blow. We have more need to help him by prayer, as Aaron and Hur
held up the hands of Moses. We don’t know but wiedness may have triumphed, and Mr
Prendergast may have consented to forbid the lecture. ere have been dispensations quite as
mysterious, and Satan is evidently puing forth all his strength to resist the entrance of the
Gospel into Milby Church.”
“You niver spoke a truer word than that, my dear,” said Mrs Linnet, who accepted all
religious phrases, but was extremely rationalistic in her interpretation; “for if iver Old Harryappeared in a human form, it’s that Dempster. It was all through him as we got eated out
o’ Pye’s Cro, making out as the title wasn’t good. Su lawyer’s villany! As if paying good
money wasn’t title enough to anything. If your father as is dead and gone had been worthy
to know it! But he’ll have a fall some day, Dempster will. Mark my words.”
“Ah, out of his carriage, you mean,” said Miss Pra, who, in the movement occasioned by
the clearing of the table, had lost the first part of Mrs Linnet’s spee. “It certainly is alarming
to see him driving home from Rotherby, flogging his galloping horse like a madman. My
brother has oen said he expected every ursday evening to be called in to set some of
Dempster’s bones; but I suppose he may drop that expectation now, for we are given to
understand from good authority that he has forbidden his wife to call my brother in again
either to herself or her mother. He swears no Tryanite doctor shall aend his family. I have
reason to believe that Pilgrim was called in to Mrs Dempster’s mother the other day.”
“Poor Mrs Raynor! she’s glad to do anything for the sake of peace and quietness,” said Mrs
Pettifer; “but it’s no trifle at her time of life to part with a doctor as knows her constitution.”
“What trouble that poor woman has to bear in her old age!” said Mary Linnet, “to see her
daughter leading such a life!—an only daughter, too, that she doats on.”
“Yes, indeed,” said Miss Pra. “We, of course, know more about it than most people, my
brother having aended the family so many years. For my part, I never thought well of the
marriage; and I endeavoured to dissuade my brother when Mrs Raynor asked him to give
Janet away at the wedding. ‘If you will take my advice, Riard,’ I said, ‘you will have
nothing to do with that marriage.’ And he has seen the justice of my opinion since. Mrs
Raynor herself was against the connection at first; but she always spoiled Janet, and I fear,
too, she was won over by a foolish pride in having her daughter marry a professional man. I
fear it was so. No one but myself, I think, foresaw the extent of the evil.”
“Well,” said Mrs Peifer, “Janet had nothing to look to but being a governess; and it was
hard for Mrs Raynor to have to work at millinering—a woman well brought up, and her
husband a man who held his head as high as any man in urston. And it isn’t everybody
that sees everything fieen years beforehand. Robert Dempster was the cleverest man in
Milby; and there weren’t many young men fit to talk to Janet.”
“It is a thousand pities,” said Miss Pra, oosing to ignore Mrs Peifer’s slight sarcasm,
“for I certainly did consider Janet Raynor the most promising young woman of my
acquaintance;—a lile too mu lied up, perhaps, by her superior education, and too mu
given to satire, but able to express herself very well indeed about any book I recommended to
her perusal. ere is no young woman in Milby now who can be compared with what Janet
was when she was married, either in mind or person. I consider Miss Landor far, far below
her. Indeed, I cannot say mu for the mental superiority of the young ladies in our first
families. They are superficial—very superficial.”
“She made the handsomest bride that ever came out of Milby ur, too,” said Mrs
Peifer. “Su a very fine figure! and it showed off her white poplin so well. And what a
prey smile Janet always had! Poor thing, she keeps that now for all her old friends. I never
see her but she has something prey to say to me—living in the same street, you know, I
can’t help seeing her oen, though I’ve never been to the house since Dempster broke out on
me in one of his drunken fits. She comes to me sometimes, poor thing, looking so strange,
anybody passing her in the street may see plain enough what’s the maer; but she’s always
got some lile good-natured plan in her head for all that. Only last night when I met her, I
saw five yards off she wasn’t fit to be out; but she had a basin in her hand, full of something
she was carrying to Sally Martin, the deformed girl that’s in a consumption.”
“But she is just as bier against Mr Tryan as her husband is, I understand,” said Rebecca.
“Her heart is very mu set against the truth, for I understand she bought Mr Tryan’s
sermons on purpose to ridicule them to Mrs Crewe.”
“Well, poor thing,” said Mrs Peifer, “you know she stands up for everything her husbandsays and does. She never will admit to anybody that he’s not a good husband.”
“at is her pride,” said Miss Pra. “She married him in opposition to the advice of her
best friends, and now she is not willing to admit that she was wrong. Why, even to my
brother—and a medical aendant, you know, can hardly fail to be acquainted with family
secrets—she has always pretended to have the highest respect for her husband’s qualities.
Poor Mrs Raynor, however, is well aware that every one knows the real state of things.
Laerly, she has not even avoided the subject with me. e very last time I called on her she
said, ‘Have you been to see my poor daughter?’ and burst into tears.”
“Pride or no pride,” said Mrs Peifer, “I shall always stand up for Janet Dempster. She sat
up with me night aer night when I had that aa of rheumatic fever six years ago. ere’s
great excuses for her. When a woman can’t think of her husband coming home without
trembling, it’s enough to make her drink something to blunt her feelings—and no ildren
either, to keep her from it. You and me might do the same, if we were in her place.”
“Speak for yourself, Mrs Peifer,” said Miss Pra. “Under no circumstances can I imagine
myself resorting to a practice so degrading. A woman should find support in her own
strength of mind.”
“I think,” said Rebecca, who considered Miss Pra still very blind in spiritual things,
notwithstanding her assumption of enlightenment, “she will find poor support if she trusts
only to her own strength. She must seek aid elsewhere than in herself.”
Happily the removal of the tea-things just then created a lile confusion, whi aided Miss
Pra to repress her resentment at Rebecca’s presumption in correcting her—a person like
Rebecca Linnet! who six months ago was as flighty and vain a woman as Miss Pra had ever
known—so very unconscious of her unfortunate person!
e ladies had scarcely been seated at their work another hour, when the sun was sinking,
and the clouds that fleed the sky to the very zenith were every moment taking on a
brighter gold. e gate of the lile garden opened, and Miss Linnet, seated at her small table
near the window, saw Mr Tryan enter.
“ere is Mr Tryan,” she said, and her pale eek was lighted up with a lile blush that
would have made her look more aractive to almost any one except Miss Eliza Pra, whose
fine grey eyes allowed few things to escape her silent observation. “Mary Linnet gets more
and more in love with Mr Tryan,” thought Miss Eliza; “it is really pitiable to see su feelings
in a woman of her age, with those old-maidish lile ringlets. I dare say she flaers herself Mr
Tryan may fall in love with her, because he makes her useful among the poor.” At the same
time, Miss Eliza, as she bent her handsome head and large cannon curls with apparent
calmness over her work, felt a considerable internal fluer when she heard the kno at the
door. Rebecca had less self-command. She felt too mu agitated to go on with her pasting,
and clutched the leg of the table to counteract the trembling in her hands.
Poor women’s hearts! Heaven forbid that I should laugh at you, and make eap jests on
your susceptibility towards the clerical sex, as if it had nothing deeper or more lovely in it
than the mere vulgar angling for a husband. Even in these enlightened days, many a curate
who, considered abstractedly, is nothing more than a sleek bimanous animal in a white
necloth, with views more or less Anglican, and furtively addicted to the flute, is adored by
a girl who has coarse brothers, or by a solitary woman who would like to be a helpmate in
good works beyond her own means, simply because he seems to them the model of
refinement and of public usefulness. What wonder, then, that in Milby society, su as I have
told you it was a very long while ago, a zealous evangelical clergyman, aged thirty-three,
called forth all the lile agitations that belong to the divine necessity of loving, implanted in
the Miss Linnets, with their seven or eight lustrums and their unfashionable ringlets, no less
than in Miss Eliza Pratt, with her youthful bloom and her ample cannon curls.
But Mr Tryan has entered the room, and the strange light from the golden sky falling on
his light brown hair, whi is brushed high up round his head, makes it look almost like anauréole. His grey eyes, too, shine with unwonted brilliancy this evening. ey were not
remarkable eyes, but they accorded completely in their anging light with the anging
expression of his person, whi indicated the paradoxical aracter oen observable in a
large-limbed sanguine blond; at once mild and irritable, gentle and overbearing, indolent and
resolute, self-conscious and dreamy. Except that the well-filled lips had something of the
artificially compressed look whi is oen the sign of a struggle to keep the dragon
undermost, and that the complexion was rather pallid, giving the idea of imperfect health, Mr
Tryan’s face in repose was that of an ordinary whiskerless blond, and it seemed difficult to
refer a certain air of distinction about him to anything in particular, unless it were his delicate
hands and well-shapen feet.
It was a great anomaly to the Milby mind that a canting evangelical parson, who would
take tea with tradespeople, and make friends of vulgar women like the Linnets, should have
so mu the air of a gentleman, and be so lile like the splay-footed Mr Stiney of Salem, to
whom he approximated so closely in doctrine. And this want of correspondence between the
physique and the creed had excited no less surprise in the larger town of Laxeter, where Mr
Tryan had formerly held a curacy; for of the two other Low Chur clergymen in the
neighbourhood, one was a Welshman of globose figure and unctuous complexion, and the
other a man of atrabiliar aspect, with lank bla hair, and a redundance of limp cravat—in
fact, the sort of thing you might expect in men who distributed the publications of the
Religious Tract Society and introduced Dissenting hymns into the Church.
Mr Tryan shook hands with Mrs Linnet, bowed with rather a preoccupied air to the other
ladies, and seated himself in the large horse-hair easy-air whi had been drawn forward
for him, while the ladies ceased from their work, and fixed their eyes on him, awaiting the
news he had to tell them.
“It seems,” he began, in a low and silvery tone, “I need a lesson of patience; there has been
something wrong in my thought or action about this evening lecture. I have been too mu
bent on doing good to Milby after my own plan—too reliant on my own wisdom.”
Mr Tryan paused. He was struggling against inward irritation.
“e delegates are come ba, then?” “Has Mr Prendergast given way?” “Has Dempster
succeeded?”—were the eager questions of three ladies at once.
“Yes; the town is in an uproar. As we were siing in Mr Landor’s drawing-room we heard
a loud eering, and presently Mr rupp, the clerk at the bank, who had been waiting at the
Red Lion to hear the result, came to let us know. He said Dempster had been making a spee
to the mob out of the window. ey were distributing drink to the people, and hoisting
placards in great leers,—‘Down with the Tryanites!’ ‘Down with cant!’ ey had a hideous
caricature of me being tripped-up and pited head foremost out of the pulpit. Good old Mr
Landor would insist on sending me round in the carriage; he thought I should not be safe
from the mob; but I got down at the Crossways. e row was evidently preconcerted by
Dempster before he set out. He made sure of succeeding.”
Mr Tryan’s uerance had been geing rather louder and more rapid in the course of this
spee, and he now added, in the energetic est-voice, whi, both in and out of the pulpit,
alternated continually with his more silvery notes,—“But his triumph will be a short one. If
he thinks he can intimidate me by obloquy or threats, he has mistaken the man he has to deal
with. Mr Dempster and his colleagues will find themselves emated aer all. Mr
Prendergast has been false to his own conscience in this business. He knows as well as I do
that he is throwing away the souls of the people by leaving things as they are in the parish.
But I shall appeal to the Bishop—I am confident of his sympathy.”
“The Bishop will be coming shortly, I suppose,” said Miss Pratt, “to hold a confirmation?”
“Yes; but I shall write to him at once, and lay the case before him. Indeed, I must hurry
away now, for I have many maers to aend to. You, ladies, have been kindly helping me
with your labours, I see,” continued Mr Tryan, politely, glancing at the canvass-covered booksas he rose from his seat. en, turning to Mary Linnet: “Our library is really geing on, I
think. You and your sister have quite a heavy task of distribution now.”
Poor Rebecca felt it very hard to bear that Mr Tryan did not turn towards her too. If he
knew how mu she entered into his feelings about the lecture, and the interest she took in
the library. Well! perhaps it was her lot to be overlooked—and it might be a token of mercy.
Even a good man might not always know the heart that was most with him. But the next
moment poor Mary had a pang, when Mr Tryan turned to Miss Eliza Pra, and the
preoccupied expression of his face melted into that beaming timidity with whi a man
almost always addresses a pretty woman.
“I have to thank you, too, Miss Eliza, for seconding me so well in your visits to Joseph
Mercer. e old man tells me how precious he finds your reading to him, now he is no longer
able to go to church.”
Miss Eliza only answered by a blush, whi made her look all the handsomer, but her aunt
“Yes, Mr Tryan, I have ever inculcated on my dear Eliza the importance of spending her
leisure in being useful to her fellow-creatures. Your example and instruction have been quite
in the spirit of the system whi I have always pursued, though we are indebted to you for a
clearer view of the motives that should actuate us in our pursuit of good works. Not that I can
accuse myself of having ever had a self-righteous spirit, but my humility was rather
instinctive than based on a firm ground of doctrinal knowledge, su as you so admirably
impart to us.”
Mrs Linnet’s usual entreaty that Mr Tryan would “have something—some wine-and-water
and a biscuit,” was just here a welcome relief from the necessity of answering Miss Pra’s
“Not anything, my dear Mrs Linnet, thank you. You forget what a Reabite I am. By the
by, when I went this morning to see a poor girl in Buter’s Lane, whom I had heard of as
being in a consumption, I found Mrs Dempster there. I had oen met her in the street, but
did not know it was Mrs Dempster. It seems she goes among the poor a good deal. She is
really an interesting-looking woman. I was quite surprised, for I have heard the worst
account of her habits—that she is almost as bad as her husband. She went out hastily as soon
as I entered. But,” (apologetically) “I am keeping you all standing, and I must really hurry
away. Mrs Pettifer, I have not had the pleasure of calling on you for some time; I shall take an
early opportunity of going your way. Good evening, good evening.”
 Chapter IV.
Mr Tryan was right in saying that the “row” in Milby had been preconcerted by Dempster.
e placards and the caricature were prepared before the departure of the delegates; and it
had been seled that Mat Paine, Dempster’s clerk, should ride out on ursday morning to
meet them at Whitlow, the last place where they would ange horses, that he might gallop
ba and prepare an oration for the triumvirate in case of their success. Dempster had
determined to dine at Whitlow: so that Mat Paine was in Milby again two hours before the
entrance of the delegates, and had time to send a whisper up the ba streets that there was
promise of a “spree” in the Bridge Way, as well as to assemble two knots of pied men—one
to feed the flame of orthodox zeal with gin-and-water, at the Green Man, near High Street;
the other to solidify their ur principles with heady beer at the Bear and Ragged Staff, in
the Bridge Way.
e Bridge Way was an irregular straggling street, where the town fringed off raggedly
into the Whitlow road: rows of new red-bri houses, in whi ribbon-looms were raling
behind long lines of window, alternating with old, half-thated, half-tiled coages—one of
those dismal wide streets where dirt and misery have no long shadows thrown on them to
soen their ugliness. Here, about half-past five o’clo, Silly Caleb, an idiot well known in
Dog Lane, but more of a stranger in the Bridge Way, was seen slouing along with a string
of boys hooting at his heels; presently another group, for the most part out at elbows, came
briskly in the same direction, looking round them with an air of expectation; and at no long
interval, Deb Traunter, in a pink flounced gown and floating ribbons, was observed talking
with great affability to two men in seal-skin caps and fustian, who formed her cortège. e
Bridge Way began to have a presentiment of something in the wind. Phib Cook le her
evening wash-tub and appeared at her door in soap-suds, a bonnet-poke, and general
dampness; three narrow-ested ribbon-weavers, in rusty bla streaked with shreds of
many-coloured silk, sauntered out with their hands in their poets; and Molly Beale, a
brawny old virago, descrying wiry Dame Ries peeping out from her entry, seized the
opportunity of renewing the morning’s skirmish. In short, the Bridge Way was in that state of
excitement whi is understood to announce a “demonstration” on the part of the British
public; and the afflux of remote townsmen increasing, there was soon so large a crowd that it
was time for Bill Powers, a plethoric Goliath, who presided over the knot of beer-drinkers at
the Bear and Ragged Staff, to issue forth with his companions, and, like the enunciator of the
ancient myth, make the assemblage distinctly conscious of the common sentiment that had
drawn them together. e expectation of the delegates’ aise, added to the fight between
Molly Beale and Dame Ries, and the ill-advised appearance of a lean bull-terrier, were a
sufficient safety-valve to the popular excitement during the remaining quarter of an hour; at
the end of whi, the aise was seen approaing along the Whitlow road, with oak boughs
ornamenting the horses’ heads, and, to quote the account of this interesting scene whi was
sent to the Rotherby Guardian, “loud eers immediately testified to the sympathy of the
honest fellows collected there, with the public-spirited exertions of their fellow-townsmen.”
Bill Powers, whose bloodshot eyes, bent hat, and protuberant altitude, marked him out as the
natural leader of the assemblage, undertook to interpret the common sentiment by stopping
the aise, advancing to the door with raised hat, and begging to know of Mr Dempster,
whether the Rector had forbidden the “canting lecture.”
“Yes, yes,” said Mr Dempster. “Keep up a jolly good hurray.”
No public duty could have been more easy and agreeable to Mr Powers and his associates,
and the orus swelled all the way to the High Street, where, by a mysterious coincidenceoen observable in these spontaneous “demonstrations,” large placards on long poles were
observed to shoot upwards from among the crowd, principally in the direction of Tuer’s
Lane, where the Green Man was situated. One bore, “Down with the Tryanites!” another,
“No Cant!” another, “Long live our venerable Curate!” and one in still larger leers, “Sound
Chur Principles and no Hypocrisy!” But a still more remarkable impromptu was a huge
caricature of Mr Tryan in gown and band, with an enormous auréole of yellow hair and
upturned eyes, standing on the pulpit stairs and trying to pull down old Mr Crewe. Groans,
yells, and hisses—hisses, yells, and groans—only stemmed by the appearance of another
caricature representing Mr Tryan being pited head-foremost from the pulpit stairs by a
hand whi the artist, either from subtilty of intention or want of space, had le unindicated.
In the midst of the tremendous eering that saluted this piece of symbolical art, the aise
had reaed the door of the Red Lion, and loud cries of “Dempster for ever!” with a feebler
eer now and then for Tomlinson and Budd, were presently responded to by the appearance
of the public-spirited aorney at the large upper window, where also were visible a lile in
the baground the small sleek head of Mr Budd, and the blinking countenance of Mr
Mr Dempster held his hat in his hand, and poked his head forward with a buing motion
by way of bow. A storm of eers subsided at last into dropping sounds of “Silence!” “Hear
him!” “Go it, Dempster!” and the lawyer’s rasping voice became distinctly audible.
“Fellow Townsmen! It gives us the sincerest pleasure—I speak for my respected colleagues
as well as myself—to witness these strong proofs of your aament to the principles of our
excellent Church, and your zeal for the honour of our venerable pastor. But it is no more than
I expected of you. I know you well. I’ve known you for the last twenty years to be as honest
and respectable a set of rate-payers as any in this county. Your hearts are sound to the core!
No man had beer try to thrust his cant and hypocrisy down your throats. You’re used to
wash them with liquor of a beer flavour. is is the proudest moment in my own life, and I
think I may say in that of my colleagues, in whi I have to tell you that our exertions in the
cause of sound religion and manly morality have been crowned with success. Yes, my fellow
Townsmen! I have the gratification of announcing to you thus formally what you have
already learned indirectly. e pulpit from whi our venerable pastor has fed us with sound
doctrine for half a century is not to be invaded by a fanatical, sectarian, double-faced,
Jesuitical interloper! We are not to have our young people demoralised and corrupted by the
temptations to vice, notoriously connected with Sunday evening lectures! We are not to have
a preaer obtruding himself upon us, who decries good works, and sneaks into our homes
perverting the faith of our wives and daughters! We are not to be poisoned with doctrines
whi damp every innocent enjoyment, and pi a poor man’s poet of the sixpence with
whi he might buy himself a eerful glass aer a hard day’s work, under pretence of
paying for bibles to send to the Chicktaws!
“But I’m not going to waste your valuable time with unnecessary words. I am a man of
deeds” (“Ay, damn you, that you are, and you arge well for ’em too,” said a voice from the
crowd, probably that of a gentleman who was immediately aerwards observed with his hat
crushed over his head.) “I shall always be at the service of my fellow-townsmen, and
whoever dares to hector over you, or interfere with your innocent pleasures, shall have an
account to settle with Robert Dempster.
“Now, my boys! you can’t do beer than disperse and carry the good news to all your
fellow-townsmen, whose hearts are as sound as your own. Let some of you go one way and
some another, that every man, woman, and ild in Milby may know what you know
yourselves. But before we part, let us have three eers for True Religion, and down with
When the last eer was dying, Mr Dempster closed the window, and the judiciously
instructed placards and caricatures moved off in divers directions, followed by larger orsmaller divisions of the crowd. e greatest araction apparently lay in the direction of Dog
Lane, the outlet towards Paddiford Common, whither the caricatures were moving; and you
foresee, of course, that those works of symbolical art were consumed with a liberal
expenditure of dry gorse-bushes and vague shouting.
Aer these great public exertions, it was natural that Mr Dempster and his colleagues
should feel more in need than usual of a lile social relaxation; and a party of their friends
was already beginning to assemble in the large parlour of the Red Lion, convened partly by
their own curiosity, and partly by the invaluable Mat Paine. e most capacious pun-bowl
was put in requisition; and that born gentleman, Mr Lowme, seated opposite Mr Dempster as
“Vice,” undertook to brew the pun, defying the criticisms of the envious men out of office,
who, with the readiness of irresponsibility, ignorantly suggested more lemons. e social
festivities were continued till long past midnight, when several friends of sound religion were
conveyed home with some difficulty, one of them showing a dogged determination to seat
himself in the gutter.
Mr Dempster had done as mu justice to the pun as any of the party; and his friend
Boots, though aware that the lawyer could “carry his liquor like Old Ni,” with whose social
demeanour Boots seemed to be particularly well acquainted, nevertheless thought it might be
as well to see so good a customer in safety to his own door, and walked quietly behind his
elbow out of the inn-yard. Dempster, however, soon became aware of him, stopped short,
and, turning slowly round upon him, recognised the well-known drab waistcoat sleeves,
conspicuous enough in the starlight.
“You twopenny scoundrel! What do you mean by dogging a professional man’s footsteps in
this way? I’ll break every bone in your skin if you aempt to tra me, like a beastly cur
sniffing at one’s pocket. Do you think a gentleman will make his way home any the better for
having the scent of your blacking-bottle thrust up his nostrils?”
Boots slunk ba, in more amusement than ill-humour, thinking the lawyer’s “rum talk”
was doubtless part and parcel of his professional ability; and Mr Dempster pursued his slow
way alone.
His house lay in Orard Street, whi opened on the preiest outskirt of the town—the
ur, the parsonage, and a long stret of green fields. It was an old-fashioned house, with
an overhanging upper story; outside, it had a face of rough stucco, and casement windows
with green frames and shuers; inside, it was full of long passages, and rooms with low
ceilings. ere was a large heavy knoer on the green door, and though Mr Dempster
carried a lat-key, he sometimes ose to use the knoer. He ose to do so now. e
thunder resounded through Orard Street, and, aer a single minute, there was a second
clap louder than the first. Another minute, and still the door was not opened; whereupon Mr
Dempster, muering, took out his lat-key, and, with less difficulty than might have been
expected, thrust it into the door. When he opened the door the passage was dark.
“Janet!” in the loudest rasping tone, was the next sound that rang through the house.
“Janet!” again—before a slow step was heard on the stairs, and a distant light began to
flicker on the wall of the passage.
“Curse you! you creeping idiot! Come faster, can’t you?”
Yet another few seconds, and the figure of a tall woman, holding aslant a heavy-plated
drawing-room candlesti, appeared at the turning of the passage that led to the broader
See, she has on a light dress whi sits loosely about her figure, but does not disguise its
liberal, graceful outline. A heavy mass of straight jet-black hair has escaped from its fastening,
and hangs over her shoulders. Her grandly-cut features, pale with the natural paleness of a
brunee, have premature lines about them telling that the years have been lengthened by
sorrow, and the delicately-curved nostril, whi seems made to quiver with the proud
consciousness of power and beauty, must have quivered to the heart-piercing griefs whihave given that worn look to the corners of the mouth. Her wide open bla eyes have a
strangely fixed, sightless gaze, as she pauses at the turning, and stands silent before her
“I’ll tea you to keep me waiting in the dark, you pale staring fool!” advancing with his
slow drunken step. “What, you’ve been drinking again, have you? I’ll beat you into your
He laid his hand with a firm gripe on her shoulder, turned her round, and pushed her
slowly before him along the passage and through the dining-room door whi stood open on
their left hand.
ere was a portrait of Janet’s mother, a grey-haired, dark-eyed old woman, in a
neatlyfluted cap, hanging over the mantelpiece. Surely the aged eyes take on a look of anguish as
they see Janet—not trembling, no! it would be beer if she trembled—standing stupidly
unmoved in her great beauty, while the heavy arm is lied to strike her. e blow falls—
another—and another. Surely the mother hears that cry—“O Robert! pity! pity!”
Poor grey-haired woman! Was it for this you suffered a mother’s pangs in your lone
widowhood five-and-thirty years ago? Was it for this you kept the lile worn morocco shoes
Janet had first run in, and kissed them day by day when she was away from you, a tall girl at
sool? Was it for this you looked proudly at her when she came ba to you in her ri pale
beauty, like a tall white arum that has just unfolded its grand pure curves to the sun?
e mother lies sleepless and praying in her lonely house, weeping the hard tears of age,
because she dreads this may be a cruel night for her child.
She too has a picture over her mantelpiece, drawn in alk by Janet long years ago. She
looked at it before she went to bed. It is a head bowed beneath a cross, and wearing a crown
of thorns.
 Chapter V.
It was half-past nine o’clo in the morning. e midsummer sun was already warm on the
roofs and weathercos of Milby. e ur-bells were ringing, and many families were
conscious of Sunday sensations, iefly referable to the fact that the daughters had come
down to breakfast in their best fros, and with their hair particularly well dressed. For it was
not Sunday, but Wednesday; and though the Bishop was going to hold a Confirmation, and
to decide whether or not there should be a Sunday evening lecture in Milby, the sunbeams
had the usual working-day look to the haymakers already long out in the fields, and to
laggard weavers just “setting up” their week’s “piece.” The notion of its being Sunday was the
strongest in young ladies like Miss Phipps, who was going to accompany her younger sister to
the confirmation, and to wear a “sweetly prey” transparent bonnet with marabout feathers
on the interesting occasion, thus throwing into relief the suitable simplicity of her sister’s
aire, who was, of course, to appear in a new white fro; or in the pupils at Miss Townley’s,
who were absolved from all lessons, and were going to ur to see the Bishop, and to hear
the Honourable and Reverend Mr Prendergast, the rector, read prayers—a high intellectual
treat, as Miss Townley assured them. It seemed only natural that a rector, who was
honourable, should read beer than old Mr Crewe, who was only a curate, and not
honourable; and when lile Clara Robins wondered why some clergymen were rectors and
others not, Ellen Marrio assured her with great confidence that it was only the clever men
who were made rectors. Ellen Marrio was going to be confirmed. She was a short, fair,
plump girl, with blue eyes and sandy hair, whi was this morning arranged in taller cannon
curls than usual, for the reception of the Episcopal benediction, and some of the young ladies
thought her the preiest girl in the sool; but others gave the preference to her rival, Maria
Gardner, who was mu taller, and had a lovely “crop” of dark-brown ringlets, and who,
being also about to take upon herself the vows made in her name at her baptism, had oiled
and twisted her ringlets with especial care. As she seated herself at the breakfast-table before
Miss Townley’s entrance to dispense the weak coffee, her crop excited so strong a sensation
that Ellen Marrio was at length impelled to look at it, and to say with suppressed but bier
sarcasm, “Is that Miss Gardner’s head?” “Yes,” said Maria, amiable and stuering, and no
mat for Ellen in retort; “—th—this is my head.” “en I don’t admire it at all!” was the
crushing rejoinder of Ellen, followed by a murmur of approval among her friends. Young
ladies, I suppose, exhaust their sac of venom in this way at sool. at is the reason why
they have such a harmless tooth for each other in after life.
e only other candidate for confirmation at Miss Townley’s was Mary Dunn, a draper’s
daughter in Milby, and a distant relation of the Miss Linnets. Her pale lanky hair could never
be coaxed into permanent curl, and this morning the heat had brought it down to its natural
condition of lankiness earlier than usual. But that was not what made her sit melanoly and
apart at the lower end of the form. Her parents were admirers of Mr Tryan, and had been
persuaded, by the Miss Linnets’ influence, to insist that their daughter should be prepared for
confirmation by him, over and above the preparation given to Miss Townley’s pupils by Mr
Crewe. Poor Mary Dunn! I am afraid she thought it too heavy a price to pay for these
spiritual advantages, to be excluded from every game at ball, to be obliged to walk with none
but lile girls—in fact, to be the object of an aversion that nothing short of an incessant
supply of plum-cakes would have neutralised. And Mrs Dunn was of opinion that plumcake
was unwholesome. e anti-Tryanite spirit, you perceive, was very strong at Miss Townley’s,
imported probably by day solars, as well as encouraged by the fact that that clever woman
was herself strongly opposed to innovation, and remarked every Sunday that Mr Crewe hadpreaed an “excellent discourse.” Poor Mary Dunn dreaded the moment when sool-hours
would be over, for then she was sure to be the bu of those very explicit remarks whi, in
young ladies’ as well as young gentlemen’s seminaries, constitute the most subtle and
delicate form of the innuendo. “I’d never be a Tryanite, would you?” “O here comes the lady
that knows so mu more about religion than we do!” “Some people think themselves so very
It is really surprising that young ladies should not be thought competent to the same
curriculum as young gentlemen. I observe that their powers of sarcasm are quite equal; and if
there had been a genteel academy for young gentlemen at Milby, I am inclined to think that,
notwithstanding Euclid and the classics, the party spirit there would not have exhibited itself
in more pungent irony, or more incisive satire, than was heard in Miss Townley’s seminary.
But there was no su academy, the existence of the grammar-sool under Mr Crewe’s
superintendence probably discouraging speculations of that kind; and the genteel youths of
Milby were iefly come home for the midsummer holidays from distant sools. Several of
us had just assumed coat-tails, and the assumption of new responsibilities apparently
following as a maer of course, we were among the candidates for confirmation. I wish I
could say that the solemnity of our feelings was on a level with the solemnity of the occasion;
but unimaginative boys find it difficult to recognise apostolical institutions in their developed
form, and I fear our ief emotion concerning the ceremony was a sense of sheepishness, and
our ief opinion, the speculative and heretical position, that it ought to be confined to the
girls. It was a pity, you will say; but it is the way with us men in other crises, that come a
long while aer confirmation. e golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we
see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are
But, as I said, the morning was sunny, the bells were ringing, the ladies of Milby were
dressed in their Sunday garments.
And who is this bright-looking woman walking with hasty step along Orard Street so
early, with a large nosegay in her hand? Can it be Janet Dempster, on whom we looked with
su deep pity, one sad midnight, hardly a fortnight ago? Yes; no other woman in Milby has
those searing bla eyes, that tall graceful unconstrained figure, set off by her simple
muslin dress and bla lace shawl, that massy bla hair now so neatly braided in glossy
contrast with the white satin ribbons of her modest cap and bonnet. No other woman has that
sweet speaking smile, with whi she nods to Jonathan Lamb, the old parish clerk. And, ah!—
now she comes nearer—there are those sad lines about the mouth and eyes on whi that
sweet smile plays like sunbeams on the storm-beaten beauty of the full and ripened corn.
She is turning out of Orard Street, and making her way as fast as she can to her mother’s
house, a pleasant coage facing a roadside meadow from whi the hay is being carried. Mrs
Raynor has had her breakfast, and is seated in her arm-air reading, when Janet opens the
door, saying, in her most playful voice,—
“Please, mother, I’m come to show myself to you before I go to the Parsonage. Have I put
on my pretty cap and bonnet to satisfy you?”
Mrs Raynor looked over her spectacles, and met her daughter’s glance with eyes as dark
and loving as her own. She was a much smaller woman than Janet, both in figure and feature,
the ief resemblance lying in the eyes and the clear brunee complexion. e mother’s hair
had long been grey, and was gathered under the neatest of caps, made by her own clever
fingers, as all Janet’s caps and bonnets were too. ey were well-practised fingers, for Mrs
Raynor had supported herself in her widowhood by keeping a millinery establishment, and in
this way had earned money enough to give her daughter what was then thought a first-rate
education, as well as to save a sum whi, eked out by her son-in-law, sufficed to support her
in her solitary old age. Always the same clean, neat old lady, dressed in bla silk, was Mrs
Raynor: a patient, brave woman, who bowed with resignation under the burden ofremembered sorrow, and bore with meek fortitude the new load that the new days brought
with them.
“Your bonnet wants pulling a trifle forwarder, my ild,” she said, smiling, and taking off
her spectacles, while Janet at once knelt down before her, and waited to be “set to rights,” as
she would have done when she was a ild. “You’re going straight to Mrs Crewe’s, I suppose?
Are those flowers to garnish the dishes?”
“No, indeed, mother. is is a nosegay for the middle of the table. I’ve sent up the
dinnerservice and the ham we had cooked at our house yesterday, and Betty is coming directly with
the garnish and the plate. We shall get our good Mrs Crewe through her troubles famously.
Dear tiny woman! You should have seen her li up her hands yesterday, and pray heaven to
take her before ever she should have another collation to get ready for the Bishop. She said,
‘It’s bad enough to have the Ardeacon, though he doesn’t want half so many jelly-glasses. I
wouldn’t mind, Janet, if it was to feed all the old hungry cripples in Milby; but so mu
trouble and expense for people who eat too mu every day of their lives!’ We had su a
cleaning and furbishing-up of the siing-room yesterday! Nothing will ever do away with
the smell of Mr Crewe’s pipes, you know; but we have thrown it into the baground, with
yellow soap and dry lavender. And now I must run away. You will come to church, mother?”
“Yes, my dear, I wouldn’t lose su a prey sight. It does my old eyes good to see so many
fresh young faces. Is your husband going?”
“Yes, Robert will be there. I’ve made him as neat as a new pin this morning, and he says
the Bishop will think him too buish by half. I took him into Mammy Dempster’s room to
show himself. We hear Tryan is making sure of the Bishop’s support; but we shall see. I
would give my crooked guinea, and all the lu it will ever bring me, to have him beaten, for
I can’t endure the sight of the man coming to harass dear old Mr and Mrs Crewe in their last
days. Preaing the Gospel indeed! at is the best Gospel that makes everybody happy and
comfortable, isn’t it, mother?”
“Ah, child, I’m afraid there’s no Gospel will do that here below.”
“Well, I can do something to comfort Mrs Crewe, at least; so give me a kiss, and good-by
till church-time.”
e mother leaned ba in her air when Janet was gone, and sank into a painful reverie.
When our life is a continuous trial, the moments of respite seem only to substitute the
heaviness of dread for the heaviness of actual suffering: the curtain of cloud seems parted an
instant only that we may measure all its horror as it hangs low, bla, and imminent, in
contrast with the transient brightness; the water-drops that visit the parched lips in the desert,
bear with them only the keen imagination of thirst. Janet looked glad and tender now—but
what scene of misery was coming next? She was too like the cistus flowers in the lile garden
before the window, that, with the shades of evening, might lie with the delicate white and
glossy dark of their petals trampled in the roadside dust. When the sun had sunk, and the
twilight was deepening, Janet might be siing there, heated, maddened, sobbing out her
griefs with selfish passion, and wildly wishing herself dead.
Mrs Raynor had been reading about the lost sheep, and the joy there is in heaven over the
sinner that repenteth. Surely the eternal love she believed in through all the sadness of her
lot, would not leave her ild to wander farther and farther into the wilderness till there was
no turning—the ild so lovely, so pitiful to others, so good, till she was goaded into sin by
woman’s bierest sorrows! Mrs Raynor had her faith and her spiritual comforts, though she
was not in the least evangelical, and knew nothing of doctrinal zeal. I fear most of Mr Tryan’s
hearers would have considered her destitute of saving knowledge, and I am quite sure she
had no well-defined views on justification. Nevertheless, she read her Bible a great deal, and
thought she found divine lessons there—how to bear the cross meekly, and be merciful. Let us
hope that there is a saving ignorance, and that Mrs Raynor was justified without knowing
exactly how.She tried to have hope and trust, though it was hard to believe that the future would be
anything else than the harvest of the seed that was being sown before her eyes. But always
there is seed being sown silently and unseen, and everywhere there come sweet flowers
without our foresight or labour. We reap what we sow, but Nature has love over and above
that justice, and gives us shadow and blossom and fruit that spring from no planting of ours.
 Chapter VI.
Most people must have agreed with Mrs Raynor that the Confirmation that day was a prey
sight, at least when those slight girlish forms and fair young faces moved in a white rivulet
along the aisles, and flowed into kneeling semicircles under the light of the great ancel
window, soened by pates of dark old painted glass; and one would think that to look on
while a pair of venerable hands pressed su young heads, and a venerable face looked
upward for a blessing on them, would be very likely to make the heart swell gently, and to
moisten the eyes. Yet I remember the eyes seemed very dry in Milby ur that day,
notwithstanding that the Bishop was an old man, and probably venerable (for though he was
not an eminent Grecian, he was the brother of a Whig lord); and I think the eyes must have
remained dry, because he had small delicate womanish hands adorned with ruffles, and,
instead of laying them on the girls’ heads, just let them hover over ea in qui succession,
as if it were not etiquee to tou them, and as if the laying on of hands were like the
theatrical embrace—part of the play, and not to be really believed in. To be sure, there were a
great many heads, and the Bishop’s time was limited. Moreover, a wig can, under no
circumstances, be affecting, except in rare cases of illusion; and copious lawn-sleeves cannot
be expected to go directly to any heart except a washerwoman’s.
I know, Ned Phipps who knelt against me, and I am sure made me behave mu worse
than I should have done without him, whispered that he thought the Bishop was a “guy,” and
I certainly remember thinking that Mr Prendergast looked mu more dignified with his
plain white surplice and bla hair. He was a tall commanding man, and read the Liturgy in a
strikingly sonorous and uniform voice, whi I tried to imitate the next Sunday at home,
until my little sister began to cry, and said I was “yoaring at her.”
Mr Tryan sat in a pew near the pulpit with several other clergymen. He looked pale, and
rubbed his hand over his face and pushed ba his hair oener than usual. Standing in the
aisle close to him, and repeating the responses with edifying loudness, was Mr Budd,
urwarden and delegate, with a white staff in his hand and a baward bend of his small
head and person, su as, I suppose, he considered suitable to a friend of sound religion.
Conspicuous in the gallery, too, was the tall figure of Mr Dempster, whose professional
avocations rarely allowed him to occupy his place at church.
“ere’s Dempster,” said Mrs Linnet to her daughter Mary, “looking more respectable than
usual, I declare. He’s got a fine spee by heart to make to the Bishop, I’ll answer for it. But
he’ll be prey well sprinkled with snuff before service is over, and the Bishop won’t be able
to listen to him for sneezing, that’s one comfort.”
At length, the last stage in the long ceremony was over, the large assembly streamed warm
and weary into the open aernoon sunshine, and the Bishop retired to the Parsonage, where,
aer honouring Mrs Crewe’s collation, he was to give audience to the delegates and Mr
Tryan on the great question of the evening lecture.
Between five and six o’clo the Parsonage was once more as quiet as usual under the
shadow of its tall elms, and the only traces of the Bishop’s recent presence there were the
wheel-marks on the gravel, and the long table with its garnished dishes awry, its damask
sprinkled with crumbs, and its decanters without their stoppers. Mr Crewe was already
calmly smoking his pipe in the opposite siing-room, and Janet was agreeing with Mrs Crewe
that some of the blanc-mange would be a nice thing to take to Sally Martin, while the lile
old lady herself had a spoon in her hand ready to gather the crumbs into a plate, that she
might scatter them on the gravel for the little birds.
Before that time, the Bishop’s carriage had been seen driving through the High Street on itsway to Lord Trufford’s, where he was to dine. The question of the lecture was decided, then?
e nature of the decision may be gathered from the following conversation whi took
place in the bar of the Red Lion that evening.
“So you’re done, eh, Dempster?” was Mr Pilgrim’s observation, uered with some gusto.
He was not glad Mr Tryan had gained his point, but he was not sorry Dempster was
“Done, sir? Not at all. It is what I anticipated. I knew we had nothing else to expect in
these days, when the Chur is infested by a set of men who are only fit to give out hymns
from an empty cask, to tunes set by a journeyman cobbler. But I was not the less to exert
myself in the cause of sound Churmanship for the good of the town. Any coward can fight
a bale when he’s sure of winning; but give me the man who has plu to fight when he’s
sure of losing. at’s my way, sir; and there are many victories worse than a defeat, as Mr
Tryan shall learn to his cost.”
“He must be a poor shuperannyated sort of a bishop, that’s my opinion,” said Mr
Tomlinson, “to go along with a sneaking Methodist like Tryan. And, for my part, I think we
should be as well wi’out bishops, if they’re no wiser than that. Where’s the use o’ havin’
thousands a-year an’ livin’ in a pallis, if they don’t stick to the Church?”
“No. ere you’re going out of your depth, Tomlinson,” said Mr Dempster. “No one shall
hear me say a word against Episcopacy—it is a safeguard of the Chur; we must have ranks
and dignities there as well as everywhere else. No, sir! Episcopacy is a good thing; but it may
happen that a bishop is not a good thing. Just as brandy is a good thing, though this particular
bole is British, and tastes like sugared rain-water caught down the imney. Here, Ratcliffe,
let me have something to drink, a little less like a decoction of sugar and soot.”
“I said nothing again’ Episcopacy,” returned Mr Tomlinson. “I only said I thought we
should do as well wi’out bishops; an’ I’ll say it again for the maer o’ that. Bishops never
brought ony grist to my mill.”
“Do you know when the lectures are to begin?” said Mr Pilgrim.
“ey are to begin on Sunday next,” said Mr Dempster in a significant tone; “but I think it
will not take a long-sighted prophet to foresee the end of them. It strikes me Mr Tryan will
be looking out for another curacy shortly.”
“He’ll not get many Milby people to go and hear his lectures aer a while, I’ll bet a
guinea,” observed Mr Budd. “I know I’ll not keep a single workman on my ground who
either goes to the lecture himself or lets anybody belonging to him go.”
“Nor me nayther,” said Mr Tomlinson. “No Tryanite shall tou a sa or drive a waggon
o’ mine, that you may depend on. An’ I know more besides me as are o’ the same mind.”
“Tryan has a good many friends in the town, though, and friends that are likely to stand
by him too,” said Mr Pilgrim. “I should say it would be as well to let him and his lectures
alone. If he goes on preaing as he does, with su a constitution as his, he’ll get a relaxed
throat by-and-by, and you’ll be rid of him without any trouble.”
“We’ll not allow him to do himself that injury,” said Mr Dempster. “Since his health is not
good, we’ll persuade him to try ange of air. Depend upon it, he’ll find the climate of Milby
too hot for him.”
 Chapter VII.
Mr Dempster did not stay long at the Red Lion that evening. He was summoned home to
meet Mr Armstrong, a wealthy client, and as he was kept in consultation till a late hour, it
happened that this was one of the nights on whi Mr Dempster went to bed tolerably sober.
us the day, whi had been one of Janet’s happiest, because it had been spent by her in
helping her dear old friend Mrs Crewe, ended for her with unusual quietude; and as a bright
sunset promises a fair morning, so a calm lying down is a good augury for a calm waking. Mr
Dempster, on the ursday morning, was in one of his best humours, and though perhaps
some of the good humour might result from the prospect of a lucrative and exciting bit of
business in Mr Armstrong’s probable lawsuit, the greater part of it was doubtless due to those
stirrings of the more kindly, healthy sap of human feeling, by whi goodness tries to get the
upper hand in us whenever it seems to have the slightest ance—on Sunday mornings,
perhaps, when we are set free from the grinding hurry of the week, and take the lile
threeyear-old on our knee at breakfast to share our egg and muffin; in moments of trouble, when
death visits our roof or illness makes us dependent on the tending hand of a slighted wife; in
quiet talks with an aged mother, of the days when we stood at her knee with our first
picture-book, or wrote her loving leers from sool. In the man whose ildhood has known
caresses there is always a fibre of memory that can be toued to gentle issues, and Mr
Dempster, whom you have hitherto seen only as the orator of the Red Lion, and the drunken
tyrant of a dreary midnight home, was the first-born darling son of a fair lile mother. at
mother was living still, and her own large bla easy-air, where she sat kniing through
the live-long day, was now set ready for her at the breakfast-table, by her son’s side, a sleek
tortoise-shell cat acting as provisional incumbent.
“Good morning, Mamsey! why, you’re looking as fresh as a daisy this morning. You’re
geing young again,” said Mr Dempster, looking up from his newspaper when the lile old
lady entered. A very lile old lady she was, with a pale, scarcely wrinkled face, hair of that
peculiar white whi tells that the los have once been blond, a nay pure white cap on her
head, and a white shawl pinned over her shoulders. You saw at a glance that she had been a
mignonne blonde, strangely unlike her tall, ugly, dingy-complexioned son; unlike her
daughter-in-law, too, whose large-featured brunee beauty seemed always thrown into
higher relief by the white presence of lile Mamsey. e unlikeness between Janet and her
mother-in-law went deeper than outline and complexion, and indeed there was lile
sympathy between them, for old Mrs Dempster had not yet learned to believe that her son,
Robert, would have gone wrong if he had married the right woman—a meek woman like
herself, who would have borne him children, and been a deft, orderly housekeeper. In spite of
Janet’s tenderness and aention to her, she had had lile love for her daughter-in-law from
the first, and had witnessed the sad growth of home-misery through long years, always with
a disposition to lay the blame on the wife rather than on the husband, and to reproa Mrs
Raynor for encouraging her daughter’s faults by a too exclusive sympathy. But old Mrs
Dempster had that rare gi of silence and passivity whi oen supplies the absence of
mental strength; and, whatever were her thoughts, she said no word to aggravate the
domestic discord. Patient and mute she sat at her kniing through many a scene of quarrel
and anguish; resolutely she appeared unconscious of the sounds that reached her ears, and the
facts she divined aer she had retired to her bed; mutely she witnessed poor Janet’s faults,
only registering them as a balance of excuse on the side of her son. e hard, astute,
domineering aorney was still that lile old woman’s pet, as he had been when she wated
with triumphant pride his first tumbling effort to mar alone across the nursery floor. “Seewhat a good son he is to me!” she oen thought. “Never gave me a harsh word. And so he
might have been a good husband.”
O it is piteous—that sorrow of aged women! In early youth, perhaps, they said to
themselves, “I shall be happy when I have a husband to love me best of all;” then, when the
husband was too careless, “My ild will comfort me;” then, through the mother’s wating
and toil, “My ild will repay me all when it grows up.” And at last, aer the long journey of
years has been wearily travelled through, the mother’s heart is weighed down by a heavier
burthen, and no hope remains but the grave.
But this morning old Mrs Dempster sat down in her easy-air without any painful,
suppressed remembrance of the preceding night.
“I declare mammy looks younger than Mrs Crewe, who is only sixty-five,” said Janet. “Mrs
Crewe will come to see you to-day, mammy, and tell you all about her troubles with the
Bishop and the collation. She’ll bring her knitting, and you’ll have a regular gossip together.”
“e gossip will be all on one side, then, for Mrs Crewe gets so very deaf, I can’t make her
hear a word. And if I motion to her, she always understands me wrong.”
“O, she will have so mu to tell you to-day, you will not want to speak yourself. You,
who have patience to knit those wonderful counterpanes, mammy, must not be impatient
with dear Mrs Crewe. Good old lady! I can’t bear her to think she’s ever tiresome to people,
and you know she’s very ready to fancy herself in the way. I think she would like to shrink
up to the size of a mouse, that she might run about and do people good without their noticing
“It isn’t patience I want, God knows; it’s lungs to speak loud enough. But you’ll be at home
yourself, I suppose, this morning; and you can talk to her for me.”
“No, mammy; I promised poor Mrs Lowme to go and sit with her. She’s confined to her
room, and both the Miss Lowmes are out; so I’m going to read the newspaper to her and
amuse her.”
“Couldn’t you go another morning? As Mr Armstrong and that other gentleman are
coming to dinner, I should think it would be beer to stay at home. Can you trust Bey to
see to everything? She’s new to the place.”
“O I couldn’t disappoint Mrs Lowme; I promised her. Betty will do very well, no fear.”
Old Mrs Dempster was silent aer this, and began to sip her tea. e breakfast went on
without further conversation for some time, Mr Dempster being absorbed in the papers. At
length, when he was running over the advertisements, his eye seemed to be caught by
something that suggested a new thought to him. He presently thumped the table with an air
of exultation, and said, turning to Janet,—
“I’ve a capital idea, Gipsy!” (that was his name for his dark-eyed wife when he was in an
extraordinarily good humour), “and you shall help me. It’s just what you’re up to.”
“What is it?” said Janet, her face beaming at the sound of the pet name, now heard so
seldom. “Anything to do with conveyancing?”
“It’s a bit of fun worth a dozen fees—a plan for raising a laugh against Tryan and his gang
of hypocrites.”
“What is it? Nothing that wants a needle and thread, I hope, else I must go and teaze
“No, nothing sharper than your wit—except mine. I’ll tell you what it is. We’ll get up a
programme of the Sunday evening lecture, like a play-bill, you know—‘Grand Performance of
the celebrated Mountebank,’ and so on. We’ll bring in the Tryanites—old Landor and the rest
—in appropriate aracters. Proctor shall print it, and we’ll circulate it in the town. It will be a
capital hit.”
“Bravo!” said Janet, clapping her hands. She would just then have pretended to like almost
anything, in her pleasure at being appealed to by her husband, and she really did like to
laugh at the Tryanites. “We’ll set about it directly, and sket it out before you go to theoffice. I’ve got Tryan’s sermons up-stairs, but I don’t think there’s anything in them we can
use. I’ve only just looked into them; they’re not at all what I expected—dull, stupid things—
nothing of the roaring fire-and-brimstone sort that I expected.”
“Roaring? No; Tryan’s as so as a suing dove—one of your honey-mouthed hypocrites.
Plenty of devil and malice in him, though, I could see that, while he was talking to the
Bishop; but as smooth as a snake outside. He’s beginning a single-handed fight with me, I can
see—persuading my clients away from me. We shall see who will be the first to cry peccavi.
Milby will do beer without Mr Tryan than without Robert Dempster, I fancy! and Milby
shall never be flooded with cant as long as I can raise a breakwater against it. But now, get
the breakfast things cleared away, and let us set about the play-bill. Come, mamsey, come
and have a walk with me round the garden, and let us see how the cucumbers are geing on.
I’ve never taken you round the garden for an age. Come, you don’t want a bonnet. It’s like
walking in a greenhouse this morning.”
“But she will want a parasol,” said Janet. “ere’s one on the stand against the
gardendoor, Robert.”
e lile old lady took her son’s arm with placid pleasure. She could barely rea it so as
to rest upon it, but he inclined a lile towards her, and accommodated his heavy long-limbed
steps to her feeble pace. e cat ose to sun herself too, and walked close beside them, with
tail erect, rubbing her sleek sides against their legs, and too well fed to be excited by the
twiering birds. e garden was of the grassy, shady kind, oen seen aaed to old houses
in provincial towns; the apple-trees had had time to spread their branes very wide, the
shrubs and hardy perennial plants had grown into a luxuriance that required constant
trimming to prevent them from intruding on the space for walking. But the farther end,
which united with green fields, was open and sunny.
It was rather sad, and yet prey, to see that lile group passing out of the shadow into the
sunshine, and out of the sunshine into the shadow again: sad, because this tenderness of the
son for the mother was hardly more than a nucleus of healthy life in an organ hardening by
disease, because the man who was linked in this way with an innocent past, had become
callous in worldliness, fevered by sensuality, enslaved by ance impulses; prey, because it
showed how hard it is to kill the deep-down fibrous roots of human love and goodness—how
the man from whom we make it our pride to shrink, has yet a close brotherhood with us
through some of our most sacred feelings.
As they were returning to the house, Janet met them, and said, “Now, Robert, the writing
things are ready. I shall be clerk, and Mat Paine can copy it out after.”
Mammy once more deposited in her arm-air, with her kniing in her hand, and the cat
purring at her elbow, Janet seated herself at the table, while Mr Dempster placed himself near
her, took out his snuff-box, and plentifully suffusing himself with the inspiring powder,
began to dictate.
What he dictated, we shall see by-and-by.
 Chapter VIII.
The next day, Friday, at five o’clo by the sun-dial, the large bow-window of Mrs Jerome’s
parlour was open; and that lady herself was seated within its ample semicircle, having a table
before her on whi her best tea-tray, her best ina, and her best urn-rug had already been
standing in readiness for half an hour. Mrs Jerome’s best tea-service was of delicate white
fluted ina, with gold sprigs upon it—as prey a tea-service as you need wish to see, and
quite good enough for imney ornaments; indeed, as the cups were without handles, most
visitors who had the distinction of taking tea out of them, wished that su arming ina
had already been promoted to that honorary position. Mrs Jerome was like her ina,
handsome and old-fashioned. She was a buxom lady of sixty, in an elaborate lace cap
fastened by a frill under her in, a dark, well-curled front concealing her forehead, a snowy
neerief exhibiting its ample folds as far as her waist, and a stiff grey silk gown. She had a
clean damask napkin pinned before her to guard her dress during the process of tea-making;
her favourite geraniums in the bow-window were looking as healthy as she could desire; her
own handsome portrait, painted when she was twenty years younger, was smiling down on
her with agreeable flaery; and altogether she seemed to be in as peaceful and pleasant a
position as a buxom, well-drest elderly lady need desire. But, as in so many other cases,
appearances were deceptive. Her mind was greatly perturbed and her temper ruffled by the
fact that it was more than a quarter past five even by the losing timepiece, that it was
halfpast by her large gold wat, whi she held in her hand as if she were counting the pulse of
the aernoon, and that, by the kiten clo, whi she felt sure was not an hour too fast, it
had already stru six. e lapse of time was rendered the more unendurable to Mrs Jerome
by her wonder that Mr Jerome could stay out in the garden with Lizzie in that thoughtless
way, taking it so easily that tea-time was long past, and that, aer all the trouble of geing
down the best tea-things, Mr Tryan would not come.
is honour had been shown to Mr Tryan, not at all because Mrs Jerome had any high
appreciation of his doctrine or of his exemplary activity as a pastor, but simply because he
was a “Chur clergyman,” and as su was regarded by her with the same sort of
exceptional respect that a white woman who had married a native of the Society Islands
might be supposed to feel towards a white-skinned visitor from the land of her youth. For
Mrs Jerome had been reared a Churwoman, and having aained the age of thirty before
she was married, had felt the greatest repugnance in the first instance to renouncing the
religious forms in whi she had been brought up. “You know,” she said in confidence to her
Chur acquaintances, “I wouldn’t give no ear at all to Mr Jerome at fust; but aer all, I
begun to think as there was a maeny things wuss nor goin’ to apel, an’ you’d beer do that
nor not pay your way. Mr Jerome had a very pleasant manner wi’ him, an’ there was niver
another as kep a gig, an’ ’ud make a selement on me like him, apel or no apel. It
seemed very odd to me for a lung while, the preain’ wi’out book, an’ the stannin’ up to one
lung prayer, istid o’ angin’ yur postur. But la! there’s nothin’ as you mayn’t get used to i’
time; you can al’ys sit down, you know, afore the prayer’s done. e ministers say welly the
same things as the Chur parsons, by what I could iver mek out, an’ we’re out o’ apel i’
the mornin’ a deal sooner nor they’re out o’ ur. An’ as for pews, ourn’s a deal
comfortabler nor aeny i’ Milby church.”
Mrs Jerome, you perceive, had not a keen susceptibility to shades of doctrine, and it is
probable that, aer listening to Dissenting eloquence for thirty years, she might safely have
re-entered the Establishment without performing any spiritual quarantine. Her mind,
apparently, was of that non-porous flinty aracter whi is not in the least danger fromsurrounding damp. But on the question of geing start of the sun in the day’s business, and
clearing her conscience of the necessary sum of meals and the consequent “washing up” as
soon as possible, so that the family might be well in bed at nine, Mrs Jerome was susceptible;
and the present lingering pace of things, united with Mr Jerome’s unaccountable
obliviousness, was not to be borne any longer. So she rang the bell for Sally.
“Goodness me, Sally! go into the garden an’ see aer your master. Tell him it’s goin’ on for
six, an Mr Tryan ’ull niver think o’ comin’ now, an’ it’s time we got tea over. An’ he’s lein’
Lizzie stain her frock, I expect, among them strawberry beds. Mek her come in this minute.”
No wonder Mr Jerome was tempted to linger in the garden, for though the house was
prey and well deserved its name—“the White House,” the tall damask roses that clustered
over the por being thrown into relief by rough stucco of the most brilliant white, yet the
garden and orchards were Mr Jerome’s glory, as well they might be; and there was nothing in
whi he had a more innocent pride—peace to a good man’s memory! all his pride was
innocent—than in conducting a hitherto uninitiated visitor over his grounds, and making him
in some degree aware of the incomparable advantages possessed by the inhabitants of the
White House in the maer of red-streaked apples, russets, northern greens (excellent for
baking), swan-egg pears, and early vegetables, to say nothing of flowering “srubs,” pink
hawthorns, lavender bushes more than ever Mrs Jerome could use, and, in short, a
superabundance of everything that a person retired from business could desire to possess
himself or to share with his friends. e garden was one of those old-fashioned paradises
whi hardly exist any longer except as memories of our ildhood: no finical separation
between flower and kiten garden there; no monotony of enjoyment for one sense to the
exclusion of another; but a arming paradisaical mingling of all that was pleasant to the eyes
and good for food. e ri flower-border running along every walk, with its endless
succession of spring flowers, anemones, auriculas, wall-flowers, sweet-williams, campanulas,
snapdragons, and tiger-lilies, had its taller beauties, su as moss and Provence roses, varied
with espalier apple-trees; the crimson of a carnation was carried out in the lurking crimson of
the neighbouring strawberry-beds; you gathered a moss-rose one moment and a bun of
currants the next; you were in a delicious fluctuation between the scent of jasmine and the
juice of gooseberries. en what a high wall at one end, flanked by a summer-house so loy,
that aer ascending its long flight of steps you could see perfectly well there was no view
worth looking at; what alcoves and garden-seats in all directions; and along one side, what a
hedge, tall, and firm, and unbroken, like a green wall!
It was near this hedge that Mr Jerome was standing when Sally found him. He had set
down the basket of strawberries on the gravel, and had lied up lile Lizzie in his arms to
look at a bird’s nest. Lizzie peeped, and then looked at her grandpa with round blue eyes, and
then peeped again.
“D’ye see it, Lizzie?” he whispered.
“Yes,” she whispered in return, puing her lips very near grandpa’s face. At this moment
Sally appeared.
“Eh, eh, Sally, what’s the matter? Is Mr Tryan come?”
“No, sir, an’ Missis says she’s sure he won’t come now, an’ she wants you to come in an’
hev tea. Dear heart, Miss Lizzie, you’ve stained your pinafore, an’ I shouldn’t wonder if it’s
gone through to your frock. There’ll be fine work! Come alonk wi’ me, do.”
“Nay, nay, nay, we’ve done no harm, we’ve done no harm, hev we Lizzie? e wash-tub
’ll mek all right again.”
Sally, regarding the wash-tub from a different point of view, looked sourly serious, and
hurried away with Lizzie, who troed submissively along, her lile head in eclipse under a
large nankin bonnet, while Mr Jerome followed leisurely with his full broad shoulders in
rather a stooping posture, and his large good-natured features and white los shaded by a
broad-brimmed hat.“Mr Jerome, I wonder at you,” said Mrs Jerome, in a tone of indignant remonstrance,
evidently sustained by a deep sense of injury, as her husband opened the parlour door.
“When will you leave off invitin’ people to meals an’ not lein’ ’em know the time? I’ll
answer for’t, you niver said a word to Mr Tryan as we should tek tea at five o’clo. It’s just
like you!”
“Nay, nay, Susan,” answered the husband in a soothing tone, “there’s nothin’ amiss. I told
Mr Tryan as we took tea at five punctial; mayhap summat’s a detainin’ on him. He’s a deal to
do an’ to think on, remember.”
“Why, it’s stru six i’ the kiten a’ready. It’s nonsense to look for him comin’ now. So
you may’s well ring for th’ urn. Now Sally’s got th’ heater i’ th’ fire, we may’s well hev th’
urn in, though he doesn’t come. I niver see the like o’ you, Mr Jerome, for axin’ people an’
givin’ me the trouble o’ gein’ things down an’ hevin’ crumpets made, an’ aer all they
don’t come. I shall hev to wash every one o’ these tea-things myself, for there’s no trustin’
Sally—she’d break a fortin i’ crockery i’ no time!”
“But why will you give yourself si trouble, Susan? Our everyday tea-things would ha’
done as well for Mr Tryan, an’ they’re a deal convenenter to hold.”
“Yes, that’s just your way, Mr Jerome, you’re al’ys a-findin’ faut wi’ my any, because I
bought it myself afore I was married. But let me tell you, I knowed how to oose any if I
didn’t know how to oose a husband. An’ where’s Lizzie? You’ve niver le her i’ the garden
by herself, wi’ her white frock on an’ clean stockins?”
“Be easy, my dear Susan, be easy; Lizzie’s come in wi’ Sally. She’s hevin’ her pinafore took
off, I’ll be bound. Ah! There’s Mr Tryan a-comin’ through the gate.”
Mrs Jerome began hastily to adjust her damask napkin and the expression of her
countenance for the reception of the clergyman, and Mr Jerome went out to meet his guest,
whom he greeted outside the door.
“Mr Tryan, how do you do, Mr Tryan? Welcome to the White House! I’m glad to see you,
sir, I’m glad to see you.”
If you had heard the tone of mingled goodwill, veneration, and condolence in whi this
greeting was uered, even without seeing the face that completely harmonised with it, you
would have no difficulty in inferring the ground-notes of Mr Jerome’s aracter. To a fine ear
that tone said as plainly as possible—“Whatever recommends itself to me, omas Jerome, as
piety and goodness, shall have my love and honour. Ah, friends, this pleasant world is a sad
one, too, isn’t it? Let us help one another, let us help one another.” And it was entirely owing
to this basis of aracter, not at all from any clear and precise doctrinal discrimination, that
Mr Jerome had very early in life become a Dissenter. In his boyish days he had been thrown
where Dissent seemed to have the balance of piety, purity, and good works on its side, and to
become a Dissenter seemed to him identical with oosing God instead of mammon. at
race of Dissenters is extinct in these days, when opinion has got far ahead of feeling, and
every apel-going youth can fill our ears with the advantages of the Voluntary system, the
corruptions of a State Chur, and the Scriptural evidence that the first Christians were
Congregationalists. Mr Jerome knew nothing of this theoretic basis for Dissent, and in the
utmost extent of his polemical discussion he had not gone further than to question whether a
Christian man was bound in conscience to distinguish Christmas and Easter by any peculiar
observance beyond the eating of mince-pies and eese-cakes. It seemed to him that all
seasons were alike good for thanking God, departing from evil and doing well, whereas it
might be desirable to restrict the period for indulging in unwholesome forms of pastry. Mr
Jerome’s dissent being of this simple, non-polemical kind, it is easy to understand that the
report he heard of Mr Tryan as a good man and a powerful preaer, who was stirring the
hearts of the people, had been enough to aract him to the Paddiford Chur, and that
having felt himself more edified there than he had of late been under Mr Stiney’s
discourses at Salem, he had driven thither repeatedly in the Sunday aernoons, and hadsought an opportunity of making Mr Tryan’s acquaintance. e evening lecture was a subject
of warm interest with him, and the opposition Mr Tryan met with gave that interest a strong
tinge of partisanship; for there was a store of irascibility in Mr Jerome’s nature whi must
find a vent somewhere, and in so kindly and upright a man could only find it in indignation
against those whom he held to be enemies of truth and goodness. Mr Tryan had not hitherto
been to the White House, but yesterday, meeting Mr Jerome in the street, he had at once
accepted the invitation to tea, saying there was something he wished to talk about. He
appeared worn and fatigued now, and aer shaking hands with Mrs Jerome, threw himself
into a chair and looked out on the pretty garden with an air of relief.
“What a nice place you have here, Mr Jerome! I’ve not seen anything so quiet and prey
since I came to Milby. On Paddiford Common, where I live, you know, the bushes are all
sprinkled with soot, and there’s never any quiet except in the dead of night.”
“Dear heart! dear heart! at’s very bad—and for you, too, as hev to study. Wouldn’t it be
better for you to be somewhere more out i’ the country like?”
“O no! I should lose so mu time in going to and fro, and besides I like to be among the
people. I’ve no face to go and prea resignation to those poor things in their smoky air and
comfortless homes, when I come straight from every luxury myself. ere are many things
quite lawful for other men, whi a clergyman must forego if he would do any good in a
manufacturing population like this.”
Here the preparations for tea were crowned by the simultaneous appearance of Lizzie and
the crumpet. It is a prey surprise, when one visits an elderly couple, to see a lile figure
enter in a white fro with a blond head as smooth as satin, round blue eyes, and a eek like
an apple blossom. A toddling lile girl is a centre of common feeling whi makes the most
dissimilar people understand ea other; and Mr Tryan looked at Lizzie with that quiet
pleasure which is always genuine.
“Here we are, here we are!” said proud grandpapa. “You didn’t think we’d got su a lile
gell as this, did you, Mr Tryan? Why, it seems but th’ other day since her mother was just
su another. is is our lile Lizzie, this is. Come an’ shake hands wi’ Mr Tryan, Lizzie;
Lizzie advanced without hesitation, and put out one hand, while she fingered her coral
nelace with the other, and looked up into Mr Tryan’s face with a reconnoitring gaze. He
stroked the satin head, and said in his gentlest voice, “How do you do, Lizzie? will you give
me a kiss?” She put up her lile bud of a mouth, and then retreating a lile and glancing
down at her frock, said,
“Dit id my noo fock. I put it on ’tod you wad toming. Tally taid you wouldn’t ’ook at it.”
“Hush, hush, Lizzie, lile gells must be seen and not heard,” said Mrs Jerome; while
grandpapa, winking significantly, and looking radiant with delight at Lizzie’s extraordinary
promise of cleverness, set her up on her high cane-air by the side of grandma, who lost no
time in shielding the beauties of the new frock with a napkin.
“Well now, Mr Tryan,” said Mr Jerome, in a very serious tone, when tea had been
distributed, “let me hear how you’re a-goin’ on about the lectur. When I was i’ the town
yisterday, I heared as there was pessecutin’ semes a-bein’ laid again’ you. I fear me those
raskills ’ull mek things very onpleasant to you.”
“I’ve no doubt they will aempt it; indeed, I quite expect there will be a regular mob got
up on Sunday evening, as there was when the delegates returned, on purpose to annoy me
and the congregation on our way to church.”
“Ah, they’re capible o’ anything, su men as Dempster an’ Budd; an’ Tomlinson bas
’em wi’ money, though he can’t wi’ brains. Howiver, Dempster’s lost one client by’s wied
doins, an’ I’m deceived if he won’t lose more nor one. I lile thought, Mr Tryan, when I put
my affairs into his hands twenty ’ear ago this Miaelmas, as he was to turn out a pessecutor
o’ religion. I niver lighted on a cliverer, promisiner young man nor he was then. ey talkedof his bein’ fond of a extry glass now an’ then, but niver nothin’ like what he’s come to since.
An’ it’s headpiece you must look for in a lawyer, Mr Tryan, it’s headpiece. His wife, too, was
al’ys an uncommon favourite o’ mine—poor thing! I hear sad stories about her now. But she’s
druv to it, she’s druv to it, Mr Tryan. A tender-hearted woman to the poor, she is, as iver
lived; an’ as prey-spoken a woman as you need wish to talk to. Yes! I’d al’ys a likin’ for
Dempster an’ his wife, spite o’ iverything. But as soon as iver I heared o’ that dilegate
business, I says, says I, that man shall hev no more to do wi’ my affairs. It may put me t’
inconvenience, but I’ll encourage no man as pessecutes religion.”
“He is evidently the brain and hand of the persecution,” said Mr Tryan. “ere may be a
strong feeling against me in a large number of the inhabitants—it must be so, from the great
ignorance of spiritual things in this place. But I fancy there would have been no formal
opposition to the lecture, if Dempster had not planned it. I am not myself the least alarmed at
anything he can do; he will find I am not to be cowed or driven away by insult or personal
danger. God has sent me to this place, and, by His blessing, I’ll not shrink from anything I
may have to encounter in doing His work among the people. But I feel it right to call on all
those who know the value of the Gospel, to stand by me publicly. I think—and Mr Landor
agrees with me—that it will be well for my friends to proceed with me in a body to the
ur on Sunday evening. Dempster, you know, has pretended that almost all the
respectable inhabitants are opposed to the lecture. Now, I wish that falsehood to be visibly
contradicted. What do you think of the plan? I have to-day been to see several of my friends,
who will make a point of being there to accompany me, and will communicate with others on
the subject.”
“I’ll mek one, Mr Tryan, I’ll mek one. You shall not be wantin’ in any support as I can give.
Before you come to it, sir, Milby was a dead an’ dark place; you are the fust man i’ the
Chur to my knowledge as has brought the word o’ God home to the people; an’ I’ll stan’
by you, sir, I’ll stan’ by you. I’m a Dissenter, Mr Tryan, I’ve been a Dissenter iver sin’ I was
fieen ’ear old; but show me good i’ the Chur, an’ I’m a Churman too. When I was a
boy I lived at Tilston; you mayn’t know the place; the best part o’ the land there belonged to
Squire Sandeman; he’d a club-foot, hed Squire Sandeman—lost a deal o’ money by canal
shares. Well, sir, as I was sayin’, I lived at Tilston, an’ the rector there was a terrible drinkin’,
fox-huntin’ man; you niver see su a parish i’ your time for wiedness; Milby’s nothin’ to
it. Well, sir, my father was a workin’ man, an’ couldn’t afford to gi’ me ony eddication, so I
went to a night-sool as was kep by a Dissenter, one Jacob Wright; an’ it was from that man,
sir, as I got my lile soolin’ an’ my knowledge o’ religion. I went to apel wi’ Jacob—he
was a good man was Jacob—an’ to apel I’ve been iver since. But I’m no enemy o’ the
Chur, sir, when the Chur brings light to the ignorant and the sinful; an’ that’s what
you’re a-doin’, Mr Tryan. Yes, sir, I’ll stan’ by you. I’ll go to ur wi’ you o’ Sunday
“You’d fur beer stay at home, Mr Jerome, if I may give my opinion,” interposed Mrs
Jerome. “It’s not as I hevn’t ivery respect for you, Mr Tryan, but Mr Jerome ’ull do you no
good by his interferin’. Dissenters are not at all looked on i’ Milby, an’ he’s as nervous as iver
he can be; he’ll come back as ill as ill, an’ niver let me hev a wink o’ sleep all night.”
Mrs Jerome had been frightened at the mention of a mob, and her retrospective regard for
the religious communion of her youth by no means inspired her with the temper of a martyr.
Her husband looked at her with an expression of tender and grieved remonstrance, whi
might have been that of the patient patriar on the memorable occasion when he rebuked
his wife.
“Susan, Susan, let me beg on you not to oppose me, an’ put stumblin’-blos i’ the way o’
doin’ what’s right. I can’t give up my conscience, let me give up what else I may.”
“Perhaps,” said Mr Tryan, feeling slightly uncomfortable, “since you are not very strong,
my dear sir, it will be well, as Mrs Jerome suggests, that you should not run the risk of anyexcitement.”
“Say no more, Mr Tryan. I’ll stan’ by you, sir. It’s my duty. It’s the cause o’ God, sir; it’s
the cause o’ God.”
Mr Tryan obeyed his impulse of admiration and gratitude, and put out his hand to the
white-haired old man, saying, “Thank you, Mr Jerome, thank you.”
Mr Jerome grasped the proffered hand in silence, and then threw himself ba in his air,
casting a regretful look at his wife, whi seemed to say, “Why don’t you feel with me,
e sympathy of this simple-minded old man was more precious to Mr Tryan than any
mere onlooker could have imagined. To persons possessing a great deal of that facile
psyology whi prejudges individuals by means of formulæ, and casts them, without
further trouble, into duly leered pigeon-holes, the Evangelical curate might seem to be
doing simply what all other men like to do—carrying out objects whi were identified not
only with his theory, whi is but a kind of secondary egoism, but also with the primary
egoism of his feelings. Opposition may become sweet to a man when he has ristened it
persecution: a self-obtrusive, over-hasty reformer complacently disclaiming all merit, while
his friends call him a martyr, has not in reality a career the most arduous to the fleshly mind.
But Mr Tryan was not cast in the mould of the gratuitous martyr. With a power of
persistence whi had been oen blamed as obstinacy, he had an acute sensibility to the very
hatred or ridicule he did not flin from provoking. Every form of disapproval jarred him
painfully; and, though he fronted his opponents manfully, and oen with considerable
warmth of temper, he had no pugnacious pleasure in the contest. It was one of the
weaknesses of his nature to be too keenly alive to every harsh wind of opinion; to wince
under the frowns of the foolish; to be irritated by the injustice of those who could not
possibly have the elements indispensable for judging him rightly; and with all this acute
sensibility to blame, this dependence on sympathy, he had for years been constrained into a
position of antagonism. No wonder, then, that good old Mr Jerome’s cordial words were balm
to him. He had oen been thankful to an old woman for saying “God bless you;” to a lile
child for smiling at him; to a dog for submitting to be patted by him.
Tea being over by this time, Mr Tryan proposed a walk in the garden as a means of
dissipating all recollection of the recent conjugal dissidence. Lile Lizzie’s appeal, “Me go,
gandpa!” could not be rejected, so she was duly bonneted and pinafored, and then they
turned out into the evening sunshine. Not Mrs Jerome, however; she had a deeply-meditated
plan of retiring ad interim to the kiten and washing up the best tea-things, as a mode of
getting forward with the sadly-retarded business of the day.
“is way, Mr Tryan, this way,” said the old gentleman; “I must take you to my pastur
fust, an’ show you our cow—the best milker i’ the county. An’ see here at these back-buildins,
how convenent the dairy is; I planned it ivery bit myself. An’ here I’ve got my lile
carpenter’s shop an’ my blasmith’s shop; I do no end o’ jobs here myself. I niver could bear
to be idle, Mr Tryan; I must al’ys be at somethin’ or other. It was time for me to ley by
business an mek room for younger folks. I’d got money enough, wi’ only one daughter to
leave it to, an’ I says to myself, says I, it’s time to leave off moitherin’ myself wi’ this world
so mu, an’ give more time to thinkin’ of another. But there’s a many hours atween geing
up an’ lyin’ down, an’ thoughts are no cumber; you can move about wi’ a good many on em’
in your head. See here’s the pastur.”
A very prey pasture it was, where the large-spoed short-horned cow quietly ewed the
cud as she lay and looked sleepily at her admirers—a daintily-trimmed hedge all round,
dotted here and there with a mountain-ash or a cherry-tree.
“I’ve a good bit more land besides this, worth your while to look at, but mayhap its further
nor you’d like to walk now. Bless you! I’ve welly an’ acre o’ potato-ground yonters; I’ve a
good big family to supply, you know.” (Here Mr Jerome winked and smiled significantly.)“An’ that puts me i’ mind, Mr Tryan, o’ summat I wanted to say to you. Clergymen like you,
I know, see a deal more poverty an’ that, than other folks, an’ hev a many claims on ’em
more nor they can well meet; an’ if you’ll mek use o’ my purse any time, or let me know
where I can be o’ any help, I’ll tek it very kind on you.”
“ank you, Mr Jerome, I will do so, I promise you. I saw a sad case yesterday; a collier—a
fine broad-ested fellow about thirty—was killed by the falling of a wall in the Paddiford
colliery. I was in one of the coages near when they brought him home on a door, and the
shriek of the wife has been ringing in my ears ever since. ere are three lile ildren.
Happily the woman has her loom, so she will be able to keep out of the workhouse; but she
looks very delicate.”
“Give me her name, Mr Tryan,” said Mr Jerome, drawing out his poet-book. “I’ll call an’
see her, I’ll call an’ see her.”
Deep was the fountain of pity in the good old man’s heart! He oen ate his dinner
stintingly, oppressed by the thought that there were men, women, and ildren, with no
dinner to sit down to, and would relieve his mind by going out in the aernoon to look for
some need that he could supply, some honest struggle in whi he could lend a helping hand.
at any living being should want, was his ief sorrow; that any rational being should
waste, was the next. Sally, indeed, having been scolded by master for a too lavish use of sticks
in lighting the kiten fire, and various instances of relessness with regard to candle ends,
considered him “as mean as aenythink;” but he had as kindly a warmth as the morning
sunlight, and, like the sunlight, his goodness shone on all that came in his way, from the
saucy rosy-eeked lad whom he delighted to make happy with a Christmas box, to the
pallid sufferers up dim entries, languishing under the tardy death of want and misery.
It was very pleasant to Mr Tryan to listen to the simple at of the old man—to walk in the
shade of the incomparable orard, and hear the story of the crops yielded by the
redstreaked apple-tree, and the quite embarrassing plentifulness of the summer-pears—to drink
in the sweet evening breath of the garden, as they sat in the alcove—and so, for a short
interval, to feel the strain of his pastoral task relaxed.
Perhaps he felt the return to that task through the dusty roads all the more painfully,
perhaps something in that quiet shady home had reminded him of the time before he had
taken on him the yoke of self-denial. e strongest heart will faint sometimes under the
feeling that enemies are bier, and that friends only know half its sorrows. e most resolute
soul will now and then cast ba a yearning look in treading the rough mountain-path, away
from the greensward and laughing voices of the valley. However it was, in the nine o’ clo
twilight that evening, when Mr Tryan had entered his small study and turned the key in the
door, he threw himself into the air before his writing-table, and, heedless of the papers
there, leaned his face low on his hand, and moaned heavily.
It is apt to be so in this life, I think. While we are coldly discussing a man’s career, sneering
at his mistakes, blaming his rashness, and labelling his opinions—“he is Evangelical and
narrow,” or “Latitudinarian and Pantheistic,” or “Anglican and supercilious”—that man, in his
solitude, is perhaps shedding hot tears because his sacrifice is a hard one, because strength
and patience are failing him to speak the difficult word, and do the difficult deed.
 Chapter IX.
Mr Tryan showed no su symptoms of weakness on the critical Sunday. He unhesitatingly
rejected the suggestion that he should be taken to ur in Mr Landor’s carriage—a
proposition whi that gentleman made as an amendment on the original plan, when the
rumours of meditated insult became alarming. Mr Tryan declared he would have no
precautions taken, but would simply trust in God and his good cause. Some of his more timid
friends thought this conduct rather defiant than wise, and reflecting that a mob has great
talents for impromptu, and that legal redress is imperfect satisfaction for having one’s head
broken with a bribat, were beginning to question their consciences very closely as to
whether it was not a duty they owed to their families to stay at home on Sunday evening.
ese timorous persons, however, were in a small minority, and the generality of Mr Tryan’s
friends and hearers rather exulted in an opportunity of braving insult for the sake of a
preaer to whom they were aaed on personal as well as doctrinal grounds. Miss Pra
spoke of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, and observed that the present crisis afforded an
occasion for emulating their heroism even in these degenerate times; while less highly
instructed persons, whose memories were not well stored with precedents, simply expressed
their determination, as Mr Jerome had done, to “stan’ by” the preaer and his cause,
believing it to be the “cause of God.”
On Sunday evening, then, at a quarter past six, Mr Tryan, seing out from Mr Landor’s
with a party of his friends who had assembled there, was soon joined by two other groups
from Mr Pra’s and Mr Dunn’s; and stray persons on their way to ur naturally falling
into rank behind this leading file, by the time they reaed the entrance of Orard Street,
Mr Tryan’s friends formed a considerable procession, walking three or four abreast. It was in
Orard Street, and towards the ur gates, that the ief crowd was collected; and at Mr
Dempster’s drawing-room window, on the upper floor, a more select assembly of
AntiTryanites were gathered, to witness the entertaining spectacle of the Tryanites walking to
church amidst the jeers and hootings of the crowd.
To prompt the popular wit with appropriate sobriquets, numerous copies of Mr Dempster’s
play-bill were posted on the walls, in suitably large and emphatic type. As it is possible that
the most industrious collector of mural literature may not have been fortunate enough to
possess himself of this production, whi ought by all means to be preserved amongst the
materials of our provincial religious history, I subjoin a faithful copy.
To be given at Milby on Sunday evening next, by the
Famous Comedian, TRY-IT-ON!
And his first-rate company, including not only an
Unparalleled Cast For Comedy!
But a Large Collection of reclaimed and converted Animals;
Among the rest
A Bear, who used to dance!
A Parrot, once given to swearing!!
A Polygamous Pig!!!
A Monkey who used to catch fleas on a Sunday!!!!
Together with a
Pair of regenerated Linnets!
With an entirely new song, and plumage.Mr Try-it-on
Will first pass through the streets, in procession, with his unrivalled Company, warranted to have their
eyes turned up higher, and the corners of their mouths turned down lower, than any other company of
Mountebanks in this circuit!
after which
The Theatre will be opened, and the entertainment will
commence at Half-Past Six,
When will be presented
A piece, never before performed on any stage, entitled,
The Methodist in a Mask.
Mr Boanerges Soft Sawder: Mr Try-it-on.
Old Ten-per-cent Godly, Mr Gander.
Dr. Feedemup, Mr Tonic.
Mr Lime-Twig Lady-winner, Mr Try-it-on.
Miss Piety Bait-the-hook, Miss Tonic.
Angelica, Miss Seraphina Tonic.
After which
A miscellaneous Musical Interlude, commencing with
The Lamentations of Jerom-iah!
In nasal recitative.
To be followed by
The favourite Cackling Quartette,
Two Hen-birds who are no chickens!
The well-known counter-tenor, Mr Done, and a Gander,
lineally descended from the Goose that laid golden eggs!
To conclude with a
Grand Chorus by the
Entire Orchestra of converted Animals!!
But owing to the unavoidable absence (from illness) of the Bull-dog, who has le off fighting , Mr Tonic has
kindly undertaken, at a moment’s notice, to supply the “bark!”
The whole to conclude with a
Screaming Farce of
Mr Saintly Smooth-face: Mr Try-it-on!
Mr Worming Sneaker: Mr Try-it-on!!
Mr All-grace No-works: Mr Try-it-on!!!
Mr Elect-and-Chosen Apewell: Mr Try-it-on!!!!
Mr Malevolent Prayerful: Mr Try-it-on!!!!!
Mr Foist-himself Everywhere: Mr Try-it-on!!!!!!
Mr Flout-the-aged Upstart: Mr Try-it-on!!!!!!!
Admission Free. A Collection will be made at the Doors.
Vivat Rex!
is satire, though it presents the keenest edge of Milby wit, does not strike you as lacerating,
I imagine. But hatred is like fire—it makes even light rubbish deadly. And Mr Dempster’s
sarcasms were not merely visible on the walls; they were reflected in the derisive glances,
and audible in the jeering voices of the crowd. rough this pelting shower of ninames and
bad puns, with an ad libitum accompaniment of groans, howls, hisses, and hee-haws, but ofno heavier missiles, Mr Tryan walked pale and composed, giving his arm to old Mr Landor,
whose step was feeble. On the other side of him was Mr Jerome, who still walked firmly,
though his shoulders were slightly bowed.
Outwardly Mr Tryan was composed, but inwardly he was suffering acutely from these
tones of hatred and scorn. However strong his consciousness of right, he found it no stronger
armour against su weapons as derisive glances and virulent words, than against stones and
clubs: his conscience was in repose, but his sensibility was bruised.
Once more only did the Evangelical curate pass up Orard Street followed by a train of
friends; once more only was there a crowd assembled to witness his entrance through the
ur gates. But that second time no voice was heard above a whisper, and the whispers
were words of sorrow and blessing. at second time, Janet Dempster was not looking on in
scorn and merriment; her eyes were worn with grief and wating, and she was following
her beloved friend and pastor to the grave.
 Chapter X.
History, we know, is apt to repeat herself, and to foist very old incidents upon us with only a
slight ange of costume. From the time of Xerxes downwards, we have seen generals
playing the braggadocio at the outset of their campaigns, and conquering the enemy with the
greatest ease in aer-dinner speees. But events are apt to be in disgusting discrepancy with
the anticipations of the most ingenious tacticians; the difficulties of the expedition are
ridiculously at variance with able calculations; the enemy has the impudence not to fall into
confusion as had been reasonably expected of him; the mind of the gallant general begins to
be distracted by news of intrigues against him at home, and, notwithstanding the handsome
compliments he paid to Providence as his undoubted patron before seing out, there seems
every probability that the Te Deums will be all on the other side.
So it fell out with Mr Dempster in his memorable campaign against the Anti-Tryanites.
Aer all the premature triumph of the return from Elmstoke, the bale of the Evening
Lecture had been lost; the enemy was in possession of the field; and the utmost hope
remaining was, that by a harassing guerilla warfare he might be driven to evacuate the
For some time this sort of warfare was kept up with considerable spirit. e shas of Milby
ridicule were made more formidable by being poisoned with calumny; and very ugly stories,
narrated with circumstantial minuteness, were soon in circulation concerning Mr Tryan and
his hearers, from whi stories it was plainly deducible that Evangelicalism led by a
necessary consequence to hypocritical indulgence in vice. Some old friendships were broken
asunder, and there were near relations who felt that religious differences, unmitigated by any
prospect of a legacy, were a sufficient ground for exhibiting their family antipathy. Mr Budd
harangued his workmen, and threatened them with dismissal if they or their families were
known to aend the evening lecture; and Mr Tomlinson, on discovering that his foreman was
a rank Tryanite, blustered to a great extent, and would have cashiered that valuable
functionary on the spot, if such a retributive procedure had not been inconvenient.
On the whole, however, at the end of a few months, the balance of substantial loss was on
the side of the Anti-Tryanites. Mr Pra, indeed, had lost a patient or two besides Mr
Dempster’s family; but as it was evident that Evangelicalism had not dried up the stream of
his anecdote, or in the least altered his view of any lady’s constitution, it is probable that a
ange accompanied by so few outward and visible signs, was rather the pretext than the
ground of his dismissal in those additional cases. Mr Dunn was threatened with the loss of
several good customers, Mrs Phipps and Mrs Lowme having set the example of ordering him
to send in his bill; and the draper began to look forward to his next sto-taking with an
anxiety whi was but slightly mitigated by the parallel his wife suggested between his own
case and that of Shadra, Meshe, and Abednego, who were thrust into a burning fiery
furnace. For, as he observed to her the next morning, with that perspicacity whi belongs to
the period of shaving, whereas their deliverance consisted in the fact that their linen and
woollen goods were not consumed, his own deliverance lay in precisely the opposite result.
But convenience, that admirable bran system from the main line of self-interest, makes us
all fellow-helpers in spite of adverse resolutions. It is probable that no speculative or
theological hatred would be ultimately strong enough to resist the persuasive power of
convenience: that a latitudinarian baker, whose bread was honourably free from alum, would
command the custom of any dyspeptic Puseyite; that an Arminian with the toothae would
prefer a skilful Calvinistic dentist to a bungler stan against the doctrines of Election and
Final Perseverance, who would be likely to break the tooth in his head; and that a PlymouthBrother, who had a well-furnished grocery shop in a favourable vicinage, would occasionally
have the pleasure of furnishing sugar or vinegar to orthodox families that found themselves
unexpectedly “out of” those indispensable commodities. In this persuasive power of
convenience lay Mr Dunn’s ultimate security from martyrdom. His drapery was the best in
Milby; the comfortable use and wont of procuring satisfactory articles at a moment’s notice
proved too strong for Anti-Tryanite zeal; and the draper could soon look forward to his next
stock-taking without the support of a Scriptural parallel.
On the other hand, Mr Dempster had lost his excellent client, Mr Jerome—a loss whi
galled him out of proportion to the mere monetary deficit it represented. e aorney loved
money, but he loved power still beer. He had always been proud of having early won the
confidence of a conventicle-goer, and of being able to “turn the prop of Salem round his
thumb.” Like most other men, too, he had a certain kindness towards those who had
employed him when he was only starting in life; and just as we do not like to part with an
old weather-glass from our study, or a two-feet ruler that we have carried in our poet ever
since we began business, so Mr Dempster did not like having to erase his old client’s name
from the accustomed drawer in the bureau. Our habitual life is like a wall hung with pictures,
whi has been shone on by the suns of many years: take one of the pictures away, and it
leaves a definite blank space, to whi our eyes can never turn without a sensation of
discomfort. Nay, the involuntary loss of any familiar object almost always brings a ill as
from an evil omen; it seems to be the first finger-shadow of advancing death.
From all these causes combined, Mr Dempster could never think of his lost client without
strong irritation, and the very sight of Mr Jerome passing in the street was wormwood to
One day, when the old gentleman was coming up Orard Street on his roan mare,
shaking the bridle, and tiling her flank with the whip as usual, though there was a perfect
mutual understanding that she was not to quien her pace, Janet happened to be on her own
door-step, and he could not resist the temptation of stopping to speak to that “nice lile
woman,” as he always called her, though she was taller than all the rest of his feminine
acquaintances. Janet, in spite of her disposition to take her husband’s part in all public
matters, could bear no malice against her old friend; so they shook hands.
“Well, Mrs Dempster, I’m surry to my heart not to see you sometimes, that I am,” said Mr
Jerome, in a plaintive tone. “But if you’ve got any poor people as wants help, and you know’s
deservin’, send ’em to me, send ’em to me, just the same.”
“Thank you, Mr Jerome, that I will. Good-by.”
Janet made the interview as short as she could, but it was not short enough to escape the
observation of her husband, who, as she feared, was on his mid-day return from his office at
the other end of the street, and this offence of hers, in speaking to Mr Jerome, was the
frequently recurring theme of Mr Dempster’s objurgatory domestic eloquence.
Associating the loss of his old client with Mr Tryan’s influence, Dempster began to know
more distinctly why he hated the obnoxious curate. But a passionate hate, as well as a
passionate love, demands some leisure and mental freedom. Persecution and revenge, like
courtship and toadyism, will not prosper without a considerable expenditure of time and
ingenuity, and these are not to spare with a man whose law-business and liver are both
beginning to show unpleasant symptoms. Su was the disagreeable turn affairs were taking
with Mr Dempster, and, like the general distracted by home intrigues, he was too mu
harassed himself to lay ingenious plans for harassing the enemy.
Meanwhile, the evening lecture drew larger and larger congregations; not, perhaps,
aracting many from that select aristocratic circle in whi the Lowmes and Pimans were
predominant, but winning the larger proportion of Mr Crewe’s morning and aernoon
hearers, and thinning Mr Stiney’s evening audiences at Salem. Evangelicalism was making
its way in Milby, and gradually diffusing its subtle odour into ambers that were bolted andbarred against it. e movement, like all other religious “revivals,” had a mixed effect.
Religious ideas have the fate of melodies, whi, once set afloat in the world, are taken up by
all sorts of instruments, some of them woefully coarse, feeble, or out of tune, until people are
in danger of crying out that the melody itself is detestable. It may be that some of Mr Tryan’s
hearers had gained a religious vocabulary rather than religious experience; that here and
there a weaver’s wife, who, a few months before, had been simply a silly slaern, was
converted into that more complex nuisance, a silly and sanctimonious slaern; that the old
Adam, with the pertinacity of middle age, continued to tell fibs behind the counter,
notwithstanding the new Adam’s addiction to Bible-reading and family prayer; that the
ildren in the Paddiford Sunday-sool had their memories crammed with phrases about
the blood of cleansing, imputed righteousness, and justification by faith alone, whi an
experience lying principally in u-farthing, hop-scot, parental slappings, and longings
aer unaainable lolly-pop, served rather to darken than to illustrate; and that at Milby, in
those distant days, as in all other times and places where the mental atmosphere is anging,
and men are inhaling the stimulus of new ideas, folly oen mistook itself for wisdom,
ignorance gave itself airs of knowledge, and selfishness, turning its eyes upward, called itself
Nevertheless, Evangelicalism had brought into palpable existence and operation in Milby
society that idea of duty, that recognition of something to be lived for beyond the mere
satisfaction of self, whi is to the moral life what the addition of a great central ganglion is
to animal life. No man can begin to mould himself on a faith or an idea without rising to a
higher order of experience: a principle of subordination, of self-mastery, has been introduced
into his nature; he is no longer a mere bundle of impressions, desires, and impulses. Whatever
might be the weaknesses of the ladies who pruned the luxuriance of their lace and ribbons,
cut out garments for the poor, distributed tracts, quoted Scripture, and defined the true
Gospel, they had learned this—that there was a divine work to be done in life, a rule of
goodness higher than the opinion of their neighbours; and if the notion of a heaven in reserve
for themselves was a lile too prominent, yet the theory of fitness for that heaven consisted
in purity of heart, in Christ-like compassion, in the subduing of selfish desires. ey might
give the name of piety to mu that was only puritanic egoism; they might call many things
sin that were not sin; but they had at least the feeling that sin was to be avoided and resisted,
and colour-blindness, whi may mistake drab for scarlet, is beer than total blindness whi
sees no distinction of colour at all. Miss Rebecca Linnet, in quiet aire, with a somewhat
excessive solemnity of countenance, teaing at the Sunday Sool, visiting the poor, and
striving aer a standard of purity and goodness, had surely more moral loveliness than in
those flaunting peony-days, when she had no other model than the costumes of the heroines
in the circulating library. Miss Eliza Pra, listening in rapt aention to Mr Tryan’s evening
lecture, no doubt found evangelical annels for vanity and egoism; but she was clearly in
moral advance of Miss Phipps giggling under her feathers at old Mr Crewe’s peculiarities of
enunciation. And even elderly fathers and mothers, with minds, like Mrs Linnet’s, too tough
to imbibe mu doctrine, were the beer for having their hearts inclined towards the new
preaer as a messenger from God. ey became ashamed, perhaps, of their evil tempers,
ashamed of their worldliness, ashamed of their trivial, futile past. e first condition of
human goodness is something to love; the second, something to reverence. And this laer
precious gift was brought to Milby by Mr Tryan and Evangelicalism.
Yes, the movement was good, though it had that mixture of folly and evil whi oen
makes what is good an offence to feeble and fastidious minds, who want human actions and
aracters riddled through the sieve of their own ideas, before they can accord their
sympathy or admiration. Su minds, I dare say, would have found Mr Tryan’s aracter
very mu in need of that riddling process. e blessed work of helping the world forward,
happily does not wait to be done by perfect men; and I should imagine that neither Luthernor John Bunyan, for example, would have satisfied the modern demand for an ideal hero,
who believes nothing but what is true, feels nothing but what is exalted, and does nothing
but what is graceful. e real heroes, of God’s making, are quite different: they have their
natural heritage of love and conscience whi they drew in with their mother’s milk; they
know one or two of those deep spiritual truths whi are only to be won by long wrestling
with their own sins and their own sorrows; they have earned faith and strength so far as they
have done genuine work: but the rest is dry barren theory, blank prejudice, vague hearsay.
eir insight is blended with mere opinion; their sympathy is perhaps confined in narrow
conduits of doctrine, instead of flowing forth with the freedom of a stream that blesses every
weed in its course; obstinacy or self-assertion will oen interfuse itself with their grandest
impulses; and their very deeds of self-sacrifice are sometimes only the rebound of a
passionate egoism. So it was with Mr Tryan: and any one looking at him with the bird’s-eye
glance of a critic might perhaps say that he made the mistake of identifying Christianity with
a too narrow doctrinal system; that he saw God’s work too exclusively in antagonism to the
world, the flesh, and the devil; that his intellectual culture was too limited—and so on;
making Mr Tryan the text for a wise discourse on the aracteristics of the Evangelical sool
in his day.
But I am not poised at that loy height. I am on the level and in the press with him, as he
struggles his way along the stony road, through the crowd of unloving fellow-men. He is
stumbling, perhaps; his heart now beats fast with dread, now heavily with anguish; his eyes
are sometimes dim with tears, whi he makes haste to dash away; he pushes manfully on,
with fluctuating faith and courage, with a sensitive failing body; at last he falls, the struggle is
ended, and the crowd closes over the space he has left.
“One of the Evangelical clergy, a disciple of Venn,” says the critic from his bird’s-eye
station. “Not a remarkable specimen; the anatomy and habits of his species have been
determined long ago.”
Yet surely, surely the only true knowledge of our fellow-man is that whi enables us to
feel with him—whi gives us a fine ear for the heart-pulses that are beating under the mere
clothes of circumstance and opinion. Our subtlest analysis of sools and sects must miss the
essential truth, unless it be lit up by the love that sees in all forms of human thought and
work, the life and death struggles of separate human beings.
 Chapter XI.
Mr Tryan’s most unfriendly observers were obliged to admit that he gave himself no rest.
ree sermons on Sunday, a night-sool for young men on Tuesday, a coage-lecture on
ursday, addresses to sool-teaers, and cateising of sool-ildren, with pastoral
visits, multiplying as his influence extended beyond his own district of Paddiford Common,
would have been enough to tax severely the powers of a mu stronger man. Mr Pra
remonstrated with him on his imprudence, but could not prevail on him so far to economise
time and strength as to keep a horse. On some ground or other, whi his friends found
difficult to explain to themselves, Mr Tryan seemed bent on wearing himself out. His enemies
were at no loss to account for su a course. e Evangelical curate’s selfishness was clearly
of too bad a kind to exhibit itself aer the ordinary manner of a sound, respectable
selfishness. “He wants to get the reputation of a saint,” said one; “He’s eaten up with spiritual
pride,” said another; “He’s got his eye on some fine living, and wants to creep up the bishop’s
sleeve,” said a third.
Mr Stiney, of Salem, who considered all voluntary discomfort as a remnant of the legal
spirit, pronounced a severe condemnation on this self-neglect, and expressed his fear that Mr
Tryan was still far from having aained true Christian liberty. Good Mr Jerome eagerly
seized this doctrinal view of the subject as a means of enforcing the suggestions of his own
benevolence; and one cloudy aernoon, in the end of November, he mounted his roan mare
with the determination of riding to Paddiford and “arguying” the point with Mr Tryan.
e old gentleman’s face looked very mournful as he rode along the dismal Paddiford
lanes, between rows of grimy houses, darkened with hand-looms, while the bla dust was
whirled about him by the cold November wind. He was thinking of the object whi had
brought him on this aernoon ride, and his thoughts, according to his habit when alone,
found vent every now and then in audible spee. It seemed to him, as his eyes rested on this
scene of Mr Tryan’s labours, that he could understand the clergyman’s self-privation without
resorting to Mr Stiney’s theory of defective spiritual enlightenment. Do not philosophic
doctors tell us that we are unable to discern so mu as a tree, except by an unconscious
cunning whi combines many past and separate sensations; that no one sense is independent
of another, so that we can hardly taste a fricassee, or tell whether our pipe is alight or not, in
the dark, and the most intelligent boy, if accommodated with claws or hoofs instead of
fingers, would be likely to remain on the lowest form? If so, it is easy to understand that our
discernment of men’s motives must depend on the completeness of the elements we can bring
from our own susceptibility and our own experience. See to it, friend, before you pronounce a
too hasty judgment, that your own moral sensibilities are not of a hoofed or clawed character.
e keenest eye will not serve, unless you have the delicate fingers, with their subtle nerve
filaments, whi elude scientific lenses, and lose themselves in the invisible world of human
As for Mr Jerome, he drew the elements of his moral vision from the depths of his
veneration and pity. If he himself felt so mu for these poor things to whom life was so dim
and meagre, what must the clergyman feel who had undertaken before God to be their
“Ah!” he whispered, interruptedly, “it’s too big a load for his conscience, poor man! He
wants to mek himself their brother, like; can’t abide to prea to the fastin’ on a full stoma.
Ah! he’s better nor we are, that’s it—he’s a deal better nor we are.”
Here Mr Jerome shook his bridle violently, and looked up with an air of moral courage, as
if Mr Stiney had been present, and liable to take offence at this conclusion. A few minutesmore brought him in front of Mrs Wagstaff’s, where Mr Tryan lodged. He had oen been
here before, so that the contrast between this ugly square bri house, with its shabby bit of
grass-plot, stared at all round by coage windows, and his own prey white home, set in a
paradise of orard, and garden, and pasture, was not new to him; but he felt it with fresh
force to-day, as he slowly fastened his roan by the bridle to the wooden paling, and knoed
at the door. Mr Tryan was at home, and sent to request that Mr Jerome would walk up into
his study, as the fire was out in the parlour below.
At the mention of a clergyman’s study, perhaps, your too active imagination conjures up a
perfect snuggery, where the general air of comfort is rescued from a secular aracter by
strong ecclesiastical suggestions in the shape of the furniture, the paern of the carpet, and
the prints on the wall; where, if a nap is taken, it is in an easy-air with a Gothic ba, and
the very feet rest on a warm and velvety simulation of ur windows; where the pure art
of rigorous English Protestantism smiles above the mantel-piece in the portrait of an eminent
bishop, or a refined Anglican taste is indicated by a German print from Overbe; where the
walls are lined with choice divinity in sombre binding, and the light is softened by a screen of
boughs with a grey church in the background.
But I must beg you to dismiss all su scenic preinesses, suitable as they may be to a
clergyman’s aracter and complexion; for I have to confess that Mr Tryan’s study was a very
ugly lile room indeed, with an ugly slap-dash paern on the walls, an ugly carpet on the
floor, and an ugly view of coage-roofs and cabbage-gardens from the window. His own
person, his writing-table, and his book-case, were the only objects in the room that had the
slightest air of refinement; and the sole provision for comfort was a clumsy straight-baed
arm-air, covered with faded intz. e man who could live in su a room, unconstrained
by poverty, must either have his vision fed from within by an intense passion, or he must
have osen that least aractive form of self-mortification whi wears no haircloth and has
no meagre days, but accepts the vulgar, the commonplace and the ugly, whenever the highest
duty seems to lie among them.
“Mr Tryan, I hope you’ll excuse me disturbin’ on you,” said Mr Jerome. “But I’d summat
partickler to say.”
“You don’t disturb me at all, Mr Jerome; I’m very glad to have a visit from you,” said Mr
Tryan, shaking him heartily by the hand, and offering him the intz-covered “easy” air;
“it is some time since I’ve had an opportunity of seeing you, except on a Sunday.”
“Ah! sir! your time’s so teen up, I’m well awear o’ that; it’s not only what you hev to do,
but it’s goin’ about from place to place; an’ you don’t keep a hoss, Mr Tryan. You don’t tek
care enough o’ yourself—you don’t indeed, an’ that’s what I come to talk to y’ about.”
“at’s very good of you, Mr Jerome; but I assure you I think walking does me no harm. It
is rather a relief to me aer speaking or writing. You know I have no great circuit to make.
e farthest distance I have to walk is to Milby ur, and if ever I want a horse on a
Sunday, I hire Radley’s, who lives not many hundred yards from me.”
“Well, but now! the winter’s comin’ on, an’ you’ll get wet i’ your feet, an’ Pra tells me as
your constitution’s dillicate, as anybody may see, for the maer o’ that, wi’out bein’ a doctor.
An’ this is the light I look at it in, Mr Tryan: who’s to fill up your place, if you was to be
disabled, as I may say? Consider what a valyable life yourn is. You’ve begun a great work i’
Milby, an’ so you might carry’t on, if you’d your health and strength. e more care you tek
o’ yourself, the longer you’ll live, belike, God willing, to do good to your fellow-creturs.”
“Why, my dear Mr Jerome, I think I should not be a long-lived man in any case; and if I
were to take care of myself under the pretext of doing more good, I should very likely die
and leave nothing done after all.”
“Well! but keepin’ a hoss wouldn’t hinder you from workin’. It ’ud help you to do more,
though Pra says as it’s usin’ your voice so constant as does you the most harm. Now, isn’t it
—I’m no solard, Mr Tryan, an’ I’m not a-goin’ to dictate to you—but isn’t it a’most a-killin’o’ yourself, to go on a’ that way beyond your strength? We musn’t fling wer lives away.”
“No, not fling them away lightly, but we are permied to lay down our lives in a right
cause. ere are many duties, as you know, Mr Jerome, whi stand before taking care of our
own lives.”
“Ah! I can’t arguy wi’ you, Mr Tryan; but what I wanted to say ’s this—ere’s my lile
acenut hoss; I should tek it quite a kindness if you’d hev him through the winter an’ ride
him. I’ve thought o’ sellin’ him a maeny times, for Mrs Jerome can’t abide him; and what do I
want wi’ two nags? But I’m fond o’ the lile acenut, an’ I shouldn’t like to sell him. So if
you’ll only ride him for me, you’ll do me a kindness—you will indeed, Mr Tryan.”
“ank you, Mr Jerome. I promise you to ask for him, when I feel that I want a nag. ere
is no man I would more gladly be indebted to than you; but at present I would rather not
have a horse. I should ride him very lile, and it would be an inconvenience to me to keep
him rather than otherwise.”
Mr Jerome looked troubled and hesitating, as if he had something on his mind that would
not readily shape itself into words. At last he said, “You’ll excuse me, Mr Tryan, I wouldn’t
be tein’ a liberty, but I know what great claims you hev on you as a clergyman. Is it th’
expense, Mr Tryan? is it the money?”
“No, my dear sir. I have mu more than a single man needs. My way of living is quite of
my own oosing, and I am doing nothing but what I feel bound to do, quite apart from
money considerations. We cannot judge for one another, you know; we have ea our
peculiar weaknesses and temptations. I quite admit that it might be right for another man to
allow himself more luxuries, and I assure you I think it no superiority in myself to do
without them. On the contrary, if my heart were less rebellious, and if I were less liable to
temptation, I should not need that sort of self-denial. But,” added Mr Tryan, holding out his
hand to Mr Jerome, “I understand your kindness, and bless you for it. If I want a horse, I shall
ask for the chesnut.”
Mr Jerome was obliged to rest contented with this promise, and rode home sorrowfully,
reproaing himself with not having said one thing he meant to say when seing out, and
with having “clean forgot” the arguments he had intended to quote from Mr Stickney.
Mr Jerome’s was not the only mind that was seriously disturbed by the idea that the curate
was over-working himself. ere were tender women’s hearts in whi anxiety about the
state of his affections was beginning to be merged in anxiety about the state of his health.
Miss Eliza Pratt had at one time passed through much sleepless cogitation on the possibility of
Mr Tryan’s being aaed to some lady at a distance—at Laxeter, perhaps, where he had
formerly held a curacy; and her fine eyes kept close wat lest any symptom of engaged
affections on his part should escape her. It seemed an alarming fact that his handkeriefs
were beautifully marked with hair, until she reflected that he had an unmarried sister of
whom he spoke with mu affection as his father’s companion and comforter. Besides, Mr
Tryan had never paid any distant visit, except one for a few days to his father, and no hint
escaped him of his intending to take a house, or ange his mode of living. No! he could not
be engaged, though he might have been disappointed. But this laer misfortune is one from
whi a devoted clergyman has been known to recover, by the aid of a fine pair of grey eyes
that beam on him with affectionate reverence. Before Christmas, however, her cogitations
began to take another turn. She heard her father say very confidently that “Tryan was
consumptive, and if he didn’t take more care of himself, his life would not be worth a year’s
purase;” and shame at having speculated on suppositions that were likely to prove so false,
sent poor Miss Eliza’s feelings with all the stronger impetus into the one annel of sorrowful
alarm at the prospect of losing the pastor who had opened to her a new life of piety and
selfsubjection. It is a sad weakness in us, aer all, that the thought of a man’s death hallows him
anew to us; as if life were not sacred too—as if it were comparatively a light thing to fail in
love and reverence to the brother who has to climb the whole toilsome steep with us, and allour tears and tenderness were due to the one who is spared that hard journey.
e Miss Linnets, too, were beginning to take a new view of the future, entirely
uncoloured by jealousy of Miss Eliza Pratt.
“Did you notice,” said Mary, one aernoon when Mrs Peifer was taking tea with them
—“did you notice that short dry cough of Mr Tryan’s yesterday? I think he looks worse and
worse every week, and I only wish I knew his sister; I would write to her about him. I’m sure
something should be done to make him give up part of his work, and he will listen to no one
“Ah,” said Mrs Peifer, “it’s a thousand pities his father and sister can’t come and live with
him, if he isn’t to marry. But I wish with all my heart he could have taken to some nice
woman as would have made a comfortable home for him. I used to think he might take to
Eliza Pratt; she’s a good girl, and very pretty; but I see no likelihood of it now.”
“No, indeed,” said Rebecca, with some emphasis; “Mr Tryan’s heart is not for any woman
to win; it is all given to his work; and I could never wish to see him with a young
inexperienced wife who would be a drag on him instead of a help-mate.”
“He’d need have somebody, young or old,” observed Mrs Linnet, “to see as he wears a
flannel wescoat, an’ anges his stoins when he comes in. It’s my opinion he’s got that
cough wi’ siin’ i’ wet shoes an’ stoins; an’ that Mrs Wagstaff’s a poor addle-headed thing;
she doesn’t half tek care on him.”
“O, mother!” said Rebecca, “she’s a very pious woman. And I’m sure she thinks it too great
a privilege to have Mr Tryan with her, not to do the best she can to make him comfortable.
She can’t help her rooms being shabby.”
“I’ve nothing to say again’ her piety, my dear; but I know very well I shouldn’t like her to
cook my victual. When a man comes in hungry an’ tired, piety won’t feed him, I reon.
Hard carrots ’ull lie heavy on his stomach, piety or no piety. I called in one day when she was
dishin’ up Mr Tryan’s dinner, an’ I could see the potatoes was as watery as watery. It’s right
enough to be speritial—I’m no enemy to that; but I like my potatoes mealy. I don’t see as
anybody ’ull go to heaven the sooner for not digestin’ their dinner—providin’ they don’t die
sooner, as mayhap Mr Tryan will, poor dear man!”
“It will be a heavy day for us all when that comes to pass,” said Mrs Peifer. “We shall
never get anybody to fill up that gap. ere’s the new clergyman that’s just come to
Shepperton—Mr Parry; I saw him the other day at Mrs Bond’s. He may be a very good man,
and a fine preaer; they say he is; but I thought to myself, what a difference between him
and Mr Tryan! He’s a sharp-sort-of-looking man, and hasn’t that feeling way with him that
Mr Tryan has. What is so wonderful to me in Mr Tryan is the way he puts himself on a level
with one, and talks to one like a brother. I’m never afraid of telling him anything. He never
seems to look down on anybody. He knows how to li up those that are cast down, if ever
man did.”
“Yes,” said Mary. “And when I see all the faces turned up to him in Paddiford ur, I
oen think how hard it would be for any clergyman who had to come aer him; he has
made the people love him so.”
 Chapter XII.
In her occasional visits to her near neighbour Mrs Peifer, too old a friend to be shunned
because she was a Tryanite, Janet was obliged sometimes to hear allusions to Mr Tryan, and
even to listen to his praises, which she usually met with playful incredulity.
“Ah, well,” she answered one day, “I like dear old Mr Crewe and his pipes a great deal
beer than your Mr Tryan and his Gospel. When I was a lile toddle, Mr and Mrs Crewe
used to let me play about in their garden, and have a swing between the great elm-trees,
because mother had no garden. I like people who are kind; kindness is my religion; and that’s
the reason I like you, dear Mrs Pettifer, though you are a Tryanite.”
“But that’s Mr Tryan’s religion too—at least partly. ere’s nobody can give himself up
more to doing good amongst the poor; and he thinks of their bodies too, as well as their
“O yes, yes; but then he talks about faith and grace, and all that, making people believe
they are better than others, and that God loves them more than He does the rest of the world.
I know he has put a great deal of that into Sally Martin’s head, and it has done her no good at
all. She was as nice, honest, patient a girl as need be before; and now she fancies she has new
light and new wisdom. I dont like those notions.”
“You mistake him, indeed you do, my dear Mrs Dempster; I wish you’d go and hear him
“Hear him prea! Why, you wied woman, you would persuade me to disobey my
husband, would you? O, shocking! I shall run away from you. Good-by.”
A few days aer this conversation, however, Janet went to Sally Martin’s about three
o’clo in the aernoon. e pudding that had been sent in for herself and “Mammy,” stru
her as just the sort of delicate morsel the poor consumptive girl would be likely to fancy, and
in her usual impulsive way she had started up from the dinner-table at once, put on her
bonnet, and set off with a covered plateful to the neighbouring street. When she entered the
house there was no one to be seen; but in the lile side-room where Sally lay, Janet heard a
voice. It was one she had not heard before, but she immediately guessed it to be Mr Tryan’s.
Her first impulse was to set down her plate and go away, but Mrs Martin might not be in,
and then there would be no one to give Sally that delicious bit of pudding. So she stood still,
and was obliged to hear what Mr Tryan was saying. He was interrupted by one of the
invalid’s violent fits of coughing.
“It is very hard to bear, is it not?” he said, when she was still again. “Yet God seems to
support you under it wonderfully. Pray for me, Sally, that I may have strength too when the
hour of great suffering comes. It is one of my worst weaknesses to shrink from bodily pain,
and I think the time is perhaps not far off when I shall have to bear what you are bearing. But
now I have tired you. We have talked enough. Good-by.”
Janet was surprised, and forgot her wish not to encounter Mr Tryan; the tone and the
words were so unlike what she had expected to hear. ere was none of the self-satisfied
unction of the teaer, quoting, or exhorting, or expounding, for the benefit of the hearer, but
a simple appeal for help, a confession of weakness. Mr Tryan had his deeply-felt troubles,
then? Mr Tryan, too, like herself, knew what it was to tremble at a foreseen trial—to shudder
at an impending burthen, heavier than he felt able to bear?
e most brilliant deed of virtue could not have inclined Janet’s goodwill towards Mr
Tryan so mu as this fellowship in suffering, and the soening thought was in her eyes
when he appeared in the doorway, pale, weary, and depressed. e sight of Janet standing
there with the entire absence of self-consciousness whi belongs to a new and vividimpression, made him start and pause a lile. eir eyes met, and they looked at ea other
gravely for a few moments. Then they bowed, and Mr Tryan passed out.
ere is a power in the direct glance of a sincere and loving human soul, whi will do
more to dissipate prejudice and kindle arity than the most elaborate arguments. e fullest
exposition of Mr Tryan’s doctrine might not have sufficed to convince Janet that he had not
an odious self-complacency in believing himself a peculiar ild of God; but one direct,
pathetic look of his had dissociated him with that conception for ever.
is happened late in the autumn, not long before Sally Martin died. Janet mentioned her
new impression to no one, for she was afraid of arriving at a still more complete contradiction
of her former ideas. We have all of us considerable regard for our past self, and are not fond
of casting reflections on that respected individual by a total negation of his opinions. Janet
could no longer think of Mr Tryan without sympathy, but she still shrank from the idea of
becoming his hearer and admirer. at was a reversal of the past whi was as lile
accordant with her inclination as her circumstances.
And indeed this interview with Mr Tryan was soon thrust into the baground of poor
Janet’s memory by the daily thickening miseries of her life.
 Chapter XIII.
The loss of Mr Jerome as a client proved only the beginning of annoyances to Dempster. at
old gentleman had in him the vigorous remnant of an energy and perseverance whi had
created his own fortune; and being, as I have hinted, given to ewing the cud of a righteous
indignation with considerable relish, he was determined to carry on his retributive war
against the persecuting aorney. Having some influence with Mr Pryme, who was one of the
most substantial rate-payers in the neighbouring parish of Dingley, and who had himself a
complex and long-standing private account with Dempster, Mr Jerome stirred up this
gentleman to an investigation of some suspicious points in the aorney’s conduct of the
parish affairs. e natural consequence was a personal quarrel between Dempster and Mr
Pryme; the client demanded his account, and then followed the old story of an exorbitant
lawyer’s bill, with the unpleasant anti-climax of taxing.
ese disagreeables, extending over many months, ran along side by side with the pressing
business of Mr Armstrong’s lawsuit, whi was threatening to take a turn rather depreciatory
of Dempster’s professional prevision; and it is not surprising that, being thus kept in a
constant state of irritated excitement about his own affairs, he had lile time for the further
exhibition of his public spirit, or for rallying the forlorn hope of sound urmanship against
cant and hypocrisy. Not a few persons who had a grudge against him, began to remark, with
satisfaction, that “Dempster’s lu was forsaking him;” particularly Mrs Linnet, who thought
she saw distinctly the gradual ripening of a providential seme, whereby a just retribution
would be wrought on the man who had deprived her of Pye’s Cro. On the other hand,
Dempster’s well-satisfied clients, who were of opinion that the punishment of his wiedness
might conveniently be deferred to another world, noticed with some concern that he was
drinking more than ever, and that both his temper and his driving were becoming more
furious. Unhappily those additional glasses of brandy, that exasperation of loud-tongued
abuse, had other effects than any that entered into the contemplation of anxious clients: they
were the little superadded symbols that were perpetually raising the sum of home misery.
Poor Janet! how heavily the months rolled on for her, laden with fresh sorrows as the
summer passed into autumn, the autumn into winter, and the winter into spring again. Every
feverish morning, with its blank listlessness and despair, seemed more hateful than the last;
every coming night more impossible to brave without arming herself in leaden stupor. e
morning light brought no gladness to her: it seemed only to throw its glare on what had
happened in the dim candle-light—on the cruel man seated immovable in drunken obstinacy
by the dead fire and dying lights in the dining-room, rating her in harsh tones, reiterating old
reproaes—or on a hideous blank of something unremembered, something that must have
made that dark bruise on her shoulder, which aches as she dresses herself.
Do you wonder how it was that things had come to this pass—what offence Janet had
commied in the early years of marriage to rouse the brutal hatred of this man? e seeds of
things are very small: the hours that lie between sunrise and the gloom of midnight are
travelled through by tiniest markings of the clo: and Janet, looking ba along the fieen
years of her married life, hardly knew how or where this total misery began; hardly knew
when the sweet wedded love and hope that had set for ever had ceased to make a twilight of
memory and relenting, before the on-coming of the utter dark.
Old Mrs Dempster thought she saw the true beginning of it all in Janet’s want of
housekeeping skill and exactness. “Janet,” she said to herself, “was always running about
doing things for other people, and neglecting her own house. at provokes a man: what use
is it for a woman to be loving, and making a fuss with her husband, if she doesn’t take careand keep his home just as he likes it; if she isn’t at hand when he wants anything done; if she
doesn’t aend to all his wishes, let them be as small as they may? at was what I did when
I was a wife, though I didn’t make half so mu fuss about loving my husband. en, Janet
had no ildren.” … Ah! there Mammy Dempster had toued a true spring, not perhaps of
her son’s cruelty, but of half Janet’s misery. If she had had babes to ro to sleep—lile ones
to kneel in their night-dress and say their prayers at her knees—sweet boys and girls to put
their young arms round her ne and kiss away her tears, her poor hungry heart would have
been fed with strong love, and might never have needed that fiery poison to still its cravings.
Mighty is the force of motherhood! says the great tragic poet to us across the ages, finding, as
usual, the simplest words for the sublimest fact—δεινόν τὸ τίκτειν ἐστίν. It transforms all
things by its vital heat: it turns timidity into fierce courage, and dreadless defiance into
tremulous submission; it turns thoughtlessness into foresight, and yet stills all anxiety into
calm content; it makes selfishness become self-denial, and gives even to hard vanity the
glance of admiring love. Yes; if Janet had been a mother, she might have been saved from
much sin, and therefore from much of her sorrow.
But do not believe that it was anything either present or wanting in poor Janet that formed
the motive of her husband’s cruelty. Cruelty, like every other vice, requires no motive outside
itself—it only requires opportunity. You do not suppose Dempster had any motive for
drinking beyond the craving for drink; the presence of brandy was the only necessary
condition. And an unloving, tyrannous, brutal man needs no motive to prompt his cruelty; he
needs only the perpetual presence of a woman he can call his own. A whole park full of tame
or timid-eyed animals to torment at his will would not serve him so well to glut his lust of
torture; they could not feel as one woman does; they could not throw out the keen retort
which whets the edge of hatred.
Janet’s bierness would overflow in ready words; she was not to be made meek by cruelty;
she would repent of nothing in the face of injustice, though she was subdued in a moment by
a word or a look that recalled the old days of fondness; and in times of comparative calm
would oen recover her sweet woman’s habit of caressing playful affection. But su days
were become rare, and poor Janet’s soul was kept like a vexed sea, tossed by a new storm
before the old waves have fallen. Proud, angry resistance and sullen endurance were now
almost the only alternations she knew. She would bear it all proudly to the world, but
proudly towards him too; her woman’s weakness might shriek a cry for pity under a heavy
blow, but voluntarily she would do nothing to mollify him, unless he first relented. What had
she ever done to him but love him too well—but believe in him too foolishly? He had no pity
on her tender flesh; he could strike the so ne he had once asked to kiss. Yet she would not
admit her wretedness; she had married him blindly, and she would bear it out to the
terrible end, whatever that might be. Beer this misery than the blank that lay for her
outside her married home.
But there was one person who heard all the plaints and all the outbursts of bierness and
despair whi Janet was never tempted to pour into any other ear; and alas! in her worst
moments, Janet would throw out wild reproaes against that patient listener. For the wrong
that rouses our angry passions finds only a medium in us; it passes through us like a
vibration, and we inflict what we have suffered.
Mrs Raynor saw too clearly all through the winter that things were geing worse in
Orard Street. She had evidence enough of it in Janet’s visits to her; and, though her own
visits to her daughter were so timed that she saw lile of Dempster personally, she noticed
many indications not only that he was drinking to greater excess, but that he was beginning
to lose that physical power of supporting excess whi had long been the admiration of su
fine spirits as Mr Tomlinson. It seemed as if Dempster had some consciousness of this—some
new distrust of himself; for, before winter was over, it was observed that he had renounced
his habit of driving out alone, and was never seen in his gig without a servant by his side.Nemesis is lame, but she is of colossal stature, like the gods; and sometimes, while her
sword is not yet unsheathed, she stretes out her huge le arm and grasps her victim. e
mighty hand is invisible, but the victim totters under the dire clutch.
e various symptoms that things were geing worse with the Dempsters afforded Milby
gossip something new to say on an old subject. Mrs Dempster, every one remarked, looked
more miserable than ever, though she kept up the old pretence of being happy and satisfied.
She was scarcely ever seen, as she used to be, going about on her good-natured errands; and
even old Mrs Crewe, who had always been wilfully blind to anything wrong in her favourite
Janet, was obliged to admit that she had not seemed like herself lately. “e poor thing’s out
of health,” said the kind lile old lady, in answer to all gossip about Janet; “her headaes
always were bad, and I know what headaes are; why, they make one quite delirious
sometimes.” Mrs Phipps, for her part, declared she would never accept an invitation to
Dempster’s again; it was geing so very disagreeable to go there, Mrs Dempster was oen “so
strange.” To be sure, there were dreadful stories about the way Dempster used his wife; but
in Mrs Phipps’s opinion, it was six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. Mrs Dempster had
never been like other women: she had always a flighty way with her, carrying parcels of
snuff to old Mrs Tooke, and going to drink tea with Mrs Brinley, the carpenter’s wife; and
then never taking care of her clothes, always wearing the same things week-day or Sunday.
A man has a poor look-out with a wife of that sort. Mr Phipps, amiable and laconic,
wondered how it was women were so fond of running each other down.
Mr Pra, having been called in provisionally to a patient of Mr Pilgrim’s in a case of
compound fracture, observed in a friendly colloquy with his brother surgeon the next day,
“So Dempster has le off driving himself, I see; he won’t end with a broken ne aer all.
You’ll have a case of meningitis and delirium tremens instead.”
“Ah,” said Mr Pilgrim, “he can hardly stand it mu longer at the rate he’s going on, one
would think. He’s been confoundedly cut up about that business of Armstrong’s, I fancy. It
may do him some harm, perhaps, but Dempster must have feathered his nest prey well; he
can afford to lose a little business.”
“His business will outlast him, that’s prey clear,” said Pra; “he’ll run down like a wat
with a broken spring one of these days.”
Another prognostic of evil to Dempster came at the beginning of Mar. For then “lile
Mamsey” died—died suddenly. e housemaid found her seated motionless in her arm-air,
her kniing fallen down, and the tortoise-shell cat reposing on it unreproved. e lile white
old woman had ended her wintry age of patient sorrow, believing to the last that “Robert
might have been a good husband as he had been a good son.”
When the earth was thrown on Mamsey’s coffin, and the son, in crape scarf and hatband,
turned away homeward, his good angel, lingering with outstreted wing on the edge of the
grave, cast one despairing look after him, and took flight for ever.
 Chapter XIV.
The last week in Mar—three weeks aer old Mrs Dempster died—occurred the unpleasant
winding-up of affairs between Dempster and Mr Pryme, and under this additional source of
irritation the aorney’s diurnal drunkenness had taken on its most ill-tempered and brutal
phase. On the Friday morning, before seing out for Rotherby, he told his wife that he had
invited “four men” to dinner at half-past six that evening. e previous night had been a
terrible one for Janet, and when her husband broke his grim morning silence to say these few
words, she was looking so blank and listless that he added in a loud sharp key, “Do you hear
what I say? or must I tell the cook?” She started, and said “Yes, I hear.”
“Then mind and have a dinner provided, and don’t go mooning about like crazy Jane.”
Half an hour aerwards Mrs Raynor, quietly busy in her kiten with her household
labours—for she had only a lile twelve-year-old girl as a servant—heard with trembling the
raling of the garden gate and the opening of the outer door. She knew the step, and in one
short moment she lived beforehand through the coming scene. She hurried out of the kitchen,
and there in the passage, as she had felt, stood Janet, her eyes worn as if by night-long
wating, her dress careless, her step languid. No eerful morning greeting to her mother—
no kiss. She turned into the parlour, and, seating herself on the sofa opposite her mother’s
air, looked vacantly at the walls and furniture until the corners of her mouth began to
tremble, and her dark eyes filled with tears that fell unwiped down her eeks. e mother
sat silently opposite to her, afraid to speak. She felt sure there was nothing new the maer—
sure that the torrent of words would come sooner or later.
“Mother! why don’t you speak to me?” Janet burst out at last; “you don’t care about my
suffering; you are blaming me because I feel—because I am miserable.”
“My ild, I am not blaming you—my heart is bleeding for you. Your head is bad this
morning—you have had a bad night. Let me make you a cup of tea now. Perhaps you didn’t
like your breakfast.”
“Yes, that is what you always think, mother. It is the old story, you think. You don’t ask
me what it is I have had to bear. You are tired of hearing me. You are cruel, like the rest;
every one is cruel in this world. Nothing but blame—blame—blame; never any pity. God is
cruel to have sent me into the world to bear all this misery.”
“Janet, Janet, don’t say so. It is not for us to judge; we must submit; we must be thankful
for the gift of life.”
“ankful for life? Why should I be thankful? God has made me with a heart to feel, and
He has sent me nothing but misery. How could I help it? How could I know what would
come? Why didn’t you tell me, mother?—why did you let me marry? You knew what brutes
men could be; and there’s no help for me—no hope. I can’t kill myself; I’ve tried; but I can’t
leave this world and go to another. There may be no pity for me there, as there is none here.”
“Janet, my ild, there is pity. Have I ever done anything but love you? And there is pity
in God. Hasn’t He put pity into your heart for many a poor sufferer? Where did it come from,
if not from Him?”
Janet’s nervous irritation now broke out into sobs instead of complainings; and her mother
was thankful, for aer that crisis there would very likely come relenting, and tenderness, and
comparative calm. She went out to make some tea, and when she returned with the tray in
her hands, Janet had dried her eyes and now turned them towards her mother with a faint
attempt to smile; but the poor face, in its sad blurred beauty, looked all the more piteous.
“Mother will insist upon her tea,” she said, “and I really think I can drink a cup. But I must
go home directly, for there are people coming to dinner. Could you go with me and help me,mother?”
Mrs Raynor was always ready to do that. She went to Orard Street with Janet, and
remained with her through the day—comforted, as evening approaed, to see her become
more eerful and willing to aend to her toilee. At half-past five everything was in order;
Janet was dressed; and when the mother had kissed her and said good-by, she could not help
pausing a moment in sorrowful admiration at the tall ri figure, looking all the grander for
the plainness of the deep mourning dress, and the noble face with its massy folds of bla
hair, made matronly by a simple white cap. Janet had that enduring beauty whi belongs to
pure majestic outline and depth of tint. Sorrow and neglect leave their traces on su beauty,
but it thrills us to the last, like a glorious Greek temple, whi, for all the loss it has suffered
from time and barbarous hands, has gained a solemn history, and fills our imagination the
more because it is incomplete to the sense.
It was six o’clo before Dempster returned from Rotherby. He had evidently drunk a
great deal, and was in an angry humour; but Janet, who had gathered some lile courage and
forbearance from the consciousness that she had done her best to-day, was determined to
speak pleasantly to him.
“Robert,” she said gently, as she saw him seat himself in the dining-room in his dusty
snuffy clothes, and take some documents out of his poet, “will you not wash and ange
your dress? It will refresh you.”
“Leave me alone, will you?” said Dempster, in his most brutal tone.
“Do change your coat and waistcoat, they are so dusty. I’ve laid all your things out ready.”
“O, you have, have you?” Aer a few minutes he rose very deliberately and walked
upstairs into his bedroom. Janet had often been scolded before for not laying out his clothes, and
she thought now, not without some wonder, that this aention of hers had brought him to
Presently he called out, “Janet!” and she went up-stairs.
“Here! Take that!” he said, as soon as she reaed the door, flinging at her the coat she had
laid out. “Another time, leave me to do as I please, will you?”
e coat, flung with great force, only brushed her shoulder, and fell some distance within
the drawing-room, the door of whi stood open just opposite. She hastily retreated as she
saw the waistcoat coming, and one by one the clothes she had laid out were all flung into the
Janet’s face flushed with anger, and for the first time in her life her resentment overcame
the long-erished pride that made her hide her griefs from the world. ere are moments
when by some strange impulse we contradict our past selves—fatal moments, when a fit of
passion, like a lava stream, lays low the work of half our lives. Janet thought, “I will not pi
up the clothes; they shall lie there until the visitors come, and he shall be ashamed of
ere was a kno at the door, and she made haste to seat herself in the drawing-room,
lest the servant should enter and remove the clothes, whi were lying half on the table and
half on the ground. Mr Lowme entered with a less familiar visitor, a client of Dempster’s, and
the next moment Dempster himself came in.
His eye fell at once on the clothes, and then turned for an instant with a devilish glance of
concentrated hatred on Janet, who, still flushed and excited, affected unconsciousness. Aer
shaking hands with his visitors he immediately rang the bell.
“Take those clothes away,” he said to the servant, not looking at Janet again.
During dinner, she kept up her assumed air of indifference, and tried to seem in high
spirits, laughing and talking more than usual. In reality, she felt as if she had defied a wild
beast within the four walls of his den, and he was crouing baward in preparation for his
deadly spring. Dempster affected to take no notice of her, talked obstreperously, and drank
steadily.About eleven the party dispersed, with the exception of Mr Budd, who had joined them
aer dinner, and appeared disposed to stay drinking a lile longer. Janet began to hope that
he would stay long enough for Dempster to become heavy and stupid, and so to fall asleep
down stairs, whi was a rare, but occasional ending of his nights. She told the servants to sit
up no longer, and she herself undressed and went to bed, trying to eat her imagination into
the belief that the day was ended for her. But when she lay down, she became more
intensely awake than ever. Everything she had taken this evening seemed only to stimulate
her senses and her apprehensions to new vividness. Her heart beat violently, and she heard
every sound in the house.
At last, when it was twelve, she heard Mr Budd go out; she heard the door slam. Dempster
had not moved. Was he asleep? Would he forget? e minute seemed long, while, with a
quickening pulse, she was on the stretch to catch every sound.
“Janet!” The loud jarring voice seemed to strike her like a hurled weapon.
“Janet!” he called again, moving out of the dining-room to the foot of the stairs.
There was a pause of a minute.
“If you don’t come, I’ll kill you.”
Another pause, and she heard him turn ba into the dining-room. He was gone for a light
—perhaps for a weapon. Perhaps he would kill her. Let him. Life was as hideous as death. For
years she had been rushing on to some unknown but certain horror; and now she was close
upon it. She was almost glad. She was in a state of flushed feverish defiance that neutralised
her woman’s terrors.
She heard his heavy step on the stairs; she saw the slowly advancing light. en she saw
the tall massive figure, and the heavy face, now fierce with drunken rage. He had nothing but
the candle in his hand. He set it down on the table, and advanced close to the bed.
“So you think you’ll defy me, do you? We’ll see how long that will last. Get up, madam;
out of bed this instant!”
In the close presence of the dreadful man—of this huge crushing force, armed with savage
will—poor Janet’s desperate defiance all forsook her, and her terrors came ba. Trembling
she got up, and stood helpless in her night-dress before her husband.
He seized her with his heavy grasp by the shoulder, and pushed her before him.
“I’ll cool your hot spirit for you! I’ll teach you to brave me!”
Slowly he pushed her along before him, down stairs and through the passage, where a
small oil-lamp was still fliering. What was he going to do to her? She thought every
moment he was going to dash her before him on the ground. But she gave no scream—she
only trembled.
He pushed her on to the entrance, and held her firmly in his grasp, while he lifted the latch
of the door. Then he opened the door a little way, thrust her out, and slammed it behind her.
For a short space, it seemed like a deliverance to Janet. e harsh north-east wind, that
blew through her thin night-dress, and sent her long heavy bla hair streaming, seemed like
the breath of pity aer the grasp of that threatening monster. But soon the sense of release
from an overpowering terror gave way before the sense of the fate that had really come upon
is, then, was what she had been travelling towards through her long years of misery!
Not yet death. O! if she had been brave enough for it, death would have been beer. e
servants slept at the ba of the house; it was impossible to make them hear, so that they
might let her in again quietly, without her husband’s knowledge. And she would not have
tried. He had thrust her out, and it should be for ever.
ere would have been dead silence in Orard Street but for the whistling of the wind
and the swirling of the Mar dust on the pavement. i clouds covered the sky; every
door was closed; every window was dark. No ray of light fell on the tall white figure that
stood in lonely misery on the door-step; no eye rested on Janet as she sank down on the coldstone, and looked into the dismal night. She seemed to be looking into her own blank future.
 Chapter XV.
The stony street, the bier north-east wind and darkness—and in the midst of them a tender
woman thrust out from her husband’s home in her thin night-dress, the harsh wind cuing
her naked feet, and driving her long hair away from her half-clad bosom, where the poor
heart is crushed with anguish and despair.
e drowning man, urged by the supreme agony, lives in an instant through all his happy
and unhappy past: when the dark flood has fallen like a curtain, memory, in a single moment,
sees the drama acted over again. And even in those earlier crises, whi are but types of
death—when we are cut off abruptly from the life we have known, when we can no longer
expect to-morrow to resemble yesterday, and find ourselves by some sudden sho on the
confines of the unknown—there is oen the same sort of lightning-flash through the dark and
unfrequented chambers of memory.
When Janet sat down shivering on the door-stone, with the door shut upon her past life,
and the future bla and unshapen before her as the night, the scenes of her ildhood, her
youth and her painful womanhood, rushed ba upon her consciousness, and made one
picture with her present desolation. e peed ild taking her newest toy to bed with her—
the young girl, proud in strength and beauty, dreaming that life was an easy thing, and that
it was pitiful weakness to be unhappy—the bride, passing with trembling joy from the outer
court to the inner sanctuary of woman’s life—the wife, beginning her initiation into sorrow,
wounded, resenting, yet still hoping and forgiving—the poor bruised woman, seeking through
weary years the one refuge of despair, oblivion:—Janet seemed to herself all these in the same
moment that she was conscious of being seated on the cold stone under the sho of a new
misery. All her early gladness, all her bright hopes and illusions, all her gis of beauty and
affection, served only to darken the riddle of her life; they were the betraying promises of a
cruel destiny whi had brought out those sweet blossoms only that the winds and storms
might have a greater work of desolation, whi had nursed her like a pet fawn into
tenderness and fond expectation, only that she might feel a keener terror in the clut of the
panther. Her mother had sometimes said that troubles were sent to make us beer and draw
us nearer to God. What moery that seemed to Janet! Her troubles had been sinking her
lower from year to year, pressing upon her like heavy fever-laden vapours, and perverting
the very plenitude of her nature into a deeper source of disease. Her wretedness had been a
perpetually tightening instrument of torture, whi had gradually absorbed all the other
sensibilities of her nature into the sense of pain and the maddened craving for relief. Oh, if
some ray of hope, of pity, of consolation, would pierce through the horrible gloom, she might
believe then in a Divine love—in a heavenly Father who cared for His ildren! But now she
had no faith, no trust. ere was nothing she could lean on in the wide world, for her mother
was only a fellow-sufferer in her own lot. e poor patient woman could do lile more than
mourn with her daughter: she had humble resignation enough to sustain her own soul, but
she could no more give comfort and fortitude to Janet, than the withered ivy-covered trunk
can bear up its strong, full-boughed offspring crashing down under an Alpine storm. Janet felt
she was alone: no human soul had measured her anguish, had understood her self-despair,
had entered into her sorrows and her sins with that deep-sighted sympathy whi is wiser
than all blame, more potent than all reproof—su sympathy as had swelled her own heart
for many a sufferer. And if there was any Divine Pity, she could not feel it; it kept aloof from
her, it poured no balm into her wounds, it streted out no hand to bear up her weak resolve,
to fortify her fainting courage.
Now, in her utmost loneliness, she shed no tear: she sat staring fixedly into the darkness,while inwardly she gazed at her own past, almost losing the sense that it was her own, or
that she was anything more than a spectator at a strange and dreadful play.
e loud sound of the ur clo striking one, startled her. She had not been there more
than half an hour, then? And it seemed to her as if she had been there half the night. She was
geing benumbed with cold. With that strong instinctive dread of pain and death whi had
made her recoil from suicide, she started up, and the disagreeable sensation of resting on her
benumbed feet helped to recall her completely to the sense of the present. e wind was
beginning to make rents in the clouds, and there came every now and then a dim light of
stars that frightened her more than the darkness; it was like a cruel finger pointing her out in
her wretedness and humiliation; it made her shudder at the thought of the morning
twilight. What could she do? Not go to her mother—not rouse her in the dead of night to tell
her this. Her mother would think she was a spectre; it would be enough to kill her with
horror. And the way there was so long … if she should meet some one … yet she must seek
some shelter, somewhere to hide herself. Five doors off there was Mrs Peifer’s; that kind
woman would take her in. It was of no use now to be proud and mind about the world’s
knowing: she had nothing to wish for, nothing to care about; only she could not help
shuddering at the thought of braving the morning light, there, in the street—she was
frightened at the thought of spending long hours in the cold. Life might mean anguish, might
mean despair; but—oh, she must clut it, though with bleeding fingers; her feet must cling to
the firm earth that the sunlight would revisit, not slip into the untried abyss, where she might
long even for familiar pains.
Janet trod slowly with her naked feet on the rough pavement, trembling at the fitful
gleams of starlight, and supporting herself by the wall, as the gusts of wind drove right
against her. e very wind was cruel: it tried to push her ba from the door where she
wanted to go and knock and ask for pity.
Mrs Peifer’s house did not look into Orard Street: it stood a lile way up a wide
passage whi opened into the street through an arway. Janet turned up the arway, and
saw a faint light coming from Mrs Peifer’s bedroom window. e glimmer of a rushlight
from a room where a friend was lying, was like a ray of mercy to Janet, aer that long, long
time of darkness and loneliness; it would not be so dreadful to awake Mrs Peifer as she had
thought. Yet she lingered some minutes at the door before she gathered courage to kno; she
felt as if the sound must betray her to others besides Mrs Peifer, though there was no other
dwelling that opened into the passage—only warehouses and outbuildings. ere was no
gravel for her to throw up at the window, nothing but heavy pavement; there was no
doorbell; she must kno. Her first rap was very timid—one feeble fall of the knoer; and then
she stood still again for many minutes; but presently she rallied her courage and knoed
several times together, not loudly, but rapidly, so that Mrs Peifer, if she only heard the
sound, could not mistake it. And she had heard it, for by-and-by the casement of her window
was opened, and Janet perceived that she was bending out to try and discern who it was at
the door.
“It is I, Mrs Pettifer; it is Janet Dempster. Take me in, for pity’s sake.”
“Merciful God! what has happened?”
“Robert has turned me out. I have been in the cold a long while.”
Mrs Peifer said no more, but hurried away from the window, and was soon at the door
with a light in her hand.
“Come in, my poor dear, come in,” said the good woman in a tremulous voice, drawing
Janet within the door. “Come into my warm bed, and may God in heaven save and comfort
e pitying eyes, the tender voice, the warm tou, caused a rush of new feeling in Janet.
Her heart swelled, and she burst out suddenly, like a ild, into loud passionate sobs. Mrs
Peifer could not help crying with her, but she said, “Come up-stairs, my dear, come. Don’tlinger in the cold.”
She drew the poor sobbing thing gently up-stairs, and persuaded her to get into the warm
bed. But it was long before Janet could lie down. She sat leaning her head on her knees,
convulsed by sobs, while the motherly woman covered her with clothes and held her arms
round her to comfort her with warmth. At last the hysterical passion had exhausted itself,
and she fell ba on the pillow; but her throat was still agitated by piteous aer-sobs, su as
shake a little child even when it has found a refuge from its alarms on its mother’s lap.
Now Janet was geing quieter, Mrs Peifer determined to go down and make a cup of tea,
the first thing a kind old woman thinks of as a solace and restorative under all calamities.
Happily there was no danger of awaking her servant, a heavy girl of sixteen, who was
snoring blissfully in the aic, and might be kept ignorant of the way in whi Mrs Dempster
had come in. So Mrs Peifer busied herself with rousing the kiten fire, whi was kept in
under a huge “raker”—a possibility by whi the coal of the midland counties atones for all
its slowness and white ashes.
When she carried up the tea, Janet was lying quite still; the spasmodic agitation had ceased,
and she seemed lost in thought; her eyes were fixed vacantly on the rushlight shade, and all
the lines of sorrow were deepened in her face.
“Now, my dear,” said Mrs Peifer, “let me persuade you to drink a cup of tea; you’ll find it
warm you and soothe you very mu. Why, dear heart, your feet are like ice still. Now, do
drink this tea, and I’ll wrap ’em up in flannel, and then they’ll get warm.”
Janet turned her dark eyes on her old friend and streted out her arms. She was too mu
oppressed to say anything; her suffering lay like a heavy weight on her power of spee; but
she wanted to kiss the good kind woman. Mrs Peifer, seing down the cup, bent towards
the sad beautiful face, and Janet kissed her with earnest sacramental kisses—such kisses as seal
a new and closer bond between the helper and the helped.
She drank the tea obediently. “It does warm me,” she said. “But now you will get into bed.
I shall lie still now.”
Mrs Peifer felt it was the best thing she could do to lie down quietly, and say no more.
She hoped Janet might go to sleep. As for herself, with that tendency to wakefulness common
to advanced years, she found it impossible to compose herself to sleep again aer this
agitating surprise. She lay listening to the clo, wondering what had led to this new outrage
of Dempster’s, praying for the poor thing at her side, and pitying the mother who would
have to hear it all to-morrow.
 Chapter XVI.
Janet lay still, as she had promised; but the tea, whi had warmed her and given her a sense
of greater bodily ease, had only heightened the previous excitement of her brain. Her ideas
had a new vividness, whi made her feel as if she had only seen life through a dim haze
before; her thoughts, instead of springing from the action of her own mind, were external
existences, that thrust themselves imperiously upon her like haunting visions. e future took
shape aer shape of misery before her, always ending in her being dragged ba again to her
old life of terror, and stupor, and fevered despair. Her husband had so long overshadowed her
life that her imagination could not keep hold of a condition in whi that great dread was
absent; and even his absence—what was it? only a dreary vacant flat, where there was
nothing to strive after, nothing to long for.
At last, the light of morning quened the rush-light, and Janet’s thoughts became more
and more fragmentary and confused. She was every moment slipping off the level on whi
she lay thinking, down, down into some depth from whi she tried to rise again with a start.
Slumber was stealing over her weary brain: that uneasy slumber whi is only beer than
wreted waking, because the life we seem to live in it determines no wreted future,
because the things we do and suffer in it are but hateful shadows, and leave no impress that
petrifies into an irrevocable past.
She had scarcely been asleep an hour when her movements became more violent, her
muerings more frequent and agitated, till at last she started up with a smothered cry, and
looked wildly round her, shaking with terror.
“Don’t be frightened, dear Mrs Dempster,” said Mrs Peifer, who was up and dressing,
“you are with me, your old friend, Mrs Pettifer. Nothing will harm you.”
Janet sank ba again on her pillow, still trembling. Aer lying silent a lile while, she
said, “It was a horrible dream. Dear Mrs Peifer, don’t let any one know I am here. Keep it a
secret. If he finds out, he will come and drag me back again.”
“No, my dear, depend on me. I’ve just thought, I shall send the servant home on a holiday
—I’ve promised her a good while. I’ll send her away as soon as she’s had her breakfast, and
she’ll have no occasion to know you’re here. ere’s no holding servants’ tongues, if you let
’em know anything. What they don’t know, they won’t tell; you may trust ’em so far. But
shouldn’t you like me to go and fetch your mother?”
“No, not yet, not yet. I can’t bear to see her yet.”
“Well, it shall be just as you like. Now try and get to sleep again. I shall leave you for an
hour or two, and send off Phœbe, and then bring you some breakfast. I’ll lo the door
behind me, so as the girl mayn’t come in by chance.”
e daylight anges the aspect of misery to us, as of everything else. In the night it
presses on our imagination—the forms it takes are false, fitful, exaggerated; in broad day it
siens our sense with the dreary persistence of definite measurable reality. e man who
looks with ghastly horror on all his property aflame in the dead of night, has not half the
sense of destitution he will have in the morning, when he walks over the ruins lying
blaened in the pitiless sunshine. at moment of intensest depression was come to Janet,
when the daylight whi showed her the walls, and airs, and tables, and all the
commonplace reality that surrounded her, seemed to lay bare the future too, and bring out
into oppressive distinctness all the details of a weary life to be lived from day to day, with no
hope to strengthen her against that evil habit, whi she loathed in retrospect and yet was
powerless to resist. Her husband would never consent to her living away from him: she was
become necessary to his tyranny; he would never willingly loosen his grasp on her. She had avague notion of some protection the law might give her, if she could prove her life in danger
from him; but she shrank uerly, as she had always done, from any active, public resistance
or vengeance: she felt too crushed, too faulty, too liable to reproach, to have the courage, even
if she had had the wish, to put herself openly in the position of a wronged woman seeking
redress. She had no strength to sustain her in a course of self-defence and independence:
there was a darker shadow over her life than the dread of her husband—it was the shadow of
self-despair. e easiest thing would be to go away and hide herself from him. But then there
was her mother: Robert had all her lile property in his hands, and that lile was scarcely
enough to keep her in comfort without his aid. If Janet went away alone, he would be sure to
persecute her mother; and if she did go away—what then? She must work to maintain herself;
she must exert herself, weary and hopeless as she was, to begin life afresh. How hard that
seemed to her! Janet’s nature did not belie her grand face and form: there was energy, there
was strength in it; but it was the strength of the vine, whi must have its broad leaves and
ri clusters borne up by a firm stay. And now she had nothing to rest on—no faith, no love.
If her mother had been very feeble, aged, or sily, Janet’s deep pity and tenderness might
have made a daughter’s duties an interest and a solace; but Mrs Raynor had never needed
tendance; she had always been giving help to her daughter; she had always been a sort of
humble ministering spirit; and it was one of Janet’s pangs of memory, that instead of being
her mother’s comfort, she had been her mother’s trial. Everywhere the same sadness! Her life
was a sun-dried, barren tract, where there was no shadow, and where all the waters were
No! She suddenly thought—and the thought was like an electric sho—there was one spot
in her memory whi seemed to promise her an untried spring, where the waters might be
sweet. at short interview with Mr Tryan had come ba upon her—his voice, his words, his
look, whi told her that he knew sorrow. His words had implied that he thought his death
was near; yet he had a faith whi enabled him to labour—enabled him to give comfort to
others. at look of his came ba on her with a vividness greater than it had had for her in
reality: surely he knew more of the secrets of sorrow than other men; perhaps he had some
message of comfort, different from the feeble words she had been used to hear from others.
She was tired, she was si of that barren exhortation—Do right, and keep a clear conscience,
and God will reward you, and your troubles will be easier to bear. She wanted strength to do
right—she wanted something to rely on besides her own resolutions; for was not the path
behind her all strewn with broken resolutions? How could she trust in new ones? She had
oen heard Mr Tryan laughed at for being fond of great sinners. She began to see a new
meaning in those words; he would perhaps understand her helplessness, her wants. If she
could pour out her heart to him! if she could for the first time in her life unlo all the
chambers of her soul!
e impulse to confession almost always requires the presence of a fresh ear and a fresh
heart; and in our moments of spiritual need, the man to whom we have no tie but our
common nature, seems nearer to us than mother, brother, or friend. Our daily familiar life is
but a hiding of ourselves from ea other behind a screen of trivial words and deeds, and
those who sit with us at the same hearth, are oen the farthest off from the deep human soul
within us, full of unspoken evil and unacted good.
When Mrs Peifer came ba to her, turning the key and opening the door very gently,
Janet, instead of being asleep, as her good friend had hoped, was intensely occupied with her
new thought. She longed to ask Mrs Peifer if she could see Mr Tryan; but she was arrested
by doubts and timidity. He might not feel for her—he might be shoed at her confession—he
might talk to her of doctrines she could not understand or believe. She could not make up her
mind yet; but she was too restless under this mental struggle to remain in bed.
“Mrs Peifer,” she said, “I can’t lie here any longer; I must get up. Will you lend me some
clothes?”Wrapt in su drapery as Mrs Peifer could find for her tall figure, Janet went down into
the lile parlour, and tried to take some of the breakfast her friend had prepared for her. But
her effort was not a successful one; her cup of tea and bit of toast were only half finished. e
leaden weight of discouragement pressed upon her more and more heavily. e wind had
fallen, and a drizzling rain had come on; there was no prospect from Mrs Peifer’s parlour
but a blank wall; and as Janet looked out at the window, the rain and the smoke-blaened
bris seemed to blend themselves in siening identity with her desolation of spirit and the
headachy weariness of her body.
Mrs Peifer got through her household work as soon as she could, and sat down with her
sewing, hoping that Janet would perhaps be able to talk a lile of what had passed, and find
some relief by unbosoming herself in that way. But Janet could not speak to her; she was
importuned with the longing to see Mr Tryan, and yet hesitating to express it.
Two hours passed in this way. e rain went on drizzling, and Janet sat still, leaning her
aing head on her hand, and looking alternately at the fire and out of the window. She felt
this could not last—this motionless, vacant misery. She must determine on something, she
must take some step; and yet everything was so difficult.
It was one o’clo, and Mrs Peifer rose from her seat, saying, “I must go and see about
e movement and the sound startled Janet from her reverie. It seemed as if an
opportunity were escaping her, and she said hastily, “Is Mr Tryan in the town to-day, do you
“No, I should think not, being Saturday, you know,” said Mrs Peifer, her face lighting up
with pleasure; “but he would come, if he was sent for. I can send Jesson’s boy with a note to
him any time. Should you like to see him?”
“Yes, I think I should.”
“Then I’ll send for him this instant.”
 Chapter XVII.
When Dempster awoke in the morning, he was at no loss to account to himself for the fact
that Janet was not by his side. His hours of drunkenness were not cut off from his other hours
by any blank wall of oblivion; he remembered what Janet had done to offend him the
evening before, he remembered what he had done to her at midnight, just as he would have
remembered if he had been consulted about a right of road.
e remembrance gave him a definite ground for the extra ill-humour whi had aended
his waking every morning this week, but he would not admit to himself that it cost him any
anxiety. “Pooh,” he said inwardly, “she would go straight to her mother’s. She’s as timid as a
hare; and she’ll never let anybody know about it. She’ll be back again before night.”
But it would be as well for the servants not to know anything of the affair; so he collected
the clothes she had taken off the night before, and threw them into a fire-proof closet of
whi he always kept the key in his poet. When he went down stairs he said to the
housemaid, “Mrs Dempster is gone to her mother’s; bring in the breakfast.”
e servants, accustomed to hear domestic broils, and to see their mistress put on her
bonnet hastily and go to her mother’s, thought it only something a lile worse than usual
that she should have gone thither in consequence of a violent quarrel, either at midnight, or
in the early morning before they were up. e housemaid told the cook what she supposed
had happened; the cook shook her head and said, “Eh, dear, dear!” but they both expected to
see their mistress back again in an hour or two.
Dempster, on his return home the evening before, had ordered his man, who lived away
from the house, to bring up his horse and gig from the stables at ten. Aer breakfast he said
to the housemaid, “No one need sit up for me to-night; I shall not be at home till to-morrow
evening;” and then he walked to the office to give some orders, expecting, as he returned, to
see the man waiting with his gig. But though the ur clo had stru ten, no gig was
there. In Dempster’s mood this was more than enough to exasperate him. He went in to take
his accustomed glass of brandy before seing out, promising himself the satisfaction of
presently thundering at Dawes for being a few minutes behind his time. An outbreak of
temper towards his man was not common with him; for Dempster, like most tyrannous
people, had that dastardly kind of self-restraint whi enabled him to control his temper
where it suited his own convenience to do so; and feeling the value of Dawes, a steady
punctual fellow, he not only gave him high wages, but usually treated him with exceptional
civility. is morning, however, ill-humour got the beer of prudence, and Dempster was
determined to rate him soundly; a resolution for whi Dawes gave him mu beer ground
than he expected. Five minutes, ten minutes, a quarter of an hour, had passed, and Dempster
was seing off to the stables in a ba street to see what was the cause of the delay, when
Dawes appeared with the gig.
“What the devil do you keep me here for?” thundered Dempster, “kiing my heels like a
beggarly tailor waiting for a carrier’s cart? I ordered you to be here at ten. We might have
driven to Whitlow by this time.”
“Why, one o’ the traces was welly i’ two, an’ I had to tek it to Brady’s to be mended, an’
he didn’t get it done i’ time.”
“en why didn’t you take it to him last night? Because of your damned laziness, I
suppose. Do you think I give you wages for you to oose your own hours, and come
dawdling up a quarter of an hour after my time?”
“Come, give me good words, will yer?” said Dawes, sulkily. “I’m not lazy, nor no man
shall call me lazy. I know well anuff what you gi’ me wages for; it’s for doin’ what yer won’tfind many men as ’ull do.”
“What, you impudent scoundrel,” said Dempster, geing into the gig, “you think you’re
necessary to me, do you? As if a beastly buet-carrying idiot like you wasn’t to be got any
day. Look out for a new master, then, who’ll pay you for not doing as you’re bid.”
Dawes’s blood was now fairly up. “I’ll look out for a master as has got a beer aricter
nor a lyin’, bletherin’ drunkard, an’ I shouldn’t hev to go fur.”
Dempster, furious, snated the whip from the soet, and gave Dawes a cut, whi he
meant to fall across his shoulders, saying, “Take that, sir, and go to hell with you!”
Dawes was in the act of turning with the reins in his hand when the lash fell, and the cut
went across his face. With white lips, he said, “I’ll hev the law on yer for that, lawyer as yer
are,” and threw the reins on the horse’s back.
Dempster leaned forward, seized the reins, and drove off.
“Why, there’s your friend Dempster driving out without his man again,” said Mr Luke
Byles, who was aing with Mr Budd in the Bridge Way. “What a fool he is to drive that
two-wheeled thing! he’ll get pitched on his head one of these days.”
“Not he,” said Mr Budd, nodding to Dempster as he passed; “he’s got nine lives, Dempster
 Chapter XVIII.
It was dusk, and the candles were lighted before Mr Tryan knoed at Mrs Peifer’s door.
Her messenger had brought ba word, that he was not at home, and all aernoon Janet had
been agitated by the fear that he would not come; but as soon as that anxiety was removed
by the kno at the door, she felt a sudden rush of doubt and timidity: she trembled and
turned cold.
Mrs Peifer went to open the door, and told Mr Tryan, in as few words as possible, what
had happened in the night. As he laid down his hat and prepared to enter the parlour, she
said, “I won’t go in with you, for I think perhaps she would rather see you go in alone.”
Janet, wrapped up in a large white shawl whi threw her dark face into startling relief,
was seated with her eyes turned anxiously towards the door when Mr Tryan entered. He had
not seen her since their interview at Sally Martin’s long months ago; and he felt a strong
movement of compassion at the sight of the pain-strien face whi seemed to bear wrien
on it the signs of all Janet’s intervening misery. Her heart gave a great leap, as her eyes met
his once more. No! she had not deceived herself: there was all the sincerity, all the sadness, all
the deep pity in them her memory had told her of; more than it had told her, for in
proportion as his face had become thinner and more worn, his eyes appeared to have
gathered intensity.
He came forward, and, puing out his hand, said, “I am so glad you sent for me—I am so
thankful you thought I could be any comfort to you.” Janet took his hand in silence. She was
unable to uer any words of mere politeness, or even of gratitude; her heart was too full of
other words that had welled up the moment she met his pitying glance, and felt her doubts
fall away.
ey sat down opposite ea other, and she said in a low voice, while slow difficult tears
gathered in her aching eyes:—
“I want to tell you how unhappy I am—how weak and wied. I feel no strength to live or
die. I thought you could tell me something that would help me.” She paused.
“Perhaps I can,” Mr Tryan said, “for in speaking to me you are speaking to a fellow-sinner
who has needed just the comfort and help you are needing.”
“And you did find it?”
“Yes; and I trust you will find it.”
“O, I should like to be good and to do right,” Janet burst forth, “but indeed, indeed, my lot
has been a very hard one. I loved my husband very dearly when we were married, and I
meant to make him happy—I wanted nothing else. But he began to be angry with me for
lile things and …. I don’t want to accuse him….. but he drank and got more and more
unkind to me, and then very cruel, and he beat me. And that cut me to the heart. It made me
almost mad sometimes to think all our love had come to that …. I couldn’t bear up against it.
I had never been used to drink anything but water. I hated wine and spirits because Robert
drank them so; but one day when I was very wreted, and the wine was standing on the
table, I suddenly …. I can hardly remember how I came to do it …. I poured some wine into a
large glass and drank it. It blunted my feelings, and made me more indifferent. After that, the
temptation was always coming, and it got stronger and stronger. I was ashamed, and I hated
what I did; but almost while the thought was passing through my mind that I would never
do it again, I did it. It seemed as if there was a demon in me always making me rush to do
what I longed not to do. And I thought all the more that God was cruel; for if He had not
sent me that dreadful trial, so mu worse than other women have to bear, I should not have
done wrong in that way. I suppose it is wied to think so …. I feel as if there must begoodness and right above us, but I can’t see it, I can’t trust in it. And I have gone on in that
way for years and years. At one time it used to be beer now and then, but everything has
got worse lately: I felt sure it must soon end somehow. And last night he turned me out of
doors …. I don’t know what to do. I will never go ba to that life again if I can help it; and
yet everything else seems so miserable. I feel sure that demon will be always urging me to
satisfy the craving that comes upon me, and the days will go on as they have done through
all those miserable years. I shall always be doing wrong, and hating myself aer—sinking
lower and lower, and knowing that I am sinking. O can you tell me any way of geing
strength? Have you ever known any one like me that got peace of mind and power to do
right? Can you give me any comfort—any hope?”
While Janet was speaking, she had forgoen everything but her misery and her yearning
for comfort. Her voice had risen from the low tone of timid distress to an intense pit of
imploring anguish. She clasped her hands tightly, and looked at Mr Tryan with eager
questioning eyes, with parted, trembling lips, with the deep horizontal lines of overmastering
pain on her brow. In this artificial life of ours, it is not oen we see a human face with all a
heart’s agony in it, uncontrolled by self-consciousness; when we do see it, it startles us as if
we had suddenly waked into the real world of whi this everyday one is but a puppet-show
copy. For some moments Mr Tryan was too deeply moved to speak.
“Yes, dear Mrs Dempster,” he said at last, “there is comfort, there is hope for you. Believe
me there is, for I speak from my own deep and hard experience.” He paused, as if he had not
made up his mind to uer the words that were urging themselves to his lips. Presently he
continued, “Ten years ago, I felt as wreted as you do. I think my wretedness was even
worse than yours, for I had a heavier sin on my conscience. I had suffered no wrong from
others as you have, and I had injured another irreparably in body and soul. e image of the
wrong I had done pursued me everywhere, and I seemed on the brink of madness. I hated
my life, for I thought, just as you do, that I should go on falling into temptation and doing
more harm in the world; and I dreaded death, for with that sense of guilt on my soul, I felt
that whatever state I entered on must be one of misery. But a dear friend to whom I opened
my mind showed me it was just su as I—the helpless who feel themselves helpless—that
God specially invites to come to Him, and offers all the riches of His salvation: not forgiveness
only; forgiveness would be worth lile if it le us under the powers of our evil passions; but
strength—that strength which enables us to conquer sin.”
“But,” said Janet, “I can feel no trust in God. He seems always to have le me to myself. I
have sometimes prayed to Him to help me, and yet everything has been just the same as
before. If you felt like me, how did you come to have hope and trust?”
“Do not believe that God has le you to yourself. How can you tell but that the hardest
trials you have known have been only the road by whi He was leading you to that
complete sense of your own sin and helplessness, without whi you would never have
renounced all other hopes, and trusted in His love alone? I know, dear Mrs Dempster, I know
it is hard to bear. I would not speak lightly of your sorrows. I feel that the mystery of our life
is great, and at one time it seemed as dark to me as it does to you.” Mr Tryan hesitated again.
He saw that the first thing Janet needed was to be assured of sympathy. She must be made to
feel that her anguish was not strange to him; that he entered into the only half-expressed
secrets of her spiritual weakness, before any other message of consolation could find its way
to her heart. e tale of the Divine Pity was never yet believed from lips that were not felt to
be moved by human pity. And Janet’s anguish was not strange to Mr Tryan. He had never
been in the presence of a sorrow and a self-despair that had sent so strong a thrill through all
the recesses of his saddest experience; and it is because sympathy is but a living again
through our own past in a new form, that confession oen prompts a response of confession.
Mr Tryan felt this prompting, and his judgment too told him that in obeying it he would be
taking the best means of administering comfort to Janet. Yet he hesitated; as we tremble to letin the daylight on a amber of relics whi we have never visited except in curtained
silence. But the first impulse triumphed, and he went on. “I had lived all my life at a distance
from God. My youth was spent in thoughtless self-indulgence, and all my hopes were of a
vain worldly kind. I had no thought of entering the Chur; I looked forward to a political
career, for my father was private secretary to a man high in the Whig Ministry, and had been
promised strong interest in my behalf. At college I lived in intimacy with the gayest men,
even adopting follies and vices for whi I had no taste, out of mere pliancy and the love of
standing well with my companions. You see, I was more guilty even then than you have
been, for I threw away all the ri blessings of untroubled youth and health; I had no excuse
in my outward lot. But while I was at college that event in my life occurred, which in the end
brought on the state of mind I have mentioned to you—the state of self-reproa and despair,
whi enables me to understand to the full what you are suffering; and I tell you the facts,
because I want you to be assured that I am not uering mere vague words when I say that I
have been raised from as low a depth of sin and sorrow as that in whi you feel yourself to
be. At college I had an aament to a lovely girl of seventeen: she was very mu below my
own station in life, and I never contemplated marrying her; but I induced her to leave her
father’s house. I did not mean to forsake her when I le college, and I quieted all scruples of
conscience by promising myself that I would always take care of poor Lucy. But on my return
from a vacation spent in travelling, I found that Lucy was gone—gone away with a
gentleman, her neighbours said. I was a good deal distressed, but I tried to persuade myself
that no harm would come to her. Soon aerwards I had an illness whi le my health
delicate, and made all dissipation distasteful to me. Life seemed very wearisome and empty,
and I looked with envy on every one who had some great and absorbing object—even on my
cousin who was preparing to go out as a missionary, and whom I had been used to think a
dismal, tedious person, because he was constantly urging religious subjects upon me. We
were living in London then; it was three years since I had lost sight of Lucy; and one summer
evening about nine o’clo, as I was walking along Gower Street, I saw a knot of people on
the causeway before me. As I came up to them, I heard one woman say, ‘I tell you, she’s
dead.’ is awakened my interest, and I pushed my way within the circle. e body of a
woman, dressed in fine clothes, was lying against a door-step. Her head was bent on one side,
and the long curls had fallen over her eek. A tremor seized me when I saw the hair: it was
light chesnut—the colour of Lucy’s. I knelt down and turned aside the hair; it was Lucy—dead
—with paint on her eeks. I found out aerwards that she had taken poison—that she was in
the power of a wied woman—that the very clothes on her ba were not her own. It was
then that my past life burst upon me in all its hideousness. I wished I had never been born. I
couldn’t look into the future. Lucy’s dead painted face would follow me there, as it did when
I looked ba into the past—as it did when I sat down to table with my friends, when I lay
down in my bed, and when I rose up. ere was only one thing that could make life tolerable
to me; that was, to spend all the rest of it in trying to save others from the ruin I had brought
on one. But how was that possible for me? I had no comfort, no strength, no wisdom in my
own soul; how could I give them to others? My mind was dark, rebellious, at war with itself
and with God.”
Mr Tryan had been looking away from Janet. His face was towards the fire, and he was
absorbed in the images his memory was recalling. But now he turned his eyes on her, and
they met hers, fixed on him with the look of rapt expectation with whi one clinging to a
slippery summit of ro, while the waves are rising higher and higher, wates the boat that
has put from shore to his rescue.
“You see, Mrs Dempster, how deep my need was. I went on in this way for months. I was
convinced that if I ever got help and comfort, it must be from religion. I went to hear
celebrated preaers, and I read religious books. But I found nothing that fied my own
need. e faith whi puts the sinner in possession of salvation seemed, as I understood it, tobe quite out of my rea. I had no faith; I only felt uerly wreted, under the power of
habits and dispositions whi had wrought hideous evil. At last, as I told you, I found a
friend to whom I opened all my feelings—to whom I confessed everything. He was a man
who had gone through very deep experience, and could understand the different wants of
different minds. He made it clear to me that the only preparation for coming to Christ and
partaking of His salvation, was that very sense of guilt and helplessness whi was weighing
me down. He said, You are weary and heavy laden; well, it is you Christ invites to come to
Him and find rest. He asks you to cling to Him, to lean on Him; He does not command you to
walk alone without stumbling. He does not tell you, as your fellow-men do, that you must
first merit His love; He neither condemns nor reproaes you for the past, He only bids you
come to Him that you may have life: He bids you stret out your hands, and take of the
fulness of His love. You have only to rest on Him as a ild rests on its mother’s arms, and
you will be upborne by His divine strength. at is what is meant by faith. Your evil habits,
you feel, are too strong for you; you are unable to wrestle with them; you know beforehand
you shall fall. But when once we feel our helplessness in that way, and go to Christ, desiring
to be freed from the power as well as the punishment of sin, we are no longer le to our own
strength. As long as we live in rebellion against God, desiring to have our own will, seeking
happiness in the things of this world, it is as if we shut ourselves up in a crowded stifling
room, where we breathe only poisoned air; but we have only to walk out under the infinite
heavens, and we breathe the pure free air that gives us health, and strength, and gladness. It
is just so with God’s spirit: as soon as we submit ourselves to His will, as soon as we desire to
be united to Him, and made pure and holy, it is as if the walls had fallen down that shut us
out from God, and we are fed with His spirit, which gives us new strength.”
“at is what I want,” said Janet; “I have le off minding about pleasure. I think I could be
contented in the midst of hardship, if I felt that God cared for me, and would give me
strength to lead a pure life. But tell me, did you soon find peace and strength?”
“Not perfect peace for a long while, but hope and trust, whi is strength. No sense of
pardon for myself could do away with the pain I had in thinking what I had helped to bring
on another. My friend used to urge upon me that my sin against God was greater than my
sin against her; but—it may be from want of deeper spiritual feeling—that has remained to
this hour the sin whi causes me the bierest pang. I could never rescue Lucy; but by God’s
blessing I might rescue other weak and falling souls; and that was why I entered the Chur.
I asked for nothing through the rest of my life but that I might be devoted to God’s work,
without swerving in sear of pleasure either to the right hand or to the le. It has been oen
a hard struggle—but God has been with me—and perhaps it may not last much longer.”
Mr Tryan paused. For a moment he had forgoen Janet, and for a moment she had
forgotten her own sorrows. When she recurred to herself, it was with a new feeling.
“Ah, what a difference between our lives! you have been oosing pain, and working, and
denying yourself; and I have been thinking only of myself. I was only angry and
discontented because I had pain to bear. You never had that wied feeling that I have had so
oen, did you? that God was cruel to send me trials and temptations worse than others
“Yes, I had; I had very blasphemous thoughts, and I know that spirit of rebellion must have
made the worst part of your lot. You did not feel how impossible it is for us to judge rightly
of God’s dealings, and you opposed yourself to His will. But what do we know? We cannot
foretell the working of the smallest event in our own lot: how can we presume to judge of
things that are so mu too high for us? ere is nothing that becomes us but entire
submission, perfect resignation. As long as we set up our own will and our own wisdom
against God’s, we make that wall between us and His love whi I have spoken of just now.
But as soon as we lay ourselves entirely at His feet, we have enough light given us to guide
our own steps; as the foot-soldier who hears nothing of the councils that determine the courseof the great bale he is in, hears plainly enough the word of command whi he must
himself obey. I know, dear Mrs Dempster, I know it is hard—the hardest thing of all, perhaps
—to flesh and blood. But carry that difficulty to Christ along with all your other sins and
weaknesses, and ask Him to pour into you a spirit of submission. He enters into your
struggles; He has drunk the cup of our suffering to the dregs; He knows the hard wrestling it
costs us to say, ‘Not my will, but Thine be done.’”
“Pray with me,” said Janet—“pray now that I may have light and strength.”
 Chapter XIX.
Before leaving Janet, Mr Tryan urged her strongly to send for her mother.
“Do not wound her,” he said, “by shuing her out any longer from your troubles. It is
right that you should be with her.”
“Yes, I will send for her,” said Janet. “But I would rather not go to my mother’s yet,
because my husband is sure to think I am there, and he might come and fet me. I can’t go
back to him …. at least, not yet. Ought I to go back to him?”
“No, certainly not, at present. Something should be done to secure you from violence. Your
mother, I think, should consult some confidential friend, some man of aracter and
experience, who might mediate between you and your husband.”
“Yes, I will send for my mother directly. But I will stay here, with Mrs Peifer, till
something has been done. I want no one to know where I am, except you. You will come
again, will you not? you will not leave me to myself?”
“You will not be le to yourself. God is with you. If I have been able to give you any
comfort, it is because His power and love have been present with us. But I am very thankful
that He has osen to work through me. I shall see you again to-morrow—not before evening,
for it will be Sunday, you know; but aer the evening lecture I shall be at liberty. You will be
in my prayers till then. In the mean time, dear Mrs Dempster, open your heart as mu as
you can to your mother and Mrs Peifer. Cast away from you the pride that makes us shrink
from anowledging our weakness to our friends. Ask them to help you in guarding yourself
from the least approa of the sin you most dread. Deprive yourself as far as possible of the
very means and opportunity of commiing it. Every effort of that kind made in humility and
dependence is a prayer. Promise me you will do this.”
“Yes, I promise you. I know I have always been too proud; I could never bear to speak to
any one about myself. I have been proud towards my mother, even; it has always made me
angry when she has seemed to take notice of my faults.”
“Ah, dear Mrs Dempster, you will never say again that life is blank, and that there is
nothing to live for, will you? See what work there is to be done in life, both in our own souls
and for others. Surely it matters little whether we have more or less of this world’s comfort in
these short years, when God is training us for the eternal enjoyment of His love. Keep that
great end of life before you, and your troubles here will seem only the small hardships of a
journey. Now I must go.”
Mr Tryan rose and held out his hand. Janet took it and said, “God has been very good to
me in sending you to me. I will trust in Him. I will try to do everything you tell me.”
Blessed influence of one true loving human soul on another! Not calculable by algebra, not
deducible by logic, but mysterious, effectual, mighty as the hidden process by whi the tiny
seed is quiened, and bursts forth into tall stem and broad leaf, and glowing tasselled flower.
Ideas are oen poor ghosts; our sun-filled eyes cannot discern them; they pass athwart us in
thin vapour, and cannot make themselves felt. But sometimes they are made flesh; they
breathe upon us with warm breath, they tou us with so responsive hands, they look at us
with sad sincere eyes, and speak to us in appealing tones; they are clothed in a living human
soul, with all its conflicts, its faith, and its love. en their presence is a power, then they
shake us like a passion, and we are drawn aer them with gentle compulsion, as flame is
drawn to flame.
Janet’s dark grand face, still fatigued, had become quite calm, and looked up, as she sat,
with a humble ildlike expression at the thin blond face and slightly sunken grey eyes
whi now shone with hectic brightness. She might have been taken for an image ofpassionate strength beaten and worn with conflict; and he for an image of the self-renouncing
faith whi has soothed that conflict into rest. As he looked at the sweet submissive face, he
remembered its look of despairing anguish, and his heart was very full as he turned away
from her. “Let me only live to see this work confirmed, and then …..”
It was nearly ten o’clo when Mr Tryan le, but Janet was bent on sending for her
mother; so Mrs Peifer, as the readiest plan, put on her bonnet and went herself to fet Mrs
Raynor. e mother had been too long used to expect that every fresh week would be more
painful than the last, for Mrs Peifer’s news to come upon her with the sho of a surprise.
ietly, without any show of distress, she made up a bundle of clothes, and, telling her lile
maid that she should not return home that night, accompanied Mrs Pettifer back in silence.
When they entered the parlour, Janet, wearied out, had sunk to sleep in the large air,
whi stood with its ba to the door. e noise of the opening door disturbed her, and she
was looking round wonderingly, when Mrs Raynor came up to her air, and said, “It’s your
mother, Janet.”
“Mother, dear mother!” Janet cried, clasping her closely. “I have not been a good tender
child to you, but I will be—I will not grieve you any more.”
e calmness whi had withstood a new sorrow was overcome by a new joy, and the
mother burst into tears.
 Chapter XX.
On Sunday morning the rain had ceased, and Janet, looking out of the bedroom window,
saw, above the house-tops, a shining mass of white cloud rolling under the far-away blue sky.
It was going to be a lovely April day. e fresh sky, le clear and calm aer the long
vexation of wind and rain, mingled its mild influence with Janet’s new thoughts and
prospects. She felt a buoyant courage that surprised herself, aer the cold crushing weight of
despondency whi had oppressed her the day before: she could think even of her husband’s
rage without the old overpowering dread. For a delicious hope—the hope of purification and
inward peace—had entered into Janet’s soul, and made it spring-time there as well as in the
outer world.
While her mother was brushing and coiling up her thi bla hair—a favourite task,
because it seemed to renew the days of her daughter’s girlhood—Janet told how she came to
send for Mr Tryan, how she had remembered their meeting at Sally Martin’s in the autumn,
and had felt an irresistible desire to see him, and tell him her sins and her troubles.
“I see God’s goodness now, mother, in ordering it so that we should meet in that way, to
overcome my prejudice against him, and make me feel that he was good, and then bringing it
ba to my mind in the depth of my trouble. You know what foolish things I used to say
about him, knowing nothing of him all the while. And yet he was the man who was to give
me comfort and help when everything else failed me. It is wonderful how I feel able to speak
to him as I never have done to any one before; and how every word he says to me enters my
heart, and has a new meaning for me. I think it must be because he has felt life more deeply
than others, and has a deeper faith. I believe everything he says at once. His words come to
me like rain on the pared ground. It has always seemed to me before as if I could see
behind people’s words, as one sees behind a screen; but in Mr Tryan it is his very soul that
“Well, my dear ild, I love and bless him for your sake, if he has given you any comfort. I
never believed the harm people said of him, though I had no desire to go and hear him, for I
am contented with old-fashioned ways. I find more good teaing than I can practise in
reading my Bible at home, and hearing Mr Crewe at ur. But your wants are different,
my dear, and we are not all led by the same road. at was certainly good advice of Mr
Tryan’s you told me of last night—that we should consult some one that may interfere for
you with your husband; and I’ve been turning it over in my mind while I’ve been lying
awake in the night. I think nobody will do so well as Mr Benjamin Landor, for we must have
a man that knows the law, and that Robert is rather afraid of. And perhaps he could bring
about an agreement for you to live apart. Your husband’s bound to maintain you, you know;
and, if you liked, we could move away from Milby and live somewhere else.”
“O, mother, we must do nothing yet; I must think about it a lile longer. I have a different
feeling this morning from what I had yesterday. Something seems to tell me that I must go
ba to Robert some time—aer a lile while. I loved him once beer than all the world, and
I have never had any ildren to love. ere were things in me that were wrong, and I
should like to make up for them if I can.”
“Well, my dear, I won’t persuade you. ink of it a lile longer. But something must be
done soon.”
“How I wish I had my bonnet, and shawl, and bla gown here!” said Janet, aer a few
minutes’ silence. “I should like to go to Paddiford ur and hear Mr Tryan. ere would be
no fear of my meeting Robert, for he never goes out on a Sunday morning.”
“I’m afraid it would not do for me to go to the house and fet your clothes,” said MrsRaynor.
“O no, no! I must stay quietly here while you two go to ur. I will be Mrs Peifer’s
maid, and get the dinner ready for her by the time she comes ba. Dear good woman! She
was so tender to me when she took me in, in the night, mother, and all the next day, when I
couldn’t speak a word to her to thank her.”
 Chapter XXI.
The servants at Dempster’s felt some surprise when the morning, noon, and evening of
Saturday had passed, and still their mistress did not reappear.
“It’s very odd,” said Kiy, the housemaid, as she trimmed her next week’s cap, while
Bey, the middle-aged cook, looked on with folded arms. “Do you think as Mrs Raynor was
ill, and sent for the missis afore we was up?”
“O,” said Bey, “if it had been that, she’d ha’ been ba’ards an’ for’ards three or four
times afore now; leastways, she’d ha’ sent little Ann to let us know.”
“ere’s summat up more nor usal between her an’ the master, that you may depend on,”
said Kiy. “I know those clothes as was lying i’ the drawing-room yesterday, when the
company was come, meant summat. I shouldn’t wonder if that was what they’ve had a fresh
row about. She’s p’raps gone away, an’s made up her mind not to come back again.”
“An’ i’ the right on’t, too,” said Bey. “I’d ha’ overrun him long afore now, if it had been
me. I wouldn’t stan’ bein’ mauled as she is by no husband, not if he was the biggest lord i’
the land. It’s poor work bein’ a wife at that price: I’d sooner be a cook wi’out perkises, an’ hev
roast, an’ boil, an’ fry, an’ bake all to mind at once. She may well do as she does. I know I’m
glad enough of a drop o’ summat myself when I’m plagued. I feel very low, like, to-night; I
think I shall put my beer i’ the saucepan an’ warm it.”
“What a one you are for warmin’ your beer, Betty! I couldn’t abide it—nasty bitter stuff!”
“It’s fine talkin’; if you was a cook you’d know what belongs to bein’ a cook. It’s none so
nice to hev a sinkin’ at your stoma, I can tell you. You wouldn’t think so mu o’ fine
ribbins i’ your cap then.”
“Well, well, Bey, don’t be grumpy. Liza omson, as is at Phipps’s, said to me last
Sunday, ‘I wonder you’ll stay at Dempster’s,’ she says, ‘su goins on as there is.’ But I says,
‘ere’s things to put up wi’ in ivery place, an’ you may ange, an’ ange, an’ not beer
yourself when all’s said an’ done.’ Lors! why, Liza told me herself as Mrs Phipps was as
skinny as skinny i’ the kiten, for all they keep so mu company; and as for follyers, she’s
as cross as a turkey-co if she finds ’em out. ere’s nothin’ o’ that sort i’ the missis. How
prey she come an’ spoke to Job last Sunday! ere isn’t a good-natur’der woman i’ the
world, that’s my belief—an’ hansome too. I al’ys think there’s nobody looks half so well as
the missis when she’s got her ’air done nice. Lors! I wish I’d got long ’air like her—my ’air’s
a-comin’ off dreadful.”
“ere’ll be fine work to-morrow, I expect,” said Bey, “when the master comes home, an’
Dawes a-swearin’ as he’ll niver do a stroke o’ work for him again. It’ll be good fun if he sets
the justice on him for cuin’ him wi’ the whip; the master ’ll p’raps get his comb cut for once
in his life!”
“Why, he was in a temper like a fi-end this morning,” said Kitty. “I dare say it was along o’
what had happened wi’ the missis. We shall hev a prey house wi’ him if she doesn’t come
ba—he’ll want to be leatherin’ us, I shouldn’t wonder. He must hev somethin’ t’ ill-use
when he’s in a passion.”
“I’d tek care he didn’t leather me—no, not if he was my husban’ ten times o’er; I’d pour
hot drippin’ on him sooner. But the missis hesn’t a sperrit like me. He’ll mek her come ba,
you’ll see; he’ll come round her somehow. ere’s no likelihood of her coming ba to-night,
though; so I should think we might fasten the doors and go to bed when we like.”
On Sunday morning, however, Kiy’s mind became disturbed by more definite and
alarming conjectures about her mistress. While Bey, encouraged by the prospect of
unwonted leisure, was siing down to continue a leer whi had long lain unfinishedbetween the leaves of her Bible, Kitty came running into the kitchen and said,
“Lor! Bey, I’m all of a tremble; you might kno me down wi’ a feather. I’ve just looked
into the missis’s wardrobe, an’ there’s both her bonnets. She must ha’ gone wi’out her
bonnet. An’ then I remember as her night-clothes wasn’t on the bed yisterday mornin’; I
thought she’d put ’em away to be washed; but she hedn’t, for I’ve been lookin’. It’s my belief
he’s murdered her, and shut her up i’ that closet as he keeps locked al’ys. He’s capible on’t.”
“Lors-ha’-massy, why you’d beer run to Mrs Raynor’s an’ see if she’s there, arter all. It
was p’raps all a lie.”
Mrs Raynor had returned home to give directions to her lile maiden, when Kiy, with
the elaborate manifestation of alarm whi servants delight in, rushed in without knoing,
and holding her hands on her heart as if the consequences to that organ were likely to be
very serious, said,—
“If you please ’m, is the missis here?”
“No, Kitty; why are you come to ask?”
“Because ’m, she’s niver been at home since yesterday mornin’, since afore we was up; an’
we thought somethin’ must ha’ happened to her.”
“No, don’t be frightened, Kiy. Your mistress is quite safe; I know where she is. Is your
master at home?”
“No ’m; he went out yesterday mornin’, an’ said he shouldn’t be back afore to-night.”
“Well, Kiy, there’s nothing the maer with your mistress. You needn’t say anything to
any one about her being away from home. I shall call presently and fet her gown and
bonnet. She wants them to put on.”
Kiy, perceiving there was a mystery she was not to inquire into, returned to Orard
Street, really glad to know that her mistress was safe, but disappointed nevertheless at being
told that she was not to be frightened. She was soon followed by Mrs Raynor in quest of the
gown and bonnet. e good mother, on learning that Dempster was not at home, had at once
thought that she could gratify Janet’s wish to go to Paddiford church.
“See, my dear,” she said, as she entered Mrs Pettifer’s parlour; “I’ve brought you your black
clothes. Robert’s not at home, and is not coming till this evening. I couldn’t find your best
black gown, but this will do. I wouldn’t bring anything else, you know; but there can’t be any
objection to my feting clothes to cover you. You can go to Paddiford ur now, if you
like; and I will go with you.”
“at’s a dear mother! en we’ll all three go together. Come and help me to get ready.
Good lile Mrs Crewe! It will vex her sadly that I should go to hear Mr Tryan. But I must
kiss her, and make it up with her.”
Many eyes were turned on Janet with a look of surprise as she walked up the aisle of
Paddiford ur. She felt a lile tremor at the notice she knew she was exciting, but it was a
strong satisfaction to her that she had been able at once to take a step that would let her
neighbours know her ange of feeling towards Mr Tryan: she had le herself now no room
for proud reluctance or weak hesitation. e walk through the sweet spring air had
stimulated all her fresh hopes, all her yearning desires aer purity, strength, and peace. She
thought she should find a new meaning in the prayers this morning; her full heart, like an
overflowing river, wanted those ready-made annels to pour itself into; and then she should
hear Mr Tryan again, and his words would fall on her like precious balm, as they had done
last night. ere was a liquid brightness in her eyes as they rested on the mere walls, the
pews, the weavers and colliers in their Sunday clothes. e commonest things seemed to
tou the spring of love within her, just as, when we are suddenly released from an acute
absorbing bodily pain, our heart and senses leap out in new freedom; we think even the noise
of streets harmonious, and are ready to hug the tradesman who is wrapping up our ange. A
door had been opened in Janet’s cold dark prison of self-despair, and the golden light of
morning was pouring in its slanting beams through the blessed opening. ere was sunlightin the world; there was a divine love caring for her; it had given her an earnest of good
things; it had been preparing comfort for her in the very moment when she had thought
herself most forsaken.
Mr Tryan might well rejoice when his eye rested on her as he entered his desk; but he
rejoiced with trembling. He could not look at the sweet hopeful face without remembering its
yesterday’s look of agony; and there was the possibility that that look might return.
Janet’s appearance at ur was greeted not only by wondering eyes, but by kind hearts,
and aer the service several of Mr Tryan’s hearers with whom she had been on cold terms of
late, contrived to come up to her and take her by the hand.
“Mother,” said Miss Linnet, “do let us go and speak to Mrs Dempster. I’m sure there’s a
great ange in her mind towards Mr Tryan. I noticed how eagerly she listened to the
sermon, and she’s come with Mrs Peifer, you see. We ought to go and give her a welcome
among us.”
“Why, my dear, we’ve never spoke friendly these five year. You know she’s been as
haughty as anything since I quarrelled with her husband. However, let bygones be bygones:
I’ve no grudge again’ the poor thing, more particular as she must ha’ flew in her husband’s
face to come an’ hear Mr Tryan. Yis, let us go an’ speak to her.”
e friendly words and looks toued Janet a lile too keenly, and Mrs Peifer wisely
hurried her home by the least-frequented road. When they reaed home, a violent fit of
weeping, followed by continuous lassitude, showed that the emotions of the morning had
overstrained her nerves. She was suffering, too, from the absence of the long-accustomed
stimulus whi she had promised Mr Tryan not to tou again. e poor thing was conscious
of this, and dreaded her own weakness, as the victim of intermient insanity dreads the
oncoming of the old illusion.
“Mother,” she whispered, when Mrs Raynor urged her to lie down and rest all the
aernoon, that she might be the beer prepared to see Mr Tryan in the evening—“mother,
don’t let me have anything if I ask for it.”