THE LIGHT IN THE IVYED CASEMENT.
MARION was so
completely exhausted by fatigue and wakefulness, that when she had
seen her mother die, and felt that all motive for exertion was now
over, she sunk at once into a torpid state, and was several days
before she seemed fully to realize her loss. The body had
subdued the mind, and it was not until its imperative demands for
rest were answered, that she perceived the bitterness of the trial.
"Marion, my dear child," said her aunt, endeavouring to
soothe her after a paroxysm of weeping, "do let me see you at least
trying to be resigned; you are only exhausting your health and
making us miserable. What good can this violent grief do?"
Marion rested her aching head against the cushion of the
sofa, and thought she should never be happy again. She became
worse as the time of the funeral approached, and exhibited all the
peevishness of over-wrought feeling. But the most sorrowful
eyes cannot weep for ever. On the day after, having passed a
sleepless night, she came down into the breakfast-room much calmer
than usual, and her aunt being quite alarmed at her paleness, caused
her to lie down on the couch, where, to their great relief, she
presently fell into a deep heavy sleep; and they closed the window
shutters, hoping that she might wake refreshed.
There were many things to be transacted in the family, and
they were glad to be able to leave her for a while, which they did,
setting the door open, and going in from time to time to look at
Mr. Raeburn had been appointed joint guardian with her uncle,
and the two gentlemen were now in the library.
It had been agreed that it was useless to wait for the return
of Wilfred before reading the will, and as it was absolutely
necessary that Mr. Paton should return to Westport the following
day, the two guardians decided that it should be done that same
Mrs. Greyson had expressed a wish that her brother should
take the charge of her son, and that he should finish his education
at Westport: Mr. Raeburn was therefore not without hope that the
other child might be left with him, but when he mentioned the
subject to her uncle and aunt, he saw at once that it was a thing
they had not contemplated; and Mr. Paton said he had intended to
provide a home for his niece in his own house, considering himself
as of course her natural protector.
Mrs. Paton, however, seeing how much pain this proposal gave,
observed that perhaps there might be something in the will which
would direct them.
"I can scarcely think it," replied the Rector, "but I cannot
but feel that if Mrs. Greyson had been able to speak, she would have
directed me to take her daughter, for she knows I have always loved
her as my own."
"In our character as guardians we are, of course, equal,"
said Mr. Paton, politely but determinedly, and then added, "Marion
is an unusually happy young person, to have two homes ready to
receive her; but my near relationship to her mother seems to point
out so clearly to which she should go."
"Certainly," interrupted Mr. Raeburn, "in relationship we are
not equal, nor as parents, for you possess all your children, and I
have lost both mine."
"Let me beg of you to leave the question till the will has
been read," said Mrs. Paton.
Mr. Paton consented coldly. He could not be said to
feel any particular fondness for Marion, whom he had never seen
since her infancy till this mournful occasion; but she was his
sister's child and only daughter of his wife's brother, and it
seemed to him rather derogatory that she should reside with those
who were not of her kindred, when he was so well able to receive
However, during the next half-hour he reflected that Mr. Raeburn was a man of property, and that by taking Marion away he
might deprive her of a handsome fortune,—he therefore determined
that at least he would not do so ungraciously, and that if there was
nothing in the will to decide the matter, he would agree to his
wife's proposal, that it should be left to Marion's own choice
whether she would go or stay.
"I have just been to look at Marion," said Mrs. Paton to the
Rector, as he rose to take his leave. "I find she is awake,
and if you would go and talk to her I should be very glad; perhaps
you might inculcate a little more resignation, and if she is to be
present at the reading of the will, she should be prepared for it
"Certainly, I will go to her," he replied, "and see what I
can do; though," he continued to himself as he went down the long
passage, "I want some one to inculcate resignation to me if I am to
part with her."
The door of the breakfast-room was ajar; he entered quietly
and shut it behind him. The shutters were still closed, and
two long sunbeams slanted through the heart-shaped holes into the
room. Marion had dropped asleep again. There was a
vacant chair at her head, and he came and sat beside her to wait for
her waking. Her face was very pale, and looked still more so
by contrast with her golden hair and deep mourning dress. Her
attitude and expression told of the weariness of exhausted feeling,
and her sleep seemed disturbed, for she started often and spoke
hurriedly. At length she woke in a state of great agitation,
and started up entreating him to do her some kindness, which she did
not sufficiently explain. Her feverish manner disturbed him;
and supposing her to be scarcely awake, he spoke soothingly to her,
trying to calm her excitement, but in the tone of a person enduring
so much himself that it struck upon her sharpened senses; and with
the unreasonable irritation of over-wrought feeling she said, "Why
do you talk to me, uncle? it only makes me worse. I am tired
of their telling me to be resigned."
"My dear," he answered, with a heavy sigh, "comfort is from
God. I do not try to comfort you. You and I are
companions now in suffering."
Marion did not let him go on, but burst into a passion of
tears, and hid her face in her hands, sobbing out, "Do not say
companions, uncle: have I not lost my mother?" But the words
were scarcely uttered before she began to reproach herself, and
wondered how she could have repelled his kindness.
"And do you think I have no fellow-feeling, my dear child?"
he replied. "Are you saying to yourself, 'there is no sorrow
like my sorrow?'"
"I did not mean to be ungrateful, dear uncle," said Marion,
attempting to cease weeping and collect her thoughts; "I know what
your sorrows are."
"You know" repeated Mr. Raeburn in a low voice, which
seemed not meant for her ears. "No, dear child, the heart
only knoweth its own bitterness; but you will soon know of
another trial which even now hangs over me."
Marion's convulsive sobbing was not stopped by this; it
seemed quite to overpower her. She tried to recover herself,
and heard Mr. Raeburn reproach himself for having made her worse.
At length, with a violent effort she subdued it, and said, with
passionate earnestness, "I should be better if I could sleep.
Oh, the misery of my nights! I cannot bear it, uncle, and how can
you? I did not think that anything could have added to my grief the
last fortnight, but that does."
"What does?" inquired Mr. Raeburn, surprised.
"I have watched it for so many years," sobbed Marion,
scarcely knowing what she said; "every night I saw the light in the
nursery. It used to stay only a little while, but since mamma
died it shines nearly all night. Oh, dear uncle, I cannot bear
it, and how can you? Do not break my heart, —what is it, then, has
made you so miserable?"
As he did not answer, she turned to look at him, and was
astonished at the effect her words had produced. She had never
alluded to this subject before to him, even in the most distant
manner. He believed that his nightly visits to the deserted
chamber were unseen of any human eye, now he found they had been
fully known, and that to the only person who could in any degree
make up to him for the loss of the dead.
His face became pale, and he set his lips with a steady
effort to bear down the outward expression of his thoughts, and then
started up and paced the room with rapid steps. Marion sat up,
and watched him, subdued by the sight of the struggle which she
herself had caused. At length it ceased. He came and sat
at the foot of the couch, and covering his face with his hands, gave
way to an agony of grief, such as it awed her to look at.
In all the misfortunes that he had gone through, she had
never seen him shed a single tear; she had heard nothing more than
the short, suppressed sigh which often interrupted his conversation.
She was now subdued and terrified by the strong character of his
passion, and his unsuccessful struggles against it. It
frightened her for the time from the remembrance of her own loss,
and she sprung from the sofa, stung with remorse for what she had
done, and throwing herself on her knees before him, tried to draw
away his hands, and entreated his forgiveness, as if she had really
done him some grievous wrong.
"Only this once forgive me," she urged in a supplicating
tone; "I will never be so cruelly thoughtless again." But he only
clasped his hands the tighter, and seemed incapable of making any
Marion pressed her pale cheek against his hands and
continued, "Do not think of it, my dear, dear uncle, I did not know
what I was saying; do not love me any the less for it; O do speak to
me! Am I not your child? have I not always loved you like a —"
She hesitated to go on, for Mr. Raeburn's sudden resumption
of his self-command startled her— he hastily dashed away his tears,
and drew her nearer as she knelt. The room was not so dusk but
that she could see his eyes intensely fixed upon her; she knew what
he wished her to say, and went on with her sentence: "Have you not
always made up to me for my lost father? and have not I always loved
you like a daughter?"
The sigh of relief with which he let go her hands, told her
that she had found the right clue for subduing the emotion she had
caused; but she did not venture to say more, and remained in her
kneeling position, while he arose hastily and again walked about the
room to recover himself.
Marion turned half round and watched his face as it rapidly
changed to its ordinary calmness; for the first time since her
mother's death her thoughts had been forced into another channel,
and now occupied themselves with the friend for whom she had always
felt a filial affection.
She had not had time yet to think as to what might be her
future destiny, the idea of leaving this old home had never
presented itself to her, nor the question of what provision might
remain for her and her brother. She considered, as she
continued to watch the Rector with her eyes, that she would
certainly devote herself to making his future life as happy as
possible, and did not remember that anything could separate them,
though as her thoughts became more distinct she recollected that he
had spoken of some fresh trial, and wondered whether his wife was
ill, for she had not lately inquired after her.
At length, as she still knelt, he began to talk to her, and
to her surprise, of his family misfortune, which he mentioned with a
kind of desperate composure, which Marion dreaded to hear, though
she could not interrupt him. He seemed as much impelled to
speak now as in general to be silent; his natural reserve was gone
for a time, but at the first pause she began a reply, and was
unconsciously led on by the desire to soothe, till she had produced
the tranquillity she wished, by her evident anxiety to do so.
The sound of her voice, as unusual in its earnestness as his own,
surprised him into silence; she spoke with such energy as he had
never given her credit for, he was astonished and touched to find
that the dear child whom he had loved so long, had become a woman in
soul when he most wanted her support. But in proportion as he
grew calm, Marion's self-possession deserted her, and tears began to
drop down her cheeks. Mr. Raeburn had stood still, the better
to listen to her, and when she ceased to speak, he returned to his
place on the sofa, and took her head between his hands.
"Dear uncle," said Marion, "there is no one left now but you
and Wilfred, and how can I ever be happy again if I see one of you
"No one left but me and Wilfred?"
"No one whose happiness matters in comparison with yours; why
do you look at me so intently, my dear, dear uncle? you always knew
that we both loved you next best to mamma."
"Yes, I know it," was the reply; "therefore call me father,
it is a long time since I heard that name applied to myself, and I
shall know that you are not quite orphaned if you can use it to me."
"I do call you my father," said Marion, taking up his hand
and laying it on her head, "I have called you so in my heart many
times, but O father, I never wanted your love so much before."
She put her arms round him, and heard him pray for her, as
his hand rested on her head; they were very low words, she could not
distinguish half of them, but she perceived that he spoke of her as
if she had truly been his own child, and when he ceased, and raised
her from her kneeling position, there was an expression in his smile
that she had not seen for years; but she had scarcely time to remark
it before he told her that he must return home for a while, and
begged that she would go out into the open air, and take a short
walk in the garden. Marion assented; he took leave of her for
the present, and promised to seek her aunt to go out with her.
Being now left alone, she opened the shutters and threw up the
window. The weather had been showery, but the sun was out, and
the garden had never looked more beautiful: she stood looking out on
the green lawn and the rose beds with a more tranquillized heart;
for the first time since her misfortune she had been roused out of
herself, and her over-excited feelings had been relieved by sympathy
When her aunt came in with Marion's crape bonnet in her hand,
with its long black veil, she received them very calmly, and went
out with her to walk in the more retired part of the garden.
The Rector had signified to Mrs. Paton that he had not mentioned the
intended reading of the will to Marion: she therefore opened the
subject, and as Marion expressed herself quite able to be present,
went on to hint that many things connected with her future life
would be discussed afterwards and left to her own decision.
"And I have no doubt, my dearest Marion," she continued, "that you
will act as your uncle and I could wish."
"Certainly, aunt," said Marion wearily; for she could not at
present take much interest in business matters, and such she
supposed them to be.
"And it is a most fortunate circumstance," her aunt went on,
wishing to lead to the subject of her future home, "that the lease
of this house is up at Christmas."
Marion started, and for the first time the certainty that she
must leave the beloved place flashed across her mind. She
instantly began to question her aunt, and when she spoke with
anguish of leaving the spot where her mother lay, Mrs. Paton could
not help blaming herself for having proposed that her lot should be
left in her own hands; but she declined to give Marion any
information, telling her that these matters would all be decided
after the reading of the will.
Marion was very soon fatigued, she had so long been
accustomed to a darkened room, that the dazzling sunshine oppressed
her, and she was glad to go in and lie down on her couch to rest.
At four o'clock her aunt, Mrs. Ferguson, came, and led her
into the library, where were two gentlemen, besides her uncle and
Mr. Raeburn. She felt too much confused and agitated to listen
to the document, scarcely gathering from its wordy sentences the
fact that it secured a very sufficient provision both for herself
and her brother. This trial to her fortitude being over, and
the two solicitors withdrawn, Marion, who felt no inclination to
shed tears, attempted to collect her thoughts, for her aunt reminded
her of their conversation, and remarked that the most important part
of the proceedings was yet to come.
Her uncle was seated at a table near the window, and her aunt
beside him. Mr. Raeburn, with his arms folded, was leaning
against the window-frame. Mrs. Ferguson was the only person
who spoke. She began by reminding Marion that her uncle and
Mr. Raeburn were appointed her joint guardians; and then, after
telling her that her brother would now be sent to Westport, related
to her what had passed in the morning, and the decision that she
should have her own choice with whom she would remain.
During this time Mr. Raeburn did not look up or change his
Marion's face varied several times from red to pale.
She had great difficulty in speaking; but mastered her agitation,
and gratefully thanked both him and her uncle for their goodness to
"And you will understand, my dear," said Mr. Paton (quite
sure, however, of what her choice would be), and speaking with a
certain grave stateliness which never forsook him on any occasion,
"that whatever you decide, it will make no difference in the kind
feelings of the other party towards you; and there is no need for
you to make up your mind to-day unless you please."
"No," said Mrs. Ferguson, who felt sure that Marion's
calmness would not last long; "I think it a great pity that Marion
should have a night of anxiety; she must be already aware with whom
she would wish to live. Let her give her decision now,—it will
spare her the harass of another discussion. Come, my love,"
she continued, pitying Marion's paleness, "it now wants ten minutes
to six; we will give you till the clock strikes."
Marion was grateful for the permission to decide so soon, but
she would not appear too hasty; and her own mind being already made
up, she sat with her eyes fixed on the clock, the colour gradually
fading out of her face. Her uncle, Mr. Paton, also looked at
the clock, and nodded to his niece with a kind of stately patronage.
And Mr. Raeburn looked at it, but never changed his attitude or
glanced towards Marion. He had quite made up his mind, in
spite of her affection for him, that she would go with her aunt and
uncle; and when he thought of his own dull home, and, on the other
hand, of the kind-hearted, lively cousins ready to welcome her, he
almost wondered how he could have wished to keep her from them.
At last the clock struck, but not before both the ladies had
fretted themselves into a perfect fidget.
Marion, who had been seated with her hands pressed together
and her face quite colourless, now started up and made a few hasty
steps towards the window, then turned towards her aunt and uncle, as
if still irresolute; not that she felt so, but their unmerited
kindness overpowered her.
"Now, my dear," Mrs. Ferguson began, trying to reassure her,
"it is time for you to speak, Marion."
"Dear aunt," said Marion, addressing Mrs. Paton, and speaking
in a scarcely audible voice, "how very good you have been to me! I
shall love you as long as I live, both for mamma's sake and your
own. Dear uncle, I am very grateful."
"Tut, tut," said Mr. Paton, now looking on the matter as
settled, "all very natural and proper; only my duty, my dear."
Marion then came up to Mr. Raeburn, took his hands in hers,
and attempted to speak, but could not for her tears.
The action and her grief were very like a farewell, and he
evidently so understood them. But Mrs. Ferguson was not of the
same opinion, and was
determined that there should be no mistake.
"Your decision is yet to come," she said, in a calm, distinct
voice, as Marion still wept and held by Mr. Raeburn. "Do you
decide to go, or do you decide to stay?"
"My dear madam," said Mr. Raeburn, speaking in the same
suppressed manner as in the morning, "your niece has already given
her decision. I have nothing to say against it. May the
blessing of God go with her!"
He laid his hand upon her head. But Mrs. Ferguson still
pressed the point.
"If it is given, let us hear it, Marion. What do you
"I decide to stay," said Marion, and a short pause of
surprise from all parties followed.
"Very well," said Mrs. Ferguson, breaking this awkward
silence; "then we will not prolong this scene any longer." So
saying, she advanced, and taking Marion's hand, led her away,
adding, in a reassuring tone, "And now you shall come and take some
rest, for it makes us quite anxious to see you looking so ill."
Marion had scarcely ever felt so grateful as for this
considerate kindness. She stood in great need of quiet, and
could not make her appearance again that night.
The light never appeared in the nursery again; and the
Rector's face, as he sat in his study, looked more cheerful than for
a long time past. When he came home that evening, he told his
mother, who now resided with him, that she would soon have Marion
for a companion; and the old lady, being very fond of her, was
The news soon spread among the servants, who were also glad,
the presence of a younger inmate promising to relieve the dullness
of their home. And as Mr. Raeburn sat writing in his study, he
heard the unexpected words, "I decide to stay," repeated as the echo
of every sound which broke the silence.
The following morning Mr. Paton left Swanstead, and took a
kind leave of Marion. The two ladies were to remain for
another fortnight. There were many things to be arranged; the
house and furniture were to be sold; but various little personal
possessions of the late Mrs. Greyson had to be selected as memorials
for her relatives and friends; while Marion found it enough for her
weak spirits and little strength to select the books which had been
her mother's favourites, to be divided between herself and her
Mr. Raeburn saw but little of her during this time, being
naturally anxious to leave her to the society of her aunts.
He had desired his housekeeper to prepare a room for her, and
to give her the choice as to which she would prefer.
It wanted but three days to the time when she was to take up
her abode at the Rectory, when one evening, as old Mrs. Raeburn sat
dozing in her easy chair, while the Rector mused in silence over the
events of the day, the housekeeper came in to inform him that she
had been over to deliver his message; that Miss Greyson seemed tired
and in low spirits, and she thought must have made a mistake in the
room she said she wished for.
"However, Sir," continued the housekeeper, "I thought I'd
mention it to you; you said you thought she would like the blue
"Which does she wish for?" inquired the Rector.
"Miss Greyson did not name any particular room," returned the
housekeeper, "but said she should like to overlook the church-yard,
which seemed very natural, Sir; and, if possible, she should like to
be able to see her old house."
"And there is no such room, you say?" observed Mr. Raeburn,
considering. "No, I do not think there is." And he actually
began to revolve, in his over-indulgent fondness, whether he could
not open a window for her in the blue room.
It was very evident to Mrs. Mathews, when she spoke to
Marion, that the latter wished to have the nursery, for she was far
too well acquainted with the house not to know that no other room
commanded both these aspects; but thinking that it would pain her
master to have it so occupied, she had gently remonstrated, and
inquired whether no other room would suit Miss Greyson as well.
But Marion persisted in her choice, adding, that if she might have
that room she would not ask for anything to be altered in it; and
then left Mrs. Mathews, saying, "Give my love to my uncle, and say,
that if he would rather I did not occupy that room, I will have any
other that he pleases."
"Sir," said the housekeeper, waking up her master from his
brown study, "if you don't think it reasonable that Miss should have
that room, she particularly told me to say that she did not mind
about it; only she would rather have it if she might. The
nursery, I mean, Sir," she continued, seeing that she had failed to
insinuate her meaning.
"The nursery!" repeated Mr. Raeburn, then first struck with
Marion's real meaning. "Is that the room Miss Greyson wishes
"Not unless it's quite agreeable to you, Sir," the
housekeeper began; but she soon saw, by the flush of pleased
surprise which spread over her master's face, that he was far from
needing an apology for what had seemed to her the unreasonable
caprice of a wayward girl.
"Say no more about it, Mrs. Mathews," said the Rector, "but
let the room be got ready for Miss Greyson exactly as she wishes,
and tell her that no other choice would have pleased me half so
"Very well, Sir," said the functionary, curtseying and
leaving the room, a little nettled to find, for the fortieth time,
that Marion understood her master so much better than she did.
"I am coming to be his daughter," Marion had thought.
"I shall see my mother's house from those little casements; I shall
remember her best there, and I shall be to my uncle in the place of
the little lost Euphemia. He will walk upon the lawn as he
used to do when she slept there, in the summer evenings, and he will
see my light shining through the curtains; he will know that the
room is just the same as he has seen it through these years, with
the child's picture over the chimney-piece, and the bed with the
white hangings, and he will know that I am there. After a
while he will forget that I am not his real child. I shall be
his daughter grown up, and attending upon him, and he will not feel
Marion put off leaving the home of her childhood to the last
minute; when her aunts were gone, and all was desolate and empty,
Mr. Raeburn sent his carriage for her. The distance was not
more than three or four hundred yards, and she knew she should see
the place every day; yet when the carriage stopped, and Mr. Raeburn
led her into the house, and welcomed her, she could not thank him,
or even speak, and with her veil let down over her face, ran up to
her new apartment, where she could weep without restraint.
The most gloomy part of the year was coming on, and for the
next three months Marion made but a sorrowful companion to the
Rector; though, after a while, being urged by the old lady to resume
her usual occupations, she roused herself from her inactive sorrow,
and soon found the benefit of exertion, both to mind and body.
She began to consider what she could do to make herself useful and
beloved in her new home; and took upon herself various little
offices, such as are generally performed by the daughter of a
family. She made breakfast and tea, and paid a daily visit to
the apartment of the poor invalid, taking care that she should
always have beautiful fresh flowers before her. She also began
to superintend the needlework in the girls' school, and to arrange
the lending library. Moreover, she performed the part of a set
of tablets to the Rector, reminding him of all his engagements; and
above all, she read "The Record" to the old lady,—a task which her
son had hitherto thought it his duty to perform, and which he
specially disliked. She also talked to her and amused her,
with a great deal of tact, and contrived to turn the subject to
something else when she teased her son about his health and his
parish,—a fruitful source of irritation to him. For it may be
doubted whether any other old lady, of an affectionate disposition,
and very proud of her son, could have been supposed capable of
unconsciously tormenting him to the degree that she did. She
had a habit of alluding to the loss of his children in a very
distant manner, but with sufficient meaning to distress him.
If the younger Mrs. Raeburn was not so well in health as usual, "she
was sure she would not last long, and indeed it would be a blessing
if Providence would take her, if some people could but think so."
This never failed to agitate her son; for throughout his wife's long
illness, he had never given up the hope that she might one day be
restored to him. If Marion came in from a walk with a bright
colour, the old lady would privately take occasion to observe that
she hoped she was not consumptive, but that, for her part, she did
not like those lovely complexions.
"Marion has very good health," the Rector would reply,
disturbed, in spite of his better reason, by his mother's hints.
"I really do not see any cause for anxiety; she has a good appetite,
and I never hear her cough."
"Very true, my dear," the old lady would reply, "and these
consumptive people often are very strong till they catch cold."
The feeling of anxiety thus caused, whether the supposed
disease was consumption, spinal complaint, overgrowth, or
indigestion, was generally half dissipated by the next sight of its
object, whose face, naturally fair, and now again serene, presented
no reasonable ground for anxiety to the fondest parent.
"And how is Wilfred?" the next attack would begin; "I suppose
it cannot be helped, but really it seems unnatural to separate those
two young people."
"Why unnatural, mother? The boy must finish his education,
and he is to spend the vacations here, so that his sister will be
with him three months out of the twelve."
"Ah, well, I suppose it's all for the best, but only think,
if anything was to happen, what a long way they are apart.
Well, it's a great responsibility to adopt a child, especially when
one lives so far from all her relations. But I don't think
myself," the old lady would proceed, in a musing tone, "that if they
could see her now, they would remark any change; to be sure, we who
see her every day cannot so well judge, but I should not say she was
any thinner; I see no bad symptom excepting that bright bloom."
"That's a comfort," her son would reply, in rather a fretted
tone; notwithstanding which his mother's remarks often annoyed him,
and sometimes produced more effect than the old lady had intended.
However, as she was naturally an affectionate woman, and loved to
extend her motherly protection towards all young things, she soon
found Marion's presence a real boon, and, moreover, as she clung
more and more to her adopted father, and her dutiful manner towards
him came under the old lady's observation, she began to consider her
as a substitute mercifully provided for the children that were lost.
Marion also flattered her pride unconsciously by making all Mr. Raeburn's opinions and wishes of so much importance.
"Why don't you go out, child?" she would say, rather testily.
"Oh, because I think my uncle would like me to wait, and see
whether he has any letters to copy." Upon which the old lady's next
remark was sure to be made in the best of humours.
The garden and the gardener were under Marion's special care,
and she spent a good deal of time in the greenhouse, occupied in the
mysteries of striking, potting, budding, and forcing, so delightful
to florists. It was of no use trying to teach the old lady to
appreciate the beauty of certain specimens; a rose was a rose, and a
tulip was a tulip, and she did not choose to see that one was better
than another. As for your "white superbs," and "Prince Alberts,"
and "beauties of Britany," she thought it great nonsense to spend so
much time in rearing them. It happened that Mr. Maidley, who
was a great florist, said one day, "Pray, Miss Greyson, why do you
plant all your finest seedlings at the side of the house, where
nobody can see them?"
"Nobody!" repeated Marion, looking up with a radiant smile of
wonder; "why, Mr. Maidley, those beds are opposite the study
"Oh, I beg a thousand pardons," returned the young gentleman,
"for having made out our worthy Rector to be nobody, when it appears
that he is everybody; but might I just venture to inquire whether he
appreciates these flowers,—these superb calceolarias now? Do you
think he could give a tolerable guess as to which is the best,—this
one, stained and spotted with the deepest amber, or this pale,
sickly-looking yellow one?"
"Perhaps not," said Marion, laughing; "but he is extremely
fond of flowers; and if he does not know it himself, I at least know
that his are of the very best."
"And very right it should be so," said the old lady, briskly,
for she thought nothing too good for her son, and was not
particularly fond of Frank Maidley, whose remarks on the ignorance
of the former did not please her, though she felt their justice.
Many an hour, when the weather was fine, Marion spent in this
garden with her small rake and watering-pot, tending her favourite
petunias, and training the new varieties of fuchsias on their wire
supports; even the dreamy Euphemia took pleasure, such as she was
capable of, in watching her graceful movements, and the Rector was
often called from his books to admire the wonderful beauty of some
new specimen; for Marion, like most other flower fanciers, had a
great weakness in favour of what was new.
As the spring advanced, the old lady, who had become much
attached to Marion, used to give her a great deal of sage advice,
and as they sat together in the small drawing-room in the front of
the house, would endeavour to improve her mind by almost endless
anecdotes respecting the fashions of her youth, the behaviour and
manners of her various children deceased, and the last illness of
her lamented husband; also, as Marion grew daily more graceful and
pretty before her eyes, the old lady took care to mingle with her
discourse certain sage remarks respecting the fleeting nature of
beauty, not by way of direct admonition, but rather as if they arose
naturally out of the subject. By this manoeuvre her hearer
obtained possession of the fact that she considered her very
handsome, and was not more impressed with the certainty that beauty
fades than might have been expected.
The room in which their mornings were spent had a deep
mullioned window, with stained glass, and commanded a view of the
flower-garden. Like the apartment occupied by the younger
Mrs. Raeburn, it was wainscoted with oak, and fitted up with very
old-fashioned furniture; the walls were enriched with several family
pictures, and in the window stood a fine old walnut-tree table, at
which the old lady and Marion sat, the latter generally listening
with great respect to all the old lady's advice and remarks
respecting her various occupations, but pursuing her own plans
notwithstanding, and following her own fashions in work, drawing,
and music, though constantly assailed by such remarks as the
following:—"When I was a young woman we never thought of playing on
the harpsichord of a morning;" or, "When I learnt drawing we
never copied from such huge ugly heads as those, or splashed in our
landscapes with a brush almost as big as a hearth-brush; but times
are changed. Ah!"
"And what are you about now, my dear?" looking up from the
"Stitching bands, madam," said Marion, holding up her work.
"Stitching, my dear! you're always stitching. You'll
wear your eyes out. Why don't you give it to the housemaid?
I'm sure she has little enough to do."
"Oh, I really could not think of such a thing," returned
Marion. "I have always stitched my uncle's bands since I was
seven years old, I am sure the housemaid would not take so much
pains with them."
"Well, they certainly are very beautiful bands," said the old
lady, "and who's that coming up the drive, my dear?"
"Dr. Wilmot. I think he is coming to see aunt
Raeburn. He generally does on Monday."
"Oh, does he," replied the old lady, "he very seldom comes to
see me I know. How very consequential the Doctor looks this
morning, to be sure; and there's my son going out to speak to him,
without his hat too. He might know better than to go out in
the east-wind, catching the rheumatism."
"East, Mrs. Raeburn! Oh no; the wind's in the west; quite a
warm wind. Look at the vane."
"Well, child, east or west, it's all the same thing."
"I'll run out to him with his hat," said Marion, quite
delighted to find an excuse for rushing into the sunshine.
"Miss Greyson, I declare," exclaimed Dr. Wilmot, as
Marion came up, the soft wind playing with her long hair and
heightening the bloom on her cheek. "Ah," said the old man,
gently touching her shoulder with the silver head of his whip,
"she's very nearly eighteen years old, and what a little time it
seems to look back upon!"
"Now that's what I call real golden hair," said the old lady,
as she looked through the window and saw the Doctor take his leave,
and her son put his hat on and walk back towards the house with
Marion on his arm, the wind, after having played various freaks with
her locks, finishing at last by tossing them on to Mr. Raeburn's
shoulder; but they did not return at once to the house, that
gentleman being persuaded to come into the back garden to look at
two little owls.
"Owls, child!" said the Rector, "I did not know you had any."
"Oh, yes, uncle," returned Marion. "Frank Maidley
brought them on Saturday. He's going back to Cambridge, and
they don't like the trouble of them at home. They always
forget his pets, so he begged me to take them."
"And how are they to be fed?"
"Oh, Frank brought a bag full of mice for them, and gardener
says he can get me plenty more. Here they are, in the
tool-house," continued Marion, approaching the door. "I
thought one of them was lost yesterday, till I saw its bright eyes
peeping out from the shavings. They are fern owls, uncle.
Look at them. Are they not pretty?" So saying she took out one
of the impish-looking little things, and the Rector regarded it with
strong disfavour; and when Marion added, "Frank wished me to take
his silkworms too, but I said I had rather not," he said with great
decision, "If Frank Maidley brings any of his nasty unwholesome
silkworms here I'll have 'em buried."
"Alive, uncle?" said Marion, looking up from stroking one of
the owls with her finger. Mr. Raeburn had uttered the threat
in a sanguinary spirit, but not with any very definite ideas;
besides, burying alive was not in his way; so he remained silent.
"Because," persisted Marion, "if they are to be buried alive
that will be very little use; for Frank buried quantities once, and
they came walking out of the ground again by dozens, and crept on to
the lettuce-beds, as if nothing had happened."
Mr. Raeburn had been observed for some time past not to look
with a very favourable eye on Frank Maidley; indeed he had been
known to speak of him as a "conceited young upstart." He certainly
had an uncommonly high opinion of his own abilities, and was at no
pains to conceal it; but as he undoubtedly was extremely clever, and
was, moreover, very ready at repartee, it was not so easy to put him
down. But probably this circumstance would not have induced
Mr. Raeburn to speak so slightingly of his pets. The fact was,
that Frank Maidley constantly walked over to service at Swanstead
Church, and as constantly walked home with Marion; not that he cared
about Marion further than as a familiar friend of his childhood; but
it was not much out of his way to come to the rectory, and he was
naturally of a social disposition. If Mr. Raeburn had known
this he would not have looked upon the owls with such a jaundiced
eye; but as it was, he declared that they reminded him of pictures
of demons, and declined to stroke them, though Marion held up the
largest on her finger, saying,—
"Mr. Maidley says he wonders Frank should be so fond of pets,
now he is so old, and so tall."
"Yes, I hope he is tall enough," replied Mr. Raeburn.
"He must be six feet three, I should think, and nearly all legs and
Marion laughed, and said,—
"Wilfred says he reminds him of scarlet runners, with his red
"Oh," thought Mr. Raeburn, "at any rate I don't think it is
reciprocal." "Well, my love, put the birds in and come away.
After all, he is a young man of decided genius, and let us hope his
peculiarities will wear off in time."
"Oh, no doubt," said Marion, wishing to say something kind of
her old friend, "and so will his want of politeness."
"What, is he not polite to you?"
"Not particularly," said Marion with a merry laugh. "He
says he cannot help it; he cannot be always thinking of his
"Oh, indeed," replied Mr. Raeburn. "Well, my dear, as
you have undertaken these owls, mind they are not neglected.
Young Maidley really has many good points, my dear; so you must not
mind his odd ways; and by the bye, remind me to ask him to dinner
before he goes."
"Very well, uncle," returned Marion, carelessly, and they
then walked back to the house, when the Rector, having shut himself
in his study, took two or three turns, and indulged in a hearty fit
of laughter; after which he sat down and indited an invitation to
Frank Maidley, who in due time arrived, and behaved with most
satisfactory bluntness, which pleased his host so well, that at
parting he gave him several letters of introduction, so that they
parted mutually delighted. Frank Maidley was guiltless of any
attentions; in fact he took but little notice of Marion, and
altogether conducted himself much more like an overgrown schoolboy
of brilliant parts than a young man in his last year at college, and
talked of as likely to take high honours.
It had always been intended that Marion should spend two
months of that autumn at Westport, but just as the time was fixed
for her coming the scarlet fever broke out in her uncle's house, and
though it proved to be of the mildest kind, they did not think it
advisable that she should be exposed to it.
On recovering, the girls were taken out for change of air,
and did not return till so late in the year that the visit was
deferred till the spring.
Marion often saw her brother, and kept up a frequent
correspondence with him, as well as with her cousin Elizabeth; for,
despite the great difference in their characters, the two cousins
felt a considerable affection for each other. Elizabeth's
letters often contained very life-like descriptions of places she
had seen and conversations she had held; but after a while Marion
observed that a certain Mr. Bishop often figured in them, being
introduced at first as "Mr. Bishop, a friend of papa's," and often
afterwards appearing in Elizabeth's letter as "Mr. Bishop came in to
take a walk," or, "I was saying to Mr. Bishop."—"I wonder who this
Mr, Bishop is," thought Marion; "I think I shall ask, for Elizabeth
would scarcely mention him so often if she did not mean to provoke
inquiry." She accordingly did so, and Elizabeth's next letter
contained the following postscript:—
"P.S. What do you think I did with your last letter? It
was so entertaining, that I read it aloud to Mr. Bishop. He
was excessively amused at your inquiring about him. I hope you
will see him soon, and like him for my sake, Marion. He really
is a very agreeable young man, and a great deal too good for me.
He is sitting opposite now, and very impatient for me to have done.
He sends his kind regards. The next time I write I will give
you a description of him."
"What a very odd way of telling me that she is engaged,"
thought Marion; and a few days after came a letter from Mrs. Paton,
containing a formal announcement of Elizabeth's engagement "to a
very worthy young man, whose father is a great friend of your
uncle's. He is not so decidedly serious as we could wish." The
letter went on to say:—"But he has been piously brought up, and, as
well as our own dear child, seems very attentive to his religious
duties; and he and Elizabeth are sincerely attached to each other."
Marion accordingly wrote to congratulate her cousin; and from
that time, though Elizabeth's letters were as affectionate as ever,
there was a certain coldness and restraint in her manner of speaking
on religious matters which she had never manifested before; and
after a while such a shrinking from them altogether, that her
letters, though very amusing, gave Marion on the whole more pain
than pleasure. Marion sometimes asked questions about the
various charities and Societies of which Elizabeth had hitherto
written in such glowing terms, and in whose cause she had been so
active, often concluding her letters by wondering how her cousin
could live in such an out-of-the-way place as Swanstead, where she
scarcely ever either saw or heard anything of the "religious world."
The questions asked by Marion she passed over in a very
off-hand manner:—"As for the industrial school that you ask about, I
don't think one would answer in your village; but I really have had
no time to visit it lately, so I know very little about it. I
ride a good deal on horseback now. Fred Bishop says he thinks
my health requires it." Or, "I forgot to mention that it rained at
the time of the last Church Missionary Meeting; and Fred Bishop says
I ought never to go out in the rain." Or, "I rather wonder you
should have admired that book; it seemed to me uncommonly dull,—
quite what Frederick would call a 'Sunday-book.'"
MARION did not
mention to Mr. Raeburn the change she had observed in Elizabeth's
letters; and, in thinking them over, tried to believe that Elizabeth
being now engaged, might, without impropriety, withdraw a little
from those plans of usefulness in which she had hitherto taken so
much pleasure. If she had ceased to write, or had written
short, uninteresting letters, Marion could easily have referred it
to the new tie which had sprung up to occupy her mind. But
this was not the case; Elizabeth's letters were as frequent, and
longer than ever, and sometimes contained a kind of apology to
Marion for entering so much into her own affairs, such as —"You will
excuse my telling all this to you, but I have no other young
friend to consult, and it is very natural that I should wish to make
a confidant of some one. Besides, you know, dearest Marion,
that though Dora and I have always been most affectionate sisters,
we have not many ideas in common; and lately Dora has withdrawn
herself so much among her own friends, that she scarcely has time
for any conversations with me. And as we grow older, our
opinions getting more unlike, I assure you we often sit nearly
silent to avoid discussion and argument, which are things I never
On the other hand, as Elizabeth seemed inclined to drop the
subject of religion altogether, Dora as suddenly began to take it
up; and Marion, who liked to write about what most interested her,
was very well pleased to have it so.
In a former chapter mention was made of Mrs. Ferguson, a
sister of Mrs. Paton's. That lady, who had no children, had
been left a widow early in life, and had married a few years back a
widower, with one daughter; this young lady, who was about Dora's
age, was clever and sensible, and had a great deal of enthusiasm in
her character; she and Dora had formed a strict friendship, of which
many proofs were perceptible in the letters of the latter, who
constantly spoke of her dearest Helen in terms of the most
high-flown panegyric, blessing the day when her father came into the
neighbourhood, and speaking of the religious knowledge she had
acquired, and the light which had broken in upon her from reading
the books she had recommended. Marion was greatly surprised at
all this, particularly as Dora began to mingle her self-gratulations
on the possession of such a friend with lamentations over the state
of the town and the carelessness of the clergy on many important
points, mingling the whole with certain expressions, over which
Marion could scarcely help laughing. She had not thought it
right to go to the Horticultural Exhibition because it had been held
on a Friday, and she and Helen always went on that day to the church
of the blessed St. Bernard. At another time Dora was
shocked to find that Mr. King had fixed the 30th of January for the
annual dinner to the Bluecoat-children; she hoped it was not an
intentional insult to the memory of "our martyred King." She
and Helen were making a collection for an altar-screen for the
church of St. Bernard, but she was sorry to say, people did
not treat the matter with the seriousness it deserved.
Elizabeth's letter of the same date contained the following
sentence, which stood next to the information that Fred Bishop's
father had given her a set of garnets:—"Young King is just ordained,
and is now acting as his father's curate instead of Mr. Dreux, and a
very poor substitute he makes, I assure you. We ought to be
very thankful that we can still hear Mr. Dreux sometimes; for the
Rector of Pelham's Church, who is extremely aged, has induced him to
become his curate, since which the poor old gentleman has become
quite bed-ridden, and Mr. Dreux has the complete control of
everything, far more than the Rector ever had. The church is
the largest and finest in the town, excepting St. Bernard's,
and what with Mr. Dreux's popularity and his fortune, he carries
everything before him more completely than ever."
"Mr. Dreux seems to be the only person about whom Elizabeth
has not changed her mind," thought Marion, folding up the letter;
"she still evidently thinks him 'quite a paragon.'"
By and by Dora's letters began to contain various panegyrics
on a certain Mr. Allerton, who had lately been presented to the
living of St. Bernard's, on the demise of a clergyman of
opposite sentiments. He was doing an extraordinary amount of
good, according to Dora's account; but many of the people had left
his church, because they did not approve of his opinions, and had
chosen to go and hear Mr. Dreux instead, which had occasioned a
breach between him and Mr. Allerton, the latter of whom had preached
a masterly sermon to Churchmen, on the danger and presumption of
leaving their parish church. This sermon he printed, and as
people thought it alluded pretty strongly to Mr. Dreux's conduct in
taking no notice of the sin of the fugitives, they were greatly
disappointed to find that he did not seem disposed to answer it.
In fact, Mr. Dreux not only never answered the said sermon,
but he appeared quite unconscious that it was directed against him,
and for anything the author knew might have never read it; for upon
his sending him a copy, with "the author's compliments" on the
cover, he received a note the same evening, which ran as follows:—
I beg to thank you for a pamphlet
bearing your name, which I found on my table this afternoon. I
have not yet had time to open it.
Believe me, dear Sir,
Whether Mr. Dreux ever found time to open the said
pamphlet, or whether he found it unanswerable, or whether he did not
choose to take any notice of it, were matters which the Rector of
St. Bernard's could not ascertain; but the public observed
that he did not alter the manner of his bow, by lifting his hat one
iota more or less, when he met his opponent in the street; neither
did he bear in his face the slightest expression of consciousness,
confusion, or offended pride. But the Rector of St.
Bernard's having made up his mind that, if once he could draw his
rival into argument, he should certainly get the better of him, was
not likely to let the matter rest; accordingly, having waited a
reasonable time, and no "Strictures on a Sermon delivered at St.
Bernard's, &c.," appearing, he began to offer remarks on
speeches at Public Meetings, sometimes in the most gentlemanlike
manner requesting him to repeat some expressed opinion or sentiment;
or, with an excess of candour, declining to put their full meaning
"on the last remarks of his Reverend brother," as scarcely thinking
he meant them to bear a construction involving sentiments so novel.
Mr. Dreux had a calm temper, and used to let him go on and
finish his speech, then get up, and, appearing to suppose that Mr. Allerton had really mistaken his meaning, quietly repeat his first
sentence, and, declaring that it quite expressed his real opinion,
would add a few reasons for supporting it, and sit down, as if he
had not the least idea that anything like controversy could have
All this afforded great amusement to the gossips of Westport,
who sincerely hoped something would come of it, and liked to see Mr. Allerton's handsome face flush with annoyance at the impossibility
of getting his rival to come out and give him battle.
Mr. Allerton never attempted to try his power with any of the
other clergy of Westport; indeed, being a man of unquestionable
talent, and Rector of the church, which, from its beauty and
position, was always called the Cathedral of Westport, he probably
felt that his influence was already greater than theirs. But
Mr. Dreux, a man about his own age, his undoubted equal in talent,
and one with whom he could not but be sensible that he was
constantly being compared, sometimes to the disadvantage of one, and
sometimes of the other,—it was most natural that he should wish to
try his strength with him, particularly as he firmly believed
himself to be in the right; and moreover, as Mr. Dreux was only a
curate, he often teazed himself by thinking it was particularly
annoying to find that he possessed (quite unconsciously to himself)
more influence in that parish than the Rector himself could boast
In the meantime, having tried several slight engines of
attack without avail, he began to feel considerable resentment
against the influence possessed by the Curate of Pelham's Church,
and, by degrees, suffered his naturally generous mind to look on him
solely in the invidious light of a rival. But Mr. Dreux, who
was in reality keenly conscious of his feelings towards him, took
especial care not to afford him the slightest real ground for
finding fault with his proceedings; and it was observed of the two
champions, that from month to month their opinions seemed steadily
to become more and more contrary,—Mr. Allerton supporting his tenets
more steadily as he got settled in the parish and found the people
could bear it, Mr. Dreux becoming more distinctly Evangelical in his
preaching as the consequences of his rival's teaching unfolded
Notwithstanding this constant opposition, there was something
too noble and honourable in the character of each to admit of any
petty manifestations of hostility; only on one point the Rector
of St. Bernard's had decidedly the worst of it. He was
of a very hasty, passionate temperament, and his rival was equally
remarkable for his great command of temper.
Matters were in this state, when an agèd
lady died, leaving a sum of money for building certain schools in
Mr. Dreux's parish. A Public Meeting was called to consider
the locality in which they should be built, it having been thought
advisable to erect them on a waste piece of land belonging to the
Corporation. This plan was acceded to. The next
Resolution proposed, that as there was not room at the parish church
for the scholars, they should attend St. Bernard's. In
consideration of this the parish of St. Bernard's was to have
forty children educated in these schools.
As might have been expected, the pastors of both these
churches were annoyed at the arrangement. Mr. Allerton,
because it would leave his children under the absolute dominion of
his rival the whole week; Mr. Dreux, because it would withdraw
his on all occasions of public worship. But neither liked
to say anything, though the dissatisfaction of one at least was
obvious to the whole assembly.
It did not, therefore, excite much surprise when, after the
business of the Meeting was concluded, Mr. Dreux came forward to
propose an Amendment to one of the Resolutions, which was no other
than a proposition on his part to provide proper accommodation in
his own church for the scholars, which (after remarking that he did
not wish to include the forty extra-parochial children unless
agreeable to their own minister) he easily showed could be done, as
he himself would provide the funds, and the additional seats would
not at all disfigure the church. This arrangement, he
contended, would be far more convenient than sending the children to
a church at a considerable distance from the schoolrooms. "And
I think," he continued, turning towards the Rector of St.
Bernard's with a courteous smile, "that however much my colleague
and myself may occasionally differ, I shall be sure of his
concurrence in a plan which will enable these young Church people to
attend their parish church."
Mr. Allerton, who had intended to express his willingness to
receive the children, looked up, and felt himself completely foiled,
and that with his own weapons. He felt the colour mount to his
temples, but to object was impossible. Through the obnoxious
sermon he had given his rival an opportunity to gain a great
advantage over him, and at the same time to show that he was not in
the least afraid of alluding to it, though he did not seem to think
it worthy of an answer.
The tact with which Mr. Dreux followed up this slight
advantage was a considerable annoyance to the Rector of St.
Bernard's, who now felt that he must either waive his claim to the
education of his forty children, or leave them wholly under the
influence of the former,—for the middle course he could not
reconcile to his mind. He therefore chose to waive his claim,
and set to work to build such an addition to his own parish schools
as would accommodate forty extra children.
Things continued in this state till the first anniversary of
his coming, when it appeared that his opinions had already gained so
much ground as to have become a constant matter of discussion and
Religion and its profession had long been the fashion at
Westport; it was now taken up by a new set of people, who attended
all his services, and adopted many of the practices he recommended.
At first sight the duties imposed by Mr. Allerton on those of his
people who desired, as he phrased it, to be "true sons of our holy
mother the Church," were rather of an onerous kind; yet it appeared
that to many they were a welcome relief after the requisitions of
the other party. Moreover, they were of a certain tangible
nature, and having been all duly attended to, enabled the performer
to say, "I have repeated my prayers, gone through my devotional
reading, attended service, given alms, &c., therefore I am a good
Christian,"—or rather, a good Churchman; for Mr. Allerton taught
much more of the Church than about the Head of the Church.
There were in Westport, as in most country towns, a great
number of single ladies. Many of these made a Christian
profession, and from the leisure they possessed, and their
willingness to devote it to the service of God, were looked upon by
the clergy as their natural allies. In almost every parish
there were several of these ladies, more or less active. Among
others, there were three sisters of the name of Silverstone, who
lived in Mr. Dreux's parish, and managed most of his charities for
him,—that gentleman having been heard to say that three old maids
were as good as a curate.
It may be greatly doubted whether this assertion holds good
in general; but the three Miss Silverstones were no ordinary old
maids, and were always treated with all possible consideration by
Mr. Dreux, though he did bestow on them the aforesaid disrespectful
These three sisters lived in a good old-fashioned house near
the church, but owing to the circumstance that their deceased father
had been a linen draper, they were not visited by the "élite"
of the town, though it was admitted that they were, without doubt,
among the excellent of the earth. They were all past sixty,
and two of them still extremely active. The second, Miss
Dorothy, was slightly deformed, but her countenance retained,
despite the invariable expression which marks the faces of persons
so afflicted, a peculiar sweetness. This old lady was Mr.
Dreux's favourite, and was so highly esteemed by him that it was
said he never undertook anything of importance without consulting
her. She was as useful in her quiet way as her two sisters in
their more active path.
Miss Dorothy Silverstone used to go in and out of Mr. Dreux's
house whenever she liked, and was far more at home in it than any
other lady, whether old or young; besides which, he paid her great
attention, and humoured her fancies, which was considered an amiable
weakness by some other ladies, who decided that they never
could see anything so particularly heavenly about old Miss Dorothy;
while others remarked how excessively chary he was of his attentions
to young ladies, and thought that at any rate she could not
possibly mistake them, and wondered whether she had any chance of
becoming Mrs. Arthur Dreux, the wife of the most popular and admired
man in the town.
Besides these ladies, there was another set, who had always
professed themselves "very fond of religion and all that sort of
thing," and who yet contrived to enjoy such of the pleasures of the
world as were within their reach, in connexion with this sort of
half profession. These were among the first to declare
themselves "greatly edified by dear Mr. Allerton's excellent
discourses," in proof of which edification they always abstained
from giving tea-parties on Fridays—took care to attend service on
every saint's day—talked about the Anglican branch of the holy
Catholic Church—wore slight mourning during Lent—spoke of the
Reformation with a shake of the head—talked with rapture of the
ancient custom of confession, and hoped that "privilege would soon
be restored to us."
These ladies caricatured all Mr. Allerton's opinions, and
caused him infinite vexation. They were a set of retainers
whom he would fain have been rid of. They had a book club of
their own—most of the books had decorated margins; and to hear some
of them talk, one might have been led to suppose that they conceived
the distinction between them and their late friends, the Evangelical
party, to lie chiefly in some such trivial peculiarities as dress,
form, and fashion. They had never troubled themselves much
with the doctrines of either party; consequently, when they
apparently came over to Mr. Allerton's side, they had no better way
of deciding to "which set" a clergyman belonged than by observing
whether he preached in his black gown; and of certain people they
would affirm that it was impossible they could be High Church,
because they had no fish on a Friday.
It is not to be supposed that in Dora's letters to Marion she
gave any such account as is here presented to our readers; it was
only incidentally that she became aware of the very great change in
the aspect of affairs, and the corresponding change in her cousin's
views. There was no hint of the disputes, separations, and
heart-burnings which had divided people, till Elizabeth, happening
to mention that Mr. Allerton had got a curate of the same sentiments
as himself, went on to say: "Mr. Dreux has had a severe illness, and
people do not scruple to say that it was occasioned by over-exertion
and anxiety of mind. We are all very sorry about it. Mr.
Dreux is not now nearly so exclusive as he used to be, and is far
more kind in his general manners. He was always very
handsome," proceeded Elizabeth, lapsing into the old theme, "and
since his illness he looks more so than ever; but Dora will not
allow that he is to be compared with Mr. Allerton; and as for the
new curate, she and Helen make themselves quite ridiculous about
him; but he goes such lengths that mamma will not allow Dora to go
to that church any more; in fact, she has long disapproved of it,
but Dora spends so much of her time with Helen that it could
scarcely be prevented hitherto. The new curate is really more
than half a Roman Catholic, and has given great offence to some of
Mr. Allerton's people. Mamma was lamenting the other day to
Mr. Dreux the divided state of the town, and the dissensions these
new doctrines have caused, and he actually said that he did not
think it so particularly to be regretted. He thought it would
ultimately do more good than harm, for there were many things we
might copy from them with great advantage, he thought; and if
controversy did no other good, it would at least oblige people to
look into and investigate the truths they contended for; and he
believed there were many people here who could not give a reasonable
account 'of the hope that was in them.'"
Mr. Dreux's illness was of so serious a nature as for a few
days to place his life in the utmost peril; and when all danger was
over it was some time before he recovered his health and strength.
When it was supposed that he would not recover, the strength
of affection which really existed for him began to be touchingly
manifested, especially by the poor, and his door was daily and
hourly besieged by inquirers after the last report of his physician.
Mr. Dreux had been very much over-tasked lately, having had
not only that whole parish on his hands, but also the management of
what had now become the open controversy between his own party and
the growing one of his rival. The new curate had not shown
himself so moderate as his rector, and his attacks had been so
persevering and his charges so grave, that it was thought advisable
they should be answered. All this fell upon Mr. Dreux, who had
the treble duty of declaring what doctrines he did hold, defending
them from the charge of being unscriptural, and showing that they
were in accordance with the formularies of the Church,—no easy task,
particularly with so keen an antagonist as Mr. Hewly, the new
curate. There is no doubt that the harass attending this
contention was very great; and when he fell ill there were not
wanting those who said they hoped Mr. Allerton would take it to
himself, for he alone was to blame for it. They had peace and
quiet before he set his foot among them, "and there had been nothing
but dissension since."
Mr. Allerton, though he had not gone to such lengths as his
curate, had not in any way discouraged him; on the contrary, he had
felt pleased to find some one who was willing to set to work more
decidedly than he liked to do himself,—for he was a thorough
gentleman, and had no idea of taking unfair advantage. His
curate was troubled with no such scruples. Mr. Allerton,
nevertheless, could not help feeling from the day of his arrival he
had never omitted an opportunity of harassing his rival. He
had persuaded himself to think of him as such. His whole
influence had been directed towards undermining his power,
destroying his popularity, and throwing contempt upon his
principles. One of his greatest hopes had been that something
might occur to remove this obnoxious member of society away from the
town, but nothing was further from them than that death should
effect the removal, and that death be laid to his door.
Such being the case, he was shocked one morning when he went
to inquire after him to be told that there was scarcely any hope of
his recovery, and he went home feeling as wretched as if the dying
man had accused him of being his murderer, and wishing a thousand
times that he could recall what he had written and said against him.
He was naturally an amiable man, and in spite of his constant
opposition, he had really felt a considerable respect for his rival,
and, strange as it may seem, a kind of admiration for his eloquence
and pride in his talents. It was something to have "a foeman
worthy of his steel and he would have been mortified if Mr. Dreux
had come short of the estimate he had formed of him—for then where
would have been the glory of his hoped-for victory?
Apart from their religious differences, there were many
grounds of sympathy between them. They were both young,
talented, popular, energetic. And as Mr. Allerton walked back
to his own house, and recalled their intercourse from the first, and
remembered how needlessly and vexatiously he had opposed him, he
shrunk from the review of his own conduct, and the many provocations
he had given him, and which he had tried to make most suited to
chafe his lofty spirit. On the other hand, he only remembered
a few hasty expressions of momentary vexation and irritation; and he
believed he would give all he possessed to recall the past.
As he sat alone in his study, he made a solemn resolution,
that if ever Mr. Dreux recovered, he would ask his forgiveness, and
solicit his friendship; but in the meantime he inquired at his house
many days before the answer was such as to give him much hope that
he should ever see him again. And as anxiety began to tell
upon his appearance, and make him look pale and haggard, people
ungenerously commented upon it. "Ah, now he sees what he has
done; he begins to be afraid. Ah, he'll never have an
opportunity of doing poor Mr. Dreux an unkindness again."
However, after causing the utmost anxiety to his friends for
ten days, the unconscious subject of all these remarks began to
recover, and in another ten days was able to leave his room for the
welcome change of his library sofa.
Mrs. Dorothy Silverstone, who had nursed him through this
illness with the tenderness of a mother, was almost overcome with
joy when she saw him again in his favourite room; and when she had
drawn the curtain half-way across the window, so as to cast a slight
glow on his face, she pleased herself with thinking that he did not
look quite so pale as might have been expected.
Mothers and nurses are agreed that grown-up sons are far more
difficult to nurse than grown-up daughters,—the former generally
exhibiting a refractory disposition when they begin to recover,
speaking disrespectfully of medicines and doctors, and contemning
their aliment, which they designate "slops." Mr. Dreux, though
an easy man to nurse on the whole, according to Mrs. Dorothy
Silverstone's account, was not exempt from this infirmity incidental
to mankind; and he showed it very strongly when he found that he had
escaped from his bedroom, and was once more in the room with his
books, for he had not been many minutes lying there before he
requested his watchful friend to bring him a certain heavy volume
which he pointed out. This the old lady declined to do,
remarking that he could not hold it if he had it, and requesting him
to try to sleep; upon which he said if he might not read, he wished
she would bring him a pen, for he should like to amuse himself by
writing a little. Mrs. Dorothy elevated her eye-brows, but
finding that he really was in earnest, she brought him a pen and
propped up his head with pillows, while he tried to use it; but
finding that his hand shook, so as to make the writing quite
illegible, the invalid gave it up, as he said, "till the afternoon,"
and fell asleep, previously throwing out a hint of going down the
garden to-morrow if it was fine.
Waking up after an hour's refreshing sleep, he amused himself
for a little while by observing the stripes in Mrs. Dorothy's
knitting, and counting the colours; then he watched the gardener,
who was potting out some plants into the borders; at last he
bethought himself of having something to eat, as a passable way of
spending the time.
"Yes, that you shall, Mr. Dreux," said his nurse, "and glad I
am to hear you ask for it." So saying, she trotted to a table,
and brought him a beautiful bunch of grapes and a biscuit.
"These grapes came from Mr. Allerton's greenhouse," she said, as she
arranged the pillows; "he sent them this morning."
"Very kind of him," returned the invalid. "I should not
know they were not the same as I have had all through my illness."
"They are the same," replied the old lady. "Mr.
Allerton often sends them, and he constantly inquires after you." '
"I will see him to-morrow if he calls," said Mr. Dreux.
"The day after," suggested Mrs. Dorothy, by way of amendment;
and he submitted quite peaceably, for he knew that, as he could
scarcely walk alone, he was quite at the mercy of any old lady who
might choose to take him in hand.
It was, however, several days before his physician gave him
leave to see his friends, and after that, Mr. Allerton happening to
be one of the first persons who called, was shown into the library,
where he found him lying on the sofa, alone, and forgetting for the
moment that his change of feeling could only be known to himself,
addressed him with a warmth of friendliness which evidently
astonished Mr. Dreux, who had certainly been pleased at his kindness
in so constantly inquiring after his health, (though it was no more
than he would have done himself if their circumstances had been
reversed,) and expected nothing less than to see him come in with a
face of the utmost solicitude, and address him with as much interest
as if he had always been the object of his warmest regard.
Though much better, and perfectly capable of entering into
conversation, he was still very weak; and happening to turn towards
the light, his guest was betrayed into an exclamation of regret at
his altered appearance. The slight flush of surprise that
passed over his face on hearing it, instantly reminded Mr. Allerton
that there was no reason to suppose his own change of feeling would
find a corresponding change in the mind of his late antagonist.
Being a man of very quick feelings, he was nevertheless hurt to see
that his unexpected manner had flurried him, and felt as' if he had
been intentionally repelled, when he, after thanking him for his
kindness, and answering his inquiries after his health, turned the
conversation again to the most ordinary topics, half afraid lest
anything of nearer interest might lead to a discussion.
Mr. Dreux had indeed felt a sensation of wonder at the
expressions of regard, almost amounting to affection, with which his
new friend had commenced; but his own perceptions being extremely
keen, he saw that this involuntary feeling had given pain. He
accordingly attempted to assume an answering tone of voice, and seem
unconscious of anything unusual. But Mr. Allerton could not
recover from the first check, and after several topics of
conversation had been tried without the possibility of dragging it
on any further, he stopped short, with his arm's folded, and various
painful emotions working in his face; and his host, almost as
uncomfortable as himself, lay still, looking at him, and wondering
what was to come next.
It was very obvious that something unusual must have happened
since they had last met; and as he lay watching the pained
expression of Mr. Allerton's face, who sat with his lips set,
intently gazing out of the window, and a flush overspreading his
features, which completed the contrast between them, he began to be
troubled with one of those uncertainties which often beset the minds
of those newly recovered from fever. He wondered for an
instant whether there really had been any differences between them
then, as some of the bitter expressions in his last pamphlet
occurred to him: he next wondered whether this man, who now sat
before him with so much suppressed feeling visible in his every
glance, had not come to his bedside, or at least seen him since they
parted at variance, and held out his hand to him, hoping they might
be friends. He could not be certain that he had not, and if
so, how cold and restrained he must think his present conduct.
He knew that in his restless hours of fever he had often
mentioned Mr. Allerton's name; he had fancied himself compelled to
hold long, weary arguments with him, and in his delirium had
entreated him to desist; but he did not know that this
trivial circumstance was perfectly well known to his late rival, and
at that moment was present to his mind.
When this fancy passed away, he was certain he had not seen
him in any other way than as an uncompromising antagonist; and with
feverish anxiety he began to consider whether some misfortune might
not have happened to him during his illness, and that Allerton was
come to tell him of it; and accordingly he watched his countenance
with an intensity of attention which must surely have forestalled
his evil tidings, had any such existed.
At length, with a short, quick sigh, Allerton changed his
position, and looked him full in the face.
His expression of anxious interest could not be mistaken, but
there was an appeal in his eyes which his late rival scarcely knew
how to answer, though he thought he knew its meaning; but raising
himself up, and holding out his hand, said, with a cordial smile,
"Pray do not be uneasy about me, I am much better."
Mr. Allerton took the offered hand, with a painful perception
of how white and thin it was; but this only added to the troubled
look of his face, which struck upon the sharpened senses of the
invalid, who said hurriedly, "Or if you know that I am not better,
if you have been charged with any message from my physician, speak
it; I am not afraid to hear. Not that? Then my sister is
"No, no; nothing of the kind," cried Allerton, starting up,
really alarmed. "I am charged with no message; I have nothing
of consequence to say,—of the least consequence to you I mean."
The invalid, sitting upright, had seized his arm, as if to
prevent his going away before answering his question. Now,
without appearing reassured, he sunk back exhausted on the pillows,
but did not let go his hold, saying faintly, "Whatever it is I must
hear it now, something must be the matter. If it is of
consequence to any one in whom I feel an interest, it must be of
consequence to me."
"What have I done?" thought Allerton, now doubly disturbed.
"I do beg, I entreat you, to be calm; it was only about myself that
I wished to speak to you—only myself I do assure you."
Dreux was satisfied, and made a violent effort to recover his
outward appearance of calmness, but his nerves being weakened by
illness, required a longer time than he was inclined to give; and
the veins in his temple throbbed wildly, while his guest continued
to beseech him to think nothing of his inconsiderate awkwardness,
and in a tone of bitterness against himself, said, "The matter is,
that I have been making myself miserable during your illness, with
the remembrance of how much I have harassed you in your work.
I know what your people think. I am afraid I am partly to
blame for this illness."
"Pray do not say any more," returned the invalid, holding out
his hand and attempting to stop him, "I am grieved that such an idea
should have suggested itself to your mind: do not let it disturb you
for a moment. I have never thought that I had anything to
"Not of defeat, certainly," replied the Rector of St.
Bernard's; "but," he added with a sigh, "though controversy was
inevitable, though I could not endeavour to spread my own opinions
without opposing yours, I have wished very much lately that I had
done it in a different way. I have said and done many things,
which on reflection have given me great pain." He said this
with such deliberate earnestness, that it was impossible to check
him, and concluded by frankly acknowledging that his late rival's
friendship was a thing that he greatly coveted. This was
tendered at once with the greatest cordiality.
"And I earnestly hope the day may come when we shall both
think alike," continued Mr. Allerton.
"So do I," was the answer, "most heartily desire it. I
shall make it one of the subjects of my prayers."
Allerton rather winced at this, as if horrified at the
supposition that a change on his part could be thought possible.
Nevertheless, being strongly drawn towards his late antagonist, he
forbore to express the contempt he felt for his tenets; and
perceiving that he had now quite got over his late excitement,
contented himself by saying, "And as for these pamphlets, which I
heartily wish had never seen the light, I hope you will consent to
discontinue them. I am sorry I ever tried to unsettle the
minds of your people; and if we could in a friendly way
discuss our points of difference, I have great hopes that—in short,
I mean to say, that if you would investigate these matters—you would
soon come over yourself to the right—I mean to the other side, and
prove a far better advocate for it than I can ever hope to be."
He had spoken earnestly, and leaning forward, heard the
subject of these good wishes say, in a very low voice, "God forbid."
"Respecting these pamphlets," he presently said, "you have
nothing to answer for them, your curate and I must manage them as
well as we can. In my opinion he has not conducted them in the
most gentleman-like manner possible, but that we neither of us have
anything to do with. I MUST write one in
answer to his last attack, or people will think there is nothing to
be said on the other side."
Mr. Allerton was apparently examining the hearth-rug during
these remarks, but from the involuntary confusion he betrayed, it
became evident that he must have had more to do with these pamphlets
than his rival had been led to suppose; but being anxious not to
disturb their newborn friendship, the latter concealed the
discovery, and went on in the same tone. "I shall be glad if
he will be prevailed upon to drop this mode of warfare, for I always
disliked controversy. Not that I complain of his statements,
for I have had a fair opportunity of answering them, and I sincerely
believe that the cause I advocate has been rather advantaged than
otherwise; for several matters have been brought into notice on both
sides, opinions about which people have been compelled to think,
to choose, and distinguish for themselves, which they will call
[truth and which error. For as this controversy has
touched upon the very vitals of religion, and we take opposite
sides, I need make no difficulty in taking for granted that one of
us must be utterly in error. As for the manner in which Hewly
has conducted his side, I do not wish to complain of it. No
doubt it is difficult to keep one's temper. I am afraid I
shall lose mine altogether, if this goes on much longer; in fact,"
he added, with a sigh of excitement and fatigue, "it makes my head
ache to think of it."
"Yes, yes," returned his guest, perceiving that in his weak
state the very mention of argument and mental labour of any kind was
a trouble, "these things shall be arranged as you please. I
ought to have known better than to have talked of them."
He then altered the cushions, partially darkened the room,
and brought some refreshments from the table, expressing
considerable anxiety lest his new friend might have over-excited
himself, and would have taken his leave but for an urgent request
that he would remain another half-hour.
"I am afraid of fatiguing you," he replied; "you are not able
to bear the least exertion."
"Anything is better for me than being left alone," urged the
invalid. "I am not able to read, and cannot prevent my mind
from wearying itself with all manner of abstruse speculations—little
trivial things disturb me. The church bells agitated me beyond
expression this morning when they chimed; and if you can credit
anything so absurd, I have been annoyed all the morning by those two
pictures opposite, because they hang awry."
"That source of annoyance at least may be spared you. I
shall take upon myself to alter them. What is this beautiful
village church—is it a fancy picture? What a spire! and what
"I have not seen the original since my boyhood, but this view
scarcely does it justice. It is Swanstead Church."
"Has it any particular interest for you beyond its beauty?"
"It may probably have the deepest interest, if I am spared to
middle life; the living is in the gift of my uncle, Colonel Norland."
"The east window is very fine," remarked the Rector of St.
Bernard's, who was an enthusiast on the subject of church
architecture. He then went on to describe some alterations
then in progress in his own church. But before taking his
leave, he said, with some hesitation, "I do not know what you will
think of me, after hearing what I am about to acknowledge; but I
really cannot take my departure without admitting that I am myself
responsible for the greater part of those pamphlets. I do not
mean to say," he hastily explained, "that I wrote any of
those odious personalities. I despise such modes of attack,
and did what I could to dissuade Hewly from them; but I sketched out
all the rest for him, and you best know how bitter it is.
Nevertheless, I do not choose that you should remain ignorant of
this, still less that any one else should tell it you."
"You are perfectly right to defend your cause to the utmost,"
returned Mr. Dreux, who seemed lost in thought.
"You are not offended?"
"But I see very plainly that you never expected a covert
attack from me."
"I am quite sure that I need never expect another," was the
answer, given with a smile.
Still it was evident that he had formed in his own mind a
higher estimate of his opponent's character than the result seemed
Allerton felt mortified, but answered calmly, "The only thing
I wish to urge on your consideration is, that your views had had
time to gain ground; I was, therefore, so far at a disadvantage.
Still I am sorry that I should have drawn so many of your
"I said before," was the reply, given however with the
greatest gentleness, "that I can scarcely think so much harm has
been done to the side I advocate, as you seem to consider.
Indeed, I must tell you plainly that I do not believe one person,
who was a true convert to the doctrines which we call Evangelical,
has been induced to leave us and go to you. I do not believe
it," he repeated, seeing the incredulous look directed to him.
"I do not deny that the proceedings of the past year have made my
path far less easy, but it has shown who really were for us, which
before we could not know. The scheme of salvation as set forth
by you and by us is a totally different thing. We declare that
faith, having been vouchsafed by God, the sinner no sooner exercises
it than he becomes completely justified. And that, according
to the promise, 'whom he justified, them he also sanctified,'—the
work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit then begins. This is
directly opposed to your belief, which sets sanctification first,
and when it has reached a certain point, admits that the sinner
"You also deny that change of heart which we call conversion, and
declare to be essential. I do not say this to remind you how
widely we stand apart, but to account to you for my firm belief,
that no person who has experienced this conversion—who had been
taught the impossibility of doing anything himself to forward his
own salvation, taught the deadly nature of sin and the fulness of
Christ, a knowledge which can only be imparted by the Spirit of
truth—which could ever be permitted by
that same Spirit permanently to decline back upon the belief in
any other scheme of salvation, and turn his back (for ever) upon the
Lord who bought him, acknowledging that any outward sign or
sacrament, or any holiness of his own, could save him."
"Go on," replied Allerton, whose penetrating eyes seemed as if they
would search his very soul. "I will bear you out in some of
your assertions, strong though they be. If one of us is right,
how great must be the error of the other! If one is a true son of
the Church, the other is scarcely worthy of the name. The only
thing for each to consider is, which that one may be. And I
hope," he continued, reflecting for an instant how strongly they had
both spoken, "that you will permit me in future to call you my
friend, and that we shall be able to preserve a personal regard for
each other without any compromise of principle."
As might have been expected, he met with a cordial response to this,
and took his leave, pleased on the whole with the interview; though
the momentary change which had passed over Mr. Dreux's face when he
acknowledged how much he had written of the pamphlets, rankled in
his mind and subdued in some degree the peculiar regard he felt for
"He has the advantage of me in everything," he reflected, as he
walked down the broad pavements of the streets leading to his
rectory. "His temper is not half so warm as mine, and he does
not so easily forget himself. I must get him to drop this
pamphleteering,—but that new one, which he has not yet seen, what
will he think of it? He must answer it. I hope I shall not be
provoked into a rejoinder. Well! I would go to great lengths to
get him for an ally, but I suspect his principles have taken deep
root. I went to great lengths to-day, and I do not think he met
me half way. I would not have endured that last speech of his
if he had not looked so ill, and if I had not remembered what I have
suffered the last three weeks. I am afraid my popularity will
decline if we become friends. Nothing but this rivalry keeps
us equal. I suspect he is more than a match for me.
However, I have done this thing with my eyes open and of my own
free will. If he has one spark of generosity he will be very
careful now not to do me more harm than he can help; and, for the
rest, perhaps the Vicar of Swanstead (whoever he is) may obligingly
die, and so help me out of the difficulty."
A few days after this he called again on Mr. Dreux, and found him
astonishingly better, and sitting at a table, with a paper-knife in
his hand, which he was using on the pages of a new pamphlet, reading
a piece here and there as he went on. He was beginning to look
like himself again, and came forward with a most cordial smile to
meet his visitor.
"So, I see you are commencing work again," said the Rector of St.
"Yes; but at present I am not equal to much exertion. I
believe, however," laying his hand on the pamphlet, "that I must
answer this. I have been looking it over, and fancy I can
trace more of your style than usual in it"
"I did assist a good deal with it," was the reply. "I hope it
does not offend you?"
"By no means. I think it fairly written, and not so difficult
to answer as some of your former ones."
"Indeed! Well, whatever the answer may be, I will keep in mind that
I began this contention; and I hope it will leave our newly-formed
"What makes you doubt that? Is it the recollection of those words—'how shall two walk together except they be agreed?'"
"No; for our walking together may lead to our becoming agreed, which
is 'a consummation devoutly to be wished.'"
"Not more by you than by me; but I will tell you what I am much
afraid will prevent any close friendship between us, if no such
change takes place. I am afraid our people, if they see us
acting together,—seeking each other's society, and by constant
communication sanctioning, in appearance at least, each other's
proceedings,—may come to think that we consider the differences
between us trivial and of no account,—that we think one set of
opinions as good as another."
"And that I could not permit."
"No, we could not permit our conduct to give ground for such a
supposition; and, therefore, my chief hope of anything like a
permanent friendship between us is, that, as you have said, by the
blessing of God, we may become agreed."
"And yet you seem quite confident that that agreement is to come
from no change in your own opinions? Now" (laying his hand upon the
arm of his late rival, and laughing) "don't begin again about
conversion and all that sort of thing. I never could bear that
exclusive doctrine, and yet I suppose you would tell me, that unless
I pass through all its supernatural influences we shall never be
agreed? No, no; I hope for better things. Why, what does our
holy and perfect Church bestow baptism for on her infant members, if
they are afterwards to be called upon to be converted, as if they
were no better than Heathens?"
Though Mr. Allerton had spoken good-temperedly and as if half in
joke, there was a contemptuous tone in his voice, when alluding to
the tenets held by his friend, strangely at variance with the regard
he expressed for him personally; and Mr. Dreux, as he leaned back in
his chair and listened to all this and a great deal more, could
scarcely reconcile the two together. He, however, showed both
feelings strongly, and at the same time talked of his own plans with
most perfect good faith, and made himself completely at home,
insisting upon remaining for the morning to give his help with some
accounts belonging to the secretaryship of the Pastoral-Aid Society,
which, since Mr. Dreux's illness, had got into some confusion, and
which that gentleman had been fretting himself to extricate from
their tangled state.
If there is one thing that most clergymen agree to dislike it is
accounts; the fraternity have a natural horror of them. And
their curious habit of making memoranda on the backs of letters,
making notes in pencil on any bit of paper that comes to hand, and
then confiding the said paper to any drawer that happens to be open,
makes the time for balancing very troublesome; so that when they
come right (which expression is a most appropriate one) it seems to
be by a happy accident, or, as it were, of their own accord.
Mr. Allerton hated accounts, like most of his brethren;
nevertheless, he spent no less than two hours over the Society's
books, and then, having got them into order, did not scruple to tell
his obliged friend, with the most perfect bon-hommie, that he
considered the Society a horrid Dissenting sort of thing, and it
would give him great pleasure to see it knocked on the head!
"Then, how can you reconcile it to your conscience to help it
forward so zealously?" was the rejoinder. "Your help has been
the same thing as a five-pound note to it, for I should never have
discovered that I had not paid my own subscription if you had not
pointed it out to me."
"I wish the Society all manner of misfortunes, notwithstanding,"
replied the Rector of St. Bernard's, laughing, and buttoning
up his coat preparatory to taking his leave; "and among others your
speedy withdrawal from it."
"Don't you know the old saw,—'Love me, love my dog?'" inquired
Dreux, calling after him as he was about to shut the door.
"Don't speak so loud, Dreux," said Allerton, putting in his head
again, "it's enough to throw you into another fever. With
regard to your dog, which you seem to think I ought to pet; I'll act
by it as one of the boys in my school did this morning by another.
I found two of them had been fighting when I went in, and I insisted
that they should shake hands. They were a big boy and a little
fellow; so the big boy turned round with his back to me, and just as
they shook hands the little fellow burst out crying. 'What's
the matter now?' I said, 'you little rascal.' 'O please,
Sir,—please, Sir, just as Wylie shook hands with one hand, Sir, he
fetched me a back-handed slap with the other.' Now don't laugh, Dreux; it's extremely bad for you. Keep calm." So saying, he
shut the door, and left Mr. Dreux to meditate at leisure on his
THE HEROINE WITHOUT ADMIRERS.
THE Rector of St.
Bernard's, partly in consequence of his warm-heartedness, and partly
in consequence of his fiery temper, was very much influenced by his
friends, and neither acted nor thought for himself half so much as
might have been expected from a man of his talents and position.
As long as Mr. Dreux continued to retain the slightest
appearance of delicate health he kept himself under strong restraint
in his intercourse with him, but this appearance, with God's
blessing on an excellent constitution, soon vanished, and then Mr. Allerton began to "come out in his own proper colours."
He was one of those people of whom it is jocularly said that
they are always in hot water with somebody. He could not help
quarrelling with his dearest friends;—always putting himself in a
passion whenever he was thwarted, and apologizing in the most
generous manner when his short-lived anger had blown over.
On an average he quarrelled with Mr. Dreux about once a
fortnight; sometimes going the length of declaring that he never
would speak to him again, at others contenting himself by banging
the library door after him, with a noise that resounded through the
By the time he had got to the bottom of the stairs, he
generally paused to consider; with consideration came regret.
By this time Mr. Dreux had followed him to the foot of the stairs,
and finding him standing irresolute in the hall, would inquire
whether he would like a turn in the garden, and then, without
waiting for a reply, take him by the arm, and the two would go out
together, Mr. Allerton's passion subsiding as rapidly as the unusual
colour from his face; till, after swallowing down the remainder of
his wrath, he would interrupt the discourse on indifferent subjects
by suddenly breaking out into a violent invective against himself,
declaring that he was not fit for civilized society, that his
friends must have the patience of fifty Jobs to bear with him, that
he did not care in the least about the matter in dispute, and that
he now saw he had been perfectly wrong throughout (but this he
generally said whether he had been right or wrong), and that he
requested forgiveness for his unaccountable behaviour.
With Mr. Dreux he was safe when he made these admissions, as
he never suffered him to go further than he thought he would approve
when he became calmer, nor ever took the least advantage of his
warmly affectionate disposition; but with Mr. Hewly, his curate and
college friend, things were different.
No two men could have been greater contrasts to each other
than the rector and curate, and, judging by appearance and manner,
no person could have supposed that the former was in bondage to the
Mr. Allerton was a fine man, with a fair complexion, an erect
figure, and a face so extremely open and honest, that few strangers,
looking into his clear hazel eyes, would have hesitated to confide
in him. Generous to a fault, open-hearted, and contemning all
meanness, he seemed incapable of believing in such a failing among
others, at least among educated and respectable people, and often,
as he put himself into a passion about some flagrant act of
deception in those whom he had befriended, he never inveighed
against "the rascals" for cheating him without expressing as much
surprise as if it had never happened to him before. As he
walked in the streets, with his regular, firm step, and
business-like air, his manner said, as plainly as possible, "Good
people, I am not afraid to look any of you in the face. I am
going about my lawful calling, and I have no doubt you are going
Mr. Hewly, his curate, was as different a man as it is
possible to imagine. He was about the middle height, extremely
slender, had deep-set eyes, very smooth black hair, and used to walk
with an air of deep humility, his eyes generally fixed on the
ground. He seldom looked any one in the face, spoke in a low,
internal voice, and often sighed deeply. He was not by any
means without his admirers, but most even of these were
afraid of him. He generally conveyed his wishes by
insinuation, and exercised his influence in an underhand way.
But the most startling novelties in doctrine (and he held
many which were such to his flock) he would advance in the calmest
manner, as if they had been familiar truths which our Church plainly
taught, and which no man in his senses would deny; and if any one
expressed astonishment at them, would affect anguish of mind, with
indignation, not against the person objecting, but against his or
her spiritual guides, who, he said, had much to answer for before
God and the Church for their daring impiety in wilfully concealing
the truths she taught. And then would follow an exhortation on
obedience to the commands of the Church (as expounded by himself, of
course), together with various promises as to the safety, comfort,
and repose which should attend those who practised such obedience.
With this gentleman Mr. Allerton had formed a friendship at
college, and, when he found himself settled in his living, had
written to offer him the curacy.
At first rector and curate got on amicably enough, though Mr. Hewly, even in his friend's opinion, went to great lengths; and he
sometimes ventured to hint to him that he thought he was drawing
uncommonly near Rome.
But Mr. Hewly always replied, that he hoped to see him
following in the same path when more light had been vouchsafed to
him, and generally contrived to follow his own track by means of the
concessions Mr. Allerton made after they had quarrelled.
By this means he got several innovations introduced into that
church (and innovations they truly might be called, as it had been
built since the Reformation), and set up several customs which his
friend reluctantly gave into, though he considered them unnecessary,
not to say highly imprudent.
"We shall certainly get into some scrape," said the Rector,
going one day into his curate's study, and throwing down a
newspaper, which contained a letter full of severe strictures "on
the manner in which Divine service is conducted at St.
This letter, after commenting on the changes lately
introduced, went on,—"And do the officiating clergymen of this
church really mean to tell a congregation of intelligent English
people, that all this bowing and reverence towards the table of the
communion,—these senseless imitations of the worship of the corrupt
Church of Rome,—have anything in them of the nature of true
godliness? Do they mean to impose upon the people this double
absurdity?—for what is this but a copy of the priest's bow of
reverence to the host, which, in a Catholic church, stands upon the
altar? But to bow to an empty communion-table is worse than
folly,—it is a pretence of a sin that they cannot commit, when the
host (the idol) is not there to be adored!"
"There," exclaimed Mr. Allerton, flinging the paper
across to his curate, "see what you have brought upon us!
Did not I tell you that your preaching would be quite as effectual
without all that—that (he was going to say "mummery," but was
checked by his curate's eye),—"and would not arouse half the
Mr. Hewly took up the newspaper, and having doubled it to his
mind, read the letter through twice with great deliberation, and
scrutinized it so long as tenfold to increase the passionate
impatience of his Rector. He then said, quietly folding it up,
"I always said that fellow Dreux was a false friend to you, but you
never would believe it."
"What has that to do with it?" exclaimed Mr. Allerton,
turning short round upon him, fretted almost past bearing by his
quiet way of taking the thing, and his daring allusion to Mr. Dreux.
"No more to do with it," pursued Mr. Hewly, "than that this
is wonderfully like his style. However, as he is your sworn
friend, I suppose nothing must be said against him; but if he does
not get us into some scrape or other I am very much mistaken."
Now Mr. Hewly knew perfectly well that the letter was no more
like Mr. Dreux's style than it was like the Pope's; but after he had
made the above remarks he took up his pen and began to write again,
as if his mind was made up on the matter.
"His style!" cried Mr. Allerton, snatching up the
paper with more than his usual impetuosity;—"if I thought he had
written this letter, holding me up to ridicule in an underhand way,
I'd never speak to him again as long as I lived."
Mr. Hewly smiled. "You ought to be a good judge of his
style, I should think," he said; "he is always writing something or
other against you."
"Not against me, and not lately, either," interrupted
Allerton; for, angry as he was, he perceived the injustice of this
"But I suppose you must like it," Mr. Hewly proceeded, as if
he had not heard the interruption; "or at least, you must have
changed your opinions since you knew him, for you are always quoting
them. He insinuates them so cleverly that you will soon be
over on his side if you let him get so completely the upper hand of
you. Why, he can wind you round his finger! And then he
pretends to be attached to you! Bah! I hate such
"Change my opinions! go over to the Evangelicals!"
cried Mr. Allerton, "and be ridiculed by him behind my back!
No, that I never will. Give me the paper this instant."
So saying, he snatched up his hat and posted off to Mr. Dreux's
house, boiling over with passion,—the most bitter ingredient in the
dose his curate had administered being the insinuation that Dreux
only pretended to be attached to him in order to bring him over to
In the meantime, Mr. Hewly, well content with his pious
fraud, sat awaiting the result full of hope that his Rector, being,
far too angry to explain himself, would begin his interview with
such an outbreak of invective as Mr. Dreux never could forgive.
There was at the end of Mr. Dreux's garden a high wall with a
door in it. Mr. Allerton had a key of this door, for the
garden was at the back of the house, and was much his shortest way
of reaching it, which was an object, as they had now almost daily
Though very angry he did not forget to take this key with
him, and, having let himself in, proceeded up the walks in a
towering passion, and ran up a flight of steps to the veranda, into
which the library windows opened. The weather was fine, and
Mr. Dreux, looking up from his writing, close to the open window,
was astonished at the vehement passion exhibited in his face, and
which was too great to suffer him to speak at his first entrance.
He came into the room, and taking out the newspaper, flung it
towards his supposed enemy, struck his hand violently on the table.
"What is the matter?" exclaimed his host.
"If—if ever I come into this house again," he stammered.
"Which I hope you will to-morrow," replied Mr. Dreux, without
the least appearance of anger, for he was quite used to him.
"Will you listen to me, Sir?" stammered Mr. Allerton.
"Do you see that newspaper?"
"Yes, I see it," he replied, pushing a chair towards him.
"Come, my dear Allerton, sit down, and try to be calm."
"Calm!" repeated Mr. Allerton. "Sit down in your house!
If—if ever I do—" and here he gave the table another blow.
"Give me your hat," said his host, rising and taking it from
him, at the same time giving him a gentle push towards the chair.
"Will you read that letter?" cried Mr. Allerton, more angry
than ever, and at the same time throwing himself into the chair
which he had so vehemently abjured.
"Yes, to be sure I will," answered its supposed writer,
speaking in the most soothing tones of his pleasant voice, and quite
disturbed at the painful excitement he manifested. "What am I
to read? the letter on this page?" He took up the paper
with such perfect coolness, and read it through as if it was so
utterly new to him, that Mr. Allerton already began to think there
must be some mistake, and when, after finishing it, he looked up for
an explanation, he felt ashamed to give it him.
He was a man who of all things detested ridicule; he now
began to feel that he really was in a ridiculous position; but if
his friend thought so too, he had the delicacy not to betray the
slightest consciousness of it. And was it likely, whatever
Hewly might have said, that he would hold him up to derision in an
anonymous letter? That this same man who now sat opposite to
him with the honourable uprightness of his soul so plainly stamped
upon his noble features could be such a master of dissimulation as
to be capable of looking up and saying, "I shall be glad of an
explanation, Allerton. I do not see what this letter can have
to do with your anger against me."
"Against you," repeated Allerton, aroused to renewed
irritation partly against himself, partly against his curate, and
partly against his friend for taking it so coolly;—"Against you!"
Look at it again. Can you tell me you are ignorant from whose
pen it proceeded? Do you think I can be so familiar with your
style and not recognise it there?"
He paused when he had got so far, astonished at the effect of
his accusation. He had been accustomed to see him so perfectly
unmoved when he tried to quarrel with him, and so ready to excuse
any ebullition of anger when it was over, that the glow of
incredulous indignation which mounted to his very temples, was no
less new than startling.
It was however not for long—though long enough to banish
every vestige of suspicion and completely calm his passion—that he
had to wait before it subsided. After a struggle to regain his
composure he took up the newspaper, which in the first moment of
offended pride he had thrown from him, folded it, and returned it,
saying, with tolerable calmness,—
"The warmth of your temper has been an excuse for many past
accusations, but this is a suspicion which no passion can possibly
Perfectly silenced, and feeling deeply hurt, Allerton took
the paper, and his host, still struggling to prevent any further
outbreak of displeasure, got up and took a few turns up and down the
room, the glow gradually leaving his features, but leaving such an
expression of mortification as could not fail to pain the person who
had caused it, who, notwithstanding the reckless manner in which he
had wounded him, had in the bottom of his heart more regard for him
than for any one else in the world.
But when Dreux came up to him again and with something like
his usual manner proposed that they should go down into the garden,
instead of his ordinary vehement apologies when they had had a
difference, he simply said, "I am sorry I have hurt your feelings,"
and went down into the garden far more pained at his keen sense of
the accusation brought against him and his struggle to preserve his
usual manner, than he would have been at any display of irritation,
"I am sorry I have hurt your feelings," he repeated, when
they had reached the bottom of the garden and were turning towards
the house again.
"Do not think of it. Pray do not allude to it again,"
replied Mr. Dreux, wincing at the very mention of the thing.
"I did not mean to annoy you by allusions to what I am
thoroughly ashamed of, but you must let me at least express my
contrition," was the reply.
This garden, which was beautifully laid out and
adorned with several fine elm-trees, was a very favourite resort
with its owner, particularly when his temper was at all ruffled by
little petty vexations, and to Mr. Allerton it was a real boon, saving him from
many an intemperate outbreak, for when he felt himself getting hot
in an argument, he used to go out and walk for a while, and return
all the better for its fresh air and cool shades.
On the present occasion it had a healing influence, and after a few
minutes' walk, the two gentlemen began to converse very amicably on
subjects about which they were not likely to disagree, till, on a
sudden, Mr. Dreux exclaimed,—
"Allerton, do answer me one question. It was not your own
idea that I wrote that letter? Surely some one else must have
put it into your head?"
"Since you ask, I have no hesitation in saying that I never should
have dreamed of suspecting you if it had not been suggested to me."
"By whom? Was it not by Hewly?"
"Yes, it was," replied Mr. Allerton, and partly from a sensation of
irritation against him, partly by way of retribution, he related the
conversation they had held that morning, not even omitting the hint
that Dreux only professed friendship for him, held up his opinions
to ridicule, and would gladly get him into a scrape.
Instead of being angry, Dreux laughed at this, and said,—
"Why did you not tell me that at first? Do you suppose I care
what he thinks of me? Here have I been fretting myself
for the last half-hour, and making a great merit of forgiving you,
instead of which, if I had known what you have just told me, I
should have thought nothing of it. But, my dearest Allerton,
what a pity it is you should be so much at the mercy of those with
whom you associate; how can you allow yourself to be played upon in
this way, and made a tool of? You surely know that Hewly
cannot bear me, and can scarcely speak civilly to me. Nothing
would please him better than to set us at variance. As to my
trying to bring you over to my side, that is a proof of my
friendship and sincerity, which, even if it were any business of
his, ought not to surprise him. Besides, he knows perfectly
well that the attempt has been mutual."
Allerton replied by violently inveighing against the conduct of
Hewly, and declaring that he would not be influenced by him in
"And as to your being got in some awkward predicament by me—let me
use the privilege of friendship, and entreat you to be more
cautious. I am quite sure that you scarcely approve of some of
the alterations which Hewly has induced you to sanction. And
if serious notice should be taken, who will be to blame? Not
I, Allerton. Nor Hewly either, so much as yourself, for
suffering your better reason to be overborne by him—a man so much
your inferior in intellect and uprightness of mind."
"I ought to have a man like you for my curate; you never take
advantage of my temper, you always advise me for the best, and after
every quarrel we are better friends than ever."
Mr. Hewly, who long before this had expected the return of his
Rector, began to feel rather uncomfortable at his protracted
absence. He could not account for it; and as the evening wore
on, he wished he had not ventured upon his bold suggestion.
But his uneasiness was nothing to what it would have been if he
could have seen him after dinner sitting with Mr. Dreux in the
library, discussing the letter, his curate, and the said curate's
opinions, with most perfect confidence in his honour and good
faith,—actually he would have thought taking counsel of the enemy.
"I am astonished," said the over-generous Mr. Allerton, "that I
could, for a moment, have thought this trumpery letter resembled
your composition. It is very badly written."
The answer was—"Yes, very badly written, but the worst of it is that
it's TRUE. It begins by remarking that you always preach in
"Well, what of that? Surely that is a thing of no
"Not the slightest consequence in the world; then why do it, in this
place, contrary to immemorial custom?"
"People call it the badge of a party, and they have no right to do
so; it is very unjust."
"Not unjust to you, certainly, for you have always openly
acknowledged your party. If I see a man in the uniform of a
soldier, how am I unjust if I take it for granted that he serves in
"I choose to follow the ancient custom of the Church."
"What! even contrary to her expressed
desire? I do not wish to go into any question as to what is
the ancient custom, because our Church expressly tells us that every
particular Church hath authority to change ceremonies and rites.
Grant, then, that the ancient custom has been changed: you are not
an obedient son of the Church if you restore it, for she says, 'He
ought to be rebuked that doth willingly and purposely break the
traditions and ceremonies of the Church (and here she must surely
mean the existing ceremonies), as he that offendeth against the common order
of the Church.'"
"Well, let that pass," said Allerton, impatiently.
"As to the latter part, it certainly contains a much more serious
charge; and I must ask you, my dear Allerton, where you find any
warrant in Scripture for such observances—such bowings and
"I find plenty of warrant in the ancient practice of the Church."
"What Church? But not to go out of our way to argue about
that, we here touch upon one of our chief grounds of difference.
You honour the Scriptures so far as they seem to uphold the
Church, I honour the Church because she holds the doctrines
of the Scriptures."
"And pray," said Mr. Allerton, "how do you reconcile it to your
conscience to contemn the accumulated wisdom of ages, and despise
traditions of the early saints? "
"Are, then, their accumulated wisdom and holy traditions so contrary
to the spirit of Scripture that I cannot uphold both?"
"Don't argue unfairly, Dreux. Is not the Church the only true
interpreter of Scripture? has not she herself the best right
to say whether or not they agree?"
"I demur to your proposition—the Holy Spirit is the true interpreter
of Scripture; but if I agreed with you, tell me what the Church is?"
"If you mean in whom is this authority of the Church vested, I say,
in the three orders of priesthood—the bishops, priests, and
deacons—of this and past ages."
"Well, I will meet you on your own ground: and I ask, being
possessed of this authority as well as yourself, where do you find
that the Scriptures require us to be subject to any such traditions
as those you think you ought to honour? Where do you find it
laid upon this generation as a duty to be subject to the souls of
past generations? Besides, has not each generation in its turn
been the present? If, then, the generation of hundreds of
years ago was born to follow tradition, and was not able to judge
for itself, how can it be able to judge for me, so that I should be
subject to its laws? How can you say you are so bound, for
I can find no such law; on the contrary, I find that the
Scriptures assert their own exclusive authority. And as for
the traditions of men and their 'fond inventions,' I find no warrant
for them. But so far from it, I find this injunction, 'Add
thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee,' and,
'If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the
plagues that are written in this book, and if any man shall take
away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take
away his part out of the book of life.'
"However, no doubt you will tell me that you deny the authority to a
solitary individual, though you grant it to the whole body. To
that I can only reply that we are both in the same case: if one has
no right to say, 'This is the meaning,' the other has no right to
say, 'No, it is not.'"
Allerton, who with his arms upon the table had been earnestly
listening to his friend's remarks, said, when he had finished,
"There is one thing, Dreux, and only one, in which I wish you would
follow my example."
"What is that?"
"Since the first few weeks of our acquaintance I have never obtruded
my opinions upon you, and I should be very glad if you would treat
me with equal forbearance."
"Impossible! Do we not differ in the most essential
particulars, and with that belief can you really expect me never to
try to convince you, or, if I did not, could you believe in the
sincerity of my regard?"
Allerton coloured on hearing this, and said, "By that remark you
call in question the sincerity of mine."
"I had no such thought, nor do I in the least question it."
"Then," persisted the other, "you must either excuse me from
the belief that I do not consider religion of half the importance
you do, or you must think I hold my views of it in a very
Finding that he waited for an answer, Dreux replied, "I do not think
that any man who professes that he has never suffered under the
burden of his sins, nor caught at the free grace and mercy of God as
his only refuge, can, in the nature of things, attach so much
importance to his religion as the man who has. It
cannot be so present to him, or so real."
"Well, I suppose I must take that for an answer,"
said Mr. Allerton,
rising up with a sigh, "but I do wish you could let me alone."
After this they went into the garden. He was in a tranquil,
thoughtful humour, and his friend took this opportunity to press on
him the more careful study of the Scriptures, to see "whether these
things were so." He listened with patience, almost with pleasure—for
it gratified him to find himself the object of such persevering
solicitude; and besides, the tones of his friend's voice always
exercised an agreeable influence over him. He listened to it
as to "a lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice;" and sometimes
permitted a wonder to rest in his mind for a moment, whether his
affection for this last-made friend might not in time sufficiently
master him, to induce him to adopt his principles, just as his late
lamented friend at college, who found him a thoughtless, worldly
young fellow, had so influenced his whole character as to induce him
to take up his. If it were not for the sake of
consistency, he felt that such a change might take place. His
was a religion more of feeling than principle, and having no solid
basis, might easily be moved. However, he roused himself at
last, and took his leave, as usual, after a fresh quarrel, more
bound to him than ever. He went home, and the next day had a
dispute with Mr. Hewly, which he did not make up with half so much
cordiality as usual; and carefully avoiding the least intimation as
to what had passed in Dreux's house, peremptorily insisted on
several slight alterations being made in the manner of conducting
service; and then preached a sermon which verged in a very slight
degree towards evangelical doctrine—not so much so, however, as to
be detected by any but the most discerning of his flock, and was
intended specially to intimidate his curate, and let him understand
that he had better not push him too far, or there was no saying how
far he might go the other way, on purpose to spite him.
However, Mr. Hewly, though much alarmed by the said sermon, did not
set it down to its true cause, and did not doubt it was all owing to
While all these events were taking place at Westport, things at
Swanstead went on much as usual, the chief circumstance that
occurred being that Marion had her picture taken, at the request of
her brother, for whom it was done.
It was a much more tedious business than she had supposed when she
gave her consent to sit for it, and the artist was a very
ill-tempered old gentleman. Marion was thankful when it was
finished and sent to Westport. She could not bear sitting for
hours in one attitude, with her hands dropped upon her knees, and
her eyes directed towards a particular flower in the wainscot
carving, and it was a great pleasure to receive a letter from
Wilfred declaring that it was a most speaking likeness. So
Marion, having stipulated that it should not be hung in the ordinary
sitting-room at her uncle's house in Westport, dismissed it from her
mind, and went to see her different poor people, and take leave of
them, for she was to go to Westport in a week, and stay away three
months,—a long time to look forward to. Mr. Raeburn was to
escort her there, and remain a day or two. It was expected
that Elizabeth's wedding would take place before Marion's return,
and she was to be one of the bridesmaids.
About the same time that Mr. Raeburn and Marion arrived at their
destination, Mr. Allerton, who had been out for a short excursion,
came home, and having business to transact with Mr. Dreux, proceeded
straight to that gentleman's house through the garden. It was
about eight o'clock in the evening. There had been a deluge of
rain all day, and as he looked up to the windows of the library,
which was lighted from within, they presented such a cheerful
appearance that he quickened his pace, and running up the stone
stairs, tapped briskly on the glass, as was his custom.
The footman, who at that moment was bringing in
the tea-urn, knew the accustomed signal, and advanced to the window
to open it. In the meantime Mr. Allerton had a full view of the room, which
contained one more inmate than he had expected.
It had been a very late spring, and though already the second week
in May, the evening was chilly, and a bright wood fire was burning
on the hearth. Mr. Dreux was seated on a sofa beside it, with
a Review in his hand; and close to the sofa stood a table, with a
lamp upon it, and before the tea-urn sat a young lady.
All this Mr. Allerton saw at a glance, and would have withdrawn, but
his tap had been observed. "This must be Dreux's sister," he
thought, as the young lady turned her face that way; "her profile
is very like his, and he said she was coming to visit him some time
"Come in, Allerton," exclaimed Dreux, as the window was opened,
and Mr. Allerton's dripping umbrella taken from him.
He accordingly came forward, with an uncomfortable feeling of
awkwardness and embarrassment at his intrusion. He was
introduced to Miss Dreux, feeling keenly conscious all the while
that his appearance was not exactly "comme il faut," for his hair
was in disorder, his boots splashed, and his whole outer man far
from exhibiting that perfect neatness which generally characterizes
"If you'll allow me, Dreux," he then said, "I'll go to your
"Certainly," was the reply. "Joseph, bring a candle."
"That gentleman makes himself very much at home,"
said Miss Dreux. "So he is your friend Mr. Allerton."
Mr. Dreux laughed, and remarked that he had not made his first
appearance under very favourable circumstances. His sister,
then remembering that she had left her work up stairs, went to fetch
it during the absence of the stranger. She had scarcely shut
the door behind her when Mr. Allerton entered at another. He
advanced with a candle in his hand, wearing a white cravat of
unblemished purity, and a coat which seemed to attract the notice of
his host, for he looked pointedly at it, and uttered the expressive
"Why, you see, my dear fellow," said Mr. Allerton, in reply to that
short remark, "if I had sat all the evening in a wet coat I might
have caught cold; besides, I am naturally anxious to appear well
before your sister."
His host admitted the reasonableness of both propositions.
Miss Dreux then returned, and commenced the duties of the tea-table.
She behaved to him with a little distance and reserve at first, and
he mistook her shyness for pride; but as the evening drew on, he
altered his mind and liked her very much, though he once or twice
detected a lurking smile about the corners of her lips, which he
rightly attributed to the ludicrous stiffness and awkwardness of his
movements, for his borrowed coat was too tight for him. She
was several years younger than her brother,—that is, about
nineteen, and though not nearly so handsome, bore a general
resemblance to him in her air and expression. She was,
however, by no means without her attractions,—had, like her brother,
a very pleasant voice, and was, moreover, of a joyous disposition,
with a keen sense of the ludicrous, though without anything
sarcastic or severe.
Though not timid, she clung to her brother with
most dependent reliance, and looked upon her yearly visit to him as
the greatest pleasure of her life. In religion he had been her
only guide, and she had imbibed all her views on that subject from
him; but her unaffected piety was certainly not likely to enhance
admiration, for he found out in conversation, even during that first
evening, that she was "one of Dreux's sort."
However, he thought it must be a very disagreeable sentiment indeed
that a man could not endure from the lips of such a sweet young
Elinor retired early, leaving the two gentlemen together, upon which
Mr. Allerton divested himself of his coat, drew an easy chair before
the fire, and having put a large block of wood upon it, and
possessed himself of the poker, prepared for conversation.
"Well," said his friend, "and so you preached before the Bishop."
Mr. Allerton nodded. He was humming a tune, and did not wish
to interrupt himself. When he had finished he continued
looking at the fire for a few minutes, with a half-smile upon his
lips; then, having given it one or two scientific thrusts, turned
round, and said, "I have got a new teacher in my girls' school,—who
do you think?"
His friend made several unsuccessful guesses.
"I found a note on my table before I went out from Miss Ferguson,
saying that she should be happy to become a visitor, and that Miss
Paton would take her class when she was out. They called
almost directly, with old Ferguson. Miss Paton's an elegant
"Yes," said Mr. Dreux.
"Very elegant,—a perfect lady. I thought her manners quite
interesting; she has a sweet smile. What's her Christian name?
"Ah, not a bad name either. Well, she's an elegant young
woman, as I said before."
Mr. Dreux replied as before, "In-deed." This word seems to have
nothing particular in it, yet when uttered by some people, it
manner of indescribable things.
"What do you mean, Dreux?" said Allerton, quickly.
"What do I mean?" inquired that gentleman, with an air of
unconscious innocence. "Why, what do you mean?"
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Mr. Allerton. "I know very well what
you have taken into your head; there's nothing in it, nothing
whatever. I no more think of her than she does of me."
"Oh! " said Mr. Dreux, taking away the poker, and in his turn giving
the log a few dexterous thrusts. "Then if any one asks me when
it's coming off, I'd better tell them at once that there's nothing
"Dear me!" exclaimed Mr. Allerton, ruefully, "I hope it's not
reported in the town; I hope not. Most absurd, if it is.
I never was in company with Miss Paton but twice. Surely,
Dreux, it's not a common report in the town."
"Not that I know of," replied the person so appealed to, with the
utmost coolness. "I never heard any one breathe a syllable of
it but yourself, just this minute, and you may depend upon my not
The victim made a feint of being very angry.
"Well," proceeded Mr. Dreux, "so you preached before the Bishop?"
"Yes, to be sure, and dined with him on Monday."
"Did he say anything about your sermon? "
"Not much; I took care to choose a practical subject, and treat it
what might have been called cautiously,—in short, to exercise 'the
wisdom of the serpent;' but I don't want Hewly to know that.
However, he sent to ask for my sermon, and I gave it. He was
tolerably frank in conversation when I dined with him, but yesterday
morning I called, and he received me politely, though I thought just
a little coldly,—for you know I notice anything like coldness.
I think he was not at all cordial, but perhaps as much so as I had
any right to expect, he being rather one of your sort.
However, he expressed himself pleased with the schools, and the
restorations in the church, and then said, 'And pray how is your
friend, Mr. Dreux?' I thought he emphasized the word 'friend' very
strongly, and I said you were very well, I was happy to say.
'And how do you manage your disputes, Sir?' he said, in his slightly
pompous way; 'which is pupil, and which is master?' 'Disputes, my
Lord!' I answered. 'You take it for granted, then, that we
have disputes.' 'Undoubtedly, Sir, undoubtedly; or if not disputes,
arguments and controversy,—for I take it no two men of honest minds
can differ without them.' 'We certainly have had a good deal of
controversy,' I replied, and I wondered whether he had read any of
it. 'So I presumed, Sir,' he said. 'The great problem
for human thought is before you,—that question into which all
religion resolves itself, and you solve it differently.' What
question did he mean, do you think? 'What is truth?'"
"I should rather think he meant the more defined one. How
shall man be just before God? that is the all-important
question to which we give such different answers. The
key-stone which supports the whole structure of religion; the one
momentous problem on which hope and happiness hinges,—How
shall man be just before God? "
Mr. Allerton was silent for a few minutes, then said, "By the bye, Dreux, what a crowd there was at your church on the Thursday evening
that I went away. Was it any particular occasion? "
"The Thursday before last,—yes; there is an annual sermon preached
on that day to the sailors. A sea-captain met with a great
deliverance from shipwreck, and left a small sum of money to have a
sermon preached on its anniversary for ever. After service we
give away the money to the sailors' widows."
"O that was it! Well, as I went down the street to the
coach-office, I was a little too early, so I stood a while in the
porch, for it was full to the door, and there was such a strong
light thrown on to your face that I could see every change of
expression distinctly, though too far off to hear a word you said.
It had a very curious effect;—there you were, thundering away in
dumb show, conveying impressions without ideas. Some old
seamen standing beside me seemed to think they were very much
edified, and said it was a very fine discourse. One old fellow
informed me, that 'that was Parson Dreux,—quite a Boanerges;' and
some of them seemed quite impressed with your face and action.
Now there you, who speak extempore, have certainly an advantage over
us; for my own part, I am generally rather quiet in the pulpit.
But I could not help laughing afterwards, when I thought how Hewly
would have looked at that distance. Like an image, I suspect;
for he stands stock still and pours out his words in a smooth, sleek
stream, never venturing to turn his head lest he should lose his
place; but sometimes he gives his eyes a sweep round in an
inexpressibly penetrating manner. If anything is amiss he is
sure to see it. If ever there was a deep, artful—Never mind,
I'd better keep my opinions on that subject to myself; but he quite
gets the better of me."
"Why did you stay at Chester so long?" asked Mr. Dreux, rousing
himself from a reverie; "a whole week, was it not?"
"Yes. Why, the fact is, I happened to meet a poor fellow whom
I used to befriend at Cambridge, a miniature-painter; he paints
beautifully, but not being the fashion he can scarcely get his
bread. I declare he looks as if he had not enough to eat, and
he asked me so wistfully if I had nothing for him to do that I was
fain to tell him I wanted my portrait painted."
"Just like you. But what will you do with it?"
"I don't know. I have neither kith nor kin, excepting my old
cousin, who kept me a boy as long as he could, and seems to think
I'm scarcely a man yet; and I think I see myself having my picture
taken for him! Well, I had no idea what a business it would
be; I gave him a long sitting every day, and heartily sick I was of
it. One day I fell asleep, but he said it was of no
consequence, he had only been painting the hair. I think it
very like, though it has rather a sleepy expression; so, when it was
done, I hung it by a black riband round my own neck, and what to do
with it I don't know."
"Let me look at it."
The possessor disengaged the riband, and, handing it over, said,
with the assumed carelessness with which people generally speak of
their own portraits, "Has the fellow done it well?"
"Excellent!—capital! I never saw a more satisfactory
"Rather sleepy-looking, is it not?"
"No; it only looks calm,—that is an advantage. I cannot bear a
grinning portrait." And having then inspected the picture
thoroughly, he wrapped the riband round the case and put it into his
own waistcoat-pocket, saying, very composedly, "You had better leave
it in my possession; you will only lose it if I give it you back.
If you marry to my mind it is just possible that I may give it to
your wife,—that is to say, if you wish it; and I see no reason to
alter my intention. In the meantime you know you don't want
it, and I do."
Allerton laughed, though secretly much pleased, and said, "If I die
unmarried, which I most likely shall do, it may help to keep me in
your remembrance; and one does not like the idea of being utterly
forgotten in the world."
"You will never be forgotten in the world as long as I am in it,"
was the reply.
And the fire being nearly out and the clock
striking twelve, the two gentlemen separated, Mr. Allerton taking with him a lively
recollection of his friend's sister and wondering whether she was
"And what made Dreux take it in his head to quiz me in that way?"
he thought. "I saw his quiet smile when I said I should most
likely die unmarried."
It was natural that Elinor should ask several questions about him
the next morning as they sat at breakfast, and that her brother
should give her the history of the rise and progress of their
"So, then, you have only been friends a year," she said, "and you
seem as intimate as brothers."
"So we are," was the reply; "and I never cease to hope that the day
may come when we shall agree on the one important subject about
which we now differ, that we may believe alike and work together.
I thought, last night, he seemed particularly anxious to avoid the
topics on which we differ,—probably in compliment to you, my dear."
"In compliment to me!" said Elinor, laughing merrily.
"Oh no, dearest Arthur; gentlemen never pay compliments to me. I
scarcely remember ever to have received one yet."
"Why, my dear, you cannot be in earnest?" said her brother, with an
"I assure you it is quite true," said Elinor, amused at his
"But you must have had proposals?"
Elinor laughed and shook her head. "If I had been a heroine
in a book," she said, merrily, "I should have had three or four
despairing lovers by this time. But I don't mind confiding to
you, dear Arthur,—that I not only never had an offer, but no
gentleman ever said anything to me which I could have twisted into a
pretence of preference; and yet my aunt sees a great deal of
society, and, as I am always with her, a great many people pass in
review before me."
Mr. Dreux replied, that it was very odd.
His sister continued: "You never read of nay young lady in a book
who has not had at least one admirer,—some have three or four; and I
have come to this philosophical conclusion, that if one have so many
others must go without."
"Of course they must," replied her brother, in the abstracted tone
of a person trying to solve a difficult problem.
Elinor burst into a joyous laugh, and presently said, "But what a
very common-looking watchguard you have got, dearest; I must make
you a better one."
"This is not a watch-guard," said her brother; "it's a portrait that
Allerton brought here last night. I think I'll hang it in my
dressing-room. Look at it,—is it not like?"
Elinor came close to her brother and took up the little likeness in
her hand. "I should like to have such a one of you," she said,
after inspecting it. "Really this Mr. Allerton has something
inexpressibly candid and amiable in his face,—what a pity that he is
so unsound in principle! Do you still carry on your pamphlet
"Oh no, we dropped it long ago; but not before I began to think it
did more harm than good, which I did not expect."
"How so, Arthur?"
"Do you remember my sending some to you?"
"Yes; and I liked yours very much, and I thought his extremely
"So clever, my dear, that you said they half carried you over to his
side, till you had read the answer."
"Yes; but when I had read the answer, I was satisfied."
"But that remark of yours opened my mind to an
evil which I had not suspected. I thought the result would be
good, and so it was to the really intelligent; but I begin to be
convinced that there are many people in the world who really have
not the power to think. These people were shocked when they
found that things which they had believed from their childhood could be called in question.
And when it was asserted of certain dogmas, that they were the
doctrines of our Church and of the Bible, they knew so little,
theoretically, of the faith they professed, that they could neither
refute the assertion, nor give any reason why they held a contrary
belief, and so their minds got thoroughly shaken. If all those
who adorn the profession of Christianity by their lives and practice
were well versed in what may be called its theory, the case might be
"But all Christians ought to know the doctrines of their Church,"
"Undoubtedly they ought; but it has been for a long time the custom
here to dwell almost exclusively on the Gospel invitation and the
first rudiments of Christianity. Several very successful
clergymen here might have been compared to men standing on the steps
of a temple and inviting people to come in; they held out their
hands to them and helped them to enter the door, but when once they
were in, turned, and without troubling themselves as to how the
newly-entered would proceed, went on with their invitations to those
without. By this plan they left their converts very ignorant
of the deeper mysteries of religion, and to this day they are
distasteful to them; so that when any of us preach on such
subjects, which we are impelled to do both by inclination and
necessity, particularly since Allerton and Hewly came, they do not
scruple to lament the days of 'good old Mr. So-and-so, who never
troubled simple-minded Christians with much about election,
predestination, the corruption of the will, the nature of the
sacraments, &c., but fed them with the sincere milk of the
Word,'—never considering that by this commendation they are actually
accusing their late pastors of not declaring to them the whole
counsel of God, and that ignorance is of all things most likely to
lead them astray."
As has before been mentioned, it was about eight o'clock in the
evening when Mr. Raeburn brought Marion to her uncle's door.
She soon found herself surrounded by her brother and cousins, the
two younger of whom she had not seen since their infancy.
Little more could be done that night than to sit on a sofa in the
drawing-room, answer all inquiries, and endeavour to seem
unconscious of the scrutiny she was undergoing, and not to notice
the sotto voce remarks that went on around her as to whether
she was grown and what she was like.
Mr. and Mrs. Paton were chiefly occupied in another room with Mr.
Raeburn relative to the affairs of their wards. Marion retired
early, a good deal fatigued with her journey, and Elizabeth took her
to her room, which was connected with a small parlour—half
drawing-room, half boudoir. It was wainscoted, and the moon
shining through the stained glass in the window made it look almost
like a chapel, so silent and grave did it seem.
Elizabeth perceived that Marion felt a little agitated after her
introduction to her young relations; she therefore did not remain in
her room, but kissing her affectionately, rang for her maid and left
her to her meditations.
Marion had many subjects for thought; her uncle's house, familiar to
her imagination from childhood as the first home of her mother,
proved, as might have been expected, totally different to the idea
she had formed of it. It was a fine old place, such as is
still sometimes seen in a country town. There was a beautiful
garden behind it, and its mullioned windows, oak wainscots, and
wandering stone passages, gave it altogether an air of "pomp and
Wilfred was very much grown since she had last seen him; he was also
much more manly in appearance; he seemed quite domesticated among
his cousins, who were evidently very fond of him. Elizabeth
and Dora, Marion thought, were both changed, but she scarcely knew
whether for the better or the worse. Her third cousin, Rosina,
was a perfect stranger to her, but even during that first evening
Marion felt greatly attracted towards her. She was about
fifteen, short for her age, and altogether childlike. She was
the only one of the family who was fair, and so far she resembled
Marion. It was rather remarkable that though the cousins were
doubly related there was scarcely any likeness between them, each
family resembling its respective father. Rosina seemed to be
considered quite in a subordinate position by her elder sisters, who
expected her to run up stairs for them, deliver their messages, and
be attentive to their wishes; neither was she allowed to offer her
opinion in the conversation. Her countenance was exquisitely
modest and retiring, and her hair literally flaxen, and as she sat
listening to the conversation of her elder sisters she looked as if
she was born to admire the perfections of others and obey their
wishes. Yet there was nothing unkind or exacting in the
manners of the elder sisters. Rosina was not yet grown up, and
they thought she ought to obey. Nor , was there the slightest
sullenness or unwillingness on the part of the sweet little girl,
who treated them with a respectful deference not often bestowed or
required. She admired her sisters and entertained the fond
delusion that they were altogether her superiors, and she could
never hope to be so interesting or so elegant.
As for the only son, he was about thirteen, and was alike the
darling and the torment of his sisters; he was extremely like
Elizabeth, had the same brown hair and dark eyes, with all her
liveliness of disposition. He had a reckless good humour about
him, and generally walked with his head on one side, as if in the
enjoyment of some exquisite joke. One of his great
peculiarities was, that he could not pronounce the letter r; another
that he had a striking facility in finding out whatever his sisters
most wished him not to know; it was impossible to conceal anything
from him, and it was currently reported in the family that he knew
of Mr. Bishop's partiality for Elizabeth some time before any one
else found it out. It was a subject on which he took special
delight in teazing her, notwithstanding which she was his favourite
sister,—a distinction which she did not deserve, for she had done
more to spoil him than all the rest of the family put together, even
including his father, who rather enjoyed to hear him teaze Elizabeth
by asking at table or other embarrassing times, "Pa, why does Fwed
Bishop dine here so much oftener than his father?" or, "Pa, why
does Elizabeth have so many letters now Fwed Bishop's in the
Marion found the whole family busily engaged in discussing a bazaar,
which was to be held in the Town Hall for the benefit of the
infant-schools. After breakfast, Mr. Raeburn having gone out
to call on some of his old friends, Mrs. Paton reminded her
daughters that they must give her their help in ticketing the
articles for sale, while she and the other ladies of the Committee
were engaged in deciding on the position of the stalls. Marion
offered her help, and Elizabeth proposed that they should adjourn to
the little parlour before mentioned, and have the articles conveyed
up stairs to them in large baskets, And there, Elizabeth said, they
should be quite free from interruption.
Rosina had a governess, with whom she was engaged all the morning,
so that the party only consisted of Elizabeth, Dora, and Marion.
Elizabeth had many things to say about Mr. Bishop, who was absent on
a short tour in the Highlands, and Marion had some questions to ask
about her old friend, Frank Maidley, who was spending the long
vacation at Westport, and making chemical experiments with a very
talented apothecary, who had the care of his younger brother, Peter.
They were in full conversation when the door was pushed open, and
Wilfred and Walter entered and inquired whether there was any
admittance; they had nothing to do, they said, for Mr. Lodge (the
clergyman who gave them lessons) was gone to a Visitation, and they
were quite willing to help with the tickets. The offer was
declined, but it was evidently their intention to remain and be
amused, for they presently commenced looking over the fancy articles
and making various disrespectful comments upon them. They were
a considerable interruption, for they changed their position
frequently, hovering about their sisters' work-baskets, snipping
bits of thread to pieces with small scissors, and setting thimbles
on the tops of their large thumbs.
"Why, Walter," said Elizabeth, "you seem quite grave and absent this
Walter murmured something about his "heart's being in the
"Are his two little coots come back again?" said Dora.
"No, and I am afraid they never will. They should not have
been allowed so much liberty. Walter had just got them
perfectly tame. They looked very pretty yesterday splashing in
the water, and this morning they were gone."
"Well, perhaps they will come back again, after all," said Dora, in
a sympathising tone.
"O no, Dora," said the little boy, in what was a very grave and
rueful voice for him, "I'm sure they never will; but," continued
the youthful philosopher, "what's the use of sighing when coots are
on the wing. Can we prevent their flying? No. Very
well, then, let us merrily, merrily sing." Having uttered this
quotation the young gentleman went away to look after some of his
"Is Frank Maidley coming to dinner to-day?" inquired young Greyson.
"No," replied Dora, with whom that young gentleman was no great
favourite, "I am happy to say he is not."
Marion looked up surprised, and her brother exclaimed, "Oh, Marion,
I quite forgot till now to mention that I wish, if you can, you will
leave off calling him by his Christian name. He is very
familiar now, and I think, if you called him Mr. Maidley, he might
take the hint. He always speaks of you as Marion, and I do not
like the idea of his calling across the table to you by your
Marion smiled. Her brother was becoming a man sooner than she
expected. Young Greyson was nearly eighteen, and though
perfectly unaffected, and even retaining a good deal of boyish
simplicity, had a great idea of the respect with which he should
like his sister to be treated. "I will try to leave it off,
dear," she replied.
"I don't mean to say that he's ungentlemanly," said Wilfred; "but he
does not care who he laughs at, and he is so very familiar."
"In not caring who he laughs at he presents a point of resemblance
to the speaker," said Dora. "I wish you would leave off that
improper habit, Wilfred."
"Why, Dora," was the reply, "you would not mind
who I laughed at if I reverenced Mr. Hewly's absurdities. Besides, every age has
its characteristic: one was called the golden age, some were the
middle ages (I suppose for want of something better to distinguish
them), some were the dark ages, and people call this the age of
machinery, but I call it the age of jokes. I must make jokes;
we all partake of the spirit of the age."
"And a very proper name for it," said Dora. "I often spend a
whole evening without hearing one word spoken in earnest; everything
is made ridiculous; you alter the meaning of words; you contrive to
see something absurd in everything, even in religion."
"Even in religion," repeated Wilfred. "Why,
Dora, if I were inclined to retort, I might say how absurd it is to
suppose that the things I have laughed at in Mr. Hewly have anything to do with real
"But you have no right to laugh at a clergyman."
"I can't help it," persisted Wilfred, "any more than I could help
laughing when old Mrs. Browne said, 'Mr. Dreux was next door to an
angel.' When first I came here I had the most exalted opinion
of the religious people whom I met with. I almost thought
that, like the Queen, they could do no wrong, and that everything
they disapproved of must be improper. I must say that you all
conspired to give me this impression. Even the gossip that
goes on here is a sort of religious dissipation;—I thought myself
extremely wicked to see its absurdity. But now I have learnt
to distinguish between religion and the foibles of those who profess
it. I know better than to think the nonsensical way in which
some good people go on is any part of their religion, or owing to
it; but this does not make me sceptical as to their sincerity.
As for that Mr. Hewly "
"Well," interrupted Dora, who did not wish that subject to be
introduced again, "we have discussed him so often that we know
perfectly each other's opinions about him. But what I meant to
say was, that you cannot see the foibles of religious people without
respecting them less, and, consequently, respecting their religion
"I am willing to change the subject," replied Wilfred; "only I must
say that I don't believe it was ever intended that any one person
should respect another so much as to think all his foibles trivial
simply because they are his."
A PATENT ANTI-TALKING SOCIETY.
IN the evening of
the same day the young people were all sitting together in the
drawing-room. Mrs. Paton generally spent her evenings with her
husband in his study when they had no company.
Wilfred had been playing a spirited march on the piano, and
having brought it to a flourishing conclusion, he turned round on
the music-stool, and said to his sister, "So, my little Marion, I am
glad to see you so busy fixing those tickets. You will see a
great many people tomorrow. I wonder what idea you have formed
of the society here."
"Oh, a very brilliant one," said Marion. "Of course I
expect a great deal, from all I have heard."
"Yes," said Elizabeth, in a tone of pique, "and I wish you
would leave Marion alone to form her own opinion. And as to
the parties ――"
"Now I'll just tell you, Marion," interrupted Wilfred, coming
and sitting by Elizabeth, "what they are like. I shall never
forget the first party I went to. I'm sure I don't know why I
should have been expected to enjoy myself, sitting on a
cane-bottomed chair all the evening close to the door, with nothing
to do and no one to speak to."
"But why did you not speak to some one?" asked Marion.
"Oh, they were nearly all old ladies, excepting a sprinkling
of clergymen, who talked in knots of two or three. I overheard
the conversation of two of the old ladies;—they talked of how the
parish soup had been burned to the bottom of the copper, and what
was the best way of stitching up tracts in wrappers. But,
Elizabeth, you promised to play at chess with me tonight."
"Oh, do play with him, Elizabeth," said Dora, "it will stop
"Why are you so much afraid of my talking? Marion will
soon be able to judge for herself whether the parties are as
delightful as I say they are or not! Oh, here are the men;—red
or white, Elizabeth?"
"I always play with the white," said Elizabeth.
"Oh yes, since Mr. Bishop said he always gave the white to a
lady, because white was the emblem of innocence. But for
myself, Marion,—(though I sincerely hope you will profit by the
delightful society here),—for myself, I think of giving it up, for I
feel that it is quite time I began to think of some plan for the
benefit of my fellow-creatures; and unless I give up the enthralling
pleasures of society I do not see how I can perfect one."
"What might the plan be?" asked Marion.
"Why, my dear, I don't mind telling you, as you are my
relation, that I intend to invent another Society. I think I
shall call a meeting on the subject."
"Oh! no more meetings!" exclaimed Elizabeth; "we have one now
more than once a-fortnight, besides all the little private District
Meetings and Teachers' Meetings. I shall not patronize you if
you have any more meetings."
"Yes, I must have a meeting for my Society;—I mean to be
President of it myself. I think of calling it the
Hold-your-tongue Society, or the Total-abstinence-from-talking
Society, and I hope it will do a great deal of good here; for
besides putting a stop to all the scandal, all the flattery, all the
talking about other people's concerns, that now goes on at the
parties, it will also prevent bad grammar among the lower classes
and inelegant diction."
"Then the members are never to talk any more?" said
"Certainly not. I must talk of course, or else how am I
to make speeches to the members in praise of silence? But I
shall not allow any one else to speak. It's very trying,
Marion, to see you laughing at my honest attempts to benefit my
"I would join the Society," said Elizabeth, "if I did not
think it would put a stop to social intercourse."
"My dear madam," said the self-elected President, "your
remark can only proceed from a total ignorance of what social
intercourse really is (in Westport, I mean). Social
intercourse is neither more nor less than a meeting for the express
and avowed purpose of dining or drinking tea;—sometimes a friendly
cup, sometimes a quiet cup, sometimes green, and sometimes
black,—but always tea; and generally, but not constantly,
accompanied by bread and butter. The members of my Society
shall meet frequently for this purpose, and their faces will beam
with the expression of every social and silent virtue."
"And a very sweet picture they will present, I have no
doubt," remarked Elizabeth; "but I do not see how they are to
communicate their sentiments."
"I shall invent a set of signs for them," replied the
President. "For instance, a gentle closing of the right eye
might say, 'How do you feel yourself?'—a similar movement of the
left might express, 'Dear Mr. Dreux was very powerful last night,
wasn't he?'—a tender moan might express sympathy,—and a slight skip
on the floor, accompanied by a brilliant smile, hilarity. I
shall not allow of any more complicated signs than these.
Marion, don't laugh; Elizabeth, you can't move,—you're in check."
"I hope the Society will prosper," said Marion; "but I wish
to observe, that I do not mean to be a member."
"But I thought," observed Dora, "that you had involuntarily
an opportunity of trying this very plan at Mrs. Browne's party.
I thought you said no one spoke to you, and that you did not like
"I did not like it at the time, but being one of those
excellent people (check) who can find sermons in stones, and
something or other in everything, I soon began to turn my painful
circumstances to good account by moralizing upon them. 'Now,
Wilfred, my dear boy,' I said to myself, 'we all have our trials,
and I wish you may never have a worse than this which you are now
labouring under. It's true, my dear fellow, that you're very
hungry, being what's called a growing lad, and having had nothing to
eat but one three-cornered bit of muffin, and I don't see any
prospect of your having anything more till supper-time, when perhaps
you may get a sandwich and a strawberry ice, which you will like
very much, being cold yourself, and the wind through the key-hole so
silently blowing into your ear, will soon provide you with an
earache.' Well, after I had reasoned with myself for some
time, I found it had done me a great deal of good, so that I began
to feel a sweet resignation stealing over me. So being
restored to good temper, I began to look out for something to amuse
myself with. First, I counted the spots in the carpet, and
made out how much money they would bring in if they were pounds in
the Three per cents. After that I considered whether I could
live on such a sum if I had it, and I decided that I could, and that
I should have something over for charity. When I had exhausted
that subject, I took a view of Mr. King's wooden leg, and considered
what I would do with it if it was mine."
"There, you're checkmated," cried Elizabeth in triumph.
The President stopped for a moment, and looked rather
ruefully at the board, after which he resumed his discourse, and
began to set the men for a fresh game.
"Well, all this time the gentlemen were talking together in a
corner, and the ladies—never mind what they discoursed about,—so I
went on with my thoughts. I thought if I were Mr. King I would
have my cork leg hollowed out, and divided into three compartments,
each with a little door, and a lock and key to it. In the
lowest compartment, about the instep, I should have a musical-box
like the musical snuff-boxes, and when music was desirable, I should
wind it up for the amusement of my friends. 'Foot it featly,'
should be one of the tunes."
"And the legacy?" suggested Marion, amid the laughter
of her cousins.
"Well, in the second compartment, about the ankle, I should
carry a knife and a few pamphlets, a pair of bands, and a card-case,
with some other trifles, besides one or two of my best sermons, so
that if I were to be asked by a clerical friend to preach for him on
any sudden emergency, I could produce a sermon at once out of my
leg. In the third compartment, the calf, I should carry my
prayer-book and hymn-book; and as you see some people unlock little
boxes in their pews and take out their books, I should unlock my leg
and produce mine.
"Then only think what a man I should be for a pic-nic!
I could carry all the knives and forks and the corkscrews in my leg.
As for you, girls, I should convey your books, fans, and sal
volatile bottles from church with the greatest ease. I
should, in fact, be quite a treasure."
"No gentleman shall carry my books from church again," said
Elizabeth; "I never knew one yet who did not forget to give it back
at the right time."
"Ah!" said the President, "and the number of little
square parcels that used to come on Monday morning with Mr. Fred
Bishop's compliments, and he was sorry he had accidentally carried
Miss Paton's books home with him. I always used to think there
was a note inside as well as the book."
Elizabeth laughed. She rather liked to be rallied on
that subject. "Mr. Bishop always wanted to carry my parasol
too," she said, "but I told him the other day that I really could
not allow it any longer, for as soon as he gets warm in conversation
he begins to flourish it about and whisk off the heads of the
thistles by the road-side in the most reckless manner, so that
either the hook or the handle is sure to be snapt before we get
home. Since we have been engaged, I have never had a parasol
with a handle!"
Walter, who had often accompanied Elizabeth in these walks,
here burst into a chuckling laugh. He had been so perfectly
silent during the last half-hour that they had quite forgotten his
presence, and had talked with less caution than they ever used when
aware of his neighbourhood. Being perfectly conscious of this,
he was extremely quiet, and thus collected several little things to
torment them with on future occasions; but being now reminded of his
existence, they immediately changed the conversation, and finished
the evening with music, to his great chagrin.
The breakfast cloth was not removed the next morning before
Mrs. Paton left the room, anxious to complete her arrangements for
the coming bazaar. She left some employment for her daughters,
which she said would occupy them about two hours at home, and they
were then to come and help her. She had not been long absent
when a lazy-looking Mayor's officer made his appearance, with a
message to the young ladies: they were to send their mamma a
quantity of cut evergreens and some flowers.
The girls accordingly went out to give orders to the
gardener, and returning, found young Greyson with his elbows on the
table and a book before him, with which he seemed perfectly
"Wilfred," said Marion; but he was so intent he did not hear
"Let him alone, Marion," remarked Elizabeth; "he is always
quite absent when he has an interesting book. What has he got
"Some learning or other, no doubt," said Dora, gaily; "he's
always either reading a learnèd
book or else talking nonsense.
"What did you say?" inquired young Greyson, looking up.
They repeated the last remark.
"The reason is obvious," he replied; "I read to please
myself—I talk to please you."
"If you would read us some of your books aloud instead of
talking, we think it might be more improving—begging your pardon for
the remark," said Dora.
Young Greyson instantly began to read aloud from his own
place: "The contrary of glaring are 'clandestine instances,' where
the nature sought is exhibited in its weakest and most imperfect
state. Of this, Bacon himself has given an admirable example
in the cohesion of fluids, as a clandestine instance of the nature
or quality of consistence or solidity. Yet here again the same
acute discrimination which enabled Bacon to see the analogy which
connects fluids with solids through the common property of cohesive"――
"That will do," said Elizabeth, hastily. "Now do put
the book away—we want to ask you about the evergreens for the
"Is there not a great quantity of evergreen in the garden?"
"Not half enough; we mean to erect a complete bower, a kind
of triumphal arch, behind our own stall."
"What do you want me to do towards helping?" said the
philosopher, stretching his arms. "You ought to have growing
plants, as they will not be seen till to-morrow. I dare say my
aunt would let you take some out of the conservatory."
"I never thought of that," said Dora; "let us go on to the
assembly-rooms and hear whether mamma would like the plan."
No sooner said than done. The young ladies, entering in
a body with Wilfred, were warmly greeted by the possessors of the
different stalls, who, hammer in hand, were superintending the
labours of some half-dozen Mayor's officers and public servants, who
were knocking nails into the walls for faded election banners to
hang upon, and appearing to have about as intelligent an idea of the
effect intended to be produced as the poodle dogs belonging to some
of the ladies, who sat looking on in blank amazement.
At the lower end of the room were three ladies, who had got a
large blue banner hanging like a curtain at the back of their stall.
It was very handsome, but the words "Cobden and Free-trade,"
depicted on it in huge letters, did not look particularly
appropriate, and they were accordingly in course of being hidden by
some long wreaths of holly and idean vine. Next to them were
some Quaker ladies, whose stall was very badly arranged in point of
taste, though their articles for sale were far more costly and
better manufactured than those of their gayer neighbours.
At the upper end, the farthest from the entrance, was Mrs.
Paton's stall. It occupied the whole end of the room,
excepting where some large folding doors opened into the
reading-rooms, behind. None of the other ladies could compete
with her, either in the quantity or taste of her goods. At the
back of her stall were two large looking-glasses, which were to be
decorated with the orange and white flags belonging to the Tory
party. The girls set to work to make garlands of green corn to
twist among the folds; and Elizabeth suggested that two beautiful
mimosa plants, which had been brought from the conservatory, should
be hung all over with little articles, till they resembled Christmas
trees. Two Azalias, about six feet high, one white, the other
orange, were set behind them, ornamented in the same way, and
certainly presented a beautiful appearance when covered with their
Mrs. Paton had a great advantage over the other ladies in her
conservatory, which was more than despoiled to form a background for
her stall. The beautiful Azaleas standing among the rich silk
banners, with heliotropes, geraniums, and even some of the creepers,
which had been carefully disengaged from their trellis-work, had an
enchanting effect; one in particular, a Cobæa
scandens, many yards in length, had been pressed into the service,
and hung in long festoons across the glasses and over the curtains,
in all the glory of its pale green cups, some of them changing to a
"Is it not beautiful?" they all exclaimed, as the lovely
plant, which seemed to suffer nothing from the twisting of its
flexile runners, was drawn backward and forward like a drapery, over
"I think it would be a good plan," said Dora, "if we were to
give out that all persons who purchase at this stall to the amount
of five shillings, shall have a bouquet presented to them."
"Dora, my dear, I give you great credit for the suggestion,"
said her mother; "you must rise early and cut the flowers."
"And get them beautifully made up," said Dora. "How I
wish we might serve at the stall."
"There will be many things you can do to help me,"
said her mother, half regretting, as she looked at Elizabeth and
Marion, that she could not permit them to stand behind her
stall,—for she was sensible that they would be a great ornament to
it,—but their father had positively forbidden such an exhibition.
"You will be present," she said, "all day, and can supply me from
the reserved fund of articles whenever my stall begins to look
"Ann Paton, can thee lend me one of thy helpers?" said
the elderly Quaker lady. "Thee sees I am sadly behind-hand."
Marion came forward immediately, and with her usual
gentleness began to give her assistance.
The Quaker lady was making a wreath, and Marion went to her
aunt to ask if she might adopt some of her rejected evergreens, for
Mrs. Paton had quantities lying before her stall, enough, in fact,
to decorate two or three of the tables of her less fortunate
neighbours. Marion had been some time busily employed when
Elizabeth came up. "Dearest Marion," she said, "what are you
about? how dull you must be!"
"No, not particularly," said Marion: "but, Elizabeth, what a
pity it is you allow these fine branches to lie wasted on the floor.
I am sure some of the ladies would be very glad of them; only look
what a contrast your mamma's stall is to the rest of the room.
Do offer some of these laurels to the old ladies opposite."
Elizabeth cast a gratified glance towards her mother's end of
the spacious apartment, and said, "Certainly there is a great
contrast, but then mamma's stall ought to be the most attractive in
all other respects, as she is to have no young ladies, except Helen
"But if your mother's is made so conspicuously attractive, it
will really injure the sale at the other end."
"So much the better," said Elizabeth, laughing.
"But I meant," said Marion, "that if all the visitors crowd
to that end, fewer things on the whole will be sold than there might
"But mamma's stall will be pre-eminent," replied Elizabeth.
"Oh, I understand," said Marion, with a quiet smile. "I
thought the bazaar was for the Infant Schools, but it seems—"
"Marion, don't be moral," exclaimed Elizabeth, laughingly
interrupting her. "I don't like the severer virtues. Ah,
here comes that stupid Joshua, with a great basket full of babies'
shoes, and little nonsenses. I must go and help to set them
out, so good by, Marion."
Joshua was a young servant in the Paton family; he was
renowned for his stupidity, but as it was so great that it made him
quite an amusement to the family, it kept him his place when more
estimable qualities might have lost him it.
"Good by, Elizabeth," said Marion, "but I give you fair
warning that I shall make the Quakeress's stall look as well as I
The two cousins then parted, and each advanced to her own end
of the room,—Elizabeth to add a finishing touch here and there to
what was already the admiration of all the stall-keepers; and Marion
to twine the tendrils of an azure-flowering creeper among the folds
of the blue banner, Mrs. Paton having rejected it as not harmonizing
with her other colours.
After suggesting and planning the whole afternoon, and making
use of her aunt's refuse, Marion had the pleasure of seeing the
Quaker's stall really beginning to present an appearance of great
beauty, though still not at all comparable to its vis-à-vis.
She had drawn the blue folds of the silk into less formal
festoons, and finding that the Quaker ladies placed implicit
reliance on her taste, she ventured on several other innovations,
which were all taken in good part. In the midst of the
preparations, one of the Quakers began to lament over a basket of
cut flowers, which she said a friend had promised to bring her.
"I wonder they are not come," she said, addressing Marion, "Cowley
always passes this way at noon; thee understands."
Marion offered to go down stairs and look in the great hall
if the flowers were come, observing that perhaps the people of the
place had neglected to bring them up. The great staircase and
the hall had been as quiet as those of a private house when she
entered in the morning, and it never occurred to her that she might
find them otherwise now.
She saw several sleepy-looking Mayor's officers in the
vestibule, from one of whom she learned that some flowers had
arrived, and been put in a room at the end of a long passage, to
which he pointed.
As it did not seem to enter the head of this worthy that it
might be a graceful little act of condescension if he fetched them
for her, Marion went down the passage as directed, passing several
openings and staircases. She found the basket,—a flat one of
moderate size, containing some exquisite geraniums, all arranged as
if they had been intended for a horticultural show. She took
up the basket, and being rather in a hurry, ran quickly up stairs
and along a very lengthy lobby, passing several doors in search of
the Bazaar-room. "How different this place looks coming up to
coming down," she thought, in her unsuspicious heart. She next
came to a door on which was painted "Committee-room," then to a
Magistrates' room. In the same way she passed several others,
and was surprised at the noises she heard within, at the slamming of
doors, and passing in and out of policemen.
She now began to think she must have taken a wrong turn, in
which suspicion she was confirmed by seeing two young gentlemen, who
had been in conversation close to one of the doors, looking at her,
and amusing themselves with her perplexity. If they had
behaved in a gentleman-like manner she would not have hesitated to
accost them and inquire the way, but as it was, the fragments of
their discourse which reached her only added to her confusion.
"Very pretty creature," she heard one of them lisp, as he tapped his
riding-boots with his whip, and then they both laughed, turning
round to watch her movements; while the other expressed a wonder
whether she had lost her way on purpose. Marion turned hastily
round, and at the same time the door of the Committee-room opened,
and a young gentleman of very different appearance came quickly out,
and looked at her for a moment with surprise, but instantly
observing her annoyance, and appearing to divine the cause, he bowed
politely, and said, "You have lost your way, I believe, madam; will
you permit me to conduct you?"
Marion gratefully assented, and he brought her up a little
staircase, which gave into the great landing, close to the door of
She presently perceived where she was, and turned with her
natural grace to thank her conductor, who merely opened the door for
her, and having bowed, took his leave.
Short as had been her interview, she had had time to observe
several things respecting this young man which made him stand out in
favourable contrast to her two tormentors. In the first place,
he had evidently come out of the Committee-room in a very great
hurry, but he checked himself, and conducted her with perfect
deliberation, though the instant after he had shut her into the
right room, she could hear him clattering down the stairs again at a
tremendous pace. Then the two other young men, perceiving her
alone and unprotected, seemed to have taken delight in making her
feel that such was the case, and that her intrusion had placed her
in a ridiculous situation; but this agreeable unknown, though he
only glanced at her face for an instant, seemed to have perceived
her sensations by intuition, and had treated her with more deference
than he might have thought it worth his while to bestow on a damsel
under more favourable circumstances.
When she returned she found that her aunt had completed her
arrangements, by having an arch formed of evergreens over the
folding-doors, it having been agreed that they should be thrown open
for the day of the sale, that the visitors might pass through the
reading-room down stairs into the museum and conservatory, which
belonged to the town, and were all under the same roof.
"Oh, I am so tired," said Elizabeth, throwing herself on to a
sofa as soon as they got home. "I wish it was all over.
Marion, you look quite pale; pray sit down and rest."
"I am not so tired that I cannot tell you a little adventure
which I had this morning," said Marion, reclining, as directed; "it
made me very uncomfortable at the time." She then related how
she had lost her way, the rudeness of the two young men, and the
sudden appearance of her knight-errant, who rushed out to the rescue
just at the right moment. Tired as her cousins were, they
seemed completely roused by their curiosity to find out who this
gentleman could possibly be.
"Was he handsome?" asked Elizabeth.
"Yes, I should say decidedly so."
"Do you think he was an officer?" asked Dora.
"Captain Manners is a very handsome man, and just the sort of person
to help a damsel in distress."
"No, there was nothing military in his appearance. I
should say he had rather a Grecian nose," she added, in answer to a
question of Elizabeth.
"Then it was not Mr. Calvert, for his nose is hooked!"
Marion laughed, and inquired whether they expected to
recognise him by description. "Perhaps he does not live in the
town at all," she said; "he had evidently been sitting on some
Committee, for I saw into the room when he opened the door, and
there were ten or twelve grave-looking people within sitting round a
green table, with papers and letters before them. Some of them
looked like clergymen."
"Did your friend look like a clergyman?"
"Well, now you mention it, he was dressed in black, and I
think he had rather a clerical air about him."
"Then, Marion, I think I know who it was," said Elizabeth,
gravely. "I am sorry to bring your romance to an end; but if
it is the gentleman I mean, he is married!"
"I can bear that intelligence with great equanimity," said
"Well, then, I think it was Mr. Beckett, the Vicar of Maston,
a village about ten miles from here; he called a few days ago, and
said he should be in the town during the week of the bazaar, for he
was going to sit on a Committee for inquiring into the drainage of
Maston fells and marshes,—a fearfully unpoetical subject, Marion;
but he is just like your description."
"Then we will say it was Mr. Beckett," said Marion gaily;
"and I say that Mr. Beckett is a gentleman, and certainly
both handsome and considerate —he was quite young, Elizabeth."
"He looks young, but I think he is past thirty."
"He certainly did not look more than five-and-twenty."
And so the conversation ended, and the young ladies retired
very early that night, that they might rise betimes to tie up the
Mrs. Paton left soon after breakfast; but her daughters and
Marion remained at home till noon, fastening up the bunches of
flowers with riband.
"There," said Dora, looking round at the denuded green-house,
when the last detachment of bouquets had been sent off, laid upon
flat baskets, "mamma never does anything by halves; no other stalls
will be at all comparable to hers; I am sure she will have by far
the largest collection."
The young ladies were then dressed to go to the bazaar.
Their father had stipulated, that as they most needs be in the room
a good deal to help their mother, their appearance should be as
simple and inconspicuous as possible. Accordingly they and
Marion were dressed exactly alike, in white crape bonnets, black
velvet scarves, and white muslin gowns.
It was past one o'clock when they arrived, and the rooms were
already almost full of visitors, who crowded to their mother's end.
Elizabeth and Marion, who kept together, had so thoroughly seen all
the articles for sale beforehand, that they scarcely cared to walk
up to the stalls, but went forward to the top of the room to observe
the general effect. Mrs. Faton's stall was magnificent, the
bouquets lying among the articles gave a brilliance of effect that
the other ladies could not hope to attain, and the delicate scent,
for they were all made of the choicest flowers, completely filled
the upper end of the room. Mrs. Faton had been rather annoyed
at her husband's insisting that his daughters should be plainly
dressed. She was therefore delighted, when Marion and
Elizabeth came in, to observe that, with the proximity of the
rainbow colours all round them, their own simplicity of appearance
was a great advantage; in fact, if they had been gaily dressed among
all that splendour of tint, they would have looked absolutely
"Marion, there's the lion," said Elizabeth, jogging
her cousin's elbow,—"I mean that gentleman passing through the
folding-doors into the library."
"I see a gentleman's back," said Marion carelessly, "does it
belong to Mr. Dreux?"
Marion and Elizabeth then passed down the other side into the
refreshment room, where ices and pastry were sold, all for the
benefit of the same Charity. In the meantime Mr. Dreux, who
had been teazed to come and just show himself in the rooms, in token
of his approval, took two or three turns, and then came and leaned
against the pillar of the folding-doors, amusing himself, or rather
beguiling the time, by watching the humours of the groups around
Elizabeth and Marion, having passed through the refreshment
room, came into the library, and being satisfied with their view of
the bazaar room, sat down upon a sofa in a window, and established
themselves for a conversation.
Mr. Dreux, as they came leisurely up the room, was struck
with the beautiful contrast they presented to each other, and Mrs.
Paton being just then disengaged, he went up to her and inquired,
who that fair young lady was, sitting with her daughter.
"That is my niece, Miss Greyson," said Mrs. Paton; "she is
come to pay me a long visit; she is a very sweet girl."
"She has a very sweet face," thought the lion, "and
more serene than Cordelia's countenance. I think I know where
I have seen it before."
Mrs. Paton was soon occupied with other purchasers, and Mr.
Dreux having paid his compliments to the other ladies at her stall,
went through the folding-doors to speak to Elizabeth, or rather to
be introduced to her companion, and Marion looking up beheld her
champion. He endeavoured to banish all recognition, from his
bow, though he had come up on purpose to decide upon her identity
with the unknown lady of the day before, and though he saw by
Marion's face that she recognised him.
"I see you have entitled yourself to a bouquet," said
Elizabeth, glancing at a combination of heliotrope and scarlet
geraniums which he held in his hand.
"Yes, I have bought this thing," said he, drawing a long
winding riband out of his pocket. "Mrs. Paton said I should
find it of great use; but I cannot say I know exactly what it is."
"Oh, it is a knitting stirrup," said Elizabeth, smiling.
"One feels rather foolish carrying such a thing about," said
the young divine; "but if I could find a lady who would do me the
honour to accept it?" and so saying he held it out to
Elizabeth, with one of those smiles which the ladies of Westport
thought so fascinating.
Elizabeth laughed, and accepted the knitting stirrup.
He knows perfectly well that I am going to be married in a few
weeks, she thought, so I will not be so prudish as to make any
difficulty about it.
Having thus smoothed the way for a further offering, he
turned to Marion, before whom he was standing, and with a peculiar
smile playing about his lips, and lighting up his dark eyes, said,
with slight hesitation, as if doubtful how she might like it, "You
have no flowers today, I think, Miss Greyson. Might I have the
pleasure to present this bouquet, to be worn in honour of the day,
which you have assisted to make so brilliant?"
Marion wished to thank him for his politeness of the previous
evening; she therefore held out her hand for the flowers, saying,
with a slight blush, "I would rather wear them in honour of
"Yes, the bazaar-room looks brilliant indeed from here," said
Elizabeth, who was rather surprised at what her cousin had said.
"The little pomps and vanities are set out in very tempting
array," replied the young clergyman.
"What, Mr. Dreux!" said Elizabeth, "after sanctioning
the thing with your presence, will you still object!"
"I don't know that I decidedly object," was the reply; "but I should
not like to see my sister behind the stalls. I should most
decidedly object to that, and that reminds me that I must go and
bring her here to see the bazaar, as I promised."
So saying, he bowed himself away.
"Elizabeth," said Marion, the moment he was out of hearing, "that is
the very gentleman I told you of."
Elizabeth was quite astonished that Mr. Dreux should never have
occurred to her before. "It could only be because he was
generally so very much the reverse of attentive to ladies, that she
had not thought of him," she observed.
"I thought he was quite attentive enough to-day," said Marion.
"You talk of him and his attention as coolly as if he were any other
man," said Elizabeth, laughing. "You forget that he is a
lion! . . Yes, he was uncommonly agreeable, but in
society he sometimes has the appearance of being afraid to pay any
attention to a lady, for fear it should raise her hopes!"
Elizabeth laughed; but Marion perceived that she actually meant what
she said, and answered, rather indignantly, "Well, I think a man
must indeed have a high opinion of himself, if he thinks there is
danger of his being too agreeable, when he does not try to make
"Oh, I dare say he knows that he might marry almost any disengaged
lady in the place," said Elizabeth; "in fact, I do not see how he is
to help knowing it, and I by no means wish to intimate that I think
him a conceited man; on the contrary, I am often surprised at the
graceful manner in which he gives way to the elder clergymen, though
he is so much their superior in talents and position. Besides,
he is a man of good family and fortune, and the most idolized
clergyman in the place. Who that was disengaged would not like
to be married to such a man?"
Marion might have answered, "I should not," for Elizabeth's remarks
had made her champion seem much less interesting. However, she
contented herself with saying, "Of course, if the fancy that he
might marry any lady he likes is very obvious, the young ladies here
take care to keep him at a distance."
Elizabeth laughed merrily at this remark, but did not answer, and
just then young Greyson came up to them, saying, "I have been
looking for you all over; the rest of our party have gone down
through the museum into the conservatory. Will you join them?
They say they are quite tired of the bazaar."
Elizabeth and Marion each took an arm and went down through the
Committee-room, of which the latter had had a glance the day before,
and then across a lobby in a museum full of rather musty specimens
of stuffed birds and forlorn-looking animals, with their teeth
sticking out in formidable array. The museum terminated at one
end in a broad flight of stone steps leading down to the
conservatory, which was not so much of flowering plants as of
botanical specimens, medicinal herbs, and foreign plants used in
dyes and pigments.
"There they are, on a bench at the far end," said Greyson, "and
Frank Maidley with them." They all came to meet the
new-comers, and Marion was surprised at the height of her late
companion, who, when they were seated on the bench, stood by them,
and leaning his elbow on the mantel-shelf, looked down upon them
with an easy smile.
"Now we'll show you what we've bought," said Greyson, taking up a
tangled mass of articles from one end of the bench.
"That's mine," said Frank, as a lady's white knitted carriage-cap
was held up. "I bought it of Mrs. Paton."
"This is mine," exclaimed Greyson, drawing forth a large anti-macassar.
"The Quaker woman made me buy it. I told her it was of no use.
'Then,' she said, 'thee may give it to a friend.'"
"And that's my property too," cried Frank, as a muslin apron, worked
with coloured crewels, was handed up in a woefully crumpled
condition. "Old Miss King made me hand it all round the room,
and because nobody would buy it of me, she made me take it myself."
"You seem to have been cruelly used," said Marion.
"But I really should have thought you might have made more
appropriate purchases," remarked Dora, endeavouring to disentangle a
heart-shaped pincushion, stuck full of pins, from the fringe of the
"Appropriate to what?"
"Why, to your condition as gentlemen. There were some
beautiful slippers and braces, and some very handsome waistcoats,
worked in lamb's-wool, and ready made."
"Do you think I would demean myself to wear a waistcoat made by a
woman and worked with cabbage-roses?" exclaimed Frank Maidley,
"There, this is mine," cried Greyson, as Elizabeth handed up a very
"I'll have it rather than it should be wasted," replied Dora.
"You ought to have answered, Ego," said Frank.
"Greyson, hand me up my cap that I bought; I'll put it on and see
how I look in it."
There was a very large mirror over the chimneypiece, so tilted as to
present a beautiful reflection of the climbing plants hanging from
the roof. Frank Maidley arrayed himself in the cap, which he
tied under his chin, and then turned round to be admired.
"Your head reminds me of a dish of carrots and turnips," said young
"My hair being the carrots. Thank you for the simile.
Miss Paton, may I trouble you to pass up my apron."
"Why, you don't mean to say that you are going to put it on?"
"Yes, I am. When the people are tired of the bazaar some of
them will come down here, and perhaps I can dispose of these
articles to them at half price. Besides, why should not I make
myself ridiculous if I like on behalf of this pious cause?"
"You had better take the Macassar as a shawl then, I think," said
Elizabeth. "It will make a very tasty finish to your dress."
"I will," said Frank, receiving the article and spreading it out
over his shoulders with the inimitable awkwardness of a man.
"Now would you mind obliging us by standing a little farther off'?"
said Marion, with perfect gravity.
"In order that you may not seem to belong to our party, you know,"
added Elizabeth, to make the meaning of her cousin's remark the more
"O certainly, with pleasure. I'll go and stand at the other
side of the chimney-piece, and if any people come down I'll look at
you through my eyeglass, as much as to say, 'I wonder who those
"Here are some people coming," said Elizabeth. "Now, pray unrobe, Mr. Maidley."
"Thank you, I don't at all mind this style of dress. Yes, here
they come,—old Dr. Hubbard and three young ladies; just look
at the old gentleman."
Dr. Hubbard was a short, stout man, rather bald, and very
good-tempered in appearance. He went down the side of the
conservatory, examining the plants and commenting on their
properties aloud, till he came to Frank Maidley, before whom he
paused with a comical expression of surprise, looking up at him with
his head on one side and his hands behind him; he then came to speak
to the Miss Patons, the three young ladies, who had come down with
him, resolutely turning their heads away, as if afraid of laughing.
This party withdrew, and were presently followed by another.
"Here are some more people," cried young Greyson. "Would you
believe it?—Mr. What's-his-name Brown, and his mother. Now,
Marion, you shall be introduced."
"How came he by such an odd name?" asked Marion.
"There they are, examining the birds and beasts in the museum with
the greatest curiosity, Brown as discontented as ever, and his
mother trotting after him, admiring and wondering. Why,
Marion, his real name is Athanasius, and people say that during his
father's lifetime the place was so full of Browns that there was no
distinguishing them one from another; there was Brown the doctor,
and Brown the butcher, and a retired man who went by the name of
Gentleman Brown; then there was a tall man whom they called Long
Brown, and this Brown's father, who, being a little man, was called
Brownie. However, he was determined that his son should have a
name which should distinguish him from all other Browns whatsoever,
so he had him christened Athanasius. He had made a pretty
little property, so he sent his son to College and made a clergyman
of him; but behold, when he entered upon his duties the people of
the parish, not being of the learnèd sort, could not compass such a
hard name, and as to have called him Mr. Brown would not have
distinguished him at all, they always called him Mr. What's-his-name
Brown; they even sent petitions to him directed in that style and
title; at last it got to the ears of the upper classes, and now
nobody ever thinks of calling him anything else."
Mr. What's-his-name Brown, who all this time had been examining the
museum, now began to descend the steps, his mother following him.
She was a tall, stout woman, not much like a lady, and not
pretending to be one. He was a puny man, with rather a
discontented expression, very straight black hair, a pale
complexion, and precisely that air, manner, and appearance which in
society is almost sure to cause a man to be overlooked and accounted
a nobody. Everybody, however, said he was a very good man.
But it has been remarked before that people are very fond of
finishing any observation of a disparaging nature by remarking that
the subject of it is a very good man.
"He preaches a marvellously dry sermon;" or, "he is terribly dull in
conversation;" or, "he spoke as if he was half asleep; " or, "
nobody could make out what he meant; indeed, I don't suppose he knew
himself, 'but I dare say he is a very good man!'"
Mr. What's-his-name Brown having reached the foot of the steps,
began to examine the plants with an air of inquisitive discontent.
Mrs. Brown, his mother, the pride of whose life he was, now came
forward to speak to the young ladies, and cast a furtive glance at
Frank, who, catching her eye, bowed politely.
"Me and my son were led to expect something worth seeing here,
ladies," said the worthy matron, "but I can't say the plants are
particularly handsome. Dr. Hubbard certainly said there
was a very fine specimen near the chimley-piece."
"Yes," said the Rev. Gentleman, "he said a plant of stately
"Did he?" cried Frank Maidley; "then he must have meant me."
Mr. Brown accordingly looked up at Frank Maidley, but did not appear
to derive much satisfaction from the sight; on the contrary, he had
the air of a man who felt that he had been deluded and ill-used by
"Could I tempt you with any of these little articles?" said
Frank, in his blandest voice, pretending to think he was examining
his toggery with a view to purchase.
"Frank," said Greyson, "here are half a dozen people coming down the
steps. Do take that rubbish off."
"This is a fine room," remarked Elizabeth to Mrs. Brown, for she did
not like to see her standing there and being taken no notice of.
"Yes; a fine room, indeed, Miss 'Lizabeth," said Mrs. Brown; "and
the whole building is very handsome. They tell me it is in the
Elizabeth tried to give an air of courteous assent to the smile
which she could not repress, and the whole party found it difficult
to help laughing, when she went on to observe,—"that everybody
praised the proportions of the magistrates' room, and said that
really the cemetery of those pillars was perfect."
"Marion, I think we had better come away now," said Elizabeth,
blushing; "there are some more people descending the steps; and
really Frank Maidley makes us quite conspicuous."
Marion gladly assented, and, having taken leave of the rest of the
party, they went back to the Bazaar-room, where they found
employment in replenishing Mrs. Paton's stall.
Though none of the young people liked to acknowledge it, they were
heartily tired of the bazaar, and longed for the time when they
might go home again; it came at last, and they entered their own
house with real delight. Then came the time for regretting the
spoilt appearance of the conservatory, and all for the sake of one
day. Through the evening the plants kept arriving, but most of
them were very much shattered, and all were denuded of flowers.
They were quite grieved to see the miserable appearance they made.
"I wish we had remembered our own dinner party," they said, "before
we destroyed all the flowers."
"Oh, by the bye, my dears," said their mother, "I have invited Mr.
Dreux and his sister to come to us on that day; he brought her up to
be introduced to me, and I thought he seemed rather disappointed
that none of you were there. You must be polite to Miss Dreux;
she knows no one here, and I dare say he will be very glad for you
to take her about a little."
The next day Mr. Raeburn was to take a journey and, as he did not
know whether he could call at Westport before going home, Marion
stayed at home to wish him good by. She had nothing to do, and
offered to assist Elizabeth in adding up the accounts of a Club for
the poor, in which she had formerly taken a great interest.
"And I shall go out, and take a ride with mamma into the country,"
said Elizabeth, "for I am sure she wants a change after the fatigue
of that bazaar; it took her a week to prepare for it, and I am sure
it will take another week to put all the things away."
"Where shall you go?" asked Marion.
"Mamma says she really must go and call on old Mrs. Brown," said
Elizabeth, "for she has never been to see her since she and her son
took part of a farm-house about two miles out of the town, that he
might walk in every morning. By the bye, Marion, what did you
think of Mr. Allerton?"
"Mr. Allerton," repeated Marion, "have I seen him?"
"Yes, to be sure. Don't you remember, when we came out of the
bazaar we passed through an open space like a lawn, with trees round
it, and I told you it belonged to the almshouses,—Mr. Dreux was
walking up and down there with another gentleman?"
"Oh, yes, I remember him perfectly, if that is the gentleman you
mean,—a tall, Saxon-looking man, who walked school-boy fashion, with
one arm over Mr. Dreux's shoulders."
"That was him."
"Indeed! I thought him a very agreeable-looking person."
"Dora used to go to his church," continued Elizabeth; "you know I have
often told you of it."
"Yes," said Marion. "What a pity it is that Dora should be so
"Well, good by for the present, dearest Marion," said Elizabeth,
turning from that subject, as usual. "I do not like to leave
you, but I hope, when Mr. Raeburn is gone, you will come out for a
walk. Dora and Rosina will be down immediately."
Dora and Rosina presently came in, as Elizabeth had predicted, and
Walter with them. And as there were presently some morning
visitors to be attended to, Marion had not much time for her
accounts; so that when she had seen Mr. Raeburn off, and sent
messages to his mother and to her favourite children in the school,
she had not been seated over the books many minutes before Elizabeth
came back into the drawing-room after her ride, with her hat and
habit on. She had been riding beside her mother's carriage,
and inveighed against the idleness of her sisters in staying
"Well, where have you been?" said Dora.
"To call on Mrs.
"Was she at home?"
"Yes, and so glad to see us.
She was excessively anxious that mamma should 'do her the
honour to stay to dinner. She had got the best end of a loin
of veal at the fire, and she was sure we should have a hearty
welcome.' But, Marion, how industrious you are over those
Club-tickets; what pains you take in checking them off by the book.
I am sure I ought to feel very much obliged to you."
"One,—Martha Perry, ought to feel obliged to me," returned Marion,
laughing good-humouredly; "for, do you know, Elizabeth, by your way
of adding up her card you had. cheated her out of threepence?"
"You are not in earnest, surely?" said Elizabeth, in a voice
of dismay. "I hope the good woman has not found it out.
I hope she does not think I abstracted that sum for my
"It does not appear what she thinks," said Marion; "but seriously,
Elizabeth, she is not the only sufferer, though you certainly seem
to have an idea of poetical justice, for in adding up some of the
cards you have cheated yourself; and as, of course, I cannot
abstract from them the surplus sums, you will have to pay what is
"How much does it come to?"
"One and tenpence," said Marion.
"Well, it is very hard," said Elizabeth, "for I'm extremely poor
just now. I think, as it is your doing, you ought to advance
"I am not sure that I can trust you," said Marion, laughing.
"What have you done with all the money you had yesterday?"
"All!—it was only nine shillings. I'm sure I don't know where
it's gone to. Let me see,—two shillings for stamped
"Two shillings for stamped envelopes," repeated Marion, writing it
down on a piece of paper. "Well, what else?"
"Eighteenpence for a blue calmia in a pot—Oh, Dora, you'll be sorry
to hear that Athanasius has got a very bad cold."
"I wish you would leave off calling him so," said Dora. "I am
sure, if you get such a habit of it, you will do it some day when
you will be very sorry. And you particularly, ought not to
laugh at him."
"Why Elizabeth, particularly?" asked Marion.
"Oh, because,—poor little man,—we used to think he admired
Elizabeth, before Fred Bishop declared himself."
"And I am sure I don't know how he ever showed it," said Elizabeth,
"except by paring apples for me at dessert. But it is wrong
to laugh at him, particularly now he's unwell; however, his mother
hopes fiddle-strings and paregoric will soon set him right again."
"Did she say so?" asked Dora, quietly, and with a slight
glance at Walter.
"No; you know she didn't, Dora. But is not playing on the
fiddle the solace of his life? Because you never laugh at anybody,
is that any reason why I never should? I wish you would let me
"I'll choose another theme on which to give you good advice," said
Dora. "You had better take off your hat and habit."
"Yes, I will, when Marion has made out my list. I saw such
beautiful blue salvias in the cemetery to-day,—I wish it was not a
sin to steal. Ninepence, Marion, for a purple salvia, which I
fully believe will turn out a scarlet one; there's a very red hue
about its buds: and eightpence for a globe-fuschsia,—that's all?"
"That comes to four shillings and elevenpence," said Marion.
"Four and elevenpence from nine shillings,—how much remains,
Elizabeth? I shall not lend you anything, for you have enough to pay
your debts, and threepence over. Now, do go and take off your
"Yes, presently. Dora, has any one called?"
"Only young Mr. Morton."
"What did he say?"
"Oh, he said just what all gentlemen say during their first call.
He observed that the neighbourhood was very beautiful; that some of
the churches were fine specimens of the florid Gothic; and that the
society seemed agreeable."
"Does he live by himself?"
"He does, madam," said Walter, who was sitting at the table making a
fishing-net, "and all the bwead and cheese he gets he puts upon a
"You impertinent child," said Elizabeth, laughing at this sally,
"how dare you meddle with your remarks? Was that all he said, Dora?"
"Yes, I think so. Oh, I remember, he asked if we were going to
observe the eclipse of the sun next week, and said, if we were, the
best place would be that elevated field near the cemetery.''
"Ah!" said Elizabeth, "how I do wish I could get some cuttings
of those blue salvias! Marion, I must take you to see the cemetery."
"Do, if you please," said Marion;—"you talk so much about it that I
should think it must be an interesting place."
Elizabeth laughed. "Do you remember that old lady who sat in
the pew before us this morning at prayers?—an old lady in a striped
knitted shawl?" she said.
"Well, she's Frank Maidley's aunt."
"Yes, she has only lived here a few months, and one day Frank took
her to walk in the cemetery gardens. 'And what's written on
that sign-board, my dear?' she said, when they got in, for she's
very short-sighted. So Frank read, 'The public are desired not
to tread on the borders, not to pluck the flowers, and not to sing
"Away with melancholy," in this cemetery.' 'And very right, too,'
said the old lady; 'I'm sure they could not sing a more
inappropriate tune.' But oh! how angry she was when she came close
and found it was all his own invention! She declared she would cut
him out of her will for making game of her, and I don't believe she
has ever forgiven him to this day."
"Now, Elizabeth," said Dora, "there is another knock at the door;
you had better go and change your dress, or you will have to stay
and entertain these visitors."