Allerton and Dreux (Vol. I) II

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CHAPTER VI.

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 her.

    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 afternoon.

    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 her.

    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 beforehand."

    "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 answer.

    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 miserable?"

    "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 with another.

    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 attitude.

    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 her.

    "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 decide?"

    "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 greatly pleased.

    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 brother.

    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 room."

    "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 for?"

    "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 well."

    "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 so lonely."

    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 windows."

    "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 everlasting knitting.

    "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 arms."

    Marion laughed, and said,—

    "Wilfred says he reminds him of scarlet runners, with his red hair."

    "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 manners."

    "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.'"


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER VII.

GENEROUS REGRETS.


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 could bear."

    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:—


Dear Sir,

        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,


   Yours faithfully,

             Arthur C.  Dreux.


    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 Mr. Dreux's 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 been intended.

    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 of.

    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 themselves.

    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 comparison.

    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 appellation.

    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 ill."

    "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 complain of."

    "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 fine cedars!"

    "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?"

    "O no."

    "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 to justify.

    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 people away."

    "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 becomes justified.

    "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 Mm.

    "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.  Bernard's.

    "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 friendship unimpaired."

    "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 Mr. 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 amiable eccentricities.


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER VIII.

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 whole house.

    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 latter.

    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 about yours."

    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.  Bernard's."

    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 suspicions?"

    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 remark.

    "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 dissimulation!"

    "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 his side.

    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 intercourse.

    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 justify."

    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, however violent.

    "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 future.

    "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 your surplice."

    "Well, what of that?  Surely that is a thing of no consequence!"

    "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 the army?"

    "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 prostrations?"

    "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 the 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 half-hearted manner."

    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 Dreux's influence.

    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 this spring."

    "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 a clergyman.

    "If you'll allow me, Dreux," he then said, "I'll go to your dressing-room."

    "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 word INDEED

    "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 Mr. Allerton's 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 creature.

    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 young woman."

    "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? "

    "Dora."

    "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 expresses all 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 in it."

    "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 telling, Allerton."

    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 likeness."

    "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 engaged.

    "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 friendship.

    "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 incredulous smile.

    "I assure you it is quite true," said Elinor, amused at his surprise.

    "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 war?"

    "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 clever."

    "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 different."

    "But all Christians ought to know the doctrines of their Church," said Elinor.

    "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 ancientry."

    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 Highlands?"

    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 morning?"

    Walter murmured something about his "heart's being in the Highlands."

    "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 other pets.

    "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 Christian name."

    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 religion."

    "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 less."

    "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."


――――♦――――

 
 

CHAPTER IX.

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 his tongue."

    "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 Dora.

    "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 fellow-creatures."

    "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 it?"

    "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 absorbed.

    "Wilfred," said Marion; but he was so intent he did not hear her.

    "Let him alone, Marion," remarked Elizabeth; "he is always quite absent when he has an interesting book.  What has he got now?"

    "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 bazaar."

    "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 exotic fruits.

    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 splendid purple.

    "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 the stall.

    "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 bare."

    "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 Ferguson."

    "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 be otherwise."

    "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 possibly can."

    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 the Bazaar-room.

    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 Marion.

    "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 bouquets.

    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 vulgar.

    "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 him.

    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 yesterday."

    "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 himself so."

    "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 apron.

    "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, with ineffable scorn.

    "There, this is mine," cried Greyson, as Elizabeth handed up a very elegant work-bag,—"Quis?

    "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 Greyson.

    "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?"  said Greyson.

    "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 obvious.

    "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 people are?'"

    "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 growth."

    "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 false representations.

    "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 Elizaberian style."

    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 much changed."

    "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 in-doors.

    "Well, where have you been?"  said Dora.

    "To call on Mrs. Brown."

    "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 pocket-money."

    "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 deficient yourself."

    "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 the money."

    "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 envelopes."

    "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 alone."

    "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 habit."

    "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 shelf."

    "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.

    "Yes, perfectly."

    "Well, she's Frank Maidley's aunt."

    "Indeed!"

    "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."


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