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unusual accident, and all the applauses of her courage which had been addressed to her since, had roused the timid woman. She did not withdraw her eyes from her sister, though commanded to do so; on the contrary, her look grew more and more emphatic. She meant to have made a solemn address, throwing off Leonora's yoke, and declaring her intention, in this grave crisis of her nephew's fortunes, of acting for herself; but her feelings were too much for Miss Dora. The tears came creeping to the corners of her eyes, and she could not keep them back; and her attempt at dignity broke down. “I am never consulted,” she said, with a gasp. “I don't mean to pretend to know better than Leonora; but—but I think it is very hard that Frank should be disappointed about Skelmersdale. You may call me as foolish as you please,” said Miss Dora, with rising tears, “I know everybody will say it is my fault; but I must say I think it is very hard that Frank should be disappointed. He was always brought up for it, as everybody knows; and to disappoint him, who is so good and so nice, for a fat young man, buttered all over like—like—a pudding-basin,” cried poor Miss Dora, severely adhering to the unity of her desperate metaphor. “I don't know what Julia Trench can be thinking of; I–I don't know what Leonora means." “I am of the same way of thinking,” said aunt Cecilia, setting down, with a little gentle emphasis, her cup of tea. Here was rebellion, open and uncompromised. Miss Leonora was so much taken by surprise, that she lifted the tea-urn out of the way, and stared at her interlocutors with genuine amazement. But she proved herself, as usual, equal to the occasion. “It's unfortunate that we never see eye to eye just at once,” she said, with a look which expressed more distinctly than words could have done the preliminary flourish
of his whip, by means of which a skilful charioteer gets his team under hand without touching them; “but it is very lucky that we always come to agree in the end,” she added, more significantly still. It was well to crush insubordination in the bud. Not that she did not share the sentiment of her sisters; but then they were guided like ordinary women by their feelings, whereas Miss Leonora had the rights of property before her, and the approval of Exeter Hall. “And he wants to marry, poor dear boy,” said Miss Dora, pale with fright, yet persevering; “and she is a dear good girl—the very person for a clergyman's wife; and what is he to do if he is always to be Curate of St. Roque's You may say it is my fault, but I cannot help it. He always used to come to me in all his little troubles; and when he wants anything very particular, he knows there is nothing I would not do for him,” sobbed the proud annt, who could not help recollecting how much use she had been to Frank. She wiped her eyes at the thought, and held up her head with a thrill of pride and satisfaction. Nobody could blame her in that particular at least. “He knew he had only to tell me what he wanted,” said Miss Dora, swelling out her innocent plumes. Jack, who was sitting opposite, and who had been listening with admiration, thought it time to come in on his own part. “I hope you don't mean to for: sake me, aunt Dora,” he said. “If a poor fellow cannot have faith in his aunt, whom can he have faith in 2 I thought it was too good to last,” said the neglected prodigal. “You have left the poor sheep in the wilderness and gone back to the ninety-and-nine righteous men who need no repentance.” He put up his handkerchief to his eyes as he spoke, and so far forgot himself as to look with laughter in his face at his brother Gerald. As for the Squire, he was startled to hear his eldest son quoting Scripture, and laid aside his paper once more to know what it meant. “I am sure I your pardon, Jack,” said aunt Dora, suddenly stopping short, and feeling guilty. *I never meant to neglect you. Poor dear boy, he never was properly tried with female society and the comforts of home; but then you were dining out that night,” said the simple woman, eagerly. “I should have stayed with you Jack, of course, had you been at home." From this little scene Miss Leonora turned away hastily, with an exclamation of impatience. She made an abrupt end of her tea-making, and went off to her little business room with a grim smile upon her iron-grey countenance. She too had been taken in a little by Jack's pleasant farce of the Sinner Repentant; and it occurred to her to feel a little ashamed of herself as she went up-stairs. After all, the ninety-and-nine, just men of Jack's irreverent quotation were worth considering now and then; and Miss Leonora could not but think with a little humiliation of the contrast between her nephew Frank and the comfortable young Curate who was going to marry Julia Trench. He was fat, it could not be denied; and she remembered his chubby looks, and his sermons about selfdenial and mortification of the flesh, much as a pious Catholic might think of the Lenten oratory of a fat friar. But then he was perfectly sound in his doctrines, and it was undeniable that the people liked him, and that the appointment was . one which even a Scotch ecclesiastical community full of popular rights could scarcely have objected to. According to her own principles, the strong-minded woman could not do otherwise. She threw herself into her arm-chair with unnecessary force, and read over the letter which Miss Trench herself
- o 125 had written. “It is difficult to think of any consolation in such a bereavement,” wrote, Mr. Shirley's niece; “but still it is a little comfort to feel that I can throw myself on your sympathy, my dear and kind friend.” “Little calculating thing!” Miss Leonora said to herself as she threw down the mournful epistle; and then she could not help think. ing again of Frank. To be sure, he was not of her way of thinking; but when she remembered the “in. vestigation” and its result, and the secret romance involved in it, her Wentworth blood sent a thrill of pride and pleasure through her veins. Miss Leonora, though she was strong-minded, was still woman enough to perceive her nephew's motives in his benevolence to Wodehouse; but these motives, which were strong enough to make him endure so much annoyance, were not strong enough to tempt him from Carlingford and his Perpetual Curacy, where his honour and reputation, in the face of love and ambition, demanded that he should remain. “It would be a pity to balk him in his self-sacrifice,” she said to herself, with again a somewhat grim smile, and a comparison not much to the advantage of Julia Trench and her curate. She shut herself up among her papers till luncheon, and only emerged with a stormy front when that meal was on the table; during the progress of which she snubbed everybody who ventured to speak to her, and spoke to her nephew Frank as if he might have been suspected of designs upon the plate-chest. Such were the unpleasant consequences of the struggle between duty and inclination in the bosom of Miss Leonora; and, save for other unforeseen events o which decided the matter for her, it is not by any means so certain as, judging from her character, it ought to have been, that duty would have won the day.
beaten him, but humbled him in his own eyes, which is perhaps, of all others, the injury least easy to forgive. It was, however, with an appearance of the profoundest submission that he stood awaiting the approach of the man he had tried so much to injure. “Mr. Wentworth, sir,” said Elsworthy, “if I was worth your while, I might think as you were offended with me; but seeing I'm one as is so far beneath you”—he went. on with a kind of grin, intended to represent a deprecatory smile, but which would have been a snarl had he dared—“I can't think as you'll bear no malice. May I ask, sir, if there's a-going to be any difference made 2" “In what respect, Elsworthy 2" said the Curate, shortly. t “Well, sir, I can't tell," said the Clerk of St. Roque’s. “If a clergyman was to bear malice it's in his power to make things very unpleasant, I don't speak of the place at church, which ain't neither, here nor there—it's respectable, but it ain't lucrative; but if you was to , stretch a point, Mr. Wentworth, by . continuing the papers and suchlike — it ain't that I valley, the money,” said Elsworthy, “but I've been a faithful servant; and I might say, if you was to take it in a right spirit, an 'umble friend, Mr. Wentworth,” he continued, after a little pause, growing bolder. “And now, as I've that unfortunate creature to provide for, and no one knowing what's to become of her—” “I wonder that you venture to speak of her to me,” said the Curate, with a little indignation, “after,
, all the warnings I gave you. But
you ought to consider that you are . to blame a great deal more than she is, She is only a child; if you had taken better care of her—but you would not pay any attention to my warning;-you must bear the consequences as you best can.”
rative, which concerns Mr. Frank been very full of affairs of my own. Wentworth's visit to Lucy Wode. I thought at one time that my house, and has nothing to do with friends were forsaking me. It was ignoblo hates or loves.
very good of you to write as you The Curate went rapidly on to did." the green door, which once more Upon which there followed an. looked like a gate of paradise. He other little pause. “Indeed, the did not know in the least what he goodness was all on your side," said was going to do or say he was Lucy, faltering. "If I had ever only conscious of a state of exalta- dreamt how much you were doing tion, & condition of mind which for us! but it all came upon me so might precede great happiness or suddenly. It is impossible ever to great misery, but had nothing in express in words one-half of the grait of the common state of affairs in titude we owe you," she said with re. which people ask each other “How strained enthusiasm. She looked up do you do?" Notwithstanding, at him as she spoke with a little glow the fact is, that when Lucy entered of natural fervour, which brought that dear familiar drawing-room, the colour to her cheek and the where every feature and individual moisture to her eyes. She was not expression of every piece of furni. of the disposition to give either ture was as well known to him as thanks or confidence by halves ; if they had been so many human and even the slight not unpleasant faces, it was only "How do you sense of danger which gave piquancy do!" that the Curate found himself to this interview, made her resolute able to say. The two shook hands to express herself fully. She would as demurely as if Lucy had indeed not suffer herself to stint her grabeen according to the deceptive titude because of the sweet susrepresentation of yesterday, as old picion which would not be quite as aunt Dora; and then she seated silenced, that possibly Mr. Went. herself in her favourite chair, and worth looked for something better tried to begin a little conversation than gratitude. Not for any conseabout things in general. Even in quences, however much they might these three days, nature and youth be to be avoided, could she be had done something for Lucy. She shabby enough to refrain from duo had slept and rested, and the unfor- acknowledgment of devotion SO seen misfortune which had come in great. Therefore while the Perpet. to distract her grief, had roused all ual Curate was doing all he could the natural strength that was in to remind himself of his condition, her. As she was a little nervous and to persuade himself that it about this interview, not knowing would be utterly wrong and mean what it might end in, Lucy thought of him to speak, Lucy looked up it her duty to be as composed and at him, looked him in the face with self-commanding as possible, and, her blue eyes shining dewy and in order to avoid all dangerous and sweet through tears of gratitude exciting subjects, began to talk of and a kind of generous admiration; Wharfside,
for, like every other woman, she "I have not heard anything for felt herself exalted and filled with three or four days about the poor a delicious pride in seeing that the woman at No 10," she said: “I man of her unconscious choice had Ineant to have gone to see her to- proved himself the best day, but somehow one gets so self. The Curate walked to the winish when when one's mind is full dow, very much as Mr Proctor bad of affairs of one's own,”
done, in the tumult and confusion "Yes," said the Curate; "and of his heart, and came back again speaking of that, I wanted to tell with what he had to say written you how much comfort your letter clear on his face, without any had been to me. My head, too, has possibility of mistake. “I must speak," said the young man; “I take me, Lucy," he said, after have no right to speak, I know; another pause, coming back to her if I had attained the height of self- with humility, “I don't venture to sacrifice and self-denial, I might, I say that you would have accepted would be silent-but it is impos- any thing I had to offer ; but this I sible now." He came to a break mean, that to have a home for you just then, looking at her to see now-to have a life for you ready what encouragement he had to go to be laid at your feet, whether you on; but as Lucy did nothing but would have had it or not;—what listen and grow pale, he had to right have I to speak of such detake his own way. “What I have lights ?” cried the young man. “It to say is not anything new," said does not matter to you; and as for the Curate, labouring a little in his me, I have patience-patience to voice, as was inevitable when affairs console myself with had come to such a crisis, “if I Poor Lucy, though she was on were not in the cruelest position the verge of tears, which nothing possible to a man. I have only an but the most passionate self-reempty love to lay at your feet; I straint could have kept in, could tell it to you only because I am not help a passing sensation of obliged-because, after all, love is amusement at these words. “ Not worth telling, even if it comes to too much of that either," she said, nothing. I am not going to appeal softly, with a tremulous smile. to your generosity,", continued the “But Patience carries the lilies of young man, kneeling down at the the saints," said Lucy, with a touch table, not by way of kneeling to of the sweet asceticism which had Lucy, but by way of bringing hiin. once been so charming to the young self on a level with her, where sho Anglican. It brought him back sat with her head bent down on her like a spell to the common ground low chair, “or to ask you to bind on which they used to meet; it yourself to a man who has nothing brought him back also to his former in the world but love to offer you; position on his knee, which was but after what has been for years, embarrassing to Lucy, though she after all the hours I have spent had not the heart to draw back, here, I cannot-part-I cannot let nor even to withdraw her hand, you go-without a word
which somehow happened to be in And here he stopped short. He Mr. Wentworth's way. had not asked anything, so that “I am but a man," said the Lucy, even had she been able, had young lover. “I would rather have nothing to answer; and as for the the roses of life—but, Lucy, I young lover himself, he seemed to am only a Perpetual Curate," he have come to the limit of his clo- continued, with her hands in his. quence. Ho kept waiting for a Her answer was made in the most moment, gazing at her in breathless heartless and indifferent words. expectation of a response for which She let two big drops - which fell his own words had left no room. like hail, though they were warmer Then he rose in an indescribable than any summer rain-drop out of tumult of disappointment and mor- her eves, and she said, with lips that tification-unable to conclude that had some difficulty in enunciating all was over, unable to keep silence, that heartless sentiment, “I don't yet not knowing what to say.
sée that it matters to me--" “I have been obliged to close all Which was true enough, though the doors of advancement upon my. it did not sound encouraging; and self,” said the Curate, with a little it is dreadful to confess that, for a litbitterness; “I don't know if you tle while after, neither Skelmersdale, understand me. At this moment nor Wentworth, nor Mr. Proctor's I have to deny myself the dearest new. rectory, nor the no-income of the privilege of existence. Don't mis- Perpetual Curacy of St. Roque's had