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of all, he had to see his father, and “After all, it was not an unnatural ascertain what were the Squire's in- mistake,” he said to himself, and tentions, and how long he meant to smiled benignly upon the excel. stay in Carlingford; and then It lent people who had found out the occurred to the Perpetual Curate that error of their own ways. Carling. after that, politeness demanded that ford, indeed, seemed altogether in he should call on the Miss Wode- a more cheerful state than usual, and houses, who had, or at least one of Mr Wentworth could not but think them, expressed so frankly their that the community in general was confidence in him. He could not glad to find that it had been debut call to thank her, to inquire in- ceived, and so went upon his way, to their plans, perhaps to back aunt pleasing himself with those maxims Leonora's invitation, which he was about the ultimate prevalence of aware had been gratefully declined. justice and truth, which make it With these ideas in his mind he went apparent that goodness is always down-stairs, after brushing his hat victorious, and wickedness punishvery carefully and casting one solicit- ed, in the end. Somehow even a ous glance in the mirror as he pass- popular fallacy has an aspect of ed—which presented to him a very truth when it suits one's own case. creditable reflection, an eidolon The Perpetual Curate went through in perfect clerical apparel, without his aunt's garden with a conany rusty suggestions of a Perpetu- scious smile, feeling once more al Curacy. Yet a Perpetual Curacy master of himself and his concerns. it was which was his sole bene- There was, to tell the truth, fice or hope in his present circum- even a slight shade of self-content stances, for he knew very well that, and approbation upon his handwere all other objections at an end, some countenance. In the present neither Skelmersdale nor Went changed state of public opinion and worth could be kept open for him'; private feeling, he began to take and that beyond these two he had some pleasure in his sacrifice. not a hope of advancement-and at To be sure, a Perpetual Curate the same time he was pledged to re- could not marry; but perhaps main in Carlingford. All this, how- Lucy-in short, there was no telling ever, though discouraging enough, what might happen; and it was acdid not succeed in discouraging Mr cordingly with that delicious sense Wentworth after he had read Lucy's of goodness which generally attends letter. He went down-stairs so an act of self-sacrifice, mingled with lightly that Mrs Hadwin, who was an equally delicious feeling that the waiting in the parlour in her best act, when accomplished, might turn cap, to ask if he would pardon her out no such great sacrifice after all for making such a mistake, did not which it is to be feared is the hear him pass, and sat waiting for most usual way in which the sacrian hour, forgetting, or rather ne- fices of youth are made—that the glecting to give any response, when Curate walked into the hall, passing the butcher came for orders—which his aunt Dora's toy terrier without was an unprecedented accident that violent inclination to give it a Mr Wentworth went cheerfully up whack with his cane in passing, Grange Lane, meeting, by a singular which was his usual state of feel. chance, ever so many people, who ing. To tell the truth, Lucy's letstopped to shake hands with him, ter had made him at peace with all or at least bowed their good wishes the world. and friendly acknowledgments. He When, however, he entered the smiled in himself at these evidences dining-room, where the family were of popular penitence, but was not still at breakfast, Frank's serenity the less pleased to find himself re- was unexpectedly disturbed. The instated in his place in the affec- first thing that met his eye was his tions and respect of Carlingford. aunt Leonora, towering over her tea-urn at the upper end of the who knows me could suppose for a table, holding in her hand a letter minute that I would let my feelings which she had just opened. The stand in the way of my public duty. envelope had fallen in the midst of Still it is very awkward just at this the immaculate breakfast "things," moment, when Frank, on the whole, and indeed lay, with its broad black has been behaving very properly, edge on the top of the snow-white and one can't help so far approving lumps, in Miss Leonora's own sugar- of him— " basin; and the news had been suf- “I am much obliged to you, aunt ficiently interesting to suspend the Leonora," said the Curate. operations of tea-making, and to “Oh, you are there, Frank," said bring the strong-minded woman to his sensible aunt; and strong-mind. her feet. The first words which ed though she was, a slight shade were audible to Frank revealed to of additional colour appeared for a him the nature of the intelligence moment on Miss Leonora's face. which had produced such startling She paused a little, evidently dieffects.
verted from the line of discourse “He was always a contradictory which she had contemplated, and man," said Miss Leonora ; "since wavered like a vessel disturbed in the first hour he was in Skelmers- its course. “The fact is, I have dale, he has made a practice of doing just had a letter announcing Mr things at the wrong time. I don't Shirley's death," she continued, mean to reproach the poor man now facing round towards her nephew, he's gone; but when he has been and setting off abruptly, in face of so long of going, what good could all consequences, on the new tack. it do him to choose this particular “I am very sorry," said Frank moment, for no other reason that I Wentworth ; "though I have an can see, except that it was specially old grudge at him on account of uncomfortable to us? What my his long sermons; but as you have brother has just been saying makes expected it for a year or two, I it all the worse," said Miss Leonora, can't imagine your grief to be overwith a look of annoyance. She had whelming," said the Curate, with a turned her head away from the touch of natural impertinence to be door, which was at the side of the expected under the circumstances. room, and had not perceived the Skelmersdale had been so long entrance of the Curate. “As long thought interesting to him, that as we could imagine that Frank now, when it was not in the least was to succeed to the Rectory the interesting, he got impatient of the thing looked comparatively easy. name. I beg your pardon, Gerald. Of “I quite agree with you, Frank," course, you know how grieved I said (Miss Wentworth. Aunt Ceam-in short, that we all feel the cilia had not been able for a long deepest distress and vexation; but, time to agree with anybody. She to be sure, since you have given it had been, on the contrary, shaking up, somebody must succeed you— her head and shedding a few gentle there can be no doubt of that." tears over Gerald's silent submis
“Not the least, my dear aunt," sion and Louisa's noisy lamentasaid Gerald.
tions. Everything was somehow “I am glad you grant so much. going wrong; and she who had no It is well to be sure of something," power to mend, at least could not said the incisive and peremptory assent, and broke through her old speaker. “It would have been a use and wont to shake her head, painful thing for us at any time to which was a thing very alarming place another person in Skelmersdale to the family. The entire party while Frank was unprovided for ; was moved by a sensation of pleabut, of course," said Miss Leonora, sure to hear Miss Cecilia say, "I sitting down suddenly, “nobody quite agree with you, Frank.'
“You are looking better this there is a living in the family, to morning, my dear aunt,” said Ger- educate one of his sons for it. In ald. They had a great respect for my opinion, it's one of the duties of each other these two; but when property. You have no right to Miss Cecilia turned to hear what live off your estate, and spend your her elder nephew was saying, her money elsewhere; and no more face lost the momentary look of have you any right to give less approval it had worn, and she again, than — than your own flesh and though very softly, almost imper- blood to the people you have the ceptibly, began to shake her head. charge of. You've got the charge
“ We were not asking for your of them to-to a certain extent sympathy," said Miss Leonora, —soul and body, sir," said the sharply. “Don't talk like a saucy Squire, growing warm, as he put boy. We were talking of our own down his Times,' and forgetting embarrassment. There is a very that he addressed a lady. “I'd excellent young man, the curate of never have any peace of mind if I the parish, whom Julia Trench is filled up a family living with a to be married to. By the way, of stranger - unless, of course," Mr course, this must put it off; but I Wentworth added in a parenthesis was about to say, when you inter- -an unlikely sort of contingency rupted me, that to give it away which had not occurred to bim from you at this moment, just as at first-"you should happen to you had been doing well-doing- have no second son.—The eldest your duty," said Miss Leonora, with the squire, the second the rector. unusual hesitation, “was certainly That's my idea, Leonora, of Church very uncomfortable, to say the least, and State." to us."
Miss Leonora smiled a little at “Don't let that have the slight- her brother's semi-feudal, semi-paest influence on you, I beg,” cried gan ideas. “I have long known the Perpetual Curate, with all the that we were not of the same way of pride of his years. “I hope I thinking," said the strong-minded have been doing my duty all aunt, who, though cleverer than along," the young man added, more her brother, was too wise in her softly, a moment after; upon which own conceit to perceive at the first the Squire gave a little nod, partly glance the noble, simple concepof satisfaction and encouragement tion of his own duties and position, to his son--partly of remonstrance which was implied in the honest and protest to his sister.
gentleman's words. “Your second “Yes, I suppose so—with the son might be either a fool or a knave, flowers at Easter, for example,” said or even, although neither, might be Miss Leonora, with a slight sneer. quite unfit to be intrusted with the “I consider that I have stood by eternal interests of his fellow-creayou through all this business, tures. In my opinion, the duty of Frank-but, of course, in so impor- choosing a clergyman is one not to tant a matter as a cure of souls, be exercised without the gravest neither relationship nor, to a certain deliberation. A conscientious man extent, approval," said Miss Leo- would make his selection dependnora, with again some hesitation, ant, at least, upon the character of “ can be allowed to stand against his second son-if he had one. We, public duty. We have the respon however " sibility of providing a good gospel “But then his character is so minister "
satisfactory, Leonora,” cried Miss “I beg your pardon for inter- Dora, feeling emboldened by the rupting you, Leonora,” said the shadow of visitors under whose Squire, “but I can't help thinking shield she could always retire. that you make a mistake. I think “Everybody knows what a good it's a man's bounden duty, when clergyman he is—I am sure it would be like a new world in Skelmers- venient moment possible for dying), dale if you were there, Frank, my it can't be expected of me that I dear-and preaches such beautiful should appoint my nephew, whose sermons !” said the unlucky little opinions in most points are exactly woman, upon whom her sister im- the opposite of mine." mediately descended, swift and sud- “I wish, at least, you would beden, like a storm at sea.
lieve what I say," interrupted the “We are generally perfectly of Curate, impatiently. “There might accord in our conclusions,” said have been some sense in all this three Miss Leonora ; "as for Dora, she months ago ; but if Skelmersdale comes to the same end by a round- were the highroad to everything about way. After what my brother desirable in the Church, you are has been saying ".
all quite aware that I could not ac“Yes," said the Squire, with un- cept it. Stop, Gerald ; I am not so comfortable looks, “I was saying disinterested as you think," said to your aunt, Frank, what I said to Frank; “if I left Carlingford now, you about poor Mary. Since Ger- people would remember against me ald will go, and since you don't that my character had been called want to come, the best thing to in question here. I can remain a do would be to have Huxtable. Perpetual Curate," said the young He's a very good fellow on the man, with a smile, “but I can't whole, and it might cheer her up, tolerate any shadow upon my poor soul, to be near her sisters. honour. I am sorry I came in at Life has been hard work to her, such an awkward moment. Good poor girl - very hard work, sir," morning, aunt Leonora. I hope said the Squire, with a sigh. The Julia Trench, when she has the idea was troublesome and uncom- Rectory, will always keep of your fortable, and always disturbed his way of thinking. She used to inmind when it occurred to him. It cline a little to mine,” he said, was indeed a secret humiliation to mischievously, as he went away. the Squire, that his eldest daughter “Come back, Frank, presently,'' possessed so little the characteristic said the Squire, whose attention had health and prosperity of the Went- been distracted from his “Times.' worths. He was very sorry for her, Mr Wentworth began to be tired of but yet half angry and half ashamed, such a succession of exciting disas if she could have helped it; but, cussions. He thought if he had however, he had been obliged to Frank quietly to himself he could admit, in his private deliberations settle matters much more agreeon the subject, that, failing Frank, ably; but the Times' was cerMary's husband had the next best tainly an accompaniment more tranright to Wentworth Rectory-an quillising so far as a comfortable arrangement of which Miss Leonora meal was concerned. did not approve.
“ He can't come back presently," “I was about to say that we have said aunt Leonora. “You speak no second son," she said, taking up as if he had nothing to do; when, on the thread of her discourse where the contrary, he has everything to it had been interrupted. “Our do—that is worth doing," said that duty is solely towards the Christian contradictory authority. “ Come people. I do not pretend to be in- back to lunch, Frank; and I wish fallible," said Miss Leonora, with a you would eat your breakfast, Dora, meek air of self-contradiction; “but and not stare at me.” I should be a very poor creature in- Miss Dora had come down to deed, if, at my age, I did not know breakfast as an invalid, in a pretty what I believed, and was not per- little cap, with a shawl over her fectly convinced that I am right. dressing-gown. She had not yet Consequently (thougb, I repeat, Mr got over her adventure and the exShirley has chosen the most incon- citement of Rosa's capture. That unusual accident, and all the ap- of his whip, by means of which a plauses of her courage which had skilful charioteer gets his team unbeen addressed to her since, had der hand without touching them; roused the timid woman. She did “but it is very lucky that we always not withdraw her eyes from her come to agree in the end," she sister, though commanded to do added, more significantly still. It so; on the contrary, her look grew was well to crush insubordination more and more emphatic. She in the bud. Not that she did not meant to have made a solemn ad- share the sentiment of her sisters; dress, throwing off Leonora's yoke, but then they were guided like orand declaring her intention, in this dinary women by their feelings, grave crisis of her nephew's for- whereas Miss Leonora had the rights tunes, of acting for herself ; but her of property before her, and the apfeelings were too much for Miss proval of Exeter Hall. Dora. The tears came creeping to “And he wants to marry, poor the corners of her eyes, and she dear boy," said Miss Dora, pale with could not keep them back; and fright, yet persevering; “ and she is her attempt at dignity broke down. a dear good girl—the very person “I am never consulted," she said, for a clergyman's wife; and what with a gasp. “I don't mean to is he to do if he is always to be pretend to know better than Leo. Curate of St Roque's? You may nora; but-but I think it is very say it is my fault, but I cannot help hard that Frank should be disap- it. He always used to come to me pointed about Skelmersdale. You in all his little troubles; and when may call me as foolish as you he wants anything very particular, please," said Miss Dora, with ris- he knows there is nothing I would ing tears, “I know everybody will not do for him," sobbed the proud say it is my fault ; but I must say aunt, who could not help recollectI think it is very hard that Frank ing how much use she had been to should be disappointed. He was Frank. She wiped her eyes at the always brought up for it, as every thought, and held up her head with body knows; and to disappoint a thrill of pride and satisfaction. him, who is so good and so nice, for Nobody could blame her in that a fat young man, buttered all over particular at least. “He knew he like-like-a pudding-basin," cried had only to tell me what he wantpoor Miss Dora, severely adhering ed,” said Miss Dora, swelling out to the unity of her desperate meta her innocent plumes. Jack, who phor. “I don't know what Julia was sitting opposite, and who had Trench can be thinking of ; I-I been listening with admiration, don't know what Leonora means." thought it time to come in on his
“I am of the same way of think- own part. ing,” said aunt Cecilia, setting “I hope you don't mean to fordown, with a little gentle emphasis, sake me, aunt Dora,” he said. “If her cup of tea.
a poor fellow cannot have faith in Here was rebellion, open and un- his aunt, whom can he have faith compromised. Miss Leonora was in ? I thought it was too good to so much taken by surprise, that she last," said the neglected prodigal. lifted the tea-urn out of the way, “You have left the poor sheep in and stared at her interlocutors the wilderness and gone back to with genuine amazement. But she the ninety-and-nine righteous men proved herself, as usual, equal to who need no repentance." He the occasion.
put up his handkerchief to his “It's unfortunate that we never eyes as he spoke, and so far forgot see eye to eye just at once," she himself as to look with laughter in said, with a look which expressed his face at his brother Gerald. As more distinctly than words could for the Squire, he was startled to have done the preliminary flourish hear his eldest son quoting Scrip