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lished in the cottage. She was so well suited to the office '-'had such nice man. ners '--'no coarseness or vulgarity, and not the least forward ;' and thus panegyrized, Mrs. Langton, in her school-room, and surrounded by her liveried, curtseying pupils, became one of the lions' that the Castle visitors' were taken to see and to admire. . But for her previous experience, Helen might have ran some risk of being spoilt' by the notice and admiration she excited, for she was too complete a woman not to be something of a “coquette;' but she was also that rare thing, a 'coquette with a heart, and thus it followed that regrets for the past, and, above all, the active, daily duties of the present, preserved her from a danger that might otherwise have been great.
Of the Vicar, except at church, she saw but little, for Mr. Fanshawe was a prudent man, and given to the avoidance of unnecessary risks. Helen was thankful that he possessed the virtue of discretion, and having ceased in any way to fear him, she could not but feel some compassion for her old acquaintance, whose domestic grievances, as the husband of Mrs. Fanshawe, seemed to her (unworthy as she deemed him) to be even greater than his deserts.
But what was wrong in the mental structure of that lady it would have been hard to say; for whether her nature were hard or soft, proud or humble, generous or mean, it seemed alike next to impossible to decide. She was utterly inaccessible; there were no salient angles by which to scale the fortress, for all in and about her was as a high blank wall, whose unpromising aspect defied a nearer approach.
Of a very different character and disposition was the gentle wife of the Archdeacon of D She was a West Indian Creole, small in stature, and slightly deformed, but with a bright, pretty face, that was ever beaming with real smiles, and with piercing black eyes that actually sparkled with merri
ment. She had children almost uncountable by all but herself, and was endowed with a fixed idea that it was impossible to have too many olive branches round her table. In short, she was a woman intended by nature to be a mother—a whole mother; but not, as her numerous friends could testify, nothing but a mother. Next to her children she loved, as she was in duty bound to do, the excellent and amiable Archdeacon, deferring to his judgment in everything, and giving him all honour as the father of her children, and (but that was, perhaps, a secondary consideration) as a dignitary of the Church, and an admirable Christian gentleman.
The warm-hearted little Creole was at once strongly prepossessed in Helen's favour, for she loved all pretty things and people, and especially admired the sunny, almost tropical style of beauty, and the rich, sweet voice of the Schoolmistress. The Vicar's wife was her béte noir. She had tried in vain to know her, and had striven
hard to make good her entrance to the citadel, where she had a faint idea that something valuable might possibly be found. But her labour was in vain; and on the failure of each successive attempt she had felt how hard it was to be for ever rolling up the stone which was certain to fall back, a chilling weight upon her efforts and her labours.
The Archdeacon was more cautious than had been his wife in pronouncing an opinion on the new comer; for, good man and charitable Christian as he was, he had not failed to perceive the something in her countenance which revealed to him that l'amour avait passé par là. He was many years older than his wife, who was a mere child when she passed into his hands; and he, dreading the world and the world's ways, had ever kept her as far removed as possible from the busy humbug of men, and from the chance of tasting certain fruits that grow on the tree of knowledge, fruits which women, even little women
so pure of heart as was Esther Morton, are ever on tiptoe to reach.
But there were other causes besides the one written on her beautiful face, that roused the suspicions of the Archdeacon as to the previous life of Mrs. Langton. The Vicar had never seemed able to render a satisfactory account of the circumstances attending his acquaintance with her. He had not only told what was evidently a lame story, but he had not come promptly to the assistance of that story when the offspring of his imagination had halted by the way. All these things puzzled the Archdeacon, but he determined to watch Helen and her proceedings narrowly, and unbiassed by any conjectures of his own, to decide the case upon its own merit.
The result was favourable to the object of his investigation, and convinced him that whatever might have been the shortcomings of her past life, they were now (to the best of her power) fully redeemed. It was not