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were a sort of Centaur, and no one ever saw her out of it. Two paupers

Two paupers pulled it in front, and one pushed it behind, and in it she went every Sunday to church. There was a chapel in the workhouse, and there was, of course, a church in the town-a very large and beautiful one: but Miss Prince frequented neither. About three miles on the other side of Gracechurch was a village called Marchthorpe (perhaps because it stood in the March between Wales and England), and the clergyman there was soaringly High Church—he was like a lark that sings itself higher and higher while you look. In his church alone could Miss Prince say her prayers, and thither Sunday by Sunday was Miss Prince lugged and pushed by her three paupers. To get there she had to pass the gate of her own parish church, and I think it was good of her paupers not to break down at that point; but perhaps they also were High Church. At Marchthorpe she went in, Bath chair and all, and took up her position in church close by the font. Some people in Gracechurch believed that Miss Prince had once been engaged to be married, and that the gentleman had soared aloft, just before he should have changed her name. That, they thought, was the reason why she always wore mourning and always went about in a Bath chairthe reason also why she must go to church at Marchthorpe, on the principie, I suppose, that the higher she got the nearer she would be to him. But this, so far as I know, was purely conjectural romance. When we went over the house"

we were shown Miss Prince's own room: it was large, bleakly lofty, and uncommonly well-furnished. But what struck Fernando most was the bed ; its towering height suggested as many mattresses as that of the famous princess who felt the folded rose-leaf through them all. However Miss Prince mounted it without a crane to drop her there he could not guess; clearly she could not be wheeled into it in the Bath chair.

Downstairs in the matron's parlour we had tea, and there were all sorts of good things piled on a great table, beside which, in her Bath chair, Miss Prince was drawn up. After tea her paupers came in and wheeled her along the gaunt passages to the big hall where was the Christmas-tree; we joining the cortège. How cheery sounded the voices of Colonel and Mrs. Grace, and of their children, in those echoing corridors! And how infectious was the pleasantness of their kind faces in the crowd of the huge room! I think it was the light of their friendly and neighbourly smiles that shone, as much as that of the countless tapers on the towering trees, on the answering faces of the poor folk there. I wonder if they who entertain the rich and pleasure-jaded ever see in the faces of their guests such a glow of grateful enjoyment ?

The high, grim walls were decked well with shining holly and ivy, and at one end, in tall red letters of holly beads was this Scripture :

AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD US." I think it was Miss Prince who had set it there ; and as Mrs. Grace read it, looking up when she came in, there was a lovely light in her sweet, kind eyes; and from it they wandered round on the old, spoiled faces crowding near, and in a little whisper she said to herself, so low that Fernando, next her, barely heard :

“Eh, yes ! back-"

How many, many parties has Fernando been to since, in all these fifty years; of how few does there remain a pleasanter memory than of that strange one, in that

great room so unused to merry-making, with its white, long beams holding high the roof; of its worn and failed old guests, of its child-guests, who had seen so little of prettiness or gaiety in their unwanted lives, and of its gracious hostess, whose hand-long, long dead—was opening that night a little window to let shine just a gleam of cheer and gladness on all those unaccustomed faces. Are the tapers of that bright tree burnt out? I doubt they never did ; but one by one the angels carried them to set them up, votive, before the Mother of the Christmas Child and Him, in that place of which He is the Light.

CHAPTER XVI

THE MAGNET

I HAVE said how Fernando re-wrote history for himself, as some compensation to his hurt sympathies, that the harsh perversity of fact had wounded. Perhaps every reader of history, not this child-reader only, makes for himself a special stage on which all its puppets act; and a special drama of his own whereof all their exits and their entrances are but scenes in a single piece which has never had any last act yet. To some English history has been but the long drawn story of the Constitution, dramatized among the countless actors in many ages. To others it is the tale of Democracy ; to many formerly, to few now, the crowned pageant of Monarchy. Fernando also set, on a stage of his own, his own drama of history; for him it was all the story of the Church, which Kings came up and touched, interferingly, and peoples, too. In those first days the only history books he had were those that professed to

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